Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ: Forty Hours – Day 1

At Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ the Forty Hours Devotion is being observed with the older books and rites.

Tonight Forty Hours began with a Sung Mass followed by Exposition, a Procession, the Litanies and now… adoration.

Fr. Pasley had the Mass and the undersigned delivered the first sermon.

I was very impressed with the competence of the servers.   They were precise without being fussy or mechanical.  They were comfortable with their roles which allowed them to "get themselves out of the way" and not obscure the Sacred Actor.

The music was Gregorian Chant.  A schola sang the Propers.  The congregation here responds and sings where appropriate.

In my sermon I reminded people that Forty Hours is not just for strengthening our devotion in the Blessed Sacrament, or for simple adoration.  Forty Hours is also tied to our most urgent needs and problems of our day.

It is also a powerful prayer asking God to intervene and help us, even save us, in time of peril.

Forty Hours comes from the deep urgings of the Catholic people to pray before Christ, the Incarnate Word still with us in the Blessed Sacrament, in time of famine, upheaval, disease, war, threat of invasion or disaster. 

This is a time to bring our problems before the Lord and allow Him to continue to serve us as He did in His earthly life and does in our daily lives in so many ways.   He is God in His divinity and He still is here for us if we come to Him… who remains humble of heart.

Our days today are not really so different from those in which Forty Hours began to take shape in the more modern sense. 

This is a devotion we truly need today.

I will have the Mass tomorrow evening to anticipate the Sunday and I will have the High Mass on Sunday for the closing of Forty Hours.  The closing Mass of Forty Hours is one of the times Mass is to be said in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament Exposed, coram Sanctissimo which I haven’t ever done.  This should be a good experience.

In the meantime…. the people are at prayer here in the night.

Will you unite from afar your prayers for our cities, countries, world.

After all, you can ask your angels to be present and where there is charity there are no distances.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I was going to ask, is Mass in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed still permitted. From what I understand it is forbidden.

  2. Marcin says:

    Is there a reason why the apostolate hasn’t been yet elevated to the status of personal parish but has only the status of rectoral church?

  3. “After all, you can ask your angels to be present and where there is charity there are no distances.”

    What an incredibly profound thought.

    And a sung Mass? To my mind that should be the norm.


    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  4. Chris says:

    M.E. is a good church. Only strange thing is it’s one of only two fully traditional Mass parishes in the country that somehow allows the Saturday night vigil to count for Sunday. I asked one priest from the other church that allows it (in Ohio) why they do and he had no answer but said it did pain him that it happened (he was not the pastor).

    Fr., maybe you can do some digging for a solid answer? If 1962 is the magic number and we can’t, let’s say, use a ’45 missal, why post-’62 rules then?

  5. Jeff Pinyan says:

    A night of firsts for me. I’d never prayed the traditional litany of the saints before, never been in a Eucharistic procession, first time actually singing the Missa de Angelis at a Mass.

    Fr. Z’s sermon was excellently woven together. A seamless garment, you might say. ;)

    There was a particular “ab” (y’know, of the “ab”s, “per”s, and “ut”s) which was for use only during the 40 Hours devotion, but I can’t remember it. Does anyone know it offhand? I think it was something like imminent (in Latin, obviously) periculis.

  6. David Osterloh says:

    Father, is the email link under your picture the correct one, I was never sure, which is why I am posting this request here.

    Thank you and may God Bless You

  7. I’m so glad to see someone bringing up Forty Hours Devotion. It is so rare to see this today. We have one coming up in early/mid November at Assumption Grotto in Detroit for anyone interested (check my blog frequently in the coming weeks for more info).

    I had never heard of Forty Hours until I got to this traditional parish. It felt like a great treasure the first time I particapted, and photographed the afternoon closing ceremony.

    I now make sure I save a vacation day or half-day to take a turn during the afternoon when it is hard to fill slots since people are working.

    I have heard stories of how Forty Hour use to travel from parish to parish in metro Detroit and people would spend time at each other’s parishes. At my first 40 Hours Devotion at Grotto we had many priests from other parishes, as seen in this post made in 2006 of the 2005 closing ceremony. In more recent years, participation has unfortunately fell off for some reason. The priests use to have a big dinner to spend some time following the closing ceremony, but this has yielded to a parish dinner/social for the first time last year after that event.

    I hope we can give more publicity to these!

  8. dcs says:

    Only strange thing is it’s one of only two fully traditional Mass parishes in the country that somehow allows the Saturday night vigil to count for Sunday. I asked one priest from the other church that allows it (in Ohio) why they do and he had no answer but said it did pain him that it happened (he was not the pastor).

    It’s Canon Law that the anticipated Mass fulfills the obligation. As far as Mater Ecclesiae itself is concerned, Fr. Pasley basically inherited the Mass schedule – the anticipated Mass was already celebrated at that location before Mater Ecclesiae was canonically erected.

  9. dcs says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    I do hope you will have the time to pay a visit to the National Shrine of St. John Neumann in Philadelphia – it would be very appropriate as he introduced the Forty Hours devotion to the United States despite the strong nativist sentiment in Philadelphia at the time.

  10. This is completely off topic, but I wanted to congratulate you Fr. Z for winning the Bloggers’ Choice Award for Best Religion blog for 2008 see here, you may have to scroll down [It is off topic but thanks all the same!]

  11. Fr Fenton says:

    Missa coram sanctissimo was done away with in 1967. This always leads to the questions vis-a-vis the EF if such things apply or not. Perhaps Rome will clarify one day (or perhaps not ;) )

  12. Fr. Fenton: Missa coram sanctissimo was done away with in 1967.

    Perhaps all the norms and rules as they existed in 1962 apply to the EF (and perhaps not).

  13. dcs says:

    If we’re going to follow the rules in effect in 1967 then we would also have to do away with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel, and use the formula “Corpus Christi” for distributing Holy Communion. So it’s pretty clear, I think, that the rules from 1965 and on (with the exception of the recent change to the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews) do not apply to the EF.

    It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church.

    Mass coram Sanctissimo was prohibited by Paul VI in Eucharisticum Mysterium of 1967 (#61). If one applies that prohibition to the 1962 Missal then why not the other instructions from 1964-1968?

  14. Chris: Only strange thing is it’s one of only two fully traditional Mass parishes in the country that somehow allows the Saturday night vigil to count for Sunday.

    No… churches cannot allow or disallow this.  Canon Law allows it for the whole Latin Church.  A person fulfills his obligation by participating at Mass in a Catholic rite on the day of obligation itself or on its vigil.  That goes for any Catholic rite of Mass on the evening before the day of obligation.  That is the law for the whole Church.  This is not something parishes or priests decide.

  15. Joe Roncalli says:

    A few answers to above questions:
    1. At ME we follow Fortesque for ceremonies. Mass “coram sanctissimo” is very clearly described in the 1962 Fortesque edition. Since we follow the 1962 missal, we do what Fortesque says. We have not yet found any document forbidding it. Does a 1967 document apply? Don’t know. We have never seen this document and if it exists it was issued many years after the liturgy becgan to implode. Yes, in the OF it is forbidden, but this is not the OF. When in doubt, and there seems to be some question here, until we get a definitive answer form someone who can prove what theey are talking about, we follow Fortesque.
    2. As for Sat night Mass. This is not a liturgical question but a Church law question. All groups, EF or OF are bound by the same Canon Law. In the present Code, Mass obligation is fulfilled by Sat night Mass: whether it is the EF, the OF, the Byzantine Rite, the Maronite Rite, etc. There are some other changes – Only the one Hour fast is mandatory. Fasting and abstinence are no longer mandated for the Ember Days and Penitential vigils, etc. Of course one may chose to follow the traditional requirements, which is highly suggested and laudable, but not required. Another possibility is that Mass can now be celebrated after 1:00PM.
    The Sat anticipated Mass was here before ME was established. If it hadn’t been established it probaably would not have beeen but it has become a very well attended Mass. Since three Sunday Masses are necessary here and since there is only one priest, it has helped Father as well. Three Masses, three half hour confession periods, three sermons and three distributions of Holy communion by one priest is really a bit much and far from ideal.Some have said, well then have a Sunday night Mass instead. If you follow the rule that you cannot have a Sat. night Mass, then the same rule forbids a Sunday night Mass. There you have it.
    3. Finally, why are we not yet a parish. In a diocese where traditional viewpoints are severely under attack, where 52 parishes out of 128 are closing, we thank God and our Lady that we are here to stay and that we are thriving. In God’s good time, if it is His will, we will become a personal parish.

  16. Chris says:

    Father, thanks for the imput. I’m actually looking for a bit more though. The old priest at the other chapel that allows this told me that it’s more than that — that it’s actually not a vigil Mass and that it kind of complicates things because they have to do something different as if it was the next day’s Mass. I just can’t remember what it is. But it was a strain on him because of the sermon topic and extra work.

    I also talked to an FSSP priest who knew of that church and said it would require more work on the part of the priest because it’s no longer a vigil Mass. Do you know what they are referring to?

  17. Folks… I am a guest at Mater Ecclesiae. They point me at the altar and I say Mass according to how they organize it. From what I understand, the coram Sanctissimo Mass is required at the close of Forty Hours devotion in the way it was done in 1962.   I believe they are following the 1962 Fortescue/O’Connell which describes this. 

    Perhaps this would be a good thing to submit to the PCED for a clarification.

  18. dcs says:

    If you follow the rule that you cannot have a Sat. night Mass, then the same rule forbids a Sunday night Mass.

    Regarding Sunday evening Masses, there was a rule before the time of Pius XII that Mass had to be celebrated in the morning. That is separate from the rule on how one’s Sunday obligation can be fulfilled.

    It is true that most traditional parishes do not have Saturday evening anticipated Masses. That doesn’t change the fact that the Saturday evening Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation.

  19. Chris says:

    Father, thanks! I was really just curious. Not aimed at you!

    dcs: I get the ’83 code of cannon law. Think we all do. I’m looking a little bit deeper below the serface.

  20. Fr. Pasley says:

    There is nothing different that has to be done for a Saturday night obligation Mass. Saturday night Mass is not a vigil Mass. It is an anticipated Sunday Mass. Liturgical color, Propers, etc are exactly the same as they are on Sunday. Vigil Masses are said the morning before a feast and are often in violet. Once again, one may not like it, but it is allowed.

  21. Chris: The answer I gave really is the answer.

    The CHURCH says you fulfill the obligation on the evening before the day of obligation. Period.

    If priests don’t want to do a Mass in the evening, that is their choice. You can take it up with them as to why.

    But this is now a RABBIT HOLE. This entry has nothing to do with this issue. Nor was the Mass in question a Mass for the fulfillment of an obligation.

  22. Chris says:

    Fr. Pasley, thanks. That must have been why the priest was frustrated (and glad to leave that church).

  23. Fr Fenton says:

    What makes it questionable about the 67 Document is if it gets enshrined in Canon Law. I am not aware of anything in Canon Law prohibiting the Mass Coram Sanctissimo. I wouldn’t actually ask PCED – we know what happened when FSSP Priests asked if they could celebrate the Novus Ordo some years back. Gray areas (and Councils ;0 )are good sometimes. I certainly would say Mater Ecclesiae is a model for us all of celebrating the EF according to the mind of the Council. Many have pointed out that there is more full, active and conscious participation at ME that at many Ordinary Form Masses!

  24. Fr. Fenton: Canon Law really doesn’t govern these aspects of liturgical law.

    According to Can. 2:

    “For the most part the Code does not define the rites which are to be observed in liturgical actions. For this reason current liturgical norms retain their force unless a given liturgical norm is contrary to the canons of the Code.”

  25. Lori Ann says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,

    Thank you so much for coming to our parish. I REALLY appreciated your sermon on Saturday evening at the Anticipated Mass. When you told us that this part of 40 Hours traditionally was for praying for God’s intervention in time of peril, and to “Be not afraid”, the message drove right home. I also wish to thank you for then guiding us in how we could practically apply that purpose in our hearts and minds during the Offertory and Consecration.

    But, I would like to finally add this: I was not able to attend the openning Mass on Friday night. Afterwards, my son who was one of the altar boys–a torch bearer–came home, pulled up one leg of his dress slacks, pointed to his red knee, looked at me and said, “Litany of the Saints!!” (Torch bearers get to kneel on the marble, after all!)

    In Her Immaculate Heart.

  26. Lori: A good way to toughen the knees for our future.

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