I went to St. Peter's in Pine Bluff which is about an hour SSE of Little Rock. It's a nice little church in what appears to be an economically disadvantaged area. The church resembled more protestant churches from the outside.
The bell tower was outside and I was arriving the bell was being rung. Some brave soul needs to clammer up there and put some WD-40 on it. :D In the parking lot, I realized I had arrived at a predominately African-American parish, as there was a statue of Mary painted to be African-American. This was confirmed when I entered the church and noticed many of the paintings portrayed Jesus, Mary and the Apostles as African-American.
Music at Mass was accompanied by drums, piano and a choir.
Opening: I Say Yes Lord, Yes
Mass Setting: Sing Praise and Thanksgiving
Offertory: Hush Hush Somebody's Callin' Mah Name (no that's not a typo...song also had Lawd)
Communion: I Am the Bread of Life
Closing: America the Beautiful
Before Mass (which started at least 5 min late), guests were invited to speak (I declined). Then there was a greeting free-for-all. Most of the parishoners were dressed really nice.
Father used the Confiteor and Eucharistic Prayer II. What was interesting was at the Offertory, that is when the parish did the announcements. Father also thanked all the veterans that were called up to the altar. There were bells at the Consecration. The Our Father was sung. Everyone held hands at the Our Father. I got a dirty look for not participating.
This parish does the thing where the put the gift baskets at the foot of the altar and you walk up and put your gift in. My biggest problem with this is that I feel like that Pharisee who goes and says look what I donated! I wonder how much peer pressure plays into it as well.
Father started his homily with a joke: A man went to a priest who had a reputation of when blessing people they lived longer. This man was not Catholic but went to the priest anyway begging him to see his great grandmother. Father goes and blesses the woman, but she dies instead of lives. The man is upset and goes back to the priest demanding a reason. Father was like you should know the difference between a blessing and Last Rites. (Maybe you had to be there...)
Father asked us to close our eyes and invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts to understand the Readings. Benjamin Franklin, the great American, wrote his own epitaph. You can see he believed in the Resurrection. This renews our Faith in the Resurrection. The resurrection of the body is based on the Resurrection of Jesus. Maccabees is only found in the Catholic bible and some Oriental Orthodox Churches. At the time, the Holy Land was being fought over 2 of the generals that divided up Alexander the Great's empire. The general that won, implemented Alexander's strategy that there be 1 culture in the country. The Jews were being persecuted and forced to stop following Judaism. The 2nd reading is from the Thessolonians, which was the first book of the New Testament that was written. The Primitive Church was focused on the Coming of Jesus and the End of the World. When Paul wrote this letter, the Thessolonians were despairing and Paul them not to and to do good work until He comes. In the Gospel, the Saracees did not believe in the Resurrection and this story shows their ignorance. There will be no marriage in the afterlife. Our bodies will have different forms. In spite of this, the Mystery of the Resurrection is unsolved for us at this time. The physical death is not the end. In our life, don't do anything to displease God. The Catechism says it is better to die or suffer than to sin. We do not know when. We must pray. We are only saved if we let him save us (I can't decifer what I wrote...MW? who is that?) Consider your end and you will not sin. Remember who will judge you. A life is blessed by the deed's done. If we put all our trust in the Lord.
View From the Back Pew!