Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14.
Phil 2:1-11 or Phil 2-1-5
I decided to make this week's trip relatively simple and drove 50 minutes to a big, beautiful, old Gothic church in a rundown area of a large city. I arrived a minute or two before the 10:00 AM Mass in English, found a parking space directly across the street from the main entrance, passed the 1932 cornerstone, and entered. Inside the grey, stone church capable of seating maybe 1000, I found about 70 or 80 other worshippers listening to some grand choir music-- but unfortunately it was recorded. I dare say that those who built the church would find it surreal, something from a nightmare. These days, though, it qualifies as "better than other typical things one might see." The wooden pews are in poor condition, appearing not to have been refinished in maybe twenty years. I saw cobwebs near the floor where I sat. The massive pillars show signs of decay, with missing plaster. Last week's collection was about $800, so none of this is likely to change soon. The pews are in four main sections, with a center aisle, side aisles, and side sections abutting the walls, except in the front, where the side sections extend into the transepts. The altar rail is hanging in there but was not used today. The high altar and circular tabernacle are still there too, but neither was used, and no effort was made to hide the original tabernacle. In fact, I thought the right side tabernacle was in use, as a red light burned immediately atop it, but I was wrong. The left side tabernacle is where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, but it is not at all obvious. The right side alar is notable for having an image of the Miraculous Medal atop it. Over the high altar is a plaster rendering of the crucifixion. A freestanding altar is at the center of the sanctuary. A large, circular, wooden ambo is at the left. Traditional, stained-glass windows and square, painted plaques depicting the Stations of the Cross line the walls. Small tables at the rear hold copies of Music Issue and Journeysongs. A huge choir loft sits over the narthex but was unused today.
The Mass did not begin until about 10:10 AM for some reason unknown to me. The clock at the rear of the church showed about 9:10; it apparently was never changed to Daylight Time. A gentleman went to the ambo and announced the opening hymn, "Sing a New Song." He led the singing a cappella but I think he may have been an ad hoc cantor because he also recited the responsorial psalm and led the Prayer of the Faithful. Four servers, a reader, a deacon (wearing a dalmatic), a concelebrating priest, and the principal celebrant participated in the entrance procession via the left side aisle and center ailse. The singing did not start until the procession reached the rear. The celebrant used Form C of the penitential rite. We recited the Gloria.
The reader from the procession went to the ambo, gave the first reading, and returned to a long pew at the left of the sanctuary. The psalm for the day followed as noted earlier. Then the other reader returned to the ambo and gave the long form of the second reading. The deacon carried the Book of Gospels high as he went to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel. He read very slowly and deliberately, to the point of slight exaggeration. (Erring on that side is better than going too fast, though.) He returned to his place in front of the high altar as the celebrant went to preach the homily from the ambo. He had a thick accent, and I found myself wishing that the deacon had given the homily, but I got the impression that the priest was giving orthodox teaching, as he mentioned that Jesus had died on the cross for our sins.
We recited the Creed, and a standard Prayer of the Faithful followed. Two collections were taken in succession using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang all of "We Are the Light of the World." The bulletin has a blurb which reads, "The second collection has to be after the prayer, before the blessing, we sit down to do it." I thought that meant that the second collection would be after Communion, but now I don't know what it means. Members of the congregation presented the gifts. The chalices and paten were of metal. The congregation stood after the Orate Fratres invitation but not all at once.
We sang the Sanctus to what I believe was the Mass of Remembrance setting. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer and invited the concelebrant to assist. The deacon knelt at the consecration. Another blurb in the bulletin notes, "Please, when you kneel down for the consecration at Mass, don't make noises." I can only wonder what that is supposed to mean, but I heard no untoward noises. We sang the Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen. We recited the Lord's Prayer without any attempt at community-building. We sang the Agnus Dei to the Mass of Creation setting as the deacon went to the tabernacle to retrieve a ciborium.
At Holy Communion, the deacon led "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God" from the ambo while the two priests distributed Holy Communion under the form of bread in the typical location and the two readers served as extraordinary ministers of the chalice to either side.
After Communion, the deacon went to the ambo and announced that a baby was baptized yesterday, and it wasn't his last visit to church, because he was there with us. He received a round of applause. (I did like seeing him there for what I hope will be many return visits.) The deacon returned to his place, and the priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing before the deacon gave the dismissal. We sang "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" as those in the entrance procession left via the center aisle. I passed those waiting for the 11:15 AM Mass in Spanish and returned to my car for the trip home, looking for more candidates to be visited another Sunday morning.
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In Faith, South Dakota, Mass is offered at St. Joseph Church on State Hwy 73. Across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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