Once again, we take a brief break from the tour of our usual diocese and take a short railroad ride into Manhattan, where, as we observed in week 58, Catholicism seems to thrive despite the blatantly hostile surroundings, almost as a taunt to Satan's firm control of most of the city. Today's parish is about a three-minute walk from the one of week 58; one of the few blessings of city life is that one will often have a choice of several parishes that are all within walking distance. I stopped first at the other parish, where a choir was rehearsing in the lower Church for a Korean Mass; oddly enough, it was singing "Ave Verum," and it did as well as the choir at my own English parish-- in fact, it was a dead ringer. I was rather moved by this and was tempted to stay, but unfortunately, I know not a word of Korean.
The building is very traditional; I could not find a cornerstone, but I'm sure it predates 1950. Hat hooks tell part of the story, to be sure, but the rest of the church has its say as well. The arched ceiling is very high on the sides but even higher at the center. The stained-glass windows are very detailed, although those on one side of the church abut a tall building which prevents any light from passing through them, making them look totally dark. The Stations of the Cross are depicted by large, painted sculptures that hang along the side walls. One of the six confessionals has been converted into a "Shrine of Padre Pio," holding statues and other devotional objects relating to the Capuchin friar. The wooden pews, stocked with Paluch's We Celebrate missalettes and hymnals, hold about twelve across and are split by a center aisle; side aisles are also present. A more or less traditional crucifix hangs over the tabernacle, at the center of the sanctuary, notable only by the fact that Christ's head is raised instead of hanging. Side altars and their tabernacles also remain. A small ambo is to the right of the sanctuary; the cantor, reader, and priest all used it throughout the Mass. A piano is on the right, near the sanctuary, and the cantor and organist practiced on it before Mass, which disappointed me as I imagined the organ collecting dust in the choir loft, but the organist found his way to the loft and used the organ for the entire Mass.
The cantor began by making one or two short announcements and then announced the opening hymn, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say." A reader, three lay ministers of Holy Communion, and the priest formed the entrance procession that passed through the center aisle. The priest used Form C of the penitential rite and led the recitation of the Gloria. The reader gave the first reading, and the cantor led the psalm in the usual way. After the second reading, and the Alleluia and verse before the Gospel, again led by the cantor, the priest proclaimed the Gospel.
The homily began as the priest recalled the tale of the actor and priest who had a competition to see who could give a better dramatic rendition of Psalm 23 (today's psalm). The actor went first, and everyone was impressed. After the priest gave his reading, however, everyone was moved to tears, including the actor, who said, "I know acting, so my reading was good, but your reading was better-- you know the Shepherd." The celebrant then stressed the importance of the imagery of the Good Shepherd, noting how common they were in biblical times and how much the shepherd's life revolved around his sheep; he basically spent his whole life with them. I must confess to having become distracted somewhat by his delivery, which consisted of short bursts of words followed by a brief pause, rather than flowing speech, but the homily was decent nonetheless.
We recited the Creed, and the usual Prayer of the Faithful followed. The offertory hymn was "The King of Love." A collection was taken using long-handled wicker baskets. One of the lay ministers doubled as server; the chalice and ciborium were of metal. I think one of the glass cruets was used to consecrate additional wine.
The Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, and Agnus Dei were from the same setting used in week 83 (unfortunately, I don't know the name of it). The priest used the third Eucharistic Prayer, more or less as it appears in the Sacramentary. We recited the Our Father; the church was so sparsely attended (more what one might expect for daily Mass or maybe a very early Sunday Mass rather than the 10:30 AM Sunday Mass) that hand-holding really wasn't a viable option even if anyone wanted to do it, although I did see one couple doing it.
Communion was offered under both forms, with two pairs of stations located on the center aisle. The Communion hymn was "Gift of Finest Wheat." Worth mentioning is that all the verses of all the hymns were sung; that is unusual these days but not extremely rare.
After Communion, the priest gave the closing prayer and a simple blessing. He, the reader, and the lay ministers left through a side door on the left where the parish offices and perhaps the sacristy are located. Instead of a closing hymn, the organist went directly into a grand postlude; perhaps the cantor and organist got tired of being embarrassed to be the only ones singing at the end, although this is simply pure speculation, as I had never attended Sunday Mass at this parish before today. You knew that, though, didn't you?