From a reader…
I have been reading it for 4 years and it has greatly helped me as a Catholic and in discerning my vocation.
I am 18 and strongly feel called to the priesthood.
My question is, are there any ways by which one can become a priest and say the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively, or at least mostly, without joining a PCED order such as the FSSP?
Will any bishop accept that?
I really can’t see it happening in my home diocese. [I’m not surprised.]
I have considered trying to work something out with the Archdiocese of Rome, because I’ve heard the climate there is far more friendly in this regard, but I’m not really sure if it is a realistic idea or not.
First, I am pleased that you are giving proper consideration to the priesthood. Good for you.
You want to serve the Church by saying the older, traditional form of Holy Mass. That’s good. I applaud you.
Were it up to me, I, too, would say only the Extraordinary Form. That is to say, were the circumstances other than they are, I would say only the Extraordinary Form. However, I am a priest for the whole Church. Therefore, I do what I need to do in the circumstances I encounter. For example, I also say the Novus Ordo when called upon to do so.
There are a lot of people out there who, for various reasons, are not ready for the traditional forms either again (if they are older) or for the first time. Happily, where I am I can bring what I have learned from the traditional Rite about the priesthood and about Mass to how I say the Novus Ordo. Also, the contact between the two forms in that parish is making a big difference. There is indeed a “mutual enrichment”. We see people who have been going to the Novus Ordo now, on their own, trying out the older form of Mass and, after an experience with it, sticking with it.
We have to look at the Novus Ordo, for these good people, as a doorway into a larger world. What popped into my head right now is the experience that the fictional characters in Doctor Who have when they go into the TARDIS for the first time: “It’s bigger on the inside!”, they say. Also, yes, the TARDIS takes them into “the past”, but it mostly takes them into the future. It’s a connection, continuity.
To use another analogy, for my supper I prefer steak and a tanin-rich cabernet. That won’t work for infants. They need the food that they need. Your parents were in no way diminished when (not that long ago) they fed you mashed carrots with “choo-choo” noises to keep your attention. As a matter of fact, they were ennobled, because they put you and your needs before their own. That’s the essence of charity: sacrificial love, seeking the good of the other even at your own – especially at your own – expense.
Some will object that I am comparing the Novus Ordo to baby food and the Traditional Rite to grown up food. Okay. Object! That’s what I am doing! I will add, however, that grown ups can indeed survive on baby food. I don’t think that they can thrive, but they can survive. My analogy is not meant to demean people who go to the Novus Ordo any more than children are demeaned by being given age appropriate food. It isn’t a surprise to anyone who reads this blog that I think that the older, traditional form is richer and superior to the Novus Ordo in many respects. But people come to that realization in their own time. On a personal note, the Mass that first caught my attention and was the vehicle for my coming into the Catholic Church was the Novus Ordo. But it was the Novus fully informed already by the “mutual enrichment” that Benedict wanted for the Novus Ordo everywhere. I was simply fortunate enough, thank you Jesus, to have encountered it when and where I did. The gift that God gave me in lining up all those stars and planets now compels me in what I do today, especially through this medium.
So, to you, dear questioner, I suggest that you give yourself over to diocesan formation, happily, cheerfully, with a readiness to use both forms of the Roman Rite when needed according as your bishop asks.
In time I think the demographics will shift, as they inevitably do when young people grow older. I am convinced that the older form of Mass is going to continue to grow and come to be in demand more and more. Think of it this way. Since the Second Vatican Council, we have been experiencing war in the Church. Recently, Card. Sarah referred to “devastation”. There have been a lot of casualties in this war leaving, as wars always do, a lot of orphans. Orphans are raised in less than optimal circumstances, but they grow up. When the orphans are young, they need age appropriate food. See where I’m going? But, when the war ends, as orphans grow up and go out into the wide world, the orphanage, we hope, empties. The demographics shift. I think that that is what will happen, if we can gain a period of stability.
There are bishops out there who are friendly to priests who say the older form. However, I’ll bet you that every one of them would ask his priest, especially in parish ministry, also to say the Novus Ordo. It may be in the future that more bishops will establish a wholly traditional diocesan parish staffed by diocesan clergy. That’s my hope!
For all the good that the traditional groups such as the FSSP and the ICK do, and it is considerable, the real action will start when diocesan priests take up the banner. That’s where the front line is.
Also, do not pin your long-range goals on bishops. Bishops come and go. There is line at the opening of Exodus: “In the mean time there arose a new king over Egypt, that knew not Joseph.” As The Donald would say, “Believe me.”
Finally, whatever you have heard about the Diocese of Rome is far too rosy. It is not a “friendly” climate for priests of a traditional leaning. Furthermore, the Diocese of Rome is not all like the historic “centro” with its beautiful churches. Get out into the periphery and it is an entirely different place, and one which I doubt you would care for.
I am convinced that when men are called to the priesthood, unless they have a strong sense of a call to a religious community of some kind, they should answer the call where they are, or in their native place. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but that’s, I think, where to start. Are there exceptions? Sure! But that must be worked out carefully and with a lot of advice.
The moderation queue is ON.