GUEST POST: 10 years of ‘Summorum Pontificum’ and its effect on seminarians

A GUEST POST from a reader

I have been meaning to write this for a little while but the holiday gives me a time to reflect on several observations over the past weeks and several years. This in light of priestly ordinations of late as well as the realization that this coming Friday July 7th is the tenth anniversary of the release of Summorum Pontificum.

As you know I live close to a major metropolitan diocese where times have been challenging and tradition has been suppressed and those attached to it oppressed for many decades. However, times and conditions are changing, and for the better.

While the number of vocations, a perennial measure of the health of the Church, are not quite what we’d call booming, there is a healthy pipeline of seminarians coming in and working through their studies, and the quality of the men finishing seminary preparation is not only impressive but remarkable in many ways.

Having attended 1st Holy Masses of the newly ordained regularly for the past decade, there are some noticeable changes occurring. The newly ordained are taking more serious the rubrics for liturgical dress; I’ve seen them saying the vesting prayers in recent years and using the amice and cincture more and more. Seminarians too come well prepared in pressed, crisp cassock and surplice and in large numbers to support their elder brothers.

Ordinands are also choosing more traditional, sometimes gothic, sometimes Roman vestments. What would have been unthinkable eight to ten years ago, and in some places five years ago when the more traditional priests were pushing the limits and being berated, is being done widely now, without expectation of prior negative consequences.

Once in the parish, many new priests are greeting their new parishioners in the same cassock and surplice they have become accustomed to wearing during seminary years, which, while bringing comments and surprise is mostly welcomed. I have seen a number of new associates who are distributing Holy Communion at masses they are not celebrating and none of them come in simple alb and stole, not one. Ten years ago, this would have been unheard of, now it is commonplace.

Another noticeable trait that has been introduced slowly, which includes at altars in the seminaries, is the central facing cross and candle set. Some of the newly ordained, and a few who have recently become pastors, even after only 5-7 years spent as pastoral associates, have made this change to their parishes main altar of sacrifice. In effect, the boundaries of a more traditional practice are being pressed wherever possible.

I have also been impressed by the newly ordained and their attachment to the ancient rite. It is crystal clear that they both know and have come to learn about it, and several I have spoken too have learned to love it and make it part of their priestly sense of self. I had a young priest friend send me a message last week, for instance, that he had offered his private TLM for me and my family, for which I was so very thankful. Some newly ordained offered their first and second Holy Masses in the Extraordinary Form – where and how this happens still unfortunately is done guardedly. I was present at one this year, and if I didn’t know the young priest had just been ordained, I would have thought he’d been saying the mass for some years.

One of the heartening and beautifully fraternal aspects of these early masses, both in the OF and EF, is the presence of other recently ordained who come to support their brother, especially in the EF where they come and attend in choir or server as deacon and sub-deacon.

Perhaps most significant, there are a number of other moves that the newly ordained are making which betray a deep spiritual affection for their office and the souls of their charges. These young priests are taking very seriously their role as shepherd of souls. Most of the newly ordained do not preach at their own first masses where I am, however, they uniformly do later take a moment to thank those who helped them on their path; and time after time, I have been increasingly hearing messages imploring folks to go to confession, attend weekly mass, pray the rosary and attend Eucharistic devotions especially Adoration and Holy Hours. Many have also provided the great spiritual gift to those in attendance of procuring the necessary permissions from the Apostolic Penitentiary to allow for a Plenary Indulgence, under the normal conditions, for attending their own first Holy Mass.

All of the early masses I have attended include an opportunity afterwards to receive a first blessing from the priests, and half or better I have heard give the blessing in Latin. In talking about this with a some priests who have been ordained for a few years, they all say that the guys in seminary know where the resources are, how to get them, and learn what they are required to know. I was surprised to know that of the priests ordained coming out of a major seminary, a full 60% or better are expected to be saying the older form of the mass, predominantly in private for now, and in expectation for the days when it is even more accepted.

In summary, I am seeing very good progress over the past 10 years. I am filled with much hope in these times and expectations of great holiness from our new priests.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ncstevem says:

    Father, I’ve seen the same thing in Charlotte since Bishop Jugis was installed in 2003. Slow but steady return to tradition in the diocese.

    The bishop recently founded a minor seminary and the minor seminarians are currently housed at St. Ann’s parish where Fr. Reid established a twice weekly TLM several years ago. The original class had about 10 men and I think they’re expecting close to twice that number this fall.

  2. SanSan says:

    this is very heartening news. May it be so and may it increase and become the norm. God save us.

  3. exNOAAman says:

    Thanks for posting. (Sorry I can’t add to the discussion, but I enjoyed it)

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    at our diocesan ordinations all three new priests were vested in beautiful custom looking gold Roman style chasuble with maniple, each one different.

  5. Gerhard says:

    In France the dioceses are still a desert in terms of EF Masses. But by golly, the seminarians with the FSSP, ICKSP, Bon Pasteur are brilliant. In the Caribbean Leeward Islands Summorum Pontificum has not reached yet in diocesan use. Rampant feel-good hip shaking clap-trap reigns.

  6. jameeka says:

    Papa Benedict, I hope you see this! Vielen Dank!

  7. Blackfriar says:

    Just a quick note to point out that no approach is necessary to the Apostolic Penitentiary to gain the plenary indulgence at a priest’s first public Mass after ordination. This is already provided for in the Handbook of Indulgences, Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (4th ed.) n. 27 :
    1. A plenary indulgence is granted –
    a) to a priest celebrating his first Mass in the presence of the faithful on a set day;
    b) to the Christian faithful who devoutly assist at that same Mass.

    There is a similar provision for the celebration of the 25th, 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries of ordination. Given the increasing longevity of people, maybe the next edition of the Handbook will extend this to the 80th anniversary!

    Pope John XXIII gave all priests authority to bestow the papal blessing on the occasion of their first Mass. In the light of canons 2 and 4 of the Code of Canon Law, I believe this privilege remains in force.

  8. Therese says:

    Eternal rest grant unto Father Thomas Krupich, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

    Father Krupich was among the first priests charging out of the Summorum Pontificum ‘starting gate’ in our diocese and he then continued to plow the ground almost alone when the backlash came. He poured himself into this work right up to the end.

    How he loved the old Mass–once he confided to me that his preparations to offer it began in the seminary, in the early 80s! But he went to the Lord he served so faithfully two years ago, and I find it difficult to believe he will not be here to celebrate this wonderful anniversary. (Fr. Z, Father Krupich loved to visit St. Agnes parish and found strength there during the hard years when he was under almost constant attack.)

    [I remember Fr. Krupich! R.I.P.]

  9. Chuck Ludd says:

    I will stipulate that although I find the EF beautiful I have more affinity for a well done OF Mass in Latin ad orientem. I would be pleased as punch if the EF were restored as the ordinary form but that is not happening anytime soon (never say never) and so with the dominant form people attend being the OF, we must help priests and seminarians make the OF as reverent as possible by incorporating the many particularities of beauty that the EF gave the Church. While I rarely attend an EF Mass, the SP has most certainly had wonderful effects on improving the reverence in the OF by younger priests. Although the Church lives through confusing times today, there is much hope in the young seminarians. I am fortunate that I live in a city part of the year in which it is not difficult to find a reverent OF ad orientem in Latin and there are many in multiple parishes (and the pews are packed).

  10. Andrew says:


    Father Krupich was a frequent participant in the annual Cenaculum Familiae Sancti Hieronymi. He is not forgotten!

  11. Michael says:

    The good news is that many current seminarians are now on board with the following:

    *OF: Ad Orientem with latin, chant and beautiful vestments.
    *EF: Learning the rubrics in seminary, and how to serve, for preparation to offer The Mass regularly, post ordination.

    And of course….CASSOCKS!

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    Presumably these hopeful signs are seen wherever young priests are ample. But what about dioceses with poor leadership and few if any new vocations? Any positive effect of SP observed among older priests?

  13. KateD says:

    We are seeing the end of whatever that was that happened in the 1960s. It was some sort of spiritual maelstrom, which is winding down now. I don’t understand why the Holy Spirit permitted the OF in this time, but it seems an aberration that will hopefully soon fade from memory.

    It’s all consuming to us, because we are living through it, but imagine a time two thousand years down the road, when only the most knowledgeable Church historians are even aware of this obscure blip. It’s a pleasant thought….

    All that is required of us is that we pleasantly persist, ‘Brick by brick’.

  14. hwriggles4 says:

    A Catholic acquaintance I know who regularly attends the Extraordinary Form (and he is a Catholic convert – I myself am a revert) often laments that several priests in our diocese will only celebrate Mass in the Novus Ordo. What is puzzling to both me and my Catholic acquaintance is quite a few of these priests are lifelong Catholics who were born between 1942 and 1960.

    I would think the majority of priests in this demographic would remember the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and could recall the responses and celebrate the Mass reverently. If the priest had been an altar boy in 1954 or even 1965, I would think he would remember the Latin since he would have had some training in that area.

    Why do I say this? I was a 7 year old boy in 1974, and my parish in the Los Angeles area had an old school pastor who celebrated the Sunday 9:15 am Mass in Latin, and on several occasions my mother would bring my older brother and I with her to that Mass. (That pastor retired in 1975 due to heart problems – He was close to 70 years of age – and the parish dropped the Latin Mass).

  15. Therese says:

    Salutem tibi ago! Andrew, bless you for that. As the time for the Cenaculum drew near each year, I had a few hilarious conversations with Father, trying to figure out how to say a particular thing in Latin. The final one had to do with luggage. (Why does ‘impedimenta’ always remind me of elephants?) The Familia was indeed family to him.

  16. PTK_70 says:

    The pace of change will accelerate to the extent that those with a sympathy for tradition are no longer seen as stodgy, contrarian, grumpy, petulant, misanthropic, obdurate cusses.

    Deserved or not, the perception is there. To use an aviation analogy this perception is acting as “drag”. To really get this plane in the air, what’s needed is more lift and less drag.

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you Guest Poster and Fr. Z for this good news. Deo Gratias for SP and Benedict XVI.

  18. Pingback: Summorum Pontificum Roundup – Mundus Tranquillare Hic

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