Week 88

Corpus Christi


One vehicle in the fleet was not in service today, so I decided that it would be a good day to take a bus ride to a fairly close parish. I could have taken the long form of the trip (without the bus), but it was too hot and humid for the two and a half hour walk, so I cheated with the bus and took the short form. I walked 45 minutes to the bus stop, figuring that taking another bus to get there might make me late, as I'd have had only three minutes leeway. I was right; the bus I skipped pulled in just as the bus I caught was leaving, and although the departing bus stopped to board the latecomers, that was too close for comfort. Some slightly tense moments developed as the bus, then leaving a bit late, ran behind schedule and eventually arrived ten minutes late in the village of the parish for the day. I had it right again, though, as I still had about twelve minutes to walk to the church in time for its 11:15 AM Mass. I had figured that with 22 minutes to take the seven- or eight-minute walk, even if the bus was a bit late, I'd still be in the clear.

The building has a red brick outside and bears a 1969 cornerstone. That makes it a bit hard to analyze; one cannot tell for sure just how the inside might have looked in 1969 compared to today. Nevertheless, we can see that an organ and seats for a choir at the front right were added, replacing several rows of pews at the right; a darkened choir loft is apparently no longer used. The inside is also of red brick with heavy, rounded beige mouldings. The stained-glass windows are tall and square, with not-too-abstract depictions of various aspects of the church's patronal name. The dark, wooden pews have white trim and are split by a center aisle, side aisles, and a break about halfway back. The two center sections can hold between 12 and 16 people across, while the shorter side sections look wide enough for three to five people. Racks in the pews hold GIA's RitualSong hardcover hymnal and OCP's Today's Missal large-type paperback. I noticed that someone must have been really bothered at some point by the noise of books hitting the bottom of the racks, because each rack had a strip of foam across the bottom.

The rectangular, silver, metal tabernacle is underneath a beige marble arch at the left of the sanctuary; it may have been moved from the center, where in the middle of the red brick wall is a beige marble section with a large line drawing depiction of the Risen Christ holding a cross with a flag attached to it alongside the legend, "YOU TOGETHER ARE MY BODY." The celebrant's chair and servers' chairs are directly in front of this and behind the freestanding altar. The white, wooden ambo is at the left; a simple cantor's lectern is at the right (still in the sanctuary and not actually with the organ). Air conditioning was readily apparent in the building on this hot, humid day.

I arrived at about 11:10 AM and found the church nearly empty but figured that everyone was at the beach by that time and it would just be a sparsely attended Mass. I waited a few minutes, and then a procession led by servers entered. "Oh, that's nice," I said to myself. "They had a Eucharistic procession before Mass for Corpus Christi." As the congregation and choir sang "Tantum Ergo," in Latin, the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar in a monstrance and incensed. After this, the Divine Praises were recited. As I witnessed this, I began to have doubts about just what I was seeing; finally, the priest (accompanied by concelebrants and deacons) gave a blessing, and "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" was sung before everyone departed. Now, I was really concerned; it was well past 11:15, and I saw no evidence of another Mass to follow, so I headed to the vestibule, where a sign announced that the parish had no 9:45 or 11:15 Masses for Corpus Christi; both had been replaced by a 10:00 AM bilingual Mass (English and Portuguese). Ouch! Stung again! I sat in the empty church for a few moments and almost felt like crying, as I (and you) had probably missed a wonderful Mass. The next Mass was at 12:45 PM, so about the only sensible thing to do was to wait for it; I went to the local courthouse, found a bench underneath a shade tree that God had thoughtfully provided for me, along with a cool breeze, and I sat and listened for about an hour to some beautiful Italian music on a portable pocket-sized radio I had brought for the ride home. I figured that maybe a nice young lady would have spotted me leaving church and decided to follow me to the bench and sit next to me, but she must have been looking for me at another parish today.

I returned at about 12:35 PM and took a seat near the center aisle about seven rows back. The organist was kind enough to return, but other than that, this was clearly not going to be as full-blown as the preceding Mass. Sigh. At least it was still the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The cantor took the lectern and gave a few announcements before announcing the opening hymn, "All People That on Earth Do Dwell." Three servers, a reader, six lay ministers of Holy Communion, and the priest participated in the entrance procession through the center aisle. The priest led the recitation of Form C of the penitential rite (ending in, "You feed us with Your Body and Blood") and the Gloria.

The reader went to the ambo and gave the first reading as it appeared in the missalette. She also led the recitation of the psalm for the day (the hymn board indicated a musical setting in the hymnal, no doubt for the earlier Mass, and it had a different response although it was adapted from the same psalm, 116). She finished by giving the second reading. The optional sequence for Corpus Christi was omitted.

The cantor led the Celtic Alleluia by Christopher Walker (listed on the hymn board) before the priest took the ambo and proclaimed the Gospel. His homily began with a reference to the legend on the wall behind him; he noted its constant presence and asked how many had actually taken time to think about it. He recalled the story about the World War II soldier who found a torso of Jesus in the rubble of a church and left it with a note reading, "You are My hands and feet," for others to read. (The priest kept saying, "I am your hands and feet," but I am almost certain he meant it the other way, as the story makes little sense otherwise.) He then noted the three senses of "body of Christ," as I recall. The first has slipped from my mind, but the others I think were the Eucharist and the faithful in communion with Christ. The priest also referred to the "active" and "contemplative" elements of the Eucharistic mystery, the active being the sacrifice of the Mass and the living of Christ's commands, with the contemplative being Christ reserved in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Clearly, though, in general, he seemed to place the most emphasis on the congregation as the "body of Christ."

The Creed was recited, followed by the usual Prayer of the Faithful, and the cantor waited for a collection to be taken with long-handled wicker baskets before proceeding with the offertory hymn, "You Satisfy the Hungry Heart." The chalices (two serving chalices plus the priest's taller one) and ciboriums (about four of them) were of metal. It looked as though the Sanctus was to be sung, as the cantor was ready at the lectern, but the priest began its recitation, so it was recited. It probably would have been from the Mass of Creation, as we did in fact sing the Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei to that setting. The priest used the second Eucharistic Prayer; a server sounded bells (in three bursts) at the consecration. The church was about half to three-quarters empty, so the recited Our Father afforded little opportunity for joining of hands.

At Communion, an additional priest assisted along with the lay ministers, one of whom retrieved additional Hosts from the tabernacle. The Communion hymn was "One Bread, One Body." Two stations for the Precious Body were located in the center aisle, front and back, and two additional stations were located on the side aisles. Two stations for the Precious Blood were located in the front, shared between two of the other lines.

After Communion, a second collection for Peter's Pence was taken in the same manner as the first. The priest gave the closing prayer and a simple blessing before departing through the center aisle with all those who accompanied hymn in entering. The closing hymn was "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name." Only one verse was sung, but few left before it was concluded.


Same Sunday Last Year


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