1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12
Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
Mt 13:44-52 or 13:44-46
I planned a railroad trip to a city in another state and took a subway to a part of a city in a different state because the original plan did not pass muster in terms of practicality, which is simply a fancy way of saying that I wasn't going to make it. I did everything wrong but still managed to arrive at the second target in time for its 9:30 AM Mass. As I entered the red brick church, I passed a cornerstone which read "1917." The narthex is at street level, while the nave is elevated by a few steps. Inside, I found a church that has been renovated (perhaps unnecessarily) but not ruined by any stretch of the imagination. The sanctuary is more or less intact, except for the center part of the altar rail, removed when the sanctuary was pulled into the first four or five rows of wooden pews in the nave. A freestanding altar rests on this new section, but the original altar, tabernacle, and reredo are still there, standing ready for the day when the tides change direction. A balcony-style ambo is at the left in its original position but now further back than the freestanding altar, while a small cantor's lectern is at the right, ahead of the altar. What's left of the altar rail now protects the side altars and candlestands. The pews are in four sections, with the side sections dead-ending against the walls. A small section at the front right was created for a choir and organist but it was empty today; the organist may have served from one of two balcony sections over the narthex and over each other (I don't think I ever saw two stacked like that). The stained-glass windows are traditional and looked as though they may have depicted scenes from the Rosary. Large plaques between the windows show the Stations of the Cross. Racks in the pews hold copies of Liturgical Press' Celebrating the Eucharist.
Mass began with the opening hymn, "To Jesus Christ, Our Sovreign King." A reader, two servers, and a rather young priest wearing a black biretta and an older-style chasuble passed through the center aisle in the entrance procession. He went directly from "May the Lord be with You" and its response to the Confiteor. We recited the Gloria.
A young reader climbed the steps of the ambo and gave the first reading. He led the recitation of the psalm for the day and followed with the second reading. The priest went to the ambo and proclaimed the long form of the Gospel. He gave a homily that didn't seem to relate to the readings much and could have been given any Sunday-- but it was really orthodox stuff. Avoid even occasions of sin. Take good care of your soul as well as your body. Loving your neighbor as yourself means you have to love yourself first, according to St. Augustine. If you sin against your body you really hate yourself. The body has to be kept under control. Avoid venial sins. I couldn't help but like the priest-- whose hair is jet black, not white. Folks, watch these young priests. I often say it, but I have to stress it. In twenty years-- when these priests become bishops-- things will be lots different than they are today. They are standing in the wings, gritting their teeth, biting their tongues, waiting for their chance. When they get it-- watch out, world!
We recited the Creed, and many people bowed their heads at the appropriate moment. The reader went to the lectern and led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. A collection was taken using handleless wicker baskets as we sang "Breathe On Me." The chalice and ciborium were of metal.
The Sanctus was from Mass of Creation. (I felt like asking the priest afterward, "What's an orthodox priest like you doing in a parish that uses Mass of Creation?") The priest offered the first Eucharistic Prayer, including the complete Roman Canon. One of the servers sounded bells at the consecration. The priest used the style of many more traditional priests, in which he bends over as he speaks the words of consecration, almost as if he is talking to the Host and chalice. The setting of the third Memorial Acclamation was one I cannot identify.
We recited the Lord's Prayer, but only about fifty to a hundred people were in the medium-sized church, which could probably seat about 500-600, and nothing untoward happened. The priest did not offer an invitation to extend the sign of peace, but many people did it anyway, and the servers greeted the priest. We sang the Agnus Dei to the Mass of Creation setting.
An additional priest assisted the celebrant in distributing Holy Communion. The chalice was not offered. The servers held patens to prevent any particles of the Hosts from falling to the floor. The Communion hymn was "Blest Are They." After Communion, the priest stood with the chalice in his hands facing the servers as he was obviously ready to purify it, but they made no motion and were clearly clueless. Finally, one of them came with the water and the priest was able to proceed.
The priest offered the Prayer after Communion, and then we sat as the reader gave two or three brief announcements from the lectern. The priest gave us a simple blessing and the cantor announced the closing hymn, "O God, Almighty Father." The organist must have had to take an emergency bathroom break, however, because we heard no music until after the priest and servers had made their way to the rear of the church in silence, and almost everyone had left. The organist played two verses of the hymn on his own as people started to enter for the following Mass in Italian.
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As you pass through Joplin, Missouri, stop for Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church on South Pearl Avenue. No matter what road you find yourself travelling, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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