Dear Brother Priests,
I pray that you are richly blessed in the grace of God as we continue our journey through 2021.
I wanted to address the issue of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes again and share some perspectives that I have witnessed over these days since July 16, when the document was issued. I wholeheartedly embrace the Holy Father’s desire to bring greater unity to Christ’s Bride the Church. We are always reminded that the person of Jesus Christ Our Lord is our unity. The Holy Father has issued this Motu Proprio as particular disciplinary law for the Latin Church and I want to take his focus very seriously. I have seen several statements from brother bishops that cover quite a spectrum regarding the implementation of the Motu Proprio; for this reason I want to take more time to pray, listen, and consider.
The issue of the Eucharist celebrated according to the liturgical books from before the Second Vatican Council is significant to some in our diocese, but there are also many who are not aware of the concerns. Most of our parishes and missions have no Masses celebrated in this way, but I want to care for the communities that do and the faithful who have come to appreciate it. I want to embrace what the Holy Father has asked for while caring for our local flock. I am not ready to issue permanent norms for the diocese at this time.
In the interim, as I continue to assess the best ways to move forward, I request that priests in parishes where Mass is celebrated according to the Missal from before the reform of 1970 make an assessment and share this information with me before September 1. I ask these priests to ensure that the faithful they are serving are fully committed to the validity and legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Popes, and their implementation. I also ask that the priests offer their assessment regarding how this former expression of the Mass is integrated into the general life of their community. Finally, I ask for recommendations from the priests regarding the best way to balance the values involved in implementing this Motu Proprio in their individual communities.
A final note with regard to the opportunity that this Motu Proprio provides. I believe it underscores the need we have to emphasize the real presence and the beautiful gift of Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity present in the Eucharist. The celebration of the Mass must always be focused on welcoming God’s Son, the Lord of Glory, into our hearts so that we can go forth and glorify God by our lives. I pray that we use this moment as an opportunity to enhance reverence, awe, and deep appreciation for the real presence of Christ in all the liturgies we celebrate in the diocese as priests of Jesus Christ – as Pope Francis has asked for.
In closing, I thank you for your reverent celebration of the Mass and your love of Jesus Christ in His Church. I ask for your prayers for Pope Francis, for me, for your brothers, and for all the diocese, that we may continue to grow in deeper faith in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and share the love and life of God with our people.
+ Joseph E. Strickland
Bishop of Tyler