Week 372 Bonus

Immaculate Conception

Reading I
Gn 3:9-15, 20
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
Reading II
Eph 1:3-6, 11-12
Lk 1:26-38

Plan A fell apart on account of too many people driving to work and clogging the roads with traffic despite it being a holy day, so I changed gears and parked the car in a garage and switched to the subway, which was also overcrowded. I wandered around the subway system for about two and a half hours, making the Kingston Trio proud, and finally exited when I decided to use the restroom at an important railroad terminal. I considered my possibilities and looked at a Neighborhood Map to jog my memory, when I realized that I was within a short walk of an important church. When I arrived at about 11:35 or 11:40 AM, I saw a sign that told me that Masses would be at 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, and 1:00 PM, among other times. Wow-- talk about Mass production. The 11:30 was well attended and so was the 12. Basically the first spilled into the second; they really didn't even wait for everyone to get inside before starting over. Whoever implemented this schedule should be ashamed of himself for making a mockery of the holy day. If they had a lower church, maybe such a schedule would be reasonable, but to do this all in one nave with such large crowds is absolutely unreasonable-- and the whole thing is merely to accomodate people who are working on a holy day, which is objectively sinful unless the work is absolutely essential. Most people's work does not fall in that category.

A cantor in a maroon robe went to a small lectern at the right near the large balcony ambo and announced the opening hymn, "Immaculate Mary." It started while I was still waiting for people to leave the earlier Mass, but I couldn't do much about that, and at least I was inside. A priest and a deacon emerged from the inner recesses and made their way to their seats. After the penitential rite, we recited the Gloria.

A reader went to the small lectern (for what are they saving the ambo) and gave the first reading, recited the psalm for the day, and gave the second reading. The cantor sang the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel to Richard Proulx' "Missa Emmanuel" setting, in which everything is sung to the tune of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." The priest proclaimed the Gospel from the lectern.

The priest managed to get a few points made in a brief homily. He explained that a priest friend of his said that most people misunderstand what we celebrate today-- Mary's sinless conception in the womb of St. Anne, her mother. (This is probably true-- most people think it is Jesus' sinless conception, since that is the reading used, as we have no Biblical account of Mary's conception.) Eve's sin was the triumph of Satan, but Mary's conception was the triumph of God's power that put Satan to shame.

We recited the Creed, and a collection was taken by jacketed ushers using long-handled wicker baskets. The Prayer of the Faithful was omitted; I see this often at daily Masses in this neck of the woods, but on a holy day it seemed particularly wrong. The chalice and ciborium were of metal. Some in the congregation stood after the priest made the Orate Fratres invitation, but most remained seated until after the congregation's response was complete.

We sang the Sanctus to the Missa Emmanuel setting. The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer. We also sang the Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen to Missa Emmanuel. We recited the Lord's Prayer without any intertwining. The sign of peace was quick. We sang the Agnus Dei to Missa Emmanuel.

The Communion hymn was "Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All." Holy Communion was distributed at several locations by priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers; the chalice was not offered.

After Communion, the priest made an announcement about a holiday gift-giving program and then offered the closing prayer and imparted a simple blessing before retreating to the rear of the sanctuary to the hymn, "Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above." An itinerant worshipper chose an alternate, less-crowded, countercultural exit to make his was back to a nearby subway station to begin the journey home as additional throngs pushed their way inside to satisfy their obligation.

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In Springfield, Illinois, Mass is offered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on East Lawrence Ave. All across the nation and around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.

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Same day in 1999