Wherein Fr. Z asks a question, directed especially at bishops.

Under another entry, in a comment, a participant here raised an interesting question.

Many of us Latin Mass attendees have boys who also have affection for the “Beauty” of the Latin Mass … , and many of these young men are interested in the priesthood. It sure is sad that this fact is ignored in many of the places / dioceses where priests are needed most.

I wonder what would happen … what would happen with vocations … if a bishop, with a seminary or without, made it crystal clear that he (and the seminary) were going to make sure that every man was trained also in the older, traditional, Extraordinary form of Mass and he intended to support every priest who desired – cum serena pace – to celebrate that form in parishes.

Imagine an ad campaign from the diocese, the bishop speaking of this in talks about vocations and at parishes, writing in the diocesan paper, going to visit the seminarians in support, using the older form himself with generosity even if it is not his preference?

After all, a large percentage of priests and parishioners deal with liturgy that is not their preference all the time.

What would happen to the number of men applying for seminary?

We can get all dreamy about this, of course.   Some older people and most liberals would simply freak out.  They freak out anyway.  Sure there would be some spittle-flecked dudgeon here and there.   But consider the sort of person who would flare up like that about something both legitimate and sacred and the wave of the future anyway.

Who in the long run, Your Excellencies, will go to the wall for you when you are standing in the line of fire.  I submit that that would be traditionally-minded priests, not liberals.

I suspect many men would come out of the woodwork.  Good men, who otherwise might be thinking about going somewhere else to pursue priesthood.  People in the pews?  Remember those polls about what people would think about having the old Mass in their parishes?

Your Excellencies… before you click away, look at surveys about support for the old Mass in parishes. (Here and here.)

I wonder what … would … happen?   Do you?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, I'm just askin'..., New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jim Dorchak says:

    Man what a question! Some anecdotal evidence: Where the traditional Mass is encouraged the seminaries are full. Look at Nebraska and Kansas. The other side of the coin is more personal. I know of at least 3 men who have been turned down because of their traditional leanings and went on to traditional orders. I know of one young man who is this very day appealing to the FSSP since he was turned down by the diocese of Charlotte when it came out that he attended the Latin Mass. (He was even told “on the side” that this was the reason he was rejected). NO TRADDIES WANTED! LATIN MASSERS NEED NOT APPLY!

  2. danphunter1 says:

    “Latin Mass. (He was even told “on the side” that this was the reason he was rejected). NO TRADDIES WANTED! LATIN MASSERS NEED NOT APPLY!”
    Mr Dorchak,
    That explains a lot.
    From hearing testimonies similar to Mr Dorchaks, I would think that a fair number of diocesan seminaries furrow their brows and agree with themselves to be unhappy for the sake of being unhappy when they encounter young men who want to learn the Traditional Form.
    One that I know of does not though.

  3. Traductora says:

    Well, I think for one thing you’d get a much smarter and better quality priest. And young men would consider it a challenge, not something for feminized wusses, and I think you’d get more emotional maturity too.

    I am very devoted to the Old Rite, but frankly, I could imagine it being done mostly in the vernacular someday. However, learning Latin and learning to say the old mass in Latin would be wonderful for priests regardless of the future of either rite. I think it should be done exactly this way, perfectly neutral, noncontroversial, simply one more thing seminarians are supposed to learn; and then we can stand back and watch the great results.

  4. TLMom says:

    Yes, the bishops must truthfully ask themselves where they will find support and vocations. Both will come from traditional parishes. Many bishops seem to pander to the dissenters, not wanting to ruffle their feathers, allowing for liturgical abuses to make mass “relevant” to them, allowing watered down Catholic education until it is undistinguished from public, etc. This is not how to raise up men who will fill seminaries or encourage families to be open to their children’s vocations. It is time for the bishops to acknowledge this reality and act accordingly!

  5. drwob says:

    Our young son is a torchbearer at our parish’s EF High Mass (Missa Cantata). As a result of his service, he’s expressed strong interest in the priesthood (although at age seven, he has a long way to go in vocational discernment).

    I’d wager that if he processed in wearing a white potato sack tied with a rope, sat around sullenly until the lavabo, and then processed out again (as many altar boys/girls seem to do during OF Masses), he wouldn’t be expressing this interest.

  6. boredoftheworld says:

    Who in the long run, Your Excellencies, will go to the wall for you when you are standing in the line of fire.

    The same sort of question could be asked of our priests on behalf of the laity. If priests (and bishops) would stop throwing the undesirables under the bus to appease the unappeasables we would willingly throw ourselves in front of the bus to salvage the otherwise unsalvageable.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    Our TLM community, much smaller than most Catholic parishes, has produced 3 vocations in the past 4 years, and more (I’m confident) on the way. Listening to some of the talk among our altar boys, you could get the impression that most of them are thinking about it. Of course, at the present time, the TLM priest seems the most enviable masculine role they know about, and that may change. But if a bishop thinks his diocese has a vocations problem, I could suggest a possible solution to him: Just encourage every young priest he has to celebrate the EF Mass.

  8. Mitchell NY says:

    Why, now what would happen?? Perhaps an increase in vocations? Now why didn’t a Bishop think of that? Why, it just might fall in line with what the Holy See has thought on the subject. Now wouldn’t that be a change of pace. The Bishops, supporting the line of thought of the Vatican. Without putting much thought into it, I think this would simply add to vocations by opening open the margins, or widening the net so to speak. Seems like a no brainer..Simple marketing. The bigger question is why the Vatican does not insist on this for Seminary formation. They would make their own job of implementing the MP, SP that much easier.

  9. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    The solution, my friends, is MONEY. More on that in a second.

    My parish in Chicago, St. John Cantius, is constantly brimming with novices from the traditionally minded Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. Literally every time I am there, there are multiple new postulants joining the Canons for the LOTH. And several men already ordained are incardinating too. Now to be fair, while there are only a few of these communities, they may draw a disproportionate number of vocations, so perhaps there isn’t too much to our anecdotal evidence. Perhaps if there were only one Bugnini Mass Indult community in a United States after the universal restoration of the Mass of the Ages, it would be full of young positivistic hippy vocations. But if you really want to help, you can help where some bishops are unwilling.

  10. Anonymous Seminarian says:

    I couldn’t agree more.

  11. priests wife says:

    My husband is looking forward to the opportunity to learn the changes in the NO translation as well as TLM that so far is difficult to find around here (he has bi-ritual faculties for the Roman-rite archdiocese where we live)- His dream (big dreamer) is that every priest will be well-versed in a rite other than his birth rite (haha)- in preparation for unity with all Christian churches. yes, he is the optimist in the family.

    Off topic- Is Mystic Monk Free trade coffee good- I buy free trade only…

  12. Tradster says:

    The bishops would have to back up their words with actions, meaning ending the use of altar girls and – as drwob noted – giving the altar boys more to do in the OF as they do in the EF.

  13. Catholic87 says:

    Hahaha that is so funny you say that because..if I were ever to become a bishop that is exactly what I would do…ha

  14. RichR says:

    Didn’t H.E. Bp. Bruskewitz forbid altar girls? How are his vocations…….?

    [This question is more about what bishops should affirm rather than what they should forbid.]

  15. TNCath says:

    I don’t foresee it happening. [I didn’t ask if it was going to happen or not.] Honestly and unfortunately, I’m convinced that the vast majority of bishops in the U.S. (or in the world, for that matter) don’t really care. All they want to do is keep their ships afloat until they can retire. They will do their best to stay under Rome’s radar so they can eventually turn their dioceses over to somebody else. They are tired of the liturgical wars, the doctrinal squabbles, and the intramural games because, as much as I hate to say it, they themselves do not fully intellectually or spiritually grasp the complexities or seriousness of these issues. Moreover, they are very out of touch with what John and Mary Catholic know (and don’t know) about the Faith they claim to profess. I have come to the conclusion that the bishops of the U.S. are much in the same boat as the LCWR religious orders who are on their last legs. Barring the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, until the biological solution takes effect and unambiguously committed bishops willing to die for the Faith take over and do whatever it takes to get vocations, we are in for the same old same old.

    At the same time, I say this with the hope that there are some bishops out there reading this. To them, I say, Your Excellencies, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17).

    Despite the scandals, the cronyism, the backroom deals, and the innate fear of offending the laity, the time has come.

    [This message, given voice from the traditional side of things, is probably a reason why some bishops will never affirm what you desire.]

  16. Bender says:

    What would happen to the number of men applying for seminary?

    You might get more men applying, you might get less men applying, but either way, it would be about what the men want, it would be about the men calling themselves to the priesthood, rather than about them being called.

  17. FrJohn says:

    Sadly, I think TNCath may have hit the nail on the head. Personally, I’m praying for the swift intervention of the Holy Ghost!

  18. Magpie says:

    You make too much sense for modern man to understand Father Z. I would propose that modern man is largely incapable of common sense.

  19. “Off topic- Is Mystic Monk Free trade coffee good- I buy free trade only…”

    Not all of it, but a couple good blends — including Midnight Vigils — are organic & free trade. I recommend it highly.

  20. Central Valley says:

    Recently, I traveled to Fresno, California to attend a solemn High Mass for the 20th anniversary of the Traditional Mass Community in Fresno. An FSSP priest, FSSP Deacon and a seminarian were to offer Mass. Bishop emeritus Joseph Madera was to be in choir. At the last minute, Bishop Madera decided he would offer Mass. Virtualy noone in the church knew of the change. The precession began and immediately the vestments were obvious that Bp. Madera would be offering the Mass. I can tell you as an adult that made a great impression on me and everyoen else in the church that day. At the end of the Mass, Bp. Madera spoke of having lunch with Pope John Paul II and talking about the care of traditional catholics. I can tell you that when Bp. Madera was the bishop of Fresno, Ca, the traditional communities were cared for. Seeing a bishop offer the Extraordinary Form of Mass leaves an impression on both adults and children in attendance.

    On a side note, I wonder if Bp. Madera got the urge to offer the EF in Fresno after attending the 50th ordination Mass of Msgr Belluomini in Bakersfield. Bp. Madera was in choir at that Solemn High Mass.

  21. Central Valley says:

    As far as seminarians go. Even here in Kalifornia, the land of fruits and nuts, there are many seminarians studying the traditional mass and when you speak to these fine young men, they have every intention on wearing their cassosk in seminary and after ordination. These fine men understand that they are to be contradictions in the world as Christ was. They want to be priests and they are not afraid to act as priest. We may be at a point now that even some diocese try to screen out the trad, a few slip through. There are trads in the catacombs in American seminaries, pray for they.

  22. BLB Oregon says:

    Maybe if we could just get every bishop to make certain a) that every seminarian had actually _been_ to the TLM on several occasions in their first two years in the seminary and b) openly encourage those who want to learn the TLM to do so. If there is always an opportunity to fall in love with the TLM, if those who love it have the resources and support they need to learn it, if they then go out into parishes and celebrate it with love, then the fire will be lit. I think this a more attainable goal. Besides, it may even be best if those who did not fall immediately in love with the TLM are not pressed to celebrate it, at least not just yet. It is probably on the firing range of passive aggression enough as it is for now.

  23. Jerry says:

    I, too, have heard of several aspiring applicants to diocesan seminaries ho were rejected after it became known they attended the traditional Mass (FSSP or ICRSS).

  24. nanetteclaret says:

    So in other words, young men who love the Latin Mass must “hide in the closet” if they want to attend seminary.

    I can see it now:

    Director of Admissions: “Young man, have you ever attended a Latin Mass?” Young man, “Um, no…” (Thinking to himself, “I really hope they don’t find my stash of Latin Mass DVDs – especially the one narrated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. That would really get me in trouble!”)

    Director of Admissions: “Young man, have you ever sung Gregorian Chant?” Young man, “Not really…” (Thinking to himself, “I hope humming along to ‘Sublime Chant’ and ‘More Sublime Chant’ doesn’t count!”)

    Director of Admissions: “Young man, have you ever had dealings with people who are favorable towards the Latin Mass?” Young man, “I don’t think so…” (Thinking to himself, “I really hope those ‘Latin Mass’ magazines are securely under my mattress!”)

    There’s something VERY WRONG with this picture!

    [I lived it.]

  25. TXKathi says:

    We have an older teenage son who is discerning a religious vocation – which he had not considered until we started attending the TLM. He asked me if he was to become a diocesan priest, did I think he would be able to celebrate the TLM – the Mass he loves- on a regular basis. In our diocese, while we are beyond blessed with a personal TLM parish, our bishop is not open to the TLM being said in the regular parishes. And so he knows that if he is to become a priest, it will have to most likely be through an order — or he would need to relocate to a more traditional-friendly diocese.

  26. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    BTW, there are a few (too few…) seminaries which train in both forms (although TLM is facultative, not compulsory). The seminary in the diocese of Warsaw Praga (it’s the eastern part of Warsaw, not the Prague in Czech Republic) is one of them, and then some seminaries in France (I think Lyon, but I’m not sure if they do it already or if they plan to do it, and one other French diocese…again I’m not sure which one).

    And, with the new prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, I hope we can expect significant changes in strength of forces which create seminary vortices :-). See an interview with HE Piacenza ( http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=zenit&id=30581 ). Let’s hope that the synergistic effect of the Piacenza- and Oullett-forces will result in a huge pressure on modernists in seminaries, and, in (far, maybe very far) future, will contribute to the elimination of modernism as such!

    BTW…are modernists so naive? Can’t they see that their forces are horizontal and therefore severely limited, while forces they fight against are vertical and hence infinite?

  27. Dr. Eric says:

    Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis offers training in the EF, or at least that’s what I’ve seen in Catholic blogs. Kenrick-Glennon is also a very full seminary. I think it’s good news that a very large majority of our new Midwestern bishops are products of that seminary.

  28. Dr. Eric says:

    Clear Creek Abey is also busting at the seams.

  29. Maltese says:

    My 12 year old son has contemplated the religious life, but I’ve had to admonish him to ONLY consider These religious orders, all in communion with Rome. I wouldn’t mind him joining FSSPX, either, but joining a Novus Ordo parish, I think, and in the long term, would harm his soul.

  30. jorgepreble says:

    How do I go about suggesting this to my Bishop? Every time I hear him speak he begs for vocations! I wouldn’t think twice of joining the diocese if there was a guarantee of tradition, orthodoxy, and reverence…

  31. Sid says:

    I am sorry to have to step in here, but the statement @15 October 2010 at 4:35 pm lacks credibility. For three years I have worked closely with priests offering the MEF in the Diocese of Charlotte. So I think I know the lay of the land in this matter. That a seminarian would be rejected by the Charlotte Diocese solely because he attended the MEF strains belief, and to make this claim without proof might border on defamation. He who makes such a claim needs to name names and tell who said what to whom when and where, OR not use Fr. Z’s website to make accusations that are a detraction of the Diocese of Charlotte.

    This diocese in fact is a friendly place for the MEF. Yes we need more MEFs, and that will happen when more priests are able learn the MEF. The progress we have made in the past three years itself leads me to doubt seriously claims of hostility in high places. I can also say from my own experience, and by rumor and report (as the lawyers say), that the ONLY setbacks that the MEF has had in North Carolina have been caused by a very few pugnacious and obstreperous Rad-Trads themselves.

  32. Clinton says:

    I think that in some quarters ending the decline in priestly ordinations would be “letting a
    crisis go to waste”. Those advocating optional celibacy and “ordaining” women would have
    no ammo if seminaries were full. Purging the seminaries of tradition-loving men serves two
    functions: driving down overall numbers of ordinands and ensuring that of those ordained,
    a disproportionate number are fellow-travelers.

    Yes, if a bishop wanted to try everything to fill his seminary, then why not try Tradition? We’ve
    tried everything else in the past decades, from rap Masses to enneagrams. Sure, if it worked
    and the seminaries began to fill up then some people would be unhappy. Perhaps they could
    make life difficult for a bishop who wastes their crisis. Those of us in the pews must commit
    to backing up such a man, and not abandon him to the wolves. Perhaps the only thing stopping
    some bishops is uncertainty of the level of support we’d show them…

  33. Supertradmum says:

    Sid, I personally know four young men who were rejected from four different dioceses because they were too open about wanting to learn the EF. These young men were told outright that “their spirituality” did not conform with the NO “spirituality” of those dioceses, where, the Latin Mass is limited, or practically, non-existent. Two other young men, both close friends of our family, were told by their local priests not to disclose their interest in the Traditional Mass, to “keep their heads down” and just get ordained. Then, after ordination, they could petition to learn the EF. Father Z, I agree with your question entirely.

    In addition, in England, two young men, again personal friends of the family, were told not to disclose to their bishops that they were “trad” by several priests themselves who want these men to finish and not be “weeded out” for being trad.. All of the above men believe they have diocesan vocations, and not vocations to the orders, which, for the most part, are “missionary” orders, which do involve a different “Call” from God.

    What I find ironic in all these situations, is that the young men I have mentioned are very obedient to Mother Church and would be obedient, stalwart supporters of their bishops.

  34. Brother Paul Mary says:

    All that would happen is that the vocations would spread out a bit because people would stop considering seriously which diocese they went to.

    What is more important is the promotion by each and every Priest the idea of a vocation. That would expand the numbers by maybe twice or even three times as much.

    Numbers of young generally equals numbers of orthodox men which will eventually lead to triumph in the right areas.

    Br. Paul

  35. robtbrown says:

    Brother Paul Mary,

    I definitely agree that fidelity to doctrine expands the vocational pool for priests. And acc to JXXIII (Veterum Sapientia), use of Latin encourages fidelity to doctrine.

  36. papaefidelis says:

    I wonder what would happen to vocations if a bishop made it his top priority to ensure that all liturgical celebrations in his diocese where carried out with the utmost reverence and in full compliance with both the letter and spirit of the liturgical books and all liturgical directives?

  37. Maltese says:

    “This diocese in fact is a friendly place for the MEF.”

    How so? The only EF Mass is at St. Ann’s, once a month, on a Sat. evening. Yet think how many Spanish masses there are in the area every Sunday! Too bad we can’t all pray together in the same language (in Latin), in solidarity with fellow pilgrims throughout the world and throughout the centuries.

  38. Sid says:

    The entry at 17 October 2010 at 1:52 pm has its facts wrong and spreads more misinformation about the MEF in the Diocese of Charlotte. That entry claims that there would be only one MEF in the Diocese of Charlotte. There are in fact four: one every SU in Mount Airy, one every Thursday in Lincolnton, and MEFs at St. Ann in Charlotte and Holy Redeemer in Andrews .

    Readers can check my facts at http://honneurs.free.fr/Wikini/wakka.php?wiki=CarolineDuNord , a webpage which I attempt to keep current (at least for MEFs under the jurisdiction of the Military Archdiocese, the Diocese of Raleigh, and the Diocese of Charlotte). I have the permission of all the priests of the MEFs so listed and under these respective jurisdictions to post the dates and times of MEFs on the cited webpage. To keep this webpage accurate, I ask these priests every month for an update.

    In contrast, the writebacker at 15 October 2010 at 4:35 pm, however wanting his claim may be, still had both the integrity and the courage to make that claim using his own name. I thank him. The writebacker at 17 October 2010 at 1:52 pm would do well to follow that example.

    The claim at 17 October 2010 at 1:52 pm is simply and demonstrably wrong. Writebackers on Fr. Z’s website ought provide true and verifiable information, and not engage in the denigration of the Diocese of Charlotte. I can understand quite well how priests — hounded by disgruntled Rad-Trads, and reading in public fora false and denigrating remarks — would hesitate to offer the MEF at all, to say nothing of going to the trouble to learn it. If such Rad-Trads keep up these tactics, they can kiss the MEF good-bye, having only themselves to blame for a return to the status quo ante of 14.ix.07.

    — Sid Cundiff

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