The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul of this year was an historic one for the Catholics of the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana: it was celebrated by the offering of the first Solemn High Mass according to the Extraordinary Form in the Diocese since the end of the Second Vatican Council. This alone would have been cause for rejoicing, but the faithful of Lake Charles had even more to celebrate. The Mass was offered in the Cathedral of their Diocese, with their Bishop, Glen John Provost, himself in attendance, in choir, attended by two chaplains; and the Bishop himself preached a fine, strong homily on the fundamental continuity of the Faith, echoing Pope Benedict’s assertion that “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too.” Over four hundred people attended the choral Mass, including many who are not regulars of the usual weekly Mass according to the Extraordinary Form. The diocesan newspaper sent a reporter and a photographer to cover the story; the Mass was also video-taped for posterity.
The history of the Gregorian Rite in Lake Charles in the past few years is a microcosm for the general movement of the Church in this time. The faithful there first had their long-standing “indult” Mass summarily canceled by their previous (and short-lived) Bishop; they suffered and agonized and prayed; and they then received — in the space of a few months — both the great gift of Summorum Pontificum and their present, and already much beloved, Bishop, who was ready to implement the motu proprio in accord with the mind of the Church. With these graces, they have rebuilt their community rapidly, organized a fine choir, and now split their time between the Cathedral and a local parish church; though many of the regulars hope eventually to have a more permanent, and regular, home, they are thrilled and grateful for the far-sighted generosity of the Bishop.
The spirit of harmony and good will was much in evidence at the celebratory Mass. The Bishop offered his own matched set of fine martyr-red vestments for use during the ceremony — how many Bishops have a spare set of Solemn High Mass vestments on hand, complete with maniples? The clerics were all diocesan priests. Fr. Rommel Tolentino — a young pastor who is one of the three usual celebrants for the weekly EF Mass — celebrated the Mass, chanting his parts with an aplomb born of enthusiasm and much diligent practice. The deacon was another young priest, newly ordained Fr. Nathan Long; while the role of sub-deacon was filled by a transitional deacon, the Rev. Mr. Scott Connor. These last two clerics are the first wave of a growing group of seminarians who have volunteered to take extra instruction in Latin, with the Bishop’s approbation and encouragement, from a classics professor at the local University — and lover of the Gregorian Rite — Barbara Wyman.
The Mass ended with a beautifully chanted Te Deum, perfectly expressing, in the Church’s traditional way, the great spirit of rejoicing — and relief — widely felt among the faithful that their Diocese is prospering under the piloting of its new Bishop, who himself is wisely responding to the guidance and spirit of Pope Benedict’s leadership of the Church. Deo Gratias!
The Solemn High Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Rommel Tolentino as priest, Rev. Fr. Nathan Long as deacon, and Deacon Scott Connor as subdeacon was excellent.
Source: The Lake Charles Latin Mass Society
Wonderful news. The only real disappointment is the fact that the High Altar was not used for this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.