“If I were a bishop, I would send round formidable, even terrifying, hit squads of young clergy…”

We have to get serious about our sacred liturgical worship.  Every initiative we undertake in the Church must begin in worship and come back to worship.  If our liturgical worship is screwed up, nothing else will work correctly.

From Fr. Hunwicke’s excellent Mutual Enrichment.  Here is only part of what he wrote.  Find the rest there!


I wonder why some priests of a certain generation and a ‘Conciliar’ culture have such a rooted aversion to preaching. This leads me on to wonder what exactly it was that they were taught in the corrupted and emptying seminaries of the post-Conciliar decades. We know that (despite Canon 249 and the Veterum Sapientia of S John XXIII) they were not taught Latin or Greek; because of this, they were blocked from sudying Patristics. [They were kept in the fog…. on purpose!] They did not … clearly … do Liturgy or Liturgical Theology or Practical Liturgy; it appears that they received no education in Scripture, Biblical Theology, or how to open the Word of God for their people. I somehow doubt that they were all given a deep formation in traditional moral theology or the hearing of confessions, because I know of (another) church in the South of England where the priest explained that the difficulty about hearing confessions was that the Confessional had for many years been used for stacking away the unsold debris of Parish bazaars. What, in the Name of God Almighty and God most Adorable, did all those men learn in those seven expensive years of ‘priestly formation’? [It was a horror show, let me tell you.]

I know some traddies cheerfully but (IMHO) irresponsibly point out that Monsignor Time will solve the problem of that generation of clergy; [What I have called the “Biological Solution”.] but, in a decade or two’s time, will the joyless and infantilised congregations still be in existence? These are souls for whom Christ died.  [“But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” Maybe in small communities.  “Base” communities?]


If I were a bishop, I would send round formidable, even terrifying, hit squads of bright, orthodox, and cheerful young clergy with the oil of ordination still damp upon their hands, to teach the dear old gentlemen all the things that their lecturers forgot to mention in the 1970s and 1980s; and to overhaul a radicibus the parish liturgies. [I once thought that we needed a new religious order called The RubriciansThey would go two by two into the world to battle liturgical abuses and teach the erring the error of their ways.] Cardinal Sarah’s recent extremely sound suggestions could provide a lively and exciting start to a programme of restoring catholic authenticity in the desert areas. And His Eminence, with his true and accurate pastoral heart, clearly understands the urgency of this need. Happily, one hears of diocesan bishops loyally responding to his timely initiative. Let us hope that, on Advent Sunday …

But not, sadly, quite all bishops. One or two Ordinarii locorum prefer to resemble stewards careering crazily around on the Great Liner’s dangerously sloping decks while shouting noisily and inaccurately at anyone they meet about the ‘true post-Conciliar’ alignment of deckchairs.

Fathers, yes, we are all busy.  But let’s crack the books again.  Let’s set some priorities and work harder.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Michael_Thoma says:

    Why is it so difficult to actually follow the instructions, as the instructions state?

    Most Bishops have no problem allowing everything from ad-libbing, to EMHCs, to female altar servers, to Mass facing the people, to having children stand around the altar, to hand holding during the Pater Noster, to having a ‘charismatic’ experience replete with non-word syllable sounds, dancing ‘ministry’ and more — these require no special permission, no interventions, no letters from the Pope.. meanwhile, any priest that reads the rubrics for Mass and actually follows them as it’s written, he better keep his suitcase packed, and an earned degree in a non-clergy field as a backup.

  2. iamlucky13 says:

    “I know of (another) church in the South of England where the priest explained that the difficulty about hearing confessions was that the Confessional had for many years been used for stacking away the unsold debris of Parish bazaars. “

    I remember they had to move the bazaar debris / Christmas decorations for my first Reconciliation, in the late 80’s, and again twice a year for the communal (but not general, thankfully) penance services before Christmas and Easter. That parish has since closed as Mass attendance dwindled and its finances fell consistently into the negative. Neglect of confessions was only one of its problems, but it’s where I grew up. Very sad.

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    In a subsequent post (here) Fr. Hunwicke foresees a coming attack on Summorum Pontificum (which the Enemy sees as the most formidable threat to the new liturgical order):

    (2) Sandro Magister (Chiesa 21 September) quotes an Andrew Grillo, whom he calls a keen Bergoglian, as forecasting that the next Synod will, among other things, deal with
    “The Collegial exercise of the episcopacy and the restitution to the Bishop of full authority over the diocesan liturgy”.

    I presume we all know by now that ‘Collegiality’ is well established as a code-word for giving improper competences to Episcopal Conferences … a serious potential ecclesiological corruption (upon which Cardinal Mueller spoke well a year or two ago). But what I am particularly drawing your attention to this morning is the [final] part of the sentence I have put into italics. It means that the bully-boys who hate Ratzinger and his legacy are beginning to set their sights on demolishing Summorum Pontificum and eliminating its admirable doctrinal emphases on Subsidiarity and the auctoritas of Tradition.

  4. hwriggles4 says:

    One thing that ties into this good post:

    I would like to see more bishops assign the more solid orthodox priests in metropolitan areas, where the one hour Catholics (I was a one hour Catholic for many years) and the cafeteria Catholics can be shaken up and awakened. I find it sad that some of the orthodox priests have bishops who transfer them out to the timbucktu area of their diocese, and there are some good religious order priests who have been ostracized by their order and forced to find their own assignments.

  5. Pearl says:

    “What, in the Name of God Almighty and God most Adorable, did all those men learn in those seven expensive years of ‘priestly formation’?”

    I am sure that Fr. Hunwicke, Fr. Z and the rest of you know just as well as I do what they were studying: social work and psychology. I cannot even count the number of priest of a certain age that have a degree in psychology.

  6. Michael_Thoma says:

    I cannot even count the number of priest of a certain age that have a degree in psychology.

    Odd that the degree does not allow them to self-reflect on their own psychological hangups and what they project on to those they consider ‘uptight’. College is as good (as in not good in any way, except as an academic exercise) as seminary, for preparing the graduate for real life.

  7. PhilipNeri says:

    I spent three years in my studium. . .never cracked a liturgical book in any of my classes. We learned all about Mujerista Birthing Stool Rituals, and spend many an hour making up our own liturgies, and contemplating the wonders of the New Cosmology. . .but not once did I ever see the inside of a liturgical book. . .in three years.

    Thank the Lord I spent my last year of studies at Blackfriars, Oxford where I took Scripture, dogmatics, and learned how to say Mass from my English Dominican brothers!

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  8. Simon_GNR says:

    But in England the typical diocesan bishop has no “squads of bright, orthodox, and cheerful young clergy” at his disposal. In my diocese [Hallam], we have had *four* priests ordained in the last *ten* years and one of them is over 70 and is now retired. So, Fr. Hunwicke has a nice idea, but in many dioceses what he suggests just can’t be done.

  9. Xmenno says:

    I hear a lot about orthodox priests being transferred to the hinterlands of a diocese. With the availability of cars, I would suggest that good Catholics load them up and drive however far that may be to hear Mass celebrated by good priests, taking their checkbooks along with them. If there is no consequence for the blatant “punishment” of orthodox priests, it will continue to happen. Even with consequences, it probably continue to happen, but such a practice could make an impact on a bishop who does such a thing.

  10. jaykay says:

    I wonder what Fr. Thomas Byles, who was on the “great liner’s dangerously sloping decks” to the end would make of the current situation. Well no, I don’t wonder… I know. The cause for his beatification has been introduced, DG.

    Fr. Philip Neri: I thought I’d heard a fair few horror stories but what you describe makes them pale…

  11. Thomas Sweeney says:

    Too many of our Catholic politicians are making a mockery of their faith by marrying homosexuals, or in the case of Justice Kennedy, casting the deciding vote to legalize homosexual marriage and sodomy. Where is the Bishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Wuerl, when we need him to speak out against such abuses? These men are our shepherds, but their perverted thinking seems to say the h*** with the flock, my priority is to be buddy, buddy with the powers that be.

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  13. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Neri: “I spent three years in my studium. . .never cracked a liturgical book in any of my classes.”

    Whereas one priest–who did have a liturgy course in the seminary–said it was taught by a bitter ex-nun who insisted that ordination did not “do anything”, and their sole text was a slim paperback written by a Methodist laywoman.

  14. PhilipNeri says:

    We had several excellent friars teaching in my studium. Most of the dodgy stuff came from religious sisters and a couple of lay men. I didn’t so mind reading the dissident material. . .what I objected to was their insistence that they constituted Another Magisterium. I just wanted to know what the church teaches about X, Y, and Z. Instead, we were fed a constant diet of feminism, postmodernism, Marxism, syncretism, queer liberationism, and outright heresy in dogmatics (Roger Haight and Hans Jung being favs). For example, in a course on grace, we used a book by a feminist process theologian. Aquinas was trotted out as an example of “outmoded theology,” an example of “vending machine grace.” All of our scripture classes were taught from a liberal Protestant perspective. I got in trouble when I pointed out that one of our pastoral courses was basically Marxism in vestments. . .having been an academic Marxist for many years, I knew what I was talking about. . .thus, the getting-in-trouble part.

    Fortunately for me and my brothers, we had a solid community of senior friars to keep us on the right track. I made ample use of alternative bibliographies and study guides. Honestly, if it weren’t for my supremely stubborn student master, I’d be a diocesan priest right now. He wouldn’t let me quit the Order!

    Fr. Phillip Neri, OP

  15. PhilipNeri says:

    I should add. . .my bad experiences in the studium happened more than 13yrs ago. Things have improved dramatically since then!

    PNP, OP

  16. Gaetano says:

    Let’s not forget the hours of Pastoral Counseling classes and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). Because one thing worse than a minister with no counseling experience is putting a partially trained therapist in the field. They know just enough to be dangerous.
    It was all watered down psych training. Absolutely nothing on how to offer actual spiritual counselling.

  17. Luvadoxi says:

    Wow. Can any of these poor men formed in these seminaries explain what the Good News is, and why it is good?

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