Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Photopost: The Post-Midnight Private Masses for Christmas at Grotto

It was around 2:00am on Christmas morning when Midnight Mass ended (see photopost here).  It was an orchestra Mass featuring C.P.E. Bach's Magnificat and Mozart's Missa Longa (with two more opportunities to hear the set in the context of holy Mass). 

As people strolled out of Church to head home, or over to the school lounge for the traditional post-Midnight Mass feast, a few took notice that something extraordinary was about to take place, no pun intended.  People had wondered aloud earlier, why some things weren't decorated as they had been in the past.  The answer soon came - a set of simultaneous private Masses in the Extraordinary Form (1962 Missal) were about to take place.

Altar boys began streaming out of the sacristy with sets of candlesticks aglow, placing them on the side altars which have rarely been used for Mass in recent decades, until the past year.  During 40 Hours Devotion, the Sacred Heart altar was used.  I wasn't there with my camera to capture it, but I did catch what happened, unannounced, after the Midnight Mass to the astonishment of many.  If there are many holy angels present during a single Mass, how many more were present in that Church with all of those Masses happening at the same time?  The roughly 25 who remained to watch were awe-struck, and not a sound could be heard except the periodic clanging of my camera equipment and snapping of the shutter.

Priests are permitted to celebrate Mass three times on Christmas Day.  They are also allowed to do this on the Feast of All Souls.  As Father Perrone explained to me after dress rehearsal the previous Wednesday, it was customary in days of old for the priests to celebrate following the Midnight Mass so that all priests could get in their three Masses.  While literature found online describes these as "Mass at dawn", I have testimony from older parishioners who say they recall them beginning after Midnight Mass ended.   Another parishioner recalls going from parish to parish after the Midnight Mass trying to catch different Masses through the night.  

Here are some photos I took.   I must admit, considering that I thought the Elevation would take place around the same time at all altars, I decided that if I could only capture one,  it would have to be the one at the Blessed Mother's altar.  You see the Chalice being elevated in my lead photo at the top.   It just so happened, that I was able to capture Elevations at three of the altars.  Some of the pictures are darker than others due to lighting.  I may try to touch these up a little more. 

Visiting Cistercian, Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O. celebrates at the high altar

Father John Bustamante celebrates at the Blessed Mother's altar.

Father Wolfgang Seitz, ORC celebrates at the Sacred Heart altar.

Father Eduard Perrone celebrates at the table altar

Based on feedback and how word spread among the people of the parish on Sunday, I suspect we will see many more people lurking about in the pews next year after Midnight Mass.  My only regret was that I could not just kneel down and be still as these Masses took place.  If I had, I would not get to extend the witness of them to all of you.

Perhaps other priests will pick up this traditional custom and someday, we will find ourselves hopping from parish to parish to assist at yet one more Mass, even if we can only make a spiritual communion.

Note: Edited on December 29, removing the expression "Shepherd's Masses" which may have been a misapplication of the expression.  These typically took place at dawn.

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Terry Nelson said...

Merry Christmas diane. The church is beautifully decorated. This is the first time I've heard of the Shepherd's Masses - what a wonderful tradition.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Hopefully, an old tradition that becomes new again - LOL

Anonymous said...

i grew up in Gesu Parish in NW Detroit. The church had four side altars in addition to the main altar. Since it was a Jesuit parish, with a pastor and four assistants, and across the street at the Jesuit residence at the University of Detroit there were 23 more Jesuits, all five altars were fully occupied with angels every day except Sunday (when the parish masses were said at the main altar). The side altars had schedules like 5:30, 6, 6:30, and seven, while the main altar had Mass with organ every 45 minutes. I was one of the army of altar boys who were required to assist, not only here, but at three convents within the parish boundaries. Deo Gratias!

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Thanks for sharing that and I hope others will offer their memories of these special Christmas Masses.

I just edited my post after finding that this was also known as the "Dawn Mass". Yet, most of the older parishioners I speak to recall how priests would begin celebrating these Masses as soon as midnight Mass ended. Then again, perhaps there were so many priests they may have gone on for some time through the night in those days. Rectories were once full of priests, unlike today where one priests has several parishes.

Anonymous said...

Dear Diane,
Thank you so much for the pictures and explanation. My daughter and I were there and it was truly heaven. I will cherish the remembrance of it forever. God bless you! Catherine

all4JesusandMary said...

Wow, that is awesome!!!!!!!!! Beautiful pictures!

The Little Way said...

Gorgeous photographs. And what an exquisitely beautiful church. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I've never seen such beauty in my entire life. There's something very special about Assumption Grotto. I belong to SS. Cyril's, but it's nothing like Grotto. Such a heavenly atmosphere, absolutely breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the photos! Great to see this happening! I visited this parish a couple of days after Thanksgiving,(the 27th I think?), to attend my first ever mass in the EF form! I have read and seen them, fell in love with the EF mass, but never been to one. A friend of mine drove me there. Had to get up at 5:30AM, leave Sterling Heights, MI,(where my grandmother lives), and drive 45 minutes downtown to 7:30AM mass. It was so wonderful. Fr.Perrone did a great job! Then my friend introduced me to Fr.Bustamante and I talked to him about the priesthood! Oh I forgot to mention, I am only 15. I do plan on coming back every time I come to Detroit!

God Bless!

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Excellent! Do come back.

Does this mean you are not from the metro Detroit area?