Rev 7:2-4, 9-14
Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
1 Jn 3:1-3
I decided to add another state to the list of states in which I have attended Mass, so I set forth on an overnight journey to a state where I had never attended Mass before. I made motel reservations and drove four hours to a small seaside resort city, where I was unable to locate the motel where I had reserved the room and had to stay in another one, as it was past midnight and I had no patience to search further. The following morning, I decided to visit one of the churches that I had passed the evening before; it turned out to be the church where an important political figure was married many years ago. I arrived at about 8:00 AM and learned that the church had a single 7:30 AM Mass for the holy day-- the same as if it were any other weekday. Harrumph. I looked around a bit more and decided to head for a nearby larger city in hopes of locating a noon Mass. At least one church was not only deserted but locked-- on the morning of a holy day! Harrumph again. I peeked in one decent-looking church at about 9:25 AM and saw a priest incensing the altar at a 9:00 AM Mass. I was too late for that but not too late to give the rest room a try; it was decent. I looked around that city some more and then called my mother for a list of local parishes that might have a noon Mass based on the weekday schedule. Together, we located several candidates, and I drove past two large churches that had bulletins available indicating a noon Mass on the holy day. The first was round, and the second was rectangular. Everyone probably can guess which one I selected.
Upon entering the rectangular church at about 10:30 AM, I heard the organist practicing; that was a good sign. Finding a Mass with proper music-- or any music at all-- on a holy day can be a big challenge. I tried the rest room here too, and it was suitable and appreciated, although the slop sink by the door was a bit unusual. With some time to kill, I walked around the neighborhood for a while, passing through a university campus and a neglected path through a wooded area, finally returning to the church at about 11:35 AM. The building was constructed in the same year as I was, 1962, and looks typical of its time. One interesting feature is the jagged edge of the side walls; narrow vertical stained-glass windows depict mysteries of the Rosary on one side and more or less abstract symbols on the other. Other than that, the building is a large, simplified auditorium, with sleek trusses that end as pillars along the end of the side aisles. The pews are in four sections: two wide sections in the center, and short side sections. Probably about 1000-1300 worshippers can be accomodated. Racks in the pews hold copies of Today's Missal and the 1999 edition of Music Issue. A freestanding altar is at the center of the large sanctuary, while a medium-sized ambo is at the left. The celebrant and servers sit at the rear of the sanctuary, in front of the tabernacle. A traditional crucifix is mounted on the rear wall of the sanctuary, which is mostly glass but has wooden slats that apparently direct the light toward the center of the sanctuary. The choir loft and organ located there are still in use.
About 100-150 people arrived by noon, which I found encouraging for a midday Mass on a holy day. Mass began with the sound of a bell as three servers (dressed in blueish robes with white sleeves), a reader, and the priest crossed from the sacristy at the left to the center of the sanctuary. The hymns were not announced, but they were posted correctly on the hymn board. The opening hymn was "For All the Saints." The priest used Form C of the penitential rite. We recited the Gloria.
The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. The organist/cantor led the singing of the responsorial psalm for the day. Then the reader gave the second reading. We sang the Alleluia as the priest went to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel.
The priest delivered the homily from the ambo. Basically, he explained that we celebrate the feasts of many formally recognized, named saints during thre year-- the "big" saints. Today, we celebrate the feast of all the unknown saints who nevertheless are enjoying the company of God in heaven-- those who may be our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and so on. They are people who may not have done anything particularly outstanding or noteworthy but who nevertheless lived holy lives and remained faithful to God.
We recited the Creed, and then the reader led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. A collection was taken using what looked like a shape-up crew using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang four verses of the offertory hymn, "See Us, Lord, About Your Altar." The chalice and ciboriums were of metal. The congregation stood as soon as the priest began the Orate Fratres invitation.
We recited the Sanctus. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. We recited the Lord's Prayer, and no one thought to join hands. We sang the Agnus Dei to the common Latin setting that I found credited to Gerard Farrell, OSB in week 334 and what I learned in week 354 is called "Missa XVIII" in the Worship hymnal. (No, I do not have that memorized-- I searched my own site on Google to refresh my memory!)
At Holy Communion, two additional priests assisted the celebrant and three extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in distributing under the form of bread alone. Two stations were located at the head of each of the three aisles; the servers stood behind the ministers as sentinels of some sort, with their hands folded. I would be interested to know the reasoning behind this-- it certainly had no practical value, unlike if they were holding patens. The organist played and sang a hymn that was not listed on the hymn board.
After Communion, the priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a solemn blessing. The closing hymn was "Now Thank We All Our God." Almost everyone left with the priest and servers in the middle of the first verse. The organist ended the music altogether right after that verse, leaving a gentleman to begin a long journey home.
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In Plainfield, Connecticut, Mass is offered at St. John the Apostle on Railroad Avenue. In Plainfield, across the nation, and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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