The Gravitational Pull v The Biological Solution

Brick by brick… college by college…

From a reader:

Thought you might like to know that Franciscan University just celebrated its first Solemn High Mass for the patronal feast of Christ the King (for Christ the King Chapel). I know that a growing group on campus has been working hard for years to bring more traditional liturgy to the University- brick by brick! I am proud to see this at my alma mater. A photo from this Liturgy was featured as the picture of the day for the FUS facebook site:

“Photo of the Day, Monday, October 29, 2012: From the Solemn High Mass (Extraordinary Form) yesterday afternoon in Christ the King Chapel. In the calendar used with the Missal of 1962 the Feast of Christ the King occurs on the final Sunday of October. To mark the patronal feast of our chapel we celebrated this Mass as a Solemn High, the first one ever in Christ the King Chapel. -Photo by Patrick McNamara”

The aging-hippies and their koolaid-drinking apprentices have awakened to the fact that they are losing many of their precious gains of the last few decades of their iron-fisted control.  They are getting a little jittery.  Today’s Exhibit A: a risible bit of whiny bias in USToday from Cathy Lynn Grossman, whom we have seen before in these electronic pages.

The spread of the use of the older form of Holy Mass is slow, but steady.  On the other hand, the Biological Solution is at work.  We will see, soon, a sharp upward curve in both trends.  [People who understand graphs will have some fun with this.]

Consider for example that, now that Summorum Pontificum has been in force for five years, virtually all major seminarians now in formation have not know a time when Benedict’s provisions have not been in force.  Sure, seminary faculties are, in the main, stingy concerning training men in the entirety of the Rite, leaving them only sort-of liturgically trained.

On the other hand, I am hearing of more and more seminarians who want to learn the older form and who intend to use it.  As they get ordained, their seminarian friends, still in formation, will see what they are doing and will want even more to do the same. In a few years, I think we will see a huge and rapid increase.

If seminary faculty want to ensure that the men will on their own learn the Extraordinary Form, just let them tell the future priests they can’t learn it while they are in formation!

Once priests learn also the older, traditional, Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, they will have a new perspective on how the newer, post-Conciliar Form ought to be celebrated. They will spark a “gravitational pull” of the older Rite on the newer.  Their revitalized ars celebrandi will have a knock-on effect with their congregations.

Perhaps you might consider a little project.  Find a priest or seminarian and buy him a biretta if he doesn’t have one.  Just a thought. Also, I have been in touch with a group dedicated to promoting the older form of Mass which has the intention of paying for seminarians to get training in workshops. Just another thought.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. drea916 says:

    Father Z,
    If you are ever in CA, please visit St. Stephan’s in Sacramento. It is a FSSP parish and it is filled with a healthy congregation, including lots of young adults (most with families.) Maybe they will let you celebrate Mass???

  2. jbas says:

    I would love to hear what the college students who participated in this form of the Roman Mass for the first time thought of it.
    In my own diocese, there is a problem emerging that I had not really considered four or five years ago. While the majority of our seminarians and recently ordained priests are offering or open to the extraordinary form of the Mass and sacraments, I do not notice an increase in interest on the part of the faithful here. In my own parish, where we have a Sung EF Mass at 11am every Sunday, the only participants come from other parishes. No one living here is interested. I don’t think my parishioners object; they just don’t care about the EF. So, how will the Church in the West function in a decade or two when most of the priests are liturgically “old school”, but 99% of the laity are not? It has me a little concerned.

  3. nbSPSSOD says:

    I’m a seminarian…

    I just heard a rumor that our seminary is adding an extraordinary form course next semester. It may be an elective, or it may be required – the rumor did not say. I suspect it will be required. I am very excited about this! I do not enter liturgical precedency for a few years, so by that time the course will have worked out the kinks of a new course and should be great.

    Now about that biretta…. :-)

    [Perhaps something can be coordinated through the great John at Leaflet Missal Company for any and all the seminarians at your place. Seminarians could leave their names with John in Church Goods with hat/head sizes. Readers here could contact John and pay for a biretta to be matched to a seminarian. This could work when seminaries are in the same place as a good Church Goods store.]

  4. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I was wondering whether they were sized or if there were new-fangled adjustables. We have a fine transitional deacon in our Denver parish who will be heading to the midwest for ordination in the spring. This would be a fitting gift for him, but I don’t know his hat size.

  5. Pingback: Solemne Misa en la Universidad Franciscana de Steubenbille « Una Voce Cordoba

  6. Ryan M says:

    This should make the post even better: one of the altar servers was a seminarian (who, incidentally, was my best man a few weeks ago) who is in Steubenville for pre-theology work. Brick-by-brick indeed.

  7. Matt R says:

    Brick-by-brick indeed!
    Well, if I go to FUS, I might be able to contribute to the brick-laying…

  8. apward says:

    I attended this Mass!

    Though it was without question very beautiful and reverent, most of us students were unsure as to what we were supposed to do. Yes, we were given those booklets that tell you when to sit or stand and contain the words of the priest and the responses of the congregation, but we didn’t know how to participate. How does one participate while the choir sings the Gloria or the Creed? Can you join in with the singing during the Agnus Dei or the Pater Noster, or are you supposed to pray silently? And if you are supposed to pray silently, what do you pray?! I loved the extraordinary mass, but I don’t know how to fully participate in it. I know in the movies you see old women praying their rosaries during the mass, but isn’t there a better way to participate?

  9. jbas says:

    If you search for the 1958 “Instruction on Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy”, I think it will fill you in well enough.

  10. dominic1955 says:

    It seems to me that the reason people aren’t interested in the TLM is that many of our fellow pew-warmers think the same kind of asinine tripe as the little darling quoted at the end of Grossman’s article.

    However, if they are good believing and praying folks, then it is probably because even after a good century at least of the “Liturgical Movement” (and partially because of it too), most folks simply do not really know how to be liturgically astute-and it takes a lot more than showing up for Mass on Sunday. I myself love the freedom of the traditional rite. Once you are familiar with it and realize their are many legitimate ways to hear Mass, it is really like just being comfortable in your Father’s house. I’m also quite comfortable in the Byzantine/Eastern liturgical tradition as well.

    If one doesn’t “get” liturgy, any pablum will do because it fulfills your Sunday obligation. Litniks will say folks “get” liturgy today because they say the words and sing the ditties or take part in the enormities they themselves cook up but litniks do not get liturgy anyway and obviously never have.

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Aside from the vexed question of when you’re allowed to sing along with the Latin (the answer to which depends largely on the congregation), generally you’re supposed to just follow along with Mass by praying along with the priest; you in the pew are one of the priestly people offering Mass along with him, and along with Jesus, the High Priest. Hence, the old expression that one “assists” with the Mass.

    As for following the silent cues of body position and servers about what bit of Mass you’ve gotten to, there are booklets to help with this. But honestly, I can’t make it out myself (yet) unless I hear what the priest is saying; at that point I know. It’s an expertise of pattern recognition that kids used to gain by going to Mass with their parents and a congregation of experienced Massgoers; you can’t expect it to appear in your mind in a day. Accept feeling a little ignorant and attend Mass as open to new experience as a little kid; because in this Mass format you’re as inexperienced as a little kid, and little kids expect not to know everything.

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