Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
I stumbled and made my pratfalls yesterday while taking a railroad trip to a racetrack with my brother-in-law, so today everything went more or less okay as I took the typical 9:15 AM train to the railroad terminal where I switched to a subway that would take me about ten minutes north to what is kind of a different type of church for this series. It is at the base of what appears to be a typical city office building-- the utlimate triumph of utilitarianism. The cornerstone reads "1973," which could be argued to be the nadir of church architecture. The outside is grey marble and cement. The inside is simply a rectangular white space with a square sanctuary at the center and a few rows of wooden pews split by a center aisle by the main entrance. The longest section of bench-like pews is at the right side, and a few more rows of pews are at the left, along with the organ. Some individual seats are scattered around odd spaces. A loft reached by a spiral staircase seems to hold additional seats, though whether it was intended for a choir in 1973 is questionable. In any case, no one sat up there today, although I saw no obvious reason why no one could have sat there either, and I was tempted to give it a try, but I feared being shot by a trained marksman had I taken the first step. A carving on the wall behind the freestanding grey marble altar depicts the Crucifixion. The matching marble ambo is at the left. A small lectern is at the right, but it was not used today. A huge cylindrical light illuminates the altar; smaller cylinders hang from the flat but kind of high ceiling in other areas. Square pillars support the ceiling. The metal tabernacle is modern yet traditional as it is in the shape of a traditional tabernacle (church-like) but without the ornate details-- kind of like a silhouette. It is located in the left rear corner but is easily seen from almost any point in the nave. Racks underneath the pews hold current copies of Celebrating the Eucharist and Sacred Song from Liturgical Press and WLP's hardcover People's Mass Book from 1984. A clock is mounted on one of the pillars so that it directly faces the ambo and is easily visible from the sanctuary.
I arrived at about 10:10 AM and took a seat in the large side section and awaited the 10:30 AM Mass. The church can probably hold several hundred but was mostly empty until close to 10:30. People continued to enter well into the readings; perhaps 100 or so had arrived by the Gospel. A bell sounded to signal that the priest was ready; the clock indicated that it was closer to 10:35 than 10:30. The entrance hymn was "Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All." The entrance procession consisted of the reader and the priest, who started in the right rear corner, walked across the rear, and then passed through the center aisle. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria to the Mass of Creation setting. The priest chanted the opening prayer.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading before stepping back while the organist led the responsorial psalm of the day. Then the reader returned to the ambo to give the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and the organist led the verse before the Gospel. The priest went to the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel.
The priest preached the homily from the ambo; it focused on the first reading and the Gospel. We were told that fraternal correction is important, as people's salvation may hang in the balance, and that it can be done in gentle and friendly ways-- but we have to try. The situation of one's friend who does not regularly attend Sunday Mass was used as an example. We could offer to look after the person's children if that is an impediment. During the first part of the homily, a child in the row behind me was throwing a temper tantrum related to lighting votive candles, so I could not hear that part of the homily, as the priest was soft-spoken. There was mention of loved ones who had passed away and our practice of asking their intercession; possibly we were being told not to assume that those people made it to heaven if we were unwilling to help them, but I'm not sure if that was the point.
We recited the Creed, and during the Prayer of the Faithful (while we were still standing and the reader was giving the intentions) the ushers started the collection from the rear with their long-handled wicker baskets. The offertory hymn was "There Is a Balm in Gilead." Two members of the congregation presented the gifts. Somewhere around here the two priests who would assist with Communion started milling about the nave. The chalice and ciborium were of metal. The congregation stood before the Orate Fratres invitation was complete.
The Sanctus was from the Mass of Creation. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. Bells were sounded at the consecration. The organist must have grown weary of Mass of Creation, or maybe the pages of the printed music got stuck together, because she switched to what I believe was Community Mass for the remainder. We sang the Lord's Prayer to the most common setting without incident.
Holy Communion was distributed at the center of each of the three outward sides of the sanctuary. The chalice was not offered. The Communion hymn was "The King of Love My Shepherd Is." After Communion, there was some silence, and then the priest offered the closing prayer.
We remained standing for a few announcements, and then the priest imparted a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "God of Our Fathers." We sang three verses before the priest and reader left via the center aisle. I slipped out the side entrance while someone else distracted one of the other priests and headed for the subway.
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In Millers Falls, Massachussets, Mass is offered at St. John Church on Church Street. Across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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