Once again, I attempted to complete the journey I had originally planned for two weeks ago. Since I was no more than fifteen minutes late that time, I figured that leaving half an hour earlier would be more than sufficient, so I left at 6:50 AM for the 9:15 AM Mass. I must really have hustled last time, because today I took my time, figuring that I had plenty, and it just seemed to disappear somehow; I was still five minutes late. The cantor (who sounded great, by the way) was already halfway into the psalm. No good. Not for Sunday Mass. Frustrated with myself, I walked two blocks to a train station to see if I could head elsewhere, but before I could check the posted schedule to see if the train would take me anywhere useful, a train passed, stopped, and left. Strike two. Ouch. The next train would not arrive for another hour. Then it was back to the street; perhaps a bus would pass. It did, just before I had a chance to get to the bus stop. The next bus would definitely not pass for another hour on a Sunday. Some days one just feels like crawling under a rock. The edge of the remnants of a tropical storm was heading in my direction besides, with heavy rain expected. What could I do-- why, the same thing every 37-year old man does in this situation.
I called my mother and had her collect me; fortunately I have good parents who tolerate my miscues and idiosyncrasies reasonably well. She drove me home, noting that "you certainly had your morning constitutional today." From there I started from scratch, attempting to drive to a noon Mass at a parish about an hour from where I live. Unfortunately, I had only fifty minutes to complete that journey, so I had to scratch that one. However, my schedule showed that I was still within range of two parishes with 12:30 PM Masses. I selected one of those and finally made it at 12:20 PM.
This parish is new, having been created within the last fifteen years or so; the building cannot be more than ten years old. It was built in a clearing in the woods, and many of the trees remain, even over and around the parking lots. One passes through wooded areas on asphalt paths to reach the church, which has a large courtyard surrounded by the main church on one side and parish offices on another. The building is white on the outside, with lots of clear glass and a very high, peaked ceiling. The front of the inside of the roof is light wooden paneling, but much of the rest is plain white. The pews are a mix of individual wooden chairs and traditional wooden benches arranged in a semi-circle of four sections within the rectangular space. A large, marble baptismal font with constantly flowing water and suitable for total immersion is found in the center aisle by the rear entrance, located off an inner foyer.
The sanctuary is within the rectangular space. Over it is suspended a huge translucent crucifix with a bronze figure of the risen Christ. The ambo, at the left, is a simple marble box with a shelf on the front for the Book of Gospels. A very similar cantor's lectern (I presume, as I cannot figure any other use for it) is at the right, minus the shelf. The marble altar is slightly ahead of the ambo. A ramp leads to the sanctuary from the left behind four pillars; other pillars at the right hold an organ and a piano. The square, glass tabernacle is visibly located behind a glass partition separating the main church from what appears to be a daily Mass chapel. Copies of the OCP Music Issue and Today's Missal, fitted together in blue plastic covers, are in racks in the pews.
Before the Mass, the cantor appeared and played some mood music on a keyboard located with a musician's stand in front of the organ. The cantor's lectern, organ, and piano were not used. Most of the music seemed to be a mix of piano, guitar, and string music that sounded very much like a recording (the kind of thing I'd actually like on a Christian music station on the radio). I think its loudness and polished sound dampened participation; people probably felt more comfortable listening to the cantor sing to that accompaniment. The opening hymn was "River of Glory." A reader and the priest entered with no one else via the center aisle. (The Mass had no servers.)
Even in week 46, I saw something new; the priest must have seen me and said, "So he's looking for omissions, is he? I'll fix him." He used both Form A (the Confiteor) and Form C (the Kyrie with invocations) of the penitential rite. It could be lots worse, though, I guess. The Gloria was recited.
The reader then read the first reading as printed in the missalette. The responsorial psalm was sung, again to a keyboard accompaniment. After the second reading, the verse before the Gospel was sung; it was the only time the cantor switched the keyboard to the "organ" position.
After the priest read the Gospel, he gave a workmanlike homily in which he underscored the points in the Gospel about resolving disputes. He said in particular that disputes should be resolved rather than allowed to fester. He concluded with an updated version of the peace prayer of St. Francis, which gives strong emphasis to good things being a way to bring light to others, and bad things being a form of darkness to be taken from others; it wasn't bad, actually as far as I could tell.
The Creed was recited, and a more or less standard Prayer of the Faithful followed. A collection was taken using handleless wicker baskets passed back and forth across the pews with minimal assistance from the ushers. A glass paten and flagon were used to present the gifts. The priest then took six glass serving chalices from the side table and placed them on the altar but did not fill them until later. (Odd, actually.) The offertory hymn was "You Are Mine."
The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were from Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation, all sung to keyboard accompaniments. The second Eucharistic Prayer was used. The priest was particularly long in his elevations of the Body and Blood of Christ at the appropriate times. The Our Father was recited; the Mass was not particularly well attended, and too many gaps probably precluded any connection of hands. At the sign of peace, the priest came to the pews and shook hands with those in the congregation near the front, receiving a kiss on the cheek from someone in the very front row. (That must have been an example of a holy kiss.)
Eight lay ministers entered the sanctuary to assist the priest in the distribution of Holy Communion. They were administered the Body of Christ in the usual way, but they were left to self-communicate from the cups. Distribution proceeded in more or less a logical way from what I could see given the layout of the pews. The cantor sang two hymns (unannounced, I think) that I did not recognize to the keyboard accompaniment. The second of these lasted well after distribution of Communion had ended.
The priest then read two very brief announcements and thanked everyone for their warmth and hospitality as he was returning to Ireland after a month's stay here, noting that he would have to wipe all the lipstick off his cheek on the plane so that his bishop did not see it. He also thanked the cantor for playing an Irish tune pertaining to Our Lady of Knock during Communion. Following his remarks, he received a round of applause. The Prayer After Communion was followed by a simple blessing. The closing hymn was "Amazing Grace." The first verse was sung without accompaniment; then after the next two verses, the cantor asked for the first verse again, like a disk jockey at a wedding reception. About half the congregation had left before the end, but those who remained offered a round of applause.
Will I be stubborn enough to make a third attempt on foot on the parish I just can't reach? Keep reading to discover the answer.