Since I last wrote on Church Visiting in the autumn 2020, when I attended a Roman Catholic Mass on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I have only not worshipped in a G-4 parish twice.  On one Sunday in February 2021 I was on holiday in Florida, planned to visit a small ACC congregation in Winter Haven, Florida, but had to cancel due to illness.  The other Sunday was this week, during a holiday with friends in the Hudson Valley.  I went with my travelling companions to the closest Roman Catholic parish, there being no Continuing Anglican parish nearby. 

The Roman Catholic parish in question was in Rhinebeck, New York.  It was a lovely little church building within very easy walking distance of our hotel.  The church looked like a little Episcopalian parish from happier days.  I think, however, that it in fact was built to be a Roman parish, since the Stations of the Cross, shrines for the BVM and S. Joseph, and the rest of the interior seemed closely integrated. 

We attended a 9 a.m. Mass.  It seems the parish has three Sunday Masses, at least during the summer season.  In addition to the 9 a.m., a later morning Mass was scheduled, and there had already been an ‘anticipated’ 5 p.m. Saturday Mass.  Attendance at 9 a.m. was about what one would have expected at a Continuing Anglican parish – around 50 souls present, including clergy and servers and, of course, visitors from Georgia and, perhaps, some other tourists getting their tickets punched on a very fine summer Sunday.  

The liturgy was novus ordo, but it was a very pleasant contrast to the Mass I reported on from  the Outer Banks.  The hymns were good and familiar to Anglican visitors.  In fact, the music and texts were much what we might have had at a Continuing Anglican parish.  The organist and organ were adequate, though the congregation was a fairly typical, mostly non-singing Roman Catholic sort.  There were hymnals in the pews, helpful cards with the common of the Mass, missals with the proper for the Mass, and a bulletin with hymn numbers and other useful information.

The liturgy was conducted with dignity.  There were no annoying intrusions of clerical personality, no deviations from the rite, no ‘ad libbing’.  The non-clerical ministers were male.  The sermon was intelligent, based on the texts, and was practical in its emphasis while also being doctrinally sound.  The priest’s personality did express itself in the sermon, as is perfectly appropriate, and seemed moderately self-deprecating and gently humorous.  The preacher at one point referred to ‘faith seeking understanding’, had a momentary lapse of memory, which he admitted, and attributed the quotation to ‘someone – S. Ambrose, I think’.  A know-it-all visitor afterwards on the church steps said that the quotation was from S. Anselm.  ‘Yes,’ the preacher said:  ‘Of course.  I was close.’  Know-It-All agreed that the preacher was close.  Saint Augustine also might have been cited.  Ambrose, Augustine, Anselm:  all doctors of the Church whose names begin with an ‘A’.

The pope was mentioned once in the prayers as was the cardinal archbishop of New York.  The congregation was reverent but not stuffy.  The demographic of the congregation also could have been that of a Continuing Anglican congregation:  skewing towards the grey but with a sprinkling of younger folk.  Visitors and members were greeted by the priest after Mass, and names were enquired after.  At the Outer Banks the priest was folksy and friendly during the liturgy, but not to be seen afterwards.  In Rhinebeck the priest was dignified and formal during the liturgy, but friendly and available afterwards. 

All in all, I think this is about as good as a novus ordo liturgy gets, at least from the perspective of someone used to traditional liturgy.  While the Mass was not all that I would have preferred, it was a liturgy that I could be fed by if nothing more to my taste and background were available.  And, indeed, it had the great virtue of being actually available. 

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