HE MORNING OF JULY 16TH, 2021 dawned with a special feeling of excitement and anticipation for the faithful of Las Vegas. One of our own priests, Monsignor Gregory W. Gordon, was to be ordained as Auxiliary Bishop in just a few hours. My humble little Schola was to sing at the ordination as part of the larger festival choir under the skilled direction of William Freeman. We also had been blessed with the opportunity to sing some chant alone as a Schola – a high profile moment for us. We have long been accustomed to being tucked away unseen in the back of our parish church on Sundays, a perfectly comfortable place to be. But this particular morning we would be up on the altar singing for the Lord in the presence of about 20 bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and even the Papal Nuncio. It was a great honor to have been invited to sing.
As I did a quick scroll through the messages on my phone that morning, I found several concerned messages from our Traditional Latin Mass parishioners and quickly found out that this day was going to be pretty unforgettable for a few reasons. Although I found the Motu Proprio very surprising, I didn’t really have time to sit and ponder. There was somewhere important I had to be.
The ordination Mass went beautifully, and the overarching feeling of the entire Mass was one of absolute joy – it was palpable. I sat there watching the bishops, archbishops, and cardinals lay their hands on this new Bishop, and I was struck by the absolute seriousness and weight of the Apostolic Succession. This was weighty business, indeed. That moment will stand out in my mind forever. I was so thankful that my 12 year old, Violet, was there up close as part of the choir so that she could witness first hand how serious the Apostolic Succession is.
As the dust began to settle in the days following the ordination, I’ve had some time to reflect on the strange juxtaposition of the Motu Proprio and the ordination. On the one hand, the Holy Father appeared to lock the Traditional Latin Mass down tight. But on the other hand, he had just appointed a new Bishop to Las Vegas – who is a great friend to Tradition.
You see, our new Bishop was, many years ago, my pastor. It was he who had formed the first chant choir I’d ever been in, which he had created to serve the Novus Ordo Latin Mass he celebrated every Sunday. Because of him, I learned to love the Mass in Latin. Because of him, I learned how to sing Gregorian chant. Because of him, our Schola exists today to serve the Traditional Latin Mass. Because of him, I have been able to train the next generation of singers to carry on the tradition of sacred music. And now, he is the Auxiliary Bishop of Las Vegas.
Although I would really like to explain to you why Bishop Gordon is so incredibly well-loved among the faithful, I am coming up short of finding the right words. If you have ever met someone who magnifies the light of Christ like a beacon, or who somehow never fails to spark joy in you even under the most common of circumstances, you might understand who Bishop Gordon is and why it matters so much that the Holy Father has elevated him to the role of Bishop. It does not matter what form of the Mass he celebrates, it matters that he is a faithful keeper of Tradition. It matters that his heart is open and generous to the spiritual needs of his sheep.
Whatever consequences flow from the Motu Proprio, rest assured that they will not happen in a vacuum.
The faithful are the living, breathing mystical body of Christ. The Holy Father is rightfully the head – but the Bishops are the neck. And as we have already seen, there are more than a few Bishops around the world who have given their permission for the Traditional Latin Mass to continue. Thankfully, this has so far included the Diocese of Las Vegas under Bishop George Leo Thomas and Bishop Gordon. We have been treated with generosity and true charity.
If you’d like to track the responses of the Bishops around the world, you can do so at traditioniscustodes.info. You might be surprised to see that the majority of Dioceses that have been tracked are “green” – the local Bishop is allowing the TLM to continue. There is joy, and there is hope. Let’s cling to that. Deo Gratias!