NYC – Pontifical Mass (TLM)

Last night in New York City I attended, in choro, a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

The Mass was celebrated at the Church of St. Jean Baptiste on the upper East Side.  A grogeous church, I must say.  The celebrant was Bishop Fernando Areas Rifan of the Apostolic Administration of St. John Vianney in Brazil. This is a "personal diocese" for people who desire the older forms.  The Mass was part of a novena leading up to the Feast of the Sacred Heart.  Today there is a conference on the Sacrd Heart at which yours truly will be speaking, as Our Saviour in Manhattan where Fr. George Rutler is pastor.

Here are a few photos.  Perhaps some of you who were there also may have other shots.

First, the incredible altar.

My friend Fr. G. Murray of St. Vincent’s with whom I am staying.

Ecce Agnus Dei

Bp. Rifan.

The music was breathtaking. 

It was very well attended.

Brick by brick in Manhattan.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    sounds marvelous! We need lots more of this sort of wonderful mass!

  2. Patrick says:

    I do not mean this to be snide in anyway: I thought only an ordinary in his dioces could celebrate from the throne and be accompanied by deacons of honor? Is there some other rule?


  3. JaneC says:

    Brick by brick in Los Angeles as well–we had Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form in West Hollywood last night, celebrated by Norbertines, with a professional choir singing a Mass setting by Byrd. It also was very well attended. Truly glorious.

  4. Jack says:

    The United States is fortunate indeed to have so many celebrations of the Gregorian Rite, If you want to attende a Gregorian Rite Mass in the UK you usually have to bunk off to an SSPX chapel.

  5. FranzJosf says:

    I was there, as well. Glorious and moving. Yes, the choral music, both chant and polyphony by Josquin, Palestrina, and Byrd, was outstanding, but so was the congregational singing of the Creed. (As I listened to all the repetitions of text in the polyphony, none of which were “needless” and some more than Haydn uses at times, another thread from here crossed my mind.) Amongst the people, one saw here what one tends to see at the TLM. For instance, the four children (oldest about 10) sitting in front of me were well-behaved and reverent throughout the long ceremonies.

    Patrick: the local ordinary can give permission, within his territory, to other bishops to pontificate from the throne.

  6. FrGregACCA says:

    You will be speaking, Father, AS Our Savior?

    An aspect of “alter Christus” perhaps?

    Gorgeous pictures!

  7. FranzJosf says:

    Another thing I liked was that they didn’t repeat the Epistle and Gospel in English, always cumbersome. The translations were printed in the service leaflet for all to read. It was nice not to have to arrest the natural flow of the Rite.

  8. Lubeltri says:

    I was just at that church a couple of weeks ago. Very nice baroque church—and near the entrance is an enormous relic of St. Anne, mother of Our Lady.

    I must say, though, that the nearby St. Vincent Ferrer is even more beautiful. Perhaps as beautiful as any church in NY.

  9. Lucy says:

    Gorgeous photos…….hopefully someday we’ll see this where I live.

  10. Sandy says:

    As always, the beauty takes my breath away! I wish I had such a church in San Diego, but I believe these are found in older parts of the U.S. There were some I remember from my childhood on the East Coast. You who have them – appreciate them!

  11. Jonathan says:

    Dear Fr. Z:

    It was a pleasure to finally meet you, and to receive your priestly blessing (on my knees, of course, as any reader of the blog would know to do!).

    This mass was, simply, awesome. I have never before experienced liturgy at such a superb level of exquisiteness. There were well over twenty servers to the bishop in various roles, and musicians such as Ruth Cunningham from the “Anonymous 4”. Bishop Ranith preached a fine sermon in good English, including making a marvelous connection between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Eucharist.

    These kinds of events do not happen on their own, and while many people contributed to the effort, if would not have happened without months of tireless, devoted work by my friend Mark F. He is too modest a man to seek any recognition, but he is in inspiration, and shows how much can be achieved in the traditionalist cause by simple grit and hard work.

  12. Carlos Palad says:

    Is the Church of St. Jean Baptiste considered as a “reform of the reform” parish?

  13. Kathy says:

    Father Z,
    How did you get those photos without making yourself conspicuous. (Looks like you were up near the altar?)

  14. Mitchell NY says:

    I was there as well and it was indeed a striking Mass..The music was just beautiful, I had no thoughts except about how Catholic I felt and to be part of this form of worship. I had brought my mother who has not been to a Mass in Latin since ther early 70’s when the last of them disappeared across Long Island and she was brought to tears. How it all came back, even the Latin..When we sang the Credo it was as if the whole Church came alive, together, singing in latin, and it is just something I have not come across in any NO service. People sing or mumble but not with the unity I heard last night. The rubrics and gestures kept you focused on God and the Sacrifice and for the first time I did not even realize it was ad orientem. It just seems proper and I now understand fully the point of it. As for attendance, I would say it was full as the length of communion time wold attest. I was curious as to why such a magnificent Church does not have an Altar Rail. Everyone was fine with the kneelers, but I suspect the flow would be better with a rail. Does anyone know if they plan on installing or re-installing one as I suspect they had one at one time? I think this Church was built in 1840, or somewhere around then. And Bishop Rifan’s sermon was full of inspiration and thoughts to reflect on, especially why people are attached to this rite, nostalgia, love, dissatisfaction with the Pauline Mass, many reasons why it continues to touch hearts. Also his word’s about Pope JP II and Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and their support for the continuation and development of the Extraordinary Form. It was summed up by one thing he said for me, “As Catholics, we are the religion of Love”. I will always remember that.

  15. Father z
    I was also blessed to be at St.Jean’s last night.
    Without doubt the most beautiful Mass I’ve assisted at.
    I thank everyone who made this possible behind the scenes
    and in front of the scene. Transcendent grandeur manifest.

    I’m looking forward to hearing you speak today. NYC aka
    “the belly of the beast” needs to hear what you have to say.

  16. Kimberly says:

    Thanks Wayne for the update on where Fr. Z is. I was wondering why I haven’t seen any red on the replys. Beautiful Church! Wish I could have been there.

  17. xathar says:

    Regarding deacons of honor,

    While the 1886 Caeremoniale Episcoporum (Lib. 1, ch. 8.4) states that only the diocesan bishop enjoys the privilege of having deacons of honor, an 1899 dubia answered in Ephemerides Liturgicae states: “An Episcopous Diocesanus gaudeat jure cedendi thronum suum alteri Episcopo cum Reverendissimorum Canonicorum adsistentia sibi debita? Affirmative, dummodo Episcopus invitatus non sit ipsius Diocesani Coadjutor, aut Auxiliaris, aut Vicarius Generalis, aut etiam Dignitas seu Canonicus in illius Ecclesiis.”

    Thus, it would appear that the use of deacons of honor at this mass was licit.

  18. Mr. H. says:

    Fr. Z

    Beautiful pictures!! Thanks for sharing them.

    Mr. H

  19. Precentrix says:

    Re deacons of honour,

    At any rate, Mgr Rifan is a bit of an odd case. He is bishop of a *personal* diocese, not a territorial one. I suppose it’s like having your own mini sui juris church, except that it’s Latin rite.

  20. STILL MISSING IT says:

    The photos and beautiful. I am envious. Lately, this sin has become a favorite of mine…

    Why? Because I must be living on a different planet. Today, 20 June our parish celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart – which was really yesterday’s feast. Today should be the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, yet no one seemed to notice but me – again.

    Our opening hymn was Gather Us In
    Offertory was Flow Like A River
    Recessional was Joyful, Joyful – not bad unless it’s played on ukeleles – which it was, actually, they all were.

    I must have gotten on the wrong spacecraft.

    So, Fr. Z, anyone, like to trade planets? PLEASE!!!!!!!!

  21. PMcGrath says:

    Actually, Father, since you’re in the neighborhood, you should visit this place, which takes “brick by brick” to heart.

  22. Dear Father,
    I made a pilgrimage from Washington,DC to NYC for last night’s Mass. It was truly prayerful, beautiful and a most worthy celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Not since childhood had I experienced such a sublime and efficacious occasion of Grace. Humbled and filled with countless blessings, I will offer many prayers of thanksgiving to our blessed Lord for the privelege of having been present.

  23. Carlos Palad says:

    “If you want to attende a Gregorian Rite Mass in the UK you usually have to bunk off to an SSPX chapel.”

    The UK has more Gregorian Rite Masses celebrated in full communion with Rome
    per Catholic faithful than the USA!

  24. Thomas V says:

    The normal liturgy at St. Jean Baptiste is not yet in harmony with the “reform of the reform”, presently it has more of a mainstream American cathedral style. The music is well-performed by professional singers with an excellent organist, but is the usual mixed bag of hymns and songs (Gather Comprehensive is in the pews, a downgrade from Worship II which they replaced sometime in the past year) with some occasional showpieces from the liturgical treasury. The liturgy is more dignified than average, but the “Preferential Option for the Awesome” (as Matthew of the Whapping would put it) is hardly ever taken, there are only a few servers even at the main Sunday Mass, and the fidelity to the letter of the rubrics varies greatly by celebrant. We can pray that the good priests of the SSS (who graciously allowed the parish treasury – including spectacular vestments, chalices, ciboria, thurible, etc – to be opened to the visiting clerics) will be inspired by the gravitational pull of the EF toward a more excellent OF as well.

  25. “Mgr Rifan is a bit of an odd case. He is bishop of a personal diocese, not a territorial one. I suppose it’s like having your own mini sui juris church, except that it’s Latin rite.”

    Bishop Rifan’s jurisdiction as Apostolic Administrator is over Catholics attached to the traditional rite within the boundaries of the Diocese of Campos.

    For this Mass, Archbishop Dolan graciously gave his permission for Bishop Rifan to pontificate from the throne.

  26. David O'Rourke says:

    Xathar: I don’t mean to be rude but surely you don’t expect the majority of people reading this blog to be proficient enough in Latin to read your quote from Ephimerides Liturgicae do you?

    My own Latin (never the greatest) has gotten stale over the years but fortunately I am assisted by my memory of the pre-Vatican II rules which are as follows:

    The seventh candle is absolutely reserved to the Ordinary of the diocese except if the other prelate is the Pope.

    Aside from the seventh candle, cardinals have the use of the throne in addition to the other ceremonies pertaining to the Ordinary everywhere except in the diocese of Rome. To the best of my knowledge the same holds true for Papal Nuncios and Apostolic Delegates if they are in the country to which they are assigned. In at least some instances, if the Ordinarh is present this may involve setting up another throne on the opposite side of the sanctuary. I have seen this done with an apostolic Delegate pontificating but in that case the Ordinary happened to be a cardinal in cappa magna and he outranked the Delegate.

    Much the same holds true for a primate in his own country and a meropolitan in his own province.

    Aside from that, the Ordinary may invite another bishop to use his throne with honourary deacons etc. as long as the bishop is not his co-adjutor or his auxiliary although presumably these could be invited to use the throne in another diocese at the invitation of the bishop. Likewise abbots have similar rights within their own abbey church.

    I think that pretty much covers the matter corrections would be gratfulloy accepted.

  27. xathar says:


    I’m sorry. I was figuring that the only people interested in this rather arcane practice would probably be liturgy nerds (such as myself) with a proficiency in Latin. In English, the text (roughly translated) reads: Can a diocesan bishop who enjoys jurisdiction concede the use of the throne with deacons of honor to another bishop? Answer: Yes, so long as the invited bishop is not the diocesan coadjutor, auxiliary bishop, Vicar General, or one who merely holds a title of dignity or who is a canon in the church.

  28. David says:

    i have never seen a deacon wear a biretta??? anyone know why this “deacon of honor” was wearing one? what is the protocol?

  29. Patrick says:


    Any cleric (or even seminarian for that matter) can wear the biretta in choir. In the sacred liturgy, the deacon, sub deacon and deacons of honor can wear the biretta and of course the priest. Maybe the assistant priest too, but I’m not sure.

  30. All the sacred ministers wear the biretta, in procession and when seated. Clerics should wear birettas in choir at the correct time, unless the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, etc. It is not unusual to see a deacon with a biretta. It would be strange to see a deacon without one, as a matter of fact. I can’t imagine such a thing!


  31. New video footage of the Mass last Friday up here:

    We hope to have a clip of the Bishop’s sermon up soon as well.

  32. P.S. Fr. Z can be spotted in the processional and recessional if you look carefully. : )

  33. Lirioroja says:

    I too was at the Mass on Friday and it was beautiful. The music was glorious. For once I was hardly distracted (very rare for me). I know a number of the altar servers including two seminarians for the Archdiocese of New York. Please pray for them.

  34. techno_aesthete says:

    The music was breathtaking. Yes and hearing the congregation chant the Credo as well as the responses with enthusiasm that filled the church was wonderful, too.

    The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny has posted more photos of this Mass.

  35. techno_aesthete says:

    Hmm, “more photos” in my previous comment is linked to the other site, but it doesn’t appear as a link unless the cursor hovers over it. In any case here is the URL:

  36. Ed Casey says:

    I was present as well at this sumptuous Holy Mass and took quite a loy of pictures, that I’m happy to share through snapfish here:

    Best regards, Ed

  37. amoraeternus says:

    All of the deacon roles of the Mass were in fact filled by priests. The two deacons of honor were Father Murray and Father Viego. So the discussion about deacons wearing birretas is out of place though instructive.

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