Austin, TX: TLM at the cathedral – nice article!

Here is a good piece from The Catholic Spirit, from Austin, TX.

My emphases and comments.

Austin Latin Mass community finds home at Cathedral
Catholic Spirit, March 2008, In Our World

By Michele Chan Santos

The traditional Latin Mass celebrated on Sunday afternoons at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin is unique among the Sunday Catholic Masses around the Diocese of Austin.
Most of the women and many of the young girls are wearing black or white lace veils over their heads. As people enter, they pick up copies of a Latin-English Booklet Missal. The missal has the prayers and Gospel readings in Latin on the left and in English on the right. The songs are sung in Latin, and some portions of the service are chanted by the priest.
Parishioners receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Those receiving Communion do not say “Amen” because it is included when the priest says “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” (This translates as “May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.”)
This congregation meets each week at 3:30 p.m. on Sundays. [Not exactly a convenient time, but better than nothing!] Beginning at 3 p.m., a rosary is prayed and the sacrament of penance is made available. [Very often confessions are heard during TLM celebrations.  As a matter of fact a few years ago the CDW recommended that confessions be heard during Novus Ordo Masses!  Many people think it is forbidden to hear confessions during Mass… on the contrary!] Those who regularly attend this Mass call themselves the St. Joseph Latin Mass Community. About 160 to 175 people attend regularly, with more people coming during the Christmas and Easter seasons. The Mass and sacraments are celebrated by Jesuit Father Robert Bradley.
The Latin Mass [grrr… I don’t like that term.] has brought together a diverse group of people who have formed a strong community and deep friendships as a result of their attendance at this Mass. They drive from Cedar Park, Bastrop, Round Rock and all over Austin to the downtown cathedral.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, all Masses were celebrated in Latin. However, after the council, it was decided that Masses should be celebrated in the language of the people.  [Nooo… the Council said Latin must be retained.  Disobedience to the Council resulted in the near abolition of Latin.] After 1962, the Latin Mass was no longer permitted, [Factually untrue… we all know about the indult obtained by Card. Heenan and the permission given to older priests, etc.  But effectively is was banned, that must be admitted.] until October 1984, when Pope John Paul II gave permission for Mass to be celebrated in Latin with approval of the local bishop. In Austin, Bishop John McCarthy made arrangements for a Latin Mass for those who wished to attend one.
In July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued “Motu Proprio,” a papal letter that made it easier for parishes to celebrate a Latin Mass [grrrrrr] and it said that priests no longer needed special permission to have this type of service. In his letter, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too.”
At the Austin service, there are many people who remember services conducted in Latin from their youth. There are many young families as well, who have decided this is the service that is right for them.
Lucy Trainor and her husband brought their three children, ages 3, 2, and 9 months, to Latin Mass on Sunday, Feb. 3.
“We love the reverence and the quiet,” Trainor said.
Brooks Whitmore is the musical director for the service; his wife, Jennifer Whitmore, directs the children’s choir, which also sings in Latin.
“We love the respect for our Lord and the Eucharist, the way the priest says the Mass facing the tabernacle and facing our Lord,” Jennifer Whitmore said.
Steve Valerga and his wife, Jean, have regularly attended Latin Mass for many years.
“I just like the old traditional Mass, some of the old rites are beautiful,” Steve Valerga said. “There’s a lot of history, a lot of tradition going back 1,500 years.”
Jean Valerga said she loves this service, “the whole concept of it, the reverence of it. It’s more spiritual for me.” After Mass is over, the regular attendees gather outside to chat and talk over the events of the week. [That has been my experience everywhere I have been, whether in Bakersfield, CA, or in Rome, or in St. Paul, or in Kansas City, or in Chicago, or in England…] “There is a very bonded community,” she said.
Whitney and Pearsall clearly recall the community’s early days. Their gatherings began with the permission of Bishop John McCarthy and the appointment of their founding chaplain, the late Holy Cross Father Leon Boarman. The community’s first celebration of the traditional Latin Mass was held in the St. Joseph’s Hall chapel at St. Edward’s University, on an Advent Sunday in 1988.
The Latin Mass remained at St. Edward’s for nine years, then moved to the Our Lady’s Maronite Parish on 51st Street. From 1999 to 2002, the Mass was held at St. Ignatius Parish, and then it relocated to Sacred Heart Parish for the next five years. During this period, Jesuit Father Robert Bradley was appointed chaplain upon Father Boarman’s retirement.
“At every place, our attendance grew,” Whitney said. “The beauty of it is while we were roaming, we kept adding people and expanding.”
In April of last year, the Latin service moved to St. Mary Cathedral at the invitation of Father Bud Roland, [God bless him!] the rector of the Cathedral, and with the approval of Bishop Gregory Aymond.
Father Roland said the Latin Mass community has been a blessing to the parish community at St. Mary Cathedral.  [See Rule 4.]
“Our setting lends itself well to the Latin Mass,” [grrrr] he said. “Father Bradley has presented a series on adult education, which many of our parishioners attended. One of their members is on our parish council, so we routinely get updates about what is going on with them … the group has grown, which I think means they are happy here.”
The people who attend this Mass were grateful for the invitation from Father Roland. [To those of them reading this… be sure to tell Father that you are grateful!  And the bishop, too!]
“It’s such an appropriate place for such a beautiful liturgy,” Trainor said.
“We are truly grateful to be in the Cathedral, we really appreciate it,” Whitney said.
Pearsall is happy that so many younger families are joining their community. “It’s drawing a lot of people who didn’t grow up with it.”
This is appropriate, Pearsall said, because “the Latin Mass [grrrrr] was part of our heritage for hundreds of years.”
The traditional Latin Mass [better] is celebrated at 3:30 p.m. on Sundays at St. Mary Cathedral at 203 E. 10th St. in downtown Austin. The public is invited. For more information, visit or The Latin Mass [grrr] is also celebrated at St. Louis Parish in Waco. For more information, contact

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Virgil says:

    The Congrgation for Divine Worship recommended confessions be heard during mass? This is news to me, Father Zed, and quite a shock! I attend a traditional Latin mass every Sunday, and we don’t do this, perhaps because we have only one priest, and he’s busy celebrating one sacrament at a time.

    But at a TLM in a parish in my former city, it used to drive me crazy that there was a line of folks “ducking out” of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and taking a break to make a late confession. The smaller problem I had was the sight of the queue distracting me. The bigger problem was the fact that the folks in the queue were not “praying the mass.”

    You seem to approve of the practice. And you appear to be echoing the CDW in that matter. Can you post with some detail? I’m afraid that I just don’t get what makes this acceptable.

  2. Fr. Michael says:

    “As a matter of fact a few years ago the CDW recommended that confessions be heard during Novus Ordo Masses!”

    Is “recommend” the best word? If you are referring to the October, 2001 clarification, it strikes me more as a neutral allowance rather than a positive recommendation or endorsement.

    I agree with the substance of your sentence but wonder if “recommend” is the best choice.

    God Bless.

  3. Mark Jacobson says:

    Confessions during the Mass… is this a new (old) level of “Active Participation” we have somehow missed, in that one is actively preparing to receive Holy Communion in a worthy manner?

  4. Jason says:

    I confess that I’m very surprised that confessions should be offered to those attending Mass while that Mass is being offered. I agree with Virgil that people ‘ducking out’ for the Sacrament of Reconciliation would be a huge distraction for me, and probably for those doing so.

    I have no issue at all with the two sacraments being offered concurrently, just with individuals attempting to do both.

  5. This talk of confessions being heard during Mass makes me drool for times long past, when my long-dead relatives knelt on the ground without soft kneelers, prayed their primers, and waited with loving patience to see the Sacred Host held aloft as they gazed through the squints in the rood screen.

    Virgil, above, says, “it used to drive me crazy that there was a line of folks ‘ducking out’ of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and taking a break to make a late confession. The smaller problem I had was the sight of the queue distracting me. The bigger problem was the fact that the folks in the queue were not ‘praying the mass.'”

    Such a thing should not drive you crazy. If the queue (‘line’ for the Americans) is distracting, you shouldn’t be looking at the line. I believe these people are praying the Mass quite well, in fact. One of the ends of the holy Sacrifice is propitiation for sins, and what better a thing to do than to make one’s confession of sin during this great Act, uniting one’s contrition and sorrow for sin with the sacrifice of the Cross made sacramentally present on the altar.

    In former times, before pews, the faithful joined into the Sacred Mysteries according to their capacity. If one knew Latin, one could pray along with the actual prayers of the clergy, or pray various prayers from one’s primer, or the Psalter. If one knew how to read the vernacular, one could use a prayer primer and unite one’s personal prayers to those at the altar. If one were illiterate one could pray silently and quietly meditate on the Liturgy, on the Passion especially. If one were simply easily distracted or was having a hard time focusing or having a bad day, one could pray before a statue or an icon or go light a candle, all the while during the Mass. If one preferred solitude during the liturgy, one could huddle into a corner. If one could not kneel, one could stand or lean on a cane without having to “just sit,” being confined by a pew, having to lean forward a bit not to annoy the kneeling person sitting behind. This was the freedom of the laity, the clergy being bound to the liturgical actions, both in and out of choir.

    Ah, but here is the reason we have the bells in our liturgy. It hearkens the faithful away from their own piety, good in itself, and calls all to gaze upon the altar, to look at the Lamb of God and unite one’s individual prayers to the Infinite Sacrifice of the Mass. This is truly “praying the Mass,” uniting our prayers with the Prayer of Christ.

  6. Richard Oliver says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,

    “the Latin Mass [grrrrr],” what words are best to describe it?

  7. Fr. Michael says:

    I think we all are pretty familiar with why bells were rung at the elevation.

    Reminds me of the song “This Magic Moment” by Lou Reed. The Council envisioned (’62 or ’69) approaching the Mass as a whole and not as a “magic moment” at the elevation.

    Once we understand this principle of “whole” not “part” then we understand why confessions “during” Mass “can” be problematic.

    I agree with Jason. This isn’t about concurrent time, but concurrent participation.

    When I was an undergrad and went to confession during Mass, I was glad that I was absolved by the time the Gospel was read. For some reason, I felt that the proclamation of the Gospel was some invisible line of being at Mass. Fun times.

    God Bless

  8. Katherine says:

    “Beginning at 3 p.m., a rosary is prayed and the sacrament of penance is made available.”

    The only, and I really mean only, thing I am finding very difficult/frustrating about having to travel to the TLM in various places each week, it is not having the sacrament of penance available. At our old TLM parish, St. Benedict’s in Chesapeake, Virginia there was confession 30-45 min before Mass and afterwards if needed. When they were supplied with a 2nd priest from FSSP they added it during Mass as well. However, now we have to drive 40-60 minutes each week to a TLM with no confession and with 5 little kids it is too difficult to drive down again for confession the day before. Yes, I could go to the local liberal parish, but with no confessional and the priest giving very odd penances, “Do something nice for someone today,” I’ll just wait.
    It has been 4 months since my last confession, I would LOVE to go to a TLM with confession available during Mass!

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    From the October 2001 Notitiae statement:

    Consequently, it is clearly lawful, even during the celebration of Mass, to hear confessions when one foresees that the faithful are going to ask for this ministry. In the case of concelebrations, it is earnestly to be desired that some priests would abstain from concelebrating so as to be available to attend to the faithful who wish to receive the sacrament of Penance. (emphasis added)

    The italicized words would appear to suggest a strong recommendation that, if a priest other than the celebrant is available, then confessions during Mass should be made available. And should not, especially at the present time, the faithful be encouraged in every possible way “to ask for this ministry”?

    However, in my observation, confessions during traditional Masses have always stopped at the Gospel, thus allowing all to participate consciously and prayerfully in the Holy Sacrifice itself.

    Surely everyone says a personal confiteor and/or act of contrition before going to communion, hoping to approach Our Lord in as perfect a state of grace as possible. Hence, what better way to prepare for full participation in the propitiatory sacrifice than by the sacrament of penance? What better time than just before the sacrifice?

  10. Fr. Michael: Is “recommend” the best word?

    Yes… I think it is exactly the right word. 

    I posted a new entry on this here.

    Consequently, it is clearly lawful, even during the celebration of Mass, to hear confessions when one foresees that the faithful are going to ask for this ministry. In the case of concelebrations, it is earnestly to be desired that some priests would abstain from concelebrating so as to be available to attend to the faithful who wish to receive the sacrament of Penance.

    We also have to contextualize this with the CDW’s commentary on the critical state of the sacrament:

    Above all nowadays, when the ecclesial significance of sin and the sacrament of Penance is obscured in many people, and the desire to receive the sacrament of Penance has diminished markedly, pastors ought to do all in their power to foster frequent participation by the faithful in this sacrament.

  11. wayne ratzinger says:

    3.30 pm. This seems to be a wide spread tactic, even if it is better than nothing. In the southern part of our Diocese here in England parishes with vanishingly small congregations are having an extra Traditional Mass at typically 3.00 pm, so less than 100 people now have 4 Masses to cover their Sunday obligation, whilst in our part of the world we have been denied the Traditional Mass, and beleive it or not, parishes are closing. This is like saying, you can have your Mass, you nuisance, but it is extracurricular and not part of the “Real Church” the real church has its Masses at the proper times and we wont be attending, we will sit bye and watch and as soon as we reasonably can we will revert to type. Sorry if this sounds cynical
    Fr Z, but you heard it here first.

  12. Tom says:

    Last year on EWTN radio, a caller from Canada stated that years ago at his old parish, priests would sometimes hear confessions as people queued to receive Holy Communion.

    I thought…what a great idea. A parish could opt for that practice occasionally…why not?

    Many Catholics don’t go to confession…therefore, bring confession to to the people.

  13. wayne ratzinger says:

    At the SSPX pilgrimage to Lourdes 18 months ago, I saw hundreds of people queueing for confessions during Mass. In our parish (Novus Ordo) confessions after Mass, which has always struck me as the wrong way round.

  14. Jack007 says:

    In our FSSP parish, a priest is in the confessional as soon as possible without disrupting the NO service preceding. He remains in the confessional during Mass until the sermon, which HE gives. Upon completing the sermon he returns to the confessional until Holy Communion which he assists in distributing. He again returns to the confessional and stays until EVERY last person desirous of the sacrament has been served. The two priests trade off, usually every other Sunday. One celebrates, the other hears confessions and preaches.
    On occasion we have a visiting priest and then there are TWO priests hearing confessions, allowing one to continue uninterrupted.
    Our parish is not in a position to have confessions at other times, although there is daily Mass with confession before and after. Most parishioners are obviously not able to avail themselves during the week.
    As an aside, I was most moved by the actions of one visiting priest, a certain Fr. Dupree FSSP. He spent his VACATION, not resting with family etc., but hearing confessions and assisting our two priests with sick calls, etc. Now, I ask, in the last 40 years, how many priests that we all have known would spend their vacations like that?
    Yes, as Father Z says, “brick by brick”. We must pray for patience! I know I need to! :-)
    Jack in KC
    PS. I am amazed that anyone who calls themselves a Catholic would nitpick about others being in line. The only ones not “participating” are the ones inside the confessional. Rest assured oh “Mass police”, the rest know full well what they are doing and where they are.

  15. Joseph RAvago says:

    I attend St. John Cantius in Chicago and there are four separate lines for confession during the four masses – Extraordinary High and low and Novus Ordo – English and Latin. I think has to do with the high participation in the Sacrament. People stand in line and participate in the Mass while they wait. The priests (Canons Regular of the Society of St. John Cantius) stop hearing confessions by the Pater Noster, mainly because they need the priests at the Communion Rail.

  16. Joseph Ravago says:

    My sister lives in Austin and attends the TLM at St. Mary’s. I attended the Mass at the old parish and the Cathedral. It is a beautiful sight to see the TLM at the Cathedral. Even though Fr. Bradley is starting to show signs of aging, he continues to be an inspiration. Also, he is a Jesuit…obviously not a freedom fighting Jesuit of Latin America.

  17. Therese says:

    I have been a member of the St. Joseph’s Latin Mass since I moved to Austin three years ago. The community is wonderful and welcoming and the mass is beautiful and reverent. I’ve noticed an increase in attendance since the move to St. Mary’s Cathedral downtown.

    I attended the traditional latin mass at St. John Cantius in Chicago where I grew up and at Holy Name in Providence, RI when I lived in Boston. It is very comforting to know that wherever I live, I feel at home at the TLM. It has been my experience that no matter where you attend TLM, the community is always warm and friendly, almost like an extended family.

  18. RichR says:

    I live in the Diocese of Austin. There is one TLM, as far as I know, in the whole diocese. The other is an SSPX Mass every so often at an airport hotel in Austin.

    I live in College Station, TX, in the same diocese. Our community is steeped in tradition thanks to Texas A&M University. Not only that, but we have spawned many pro-life movements such as the 40 Days for Life. Planned Parenthood set up a “clinic” in our town and the locals have been protesting via quiet, roadside prayer vigils for almost 10 years straight now. Planned Parenthood USA calls our community the most “anti-Choice” community in the United States – a title we Catholics wear like a badge. Finally, the college parish, St. Mary’s, is one of the most active Catholic parishes in the country and has generated a TON of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Most campus ministers in this country will know St. Mary’s College Station as soon as you say the name.

    So, anyway, to my point.

    This community is oh so ripe for a Latin Mass. It loves tradition, it loves Catholicism, it loves the truth, and it loves solemnity. The academics, the young adults, the elderly, and many other groups are big devotees of TLMs. We have loads of all of these types here in CS. LOADS! Finally, (ahem), we have a Schola Cantorum that has been at it for 5 years running with all men at an average age of 25 ready to assist at a Mass.

    Our community is at the far end of the Diocese from Austin. We’d have to commute for 2 hours in any given direction to get to a TLM. it’s insane. But yet, none of the priests here are able to do a TLM because they are too busy. It’s too bad, because it would be so perfect for this community’s residents, it’d be well-supported, and well funded.

    I wouldn’t even know how to start a petition for something like a TLM. An no one else is stepping up to the plate either. I don’t think many know what to do when the local priests are saying they aren’t capable right now to do a TLM.

  19. woodyjones says:

    Father Bradley had some excellent tapes on certain aspects of Fatima (I remember espeially “Fatima and the Anti-Christ” and “Fatima and Freemasonry”) a while back, that used to be availabel from the Blue Army, I believe. They are well worth obtaining if still available.

  20. Jack says:

    Saint Mary Cathedral is very blessed to have Father Bud Roland as rector. He welcomed the TLM to the parish and much to the dismay of his brother priests in the diocese. Some of them warned him of inviting trouble to the cathedral but he saw what was right and did it.

    And this is just a snapshot of his leadership. During his tenure at the cathedral, membership has exploded, masses are God centered, beautiful and get this – everyone sings – traditional Catholic hymns. AND, the parish is producing seminarians too!

    Father Bud made his way to the priesthood the long way. He was raised a Methodist in the Texas panhandle, worked for the state in Austin, joined the Episcopal church, came into full union with the Catholic Church, and at middle age when other men are buying red rag tops he went into the seminary.

    Oh, we are so blessed to have him as our shepherd.

    Deo gratias!

  21. o.h. says:

    Another Austinite TLM-goer here… I want to say that the 3:30 time-slot isn’t a “tactic.” Fr. Roland was thrilled to have the TLM come to the Cathedral (btw he calls it the Latin Mass because that’s what the community calls itself: the St. Joseph Latin Mass Community). In the last few years there has been huge levels of dense residential building here in our downtown, with no end in sight. We and every other downtown church are inundated with new parishioners, and Masses are slotted all through Sunday, standing room only. When the Latin Mass Community joined us, it was basically either 3:30 in the afternoon or 6 in the morning. Nobody was trying to come up with an inconvenient time: quite the reverse. (And in fact Father is thinking of adding a Very Early Morning Mass to deal with the crowds; but there’s no way he was going to make that the TLM time-slot.)

    I’ve only been attending the Latin Mass for a few months now, but I’m so glad they’ve come to the Cathedral! Thanks to M., by the way, if you’re reading this thread, for tipping me off about e-bay as a source for mantillas….

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