Out thanks to Barbara Wyman for sharing with us in these photographs, and an account of the Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Excellency Bishop Glen Provost during the Octave of Christmas. The ceremony took place in the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
One thing particularly evident in an Extraordinary Form Solemn Pontifical Mass is that the Bishop appears not as a sort of figurehead, a church CEO, but as a leader, our General, with us, the soldiers of Christ behind him, along with the differing ranks of officers in the persons of priests, deacons, seminarians, and on this occasion, the fully vested Knights and Dames of St. Gregory the Great, the Knights bearing actual swords. The reality of spiritual warfare and this our battle against principalities and powers is made visually present. The Bishop’s message on this day was that we, like Holy Mary, must ponder the mystery of the Incarnation in our hearts, leading us to the contemplation of the other mysteries of the Faith, especially the saving mystery which is reenacted at every Mass.
What struck this writer particularly on that happy night was the mystery and power of prayer, and, how the Holy Spirit works through individual fiats to effect His purpose on earth. It just so happened that as I looked around, I noticed many familiar faces. These friends were the very same people who welcomed us, a Protestant family, fleeing not the beauty of Anglicanism, but the heterodoxy, 17 years ago. This faithful bunch in the 80s had petitioned then Bishop Jude Speyrer (RIP) to allow the “indult” traditional Latin Mass. Bishop Speyrer’s fiat along with those of two brave priests, Fr. Roland Vaughn and Fr. Marty Martineau (RIP) was the beginning of a little parish which grew. Although the group was moved about the diocese, it soon found a semi-permanent home at a cinder-block mission church way out by the airport. It was there that my family and I found them in 1999. We marveled as week in and week out, the tiny chapel was transformed: banners temporarily removed and a crucifix and statue of Mother Mary set in place. Portable kneelers were moved in from a van, and a small but strong schola stood in the back, chanting the Mass.
Time passed, and for a period, the indult was canceled. Nevertheless, the whole family eventually converted, and the core Latin Mass group stayed in touch, offering prayers and sacrifices for the return of the Traditional Latin Mass to the diocese. The rest of the story is beautiful: after the motu proprio of Pope Benedict, the diocese of Lake Charles received Bishop Provost and with him, the glorious Mass of the Ages returned and now, is celebrated at the Cathedral. Vocations are soaring, and many young priests offer the Extraordinary Form in the diocese. Two young men in particular stood out to this musing writer on that December night, small boys at the time of the cinderblock indult Mass, sons of one of the original families: one is now a seminarian and was assisting at the Solemn Pontifical Mass, the other was leading the schola. Deo Gratias!
For more pictures of this and other Pontifical Masses, please see the website: http://www.immaculateconceptioncathedral.com/events-1