Several parishes may continue to celebrate Traditional Latin Masses in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, but several others must cease, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo has said in his implementation of Pope Francis' motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

Cardinal DiNardo’s Sept. 1 letter to the clergy and lay faithful of the archdiocese emphasized the need for reverence, fidelity, and unity in the liturgy, while warning against the dangers of letting personality and personal preference dominate celebrations of the Mass.

“The liturgy is not only the gathering point into unity of all that is scattered, but also the summons home to the Father through the action of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in that gathering, thus creating harmony from among diverse and even occasionally discordant voices,” he said. “There grace is given to all the members of the liturgical assembly to go forth and to sanctify the world in which they live.”

“The clergy and those being formed for holy orders should cultivate a love for the liturgy which manifests itself in a fidelity to the liturgical rubrics, decorum, sound preaching, and a sense of reverent confidence when celebrating the liturgy,” the cardinal said. “This holds true for the celebration of all the sacraments, as well as sacramentals.”

“We should take care that our personalities and individual preferences do not dominate our manner of liturgical celebration,” he continued.

The cardinal’s letter considered all the parishes where the Traditional Latin Mass continued to be celebrated. Its directives take effect Sept. 30.

Only Annunciation parish and Regina Caeli parish may celebrate the traditional Latin Mass on Sundays and Days of Holy Obligation. Any Catholics in the archdiocese who wish to celebrate wedding Masses, baptisms, and other sacraments in the more ancient use should direct their requests to the clergy at Regina Caeli.

The Church of the Annunciation, founded in 1869, is the oldest church in Houston. The downtown church’s website numbers its parishioners at over 400 households. For more than 40 years, the parish has celebrated both the Roman Missal of 1962, published under St. John XXIII, and the Roman Missal of 1972, published under St. Paul VI.

“In light of this longstanding custom at Annunciation Parish, there will be no change to the celebration of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 at that parish,” said the cardinal.

More in US

Regina Caeli parish is an apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. The parish’s website said its number of parishioners more than doubled during the pandemic restrictions of 2020, in part because longtime attendees had never officially registered and Mass was temporarily limited only to registered parishioners with reservations. The parish’s main church is not yet built, though it is continuing to build facilities on 40 acres of land in northwest Houston currently used for its temporary chapel.

In 2013 the cardinal had established Regina Caeli parish “to give pastoral and sacramental care to the faithful who are accustomed to the celebration of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962,” he said. This is a non-territorial parish and so is “the proper parish of any Catholic within Galveston-Houston who desires the frequent celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal.” There will be no change to its celebration of Mass or its sacraments.

The cardinal’s letter implemented Pope Francis’ July 16 motu proprio, which placed restrictions on Masses which use the 1962 Roman Missal. These liturgies are sometimes known as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, or the Traditional Latin Mass.

The move made sweeping changes to the practices allowed by his predecessor Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of all priests of the Roman rite to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962.

Pope Francis, in a letter to the world’s bishops, said he felt compelled to act because, he said, the use of the 1962 Missal was “often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Second Vatican Council itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church’.”

Cardinal DiNardo’s letter did not comment on any spirit of rejection in local parishes. However, he said, “Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI hoped that allowing more freedom for priests to celebrate the Tridentine Form of the Mass would bring about greater unity and concord in the Church, and a mutual respect of the two forms of the Roman Rite. Pope Francis has written that such unity has not taken place.”

He noted that celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass have begun more recently at St. Theresa Parish in Sugar Land, St. Bartholomew Parish in Katy, and Prince of Peace Parish in northwest Houston.

(Story continues below)

“Although a number of the faithful are drawn to these Masses, these liturgical celebrations are not longstanding customs in those parishes,” he said. The traditional Latin Mass may now be celebrated at St. Theresa and St. Bartholomew only “twice a month, on weekdays.”

The cardinal abrogated the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass at Houston’s Prince of Peace Parish. He directed the faithful who desire the older form of the Mass to Regina Caeli Parish, noting that it is about nine miles away and celebrates this Mass five times every Sunday.

The cardinal gave additional instructions for all liturgies. Any ritual actions, gestures and prayers not prescribed by the Roman Missal should not be included in celebrations of the Mass, he said.

“The rubrics of the Roman Missal of 1962 are not to be added to the celebration of Mass according to the current edition of the Roman Missal of 1970,” he said. “Likewise, anything unbecoming or foreign to the celebration of the Mass as it is prescribed in the Roman Missal is to be avoided.”

“Private devotions or acts of popular piety are praiseworthy and help to deepen one's love for Almighty God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints,” the cardinal continued. “However, private devotions by their nature are to be kept separate from the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.”

Any acts of popular piety or private devotion may be carried out after the end of Mass, he said.

He encouraged the review of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and its rubrics, including those regarding preaching.

“The scriptures and prayers of the day are the source material of liturgical preaching,” he said. “Priests and deacons should try to be clear and succinct in their preaching, and homilies should be short. We are to draw out the spiritual meaning of the appointed texts in light of the particular mysteries being celebrated, and with an appreciation of the needs of the faithful gathered for the Eucharist.”

The Galveston-Houston archdiocese is the fifth-largest in the U.S. by population, with over 1.7 million Catholics in its territory. It has 146 parishes and its people “pray and celebrate in over 14 languages,” the archdiocese website says.