Wednesday, January 13, 2016

EF Pontifical Mass for Christmas in the Diocese of Lake Charles, LA

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.

Seasonably cool temperatures, at last, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on the night of December 30, 2015, found the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception comfortably full on the occasion of a Solemn Pontifical Mass for the Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas. Indeed, it was one of the largest crowds to date since His Excellency Bishop Glen John Provost, D.D. began celebrating this Mass in the diocese. From the time of his installation as 3rd Bishop of Lake Charles on April 23, 2007, Bishop Provost has celebrated eleven Solemn Pontifical Masses in the Extraordinary Form throughout the diocese. This was the fourth from the throne of his own cathedral. His Excellency was vested in his pontificalia, the vestments and ornaments proper to a bishop, which include the pectoral cross and ring, the miter and crozier, gloves, tunicle and dalmatic beneath the chasuble. Located in the niche of the high altar is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Aug. 22, 2013, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from the Holy See, officiated at the crowning rite of the statue. With the splendor of both the surroundings and of the liturgy, and with the carefully orchestrated pageantry of the Solemn Pontifical Mass, for nearly two hours, time seemed to stand still -- intimations of Heaven.

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!

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