ASK FATHER: Can bishop/rector forbid seminarians from attending Extraordinary Form?

From a reader…


Can a bishop in a diocese forbid seminarians from attending the extraordinary form of the Mass?

This is happening in the ___ diocese. My friend who just entered this seminary informed me of this when I invited him to join a group our friends in attending an Extraordinary Form Mass. The decision was made to ensure that the seminarians develop a proper appreciation of the Ordinary Form. [?]

I don’t mean to come across as accusatory toward the bishop [or rector?] and I can see wisdom in trying to protect the seminarians from some of the radical traditionalists out there (although that isn’t the stated purpose of the ban), but this seems absurd to me.

I assume that the same bishop and/or rector also forbade seminarians from participation at the Divine Liturgy of Eastern Catholic.  Thus, they may not go to a Maronite or Ukrainian Catholic Church.  Think about it.  If seminarians are not permitted to attend a Mass in their own Church and Rite, how much less would they be permitted to attend Divine Liturgies of Eastern Churches and Rites?


This has a “Sieve and Sand” feeling to it.

As I have written before, it matters not a whit if a bishop or a rector has the authority -legitimately – to tell seminarians that they may not attend Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

The only thing that matters is that they can throw men out of the seminary just because that morning they didn’t like their corn flakes.

They don’t have to give you a reason.  They wield power and you don’t. That’s that.  That is, in particular, how liberals work.  Get used to this harsh fact about our clerical world.

Seminarians! LISTEN UP!

If your rector or bishop has a “Latin Mass” phobia, fine.

Smile.  Be cordial.  Obey.

In the meantime, learn everything they teach, participate fully and cheerfully in the program of formation, and redouble your efforts on your own, discretely, to learn the Extraordinary Form.

Don’t make waves. Don’t put an interest in anything traditional (i.e., Catholic) on display.  Always participate well and properly in the Ordinary Form with not a hint of criticism.

You are not there to pass judgment on the formation program.  Get through it and make good use of the good elements.  Squeeze the orange (or lemon) for every possible good drop. Check off the days on your calendar.

As to the assertion that a “decision was made to ensure that the seminarians develop a proper appreciation of the Ordinary Form”….  I have to say something about that.

I don’t think there is a way to have “a proper appreciation of the Ordinary Form” without appreciation of the Extraordinary Form.

Seminaries often put on airs of being a grad school level program.  A decision to deny seminarians training in and access to the Extraordinary Form is like saying to an English major, “You are forbidden in this department from studying Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, or any writer until the late 20th century.  You may, however, study Vonnegut and Maya Angelou.  You may not the production of Hamlet being staged downtown or you will be punished.”  Forbidding participation in Extraordinary Form is like forbidding a German Lit major from studying German or reading Goethe… in German.  Disallowing the older form of Mass is like blocking an American History student from reading European History.  Forbidding the Usus Antiquior is like telling a med student not to study biology.   Telling seminarians that the TLM is off limits is like telling a music major that she can’t study solfège, or figured bass, or anything before Arnold Schoenberg?

I suspect that the formators, if they know anything about the Extraordinary Form, which cannot be assumed, don’t like the spiritual content of the older form of the Roman Rite, or what they imagine it to be, and what it means for the Catholic priesthood.

Here’s a good question: How many format ors of seminarians know how to celebrate the Extraordinary Form?  Shouldn’t they be able to?  Nemo dat quod non habet, after all.  And, by the way, review 1983 CIC can. 249.

At a certain point, someone, usually a representative of the seminary, will have to stand up at a diaconate ordination or a priesthood ordination and attest that the men are properly formed. If the ordinands don’t have a knowledge of their own Rite, can that attestation be true?

So, as I said, seminarians, be good.  Apply yourselves to your studies and be cheerful.  You don’t have a vocation to be a seminarian forever.  Priesthood is forever.  It is only a few short years away.  A lot can happen in a few short years.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Seminarians and Seminaries, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. David in T.O. says:

    I know for a fact that this has happened in the Diocese of Blank. First it was not at all, even if you were home a thousand kilometers away. Now it is softened to the academic year. In five years there will only be 50 priests left from 200 five years ago. Nearly 40 churches closed, millions paid for sexual crimes, but let’s not have our seminarians formed fully liturgically.

  2. HighMass says:

    Kudo’s to you Father Z….in the way you suggest seminarians work around this.
    In our parishes, two priests could most likely say the Mass in E.F. and High Mass at they as they say such a Beautiful N.O.
    To get to the Point the Pastor will not allow the associates to say the Mass in the E.F….hum….didn’t know that the pastor could over ride what Pope Benedict put in place….but as you say in your post be obedient…..

    God Bless

  3. Nicholas says:

    This should also be remembered by anyone who plans on entering the Seminary, for walking into a seminary saying, “Hey guys, ain’t the Extradinary Form just swell!” might be a bad idea is some places. From what our dear host has written in the past, if he had done that we might have never had a blog for our edification.

  4. gracie says:

    If any young men out there are considering a vocation to the priesthood and are checking out seminaries, perhaps one of the first questions should be, “Do you train priests here in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass”? If the answer is, “No” then you might consider looking elsewhere.

  5. moon1234 says:

    Time for many to move to the upper Midwest (Wisconsin). Most of the Wisconsin Bishops support the E.F. with Bishop Morlino making it a requirement of his seminarians. We also have the ICRSS, FSSP, St. John Cantius in Chicago and the SSPX. All of them with multiple parishes.

    We have tradition supporting Diocesan priests and societies such as the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest who offer weekly and daily E.F. Masses.

    It is hard to accept the “grin and bear it” attitude when formation is the building block of a Priest. Would it not be better to encourage those who are discerning a vocation to move to a place that will foster a good formation? [No. Rabbit hole closed.]

  6. APX says:


    I don’t know how it is where you live, but where I live in Canada, the diocese chooses the seminary you go to.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    I call it being at “submarine level”. If one is called to the diocesan priesthood and not an order, one may not have choices. To think dioceses just take anyone outside their boundaries is naive.

    I know one young man who ruined his chances in America on day one by questioning a trad order as to why they only had the EF! To join an order is a different vocation than being a diocesan priest.

    Some young men just have to be cool and stay at submarine level.

  8. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I realize that fortitude makes men saints. But surely it can’t be good for the mental health and educational well-being of any student for the priesthood to have to inwardly, constantly suppress the sense of what is right, and outwardly conceal the sense of horror at such repression, over many years.
    I recall Bishop Schneider saying that his chief preoccupation, when he decided to become a priest, was to ensure beyond all doubt that his formation would be completely, untaintedly orthodox, and he spent a lot of time and energy looking for the right seminary, until he found it. (I suppose it was probably an even more difficult search then than it would be now.)

  9. MBinSTL says:

    The present age is a very difficult time for some men who aspire to the Catholic priesthood. I know some Americans whose consciences will not allow them to entertain celebrating nor being ordained in the Novus Ordo rites, and they have felt this way from their 20s into mature adulthood. They have no doubts about the ordinary form’s validity or licity, but believe that it has been on the whole a terrible and violent thing in the life of the Church, and so they would have no part in celebrating it as ordained clerics. For a number of reasons, joining a TLM religious order or leaving their diocese is not a possibility, and signing up with the SSPX is out of the question… as is walking down the aisle to get married with a burning desire to be a priest ever present in their minds and hearts.

    I wonder how many today are stuck in that situation? What can they do but lovingly offer up it to God?

  10. Dan says:

    “At a certain point, someone, usually a representative of the seminary, will have to stand up at a diaconate ordination or a priesthood ordination and attest that the men are properly formed. If the ordinands don’t have a knowledge of their own Rite, can that attestation be true?”

    Encouraging men to hide things from their formators does not help anyone attest that they are properly formed, either. This can be a dangerous game.

  11. Gerard Plourde says:

    It does seem that the decision to bar seminarians from becoming familiar with the Extraordinary Form is an exercise in cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. The point is well taken that a full understanding of the Ordinary Form flows from knowing what preceded it. We should pray for the Bishop, his diocese, and the seminarians that they may be true and fruitful shepherds for the faithful.

  12. Kensington says:

    I don’t understand what they mean by “radical traditionalists” and why anyone needs to be “protected” from them.

    Would someone who describes someone else as a radical traditionalist ever describe anyone as a traditionalist without the “radical” modifier?

  13. Jason Keener says:

    I don’t understand why a seminarian should have to endure such nonsense. I also don’t agree with encouraging seminarians to be docile and obedient when there are decent alternatives to diocesan seminaries such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. If we continue to prop up bishops and diocesan seminaries with docile seminarians willing to endure all sorts of nonsense, there will never be an incentive for bishops or diocesan seminaries to change their ways of doing things.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    There seems to be confusion here as to the nature of admission to seminaries. Young men do not apply to a seminary, but to a diocese, if they are called to be a diocesan priest. The bishop decides where the men go, not the individual. Some men are given a choice, for example, whether to go to Rome to study at the national seminaries, or in the diocesan one. But, to think that young men can pick their seminary is very far from the truth.

    Some dioceses only chose young men who were actually born in the diocese. Some accept men who have lived and worked in the diocese for some time, if they are older. But, one cannot merely move into a diocese and expect to be accepted.

    The entrance examinations are long and tedious, especially in Europe, where the screening is done before the man is accepted, as opposed to the US, where the drop out rate is 50% owing to poor screening.

    As to criticizing sems who go submarine level, I caution judgement. To be called to the priesthood is a real call from God and one follows God the best way possible.

    Seminaries are not open admission, like colleges. As to the prejudice against those who like the TLM, yes, it is real and prevalent. BTW, Malta still does not have a regular TLM on the entire two islands. The bishop does not allow it and does not allow men who love it to enter the diocesan seminary. I know this for a fact and from personal experience of following some men there who wanted to be diocesan priests but were not accepted because they love the TLM.

  15. tgarcia2 says:


    You could attach the phrase “radical traditionalist” to those who are members of SSPV

  16. Gratias says:

    Our bishops are trying to extinguish the Extraordinary Form of the Mass by not teaching Latin in the Seminary.

    For example, here in Los Angeles St. John’s Seminary does not teach Latin.

  17. Geoffrey says:

    “I don’t think there is a way to have ‘a proper appreciation of the Ordinary Form’ without appreciation of the Extraordinary Form”.

    This goes not only for priests and seminarians, but for the laity also, at least in my case. Learning more and more about the Extraordinary Form gave me a greater appreciation of the Ordinary Form. Both are the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even if it is hard to keep that in mind at the average parish!

  18. JamesM says:

    Here in the UK I know or have met many seminarians. I also know several former seminarians. The former seminarians have all left with the impression that it is their interest (not radical obsession) in the EF and its theology that is the cause for them being “bounced out”. I don’t know if that is the case or not but it the impression many of them have been left with.

    I also know several young priests who have recently been ordained. Several of them have privately taken the Oath against Modernism. Many have said their (actual) first Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Most of them have a keen interest in the EF and its theology. These men have passed through seminary with Fr. Z’s advice in mind. They have kept their heads down and said “yes rector, no rector, three bags full rector”

  19. kat says:

    The sad thing is, if they keep their heads down to get ordained, it is not just the fact that they have not learned the EF. It is worse that they will have sat through classes more than likely teaching poor things, especially in theology and moral theology. So they spend years learning falsehoods, and then have to try to unlearn it. Won’t bode well for them as confessors, if they don’t learn the truth about sin, temptation, etc. It is not just about the EF. It has NEVER just been about the form of Mass.

  20. Stephen Matthew says:

    I must counsel against the “run silent, run deep” approach. It requires a certain dishonesty about yourself. It requires a dishonesty in the relationship with your bishop/diocese. It also requires that same falseness in relation to the seminary formators and would necessarily extend to relating to fellow seminarians.

    Once a man has decided to trust to his own wisdom over and above that of his bishop and formators, that opens the door for rather perilous errors. It is easy to decide that while you may need to hide your attachment to the EF, that you also need to hide some other matter you think yourself better able to deal with than the powers that be. Too many will be tempted in these circumstances into one error or another.

    Also, frankly, if you go along with what you know to be wrong long enough, you will either silence your own conscience eventually, or you will unwittingly be conformed to the thing you originally rejected.

    Keep in mind no man is called generically to the priesthood. He is called to a particular vocation, as a priest of diocese X or order Y. This calling must be manifested not only in the man himself, but also must be reciprocated, it must be confirmed by the Church. It is not unheard of for a man to be sent away from seminary by one diocese to be quietly invited to apply for another, or suggested to a religious order. On the other hand, one should not go shopping for a diocese or order that is made in their own image, that too is dangerous, but not every man will fit in every place.

  21. JBS says:

    It sounds like things have not really changed that much since my time, except perhaps only on the surface level. We made a game of it, imagining ourselves to be in a Communist regime, gathering to do subversive things like praying the Rosary undetected by either the authorities or their spies. In those days, we had little hope for the restoration of the older rites, so at least today’s seminarians have that.

  22. rtjl says:

    I must counsel against the “run silent, run deep” approach.

    Yes. But sometimes it is necessary. I myself have failed three times at diaconate formation in my diocese because I could not manage to hold my nose long enough to be able to swallow much of the nonsense that I was being fed. Three times I was invited to sign up for the Diaconate because three different priests felt that I was called to the diaconate. So did I, but I just couldn’t find the stamina to endure the diocesan formation program. In my diocese it is pretty much impossible to get into any kind of official ministry until you complete “heresy school” (my wife referred to it as “Hogwarts”) and you demonstrate that you are have serious reservations to at least one significant church teaching. Those who fully accept church teaching need not apply.

    I wish I would have found the strength to keep my mouth shut and my head down long enough to get ordained. I am worse off for having failed to do so and, quite frankly, so is my diocesse.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum says,

    The bishop decides where the men go, not the individual. Some men are given a choice, for example, whether to go to Rome to study at the national seminaries, or in the diocesan one.

    In Rome seminarians live at the national seminaries (e.g., Venerable English College) but study is at the Pontifical Universities (e.g., Angelicum, Gregorianum, etc.)

    As to criticizing sems who go submarine level, I caution judgement. To be called to the priesthood is a real call from God and one follows God the best way possible.

    I definitely agree with you about criticism. It’s a no no.

    A vocation to the priesthood comes from the Church, whose Head is Christ. Thus, it is both interior and exterior.

    If a candidate decides that as a priest he wants to be able to say the TLM (at least occasionally), and he is in a seminary and diocese that won’t permit it, he would be wise to consider whether he is in the right place. Now that BXVI is not longer pope, it cannot be assumed that the replacement for a retired bishop would not be so close minded about Latin liturgy.

    If a seminarian or a religious in priestly studies would like to say the TLM (at least occasionally), then perhaps he should consider the FSSP, ICKSP, or another diocese.

  24. One aspect of this that has not been raised is, well, okay, the seminarian somehow manages to hide beneath the radar of those out to bounce him, and, congratulations, he is ordained a priest. Now Bishop Gauche assigns him to Our Lady of the Left parish for his first five-year assignment with Msgr. Izquierdo as pastor. Father Rechts goes and offers a reverent Novus Ordo Mass as best as he can, and the people start complaining. “Rechts is so wooden,” they say. “And he preached about sin!” Msgr. Izquierdo calls Fr. Rechts aside. “You need to be more pastoral. Stop talking about sin. That’s so judgmental. Stop reading from the Missal and start improvising a bit. The book is just a guideline, you know. The people like variety. Next week, a clown will assist you to help point you in the right direction.” As Msgr. Izquierdo walks away, he mutters to himself, “I don’t know what they teach in the seminaries these days…” And if Fr. Rechts doesn’t like Our Lady of the Left… well, where does it end?

    The problem with avoiding the problem is that it may not go away until and unless Fr. Rechts somehow becomes a bishop with his own diocese. Fr. Rechts may have to spend almost his entire priesthood grinding his teeth and swallowing hard– and probably not being a very good priest besides as doing anything well is mighty hard when one’s insides are constantly churning and he has to spend almost all of his discretionary income on antacids. Maybe if he’s lucky, he’ll get an assignment to a more reverent parish somewhere along the way, but he certainly can’t count on that. Besides, even Bishop Rechts can’t expect life to be peachy if he winds up in a diocese with a slew of Fr. Sinistras and Sister Venstres controlling the levers of power beneath him.

    I don’t have an easy answer for this paradox of having to play spiritual dodge ball or else not making it to a point where one can effect change. Many good points have been raised here. Just remember that what comes around, goes around. On that we can all count. One day those on the left will be talking the same way that those on the right do today. They will be the ones swallowing hard as they make their way through the ranks trying to become bishops.

  25. Athelstan says:


    I also don’t agree with encouraging seminarians to be docile and obedient when there are decent alternatives to diocesan seminaries such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

    Well, for one thing, they have very limited number of slots, and an effective waiting list. They can be quite choosy about who they accept, and they are.

  26. PhilipNeri says:

    As a seminary formator, I want to caution seminarians about “flying under the radar.” There was a time when this approach was very attractive to me. Because of the loosey-goosely nature of my own seminary in the early 2000’s, I large flew low in my studies but not my formation; that is, I wholeheartedly embraced Dominican formation at the studium, but more or less told my dissenting profs at the school what they wanted to hear. I could do this b/c I was 35 y.o. and held the PhD. IOW, I wasn’t 22 and just out of undergrad school.

    For the vast majority of young seminarians, “flying low” in a diocesan seminary is a quick way to spiritual ruin. Why? In most diocesan seminaries you live where you study. There’s no real separation btw academic coursework and living out the four pillars of formation. “Flying low” would require tremendous amounts of spiritual energy and intellectual dishonesty in the external forum.

    Many seminarians in the US are moving closer to the actual requirements of the Program for Priestly Formation, meaning innovations like allowing lay faulty and religious women to vote on advancement and orders are disappearing. At Notre Dame Seminary, all of the formal aspects of formation are handled by five priest-formators. Faculty contribute by keeping a seminarian’s formation advisor up-to-date on academic/behavioral issues and by providing solidly orthodox teaching and example. Lay faculty also sit on the formation board that advises the Rector on the overall program of formation.

    Things are changing, folks! Keep praying for vocations and please don’t forget to pray for those of us in the trenches of seminary formation. . .

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  27. Athelstan says:

    One day those on the left will be talking the same way that those on the right do today. They will be the ones swallowing hard as they make their way through the ranks trying to become bishops.

    Many of them became quite effective at doing so back in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

    Then, the Council came, and the wind changed direction. Suddenly they didn’t have to swallow hard any longer.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Fr Phillip Neri,

    Sometimes it can be merely a matter of temperament: It can be easier for some to “fly low” than for others.

    There is another factor: Many seminaries have used the Onion Approach–those in charge of formation thinking that they always need to be running off someone, or they’re not doing their job. And with an MO was based on little else than “he’s not like me”.

  29. Antonin says:

    St. Theresa Lisieux, whose feast was celebrated last week, struggled with a novice master. She strove to see the face of Christ in her and was extra nice. There was also the normal amount of politics that occurs in any collective. The way she “flew under the radar” is instructive and holy and completely unlike a duplicitous flying under the radar. Whatever became of humility, obedience?

  30. APX says:

    Reading several of these posts, it appears that many people don’t get how discerning a vocation works. You don’t just get to choose where you go, or what community/society you’re going to be part of. A person must actually have a call from God, which the Church must confirm. This isn’t something as simple as just picking and choosing; you need to discern a vocation…with a spiritual director who can help make sense of this. You might think you’re called somewhere, but it might not actually be so.

  31. Dan says:

    I second what Stephen Matthew, Andrew Saucci, and Fr. Phillip Neri have said.

    Cardinal George often says that no priest is a priest on his own, that every priest has a title. As Stephen Matthew said, he is a priest of diocese X or order Y. The relationship is ecclesial. It is not primarily liturgical. No priest is a priest of the EF or of the OF.

    Pope Francis just recently said this about priests: “the first form of evangelisation is the witness of fraternity and of communion between priests and bishop.” At ordination a deacon kneels and promises respect and obedience to his ordinary and his successors. What does that promise mean if he has already been duplicitous with his seminary formators? What kind of fraternity or communion can really exist here?

  32. Athelstan says:

    Fr. Philip Neri,

    For the vast majority of young seminarians, “flying low” in a diocesan seminary is a quick way to spiritual ruin.

    Amen to that, several times over.

    Some “sail trimming” is necessary in most seminaries. But it can reach a point where the cost of doing so isn’t worth it.

  33. PhilipNeri says:

    Authentic formation requires quite a bit of docility and humility. If a 22yo comes into the seminary convinced that everything he believes is 100% right and the seminary has nothing to offer b/c he knows it all already. . .then, no authentic formation can occur. The goal of formation is not to produce Cookie Cutter Priests, but to help men accept and use the grace they receive to perfect their nature. Much of formation is smoothing out the rough edges and filling in the gaps. And some of formation is about dispelling romantic notions of serving the Church as a priest, or instilling the ideals of sacrificial service. As formators, we can only do so much in four or five years to help a man accept his vocation and let that vocation shape his relationship with God and His Church. A BIG part of being a priest is learning obedience and accepting authority. In the long run, obedience is much harder than poverty or celibacy!

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  34. ordinary means says:

    We get the clergy we deserve. It is folly to think we can sneak in God’s house. Meditate on that in prayer for a while before you approach the Lord and beg for Hierarchy more to your liking in His Church.

  35. St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles does require Latin. Seminarians must have one semester.

  36. TomR says:

    One priest once told a seminarian (now a priest) committed to both the extraordinary and ordinary form of the Mass: “Always remember to invoke the patron saint of seminarians, St. Sugo.” The seminarian replied: “Who, Father, is St. Sugo?” The priest responded: “Oh, St. Sugo! Shut Up, Get Ordained!”

  37. iPadre says:

    Thank God and Pope Benedict, much changed in a short time. Back in the day, anyone who wore the cassock was labeled as anti laity. Having a superior attitude. “Those days are gone forever!” They were wrong. Tradition is here to stay. And, being an arrogant priest is not traditional!

  38. KateD says:

    I have heard of postulants being denied the reception of the Eucharist on the tongue, and/or while kneeling. That’s just weird.

  39. The Cobbler says:

    Whether the objections are legitimately to seminarians falling in with the sort of folk who take a completely un-Catholic attitude toward the Church or illegitimately to seminarians familiarizing themselves with the Church’s tradition and patrimony, it strikes me that a complete ban on exposure to whatever is objected to suggests that the person doing the banning isn’t confident in their ability to counter whatever influence is there. I mean, I could see someone saying, “Seminarians are not allowed to access pornography because simply viewing pornography is immoral in and of itself,” I could even see someone saying (although they would be wrong), “Seminarians are not allowed to attend the old form of the Mass because simply attending the old form of the Mass is immoral in and of itself,” but what’s being said here is, “Seminarians are not allowed to attend the old form of the Mass because it might stifle whatever I believe is true appreciation of the new form of the Mass,” which implies, “I don’t know that I could instill what I believe is true appreciation of the new form of the Mass against the influence of whatever I perceive to be a threat to it in the old form,” or more simply, “The old form of the Mass may have more influence on a seminarian’s views of the new form of the Mass than I do.” It’s some combination of paranoia (fearing what doesn’t need to be feared), laziness (not being willing to expend the effort to fight an idea fairly) and/or admission of disadvantage (whoever it is thinks they stand a chance of losing whatever ideological battle they’re trying to fight). If the ban is in fact motivated by enmity of tradition, then this is actually a rather good sign; if it is in fact an attempt to keep seminarians from developing an antagonistic attitude toward the Church and/or her hierarchy, then this is actually a rather bad sign.

  40. dominic1955 says:

    I think that what Fr. Z has in mind about the whole “flying low” issue is more a matter of prudence than duplicity. When I was in the seminary (a rather good diocesan one the very recent glory days thereof sadly sound pretty much kaput) one of the first things I did when I showed up on the doorstep was ask one of the formators (I didn’t even know who he was beause I’d never met him before) where the ICKSP parish was since I was new in town and had no idea where anything was. I wasn’t trying to “prove” anything, I was just being honest. He asked what I was looking for, so I said.

    That said, I was never “in your face” about it and I think this is where this “laying low” thing comes into play. Yes, I was a huge cassock wearing trad, but I didn’t get into rows with any of the formators or rector over it. I lived by the rules as best I could. I wore a suit and/or collar (instead of cassock) when the handbook said we were supposed to. I didn’t blow my stipend on lacy surplices and buckled shoes and such. I tried to engage in the programs and formation they gave.

    However, much more turmoil went on at the “internal forum” level because of this and discernment in general. The system has a sort of two tiered thing built into it anyway. There should be a demarcation between your deepest thoughts/hopes/fears and other less deep though still more private issues and your “outside self”. No one blubbers about all of this internal stuff to his boss. It is sort of the same with the seminary formation-you should be external forum honest with external forum stuff but that doesn’t mean spilling your guts about everything you think or feel in some quest to be “honest”.

    On the other hand, this all works a lot better if the formators are at least thinking with the Church. Its a real pity that anyone had to put up with some of the heretical and scandalous nonsense that has happened in seminaries in the past and even the present. Reading St. Alphonsus Liguori’s book on the priesthood (which I actually don’t recommend reading for the scrupulous or others with a tender conscience until they’ve gotten over it or under the direction of your spiritual director) you see how solemn an obligation you take on by getting ordained. It is going to be a terrible day, and exceedingly bitter when those who were entrusted with guiding the discernment of men into the priesthood/religious life but failed so poorly through malicious error and nonsense meet their Maker.

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