Maynooth Seminary in Ireland: Fit for Mission?

On a blog called Lux Occulta there is posted a pdf of an article in a Catholic newspaper called The Catholic Voice written by a group of seminarians about their experience at Maynooth Seminary in Ireland.

As I read it, I had a horrible, sinking feeling.  It all sounded like what I experienced 20+ years ago in my US seminary before I went to Rome.

It was eerily familiar.

The heretical teaching about the Eucharist, the total blurring of priesthood of the priest and of the laity, blatant homosexuality, angry feminist nuns teaching and running our lives, the relentless mix of non-seminary students, the absurd excuse for worship, the risible spiritual direction, the breezily malevolent evaluations, the defense of abortion and contraception, the all-pervading incompetence.

Reading this was like looking into that dank infested hole of my seminary again, after having climbed out long ago.

On a cheerier note, it confirmed how much faster the seminarians in the USA have improved than in many other places!

The faculty and some other seminarians may have a different story to tell about Maynooth.  We must grant that.  But here is the story of this group of seminarians and you can take it for what it’s worth.

Read the article.  Some names have been blotted out:

14 FEATURE                                         CatholicVoice 3 April, 2011

Is Maynooth Fit for Mission?

A group of seminarians offer their reflections on the short comings in priestly formation at the National Seminary. There are currently around sixty seminarians studying for the priesthood in Maynooth although it is worth noting that a further thirty students have been forced to continue their studies outside of Ireland having been rejected by the Seminary Council in Maynooth. These priests could return to Ireland at some stage, just why they were rejected by Maynooth might best be explained in the following reflections.

REFLECTING BACK ON THE EXPERIENCE:

The very first week I entered St. Patrick’s we were told there was “no difference” whatsoever in the various modes of Presence of Christ in the world: the priest, the people, the Word and the Eucharist; all are equal and the same we were continually told, that Christ cannot make Himself more present in one mode than in another. We were also informed that we were not to kneel for the Consecration during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in St. Mary’s. The Holy Father’s authority was frequently challenged by both staff and seminarians, as indeed was the hierarchical structure of the Church and the lack of “female leadership” in the present structure. The role of our Blessed Mother in the Church and of private devotions was also frequently challenged and criticized. Almost daily in class one had to endure challenges to the Church’s moral teachings, particularly in relation to homosexuality, contraception, marriage, and on some occasions even abortion. The role of women in the Church was a frequent topic of discussion, and the need for equality in governing and leading the Church, and this was particularly pushed by a number of Sisters on the staff with a very clear feministic agenda.

SPIRITUAL FORMATION:

The quality of spiritual direction in St. Patrick’s is very poor. Spiritual direction usually took the form of a general chat, and there was no specific direction as such. 1 was not guided on the path towards holiness through spiritual direction in the Seminary. Many seminarians in St. Patrick’s ·receive spiritual direction in secret outside the Seminary because of the same reason: poor spiritual direction within the Seminary. We also had a number of in-house spiritual retreats, reflection groups and classes. These classes were taken by a number of sisters who had a very clear feminist agenda in running the classes. The role of women within the Church was frequently addressed and the fact that they have suffered neglect at the hands of a “male dominated Church” for so many years. In addressing these issues, the sisters hid behind the guise of ‘playing devil’s advocate.’ They continually used this ploy to assert their own views and opinions, safe in the knowledge that they could not be accused of being a feminist, anti-male, anti-Church Magisterium or pro-choice, because they were only “expressing the views of a large number of women out there, who feel hurt and neglected by the Church.”

QUESTIONING THE REAL PRESENCE:

It was very uncommon for any of the priests to attend Eucharistic Adoration. A request for daily adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament was submitted to the Seminary Council but was turned down because the Council “did not want to impinge on other forms of adoration.” During ‘in-house’ Liturgy classes we were told by Ms. [xxx] that “all modes of presence of Christ in the world are equal.” We were told that Jesus is equally present in the Word, the priest, the people, and the Holy Eucharist. That all these modes of presence of Christ are the same; that Jesus cannot make Himself more present under one form . On one occasion, both [xxx] and [xxx] were present when [xxx] stated this and neither [xxx] or [xxx] objected to this or corrected her in any way. When seminarians questioned this she reaffirmed what she had just said. We asked if this was the case then why did Jesus institute the Most Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of His Body and Blood? If Christ’s Presence is equal and the same under all modes does this mean we should worship one another? Again, we were told that these Presences were simply different modes, but that Jesus was present equally and in the same manner in each mode of Presence. Fr. [xxx] (Professor of [xxx] stated on a number of occasions in our [xxx] class that the primary mode of presence of Christ in [the] world is the Word, and not the Holy Eucharist. [xxx] also frequently referred to us in class as “girls” and joked about “pillow talk,” the suggestion being, how we would speak to someone in bed as opposed to speaking in public. Some of the priests, while celebrating Holy Mass, actually changed the words of the Eucharistic Prayer in order to personalize the Prayer.

RETREATS:

Many of the retreats run within the seminary took the form of promoting a watered down version of the faith and much of the material used for these retreats was founded on non-Catholic theologians and philosophers, or Catholic theologians and philosophers who have been silenced by the Church or who have had their work suppressed.
In 2009 [xxx] a Kerry priest working in Leeds, led an in-house retreat. Throughout the retreat he frequently made reference to a need to move away from a dogmatic theology and he stated that it annoys him when the Church makes statements saying, “this can’t change or that can’t change, because how do we know they won’t change, things change all the time.” He, like many people who have led retreats in St. Patrick’s, tended to imply certain things, without crossing any lines, leaving it up to ourselves to piece it all together to figure out what they were implying. For instance, [xxx] questioned the Church’s position on the non-ordination of women to the priesthood, without openly saying he believed women should be ordained to the priesthood. In another retreat gjven by a Cork priest, [xxx] made a similar inference , telling us that if he had his choice of working with any minister of his choosing, he would choose two female protestant ministers he was on a Scripture course with in the U.S.A. He also compared priests and seminarians who stick rigidly to Church teaching to people looking out through narrow windows (such as in old Irish monastic towers) who can only see part of the picture and miss out on the greater picture due to their narrow view.

MORAL FORMATION:

In philosophy classes we personally witnessed seminarians defend abortion (in certain circumstances), homosexuality and contraception. We also witnessed seminarians attack the Church hierarchy and the teaching of the Church on matters relating to faith and morals, most notably the teaching of the Church surrounding homosexuality, priestly celibacy, the non-ordination of women to the priesthood, contraception, and sin. In addition to this some seminarians openly criticized the office of the Papacy and the hierarchical structure of the Church.
The building and grounds of Saint Patrick’s are open to the general public which meant we were subjected to all that that entails. Many groups booked into the Saint Patrick’s complex for hen parties in the town with the result that immorally dressed girls ended up wandering around the cloisters of Saint Patrick’s. Also, as supposedly part of a class on the elderly, the entire first year class had to watch a movie called “Iris” which contained explicit sexual material including a lesbian scene. Many felt this was highly inappropriate. However, our protestations were dismissed as being over-the-top.

PASTORAL FORMATION:

The pastoral reflection groups tended to focus continually on the feelings and emotions of each group member. [xxx], the group facilitator, [xxx], continually told us that there were no right or wrong emotions and emphasized that our actions must be directed by our emotions. The intellect and the will were not entertained in these discussions at all. During the course of our first group reflection [xxx] told us that the reason we go on pastoral placements is to learn about ourselves. [xxx] also frequently used the group as a platform to air her own views and opinions, many of which were criticisms directed against the Church’s hierarchy, particularly in relation to the role of women within the Church.

INTELLECTUAL FORMATION:

Most students studying philosophy in the Seminary do so in the N.U.I.M. along with all the lay students. For most part the philosophy in the N.U.I. is very secular and some of the modules are taught by Jewish and atheist philosophers. The philosophical anthropology module for example was taught by a Jewish philosopher, and it was very notable that he omitted Saint Thomas Aquinas from the course and focused instead on thinkers such as Kant, Hume and Descartes. There was a distinct shortage of Scholastic philosophy being taught, with a very noticeable deficiency in the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas being taught. There were one or two notable exceptions: the philosophy classes taken by Fr. Pat Gorevan, Fr. Donal Daly and Fr. Simon Nolan were excellent and very much centered on the philosophies of Aristotle, Plato, Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

HUMAN FORMATION:

There appears to be a very unbalanced significance placed on human formation, to the detriment of spiritual formation. There was a major emphasis placed on feelings and emotions and very little on the intellect and will. Holiness was replaced by worldliness; there was very little sense of the importance of growing in holiness, and an over-emphasis on psychological development and an infatuation with sexual history, whereby everything was viewed as being due to sexual repression. The formation program was very horizontal, with little reference to the vertical (or transcendent aspect), or the supernatural element of our vocation.

MISCELLEANEOUS:

In Saint Patrick’s very few priests wear clerical dress; this is often commented on by lay students and visitors to the college. With the exception of the President, Monsignor Connolly, Fr. Oliver Treanor and Fr. Tom Norris, none of the other priests dressed regularly in clerical dress. For a stranger it was impossible to distinguish between priests and laity. The practice of wearing the·soutane and surplice for leading the daily Office was discontinued, even though a large majority of students were in favor of maintaining this practice.

CONCLUSION:

In an era where the Church is encouraging openness and transparency, the Irish seminary formation system is punishing those who are open and honest in their faith, and rewarding those who continue to ‘play the game’ and who openly oppose the teaching of the Church. As a result of this, some young men are being ordained to the priesthood who have never developed an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ or our Blessed Mother. Some of these men end up leaving the priest priesthood after a short period because they cannot cope with the solitude and loneliness of priestly life. How can the priest be lonely when Jesus is present perpetually in the Most Blessed Sacrament, awaiting our visit, thirsting for our love, and above all thirsting to pour out His love and mercy upon us and all those whom we lead to Him? The Church needs to form more good and holy priests who can lead others to the great Gift of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, where they will ‘discover a joy and peace the world cannot give.

This is a truthful and accurate account of our experiences and observations in St. Patrick’s College. The treatment we received in St. Patrick’s almost broke us and took us away from our true calling, the calling God had in mind for from all eternity. At times over the past two to three years we began to doubt our faith and began to wonder if in fact there was something wrong with us: if the Seminary Council were so sure of this then maybe they were right and there was something wrong with us for being this way. However, thanks to the grace of God, and thanks to wonderful priests, we were given the grace and strength to persevere and remain faithful to Christ and His Holy Church.

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64 Responses to Maynooth Seminary in Ireland: Fit for Mission?

  1. ejcmartin says:

    Sadly it sounds like many of our priests may have gone to Maynooth. Just this weekend I got a short lesson on all forms of Christ being equal “theology” by one of the parish priests. I pray.

  2. Ceile De says:

    I heard before (here) the seminarians were being prevented from kneeling for the consecration. I wrote to Maynooth College and asked if they were faithful to the Magisterium. I was surprised that the head of the college ihmself graciously replied by return that the college is faithful with humility to the Magisterium. Clearly there are awful abuses at work here but i hope a solution can be found short of closing Maynooth. It spans 4 centuries – from the 18th to the 21st – one of very few Catholic institutions to do so. I hope a less sever solution (such as replacing the entire staff and curriculum) can be found.
    I just spent the last hour converting and editing the PDF to Word but see somenoe beat me to it! I’ll offer that up for Lent!

  3. skull kid says:

    A reliable little bird inside Maynooth told me that the seminarians are not allowed to kneel for the consecration, so as to teach them ‘obedience’. Just how one teaches obedience by disobeying the directives of the Church is not clear to me.

  4. Ceile De says:

    A theology professor for the seminary in London told me last year that transubstantiaiton is just one of many theories.

  5. skull kid says:

    What strikes me is the link between loneliness and the push for married priests. Without a solid faith, it is terribly lonely. I believe that the push for married priests is largely from priests who do not have the faith, or else only very weak faith, and who desire the consolation of the benefits of marriage to make life bearable.

  6. Fr. Basil says:

    \\A theology professor for the seminary in London told me last year that transubstantiaiton is just one of many theories.\\

    It depends on what you mean by “transusbtantiation.” Or “theory”, for that matter (see below).

    Transubstantiation actually has a technical meaning concerning the manner of the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ–one that has been accepted as definitive by the Latin Church since at least the Council of Trent.

    Most of the Eastern Churches (including those in communion with Rome) simply prefer to say no more than the bread and wine truly and objectively become the Body and Blood of Christ, which the communicant receives (and not mere bread and wine)–either unto his own salvation or condemnation. This change takes place by the power and action of the Holy Spirit, which is knowable only to Himself, and which we accept by faith.

    Of course, if by “theory” this seminary professor means that companation, consubstantiation, symbolism, emblemism, or receptionism are all equally valid theories to explain the relationship of the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ, he’s way off.

  7. mibethda says:

    According to a report in the Irish Catholic Newspaper a couple of weeks ago, there were reports that Archbishop Dolan – one of the Apostolic Visitors appointed to report on the Church in Ireland – was expected to recommend the closing of Maynooth. Whether those reports have yet been substantiated or not, I do not know. It was reported that he was shocked by the conditions at the seminary.

  8. Jacob says:

    The pastoral reflection groups tended to focus continually on the feelings and emotions of each group member. [xxx], the group facilitator, [xxx], continually told us that there were no right or wrong emotions and emphasized that our actions must be directed by our emotions. The intellect and the will were not entertained in these discussions at all.

    This comes right out of the Psychology Three encounter groups in which the IHM sisters of California were placed in the 60s by Carl Rogers… Absolutely horrendous! Check out any of the interviews with Rogers’ assistant Coulson. He uses the exact same language in describing the encounter groups.
    http://www.mtio.com/articles/aissar74.htm

  9. DisturbedMary says:

    I also heard that Dolan is recommending that it be closed and the seminarians moved to study in Rome.

  10. robtbrown says:

    skull kid says:

    A reliable little bird inside Maynooth told me that the seminarians are not allowed to kneel for the consecration, so as to teach them ‘obedience’. Just how one teaches obedience by disobeying the directives of the Church is not clear to me.

    That was SOP at North American College when Msgr Purcell was the rector. He also upbraided a young priest living at NAC who wore the cassock to a Papal Mass.

    Msgr Purcell is the only rector in the history of NAC not to become a bishop. He was succeeded by Msgr O’Brien (now in Baltimore), who was himself succeeded by Msgr Dolon (now in NY).

  11. Dec says:

    Even though this is a bad seminary I know many young traditional Priests who attended Maynooth who offer the Traditional Mass or are learning the Traditional Mass. This all happens in secret of course because the Old Mass is still suppressed in many places in Ireland.

  12. Charles E Flynn says:

    Does Maynooth Seminary have a sufficient supply of life-sized puppets to accompany its outlook?

  13. slater says:

    This sounds like any U.S. Jesuit center of theology. Jesuit theologates are parallel centers of heresy, hatred of the church, and fawning obedience to the anti-Christian left, not the Roman Catholic culture.

  14. AustinCatholic says:

    This is truly sad, but not surprising. It’s interesting to note that almost ALL of the Irish priests in the Archdiocese of San Antonio (Texas) have the hallmarks of heterodoxy and a disdain for anything “Roman”. That might explain why the Archdiocese of San Antonio is a desolate wasteland when it comes to Catholicism…and why so many Catholics are unfortunately leaving for other “churches” in San Antonio.

  15. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Wow. No wonder the Catholic Church is Ireland is in so much trouble. The Maynooth seminary seems so secularized, it would be considered unfit for seminarian formation by high church Anglicans and Missouri synod Lutherans.

  16. Clinton says:

    “… continually told us that there were no right or wrong emotions and emphasized that our
    actions must be directed by our emotions. The intellect and the will were not entertained
    in these discussions at all.”

    That program will form, at best, a pre-k child. At worst, it will form a sociopath. On what
    planet could that be a recipe for a solid priest? With that sort of grotesque ‘formation’,
    the sexual scandals that have shamed the Church in Ireland would be inevitable.

  17. Sorbonnetoga says:

    I worked in Maynooth for a number of years and taught philosophy there. The criticisms of the philosophy department are not entirely fair – if the students had a broader picture of what state philosophy is in over the country as a whole, they might be a bit more generous in their assessment. Put simply, they’ll get more Scholastic thought and Aquinas in particular in Maynooth than anywhere else in Ireland. The real problem, however, is the lack of a Catholic faculty of philosophy; it exists on paper but there are no actual full-time, tenured staff employed by the Pontifical University to teach philosophy to seminarians (or anyone else). The bishops have long assumed that the (secular) National University philosophy department would always remain a friendly place for Catholic philosophers – thus avoiding the necessity to spend the Church’s money on teaching her own seminarians. The imprudence of this position has been pointed out to them repeatedly but one might as well be talking to the wall.

  18. Trevor says:

    “Some of these men end up leaving the priest priesthood after a short period because they cannot cope with the solitude and loneliness of priestly life. How can the priest be lonely when Jesus is present perpetually in the Most Blessed Sacrament, awaiting our visit, thirsting for our love, and above all thirsting to pour out His love and mercy upon us and all those whom we lead to Him?”

    I’m a little hesitant about hearing from ex-seminarians who were forced out of seminary (for whatever reason). I was talking to a very solid priest friend of mine about Michael Rose’s book “Goodbye, Good Men”, in particular about one individual who was forced out of seminary because of his “orthodoxy”. However, this priest said that when he almost had a heart attack when he read that part, because he knew the individual in question and the circumstances regarding his departure from the seminary (and it certainly wasn’t for his “orthodoxy”).

    In this case, I found the above comment interesting. Do these sems think a celibate will never feel lonely, and that living authentic celibacy is simply a matter of keeping constant in prayer? While prayer is certainly the most important part, I’m sure the priests and seminarians here know there’s more to it than that, and that despite our devotion to prayer, we still can feel lonely. If these seminarians hadn’t encountered that yet, then perhaps the seminary board was correct in it’s decision.

    I’m just saying that we should keep these things in perspective. While these men may be reporting accurately, their memories could also be affected by their passions. And some of what they’re objecting to is Church teaching (a la “four modes of Christ’s presence in the Liturgy” is from Sacrosanctum Concilium- save for the “equal and in the same manner” part). Needless to say, I’m glad we don’t have to deal with open dissent here in the States.

  19. Sixupman says:

    Msgr. Lefebvre’s original seminary, fully approved, was opened and then subsequently attacked by the surrounding Ordinaries for the very reason that what it taught was the exact opposite of the Maynooth like clones of France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. And thereby arose SSPX.

  20. Speculae says:

    Five or six years ago I was at a soiree in London and got into a conversation with someone who told me he taught theology at Maynooth. I was keen to talk to him because I was thinking about applying to study theology there. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that he didn’t think organised religion was a particularly good thing. I repeated what he had said to another friend later on in the evening who informed me that not only was the guy I was speaking to a theology lecturer, he was also a priest. I ended up studying philosophy at the Lateran instead.

  21. Andreas says:

    Please forgive what might seem a naive question, but is there not a central Vatican-based authority that periodically reviews of and provides accreditation to seminaries (and for that matter, Colleges/Universities identifying themselves as Catholic)? It would seem that if so, such a body would be able to identify and rectify the terrible problems described in the narrative and other comments. Are seminaries even accredited?

  22. PhilipNeri says:

    We endured a lot of this sort of nonsense in my seminary too. Things are much better now, I hear.

    The line btw Teaching Heresy as Truth and Presenting Heresy in the Pursuit of Truth is often a difficult one to walk. I bring this up b/c I have run into seminarians who object to reading anything that challenges Church teaching. More often than not their objections seem to me to be borne out of something like Team Spirit or tribal loyalty. Prudently applied, there’s nothing wrong with either. But there are limits. Young men who expect to serve the Church as priests in the 21st century must be able to talk to Catholics intelligently about a huge variety of issues; e.g., the ethical implications of ever-advancing technology, the spiritual influences of media, the intellectual complications brought on by (post)modernity, etc. Theologians who would teach heresy as truth typically cave to the Zeitgeist and teach whatever will get them patted on the back by their non-religious colleagues. The truly Catholic (“universal”) theologian will read everything in light of the faith and work to formulate responses to the challenges that arise. There’s a difference btw reading Nietzsche in order to defend his theses against the faith and reading him in order to find a way to answer him. What Catholic theologians have to avoid is teaching heresy as truth AND dismissing/ignoring the opposition out of fear or insecurity. Know thyself; know the enemy.
    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  23. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    > Transubstantiation actually has a technical meaning concerning the manner of the change of
    > the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of
    > Christ–one that has been accepted as
    > definitive by the Latin Church since at least the Council of Trent.

    > Most of the Eastern Churches (including those in communion with Rome) simply prefer to
    > say no more than the bread and wine truly and objectively become the Body and Blood of
    > Christ, which the communicant receives (and not mere bread and wine)–either
    > unto his own salvation > or condemnation. This change takes place by the power
    > and action of the Holy Spirit, which is knowable only to Himself, and which we
    > accept by faith.

    Sorry, Father Basil, but you are mistaken here. There is nothing which can be accepted as definitive by the Latin Church without at the same time being accepted by the Eastern Catholic Churches. Only the pope speaking ex cathedra (either alone or confirming a declaration of an Ecumenical Council) can declare something as definitive. The pope cannot speak ex cathedra, if what he says is not valid for all the Church.

    I understand (or at least I think I understand) what you say. Eastern Churches have their own venerable traditions, including philosophy (more or less, no scholastics) and consequently also a distinctive “vocabulary”. But what they express by words “the bread and wine truly and objectively become the Body and Blood of Christ” is exactly what the dogma expresses by the word “transubstantiation”.

    And, transubstantiation has no “technical meaning”. The dogma of transubstantiation says what happens, not how it happens. This indeed is a mystery.

  24. Brooklyn says:

    I talked to a very good and holy priest once who taught in a seminary, and he told me “the devil dances on the roofs of seminaries”. I’ve never forgotten that. I have no doubt that priests are the number 1 target of the evil one. If he can take out a priest, he can probably take a lot more people with the priest.

  25. The Orthodox have no problem with what transubstantiation implies about what happens as the result of the words of Christ and the concomitant action of the Holy Spirit. We have never had to dogmatize on the matter. However, there are a few theories floating out there among some Orthodox clergy that seems to be a reworking of theory of consubstantiation. In my view transubstantiation is far closer to the Truth of what happens at the Liturgy.

  26. Pachomius says:

    vox clamantis in deserto, what you have said is not correct. Transubstantiation does indeed give a (mechanical) “how”; this is what Luther objected to, despite believing vehemently in the Real Presence (note the famous story of his meeting with Calvin and Zwingli, at which he became so annoyed with their theories on the Eucharist, he wrote the words HOC CORPVS EST on the table).

  27. Gail F says:

    One major problem with Michael Rose’s book — and I love his book on church architecture — is that the stories are not attributed and so there is a) no way to check to see if they’re true, and b) no reason to assume the men are telling the truth. For that matter, there is no reason to assume that they’re lying. You just can’t tell. But we all know that people often exaggerate what was wrong with their bosses or their schools or their jobs or their companies, especially people who have failed or been fired. Given that, I can’t take the book seriously except as background, anecdotal evidence of what might have been true. But there is plenty of actual, attributed documentation about what used to go on in US seminaries, and I am glad that it isn’t going on anymore.

    VCinD: “Transubstantiation” is indeed a “theory” or explanation of what is meant by the host and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ. Greek Orthodox people do not accept that explanation, but they do of course believe in the transformation (the way it was explained to me, the G.O. say it “can’t be explained, it’s a mystery” while we Roman-influenced thinkers say it CAN be explained). Most of us would agree that it amounts to the same thing — we are not talking about competing and different explanations, like the difference between transubstantiation and the Lutheran consubstantiation — but about different ways of saying what we believe are equivalent things — but officially, we don’t agree.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Pachomius says:

    vox clamantis in deserto, what you have said is not correct. Transubstantiation does indeed give a (mechanical) “how”; this is what Luther objected to, despite believing vehemently in the Real Presence (note the famous story of his meeting with Calvin and Zwingli, at which he became so annoyed with their theories on the Eucharist, he wrote the words HOC CORPVS EST on the table).

    Mostly, I disagree with what you’ve said.

    1. It is important not to confuse the Church teaching of Transubstantiation (which dates back to Lateran IV in 1215) to the theological explanation advanced by St Thomas and others. The former refers to what happens–the what of bread (and wine) is changed into the what of the Body (and Blood) of Christ. The latter goes beyond this “what” by explaining in what way something of bread (and wine) would till remain even though it is no longer bread (or wine). Even further, how any non substantial components of Christ are nevertheless present in the Sacrament. Of course, St Thomas’ explanation refers to Accidents, but the Church has never officially adopted the word in Eucharistic doctrine.

    2. Although “Real Presence” for years has been taken by Catholics to include Christ’s physical presence in the Eucharist, I confess that I am not a fan of the phrase. It is ambiguous enough to include His spiritual presence while excluding His physical presence–thus the Reformers’ use of it.

    3. Anyone is free to accept or not the explanation offered by St Thomas. To refer to it as “mechanical”, however, betrays an ignorance of both hylomorphic theory and his Eucharistic theology.

  29. robtbrown says:

    Also: Mechanistic (or mechanical) philosophy is most often applied to the thought of Descartes.

  30. dcs says:

    As Fr. Fortescue is at pains to point out, both the Greek and Slavonic terms used among both Catholics and Orthodox for what happens when the Sacrament is confected are equivalent to “transubstantiation.”

    Furthermore, all Catholics are bound to uphold the teaching of the Council of Trent, not only Latin Catholics.

  31. Random Friar says:

    I think the question we should be asking now is, “How did a pearl like Maynooth get to the point it is today?” And, “How can we prevent this from happening again?”

  32. Random Friar:

    Brick from brick, friend. Brick from brick.

  33. Henry Edwards says:

    “How did a pearl like Maynooth get to the point it is today?”

    Same explanation as for every other outrage in the Church today. When traditional Eucharistic belief in the Sacrifice of the Mass goes, everything else follows.

  34. Andy Milam says:

    Fr. Z,

    I wonder if they’ve been following your rules for “Surviving a Liberal Seminary?” If they haven’t, perhaps this is the time to let them know…

    I’ll never forget the first time I heard you explain them, whilst sitting at table in the rectory over supper. If I remember correctly, you had Fr. Altier howling before it was over….

  35. padre11 says:

    “He also compared priests and seminarians who stick rigidly to Church teaching to people looking out through narrow windows (such as in old Irish monastic towers) who can only see part of the picture and miss out on the greater picture due to their narrow view.”
    What this analogy misses is that Revelation through Scripture and Tradition as taught through the living Magisterium is indeed like a window through which we see but a part of the vast landscape of that truth which is God Himself. Those who refuse to look out this window do not see more broadly as they suppose, but more narrowly. They are left simply to gaze at the tower walls and think they behold something greater than the window. This does explain the rocky nature of the landscape they describe!

  36. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Many many many years ago:
    Remember Bella Dodd, a convert of Archbishop Sheen
    Remember AA-1025

    only if you’re a conspiracy theorist?

  37. irishgirl says:

    Oh, this is horrible.
    Why are seminary directors so cowed by feminist ‘nuns’? Why are ‘nuns’ teaching in seminaries to begin with? The men ought to get a spine and throw the women out! I am soooo tired of the females constantly whining that they can’t be ordained priests! When I hear their complaints, I feel like yelling, ‘YOU CAN’T BE PRIESTS-REMEMBER 1994, ORDINATIO SACERDOLATIS [sp?]! ROME HAS SPOKEN! CASE. IS. CLOSED.! WHAT PART OF ‘NO’ DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?’ (I’m sorry for shouting on the blog, Father Z, but this issue riles me up more than anything in the Church these days!)
    St. Patrick of Ireland, St. Oliver Plunkett, please reach down from heaven give Maynooth a smackdown with your heavenly shellalaughs [sp?] !
    The throngs of Catholics of Ireland who suffered persecution and died for the Faith must be shaking their heads in heaven…’We shed our blood for THIS?’

  38. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Good grief,

    This description of Maynooth reads l ike a certain seminary – here in the midwest – but only a few short years ago (Things are *much* better there though – some trusted, solid priest-friends of mine actually gave it a 7.5 on a 10 scale. “Brick-by-brick” as Fr. Z says).

    Is it any wonder that priestly vocations are drying up in Ireland? (Even in many places in the U.S. – including my own diocese which borders the diocese where the above mentioned seminary is located).

    @ Henry Edwards: “When traditional Eucharistic belief in the Sacrifice of the Mass goes, everything else follows.”

    Quote of the month! [huge sigh] What more can we do but pray?

    1 Thes. 5:18 – “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

  39. Andy Milam says:

    @ Midwest St. Michael;

    I think I know the seminary of which you speak. ;0)

    ” Quote of the month! [huge sigh] What more can we do but pray?”
    —We can start opening our mouths as well as our souls. Sometimes it takes more than prayer. There is something to be said about beating someone over the head with a Catechism. If nothing else, they’ll know it exists…

  40. Midwest St. Michael says:

    @ Andy Milam;

    —”We can start opening our mouths as well as our souls. Sometimes it takes more than prayer. There is something to be said about beating someone over the head with a Catechism. If nothing else, they’ll know it exists…”

    Second quote of the month!

    You bet, I do teach CCD (older folks, not kids), and I am trying to do my part – but is so frustrating at times. There seems to be a sense of “it does not matter which *church* you belong to” – or – “we really do not need to quibble over doctrine, what matters most is in your heart” type of attitude (culture?) where I am located. However, the hunger for the Truth is growing – it just seems to be going at a snails pace.

    I use the Bible, the Catechism, early Church Father quotes, saint writings, Magisterial documents, etc. etc. IOW, not my *opinions* – what Mother Church teaches. (see John 7:16)

    I figure somebody has to get this stuff (i.e. the Truth) out there – I hope/pray this will help (Please God!) this dearth of priestly vocations we are facing. Might as well be this goofball. LOL

    Oh, that seminary – it ain’t Mundelein – but it does begin with “M.” ;^)

  41. robtbrown says:

    Trevor says:

    I’m a little hesitant about hearing from ex-seminarians who were forced out of seminary (for whatever reason). I was talking to a very solid priest friend of mine about Michael Rose’s book “Goodbye, Good Men”, in particular about one individual who was forced out of seminary because of his “orthodoxy”. However, this priest said that when he almost had a heart attack when he read that part, because he knew the individual in question and the circumstances regarding his departure from the seminary (and it certainly wasn’t for his “orthodoxy”).

    I haven’t read the book, but have I’ve heard stories from it. I doubt that there is anything in it that is not matched by something I’ve seen first hand or heard from close friends. And I could probably relate an incident or two that would make Rose’s book seem mild.

  42. albizzi says:

    Everyone on that blog looks to be apalled by the article of The Catholic Voice.
    But what is more apalling is the number of misled catholic laypeople and clerics who are rejoicing in reading it.
    In addition, the issue of sexual morals between the seminarians wasn’nt deeply adressed in that article. Knowing what these poor men are being taught, one hasn’t to be but scared of what they truly are.

  43. sea the stars says:

    Look what happened a former president of Maynooth (1985-95) , Micheal Ledwith:
    http://hamburgeruniverse.com/

    and tell me you’re surprised by the above report.

  44. schmenz says:

    Back in the mid-1970s the late, great Catholic journalist Hamish Fraser wrote a brilliant article for his APPROACHES magazine called “The Scandal at Maynooth”. Fraser made sure that copies of the publication found their way into the hands of every Bishop in Ireland and in the hands of the Bishop of Rome. An arrogant indifference was the essential reply to Fraser’s article by the aforementioned Bishops. And now we see the result.

    When the heirarchy refuses to act, or has not the guts to act, or tries to take the nicety-nice approach, this is what ultimately happens, I’m afraid.

    Hamish Fraser’s son Anthony is carrying on in his father’s footsteps by publishing an excellent periodical out of Scotland called APROPOS. His latest issue also has a new article on the continuing mess at Maynooth. I can recommend this highly-respected Catholic journal to anyone. If it is not inappropriate to mention the webiste of this publication here it is thus: http://www.apropos.org.uk/index.htm

    I want to thank Father Z for his excellent website and this important article.

  45. Brad says:

    Hi Midwest St. Michael,

    I wonder if your CCD students would benefit from Ott’s list of dogmas, with of course the explanation from you we are obliged to believe dogmas. Dogmas vs doctrine, etc.

    http://jloughnan.tripod.com/dogma.htm

  46. Supertradmum says:

    At this moment, at Mundelein, is a priest teaching who does not believe that Christ knew He was God and who believes, with several of the other priests on the staff, that homosexuals in the seminary are ok.

  47. yatzer says:

    Where might one find the rules for surviving a liberal seminary? I’d like to read them myself. I did a quick search and couldn’t find anything.

  48. Norah says:

    Would a university be permitted to train future doctors if the university lecturers in Medicine did not teach their various subjects in accord with accepted medical practise? Would not that university have its permission to have a faculty of Medicine revoked? Why are seminaries permitted to teach heterodoxy to future priests who will then go out to preach heterodoxy to their congregations? Why is there not an accreditation system which requires say a 5 yearly inspection from Rome for accreditation?

    “How did a pearl like Maynooth get to the point it is today?”

    Simple, no one from Rome cared enough to check that the seminarians were receiving orthodox instruction.

    Please let’s get rid of the: “I know a seminary which…..” Name the seminary if you are telling the truth. Same with, “A priest in a parish I won’t name…..” If you are telling the truth name the priest and the parish. That way good seminaries and priests won’t be tarred with suspicion and light will be shone on the bad guys.

  49. JARay says:

    It seems to me that Ireland lacks the equivalent of Cardinal Pell. It was reliably reported that when he became the Archbishop of Melbourne he called in all the seminary proffs and they came together in a huff. They objected to the new archbishop and they told him so in no uncertain terms saying that they resigned because they would not work under his terms. His reply, we were told, was to say “Thank you very much. That saves me the job of sacking the lot of you”.
    I must say also that when I read that seminarians go out of their seminary to local universities for their studies in subjects such as Philosophy and Theology. Local universities cannot be relied upon to give sound teaching of either of those subjects. Their staff are not accountable to the local Ordinary for their faithfulness in sound teaching.

  50. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Hello Brad,

    I have Ott’s “Fundaentals of Catholic Dogma” – great reference.

    I always emphasize what you are alluding to via the Catechism – especially paragraphs 85, 891-2, 2035-37, 2518, 2088-89….and many, many more. (related to those: LG 25, CIC 750)

    Appreciate the link, my friend.

    God bless you,
    MSM

  51. Fr. Basil says:

    \\But what they express by words “the bread and wine truly and objectively become the Body and Blood of Christ” is exactly what the dogma expresses by the word “transubstantiation”.

    And, transubstantiation has no “technical meaning”. The dogma of transubstantiation says what happens, not how it happens. This indeed is a mystery.\\

    My understanding is that the term transubstantiation is based on the Aristotelian metaphysical distinction between “accidents”–what we perceive with the senses and can be scientifically quantified–and “substance”–that intangible something that makes a thing what-it-is-in-itself.

    Applying this to the Eucharist, the SUBSTANCE of the bread–it’s “breadness,” for lack of a better word” is replaced with the SUBSTANCE of the Body of Christ. Hence “transubstantiation.” The accidents of bread (taste, color, weight, and such) remain the same.

    In other words, transubstantiation never meant simply that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, but to explain HOW this change takes place.

    Many Orthodox have used the term “transubstantiation”, and meant it in the Thomistic, Aristotelian way. Others have used the term to mean no more than what I said: that the elements truly and objectively become the Body and Blood of Christ.

    (BTW–I use the word “objectively” to rule out anything that smacks of receptionism.)

  52. PostCatholic says:

    I attended St Patrick’s College in the early 1990′s. I ultimately left seminary but stayed a Catholic more than a decade beyond that.

    I don’t doubt the veracity of the writers. But I have to say things must have radically changed since I was there. After my US seminary, Maynooth seemed terribly rigorous in terms of religious formation.

    Spiritual Formation:
    USA:
    I was once loaned a book by Mark Link, S.J. Nothing heterodox about it but it was in the realm of popular devotion. Other than that I had long “Emmaus walks” with my spiritual director about the grounds once or twice a year where he asked me to “check in.” He wasn’t particularly liberal. He wasn’t particularly traditional. He wasn’t particularly intelligent. Out of a place of need I sought spiritual direction on my own in the form of letters from a retired auxillary bishop. I still treasure those letters.

    Ireland:
    I was assigned an excellent spiritual director, a saintly American Franciscan priest living in Ireland who was 82 when I first met him. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of missionary history in the US. Three times he loaned me books to read and study which were inscribed with warm personal regards to him as a gift from “Amleto Card. Cicognani”, (q.v. if you are unfamiliar with the name). He introduced me to multiple forms of meditation (Ignatian directed, Redemptorist Pousitina, Benedictan…) until he found something that resonated with me. He was a master at afflicting the comfortable and I sense his presence in my life to this day.

    Questioning the Real Presence:
    USA:
    Never questioned.
    Ireland:
    Never, ever, ever questioned unless you wanted a ticket home. This was really clear. Monsignor Mike Ledwith had many disgusting faults and eventually left the church for a new-agey group but at that time, this was not yet among them. I distinctly remember one of the faculty, a priest from some rural county, telling a few of us that “if, lads, ye don’t believe in transubstantiation ye might as well not believe in yellow either. What the (expletive but not so bad as you might think were I to type it) are ye here for if not, to be sure?” I can hear him clear as a bell in my memory. I laugh about it to this day, because I now don’t have a good answer!

    Retreats:
    USA:
    I suppose we had some, but I don’t remember them. I do remember Benedict Groeschel leading a retreat to diocesan priests at our seminary and taking quite a bit of time to mix among we seminarians. That was one of the highlights of my time in seminary in America.
    Ireland:
    I remember being among a small group of seminarians–I don’t remember the criteria but it wasn’t by class or age–that got to go to Limerick’s Glenstal Abbey by train for a retreat. I don’t remember the content of the retreat but I would have objected to anything like women’s ordination being introduced. What I do remember was the train ride and a conversation I and a classmate had with a seatmate, an older gentleman who warned me against clerical sex abuse. We thought he was nuts. Time has borne him out.

    Human Formation
    Moral Formation:
    I heard all kinds of nonsense from every direction in both the USA and Ireland. Seminaries aren’t particularly moral places. One thing I really remember, though: In the USA our wing of the seminary faced another wing used as a retreat center. I remember an occasion when a high school retreat was held where a few–let’s be clear, not all–seminarians tried to huddle in the dark against the window to watch girls undressing in the wing opposite. They were busted by other seminarians (self and classmate) and that was the end of that. Probably we should have reported this but didn’t. Nothing remotely like this ever happened in Ireland. The worst that happened was a seminarian fell in love with an NUIM student and dropped out. I thought that was shocking and awful and a scandal and then I did it myself.

    Pastoral Formation:
    USA:
    I truly don’t remember any, but I was a college seminarian and we really weren’t meant to be focusing on that. I was introduced to and mentored by a few excellent pastors, including the vicar general of the diocese of the seminary (not my own archdiocese). At seminary, our rector and the formation director were both kind of on the kooky side but the former rector and the diocese’s auxillary bishop lived in the seminary and that kind of kept things in check.
    Ireland:
    I truly don’t remember any, but I had same experience as in America: I met excellent pastors who
    took a lot of time to explain what and why they did as they did. Our rector, as stated above, was a bit of a new-age nutcase into feelings and so on, but I don’t remember this influencing much more than the occasional sermon. One of which (at 5:30 am) began “Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl. These are the words of a beautiful song by Mr Barry Manilow about…” Seriously? Kill me now.

    Intellectual formation:
    USA:
    The seminary was attached to a middlin’ Jesuit college and I took classes in street clothes with students well below my intellectual peers. This is not conceit. I felt like the smartest person in the room bar the professor many times, and I absolutely did not like the feeling for a variety of reasons but in minor part because I felt I wasn’t learning much. Courses leaned to the left, as most universities do.
    Ireland:
    The seminary was attached to a competitive, intellectually rigorous university (NUIM) and I met many professors and students who could stretch me intellectually. The syllabi were challenging. I loved my classes. Courses leaned to the left, but there was a healthy respect and engagement with alternative viewpoints. Which for the most part weren’t offered by me; I tended to keep my head down.

    Eucharistic Adoration:
    Both seminaries held it periodically. I don’t remember the frequency other than it was not weekly or daily.

    Clerical Dress:
    USA:
    I wore my cassock only in my home diocese for liturgical services, and I wore it constantly on my trip to Rome with my archbishop. It was required to own one, but never worn, at seminary. Our faculty mostly wore their Roman collars during working hours and usually only changed out of them after dinner.
    Ireland:
    All Sunday liturgies required full choir dress. This was the first time I’d ever seen the following vestments: full amaranth cassocks; the black mozetta; the pectoral cross on a black ribbon; the douilette; the biretta in actual use as opposed to just sitting on a shelf. Personally, I wore ordinary clothing to classes. Our faculty wore their Roman collars during working hours but less often than in America. I didn’t find this particularly troubling.

  53. Stephen Matthew says:

    I have to wonder a bit about some of those beating around the bush about some unnamed seminary in the US. I am not saying this is wrong, but in what way does it help anyone or the church? If it is such that people need to be warned away or that it should be made public, then name names and give the proof. If it is not so bad as that, or if you have no proof, then just how does it build up the church to cause everyone in the mid-west to start wondering if the seminarians of their own diocese are going off to some dark pit (which as ordinary pew folk they don’t even have a way of finding out)?

  54. PostCatholic says:

    Fine. St Pius X Seminary in Dalton PA, now closed.

  55. Andy Milam says:

    @yatzer,

    If you’re referring to my post, you won’t find them online. The “rules for surviving a liberal seminary” are Fr. Z’s and Fr. Z’s alone. I don’t think that he has ever published them.

  56. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum says:

    At this moment, at Mundelein, is a priest teaching who does not believe that Christ knew He was God and who believes, with several of the other priests on the staff, that homosexuals in the seminary are ok.

    Such an opinion exists on various levels. Did Christ had Messianic self knowledge. If so, was it acquired or infused? Did He have the Beatific Vision. If so, when did it start?

    Negative answers to the above questions are generally considered Kenotic Christology, which originated with Luther and is based on an exaggerated understanding of the Pauline concept of Christ’s self-emptying (kenosis in Greek–cf the Letter to the Philippians). This approach attempts at legitimacy by introducing the Holy Spirit, thus producing something called Pneumatic Christology. The result is that Christ was inspired by the Holy Spirit to act in Blind Obedience.

  57. jaykay says:

    Thank you, PostCatholic – that’s very enlightening. So it seems that, not that long ago, at least within the last 20 years, Maynooth could have been said to have been basically “sound” but perhaps teetering a bit on the edge? In other words, as we say in Ireland, it still had the “relics of oul’ daycency about it”? So we can assume that the rottenness set-in in earnest in the later 90s and the last decade, and the place is now largely given over to rotten teaching, with some honourable exceptions?

    It is pitiable, certainly, and I hope Abp. Dolan’s report may be a scalpel to lance the abscess and let the pus out. Still, looking to the bright side, maybe we can compare those propagating dissent to a swarm of buzzing wasps nearing the end of their summer and facing extinction, hence their angriness and nastiness.

    Personally, I can attest that we have two very fine young priests in our parish (one of whom possesses – and wears – a set of Roman vestments) who must have come through all this; I’d say they’re both mid-to-late 30s. Just last Sunday the full Benedictine arrangement was introduced again: it was tried briefly about a year ago and then dropped. Hopefully it’s here to stay as the candlesticks are brand new this time. Mine is a very “ordinary” parish and these developments have all been favourably commented on, which can only encourage our young men. But Lord, they must have suffered in Maynooth! Yet they came through it all, and we’re now benefitting. Many years to them and to their like-minded brothers.

  58. PostCatholic says:

    I don’t know, jaykay. I remember one good lecture by the late Cardinal Daly in which he explained the seminary process by saying that the Church could either sharpen its chisel and smooth our edges until we were fit for service as new priests, or “it can do as does the Father: toss all the rocks into the sea and wait for them to wash on the beaches” smoothed by all the collisions along the way. My advice to the Irish church would be to admit people who do not fear the economy of ideas and have to have its seminaries work on the centrality of a loving heart.

  59. robtbrown says:

    Fr. Basil

    I already responded above to your comments.

    Once again:
    1. It is important not to confuse the Church teaching of Transubstantiation (which dates back to Lateran IV in 1215) to the theological explanation advanced by St Thomas and others. The former refers to what happens–the what of bread (and wine) is changed into the what of the Body (and Blood) of Christ. The latter goes beyond this “what” by explaining in what way something of bread (and wine) would till remain even though it is no longer bread (or wine). Even further, how any non substantial components of Christ are nevertheless present in the Sacrament. Of course, St Thomas’ explanation refers to Accidents, but the Church has never officially adopted the word in Eucharistic doctrine.

    Although St Thomas’ substance-accidents approach is common in the Church, it is nonetheless not part of doctrine.

    Further:
    Aristotelian categories entered into theological lexicon through St Thomas. Lateran IV took place 10 years before St Thomas’ birth. BTW, St Thomas’ first exposure to Aristotle was with Peter the Hibernian, at the Univ of Naples, which was outside the papal states.

    2. By definition, substance refers to what–now how; the same is true for Transubstantiation.

    3. Re theology: Once the change in substance is acknowledged, then the question of “how” (quomodo or de modo) is taken up, both in the mode of Christ’s presence and in how something of bread and wine remains in the Sacrament.

  60. robtbrown says:

    Postcatholic,

    What is Benedictine meditation?

  61. steve jones says:

    Michael Rose’s book includes an anecdote from London which took place at a pre-seminary called Campion House. I was attending a retreat at the time and met the individual (a prospective candidate for the priesthood) who related the story. It’s all true. With regards the drinking culture at Maynooth – this is also prevalent in British seminaries.

  62. PostCatholic says:

    As I remember, robtbrown, it involved sitting with one’s eyes shut and repeating a mantra for a half hour and listening to yourself saying it. I don’t remember which particular Benedictine saint or spiritual master or whatnot it came from. Presumably since the Benedictines are monastics they’ve got a few styles of meditative prayer.

  63. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic says:

    As I remember, robtbrown, it involved sitting with one’s eyes shut and repeating a mantra for a half hour and listening to yourself saying it. I don’t remember which particular Benedictine saint or spiritual master or whatnot it came from. Presumably since the Benedictines are monastics they’ve got a few styles of meditative prayer.

    Actually, no, they don’t. Methods of meditation are modern, designed for those who lead active lives. Benedictine “spirituality” is liturgical. The time spent with the Benedictine office, low masses, and the community mass is more than enough recollect the mind and provide content for the prayer of acquired contemplation.

    After most of the monasteries abandoned the Gregorian Chant, the Benedictine Psalter, and low masses, many went looking for a method to fill in the considerable lacunae. What you describe seems like Centering Prayer.

  64. PostCatholic says:

    You sent me to dusting off a corner of my bookshelf, robtbrown. What I was describing is derived from Moment of Christ: The Path of Meditation by Rev. John Main, OSB. I think a better analogue than Centering Prayer is the Jesus Prayer of the Orthodox churches; indeed the book is anxious to draw that comparison over and over. And it’s certainly quite unfair to the Order of St Benedict for me to describe one Benedictine’s work as “Benedictine meditation,” so forgive me for that. I was only trying to illustrate that at Maynooth I was fortunate to be assigned a talented spiritual director at that time who was skilled enough to find many points d’appui for me. When I didn’t enjoy much success with this particular method we moved on to other things, of which the immense part were much less innovative.

    My experience of Benedictine monasteries was quite the opposite of “abandoning the Gregorian Chant” (sic). I remember quite keenly that the Gregorian setting of Canticle of Zechariah we would sing in my US seminary was relatively new and written and published by St Anselm Abbey in Washington DC.