The Latin Mass community of Sacramento, California began more than twenty years ago. In 1997 the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) was invited into our diocese to serve what was then known as the Ecclesia Dei Community. In 2002 a property was purchased and given by our diocese for our use; this included a church and small school. At the time, Fr. John Berg, FSSP (now the superior general of that congregation) was the priest in charge of our Latin Mass community. In the approximately five years that Fr. Berg was with us, he tried to give our parish, St. Stephen, the First Martyr (not formally a parish yet) a character and tradition which he hoped we would maintain. Among these traditions were things such as Sunday Vespers, the Rorate Mass in Advent, and Tenebrae. Happily, the priests who have come after him have kept these traditions, and even added to them.
Even at this time in the early morning the priest would sing Lauds together in the sanctuary of our church. I would silently pray from a breviary with the Pius XII Psalter, which of course was not the same. Occasionally we would also have Compline, especially after big feasts and after evening adult education classes. We would print out the Latin so that everyone could sing; it was a very prayerful and joyful time!
Now, we are blessed to have many resources for the words of the Divine Office so consequently people are beginning to download the Office from the internet and bring it with them to St. Stephens. What began as community prayer among the priests is becoming more of prayer also for the laity. We very gingerly attempt to pronounce the words of the psalms along with the priests each morning at Lauds and as each day passes we learn more, and more people seem to come.
We also have an opportunity on Monday and Thursday each week for the office of Sext. After our priests teach their Latin classes they come into the church to sing this hour together. In addition to this we regularly have Thursday evening Compline which is very well attended after evening Mass.
The Divine Office is very much a part of our Catholic culture at St. Stephens. Most of our children have some opportunity for learning some of the Psalms either in choir or even at our summer camps where Compline is sung each evening.
St. Stephen is a little bit of heaven on earth. It is a place where the Church is living and growing. It is a place where in the midst of all the trials of this world you can find peace.
(reproduced from Rorate Cæli)