Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14
Rom 8:9, 11-13
I almost took a railroad trip this morning but chickened out and drove an hour and a half to a town named for a famous person. I had a choice of two 10:30 AM Masses but settled upon the first one that crossed my path, even though it was probably the closest to the railroad station and thus spoiled a possible railroad trip at some other point. It is a typical suburban auditorium-style church with a cornerstone of 1954. That tells lots-- it again shows us that things were changing well before Vatican II. In any case, some folks must have thought that things hadn't changed enough, as a 1980's- or 1990's-style renovation appears to have eliminated the first dozen or so rows of wooden pews and moved the sanctuary forward. What appear to be four reconciliation rooms are located in what must have been the sanctuary, with a niche in the middle that must lead to the sacristy. Above that niche hangs a large, traditional, wooden crucifix. In front of the niche is a pedestal for the domed metal tabernacle. A freestanding altar is at the center of the new sanctuary. The celebrant's chair is to the right rear. The cantor's lectern is at the right front. Presumably a choir could sit in individual upholstered seats to the right, facing the sanctuary at a right angle, alongside the organ, which is tucked into the far right corner. The wooden ambo is at the left, near another section of individual seats. Statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph are mounted where the left side altar must have been, and a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus along with two other figures is found where the right side altar must have been. Modern stained-glass windows depicted various Biblical scenes, including the Last Supper. Racks in the pews held copies of Paluch's We Celebrate missalette and many copies of a flyer that had the day's music printed, along with duly noted license information and a reference to hymnprint.net.
The organist was playing some music before Mass, and the Mass began without any introduction whatsoever simply by the organist raising the level of the music as the cantor led the opening hymn, "This Day God Gives Me," sung to the tune of "Morning Has Broken." Come to think of it, that organ was a notch or two too high and would have drowned out the congregation if anyone had cared to participate (it was hard to tell one way or the other). Three servers, a reader, and the priest passed through the center aisle in the entrance procession. The priest led Form C of the penitential rite, and then we sang the Gloria to a through-composed setting by Judy Hylton.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The cantor crossed the sanctuary to lead the responsorial psalm for the day from the ambo. This automatically generated an appropriate silence while the cantor returned to the right and the reader stepped to the ambo again to give the second reading. We sang the Alleluia to the Mass of Light setting as the priest held the Book of Gospels high over his head and carried it to the ambo and the cantor sang the verse before the Gospel. The priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo before going to the celebrant's chair to obtain the microphone from the stand there so that he could give the homily from the front of the sanctuary.
The homily focused on Jesus' admonition to take His yoke; the priest mentioned that at the consecration, as he raised the Body and Blood of Jesus, we should give over to Jesus our own burdens. We heard that those in service industries tend to take two attitudes toward their jobs-- either they enjoy helping people and are charged all week, often getting depressed on weekends, or they see service as a chore and are miserable all week, living for the weekend. He spoke about a woman who was a bit apprehensive about having a biopsy, but the results were okay and now she is relieved of a big burden. He then spoke about a homeless family that was in need of clothes and asked us to leave anything we could spare at the rectory. The mother said until two years ago everything was going fine, and the priest suggested that some day each of us may be asked to "take a turn" at bearing the burden of suffering, no matter how well off we may think we are today. We need to share our burdens rather than try to carry them alone.
The priest introduced the Creed by suggesting that sometimes we say it too fast, so today we should slow it down a bit and say it "from the heart." After we recited it just a little more slowly, the reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the lectern. A collection was taken using handleless wicker baskets passed across the long pews. This method is not uncommon, but it is usually done with only four baskets or so, whereas this parish seemed to have about a dozen, which actually slowed things a bit as everyone on the opposite aisles waited for the ushers to get the baskets to move them down the pews. The offertory hymn was "Open My Eyes," and we sang the whole hymn twice. The chalices and ciborium (a large dish) were of glass. A glass flagon held additional wine but the priest immediately emptied it into the serving chalices and dismissed it from the altar. The congregation stood as the priest was giving the Orate Fratres invitation instead of waiting for it to be complete.
The Mass setting for the Liturgy of the Eucharist was Richard Proulx' Community Mass. The priest offered the Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs IV: Jesus, the Compassion of God. Unlike last week (no I haven't written that one yet), the congregation knelt during the consecration. The Lord's Prayer and the Sign of Peace were standard.
At Holy Communion, seven lay ministers assisted the priest. The priest distributed to one minister, who then proceeded to minister the chalice to the other ministers behind the priest. Then they all took places across the front of the sanctuary using the "dual-station" method for both forms of Communion, which made that area look kind of like a football field during a big game or perhaps Grand Central Terminal during rush hour. We simply must drive these efficient utilitarians from power. The Communion hymn was "On Eagle's Wings."
After Communion, the priest stood at his chair facing the tabernacle as one lay minister returned the ciborium to the tabernacle; the other lay ministers stood in a row in the far left corner and waited for the tabernacle to be closed before returning to their places. A second collection was taken in the same way as the first. No announcements were made.
The priest gave the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "God of Our Fathers." We sang all four verses because the priest stood in his place until after the third verse was complete. Then he departed with the servers and reader via the center aisle. After Mass, I took advantage of a halfway decent men's room in the basement of the church; towels may have been nice, but at least the electric blower worked and blew hot air. This made me somewhat more comfortable during the hour and a half trip home.
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In Gallup, New Mexico, you can find Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on East Green. All across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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