Brick by brick: Most seminarians would prefer the older, traditional rite

As you know, the plural of “anecdote” is “data”.  And I have good “data” about the preferences of seminarians when it comes to the older or newer forms of the Roman Rite.

Bishops and others in formation of seminarians should take this to heart.  The more you try to keep seminarians in the dark about the Extraordinary Form, the more you inspire them to learn it.  Once they do… game over.

A seminarian, having found an old poll about preferences for Extraordinary Form or the Ordinary Form, wrote with a note (edited):

I’m from the [SEMINARY] in [PLACE].

It seems clear to me that, yes, most seminarians would prefer to be ordained in the old-Latin rite.

Does that mean I am demonizing the “new” rite in any way?


Hands down, I would pick (as well as most seminarians today) the old-rite.

Sorry liberals!

Sorry!    (Not!)

Thank you, Pope Benedict, for Summorum Pontificum.

Once priests learn the older form, they never say the Ordinary Form the same way again.  Over time, this will affect a congregation’s understanding of who they are at Mass, who the priest is, and who is the true Actor in our liturgical worship.

Priests learn new dimensions about who they are as priests at the altar.  Mass is a Sacrifice.  Sacrifice requires priesthood.  A older form emphasizes the priest’s role as priest acting as mediator in the act of sacrifice.  A priest’s ars celebrandi changes when, in our new context of healing discontinuity after decades of deprivation and distortion, he learns and beings often to say the Extraordinary Form.

We need celebrations of the Extraordinary Form everywhere.

I hope that during the summer seminarians and young priests will seek out tools, resources and other priests to help them learn the Extraordinary Form.

Make a plan, men.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The future and our choices. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. discerningguy says:

    Wonderful data!

  2. Fr. William says:

    Even the NO Mass offered ad orientem (or ad Deum) is such a benefit and blessing in being able to orient and pray! Once you’ve tried it you won’t want to return to what most experience. It is comparable to the difference between the corrected translation (of the NO) and the former (thanks be to God) translation.

  3. Andy Milam says:

    “Once priests learn the older form, they never say the Ordinary Form the same way again.”

    I know several priests who now that they have learned to celebrate the Mass in the older form loathe the “looseness” of the newer form.

    As one of those priests said to me recently, “I tolerate the Ordinary Form, the same way a brother tolerates his little brother hanging out in his room on a Saturday night, while he’s trying to play records with his girlfriend. It’s necessary to be nice, but my patience is waning.”

    He went on to say, “If wouldn’t be crucified by my Ordinary and my peers, I would just abandon the Ordinary Form altogether. The faithful will adapt. I am weak of constitution on this matter, and I like wearing a collar.”

    He’s a very good friend of mine, and I serve his TLM whenever I can. I don’t think that the good Father’s words are lost on this crowd.

  4. FrCharles says:

    Great graphic!

  5. James Joseph says:

    It is interesting how the various aspects of all the rites and uses of the Church begin to get inside of the person.

    I have been exposed to some of the chants from the Hispanic Rite, particularly the ‘Ave Maris Stella’. The peculiar simplicity of it hasn’t stopped echoing in my ears since I have heard it. I am also thinking of how much of a loss it is when Trappists do not employ their very own Cistercian chants or Dominicans their inheritance, especially the Lamentation of holy Saturday.

    I am not saying anything about the co-incidence and variance of the movements and gestures in the many Rites. These are also so incredibly illuminating. I am glad that our holy Mother Church was not wounded more than She was by the homogenisation of likes of the Febronians and Jansenists, et cetra.

  6. GoZagsGo says:

    Picture from My Catholic Faith! Love that book and that illustration!

  7. Ambrose Jnr says:

    I can confirm first-hand that this is true even in parts of Asia (location not to be specified)…seminarians secretely discovering the beauty of the fullness of the catholic tradition as incarnated in the vetus ordo…and preferring it, so that they are intent to learn it by themselves during their free time…

    Fr William – the ad orientem NO in Latin is indeed a great help also…however, its rubrics only get good when the rubrics of the vetus ordo have completely influenced it, I believe…

  8. Paul says:

    I’m curious. Where’s this ‘old poll’ about seminarians’ preferences of EF over OF? Can you provide a link if it’s out there?

  9. southern orders says:

    I can only speak from personal experience, but when I celebrated our parish’s Patron, Saint Joseph’s Solemnity on Monday night ad orientem, but using the new English Roman Missal, I felt as though I was celebrating the EF Mass. As well, those in the congregation who might not appreciate the finer differences between the OF and EF more than likely would not be able to tell the difference between the two when the OF is celebrated Ad Orientem. Apart from Schubert’s Mass parts and the chanting of the Introit, Gradual, Tract, Offertory Antiphon and communion Antiphon in Latin, the rest of the Mass was in English including the chanting of the entire Eucharistic Prayer II. Of course the readings were from the OF Lectionary (except obviously the Gradual and Tract) and the deacon chanted the Gospel at the ambo. Lay lectors came from the congregation to read the Old Testament reading and Epistle. I was at my chair as normal for an OF Mass Liturgy of the Word.
    This is only my opinion, but I think we will bring in an even greater majority of people into the New Liturgical Movement if we begin to focus on making the OF Mass even entirely in the vernacular, look and sound like the EF Mass–that takes very little revising of the Mass if any. When the EF and OF look similar to one another, more people may take advantage of the EF Mass as a viable parish option on Sunday morning.
    This is how I made our OF Mass on Monday look like an EF Mass:
    At the foot of the altar, I chanted the Sign of the Cross facing the altar, turned to the congregation for the chanted greeting and chanted introduction to the Penitential Act, turned back to the altar for the Confiteor (bowing), chanted the absolution and ascended to the middle of the Altar as the choir sang the Kyrie and Gloria. Then I turned toward the people, chanted “Let us Pray” and moved to the Epistle side to chant the collect.
    We sat down for the Liturgy of the word as normally executed in an OF Mass. At the Tract, I placed incense in the thurible, the deacon asked for the blessing, he went with a server to the middle of the altar, the Roman missal was transferred to the Gospel side, the deacon took the Book of the Gospels from the middle of the altar and processed to the ambo to chant the gospel. The Credo was at the center of the altar and the Universal Prayer was chanted. The altar was prepared by the deacon and the offerings brought in procession to me and prepared at the altar. After chanting the Our Father and the singing of the Agnus Dei, I turned to the congregation with the fractured Host above the chalice and said, “Ecce Agnus Dei… with the English, “Lord, I am not worthy…” I turned back, received Holy communion as the Communion chant was sung and distributed Holy Communion to the faithful by intinction with them having the option to kneel at a kneeler in front of the two of us distributing Holy Communion. Everyone chose to kneel. The missal was transferred to the Epistle side of the altar during Holy Communion, we had some silence after Holy Communion and the Post Communion Prayer was at the Epistle side and the blessing and dismissal from the middle of the altar. If we did the OF this way as normative, I think we would truly see what Vatican II hoped for with the renewal of the Liturgy.

  10. haribo says:

    My only concern is that many priests who offer the old rite could be motivated by a personal attraction to the traditional liturgy rather than a desire to share its spiritual fruits with the faithful. Many priests who say the old rite either limit their ministry to insular traditionalist communities whose spiritual needs are already met, or they just say it privately in parishes with no one in attendance. Is this really a solution to our liturgical problems? This could change though if someone high up in the hierarchy started to endorse the old rite rather than simply permitting it as an option.

  11. wmeyer says:

    I pray for patience while waiting for the biological solution. The difficulty is that I am more than 10 years older than my quite liberal pastor. ;)

  12. acardnal says:

    How “high up in the hierarchy” does one have to go after Pope Benedict’s SP was promulgated AND many Cardinals, e.g. Burke, and bishops are celebrating the EF in public? (I can give you a list of names but don’t want this post to become an epic.)

    I think some of the growth in seminarians’ desire to learn and celebrate the EF is because the hierarchy is coming around to accepting and celebrating the EF Mass and rites.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    The reasons why so many seminarians are for the TLM are these: one, they have seen the difference in the spirituality of the Latin Mass and like it; two, they have been raised by more traditional parents than in the past decades; three, they are most likely not to be conformist, as were previous generations, but make up their minds on their own about such things as liturgy; four, they have personally witnessed and put up with abuses ad nauseam; five, they read this blog; six, they have leaders, such as the Pope and others who have suffered under the abuses who have given them courage to choose the TLM; seven, many have been home-schooled or have had Latin at classical education schools and are not afraid of the language; eight, they read this blog again; nine, they are holier than previous generations, making huge choices to enter the seminary after the abuse scandals and showing a maturity about the Faith perhaps not seen in years; ten, God is preparing them for persecution and they understand instinctively that to be one with the Mass of the Ages will be more important in years to come….

  14. haribo says:

    What I meant by an endorsement was someone in the hierarchy saying without reservations that we “should” attend the old rite instead of simply that we “can.” Celebrating the old Mass publicly says that traditional liturgy has a place in the Church for those who prefer it, but it should also be recommended to those who don’t prefer it, the same way the OF is. If Pope Benedict celebrated a televised EF Mass in place of the OF on a major feast day, that would communicate something very different than a cardinal celebrating it publicly for a group of liturgical enthusiasts.

  15. wolfeken says:

    The next step is to make this known beyond polls and words.

    I can’t tell you how many pastors (!) I know who favor the traditional Latin Mass over the novus ordo, yet don’t offer a regularly scheduled traditional Latin Mass at the parish (that they run!).

    Sure, there are always circumstances, but c’mon — it has been five years since the motu proprio. I thought Cardinal Hoyos told us that Pope Benedict wants one traditional Latin Mass in every parish. And that was in June 2008!

    Words = good. Actions = better. This pope is not going to live forever.

  16. chantgirl says:

    Supertradmum- I think you are right that God is preparing them for persecution. The Church has been weakened from the inside over the past several decades due to bad catechesis, bad liturgy, a general weakening of the culture’s morals, and serious scandal. I do think that the tide is turning inside the Church, and just in time for what looks like an onslought from the outside of the Church. It is like a patient recovering from pneumonia is being asked to go ten rounds with a fit and vicious adversary. The enemy is not stupid and I’m sure would like to strike before his opponent fully recovers his strength.

  17. Cricket says:

    Here in Madison, WI the diocesan Tridentine Mass Society offers a stipend to any (senior) seminarian or priest interested in learning to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form. If our bishop gives his blessing (!) , we’ll pay for training at the St. John Cantius workshops in the Chicago area, or other suitable venue. Seminarian & priest readers of this blog should check with your respective bishops to see if something similar is offered in your diocese.

  18. Ambrose Jnr says:

    @southern orders: Thank you very much indeed for sharing this with us: fascinating! This is indeed a fascinating way for the novus ordo to improve and prepare people for the vetus ordo better…if only the CDWDS would make the rubrics as you execute them mandatory globally…

  19. Tom Ryan says:

    I’m sure the presence of so many tradition friendly seminarians scares many in the hierarchy more than SNAP or O’Bama ever could.

  20. RJS says:

    Thank goodness Archbishop Lefebvre The Great preserved the Mass, in spite of the fact the virtually every bishop claimed it had been abrogated. The great Archbishop – “savior of the Mass” – stood virtually alone in claiming that the old Mass had never been abrogated. And let us thank Pope Benedict for having the courage to admit what the SSPX and other likeminded Catholics had been saying all along (which they were ridiculed for). The Church will be saved, and it will have been in large part due to the efforts of the Traditionalists who were demonized for their efforts over the past 40+ years in preserving both the Mass and the true Faith. [Sounds like the Second Nocturne….]

    Let us thank God for giving the Traditionalists the light and strength to preserve the Mass and the true Faith against all odds.

    [And now it is time to return to unity in the Catholic Church and do what they do licitly and, in the case of some rather important things, validly.]

Comments are closed.