Wherein a priest alumnus of the North American College responds. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

From Fr Z’s Blog:

This is NOT a representation or subtle comment on the writer. Keep reading and you’ll get why there is a picture of a Horned Lizard here.

From an alumnus of the North American College (US seminary in Rome) … edited so that the style of writing can’t be traced to any one priest by those who might recognize it.

As a NAC grad, I read your article [HERE] with interest.

I disagree that a student will get in trouble for googling the Latin Mass and related material.

Things that will get a seminarian in trouble are wearing a cassock, biretta, or bad mouthing Conciliar theology or the Vatican II liturgy in public.

Men who show openly an affinity for pre-Conciliar ‘look’ make formators nervous.

I work with priests who are fans of the usus antiquior.  It’s not their interest in that liturgical form that gets them in trouble.  What gets them in trouble are firm statements on faith or morals.  They are black and white and might polarize the faithful.  What gets them in trouble is a biretta, which can really anger some of the older Vatican II clergy.

Or what get’s them in trouble is their ‘obsession’ with using a one thousand year old document, the Summa Theologiae, as a catechetical resource.

That’s what gets them in trouble.

“What gets them in trouble are firm statements on faith or morals….”

That’s it in one.

Liturgy is doctrine, of course.  And we are our rites.

The enemies of Tradition might not always be very bright or well-formed, but they sense the truth of that connection of doctrine and worship viscerally and they react in nasty ways, rather like the Horned Lizard which literally shoots blood from its eyes as a defensive instinct.

Yes, experience informs that this is a pretty good analogy.

Birettas and Latin trigger that generation.

They were conditioned in those halcyon days of change and revolution, protests and the “spirit” and liberation, all oozing together in the ambient of the Church and COUNCIL, to the point that they fused into a kind of mythic icon.

The sight of a biretta, a black chasuble, ad orientem, triggers violent flashbacks, sends them back to their roots of protest and change.

When they see younger priests embracing those things they threw away, literally into dumpsters, they feel threatened and become defensive. Many of them sense in the younger generation’s desire for tradition an implicit attack on their own persons, on their priestly identity (resting on whatever sort of foundation), a criticism of their whole life’s work. So they lash out.

In a sense, they are not wrong that the embrace of Tradition by younger priests is an implicit criticism of their life’s work. That’s because what they strove to build after Vatican II didn’t have the desired effect. In fact, looking around at the Church, on the level of statistics, it was a real failure.

We can blame them and not blame them.  They weren’t and aren’t perfect.  No priests are.  Most of them put their backs into doing what they were told.   The real blame, the blamable blame, lies with a few.

Most of our now older priests were absolutely sincere in what they did. They were good priests and they were formed in their particular time.  But a lot of their work, in the end, didn’t work, objectively.   Yes, yes… there are many factors.  Blah blah blah.  But as bishops and priests go, the Church will go, to the point where St. Jean Eudes’ dire admonishment kicks in.

It stings these older men to suggest that maybe we ought to go back a few squares, and rethink our path.

The younger guys don’t intend to stick a finger in their eye. That’s not their intention in becoming more “trad”.   They just don’t have the baggage of the previous waves of priests. They are simply not as invested in that chimeric ‘spirit’ of the Council and those oh so halcyon days.   Those aren’t their own days!   These are their days!  For them, The Council was just a Council, along with a bunch of other Council’s in a chain of continuity that doesn’t cancel out the value of the previous Councils.  These younger men just want to have their patrimony – all of it, and not just the part that started on 11 October 1962 onward – and get on with things, do their priestly, pastoral work.  They just want to be priests and do things that actually work, not just repeat the obviously failed experiments of the past.

If some few do want to rub it in the face of their older brethren, well… shame on them. Thanks, guys, you few, you unhappy few, for betraying our cause by your willful imprudence.

The vast majority of priests who want Tradition simply want to get on with things, the more the merrier: “Join us, please! We will welcome you. Give us a hand.” Or, at least, “If not, please leave us alone. Don’t mess with our joy.”

I’ve made this comparison before.

Say you are in Chicago and you want to drive to New York. You set out and drive for a long time. Suddenly, thinking you were drawing nearer to Empire State you see a sign saying “Kansas Welcomes You!” What do you do? Do you keep driving in the same direction? Not if you really desire to get to New York. No. Commonsense dictates that you do a U-turn and head the other direction until you start see welcome signs for Eastern states. That’s the smart course. It would be stupid to continue driving in the opposite direction once you know you have strayed. Let’s add to this the fact that you have put on your car a sign, “NEW YORK OR BUST!” You pull into the gas station in Kansas to fuel up and the guy there says, “Hey, didn’t you come in from the East? Buddy, you are going in the wrong direction!” You pay him and start to pull out onto the road, again toward the West. The guy runs out waving his arms, shouting, “HEY! THAT WAY! NEW YORK IS THAT WAY!” But, no. You are on your path.

For these older guys who committed to what they committed in the 60s, 70s, 80s, the sight of a growing congregation at a Traditional Latin Mass is like hot coals on their forehead.  But they’ve got those thinning white-knuckled  hands locked onto the steering wheel and, by gum, they’re not turning the car back.

For this reason, some of them, sad to say, would rather drive off a cliff than turn around.  They would rather destroy a thriving, growing community of happy, zealous young Catholics than let it grow.  Instead of joining them, or at least benignly watching from afar, they’ll run over them with the car on the way to the cliff’s edge.

Because, in the end, it’s all about them.

We can and must act, in charity, in the face of this new round of challenges.

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1 Response to Wherein a priest alumnus of the North American College responds. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

  1. Máire Íde says:

    Well that video was… =/

    I’m not sure ranting is the best medium for winning over the souls of the anti-biretta brigade, but this is an amusing post… and sadly accurate.


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