Friday, November 30, 2012

Solemn Pontifical Mass in Trenton, New Jersey

We recently made note of a Solemn Pontifical Mass that was being broadcast on EWTN. The Mass was from Trenton, New Jersey, celebrated by Bishop David O'Connell.

The Trenton diocesan newspaper recently ran an article on this:

Bishop O'Connell celebrates historical Solemn Pontifical Mass

Mary Stadnyk, News Editor

The beauty, reverence, splendor and awe of a traditional Latin Mass was reflected in its highest form in the Diocese of Trenton Nov. 27 as Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in St. Hedwig Church, Trenton.

The Mass, which was celebrated on the feast of the Miraculous Medal and drew some 800 people from throughout the diocese and beyond, was part of the diocese’s observance of the Year of Faith. Father Brian Woodrow, diocesan liaison to the Extraordinary Form in the Roman Rite, noted that the Mass also marked two historical moments in the life of the Church of Trenton -- it had been more than a half a century, since the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, that that the Pontifical Solemn High Mass in the extraordinary form had been celebrated in the diocese. It also marked the first anniversary of the celebration of the Traditional Mass in the diocese.

One year ago, Bishop O’Connell responded to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 call to make the extraordinary form of the Mass more available to the faithful. The bishop appointed Father Woodrow as the diocesan liaison to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and it has been Father Woodrow’s responsibility to introduce that form of the Mass to parts of the diocese that do not already have it available. Masses in the extraordinary form in the diocese have been celebrated in St. Anthony Church (of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton) since Nov. 27, 2011, which was the first Sunday of Advent last year.

Meaning and details of the Mass

Explaining a Solemn Pontifical High Mass, Father Woodrow said that it is celebrated by a bishop or the pope and that it is the model and highest form of the Mass that can be celebrated.

The Solemn Pontifical Mass “is the Mass in its most complete, majestic and ritualistic form,” said Father Woodrow. “It is Christ’s beautiful bride, the Church, offering her historic and timeless devotion to our Lord and Savior with our shepherd at the helm.”

Amidst the grand setting of St. Hedwig Church with its high altar, the majestic sounds of the invited choral groups, including the Mass for Four Voices (William Byrd), the Westminster Kantorei, under the direction of Amanda Quist, and the Mater Ecclesiae Schola Cantorum from Mater Ecclesiae Parish, Berlin, resonated as they provided the sacred music for the Mass.

About 20 minutes prior to the start of the Mass, Bishop O’Connell, for the first time, entered the church wearing the “cappa magna,” which is a 35-foot long cape that represents the earthly glory that he has as a ruler in the Church. The bishop, who is accompanied by a server, spent several minutes in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament before proceeding back into the sacristy to vest for Mass. His vestments included the amice, alb, cincture, stole, maniple and chasuble. The red zucchetto (skull cap), pectoral cross and the miter represent his authority as the bishop, and the ring symbolizes that he is wedded to the diocese. Underneath his chasuble, the bishop also has on the vestments of the subdeacon (the tunicle) and deacon (dalmatic) to show that he has the full authority of Holy Orders. He also wears liturgical gloves that show his purity from sin and the performance of good works.

Once vested for the Mass, the bishop entered the church again where he joined in the grand procession and began the celebration of Mass. Assisting Bishop O’Connell in the sanctuary were priests from the Diocese of Trenton, as well as visiting priests from other New Jersey dioceses. The priests served in various liturgical roles such as deacon, subdeacon, assistant deacon of the throne , assistant priest, master of ceremonies of the throne, master of ceremonies of the altar, subdeacon of the cross and sacristans.

The many altar boys present hailed predominantly from parishes throughout Mercer County, while the girls who participated in the entrance procession were members of the Maidens of the Miraculous Medal.

The Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated in Latin with the priest facing toward “liturgical east.” This is typically where the high altar, tabernacle and crucifix are situated. Being that it’s a solemn, serious and reverent service, the Traditional Latin Mass is punctuated by moments of silence in which the congregation quietly follows along in private prayer. Sometimes the celebrant at the altar doesn’t address the assembly, but whispers prayers, inaudible to the people in the pews, to add to the sense of reverence.

You can read the rest of the article over there. Here, as well, is a photo gallery from the Mass.