From a seminarian:
I was wondering if you could offer some advice. I am what people in today’s church would call ‘ultra-conservative’ I love the Old Mass, Old Breviary etc. etc. I’m at a very [minor] seminary right now …. The problem is that in a year I’m going to end up being sent by my bishop to a warm and fuzzy pastorally correct seminary for theology. I’ve seen many people who have a ‘traddy tendencies’ go there and come out very warm and fuzzyish, and most certainly do not want this to happen to me, however, the chances of me being somewhere solid for theology are extremely poor.
My dream is ultimately to be ordained in the old rite, however I know this will most likely remain only a dream, but could you offer some advice? It gets hard always trying to fly under the radar.
First, we don’t know what is going to happen in another 5 years, which seems to be about your length of time if God wills and you persevere to ordination. It may be that by then you will have a bishop more traditional than you are! Look how things have changed in the last five years.
Wherever you are sent, go there with a measure of acceptance and put your back into your studies. That doesn’t mean you can’t read other things on the side. You can get out of your seminary what you put into it.
As a priest of the Latin side of the Roman Catholic Church you have the responsibility to know both forms or uses, the Ordinary and Extraordinary. So, when you are at the fuzzy seminary, you will learn the Ordinary Form, plain and simple. Many priests in days far darker than those you will face learned the Extraordinary Form on their own. If that is necessary because the seminary you attend is so benighted as to cripple priests with inadequate formation (i.e., they don’t teach the older, Extraordinary Form also), you will simply have to work a little harder. That’s life.
Also, start practicing now the discipline of keeping your mouth shut. Yes, things are changing, but there are still huge swathes of the Church which are dominated by those who are decidedly not on Pope Benedict’s side. Smile a lot and keep your mouth shut.
Finally, do your best to remain in the state of grace and avoid the intellectual pride some of the strongly traditional stripe can fall into when they are young and enthusiastic. You must not give the impression to your fellows (or faculty) that you look down on the Novus Ordo, etc. Even practically speaking, that will result in problems you don’t want to face.
If people have something useful to contribute, please send it to me by e-mail. It is NOT useful simply to say “Go to a traditionalist order” or “Find a better bishop” or “Just go to a good seminary”.