The Extraordinary Form in U.S. Seminaries

The National Association of Catholic Theological Schools is meeting now in Chicago. I’m told that the results were released of the poll of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations of the USCCB on how often American seminaries celebrate the extraordinary form during their academic year.

Survey says:
10% monthly or more
13% once a semester
3% annually
74% not at all

awr

48 comments

  1. Although most seminaries may not celebrate the EF, that doesn’t mean that seminarians won’t once ordained. In our diocesan college seminary, the seminarians are routinely scheduled to plan the Liturgy (music, etc). There’s a few that will ONLY schedule latin everything, or try to. The faculty is doing a good job keeping everything sane. But I’m worried for them, not so much because they want only Latin, but because those to whom they will Minister don’t want it. How much “damage” or alienation could they do? Will they move on? I don’t know. For the sake of the Vocation itself, I hope so.

    Just because it’s not celebrated doesn’t mean there’s not an inclination. How many of those going through the system keep quiet until they are ordained?

    I am a classmate of Archbp. Alex +Sample. We never celebrated the EF during seminary except once for a History of the Liturgy class. It was always the OF in English or Spanish. We had a Byzantine Liturgy once a quarter. Look at him now.

  2. How is the term “American seminary” defined for the purposes for this study. Does it include only theologates inside the USA? Does it include residences for seminarians too? Does this include the handful of monasteries whose theology students stay and study in their own monastery rather than go to a theologate? Are the North American College (Rome) and the Seminario Hispano de Sta. Maria de Guadalupe (Mexico) included? Is the FSSP seminary in Nebraska included?

    You get the drift…

  3. To piggyback a little on what Pat Barky posted, how many seminarians are interested in the EF and willing to celebrate it without it being their preference? Too many people seem to think you are either completely for the EF or completely against it.

    The most conservative Catholics I know don’t prefer the EF over the OF, even though they have no problem with it. I’m curious how much seminarians follow this pattern.

    I think exposure to the EF is important if a priest is to be prepared to serve all of his potential flock.

  4. I’m a Catholic seminarian, although my seminary is in Canada (St. Philip’s in Toronto). The seminary is run by the Oratorians and the EF is celebrated here several times daily. The principal Mass on Sunday (which I’m joyfully about to attend!) is a Solemn High Mass (EF). I sing the Gregorian Propers in the 20-man strong schola.

    I suspected that this isn’t the norm in North American seminaries! I count myself incredibly lucky.

  5. I am completely in agreement with Jack Wayne when he says that priestly training should prepare ordinands to minister to the entirety of their flock, but that is surely not the end of the story.

    The proportion of the flock represented by adherents of the EF is a tiny fraction of 1%, and yet we find that some seminaries are devoting a disproportionate amount of time to celebrating in this form, and a hugely-disproportionate amount of time to training ordinands to celebrate in this form.

    It may be revealing that a number of seminarians and young priests exposed to the EF in England and Wales in recent times have rejected training in this form of the rite because of the ecclesiology that goes along with it. The “bishop-bashing” that is prevalent in the course of some training sessions, especially those run by bodies such as the Latin Mass Society, is unseemly as well as unhelpful to their cause.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #7:

      Paul: The proportion of the flock represented by adherents of the EF is a tiny fraction of 1%, and yet we find that some seminaries are devoting a disproportionate amount of time to celebrating in this form, and a hugely-disproportionate amount of time to training ordinands to celebrate in this form.

      cf. Luke 15:3-7. Are not the EF faithful “the one sheep” as well?

      ——

      Many seminarians and priests circumvent official attempts to isolate them from the EF. Some seminarians and priests who have decent Latin teach themselves the black and red. Others also use DVD, CD, and online media instruction. Still others unofficially (clandestinely?) apprentice themselves to a priest who is skilled in saying Tridentine Mass.

      I do wonder if the statistics quoted at the beginning of this thread parallel the thoroughness of Latin instruction in American seminaries. One of my life goals is to provide free of charge individual or group Latin instruction to seminarians and priests who have been denied a proper Latin education. I am willing to do this clandestinely if necessary (meeting in homes, etc.). Latin knowledge is not an option for the clergy, but a necessity at the very core of their clerical identity. Latin must be standard equipment regardless of the form a priest celebrates.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #9:
        I would say not only Latin is at the core of a priest’s identity, but a working knowledge of Croatian Glagolitic script should be used so one can celebrate the Dalmatian usage of the Roman Rite well. (And be featured on NLM!!)

  6. Paul, isn’t your inquiry based upon circular logic, or a self-fulfilling prophecy?
    If the seminaries do not afford curricular time towards preparing celebrants to be competent in both forms, how can future congregants expect to have the opportunity to worship in both forms? And the converse scenario is apt.

  7. Jordan Zarembo : Latin knowledge is not an option for the clergy, but a necessity at the very core of their clerical identity. Latin must be standard equipment regardless of the form a priest celebrates.

    Why???

    1. @Sean Whelan – comment #10:

      One of the most cynical practices of postconciliar seminary education is the purposeful neglect or even outright denial of adequate Latin education. How can a seminarian plumb the complexities of Neo-Aristotelian thought in St. Thomas Aquinas, among other scholastics, if he does not understand even the fundamentals of Latin? How can he understand the nuances of the constitutions of Vatican II if he does not even know how to form the first declension?

      One or two years of Latin and/or koine Greek education is simply not enough to prepare a seminarian for serious and critical exegetical and dogmatic work. Should a newly ordained priest be licensed to preach if he cannot derive an understanding of theology and conciliar thought in the original languages? I think not. In my experience, Anglican seminarians learn at least two years of Latin. It is most perverse that a Roman Catholic seminarian could pass through an institution without even memorizing basic conjugations.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #11:
        I forget the source, but someone once said that every bishop needs one or two priests who are expert theologians, and a couple hundred who are not theologians but pastors.

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #24:

        At McGill, B.Th students need take only NT Greek for one year. MA and PhD students, but not necessarily seminarians/ministry students, often must take at least two years of both Latin and Greek. There is some crossover between seminary and academic programs, so I can only speak of my experience.

  8. I’m not zealous to see every seminary offer this, because it is a very small population that wants it and there is so much else that a seminarian needs to study that really will be used constantly in ministry. However, I wonder whether part of the low percentage here relates to the incomplete integration of liturgy into the curriculum as a major course of study in American seminaries to begin with. If one has only one or two courses on liturgy over four years, there’s no time to add more course work for teaching the EF. You barely cover the seven sacraments in the OF! The situation may be changing for the better, but liturgical education had not reached the levels desired by Sacrosanctum Concilium no. 16 the last time a study was done (by the FDLC in 1995). At that time, only 49% offered a course every year or three out of four years, while 17% had no course or only one course during the four year seminary education. The rest were in the middle.

  9. I don’t expect my pastor to be an expert theologian. If I want to discuss the Summa I know where to go. I want him to be an excellent pastor.
    Some might say that a good knowledge of French, Spanish and German would be more useful for those who wish to pursue theological; studies.
    However I would expect an EF celebrant to be as fluent in Latin as their native language, and I would expect their fluency to be tested and accredited by an appropriate academic authority.

  10. I am with Alan on one aspect of this, Jordan. Rudimentary Latin will be of little use in understanding the nuances of Aquinas, or of the Latin fathers, or of conciliar documents. If anything, it will produce a superficial understanding, a tendency to parrot Latin words without a grip on the underlying ideas, many of which require some Greek. Just because the official Mass translation is dreadful doesn’t mean that good translations don’t exist for other texts!

    On the other hand, I don’t understand why someone who celebrates either the reformed or the older rite in Latin needs to “be as fluent in Latin as their native language.” That would rule out almost every Latin celebration; and if we applied the same academic testing to English Masses, quite a few English ones.

    Latin Mass celebrants need to pronounce Latin – not that difficult – and enough structural understanding to find the verbs and to know where phrases begin and end. This applies even more in the reformed rite in Latin, where the words aren’t hidden by “secret” pronouncement or by choirs singing over the priest.

    It makes sense for seminaries to teach the older rite and at least some of the Byzantine rites, so that new priests understand the full liturgical world they are entering into, and so that the normative rite can be seen in the context of the unreformed.

    Suppressing the older rite in seminaries seems to lead to militancy, a “we happy secret few” preciousness, and even goofy, dangerous ideas like encouraging seminarians to lie about their liturgical views. Let it out, ideally in the context of a wider and deeper and historical study of liturgy, as Rita advocates. To become deep in history is to cease to be a traditionalist.

    A priest who attended a special “old Mass” training course recently wrote in the Catholic Herald that he had a very positive encounter:

    priests who clearly have not come here because they are desperate to ally themselves to some faction, but who are working in perfectly average parishes the length and breadth of the country… [not] priests plotting to undo the Second Vatican Council, discussing the length of maniple fringes or the claimants to the Bourbon throne, just run-of-the-mill priests who feel that celebrating the extraordinary form once in a while could help them in their particular quest to be good, devout priests or who are learning it in response to the pastoral needs of their congregations.

    (Source: Latin Mass Society Chairman’s blog)

    That’s the right spirit!

    I have encountered plenty of fringe and factionalist types at traditionalist events, but if some calm training can discourage this tendency, I’m all for it.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #14:

      Perhaps I am fringe. I know I am fringe. I have been in the academy for so many years that I have lost sight of what the pastorate is and the salvation of souls. Because I have chosen academia instead of the cloth I do not know the latter. For this reason, I conflate the two vocations. The priest who taught me Latin in high school was an academic, as were many of the priests and brothers. I still hold my Latin teacher in great esteem, but his vocation was not pastor but teacher.

      Seminarians who are ardently pro-EF have the option of a traditionalist seminary or traditionalist religious formation. These orders often require up to five years of Latin, which ideally allows a celebrant to recognize more than the finite verb. Perhaps some students even advance to sight-reading collects. Specialized institutes exist for seminarians with a calling to a strong Latin and perhaps some koine Greek knowledge.

      I confess that I do view advanced Latin proficiency as a virtual cenacle of the resistant remnant. This is why I’ve desired to teach Latin clandestinely. I now realize that not every priest needs to understand the poetic difference between the gerund and gerundive. Latin does not ensure orthodoxy or orthopraxy, though I still believe this to be the case.

      I look at my collection of salvaged potted seminary Aquinas manuals of the turn of the last century, written entirely in Latin, and feel not a little sorrow. The decline of Latin education (and education in Latin) has left some pause. This I must live with uneasily.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #16:

        I was unable to tell if you were serious or not, Jordan, with the first paragraph. I don’t believe in that pastoral-academic division that some seem to subscribe to. It’s too either-or. For one, in my opinion, it has led to the lowering of academic standards in certain quarters in terms of priestly formation, under the assumption that skills are more useful than ‘abstract theoretical knowledge’. I would be the last person to deny that personal and pastoral skills are important for ministry – but the academy is a part of that, not opposed. Especially in the modern world, where information is so much more readily available, a priest should have some basis when commenting or articulating a position – and knowledge informs pastoral practice. I don’t mean to deny that the emphasis and certain features and objectives of academic and pastoral forms are different. But the ivory-tower-academic trope is trotted out too often simply when someone disagrees with a particular point of a particular clergyperson. In my experience, some of the most pastoral and sensitive clergy (of different denominations) that I have privileged to work with have also been very academically qualified.

        On the other hand, I wonder whether Latin proficiency in seminaries was everything that you seem to describe. It seems to me that there was only a small window in which Latin was fostered to the degree you see it – at least in the diocesan priesthood. I think that even in the per-conciliar Church, a lot of places and priests were content with ‘getting by’. One change that to which I would attribute a bigger effect is the decline of the classical languages at a middle and high school level.

  11. I’m sorry, but I expect someone celebrating the sacraments to have a fluent understanding of the texts. Otherwise we are entering the realm of spells and incantations, where it is enough to have them pronounced and understanding is not required.

    1. @Alan Johnson – comment #15:

      Alan,

      I can’t tell you the number of clergy I’ve encountered who speak English as a second language because they come from abroad. Complete understanding is not required; proper intent is required, and even then it doesn’t need to be much more elaborate than “that it should do whatever it is it’s supposed to do.”

  12. Alan, maybe we are arguing about the meaning of “fluent”. I would certainly expect a priest who says Mass in Latin to have studied the English translations so that he knows what he is saying. I agree that mumbling words that the priest doesn’t understand at all is not at all a good idea.

    I can understand most liturgical Latin at sight or on hearing, and rather quickly provide a decent rendering into English. But I would hardly describe myself as “fluent” — for example, I could not go in the opposite direction without some of huffing and puffing and recourse to a dictionary.

    To pick up on Jordan’s comment, I don’t really care if the priest knows the difference between a gerund and a gerundive; quite a few of good and holy priests couldn’t explain similar grammatical nuances in English.

    Nonetheless I would expect the celebrant to understand what we are praying for!

  13. I think this discussion is circling around an important issue. Using words mechanistically creates an anomalous theological situation for Christian worship because we are not in the realm of magic or the occult. (I would add that sometimes the syntax in the new translation of the Missal renders the meaning of sentences so obscure, they might as well be a foreign language, and this is a problem for the same reason.) There is a difference between failing to understand what words mean and considering that understanding them is beside the point. Alan is right about spells and incantations. He goes too far in saying usage must be like one’s first language, as Jonathan and others have pointed out, but underneath this overstatement is a worthwhile insight.

  14. If we are going to teach outdated liturgies in seminaries, wouldn’t we think that due attention ought to be paid to the Pre-1955 Holy Week rites (and the cool vestments for the deacon and subdeacon), the Missal of 1965 and the proposed ordo in 1998 Sacramentary? For roundedness’s sake. Also, priests should be versed in Anglican and Eastern rites as well. I think everyone should learn the 1962 rites but we shouldn’t stop there. The Rutheno-Carpathian Rite (pre-1664 Mukachevo changes, of course) is just as important in the life of the Church as 1962.

  15. Rita, thank for discerning the kernel beneath the shell of my habitual overstatement.
    Jordan, I share your sorrow at the decline in Latin in general. One of my private vices is to relish being able to translate inscriptions in cathedrals etc. Its quite legitimate, my wife is a Latinist too! I benefited from a “classical” education (in the days before education was seen in terms of providing factory fodder,) and am very grateful for it. The downside is that, having been taught how to translate, I find that my teeth gnash every Sunday at the clumsiness of much of what I hear. I fear I would have failed my exams if I had followed that example.

  16. If we applied the ” I would expect a celebrant to be as fluent in as their native language” rule across the board, I suspect the last three bishops of Rome would never have celebrated Mass in Italian.

  17. Spells and incantations? There is a definite whiff of gnosticism in the presentation of the Eucharist in an unknown language.

    In an ideal situation, all the small-c celebrants would be facile in the language in which they pray. Fluency is required for artists and writers. And since the TM needs none of that among modern persons, it can function on the level of facility or gnostic incantation, or somewhere in between.

    Seminarians need training in the sacraments. All the rites and praenotanda, and some pastoral experience, too. I would see Latin as useful as an additional degree. Maybe something the bishop decides you need.

  18. Alan Johnson : However I would expect an EF celebrant to be as fluent in Latin as their native language, and I would expect their fluency to be tested and accredited by an appropriate academic authority.

    By this standard, however, most native English speaker priests would be unable to celebrate Spanish-language Masses; they may become fluent in Spanish, but not on the same level as English. The bulk of American priests are now expected to have reasonable fluency in Spanish, given that it’s an important part of ministry in much of the country, but to impose the standard suggested here would make it impossible to celebrate most of these Masses – surely an undesirable outcome.

    Rather, a reasonable competency in Ecclesiastical Latin along the lines discussed by Jonathan seems adequate, just as it would be of an American priest being asked to celebrate Ordinary Form Masses in Spanish, Vietnamese, etc.; or for that matter, a foreign-born non-native English speaker priest given pastoral duties in an American parish.

  19. Fritz Bauerschmidt : If we applied the ” I would expect a celebrant to be as fluent in as their native language” rule across the board, I suspect the last three bishops of Rome would never have celebrated Mass in Italian.

    Indeed: Joseph Ratzinger and (especially) Karol Wojtyla were veritable polyglots, no question; both were very fluent in Italian; but no one can pretend that they were as fluent in Italian as they were in German and Polish, respectively.

  20. Paul Inwood : The proportion of the flock represented by adherents of the EF is a tiny fraction of 1%, and yet we find that some seminaries are devoting a disproportionate amount of time to celebrating in this form, and a hugely-disproportionate amount of time to training ordinands to celebrate in this form.

    I’m quite curious to know: Which seminaries are these?

    I can only think of a handful of U.S. seminaries that even offer classes or workshops dedicated to the traditional Roman Rite, and none of them make it a requirement (only one diocese, Madison, seems to be moving toward making it a requirement). Mount Saint Mary’s does, for example – it requires two years of Ecclesiastical Latin and express permission from one’s bishop, however. In some ways it may even have receded a bit: Kenrick-Glennon used to, for example, but under Fr. Horn, no longer does.

    I confess I’m not as familiar with the situation in the UK, but I would be surprised to hear that it’s any better over there.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #31:

      Richard, I was basing my comment on the statistics quoted in the original post:

      how often American seminaries celebrate the extraordinary form during their academic year.

      Survey says:
      10% monthly or more
      13% once a semester
      3% annually…

      and more especially on the amount of time given in some seminaries (on both sides of the Pond) to teaching ordinands how to celebrate in the EF.

      If the proportion of those requiring EF celebrations in parishes is a fraction of 1% across the board, it does seem disproportionate to spend what is a considerably larger fraction of the teaching time available on what is clearly a minority interest.

      As Rita says (#12), it’s not as if liturgy is treated seriously as a major subject, as the Plan for Priestly Formation demands. The typical one hour a week in Years 1 and 4 is a mere token offering of what the subject demands. It’s rather like releasing doctors into the world who may be very expert in, say, radiology or maxillo-facial or indeed any other specialization you care to name but who have little knowledge of basic anatomy.

  21. Jonathan points out that he would expect “the celebrant to understand what we are praying for.” Why, then, does anyone deem it acceptable for the laity to be excluded from understanding what we too are praying for during a Latin EF liturgy, a language that most laity (and most priests) do not know? I don’t understand why the use of Latin in liturgy, the “work of the people”, is permitted or wanted — and I was born pre-Vat II. Did Jesus speak in the vernacular or some language that no one understood? Did Jesus preach with whistles and bells and ornate vestments? Or did he touch people’s souls through his simplicity and compassion? I can go to an Italian opera (I don’t speak Italian) and be entertained. I go to Mass to pray with and for the people.

    1. @Jean Romain – comment #32:
      the laity to be excluded from understanding what we too are praying for during a Latin EF liturgy

      How does this argument retain traction in an age where the people attending Masses in the E.F. are not ignorant of the prayers and their meanings? They either have personal missals which contain a translation of the texts, or a worship aid (yes, even at the EF!) with a translation.

      Jean, I was in Germany a couple of months ago. I don’t know the German language, apart from a smattering of vocabulary I picked up years ago in high school. I went to Mass, and it was in German. I didn’t understand much of what was said. Did I err in doing so?

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #34:
        I think I’m with Jeffrey on this one.

        Vernacular is a liturgical good (now I’m speaking for myself, not him) and I welcome it, and I think it is highly important that the laity ‘understand’ what is going on as much as possible, even as the liturgy is a mystery and we don’t ever understand it and it is much more anyway than what we do understand rationally. But as good and great as vernacular is, it is not absolutely good, and there are sometimes also other goods to consider.

        I’d like to think that I participated in liturgies in languages I didn’t understand (Hungarian is my worst – or best – example) because the local people were so devout in their prayer and so enthusiastic in the singing that I was drawn into the liturgical action by them – I think more so than at any number of English-language liturgies I’ve attended, alas.

        And it wasn’t because I had Give Us This Day to follow the texts! 🙂

        awr

      2. @Anthony Ruff – comment #35:
        Lest others wonder, I also believe the vernacular to be a liturgical good. 🙂

        At the risk of digressing, since this thread is about the E.F.:

        Outside of “international” liturgies, I don’t think we have much need for all-Latin liturgies, but I’m in favor of keeping in touch with our Latin roots, so that when we’re at those international liturgies we might all be able to pray aloud in a common tongue (Pentecost notwithstanding). It’s not hard to learn by heart a few of the prayers of the Mass in Latin, like the Our Father or the Lamb of God.

  22. I concur with Jeffrey’s comment #36 and as a music minister do promote occasional Latin singing during the Mass, thereby preserving our roots so that the baby is not thrown out with the bathwater. The key for me is occasional. No need, then, to rely on my copy of Give Us This Day to follow the texts here in the US.

  23. An Episcopal priest has rendered the 1979 Book of Common Prayer into Latin which is used twice a month at the Church of the Advent in San Francisco. Earlier a retired Anglican priest issued his Latin version of famous old Protestant hymns. This collection may be found online.

  24. I also agree with Jeffrey (numbers 34 and 36 above) — especially in an urban parish, with people coming from dozens of language backgrounds. For our Novus Ordo Latin Mass, we provide a translation booklet, and there is a sheet translating the proper prayers for the day. It seems to work.

    For devotees of the older rite: assuming a suitable grasp of Latin, any sense of how long it takes a seminarian to become familiar with the rituals of the various kinds of Masses (low, sung, etc.) so that they can be celebrated without too much “performance anxiety”? Is this months of intensive training? Weeks?

  25. Hello Paul,

    Thanks for the reply.

    By the numbers given, it would seem that 3/4 of U.S. seminaries offer no TLM whatsoever, which I now understand is true of all British seminaries. So obviously these seminaries are not devoting disproportionately excessive time to the TLM. I assume we’re talking about the 10% that offer it once a month, presumably during the regular academic year. 10% of 189 seminaries times nine TLM’s = about 170 EF Masses. Throw in the other categories and we might be up to 190, or even 200. Out of what must be tens of thousands of seminary Masses, that must come to…a fraction of a percent.

    Yet to merely host a Mass is not necessarily to train in it. I can serve the TLM, yet I would not consider myself remotely capable of offering it, even if I were ordained. The real question might better be which ones actually offer training and education on the EF – either as classes or workshops. Yet I am aware of only a tiny handful who offer either. Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, for example, offers an elective once per year, and it comes with considerable conditions for interested seminarians. Same with the NAC.

    So much for the seminaries. Is it really true that the proportion of Catholics attending TLM’s are “a fraction of 1%?” No formal surveys exist on this, so we must get at it indirectly. Sherry Weddell this spring concluded that TLM’s were 0.6% of all weekend Masses; her data was old, however, and it seems to be up to 0.75% now.

    Yet these aren’t even distributed. Dioceses (like, say, Madison) emphasizing the TLM in seminaries generally have more TLM’s in the first place. So for these dioceses, the time spent – which is relatively little even for them – maybe 1-3% of all seminary Masses, and perhaps an elective or workshop only a few seminarians are able to take.

    I get that you think that even one hour spent on the TLM is too much, since you believe that Summorum was a mistake. But these numbers don’t seem disproportionate to demand.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #41:

      Richard: Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, for example, offers an elective once per year, and it comes with considerable conditions for interested seminarians. Same with the NAC.

      What are these “considerable conditions”?

  26. Jordan Zarembo : @Richard Malcolm – comment #41: Richard: Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, for example, offers an elective once per year, and it comes with considerable conditions for interested seminarians. Same with the NAC. What are these “considerable conditions”?

    A prerequisite of passing Ecclesiastical Latin I and II, and formal permission from one’s bishop.

    Well – I don’t think the Latin conditions are unreasonable. But it’s a substantial prerequisite to get out of the way.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #43:

      Richard: A prerequisite of passing Ecclesiastical Latin I and II, and formal permission from one’s bishop.

      Well – I don’t think the Latin conditions are unreasonable. But it’s a substantial prerequisite to get out of the way.

      Maybe. Students progress at different paces through their Latin studies. A prerequisite of Latin I and II might hinder some students from an opportunity to learn the EF. The requirement of permission from one’s bishop is likely the most formidable obstacle for many seminarians, not Latin proficiency.

  27. Jordan Zarembo : @Richard Malcolm – comment #43: The requirement of permission from one’s bishop is likely the most formidable obstacle for many seminarians, not Latin proficiency.

    For seminarians from some dioceses, it’s likely a lethal obstacle.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #45:

      For seminarians from some dioceses, it’s likely a lethal obstacle.

      The FSSP has a waiting list. Tells you something. Anyway, a trad-leaning seminarian who is dismissed for wanting to take an EF course might be better off training as a trad priest anyway. However, a seminarian might not be able to enroll at a traditionalist seminary right away. This might dampen a vocation..

      Unfortunately, the FSSP and perhaps other traditionalist seminaries often cap the enrollment age in the late 20’s or early 30’s. This might (unfairly, I’d say) prevent certain older seminarians from leaving their current situation, despite their trad sympathies.

  28. 1. I’m not a seminary professor (though I bet I could play one on TV), but as someone who is served by seminary graduates, I find it totally irresponsible to take seminarians’ precious time away from the sacred and human sciences they need to prepare them for their ministry and instead teach them a second, “extraordinary,” exceedingly complex order of worship. Preconciliar seminarians learned today’s “EF,” to be sure, but they had the advantage of taking part in the “EF” liturgy several times each day and seeing, from infancy on, how their pastors and their professors conducted it. And it was the only order they had to learn.
    2. It also seems to me, as someone who is served by seminary graduates, that the best preparation for conducting liturgy is (1) a deep engagement with the beliefs proclaimed in it and (2) a smell-of-the-sheep connection with the congregation. “Smells and Bells” courses should be based on that formation, not vice versa.
    3. As someone who understands Latin prayers fairly well, I would be scandalized if it were clear that a priest was speaking sentences he did not understand. It wouldn’t count that he could understand the English translation alongside. When the liturgical use of Latin was defended in preconciliar days, there was an assumption that although the congregation didn’t understand it, the priest did. When it’s not a real language for either priest or people, that defense falls apart.
    4. If I were building a seminary curriculum, I would also have to face the bigger question of whether the provisions of “Summorum Pontificum” are consistent with the commands of the most recent Church council. Being convinced that they aren’t, I might be in trouble if I really were a seminary professor.

  29. Unfortunately, the FSSP and perhaps other traditionalist seminaries often cap the enrollment age in the late 20′s or early 30′s. This might (unfairly, I’d say) prevent certain older seminarians from leaving their current situation, despite their trad sympathies.

    It is unfortunate, but not an unreasonable policy: Given that they have room for only so many seminarians at their two seminaries, they appear to wish to maximize the possible return on the enormous investment of time and resources employed in forming those seminarians. And in actuarial terms, you’re going to get more years of active ministry out of a 28 year old ordinand than, say, a 45 year old one – tragic events like the murder of Fr. Kenneth Walker this summer notwithstanding.

    But yes, they likely miss some good vocations as a result. There’s a tradeoff.

    P.S. They have accepted a handful of ordained diocesan priests over the years (including a monsignor from Illinois I know), men who are often over the nominal age limit. But that makes sense, too, given that they’re spared the same need to form them.

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