Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ: Forty Hours – Day 3

Today we concluded the Forty Hours Prayer at Mater Ecclesiae Church in Berlin, NJ.

Although the servers made everything look easy and go smoothly, the ceremonies were complex, at least for me, for this was a Mass coram Sanctissimo, which is nearly unheard of since the Council.  It was effectively forbidden except by papal indult and permitted effectively only on the 3rd Day of the Forty Hours prayer.

As a result, there were new things to learn for this Mass.  I suppose, in a way, it made me aware of how some priests might feel simply to learn the Low Mass of the Extraordinary Form, since even it is more complex that the highest form (or so it seems) of the Novus Ordo.

For the Mass coram Sanctissimo (in the exposed presence of the Most Holy Sacrament), the priest must be very careful not to turn his back to the Host in the monstrance.  Therefore, there are changes as to how he moves.  For example, one of the most notable is that each time he comes to the center of the altar or departs from it, he must genuflect.  When he incenses the altar, instead of incensing the Cross, he kneels at the footpace and incenses the Blessed Sacrament.  When he is incensed or when he washes his fingers, he descends from the footpace, careful not to turn his back.  He does not complete a circle for the Orate fratres. There are many such details. Concentration is required so that you don’t simply charge ahead with what is habitual.

I made a few mistakes along the way, but we mustn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

After Mass there were the Litany of Saints with its special petition for Forty Hours… to avert calamitythat is what Forty Hours is really for, not just to adore the Blessed Sacrament.  We had the procession with the Blessed Sacrament.  Then back into Church for Benediction.  

Obviously I couldn’t take photos, but I am hoping some people will share theirs.

Here is a poor quality recording, alas, of the sermon I managed.  If I can clean up the recording later, enhance the sound, I will repost it.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. dcs says:

    Fr., the whole Mass was beautiful. I doubt many people, if any, noticed any mistakes. I barely even noticed the time.

  2. Father Bartoloma says:

    Wish I could have been there. God bless everyone at Mater Ecclesiae!

  3. Fr. Bartoloma: It would have been great to see you!

  4. Barbara says:

    I am so happy that I had the opportunity to be there. It was
    a beautiful Mass, a great sermon and you did
    a wonderful job. I hope you come back to visit us again.

  5. David says:

    Father, I had the privilege of assisting at this Holy Mass yesterday. Thank you (and Fr. Pasley) for this wonderful and moving liturgy!

  6. Mike says:

    Fr. what is the origin of this Most Solemn Mass? And what is it’s special “purpose” – what I mean is, since the Mass itself has the consecration and then Body and Blood of our Lord on the Altar, how is this Mass different in perspective?

    I’m not criticising it, but am genuinely interested as I am an Easterner and this is the first I’ve ever heard of this Latin practice.

Comments are closed.