Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
1 Thes 4:13-18 or 4:13-14
Today was "No-Nonsense Sunday." At 9:00 AM I quickly developed a plan to get to a Mass by 10:00 AM. I left at about 9:15 and drove about forty minutes to an inner-city parish not previously visited by me. Since I arrived at about ten minutes to ten, I was able to locate a parking spot easily. I walked almost a whole block and saw the target church, which is a three-story stone structure with its school located directly over the church. The cornerstone raeds "1928," and little has changed since then. The trip was short, so a search for the rest room was not necessary. The rectangular church is parallel to the street outside, which leaves a single pair of doors from the street into one side of the narthex, which opens into several doors into the nave. Inside are two sets of wooden pews with poorly-maintained hat hooks and racks that hold copies of Today's Missal and Music Issue in plastic binders. The sanctuary has a graceful arch over the front despite the otherwise flat foof, and the domed, metal tabernacle remains at the center, where the high altar would be, underneath a circular canopy. A freestanding altar is at the center, underneath a suspended, Spanish-style crucifix. The balcony-style (slightly raised from the floor), white stone ambo is at the right, and directly to its left is a smaller lectern. The celebrant's large (and uncomfortable-looking) chair is at the far left, just to the right of the left side altar and tilted on a 45-degree angle to the pews. The altar rail remains minus the center gates. The side walls hold traditional, stained-glass windows depicting Biblical scenes, and between them are the painted, carved Stations of the Cross, set into the walls. A large choir loft housing an organ remains in use and was inhabited by a choir of some sort this morning; I could hear several voices but was not in a position to count heads. Underneath the choir loft are traditional-looking confessionals.
The 10:00 AM English Mass began after the reader, dressed in a white robe, went to the lectern and gave a typical introduction, including a summary of the theme of the readings. Three servers and the priest passed through the center aisle as we sang the entrance hymn, "O God, Beyond All Praising." We sang all the verses; this pattern would continue until the very end of the Mass. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite. We sang the Gloria to Dan Schutte's Mass of God's Promise setting, which would be used for the entire Mass-- something that actually is rather unusual in my experience. Usually either the Gloria or Agnus Dei is different.
The reader ascended the ambo to give the first reading. The choir sang the responsorial psalm for the day; the whole choir actually sang all the verses as well as the response. The reader gave the long form of the second reading from the ambo. The priest rose from his chair and went to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel. He remained there to preach the homily.
In the homily, the priest essentially reiterated the main point of the Gospel, which is to be ready to meet God at all times instead of waiting for a signal to get ready. He madea brief reference to the first reading, which he said "personifies" the Wisdom that the foolish virgins should have had. He mentioned the story of an elderly man of 90 who realized that he had wasted a considerable amount of time in his life and would do things lots differently if he had it to do over again. Unlike that man, we do not have to wait until we are 90 to make that determination-- nor may we have that much time.
We recited the Creed, after the priest told us the exact page number where we could find it in Today's Missal. The reader went to the lectern to lead the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the offertory hymn, "How Great Thou Art." During the hymn, members of the congregation brought the gifts forward and the ushers brought the proceeds of the collection. The chalice and ciborium were of metal. The priest could have proceeded after the second of four verses of the hymn were complete, but he waited until the entire hymn was finished before reciting the "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation..." prayers aloud. (These may be recited quietly while a hymn is in progress.) The congregation stood at the correct point, after the Orate Fratres invitation but before the congregation's response.
We sang the Sanctus, again to the Mass of God's Promise setting. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. We sang the third Memorial Acclamation and the Great Amen. We sang the Lord's Prayer without accompaniment to the most common setting. The Agnus Dei was afflicted with some creative tropes but this may be a trend that has seen better days and congregations may not be afflicted with it for much longer. (A quick look on Internet shows that folks are starting to rebel.)
At Holy Communion, a deacon appeared and went to the choir loft to distribute Communion there. After he was finished, the choir sang Bernadette Farrell's "Bread of Life" by itself (it wasn't announced). Meanwhile, the priest and one extraordinary minister of Holy Commuion distributed at the head of the center aisle; the chalice was not offered. The deacon finished early but simply followed the end of the line (still about ten or fifteen on each side) instead of going to the front to assist.
After Communion, a second collection was taken "for fuel expenses." The reader went to the lectern and gave a few brief announcements. The priest offered the closing prayer and imparted a solemn blessing. The closing hymn was "Church of God, Elect and Glorious." (The organist originally announced "Sing a New Church" but quickly corrected himself.) The priest and servers were down the aisle by the time we had finished two verses, so almost all of the one hundred or so in the congregation left at that point. At least two people remained to sing the third verse with the choir, which threw in the towel after that instead of completing the fourth verse. In no-nonsense fashion, an itinerant worshipper immediately returned home in about forty minutes after a Mass that ran about 55 minutes.
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In Lakefield, Minnesota, Mass is offered at St. Joseph Church on Broadway. In Lakefield, across the nation, and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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