Week 2: Second Sunday of Advent
Parish: St. Mark the Evangelist
535 E. Edgewood Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Number of families: 947
Church capacity: 550
Church architecture: Even through this church was supposedly built in the 1940s, this church was straight out of the Vatican II handbook. To be honest, my first impression of the church interior was "How did my Presbyterian church get moved out here?" White cinderblock walls, arched ceiling with exposed rafters (and a cluster of PA speakers at the peak), a barely-there sanctuary, an "altar" which was smaller than my ex-wife's dining room table, a single floor-to-ceiling stained glass which was maybe a foot wide, and except for a lonely Virgin Mary, not a statue or crucifix in sight. The pews are arranged stadium-style, in a semi-circle around the altar. I didn't bother looking for the confessionals; I'm positive that this place had a "reconciliation room" tucked away somewhere. The best thing I can say about it; at least it was immaculately clean
My ranking: 1.5 out of 5
The music: Another Vatican II production. No choir loft; the choir stood on risers to the left of the sanctuary, led by a cantor who had a lot more enthusiasm than talent. Instrumental music was provided by a piano, an upright bass, and during communion, the ubiquitous acoustic guitar. The hymns were all modern (late 19th to mid 20th century American), and the Communion hymn was partly sung in Spanish. Nothing against Spanish music, but this was an overwhelmingly white congregation, so the hymn was really nothing more than an affectation.
My ranking: 1.5 out of 5, with the guitar getting zero points.
The priest: late 40s, he just joined the parish (and I do mean JUST; last week was his first Mass there). He's not going to set the world on fire, but he did seem fairly humble and sincere. He's trying to connect with his new parish, and hasn't quite worked out a rapport with everyone. I honestly don't remember the homily; I rarely do.
Because he is new, he spent part of his homily time telling a little bit about himself, his family history and upbringing. Maybe it was just me, but after talking about himself for five minutes, even HE seemed bored.
My ranking: 2.5 of 5 for the priest, not enough to like or dislike.
The liturgy: Here was the real disappointment. It seemed very happy-clappy, even though it wasn't. The piano played in some minor key during the Confietor, underscoring our sinful nature. No Gloria again. The Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were sung by the cantor in English. Generally not a good thing, and he absolutely butchered the Agnus Dei. He threw in a few extra verses, and I just followed along. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, knelt down after the Agnus Dei. Some minor variations of phrase during the preparation of the gifts, nothing too outlandish, but enough that I noticed.
My ranking: 1 of 5.
Other: two altar boys, wearing khakis and dress shoes. The priest's vestments looked like cheap polyester. There was someone doing sign language interpretation on the right side. Very few people knelt after receiving communion, and although I wasn't checking, I doubt many people received on the tongue. People were still talking as the priest processed in, and as soon as he processed out, the conversations started back up in earnest.
My overall ranking: 1.5 of 5.
Would I return: nope. The whole experience was far too ecumenical for my tastes. I know that sounds like I'm some sort of church snob, but I see nothing wrong with following tradition (little "t", as opposed to "Tradition" favored by uber-conservatives like SSPX). The overall impression was that this was a Catholic Mass for Protestants.
Next weekend, I may take a road trip, either to Louisville or Dayton. This may be my last chance to go anywhere before the new year. Of course, if there's six inches of snow of the ground, I'll stay close to home.
PS - this entry was posted from my new laptop (yay!), while sitting at Panera drinking bad coffee (boo).