1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19
Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20
The light snow made only the side streets dangerous, so I drove an hour and a half to a large, relatively modern church not too far from a river. The church itself had no cornerstone, but an adjacent school was marked "1965," which seemed as though it could have applied to the simple, auditorium-style church as well. The building has a red brick exterior with a peaked roof. The inside walls are of Belgian blocks with simple, large, clear windows high on the walls. The sanctuary has been pulled forward into the nave, where about a dozen rows of pews were removed. Sections of individual, upholstered seats face the freestanding, square, wooden altar on either side. The wooden ambo is to the left of the altar but further back. The huge, traditional, wooden crucifix hangs on the rear wall. The tabernacle is on a stand underneath a small canopy where the left side altar may have been. The statue of the Blessed Mother has been moved to the left side wall near the corner. An ambry is mounted on the wall near the doors from the narthex. Two confessionals remain. The choir loft also remains, but it appears to used now for general seating, as the piano and organ are located with more individual seats for a choir behind the altar. Today's Mass had no choir, but I suspect that I would have found the presence of a choir behind the altar somewhat distracting. The remaining pews are in four sections: two center sections and two short side sections that abut the walls. The pews are of light wood and racks holding copies of Breaking Bread and Worship are mounted on them. In the pew where I sat, one copy of Worship was the original third edition, while another copy was the revised third edition with readings from the 1998 Lectionary.
Mass began as one of two readers went to the ambo and read three short announcements. The required pretty female cantor followed at a stand at the right and announced the first hymn, "All Are Welcome," which was pasted into the front cover of the Worship hymnals. This hymn echoed the message on banners that hung on the lampposts outside. We sang all the verses as three servers the deacon, and the priest passed through the center aisle in the entrance procession. The priest made some remarks about how ordinary time is not ordinary and that some people are celebrating and others are hurting this week. The deacon led the invocations of Form C of the penitential rite. We sang a bilingual Gloria; the refrain was in Spanish, but the verses, which sounded as though they may have been a bit off the beaten path, were in English.
The first reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading. A noticeable pause followed before the cantor sneaked across the back to the ambo at the left to sing the responsorial psalm, which seemed to be based upon the psalm of the day but was not exactly what was printed in Worship. Another noticeable pause followed before the second reader went to the ambo to give the second reading. We sang the Alleluia and the cantor sang the verse before the Gospel. The deacon held the Book of Gospels high as he approached the ambo to proclaim the Gospel.
The deacon remained to preach the homily. He started by asking us to think of various apostles and suggested that we would probably think of Peter first, then perhaps James and John. They were the ones who were at the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane and who took the most important jobs in the early Church. Meanwhile, some are totally disdained-- few children today are named Judas. Then there is Andrew. The deacon explained that most of us aren't in the Judas category but also few are in the top eschelon with Peter, James, and John. The Andrews are totally necessary to the smooth functioning of the planet, and most of us probably are along with Andrew for the ride. Andrew could be the checkout clerk, the guy next to us in the office, or the gasoline station attendant. The homily ended with a pitch for volunteers for the Interfaith Hospitality Network, as the parish will be taking its turn hosting homeless families for three weeks in the summer.
We recited the Creed, and the deacon led the recitation of the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful from the ambo. The priest added an intention of his own for racial harmony in light of Martin Luther King Day. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets as we sang the offertory hymn, "You Have Called Us." The ciborium appeared to be of metal, but the chalice was glass and a glass flagon did not know when to leave and remained on the altar until the fraction rite. The congregation, on the other hand, had a bit more sense than the flagon and did stand immediately after the priest completed the Orate Fratres invitation.
We sang the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen to the Community Mass setting. The priest offered the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation II. I noticed that he started the Preface with "God, all powerful and ever-living, we..." which got me wondering if the omission of the word "Father" was not accidental. We recited the Lord's Prayer; the priest slowed it noticeably, but that is okay as long as we didn't have to join hands.
We sang the Agnus Dei to the Holy Cross Mass setting; the cantor used creative tropes. Four extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion entered during the Agnus Dei and stood behind the altar, while four more extraordinary ministers stood in the front row at the left. They were given Communion before the Agnus Dei was complete and they held it until after the priest received. Sigh.
The Communion hymn was "Ubi Caritas." Stations for both forms of Communion were located across the front; those in the side sections walked to the rear, starting with those in the front, and then back up the center aisle. Two ministers also went to the loft to distribute there,and after the hymn was complete and everyone else had received, another not unwelcome pause of silence followed as the two ministers returned to the front before the tabernacle was closed.
After Communion, the priest stopped to make sure everyone knew his credentials by playfully chiding the deacon for not mentioning the Blessed Mother as a disciple, noting that sometimes, "even the boys in Rome don't get that." Boy, am I glad the deacon preached the homily today! The priest then made another pitch for volunteers for the Interfaith Hospitality Network, offered the closing prayer,and imparted a simple blessing before leaving with the servers and deacon via the center aisle as we sang all four verses of "In Christ There Is No East or West." The pianist must have seen my icy stare during the Mass, because she left the piano and went to the organ for the final hymn. Almost everyone in the full church remained to the end of the hymn. I was tempted to stop and say to the deacon, "Hi, I'm Andrew," but that would have been too corny even for the likes of me, so I simply waited for everyone else to leave and slipped out the side door to head home.
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"Agnes, why did you use the organ for that last hymn? You know what Father thinks of it..."
"It was that guy in the trenchcoat. I couldn't take the brainwaves any more."
"And the brainwaves were saying, 'use the organ,' I presume."
"Well, it did seem like that."
"Hey-- you're just lucky he wasn't sending brainwaves at you."
"I suppose you're going to tell me he wanted to go out with me."
"Well, actually-- I got the feeling that he might have considered it."
"You need a psychiatrist. And tell your telepathic friend I don't go out with organ lovers!"
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In Nassau, Bahamas, forget tanning and go to St. Cecilia Church on Coconut Grove Ave for Mass. Across the nation and all around the world, you can almost always find a Catholic Mass.
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