From a seminarian

A note from a reader:

Fr. Z

I was pleasantly surprised to see your post on the article in U. S. Catholic. I am just beginning my first year at a college seminary … and that magazine is in our library.  There are quite a few of us here that exchanged questioning glances when we saw it. But we thought it best to not discuss it openly for we are not yet sure whether or not we are on friendly ground. (We have been forbidden from receiving our Lord while kneeling.). So thanks for posting; you put into words what we were too cautious to speak. I look forward to turning to you for solace and formation throughout this journey.

In Christ

__ (another brick)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. AlexE says:

    Yes, as seminarians we will find much solace and formation here at Fr Z’s website. It is valuable in helping us grow in our identity and to, God willing, one day work to restore Catholic Identity in parishes. Don’t let the current state of seminaries be discouraging, things are better then they were 10 or 20 years ago. I know because many priests have told me. The norm in the U.S. for whatever reason is to stand so at the seminary do so. The best piece of advice is “keep your head down and your mouth shut”. Be faithful to the Lord ( through Mass, the Divine Office, prayer time, spiritual direction, formation etc) and I promise you He will be faithful to you. God bless you. To the other readers, please, please, please pray for all seminarians, that God give us the grace to do His will and to persevere. Truly, you can only make it through the seminary with prayer, and if people want good, holy, orthodox, priests then we must pray for those kind of men to answer if God is calling them.

  2. biberin says:

    oh, my. I didn’t know there were seminaries that forbade reception of the Eucharist while kneeling. One would assume, due to the lack of vocations, that this is not due to a “traffic” problem during Mass. . .

  3. AlexE says:

    No, it isn’t. It is about being faithful to the norms set forth by the bishops. For example, in some dioceses you stand after the Agnus Dei, in others you kneel. While one may be your preference or the posture you are used to, the rule is to follow the norm for that diocese. It would be unfair to say that most seminaries are hostile to tradition.

  4. TJM says:

    AlexE, I believe that Rome has said – no go to that position. If a Catholic wants to kneel for the reception of Holy Communion no priest nor bishop
    has the right to deny the communicant Holy Communion in the kneeling position. Tom

  5. AlexE says:

    TJM, I agree with you, but the seminary is a very different dynmaic than parish life and there are other reasons. For example, is it truly an external manifestation of an internal devotion? Are you kneeling to incite controvsey? Believe me, it is better not to be the one who sicks out like a sore thumb. It can create problems, problems with formation, problems with other seminarians. Far too often I have seen the “Holier than thou” attitude pop up or stupid divisions because of something or another. I would love to be able to kneel for Holy Communion and the Lord knows this, and when I can I do. However, I know too, He is pleased by obdience.

  6. lucy says:

    To all seminarians: our family prays for all seminarians during our evening rosary. I know plenty of families that do this. Know you are cared for by complete strangers.

  7. It would be nice if more seminaries would actually encourage their seminarians to receive on the tongue while kneeling.

  8. Here’s one seminary that doesn’t pose such dilemmas for its seminarians:

    As Tradition regains a foothold, seminary rectors will not be able to coerce the consciences of traditional seminarians. There will be too much competition.

  9. cwhitty says:

    A valid point, but my brother seminarian has said something that troubles me. I don’t think it is fair to the seminarian, the seminary, or the Church for the seminarian to feel like he should be “hiding” things, even if that means hiding his traditional values. We are called and expected to present our whole selves honestly.

  10. JPG says:

    I would suggest that this seminarian continues to do what he feels best given the environment in which he finds himself. To use broad strokes liberals both political and religious are not a tolerant bunch and they would happily, nay find it their righteous duty to sqaush , quelch or eliminate as unsuitable for the priesthood anyone whose understanding is not like their own or who seems to adhere to tradition. The extreme liberal would find a candidate whose tendency is toward dissent entirely desirable. I hesitate to say this but I would wonder if the same crowd would find a candidate whose moral outlook virtually all who read this blog would find reprehensible or objectionable, to be the perfect candidate for the priesthood. Thus if this man wishes to pursue his vocation he ought to proceed as he thinks best.Many who do not share his love of tradition or who actively discourage the traditional outlook I think woud not hesitate to thwart or destroy his vocation. I , an interested layman find solace that seminarians , such as this , seek instruction from this blog.
    It will be the greatest of ironies if this technology should be the end of the strangle hold of the Modernist leaning left wing liberals.

  11. worm says:

    I can certainly understand how a “holier than thou” attitude could be a problem and should be addressed. I’m not sure I see how one seminarian kneeling to receive Communion could be a problem for the other seminarians. If anything, shouldn’t THAT be addressed before they have to face it in a parish themselves?

  12. John L says:

    I wondered how Alex E knows that the seminary policy of not kneeling for communion is about the policy favoured by the bishops, since the diocese from which these seminarians come is not identified. In any case only episcopal policies that are legal require respect from the faithful, and, as pointed out above, this policy is not legal. I would suggest that the seminarians take up this issue of not kneeling with their bishop, and if the bishop is not sympathetic, that they find another diocese and another seminary if possible. A seminary is not a place where you are supposed to be guarded about your faith commitments; it is a place where you are supposed to be formed in your faith by formators who are totally committed to the Church and her teachings. The Church requires this kind of formation for seminarians for a reason; it is because it is urgently necessary for their being able to properly exercise a priestly ministry. So you have a responsibility, not just a right, to find and go to a seminary where you will be given this kind of formation. Keeping quiet, keeping your head down, and getting through to ordination in a seminary where the formators are not loyal to the Church or to the Catholic faith is not an option you are entitled to exercise unless there is really no other choice; and even if you cannot get in to another seminary, you must seriously consider whether or not your faith is capable of surviving the seminary you are in. Many seminarians have lost their faith and will lose their souls because of eventually accepting what they were taught at the seminary, and you need to be quite sure that you will not be one of them if your attending this seminary is not to be a serious occasion of sin for you. I have experience of seminary teaching and can tell you this is the case.

  13. isabella says:

    First, I am thrilled that there are seminarians who feel as you do and will add you to my prayers. One brick at a time..

    But back to the kneeling issue. I dabbled in paganishm before returning to the Church of my birth and Baptism. The traditional Mass is why I returned.

    Having “worshipped” both ways, I believe that posture definitely does make a difference. When I was pagan, we deliberately and intentionally STOOD to worship, because “we were equals with the gods” and just having a celebration. Before the one true God, I kneel because I am NOT his equal and I know it.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with a holier than thou attitude. It is more an acknowledgment of who is God and who is His creation.

  14. Sixupman says:

    Last year, at my local (diocesan) monthly TLM, I heard a final year seminarian preach. He upheld the ordained pristhood and denied the aspiration of lay parity thereto by a large tranche of the laity. Metaphorically, I nearly fell out of the pew! How did he get through seminary net, I wondered? He is now esconced in a parish and Celebrating the TLM when he can. There is hope for us yet!

    My parish church, which I prefer not to attend, exults in the expansion of the lay diaconate and the PP criticises BXVI for not allowing the laity greater participation in the liturgy – even to preaching to us lesser mortals. Such are continuing themes, the parish also adopts CofE (middle church) practices and replacement clergy appear to be of the same ilk – perpetuating that position. This also mimmicks the CofE, where they place “high church” clergy in “high church” parishes, “middle” in “middle” and “low” in “low”. Clearly, the hierarchy are aware and support such a policy.

  15. Clinton says:

    I think it speaks volumes about the continued stranglehold bigoted “spiritofvaticantwo” types have on some US seminaries that fine
    seminarians like (another brick) must assume that they are in an hostile environment, that they assume it is imprudent to freely
    discuss what they read in a Catholic publication for fear that the wrong person may hear what is said, that they may communicate only with questioning glances — is this a seminary or a gulag?

    Most of us have heard the stories of seminarians shown the door because they were caught saying the rosary after they’d been warned
    not to, or who’d been busted in possession of a book by St. Thomas Aquinas or some other theologian “we don’t do anymore”. Of course, such stories are not quantifiable, hard data. But it is revealing that one never hears of a seminarian dismissed because he declared
    too openly his fascination with the enneagram, or was found in his room curled up with a cup of tea and the latest from Hans Kung.
    Cwitty, in his post above, pointed out that it is deeply unfair to the seminarians, the seminary and to the Church that these men may
    not present themselves in all honesty, for that guarantees the shipwreck of their vocation. It is in the face of spiritual extortion that
    these fine men must dissemble to remain in seminary, that they must learn to tell the staff what they want to hear if
    they wish to make it to ordination. Years ago, I attended an anything-goes Catholic student center where the Mass was routinely
    butchered. The order had a seminarian doing his diaconate year on staff. At a particularly awful liturgy he caught the look in my
    eye, leaned near me and whispered “I’ve learned to just let this stuff wash over me”. He was dropped from the seminary two weeks
    before ordination.

    What sort of priest is such a seminary hoping to produce, when one of the central lessons he must learn is Thou Shalt Keep Thy
    Mouth Shut and Let This Stuff Wash Over Thee? What will his priesthood look like?

    To (another brick) and all his fine brother seminarians out there — please know that I am resolving to pray for you every time I go
    to Mass and every time I pick up my rosary. Thank you, gentlemen.

  16. To all seminarians,
    I understand how difficult it can be for all of you, especially during these times. In only around a year and a half, I will be at Cardinal Glennon College Seminary here in St. Louis, and I’ve been around the seminarians enough to know that the seminary isn’t easy. AlexE, (another brick) and all other seminarians who see this, know I am praying for you!


  17. AlexE says:


    Thank you, and let me tell you and any other man considering the seminary DO IT!!! It so so worth it, so very very beautiful, depsite the problems

  18. Chris says:

    I feel for this seminarian.

    But I also wonder why anyone would want to be in a seminary that forces disrespect toward our Lord?

    Leave. Go to the FSSP, ICKSP or another traditional order. Find peace in your life that you will never find surrounded by these so-called churchmen.

  19. irishgirl says:

    Dear God-I thought this kind of attitude on the part of seminary ‘authorities’ was a thing of the past!

    To all seminarians-I pray for you every day when I take up my Rosary! Please know that there are a lot of us Catholic laity who love you, support you, and raise you up in prayer and sacrifice!

    You are the future of the Church-persevere!

    As the Marines say, BOO-YAH!

  20. AlexE says:

    After re-reading my posts and the other posts I would like to add:

    1 Most seminaries are not hostile to tradition; there is much change from the horror stories of old and things are getting better, much better. I don’t have to like about my cassock (which I need when I go home on vacation to serve Mass) we are required to have a marian devotion, in fact many gather to pray the Rosary daily. We have a weekly communal HOly Hour, and are encouraged to visit the Blessed Sacrament often.
    2 My statement about obeying the diocesean norms was based on my expierence of going to a different diocese for seminary training and formation.
    3 A priest is all things to all people, so while he have his own preferences he must learn to at least respect what his people are used to. This is part of the nature of a diocesean vocation.
    4 It is not super easy to change dioceses or seminaries. Most dioceses have residence requirements of one or two years.
    5 Just as the motto for the Reform of the Reform is “brick by brick” so is the process in the seminary. I just witnessed a very traditional catholic be ordained, sure he had problems but he wasn’t dismissed. The seminary, too is still recovering from the hijacking of vatican II.
    6 The good Lord in His wisdom, tests our vocations, in many different ways. I would venture to say, a seminarian who is serious about his vocation knows this and will find a good spiritual director, groups of peers, etc which form a good support system.
    7 If one has a vocation the the diocsean priesthood, he may not be happy with the FSSP and the ICKSP or other traditional orders. Further, that might not be the will of God for him.
    8 I apologize if I come across as a “know it all”, i am sharing my expierences, plus that what many other priests have told me, priests from different eras, different seminaries.
    9 Please, please, please, pray for us, all of us. Thank to all who do.

  21. Mitchell NY says:

    May a Seminarian after being “kicked out” of the seminary for being too traditional, saying the rosary, kneeling, or any other such nonsence re-apply to an SSPX, FSSP, or other like minded seminary? Is this allowed? Pray that the seminary students are not brainwashed by their training and that the day they get into a parish they immediately return to what they know is correct…Faith and Patience…You have to know how to navigate seminary “politics” while there which is a shame in itself..It seems outrageous that they would be denied, in total contrast to what the Papacy says about kneeling, the opportunity to have this choice..Maybe it is full time to re-think the norms in the United States..

  22. Chris says:

    Irishgirl, the military says “hoorah”.

    Rappers in the late 90s said “boo-yah”


  23. Jayna says:

    “May a Seminarian after being “kicked out” of the seminary for being too traditional, saying the rosary, kneeling, or any other such nonsence re-apply to an SSPX, FSSP, or other like minded seminary?”

    I would hope they wouldn’t think about applying to an SSPX seminary, but it seems like they could go to an FSSP seminary. After all, the FSSP seminary (there is only one in the States, is there not?) isn’t associated with any specific diocese and would likely welcome men who were denied the chance to pursue their vocation because of ideological differences. That’s just speculation, though, so don’t take my word for it.

  24. Dismas says:

    From what I understand, “too traditional” isn’t the label that “progressive” seminaries rejected people with. They would impugn the sexual maturity, psychological and emotional stability, social skills, pastoral competence, respect for authority, et cetera ad nauseum. Rejection was not enough, but the willful seminarian had to be thoroughly humiliated and blackballed.

    Things are better today than in the 70’s, but there is still quite some way to go before we are home free.

  25. Hidden One says:

    Win the seminaries, win the priests; win the priests, win the bishops; win the bishops, win the Cardinals, win the Pope; win the Pope, win the Cardinals, the bishops, the priests, the seminaries…

    Well, the Pope we didn’t have to win, at least. Thanks be to God that the stupidists didn’t win enough Cardinals to block the election of Pope John Paul II, and that he held the fort and counter attacked well enough (and lowered the voting bar enough) for the election of Pope Benedict XVI. And now we more than begin to see seminaries, priests, bishops, and Cardinals (who are, of course, normally bishops, but most bishops don’t elect Popes), won over and winning over more.

    And in the meantime, we have lost the world, whatever we had of it, for there no fort was held, and now we are driven out, perhaps soon to worldwide slaughter.

    “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world…”

    It is well that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church, and crucial that the flores martyrum are seminarians (to borrow words from Tertullian and St. Philip Neri).

    Pray for seminarians!

  26. Sixupman:

    Pardon my ignorance, but what is a lay deacon? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

  27. Sixupman says:


    Somewhat pedantic – “lay deacon”, someone who is not prepared to make the sacrifice required by the ordained priesthood. The Church now proliferates with such, who seek the status within the parish but not the burden associated with the priesthood. My own parish is in Somerset, UK and is almost Presbyterian in its structure and outlook, that is of the priest and clique who run the place. Where, to first communicants, is preached not the True Presence, but, meals and cafes and tables. Where, before Mass, both priest and deacons wander the body of the church generating discussion – more of a village hall meeting with the councillors doing-the-the-rounds. Preparation for Mass – No!

  28. Sixupman says:

    I forgot.

    As a child I was taught, that in the Mission Fields [what they now?], where single priests covered huge areas, appropriate leaders, of the community, were given the facility to carry out some of the duties of the ordained clergy. They might be visited only once or twice a year, therefore, for example, a ‘marriage’ would be approved, later to be confirmed by the the priest. These could be truly called “Deacons”, they have nothing in common with those which to-day roam the parishes – just what are the latter’s duties, which could not be done by the priest?

  29. Tim Ferguson says:

    augustinianheart – you’ve not heard of such a thing, because there is no such thing. A deacon is a deacon is a deacon – all deacons in the Catholic Church are ordained, and therefore members of the clergy (c. 207). Some people use the term “lay deacon” in an effort to denigrate the concept of the deaconate as something other than a step to the priesthood (if deacons are those who are “not prepared to make the sacrifice required by the ordained priesthood,” are priests those who are not prepared to make the sacrifice required by the episcopate? balderdash).

    Granted, as it has been implemented in some places, the deaconate has been poorly understood and implemented. In some place they become “mini priests” doing those sacramental and ministerial things for which they are competent and which some priests find odious or beneath them. In other places, they become “glorified acolytes.” But in a number of places, they are recognized for what they truly are, men ordained to the service of the Church and answering a real and authentic vocation given to them by God.

  30. rob l says:

    I second(or whatever number it is up to now)for a seminarian to not continue in a place where he knows the faith isn’t being passed on and practiced. False obedience is not what is pleasing to God. Pray for guidance. If you have not yet done so, consecrate yourself as a Slave to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart according to the method of St Louis Marie de Montfort. She will lead you to the proper seminary where the traditional faith is live to the fullest, not hidden from the crowds. You may lose some support from those around you, but, in the end, it will have been worth it.


  31. irishgirl says:

    Chris-sorry about that.

    It always sounded like ‘booyah’…I’ll remember the correct term if I use it again.

    What can you expect-my dad was in the Navy! [sheepish grin and shrug]

Comments are closed.