Yesterday, I left at about 6:15 to make a 50-minute trip by car to a parish with a 7:00 AM Mass. "Now, wait just a minute!" you all shout. "That means you didn't get there until 7:05 AM." Indeed. Silly me should know better after 77 weeks, but some of us don't learn too well. I entered the building anyway just to get a bulletin and verify the schedule in hopes of returning next week. Others were entering too, and they remained. The first reading was just beginning as I poked my head inside. As I left the parking lot, I saw still others arriving. The significance of this will be left as an exercise for the reader.
Having blown my first opportunity of the day, I then had a choice of rescheduling next week's parish (an 8:00 AM Mass) for this week or selecting another nearby parish with a 7:30 AM Mass. Guitars were heard at the latter parish's 10:30 AM Mass, so I had considered scouting the 9 AM Mass but didn't hold much hope of anything great there; therefore, I decided not to kill too much time and simply attended that parish. Next week's parish can be postponed until outside of Lent, I suppose.
The church, which bears a 1970 cornerstone, is of similar outside shape as last week's, but it lacks the wall that makes the other one triangular. It is also considerably brighter than last week's, with light brick walls and high, narrow, abstract stained-glass windows. The sanctuary extends into the seating area, which consists of light-grained wooden bench-type pews arranged in a squared "U" (no angled sections). An organ and several rows of individual seats for a choir are located to the right of the sanctuary. A red cross hangs over the sanctuary; yesterday, it had no figure of Jesus at all, leading me to believe that, for Lent, the figure either had been removed or was reversed so that the figure of Jesus faced away from the congregation. A brown marble altar is at the center of the sanctuary, and a mostly wooden ambo with a bit of a railing is to the left, ahead of the altar. The tabernacle is in a metal cabinet at the center of the rear wall of the sanctuary, in a sort of a niche with a low ceiling. The pews have shelves underneath that hold copies of OCP's Breaking Bread hymnal (which does not have the readings). Entrances to this church are at all four corners of the square, although signs forbid entrance through the two sets of doors nearest the sanctuary during Mass.
The Mass began as a reader, who had "nun" written all over her even though she wasn't wearing a habit, walked from the sacristy toward the cantor's lectern and announced the names of the priest and deacon, who also came from the sacristy and made their way to their places in the sanctuary. The deacon led the invocations of Form C of the penitential rite.
The reader gave both readings and the psalm without any problem that I could see; this was followed by the deacon's proclamation of the Gospel. The homily, given by the priest, was rather straightforward. The point that sticks in my mind most is the idea that what we witness in Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection is sort of a metamorphosis, similar to what happens to frogs and butterflies. (The priest recalled the wonder of watching this happen as a child.)
The Creed was recited, followed by a standard Prayer of the Faithful. A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets. The chalice and ciboriums were of metal; the primary ciborium was rather large and shaped like a dish.
The priest offered the second Eucharistic Prayer, although he seems to be one of those who feels guilty for using it and finds himself compelled to embellish it somewhat. For instance, he said "he took bread in his sacred hands," which is an echo of the first Eucharistic Prayer. I noticed other similar echoes as well.
At the Our Father I noticed nobody joining hands, but as the church was only about a third full, the opportunity wasn't particularly enticing. (By contrast, almost everyone at Mass this morning at another parish went out of the way to join hands.)
Four lay ministers assisted the priest and deacon in the distribution of Holy Communion. Two stations were located on the center aisle, and two each were located at the sides, one for each of the perpendicular side sections and another for each of the parallel side sections. The chalice was not offered.
After Communion, the priest offered the Prayer After Communion, and the reader read one announcement from the cantor's lectern as everyone remained standing. Then the priest imparted a simple blessing, sang one verse of "O Sacrament Most Holy," and left the sanctuary with the deacon and reader.