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697: Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Portland, Oregon
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Holy Rosary, Portland, Oregon
Mystery Worshipper: Alle Psalite.
The church: Holy Rosary, Portland, Oregon.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: The church is a fairly traditional rectangular structure, white on the outside and pale pink on the inside, and good stained-glass windows. Some of the friends I took along remarked on the depictions of dalmatian dogs in the artwork. I don't know the reasoning behind this, but I suppose it is a Dominican thing.
The church: The church is operated by Dominican priests who live at the attached priory. It is known as being a parish which follows the letter of Vatican II rather than this whole "spirit" thing everyone talks about. It supports lots of traditional Catholic devotions (see their website for more information). There were lots of families at the Mass, whole families: grandparents, parents, and four or five kids all sitting together. From reading the bulletin, I would venture to say this parish is alive.
The neighbourhood: The church is almost in downtown Portland, very close to the convention center, which is how my friends and I came across it (we were attending an event at the convention center). Also, should one happen to go to the 11am Mass and be a bit hungry afterwards, there are quite a lot of restaurants nearby.
The cast: Fr. Aquinas Costello, OP, parochial vicar and sub prior.
What was the name of the service?
11am Sunday Mass (sung Gregorian).

How full was the building?
Completely full – there were people standing in the back.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
There were a few people at the door handing out worship aides – one smiled and said hi as he handed me the paper.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were ok. Pretty standard.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Er, I don't know. We were late and came in during the gloria.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The worship aide and Liber Cantualis were used at the mass I attended. In the book rack there were also a Missalette and an Adoremus hymnal.

What musical instruments were played?
The organ was played, but only at communion and the recessional. All singing was a capella Gregorian chant.

Did anything distract you?
There was a huge number of children at the service – probably nearly as many children as adults. As I was seated in the very back pew, I got to see the little procession of mothers and fathers escorting particularly disruptive children to and from the cry-room in the back.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Stiff-upper-lip. The only singing was Gregorian chant and all the ordinaries were sung in Latin. Lots of incense, bells at the Sanctus and elevation. Everyone was very reverent, and I was particularly impressed with the reverence of most of the children present.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – The preacher (who was not the celebrant, but I was unable to discover his name) did not do very well at making his voice heard over some of the noisier children. Of course, I was in the very back, so this may not have been a problem for those closer to the altar.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The preacher spent most of the time summarizing the readings and talking about charity towards one's neighbors. He was well-spoken and didn't wander too far from his subject, but it was altogether ordinary and unmemorable.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The fact that most of the congregation sang the chant ordinaries was lovely. This is probably also one of the few parishes in America that hasn't ripped out their communion rail and still makes use of it regularly. Fantastic.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The sermon was a bit dull. And while the Schola who sang the chant were quite good, especially for there only being three of them, they sang rather more slowly than the Schola at my own parish. And the mass was supposed to be "sung Gregorian" which to me would mean a chanted mass. But only the ordinaries were sung; the prayers and readings were spoken.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The priest stood outside and smiled and said hello to everyone and shook my hand. I think he realized that I was a visitor, but he made no comment on the fact. The woman I had been sitting next to also smiled and said hello.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
During the announcements at the end of the service, there was some reference made to coffee and crumpets in the church hall, but it was noon and the people I came with wanted something more substantial to eat. Ahh, the problems of Mystery Worshipping when traveling with a group...

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – I really would be ecstatic to make this my regular church. I love my church here, but as I am at a university, we don't see much variety as far as age groups at the services, and my parish at home is a bit liberal for my taste. This church has it all, as far as I can tell!

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Oh, yes, definitely. It's nice to see a Catholic parish that seems to have actually (wonder of wonders) read Sacrosanctum Concilium.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The communion rail. I've only had this experience three times before in my (albeit short) lifetime, and it's wonderful. Makes it seem more like I am receiving communion, rather than taking it.
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