An observation about priests and Mass when they travel

The great P.P. of Brighton, Fr. Ray Blake, has an observation on his blog.  This probably will not surprise you too much.

I am delighted to offer hospitality to any priest. The strange thing is older priests visiting Brighton tend to sit in the congregation, middle aged priests want to concelebrate but younger priests are quite different, often they want to celebrate their own Mass, and not unusually in the Extraordinary Form, or at least in Latin. It is a generational thing, it is also an illustration of a change in the Church.


Yep.  That’s about right.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The two priests who celebrate the EF the most often in our diocese are also the youngest (and outwardly very devout).

    We aren’t getting many vocations in our diocese right now… but those that we do have (in the last 10 years anyway) have been awesome! We are so thankful for them.

  2. digdigby says:

    As my Jewish Grandmother used to say – “From your lips to God’s ears!”

  3. RichR says:

    Ditto those comments by Fr. Blake here in Texas.

  4. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    YESSS!!!! Watch out libbies! We young folks are making headway!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve noticed this as well in the Catholic nursing home where my husband and I volunteer. There are several retired priests in “independent living” who come to Mass every day, but who do not say Mass nor concelebrate. One day several months ago the regular priest had an emergency and could not come to say Mass, and the one “retired” priest who was there asked the Deacon to do a “Communion Service”. His superiors have now informed him that he must say Mass when the regular priest cannot show up…but he still does not concelebrate. I don’t understand. I thought priests had to say Mass every day if the are capable?

  6. benedetta says:

    Agree, the more recently ordained or professed religious are bright lights of hope, clearly cheerfully loyally unafraid. We pray for their work and also give thanks for those unseen, unknown “more senior” mentors in various forms who give encouragement, who by that themselves remain young at heart. Ad multos annos to those giving joyful assent to God’s call.

  7. Geoffrey says:

    “…or at least in Latin. ”


  8. Hidden One says:

    What about priests assisting in choro?

  9. Having been in the parish Church early in the morning between Sunday 6:30am and 9:30am Masses, I was present when my pastor would come out unexpectedly to do a private Mass (moreso in the past when we may have had one too many priests onsite for the number of Masses).

    Watching him, alone with God in the serenity of that private Mass (usually 1962 Missal), I could only imagine how deeply he was able to immerse himself in the Mystery.

    I am glad to see younger priests seeking these opportunities. I think it only deepens their understanding and experience of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

  10. JohnMa says:


    The obligation is on the Bishop, not the priest.

    Hidden One,

    I think 90%+ of priests I see in choro are the younger variety as well. The older ones want to concelebrate or sit in the pews.

    And yes, Fr. Blake is 100% right on the subject.

  11. Mundabor says:

    I never forgot the “Don Camillo” film in which he takes out of his hat the most basic instruments and in the middle of Communist Russia celebrates Mass, alone, in his hotel room.


  12. Gail F says:

    I am enjoying these observations. I have been in a masters degree program at a seminary for 10 years and I have noticed a big difference between the seminarians when I first began and the seminarians now. They are in general much younger (most of them are young now, versus most of them being late vocations), and they are earnest in a different way about different things.

    Before anyone gets too judgmental, I’d like to propose a theory. It often occurs to me that, much as the sort of people who like this blog prefer a certain sort of man with certain sorts of ideas for priesthood, the Holy Spirit has always called all sorts of men with all sorts of ideas to be priests. Perhaps the sort of man He is now calling is fitted to the Church as it is becoming, while the loosey-goosey, anything goes pastors that now seem more than a little wacky are right where they are FOR A REASON. They came. They stayed. Hardly anyone else did. As Fr. Andrew Greeley asked in one of his books (I’m paraphrasing) — “Doesn’t keeping a vow mean anything anymore?” In an age where so many people break every vow they make to other people, including leaving their own children, they stayed. Tens of thousands of priests left, but they stayed. Maybe they were reluctant, some of them; maybe they didn’t know how to do anything else; maybe some of them stayed for the wrong reasons. But they stayed. Maybe that was the only sort of man who WOULD stay in the crazy decades since Vatican II. Maybe, much as they might not like to think so, they kept and made the Church what it is so that exactly the sort of men who are now entering seminaries would be inspired to enter it.

    That’s what I think, anyway.

  13. Gail, that’s a beautiful and charitable thought. And in the eyes of the Lord, there may not be much difference between the story of the medieval priest so ignorant he could only say a few broken prayers who was saved by his confused devotion to Mary, and a modern priest so ignorant he doesn’t know he should stick to the words in the book being saved by his confused devotion to the the confused pieties he was taught were right. Ignorance is ignorance, and God is kind to those who know no better. Also, anyone who really worked to help others, however oddly and wrongly, will have a reward for that. We may not be as bad off in God’s eyes as we think.

    That said, of course it’s better and more sure to do everything the way Jesus taught the Church to do it. But I don’t doubt that even some of the really annoying loosey-goosey priests are personally holy and do try to serve their flock and their Lord.

  14. donantebello says:

    Right on.

  15. John Nolan says:

    The older priests had to cope with all the all the upheaval of the 1960s and some must have seriously questioned their vocation. Accommodation to the new order of things must have been a spiritual struggle for many, and having come through it with their priesthood intact they are not likely to want to go back to the way things were. [I think you are on to something.] Middle-aged priests were formed according to the ‘new church’ ethos. Those with more traditional views knew better than to rock the boat; one told me of the hostile reception he would get from his peers if for instance he introduced Latin into the NO Mass. Younger priests don’t carry all this baggage; in training they will toe the liberal line if that is what it takes to be ordained, but they discern the direction the Church is taking, and they know that even the most liberal bishop will not refuse them a parish, given the shortage of priests. [Not so sure about that.]

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