Week 4: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Parish: St Joseph Catholic Chapel
245 W. Broadway St.
Greenwood, IN 46142
535 E. Edgewood Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Additional info: The Mass was in Latin, following the 1959 missal. This church is not part of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It is a private chapel, founded before Pope John Paul II's 1984 decree permitting the Latin Mass with the approval of the bishop. It is also the church which Kat's mom and dad attend.
I think this used to be a Protestant church, so the exterior is nothing great. Inside, it is a small chapel, seating maybe 200 if they don't mind being chummy. Some stained glass, pews in an auditorium style (you can tell the kneelers were an afterthought), and a small but adequate sanctuary. It really is an amalgam of styles, not offensive or garish, but definitely with a hodge-podge look about it.
My ranking: 2.5 out of 5, not bad but not great
Almost none. This was actually kind of a low Mass (the liturgy was spoken, not sung), and there was no musical instruments. There was a small choir who sang "O Come, O come, Emmanual" at the start and end of the Mass, and sang in Latin during the Offertory. I don't know if this chapel has a piano; it definitely doesn't have a pipe organ, the place is much too small.
My ranking: 3 of 5, based on quality, but the weight of this in the overall score is reduced.
Early to mid 70s, definitely was educated when the Latin Rite was the only rite. Kat's mom and dad seem to like him a lot, but these are my impressions, not theirs. He seemed to be a bit of a doddering old man. Granted, most of the Mass is spoken in a whisper, but when he did speak up during the Gospel and the homily, his voice was a little raspy. His homily was an exhortation to us to spend the next few days thinking about the light which is to come (Jesus Christ), but also to lament for those who have chosen to reject the light, singling out the Jews by name. (Remember, this is an uber-traditionalist group, and they share a lot of the same views as Mel Gibson).
One thing which was a little unexpected: I was advised that I could not receive the sacraments (Communion, Confession) until I had an interview with the priest prior to the Mass. In a way, I can almost understand this: this is a private chapel, and they take the reception of the Body of Christ very seriously.
My ranking: 3.5 of 5 for the priest, 3 for the homily, -2 for the anti-Semitism.
This was a Latin Mass, so naturally, everything was as it should be. We knelt during most of it, and only the altar server, not the congregation, said the responses. They follow the 1959 rubrics, so the priest gave the Absolution before the Ecce Agnus Dei. It was a low Mass, so the liturgy was spoken, not sung. I would have liked to have heard a sung Mass, but I will soon enough.
My ranking: 5 of 5. This is what the Mass is supposed to be
- Two altar boys, wearing black slacks and dress shoes. Priest and servers were wearing simple vestments which look like they've seen a lot of use over the years.
- During the pre-Mass Rosary, we stood and recited the Angelus prayer, which I've never done before in a group, but which I rather liked.
- Before Mass, one of the members greeted me in the vestibule, and sort of quizzed me about where I was from and if I had ever been to a Latin Mass. I tried to make some conversation, mentioning the FSSP, the Summorum Pontificum motu proprio, and the need to train more priests in the Latin Rite. His demeanor changed somewhat, and said, in so many words, "Well, there's a lot of confusion in the Church. We know what we're doing here."
- One disquieting moment: as one woman received communion (on the tongue, naturally), it slipped off her tongue and onto the carpet. The priest picked it up, blessed it, and gave it to her again. The woman was so embarrassed, she had to have someone guide her back to her seat.
My overall ranking: 3.5 of 5.
Would I return: actually no.
It is a nice little chapel, and the people there are to be commended for keeping it afloat without any archdiocesan support, but I definitely felt like an outsider. I've always felt that a Catholic church, and the Church in general, should promote a feeling of inclusion, welcoming people into the community of faith. This chapel left me with a sense of exclusion, as if my presence was being tolerated, but not accepted.
I've gone on and on in the past few weeks (and will probably continue to do so in the future) about how liberal and free-wheeling some of the parishes have become, and how they need to return to more traditional practices. Between the priest's not-so-thinly-veiled comment about the Jews being in darkness, and the greeter's slightly disapproving tone regarding the motu propro, I really got a sense of how far the pendulum can swing in the other direction. Call it a lesson in tolerance and patience, one which I seem to be getting a lot lately.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I'll be going to at least one Mass, possibly two (one English, one Latin). Christmas Day, I will be going to the Latin Mass at Holy Rosary. I won't write comprehensive reviews of every one, but I will write something about each.