Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Phil 1:20c-24, 27a
The marginalized Catholic tossed and turned, subconsciously trying to make sense of a senseless age. In the distance, the sound of a train whistle pierced the Sunday morning stillness. The Catholic opened his eyes and looked at the clock, which read 7:30 AM. He wanted to sleep more, hoping that his dreams would take him to a place and time when Catholic values were more common, but the whistle was the call to action-- to do his duty and go boldly where few will ever dream of going. Thus, he arose and prepared to meet the train's sibling at 8:45 AM. The dreams would have to wait-- if they would ever come at all, as nightmares tend to be easier to have and fulfill.
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The railroad train took me to a terminal, where I used the rest room and exited into a beautiful morning to take a short walk to a church with a 10:15 AM Mass-- the only morning Mass there. I figured that it would probably be sparsely attended, but I was a bit surprised to see that it was comfortably attended though certainly not packed. The church bears a 1913 cornerstone and has escaped serious damage. The only noticeable changes are the addition of a freestanding altar and the removal of the middle of the marble altar rail-- but the original high altar and reredo are still there, with the circular tabernacle at the center underneath a small bronze crucifix. A balcony style-ambo is at the left alongside a piano (actually, no doubt another later addition). The wooden pews are split into two sections by a center aisle, but they are further divided by wooden stops down their centers, such that one cannot walk all the way across. This actually served to my advantage, as some of the pews were shortened by huge pillars along the side aisles, so I was able to select a seat just wide enough for a chronically single gentleman. A high choir loft was used by a choir of about a dozen people. The walls are of grey stone with Gothic arches and stained-glass windows that featured small insets within abstract colors. The insets actually looked somewhat modern, but clearly the windows were original.
I arrived at about 10:00 AM, offered my tired prayer, and waited for the remainder of the congregation. I thought enough to take a small homemade hymnal from a cart, but I selected the wrong cart and failed to obtain a copy of OCP's Music Issue. I managed without it. Mass started with a bell, and four servers, seven or so catechists who were to be commissioned, four extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, a reader, and the priest processed down the side aisle and up the center aisle. An usher quickly unroped some pews for those in the procession as we sang "There's a Wideness in God's Mercy." The priest used Form C of the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria to John B. Foley's setting.
The reader ascended the ambo and gave the first reading. She remained there while the organist and choir led a musical setting of Psalm 145 from the back of Music Issue. The reader gave the second reading and then the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel were sung. The priest proclaimed the Gospel from the ambo, and this was followed by another Alleluia instead of the usual "Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ."
Before the homily, the priest read a few announcements. I liked the homily-- it basically dealt with judging others, but instead of simply saying, "we must not judge," and leaving it at that the way is usually done, the priest was very emphatic that we must judge acts, and sometimes people who do evil things must be punished. He was also emphatic, though, that even those who have committed the worst acts can be redeemed. Adolf Hitler, Ted Bundy, Osama bin Laden, Jack the Ripper, and a few others were named explicitly.
The director of religious education then took the ambo and introduced the catechists before presenting them to the priest to be commissioned. He asked them some questions, and they mumbled some inaudible responses that I hope were correct. (They sounded as enthusiastic as young men who were just drafted into military service.) Then he blessed them and asked us for a round of applause.
The Creed was omitted. The reader went to the ambo and offered the Prayer of the Faithful. She then read announcements, including the same ones the priest made, saying, "You may have heard these already, but it doesn't hurt to hear them again." Sorry, it does, especially when there was no time for the Creed-- and they were all in the bulletin besides! To add further insult to injury, the ushers refused to begin the collection until the announcements were complete. Instead, they passed their long-handled metal baskets around the pews as we sang "You Are Near." I'd rather sing undistracted. Oh, yes-- they walked to the front to genuflect and then immediately returned to the rear to take the collection back to front, which added even more time to an already drawn-out service. Concentrating on the hymn is even harder when the ushers are approaching from the rear.
The chalices and ciborium were of metal. The congregation rose during the Orate Fratres invitation instead of waiting until it was complete. We sang the Sanctus to the St. Louis Jesuits' setting. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. I'm not sure what setting was used for the Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen.
The congregation joined hands for the Lord's Prayer, but I managed to escape as my good friend the pillar was to my left, and a void in the pew ahead of me and to the right caused a woman in front of me to grab the hand of the gentleman next to me (across the wooden barrier) in desperation, leaving me with no hand to clasp. Maybe someday... if only Mary, Queen of all Saints and Queen of Angels would mobilize her forces... maybe things could be different. We sang a folksy, bouncy arrangement of the Agnus Dei (though everything was with organ accompaniment).
Holy Communion was distributed at four stations across the front, and the chalice was offered. I believe the choir may have had its own minister. Those on the sides went to the rear and then up the center aisle to receive first, and then those on the center received, back to front. The first Communion hymn was "Taste and See." That was followed by "Eye Has Not Seen," which was not on the hymn board.
After Communion, a second collection was taken in the same manner as the first. The priest offered the closing prayer and then briefly reiterated the announcements, as if two readings and being printed in the bulletin weren't enough. He blessed an extraordinary minister (he called her a "special" minister) and dismissed her to take Communion to a homebound person and imparted a simple blessing before leaving via the center aisle with the servers, catechists, lay ministers, and reader as we sang all three verses of "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name." Most people remained to the end of the one hour and twenty-five minute service, and I noticed that quite a few were holding hymnals and using them, which is notable when one has to obtain one from a cart. An itinerant worshipper got lucky as he made it back to the train station in under eight minutes, saving him an hour wait for the next train home.
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In Kenyon, Minnesota, Mass is offered at St. Michael Church on Bullis Street. Across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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