Melanie and I took off this past weekend for one of our last opportunities to get away before the baby arrives in May. In fact, it was our first time away together, alone, since our honeymoon last August. So we drove down to Cape Cod on Saturday without much of a plan except to find someplace to stay when it got late. We ended up in Chatham, which is at the Cape’s “elbow”, and stayed at a very nice inn in a room with a king-size bed and a fireplace.
Sunday morning, we went to Mass at the local parish (found with the help of MassTimes), Holy Redeemer Parish. I always have a little trepidation when I go to Mass at an unfamiliar parish. You never know what you will encounter. It’s a sad era when you wonder whether the Mass will be licit and valid.
The church itself is a pretty little building that I would guess seats about 150-200, in the familiar gray-shingled style of the Cape. The pews were hard wood with kneelers. The was a Sacred Heart altar on one side, an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and even a veil over the tabernacle. And when I saw the priest come in wearing a black cassock I knew we were in good shape.
Indeed, we were. It’s not that the Mass was particularly sublime. It was just right. The music wasn’t Palestrina, but it was good. Not a single hymn informed God of how lucky He is to have people like us to praise Him. And the homily was top-notch, informing of us the effects of sin and the need for frequent Confession, even admonishing us for not going enough. I couldn’t tell exactly what the priest’s accent was, but I think he was English, although Melanie thinks there was a faint Irish brogue in there.
So when you go to an unfamiliar parish, what are the signs that tell you that you’re in a good parish?