Saturday, January 05, 2013

The New Jersey DEP promotes their state parks with "First Day Hikes," guided walking tours on New Year's Day. I planned to walk with my oldest son at the Battle of Princeton because the guide seemed the most informed. Other NJ state parks are closer to home but this one in Princeton offered an early start, 7 am, and a reasonable duration of two hours.

Quaker Meeting House/Stoney Brook Meeting House

Since my parish did not offer a vigil mass for the solemnity, we attended elsewhere. The parish I chose just happened to be enjoying a visit from the bishop of Trenton who celebrated the vigil mass for the solemnity as well as solemn vespers and Te Deum afterwards.

We arrived early just in case the bishop drew a crowd. He didn't. I took my boys back one at a time to light candles. When the youngest asked me why we light candles, I said it's the reverse of blowing out birthday candles.1 St. Gregory's is one of the few parishes I know that doesn't have electric votive candles. I let the boys try to strike the paper matches themselves and only the youngest succeeded. The older two were probably too afraid of being successful. But the youngest burned his fingers trying to light the candle.2 I give him credit for not dropping the lit match on the stone floor. So all of them used a long, wooden stick to light their candle rather than the match. You really have to be quick with the match, especially because you have to reach down inside the votive glass to get the wick.

There was incense. And all the altar boys were on hand, as well as all the clergy. I wonder still why everyone sat after saying only the first line of the Gloria, then stood up for the Collect. The GIRM says, "The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance Chant, or while the Priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect" (no. 43) It doesn't mention sitting during the Gloria as at a Traditional Latin Mass. I object to blending.

The bishop's homily from the vigil mass may be read online. I appreciate his point that the presence of shepherds at Jesus' birth is "not simply a sentimental, 'nice' part of the story." I had hoped my boys might meet the bishop after mass but he had to vest right away for vespers. I wondered how vespers would run, since the provided text indicated chanted Latin. I couldn't imagine the congregation could chant Latin. In fact, the only two who could or did was the choirmaster and one of his cantors. The clergy and the laity sat and listened. It was dull beyond belief.

Nevertheless, I might have muddled through - and I did try to sing along - if not for the kids. They wanted to leave. More than two hours in church is asking too much of them. So we slunk out. And I wish I'd known about the plenary indulgence for the Te Deum on New Year's Eve.

Rorate Caeli Blog

The Monitor, January 3, 2013

1 How different are wishes from prayers at their age anyway?
2 When I told my husband, he said, "Good. He ought to be afraid of matches." True.


Michael Maedoc said...

Thanks for sharing, great way to enjoy New Years Eve. We enjoy celebrating the feast of Mary Mother of God by making a special shrine in the house near the tree and praying vespers... Your story makes me want to visit NJ again, my home state.

Have a blessed Epiphany!

Moonshadow said...

Thanks. I find the western part of the state quaint, especially along the Delaware. Lots of history.

After the walking tour, my son thought aloud, "I wonder what people in California have to talk about besides the Gold Rush?" Well, that's how my kids sees it anyway.

RAnn said...

Happy New Year!

Carol@simple_catholic said...

I've never heard of the "First Day Hikes" and I've lived in NJ most of my life (still do). Will definitely look into it for next year!

Happy feast of the Epiphany!

Moonshadow said...

I saw the hike announced in our Greater Media newspaper but these walks were sponsored across the nation.

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of a New Year's Day hike. There are years when that would be great weather in this part of the country.

Interesting rundown of the liturgy, as always. I had idea you sat down during the old Mass' Gloria. What a strange tradition, to sit down during the biggest hymn of praise.

Moonshadow said...

Think, we sit during some pretty important stuff at mass: Scripture readings, including the singing of a psalm, presentation of the gifts while singing the offertory hymn, the homily. Nothing against sitting.

It's the change of posture in the midst of the Gloria that doesn't sit well - haha - with me. I can't think of any other occasion - oh, some transitions are sloppy, folks are slow to get up off their knees for the Our Father, say - but they don't stand up or sit down in the midst of the Our Father. That's my point.

My guess about the Traditional Latin Mass tradition - haha, again - of sitting for the Gloria is that the Entrance Rites were considerably longer than they are now and folks got tired ... of standing??