S. Philly TLM wrap up

The following was in the South Philly Review.

My emphases and comments.

Missa Cantata
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 deathpriests 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.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. AM says:

    “Mass comprised of the Curia…”

    Kyrie, one presumes. :-)

  2. Liam says:

    Pretty church. 150 people would hardly seem sufficient to pack it. Maybe 500-800 to actually pack it?

  3. John Enright says:

    I’ve been there, and I agree with Liam. Pretty church with a large capacity.

  4. dcs says:

    There is (or was) a Novus ordo Latin Mass at the Cathedral, I think on the third Sunday of each month.

    When the Indult first started in Philadelphia (in 1989) it was at St. John the Evangelist downtown. Parking proved to be an issue so it was moved to Our Lady of Consolation in Tacony.

    There is also a weekly TLM at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Mission in Plymouth Meeting (outside the city but within the Archdiocese). It’s offered at 11:30, a much more convenient time than Our Lady of Lourdes (7:30 am) or Our Lady of Consolation (2:00 pm).

  5. Matt says:

    It seems an excellent review for a secular publication, fair minded and without the denigrating tone which is typical. I particularly like the closing statement.

    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.

    The leave behind of an article is largely set by the last word, it’t easy to see the writer’s sympathy’s based on it.

  6. ssoldie says:

    As an old timer,with problems with knees and lower back problems I have found that having the alter rail is wonderful for bracing oneself going down to kneel, to recieve our Lord, and getting up, from recievingour Lord. And if it is ‘impossable’ for one to kneel,it was never forbidden to stand, and recieve on the tongue, you know like if you had knee surgery,or knee caps were gone etc, etc.

  7. Tomas says:

    My reaction at my first Traditional Mass, in 2002, was the same: I sat there in tears for most of it. I had no memory of the old Mass, since I had been taken out of the Church at age 5 and remained out for the next 40-odd years. Afterward all I could do was to sit there and try to understand why this Mass had been replaced by something which felt – well, pretty Protestant.

  8. Heather says:

    Just one small, tiny correction… the organist’s name is incorrect in the article. The organist is Rob Ridgell not Ridgella and he is absolutely wonderful and very talented.

  9. Maureen says:

    If you think about it, it’s not so much nostalgia as “renewal” that the reporter is describing.

  10. Josiah Ross. says:

    There still is a Latin Novus ordo at the Cathedral. Our Lady of Lourdes also has a Latin novus ordo at 10:30 am.
    I was there, and I think 150 is too small. My parish (Our Lady of Lourdes) seats 200, and St.Paul is at least twice as big. 300-400 sounds closer.

  11. RichR says:

    I don’t see the big deal about using the word “nostalgia”. It literally means “return home.”. Could we make the implication that many Catholics are at home at the TLM, or that the TLM reminds us more effectively about our heavenly home.

  12. Cortney says:

    I found the comment about many women wearing veils interesting. At St. Mary in Norwalk, CT. (mentioned in wdtprs a few times) where our priests are reverently offering the TLM on Wednesdays, First Fridays and Sundays, many women are veiling themselves, as our Lady did. I wonder if anyone else is seeing a revival of this lovely practice? At St. Mary, many women are also wearing veils at the NO Masses!

  13. W. Schrift says:

    I personally wish the Mass were longer.

  14. Timothy Mulligan says:

    There absolutely should be be a regular Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form (“EF”) in Center City. I’m sure that Fr. Carey wants to do this at St. Paul’s. Please pray for the “stability” (and chutzpah) of his pro-EF parishioners!

    I live in West Philly and joined Our Lady of Lourdes last month because I finally decided to embrace the EF. (I had resisted because of my perception of its advocates. There’s a lesson here, peeps.) I simply need the support of the EF. I want to be formed by the EF.

    The link to Our Lady of Lourdes is here: http://www.ourladylourdes.org/. Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is at 7:30 a.m., as Josiah says. (Hey Josiah: I’m the big guy with dark blond hair and glasses near the front on the right. Say hello to me [in the narthex] after Mass.)

    Or, you Philly pholks might coalesce at St. Paul’s and form that ever-elusive “stable group.” Here’s the link for St. Paul’s: http://archdiocese-phl.org/parishes/8330.htm.

  15. Josiah Ross. says:

    Mt. Mulligan:
    I sometimes serve the EF mass at Lourdes, but usually I’m thurifer at the 10:30 OF Latin mass. If you were at the solemn mass of the patronal feastday on Wednesday evening,I was thurifer then.

  16. Leah says:

    I have found the perfect picture to go along with the phrase “brick by brick”.


  17. J. C. Oberholzer says:

    Again the question of the NO Mass in Latin at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia has arisen. Please consult the Cathedral’s website:


    The NO Mass in Latin is the primary Mass on Sunday at 11:00AM on the first and third Sundays of each month from October through June.

  18. John Enright says:

    Leah: Your picture is perfect! LOL!

Comments are closed.