High Mass in Camden

Yesterday in the Cathedral of Camden (NJ) a Solemn High Mass using the 1962 Missale Romanum was celebrated for the feast of the Assumption. The cathedral was full and many clergy were present in proper choir dress. The sacred ministers were from Mater Ecclesiae, a canonically established mission of the diocese which functions as a parish having use exclusively of the older liturgical books. Fr. Robert Pasley is the rector of Mater Ecclesiae and was celebrant of the Mass. The altar boys were both in great quantity and quality, serving with reserve, attention and precision. You could tell they truly enjoyed doing what they were doing.

The music was in Gregorian chant and the ordinary of the Mass was an instrumental/choral setting by Antonio Caldara (+1736). There were motets and other pieces by Palestrina, Corelli, and the world premier of an Ave Maria by Harold Boatrite. The later was at the offertory and was very fine. Yours truly was the homilist for the Mass. I made a connection between the Magnificat (the Gospel for the Mass) and the proper understanding of "active participation". At the end, a fine setting of Hail Holy Queen for the choir, orchestra and congregation raised the roof, I am sure, several inches off its mooring.

I had the great pleasure of meeting many readers of my weekly columns in The Wanderer as well as a few participants and readers of this blog project. It was a wonderful occasion and I extend both my gratitude and congratulations to all involved.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jeff says:

    Father, any chance of posting your homily?

  2. Boko Fittleworth says:

    So what, Father? Isn’t it standard practice for our churches, especially our cathedrals, to offer an especially beautiful and reverent Mass on our Lady’s great feast days, with orthodox preaching, the liturgy in Latin, and the normative chant augmented by some polyphony?

    It sounds like what you all did in Jersey was no different from what should be going on in a coupla hundred cathedrals across the country (and thousands throughout the world) last night. Why was this such a big deal?

    I mean, I went to Mass at my humble suburban parish, and had to listen to “Gentle Woman” as a Communion meditation (I meditated on how the good God generously gave me the grace to not run screaming from the room), but surely my Mass, and not yours, was the anomaly last night.


  3. Henry Edwards says:

    Obviously, you’ve got it exactly right, Boko. But what I can’t figure out is why your humble suburban parish and mine are such isolated anomalies in a shining coast-to-coast sea of orthodoxy.

  4. Jon says:


    Have you ever heard “O Ma-RI-a,” belted out like that in Rome? I bet not.

    Again, it was a real pleasure letting you put the “face with the name” last night. And thanks for the pic. I know our friend Dr. Edwards will be green.

    Safe home…and don’t kill too many fish.

  5. Boko Fittleworth says:

    I should say, and I’m sure Henry Edwards would join me in saying, “Thank you, Father!” and thanks to all who offer something beautiful to our Lord, and to all who make such offerings possible throught their hard work and Marian “Fiat” to God’s gifts of talent and promptings of grace.

    It’s nice to know, when we unite our prayers to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, that those prayers are being united, inter alia, to worship as beautiful as that you all offered last night.

  6. Catholic Lady says:


    My experience was similar to yours, including Gentle Woman written by some herb. I was unable to go to the only TLM alloted a time because it was late in the evening, getting over after dark, and the parish where we celebrate the TLM is in a high crime area. Not a good place for a woman alone to be with a serial rapist on the loose.

    The Mass was celebrated by a priest just assigned to the parish to assist the pastor. He is from Uganda. He seemed very reverent but there were a few irregularities. Interesting that he sung most of the Mass but in the vernacular of course. I liked that. He made mention of all the empty seats and said in his country this feast is a national holiday and greatly celebrated at Mass and out of Mass.

    The bad news about his chanting is that he invited all the parish to sing the doxology at the end of the Eucharistic prayer with him. Not knowing any better, most of them did.

  7. Andrew says:

    Much has been said and written in the past few decades about the liturgy, much of it aimed at correcting various excesses, many of which are by now “normalized” (sadly).

    But more than anything else, it seems to me, people, who heard so much about what is not allowed, need to see positive examples of the Holy Mass celebrated as it should be. A well attended Mass celebrated with decorum is worth more than a thousand well written articles explaining what is wrong with the liturgy. Folks just don’t know these days any more what a Mass is supposed to look like. Thank God for for good examples such as these.

  8. Argent says:

    Ah, Father, make our joy complete and post your homily.

  9. Robert says:

    Yes, Father, I second that motion. You gave us an extremely tantilizing bit about the homily! Please post!

  10. fr.franklyn He composed all sort of grand hymns. says:

    That modern classic,that jewel from our catholic treasury of music -Gentle Woman-,was composed by a classmate of mine Carey Landry a former priest who married a nun.I recall those sublime memories of him singing his songs,in his native Cajun manner,while strumming his guitar and hopping all over the sanctuary.

  11. Jon says:


    Father’s homily was certainly worth the price of his plane fare. It was worthy of the occasion and the place. I enjoyed it immensely.

    I’d post a synopsis, but it’s not my blog, and it would only be from my own faulty memory. Let’s give Father a chance first.

    I think posting the text or a recording would be a great idea.

  12. Ekkehard VI says:


    I was also there last night, singing in the chant schola.

    Thank you for coming; your homily was magnificent. I too
    would like to see it posted.

  13. efinnerty says:

    I attended a TLM at Mater Ecclesiae in NJ once. What a wonderful little parish – and vibrant, packed, and expanding too. Like all Tridentine masses I’ve seen, it was full of families and children. It should be a model for a bright future.

  14. Steve Collins says:

    While I wish I could have been there, we had our own very special celebrations.

    When I returned from the Sacred Music Colloquium at C.U.A., I was told that we were to prepare for not 1 , but 2 Solemn High Masses for the Feast of the Assumption. Our Music Director, and his wife, and a counter-tenor from downtown sang the “Mass for 3 Voices” by William Byrd. Yours truly supplied the Propers, chanted with the M.D. and with organ accompaniment. The Propers were a combination the Graduale Romanum (accompaniment from “Nova Organi Harmonia) for the Introit and Communion, and Rev. Carlo Rossini’s “Book of the Proper” set to Psalm tones for the rest. We did use the melismatic “Alleluia” option that he gives in each tone. Byrd’s Introit text (also fro 3 voices) was used as one of the Preludes, and the Saint-Saens “Ave Maria” for soprano and counter-tenor was the Communion anthem. Yours truly also filled in with various Marian bits for the organ, as well as some “Versi” drawn from the 8 modes for the Entrance and Gospel Processions.

    The vestments worn were historic vestments from our parish closet (Stella Maris, Sullivan’s Island, SC). The Roman chasuble was silver with gold trim, and the dalmatics were multicolored/antique gold. These are only pulled out for very special occasions.

    The second Mass was actually the evening before at St. Peter’s Church in Beaufort, SC. Everything was the same, and it was the first time the Traditional Latin Mass had been celebrated in Beaufort since Vat. II.

    Between this Monday and Tuesday, and my trip to D.C. for the Colloquium, it has been a wonderful summer.

  15. CaesarMagnus says:

    Our Assumption Masses were simple, but beautiful. We had a Mass in Latin and two Masses in English, however, at all the Masses we used the Commons from the “Missa Primitiva” and had the Roman Canon in Latin, with incense at all the Masses too. It was nothing overly ornate, but it was beautiful, in spite of yours truely leading the chant (thankfully, my Guardian Angel sings louder than I do, LOL).
    We had 17 altar boys at one Mass, so even a small, rural parish can have a beautiful Mass.

  16. d says:

    Wish I could have been there. Do you think there
    is a chance the faithful in Orange County (The O.C.)
    will ever have such an opportunity?

  17. Stranger things have happened!

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