Went back to the church in question this weekend. Once again the homily was superb. No adult female altar servers--so I suspect the caution about incense was the main cause for the Midnight Mass adult female, and somehow that endears this group to me.
The hymns were mangled once again, but mangled in such a way that it suggests more than inclusivity is going on. There is a general dumbing down of the lyrics. For example, in "Angels from the Realms of Glory" they substituted "morning star" for "natal star." This just suggests idiotic tampering that I've come to associate with a certain major liturgical press. As a congregation generally buys books once, and not necessarily on the niceties of the lyrics, one is inclined to over look this.
In response to Don below, absolutely no mangling of the readings occurred this morning. The Psalm setting was exactly as it should have been and so too were all the readings. Another point in favor.
Nevertheless, we still have certain outstanding problems. Music provided this morning was duet for New Age keyboard and Saxophone with Cantor (okay, so a diverse group is contributing to the Church's music ministry). And the stained glass is ill-considered. Rather than pedagogical or inspirational, it is merely pretty blue, purple, red with a musical instrument motif--lute, French horn, etc.
I cam live with all of these quibbles. I can thrive in this church with the resolution of two questions, neither of which involves me directly.
(1) The first thing Samuel asked when we entered this Church this morning was "Why is Jesus dancing up there?" However, I did note that there seemed to be more willingness to participate and more general involvement with what is going on--so the issue of decor may be easy to put to rest.
(2) Much more problematic is that I don't see any organized catechesis for children. I know that I can do this by myself, and I will supplement whatever he gets wherever he goes with material at home. However, I do think it is good for him to be with others in learning about the faith--from the very beginnings understanding that worship is both private and public, individual and communal. I hope I am mistaken, but it appeared that there was no real means (CCD or otherwise) of cathechizing children. And if the comment I heard from the pew behind me just prior to consecration is any indication, this is a Church that desperately needs it.
A woman was explaining to her child or grandchild what the priest was holding up (the large host). She started with "That's Jesus." Good enough. Then the child said, "It doesn't look like Jesus." And the woman responded, "Well it's just a symbol of Jesus." Yes it is a symbol, but it is not "just a symbol" and in a moment it would not be a symbol at all--it would become the reality of Jesus.
However, this, I'm sure is the state of many in Church today, so I shouldn't be so harsh. And this woman could not possibly have been catechized at this Church, so it is not the influence of the Church itself.
I'll just need to continue my investigations. I thank everyone who has taken the time to respond and to help my thought process. The reality will boil down to what this church offers in the way of assisting me to help my child understand the faith. Everything else, I can deal with. It conjures up memories and spectres of the bad-old-days of protestant-Catholicism that marked my entry into the Church. But perhaps it is time much of that is laid to rest.
Honestly, I suspect the only local Church that I would be truly happy at would be the Byzantine Rite Church that looks like a Baptist Church that had been taken over by the Byzantines. I haven't tried the Maronite Rite Church yet--and the pastor there is fantastic--a man of tremendous faith and spirituality. But most importantly I need to find a place where Samuel can grow and become the person in Christ he is meant to be.