The following was in the South Philly Review.
My emphases and comments.
by Lorraine Gennaro
In honor of the feast of conversion of its namesake, St. Paul’s celebrated a Latin Mass for the first time since Vatican II introduced the modern Mass some 40 years ago.
Many St. Paul parishioners had tears in their eyes, including the Catholic church’s Business Manager Jim Capaldi. Antoine O’Karma remembers feeling swept away, almost entranced, by the chanting and singing. But perhaps Josephine Zampirro said it best, “I felt like it was a little bit of heaven on earth.” [It is not uncommon to find Porta Caeli inscribed on the doors of churches.]
Beautiful, sacred, awe-inspiring are just some of the words parishioners used to describe Missa Cantata, [The whole point of worship is the experience of awe at transcendence.] one of three types of traditional Latin Mass that were celebrated Jan. 25 at the 808 Hutchinson St. church.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” O’Karma, from the 500 block of Federal Street, who attended with 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth, said.
Zampirro, 67, from the 700 block of Alter Street, added, “The music, the prayers, the reverence. Every time the altar boys brought the priest something they kissed his hand. Everything was done with such reverence.”
The packed house of more than 150 parishioners witnessed history in the making as the Rev. Gerald Carey celebrated traditional Latin Mass (also called Latin Mass) for his first time. [!] For St. Paul, it was the first since Vatican II some 40 years ago introduced Novus Ordo, or the modern Mass, thereby ousting the old and bringing in the new. While the Latin Mass was not banned [good distinction] by Vatican II, it died a quick death — priests embracing the new in an attempt to change with the times. While Vatican II did away with requiring women to cover their heads, often with veils, [I like this writer. "often with veils".. a good distinction. However, it was actually the 1983 Code of Canon Law which dropped the prescription.] many females who attended the ceremony at St. Paul returned to tradition. For Zampirro who always wears a hat to services, it was nice to see so many embrace the past ways “in keeping with the old Catholic tradition,” she said.
The decision to resurrect Mass was Carey’s idea to honor the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, Capaldi said. [Hopefully we will not have to speak in terms of "resurrection" too much longer.]
Carey, a former director of worship for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell did not return a call for comment on St. Paul’s Latin Mass celebration. [Interesting. You might might that, during the Pauline Year, at a Church named St. Paul, there might be some comment.]
St. Paul is the only church in the area and Center City to celebrate Latin Mass, [that surely means Novus Ordo as well] while Overbrook’s Our Lady of Lords and Tacony’s Our Lady of Consolation offer it weekly.
“There’s nothing in Center City or South Philadelphia on a regular basis,” Capaldi said. [In a city like Philadelphia…]
Three elements characterize Latin Mass: Parishioners kneel at the altar and receive communion on the tongue [if they can kneel] — as opposed to modern Mass where people line up down the aisle, [The manner of Communion is not described in the Novus Ordo. People could also line up for the older Mass.] approach the altar and have the option of taking the Body of Christ via hand or tongue; the priest celebrates Mass with his back to the congregation, facing the altar, in “ad orientem” — meaning “to the East,” [well… that mitigates the "back to the people" comment] where all altars once faced — as opposed to facing the congregants; and altar servers are male only, not a mix of genders. Heavy use of incense is another component. [It can be in the NO as well.]
There are three types of this service: Low Mass, which is devoid of music except for maybe an opening or closing hymn; High Mass or Missa cantata, which is Latin for “sung Mass” and celebrated with one priest and schola, or a singer or choir, who chants parts of the service; and Solemn High Mass, which is celebrated with a priest, deacon and sub-deacon and schola.
Last month’s celebration at St. Paul featured its Missa Brevis, the part of the Mass comprised of the Curia, [!] Gloria, Offertory, Communion and Sanctus, by Italian composer Giovanni Palestrinia. In need of those versed in Latin, Carey went out-of-house and hired Robert Hall, who led the 10-member schola and organist Robert Ridgella.
“During the Credo, it brought tears to my eyes. It was just beautiful. The reaction of the people was the same,” Capaldi said.
O’Karma, 43, found the music especially moving.
“I honestly filled with the spirit while I was there. I felt like the music carried me away. I just felt lifted by the music. It was almost hypnotic — the chanting,” she said.
Many Catholics clearly remember the Latin Mass, or, as it may be referred to, “the way things used to be.” [The way things are again.]
For Capaldi, 58, who grew up at Sixth and Carpenter streets and was an altar boy in St. Mary Magdalene De Paza [!] parish, which merged with St. Paul in 2000, last month’s service was a taste of nostalgia. [grrr]
“I remember the Latin Mass very well. I served the Latin Mass back in the ’60s before it was changed. It’s more sacred to me. You have more time to pray. The new Mass [priests] are always talking at you. The priest is to offer the Mass. The Mass is a recreation of Calvary. It’s a solemn occasion, not something to be taken lightly,” the Springfield, Delaware County, resident said.
But it’s interaction O’Karma likes with the modern service and, as moving the Latin Mass was, she said she doesn’t think she would like it every Sunday.
“I really do enjoy the modern Mass. I like being part of the Mass,” the lifelong St. Mary Magdalene parishioner said. [WDTPRSers know how confused this statement is.]
As for Elizabeth, her mother said the teen found the service rather lengthy. [Attention spans are getting shorter. Have her go for a year, and then give an opinion.]
“My daughter thought it was extremely long, but it didn’t feel like that,” O’Karma said of the two-hour session. [Imagine… 2 hours out of a week in a church for God.]
Modern services are about 45 minutes to an hour, depending largely — ask any Catholic — on how long a sermon the priest gives.
Advertised in The Catholic Standard & Times, spread through word-of-mouth and posted on a couple of Catholic blogs by Capaldi, [oh?] the event drew many non-parishioners, as well as members of the Philadelphia Latin Liturgy Association. Those who missed out will have another chance to experience it at St. Paul at the end of June — about the time the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul commences, drawing to a close the year of St. Paul Pope Benedict XVI declared last summer to commemorate the saint’s 2,000th birthday. Beyond that, Capaldi can’t say if Latin Mass [grrrr] will become a regular thing, but he for one would love to see it become so.
“Pope Benedict is very much in favor of this Mass and going back to Catholic tradition” Capaldi said. “To me, it seems that our Catholic identity is gone and I believe our Holy Father is working to restore that. [Sound familiar?] This is a great step in the right direction.”