1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a
Ps 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
At 9:00 AM, I pulled out a Mass schedule and a map and quickly developed a plan to visit a parish that is about a twenty-minute walk from a railroad terminal. I boarded the train at 9:15 AM and exited around 10:10 but dawdled a few minutes because I thought I had more time. When I realized I didn't, I switched gears and made the walk in about eighteen minutes and arrived just in time for the 10:30 AM Mass, which mercifully started a few minutes late.
The exterior of the church is red painted brick and on the corner of the building is a stone with the date 1869-- this must be the cornerstone. Inside is a church that is in remarkably good condition considering that only about 75 or so people attended the Mass in a nave that could hold several hundred. The dark, wooden pews look as though they were recently refinished. They are in four sections, with the side sections abutting the walls and a break about halfway back. Slender, fluted columns painted in yellow and blue fall into the sides of the center sections. The altar rail is still there, eagerly awaiting its chance to serve again some day, along with a white balcony-style ambo that was overlooked in favor of two smaller wooden lecterns at either side of the sanctuary. A simple, freestanding, wooden altar is at the center of the sanctuary, but the original high altar and reredo is still behind it. The main tabernacle is still the main tabernacle; the tabernacles in the side altars received the flower-stand treatment. Over the main tabernacle is a plaster rendering of the crucifixion, with Mary and John included. To the right of the sanctuary, on the side wall, is a large, traditional, wooden crucifix. The side walls are lined with large, traditional, stained-glass windows.
Mass began with the opening hymn, "All People That on Earth Do Dwell." I didn't hear anyone singing; perhaps one reason is that I saw no cantor, the organist in the choir loft wasn't leading, and the Celebrating the Eucharist books from Liturgical Press were stacked in the rear instead of the pews, so maybe others, like me, tend to neglect to obtain one. Two servers, the reader, and the priest participated in the entrance procession from the sacristy at the left front corner, across the left front, and to the opening in the altar rail. The priest made lengthy opening remarks, probably because a visiting priest from the Phillippines would later make a mission appeal at the time of the homily. Among other things, he mentioned that Mass should always be a cause of joy and never a duty, and we should be eager to attend every day. We then recited the penitential rite and the Gloria.
A reader went to the right-hand lectern and gave the first reading. We sang the response to the psalm for the day, and the organist played in the background as the reader recited the verses of the psalm. After the reader gave the second reading, the visiting priest emerged from the sacristy and we sang the Alleluia to the Mass of Light setting (Haas); in between, the reader recited the verse before the Gospel. The visitor held the Book of Gospels high as he approached the lectern at the left and then proclaimed the Gospel.
The main points I recall from the homily are that we must remain faithful even when we don't see extraordinary signs and wonders, and that the people in the Phillippines make dollars a day instead of hundreds of dollars a day. He also asserted that priests are in short supply there, but I see quite a few priests from the Phillippines hereabouts, so I wonder a bit about that. (Then again, African and Indian priests outnumber them by far.) We need to pray for vocations and for priests as they pray for us.
We recited the Creed, and then the reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. The intentions took the novel form of "When employers take unfair advantage of their employees, we pray-- (response:) Lord, save us." A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as the organist played, "Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation." I almost wrote, "we sang," but that would have been stretching the truth beyond recognition, although the hymn was announced. Two members of the congregation brought the gifts forward, followed by an usher with the proceeds of the collection. The chalice and ciborium were of metal. The congregation stood somewhere in the middle of the response to the Orate Fratres prayer; one lady towards the front and I kind of kicked it off at the right moment, and the rest seemed to take the cue. Of course, that may be giving me more credit than I deserve, but lacking context as I usually do, I don't know what normally happens there.
The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen were from a setting familiar to me-- it may have been the Mass of Remembrance. The priest offered either Eucharistic Prayer II or Eucharistic Prayer III-- I must confess to being somewhat distracted this morning. I'd have noticed anything else. We recited the Lord's Prayer. The Agnus Dei was played to the Holy Cross Mass setting.
An additional priest appeared and assisted the celebrant and visiting priest in the distribution of Holy Communion via stations at each of the three aisles. The chalice was not offered. The organist played unannounced music during Communion.
After Communion, a second collection was taken for the mission appeal. The priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing before leaving via the center aisle to the hymn "Now Thank We All Our God." The organist played two verses; oddly, even though few were singing (but this last hymn seemed to get a noticeably better response than the other two), most remained until both verses were complete. After that, I headed home, again clutching my bulletin in hopes of attracting the attention of a charming, modest young lady.
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In Chicago, Illinois, Mass is offered at St. John Cantius Church on North Carpenter Street. Across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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