A sacred midnight mass is always held at St Rose of Lima R.C. Church in Massapequa, New York to mark the most holy of holy days of the Catholic calendar, attracting a standing-room-only crowd of devoted worshipers each year.

In the atmosphere created by the choir and instrumentalists before the evening's mass, a magical atmosphere was created by the congregation's enjoyment of holiday hymns. The midnight mass was conducted by Father Ken Zach, who mentioned that it is an age-old Catholic custom.

“We have been told that Christ was born at Midnight, which I feel is a belief from the Middle Ages,” he said. "Tradition has carried over of having the mass at that time, when Christ came down to Earth. It's been a tradition to mark it with mass over the centuries."

In addition to our traditional celebration of Ash Wednesday, Father Ken explained that St Rose of Lima R.C. Church also observes another important tradition.

“It is the most important tradition to carry the statue of the baby Jesus into church at midnight mass, and place it in the manger we have prepared." he said. Father Ken made an amusing admission to the congregation during mass. “The thing that worries me the most as a priest for 29 years is whether I'm going to drop this baby every year,” he said, drawing laughter.

The mass itself lasts about an hour at St Rose of Lima R.C. Church. There were three distinct parts to the service: the Opening Rites, where repentance is carried out and an acknowledgement of the need for repentance is given; the readings from Scripture; and then the Holy Communion liturgy itself.

There was soulful music in each part of the service, beautifully performed by the church's choir and orchestra. "St. Rose of Lima's holiday celebration is much more than just a midnight mass," according to Father Ken.

"We also hold a full Christmas concert in the church every year around this time," he said. "This year it will be January 2nd at 3pm, the day after New Years." Performances are to be given by the adult choir, children's choir, bell choir, and instrumentalists, who will each be performing a range of traditional and non-traditional hymns.

At St Rose of Lima R.C. Church, Joanne DiFalco was among the attendees of the mass. The woman said, "I haven't been to a midnight mass in years. I remember going together with my parents on Christmas Eve, after I received one present." Robert Altman and his family attended the event, as they do each and every year.


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