Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Most seminarians would prefer the older, traditional rite"

In another "Brick by brick" entry (March 21, 2012), Fr. Z writes:
As you know, the plural of “anecdote” is “data”. And I have good “data” about the preferences of seminarians when it comes to the older or newer forms of the Roman Rite.

Bishops and others in formation of seminarians should take this to heart. The more you try to keep seminarians in the dark about the Extraordinary Form, the more you inspire them to learn it. Once they do… game over.

A seminarian, having found an old poll about preferences for Extraordinary Form or the Ordinary Form, wrote with a note (edited):
I’m from the [SEMINARY] in [PLACE].

It seems clear to me that, yes, most seminarians would prefer to be ordained in the old-Latin rite.

Does that mean I am demonizing the “new” rite in any way?


Hands down, I would pick (as well as most seminarians today) the old-rite.

Sorry liberals!
Sorry! (Not!)

Thank you, Pope Benedict, for Summorum Pontificum.

Once priests learn the older form, they never say the Ordinary Form the same way again. Over time, this will affect a congregation’s understanding of who they are at Mass, who the priest is, and who is the true Actor in our liturgical worship.

Priests learn new dimensions about who they are as priests at the altar. Mass is a Sacrifice. Sacrifice requires priesthood. [The] older form emphasizes the priest’s role as priest acting as mediator in the act of sacrifice. A priest’s ars celebrandi changes when, in our new context of healing discontinuity after decades of deprivation and distortion, he learns and beings often to say the Extraordinary Form.

We need celebrations of the Extraordinary Form everywhere.

I hope that during the summer seminarians and young priests will seek out tools, resources and other priests to help them learn the Extraordinary Form.

Make a plan, men.
And check out the links at the bottom of Father's original post.


Anonymous said...

Dr. B:

I'm curious... As someone who teaches at a seminary, would you agree with this statement, that most seminarians would prefer to learn and/or be ordained in the older rite?

Anonymous said...

I cannot speak for Dr. B. I can, however, speak for myself. I am a lay staff member at a major urban diocesan seminary in the United States. In my role, I have considerable interaction with seminarians, and we have plenty of time to converse.

My impression is that Fr. Z. is on to something in suggesting that "most" seminarians would prefer the older, traditional rite, even if it may not be a vast majority of seminarians.

At the same time, however, I find that seminarians are initially extremely shy about divulging their preference for the older rite. More often than not, they hold their cards very close to their chests, and tip their hand, if at all, only after they are ordained. Even then, priests may be reticent about self-identifying as partisans of the older rite.

The evident fear of both seminarians and even many ordained priests in this regard, if I may conjecture, may stem from the (probably accurate) perception that most bishops and members of the presbyterate are antagonistic toward the older rite. One still hears, quite often in fact, derogatory and dismissive remarks about "traditionalists." The assumption is widespread that most Catholics have "moved beyond" the old rite and wouldn't want it any more, and that any effort to promote it would be a futile and regressive undertaking in "turning back the clock." From priests and faculty involved in the charismatic renewal, one also hears nearly unmitigated criticism of the old rite as a regressive and pharisaical ritualism at odds with the New Evangelization.

For every seminarian who has been courageous enough to self-identify as favoring the older rite, I can easily imagine that there are five to ten who do so privately and clandestinely, in fear of being thus identified by their formators and administrators and tagged as traditionalist trouble-makers. That is what I hear, at any rate, from those willing to openly divulge their own preferences in personal conversation with me.

Anonymous said...

do the seminarians who want the old rite study Latin?

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

The political intrigues within the seminaries remind me of my own job within the First National Bank of Hell. Factions, plotting, propagandizings, and the occasional balpeen hammer to the kneecaps. Fr Icepick Willie of the Nouvelle Inquisition (wonder if he resembles Dan Brown's albino!) Good to know that the New Infantilism has learned a thing or two from those wretched scholasticists after all!

Pertinacious Papist said...

Although we've received no official word yet, I have heard occasional rumblings about a possible class in the EF liturgy at our institution before long. This should not be surprising, of course, since several well-known seminaries in the US (like St. Charles Borromeo) and Canada (like St. Peter's in the Diocese of London, Ont.) have been offering instruction in the EF liturgy for some time.

Everybody knows there is interest in the EF liturgy. Our administration knows this. Our Archbishop knows this. In fact, he has actually administered the Rite of Confirmation in the EF form here in Detroit.

With the Archdiocese-wide plan to reduce the number of operating parishes, I am sure the Archbishop is saddled with tremendous challenges. Meeting the liturgical and other sacramental needs of the faithful on a limited budget must be daunting indeed. And the fact is that most parishes are simply looking for priests, not priests with training in the EF as such -- although, frankly, there has been a modest uptick in demand on that score too.

Thus I would hesitate to guess how much interest there is among seminarians, as there are no objective measures of which I am aware. Perhaps the administration will administer a questionnaire someday -- although I'm not sure how well this would work.

I think the safest gauge would be the number of seminarians who, after ordination, have celebrated the EF liturgy someplace or other. We have had several during my brief time at the seminary, three of whom have been involved in EF celebrations at our own parish. That is a matter of public record, so one can safely refer to such events.

Some have told me that they learned the EF rubrics at nearby parishes that are staffed by celebrants familiar with the EF rubrics. Others have learned the rubrics on their own -- online and/or by traveling to workshops offered by the FSSP, etc.

For whatever reason, interested students seem reluctant to "come out" with their interest publicly. There may be a certain amount of feeling intimidated (again, for whatever reason) and self-censorship going on. Who knows?

Realizing that the matter is a sensitive issue for many, I personally have never volunteer my own liturgical views in class, and I never bring up the subject of liturgy unless the context calls for an appropriate reference.

I think those who favor the EF liturgy may feel a bit like charismatics used to feel in non-charismatic circles -- perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do think that the effects of the Holy Father's will in issuing Summorum Pontificum and Ecclesiae Universae are making themselves felt, and will continue to do so in time, however, for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

i am a seminarian i love vatican 2 and think of the mass as the life of Christ, like all living things it evolved, and adapted to survive because the old mass was broken and needed to be fixed, the charismatic renewal is a beautiful gift to the church when done properly, as stated in the documents of vatican 2, the charisms of the Holy Spirit are good for teaching and practicing the faith, around where im from we have a word for people who think they know more than the church christ founded and promised to guide by the Holy Spirit we call them the st pius the tenth society they are schismatic and prideful, thinking they should be more traditional than the church, st paul says that we should not have factions among us but we should be unified and loyal to what the HS has given to us, to me if a seminarian doesn't love the current mass thats a big red flag that something is wrong with their formation

Anonymous Bosch said...

Dear seminarian,

I must say that your enthusiasm inspires me. It's a fresh breeze of optimism after the tired stale breath of graying post Vatican II liberals who think they've re-invented the church.

With due time, I would hope that your enthusiasm is also refined by an understanding of the documents of Vatican II for which you profess enthusiasm, as well as the Catholic magisterial teaching that preceded it in our rich Catholic legacy.

Question: how was the "old mass broken," as you put it, so that the mass "evolved, and adapted to survive," and what are the positive fruits of conversion, changed life, and enriched catechesis which this adaptation has promoted?

Question: Which documents of Vatican II state, as you say, how "the charismatic renewal is a beautiful gift to the church when done properly"?

Question: As you rightly chide "people who think they know more than the church Christ founded," so would you not also chide those who think they know more than their own Pope who declared of the new liturgy that was developed after Vatican II:

"What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it -- as in a manufacturing process -- with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product." (Cardinal Ratzinger in his Preface to the 1992 French edition of Msgr. Klaus Gamber's Reform of the Roman Liturgy)

Question: if a red flag is raised for you by a seminarian not loving the new mass (as much as the old), and if the SSPX are "schismatic" (as you put it, contrary to Ratzinger himself), then I wonder if you do not see a red flag in the Holy Father's persistent efforts to promote the widespread legitimation of the old mass as well as his ceaseless efforts to reconcile the membership of the SSPX?

To be clear: I am encouraged and impressed by your enthusiasm. I would also encourage you to pursue the truth with a degree of humbleness and avoid jumping too hastily to possibly unwarranted conclusions.

Anon III said...

What do they teach in seminaries these days? This sort of blind adherence to post-Vatican II revisionist neo-Catholic neo-conservativism is no better than revisionist liberal allegiance to the "Spirit of Vatican II," whatever that is supposed to mean. This doesn't even rise to the level of classic ultra-montaigne Catholicism, which was at least concerned to follow the pope in whatever he decreed, which would now mean supporting his positive decrees regarding the Tridentine Mass. And even St. Catherine of Sienna was opposed to such blind obedience to the pope, as in those instances when she confronted the pope and told him he was mistaken in this or that.

But this seminarian doesn't seem to be informed even about the opinions of Pope Benedict. As Anonymous Bosch suggests above, Ratzinger (as head of the CDF on June 28, 1993) denied that members of the SSPX are involved in any act of schism. Cardinal Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission stated (on Feb. 8, 2007): "We are not confronted with heresy [in the SSPX]. ...They are not heretics." Cardinal Edward Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity even stated, on May 3, 1994) that "the Mass and Sacraments administered by the priests of the Society (SSPX) are valid," and that the Society does not fall under the heading of "ecumenism," since the "situation of the members of this Society is an internal matter of the Catholic Church," and the "Society is not another Church or Ecclesial Community," like, say the Eastern Orthodox or Protestants, and, much less, heretics. The only thing irregular is their canonical status in the Church. As members of the Society they may be in many cases, much BETTER Catholics than you would find in the average American Catholic parish.

Anonymous Bosch said...

The other thing our excellent seminarian might want to do is to familiarize himself with the documents of the Second Vatican Council, which he professes to love. I am not suggesting this is a bad thing. Quite the contrary, you must appreciate what is good in them.

May I recommend starting with the first: Sacrosanctum Concilium, the document on Sacred Liturgy? One of the first things to see there, which should be an enormous help, is what is absent in it. There is no mandate for pulling down the old altars, for turning around the priest to face the people, for removing the altar rails, for doing away with Latin or Gregorian chant, for holding hands during the Our Father, for receiving communion in the hand, for using extraordinary ministers of holy communion, for the use of altar girls, etc. All of this is POST-Vatican II INNOVATION.

In other words, if you brought Blessed John XXIII to your local parish mass, he might easily be totally scandalized. What we're familiar with today in the local parish is totally alien even from the point of view of the Council fathers.

If you want fidelity to the Council, you'll have to look for it elsewhere.

That, at least, is a start in seeing things as they are rather than living in a world of historical fantasy.