ASK FATHER: How early can seminarians start learning to say Traditional Latin Mass

Gernetzke practice MassFrom a seminarian…


I recently read your post encouraging priests to learn the TLM. It made me think, how early should a seminarian begin to learn it? Would it be jumping the gun for someone in 1st Theology to begin watching the videos and practicing? I won’t be able to learn it from the seminary … , so I will have to learn on my own.

First, you are to applauded as loudly as the seminary is to be booed and hissed.  Shame on them for not preparing seminarians adequately in the knowledge of their Rite!

Second, it is NOT too early to start working on this.   The sooner the better.

I started to learn the TLM in the summer before my 3rd year of seminary.  I had moved to Rome by then and a priest friend coached me as I did “dry Mass” walk-throughs, correcting and offering suggestions.  I had already read through the rubrics, etc., since my Latin was great.  The Latin wasn’t anywhere on the horizon as a problem. At the time I was speaking rather comfortably and writing with ease.

Also, these days, there are many many more resources to help you than there were back in my day.

However, be discreet… discreet… discreet!

Don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.  If there is a priest whom you can trust completely where you are, get to work on it.  However, don’t tell anyone else, even seminarian friends.  Go about your work quietly.

I would say the same, by the way, about your private initiatives to learn Japanese or Calculus or small-engine repair.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Discretion is key. I know at least one seminarian in Los Angeles who was deemed ‘rigid’ for professed love of the TLM and has left for greener pastures. I’d advise them to grit their teeth and bury those tendencies until after ordination. Even then as young associates they will still need to be prudent as their pastor is part of the aging breed… perhaps a few discrete side measures of traditional devotion, though nothing as stark as the old Office or a Mass unless you know him well enough… that first pastor’s evaluation will be crucial but once past that, it shouldn’t be too long or more than a few years these days before the priest is a pastor himself.

  2. majuscule says:

    Perhaps some good new on this front. At least one U.S. Seminary has appointed as part-time director of liturgy a priest who was ordained just this year. One of his First Masses was in the Extraordinary Form and was mentioned on this very blog HERE .

    He would not have been appointed to this position if the EF was going to be discouraged! At the very least, this appointment is sure to have an effect on how the seminarians learn the OF!

  3. Mike says:

    No earlier than 6 in the morning. At least not in my house. Unless it’s a Low Mass.

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    How are early can a seminarian start learning to say the Traditional Latin Mass?

    My answer is before your ever enter the Seminary, when you are serving at one as an altar server/ acolyte. God Bless you!

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