Instead, between now (the first week of Advent) and March 16 (Palm Sunday), I will be attending Mass at a different parish each week.
I will be providing an extremely subjective review/critique of each Mass in particular, and each parish in general. This is for nobody's benefit but my own, but I always welcome comments.
My rankings are also quite subjective. For comparison, I use Holy Rosary as the benchmark, ranking it a 5 in most categories. At the other end, the Protestant church where I grew up would be ranked a 1.
Week 1: First Sunday of Advent
Parish: St. Roch
3600 S. Pennsylvania St.
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Number of families: 1,101
Church capacity: 600
Church architecture was very nice. It was definitely built pre-Vatican II. However, the high ceiling which is apparent from the external architecture was covered by modern-day drip ceilings and hanging lights. The altar is solid wood (looks like stained oak), with a solid crucifix on the back wall. The stained glass is not particularly outstanding, but the stations of the Cross have very nice painted illustrations. The church has confessionals along the right side wall (not the booth, but actually built into the wall). The pews are somewhat narrow (when I knelt down, I accidentally kicked the kneeler of the pew behind me), and are arranged in the traditional left and right columns, facing the front altar.
My ranking: 3.5 out of 5 (if the ceiling was original, I would make this a 4)
The music: Pipe organ, pleasantly in tune and able to hit the high notes. No choir, but there were two cantors who led the congregation. Hymns were 18th and 19th century for the most part, with some 20th century lyrics, and not at all offensive to one's sense of musical tradition.
My ranking: 4 out of 5
The priest: mid to late 50s, probably been with the parish for a decade or so (I could look this up, but I don't really care enough to bother). Not really the grandfather type, and definitely was reading the homily from his notes instead of having it memorized for the most part. Still, he said a good and reverent Mass, if not necessarily uplifting or memorable. One aspect which I did not like; he made his parish announcements after the gospel but before his homily, and there were so many of them that it really disconnected you from reflecting on the readings and gospel, and his homily (or as he called it, a "homilette") was actually shorter than all of the announcements.
My ranking: 3 of 5 for the priest, 1.5 of 5 for the homily.
The liturgy: Every Novus Ordo priest put their unique spin on this. This priest pretty much plowed through the Penitential Rite, and did not recite the Confiteor. The response between the first and second reading was actually a hymn from the Gather hymnal (I personally prefer the call-and-response of most liturgies). The Sanctus (Holy Holy Holy) and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) were sung, which is actually my second favorite (my fave is singing it in Latin). One thing which really did stick in my craw was during the Consecration, the priest referred to the disciples as "friends", as in "He broke the bread, gave it to his 'friends', and said..." Any changes to the phrasing of the consecration just rubs me the wrong way.
My ranking: 2 of 5.
Other: there were two altar servers, one boy and one girl, wearing jeans and sneakers under their vestments. The church was very crowded and surprisingly noisy when I arrived 10 minutes before Mass. At the start and end of Mass, the congregation greeted and thanked the priest, but not in a spontaneous way, but as if it was part of the expected responses. After Mass, almost nobody knelt to pray, and I barely had time for a Glory Be fore I was forced out of the pew.
My overall ranking: 3.5 of 5.
Would I return: possibly. I would like to go to a Saturday morning mass, both to avoid a sense of overcrowding and claustrophobia, and also to spend some time looking at the church itself, the statues and side altars.
Next weekend is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8). Most churches transfer this feast to that Sunday (December 9). I'm actually going to a monastery on the 8th, but I'll still go to Mass on Sunday. Another report next week.