Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Fr. Z at WDTPRS tells us that His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madision, told his seminarians – 32 in number! – that it was his expectation that all of them learn how to say Mass in the Extraordinary Form before they are ordained.

MY COMMENTS FIRST: I have always felt blessed that I have at least a recollection of what the Church and Catholic schools were like in the late 1950's and the 1960's prior to the Second Vatican Council. I have always felt blessed that my earliest formation as a Catholic was based on the Baltimore Catechism and the Tridentine Mass.

Even as a teenager, I felt that the Second Vatican Council was making me something that I was not intended to be, a Protestantized Catholic. I accepted that for I accepted as a Catholic our pope and the bishops in union with him. But I wondered if it was wise to discard so much that was discarded during the late 60's and 1970's and to be told that this was called renewal.

The fact that we now have maybe two generations of Catholics who never experienced the pre-Vatican II Church or the liturgy of that period worries me. Evidently it worries the Holy Father. Why else would he allow for the liberal celebration of the Mass as it was prior to Vatican II and seek to interpret Vatican within continuity with the Church prior to it.

Today, especially when I celebrate the EF Mass, I feel connected with my roots as a Catholic when God chose me in 1954 through Holy Baptism to be a part of His adopted family as a Roman Catholic in the Latin Rite. I am not ashamed of my heritages as a pre-Vatican II Catholic born in Italy of immigrant parents, one from Canada, the other from Italy and brought up in the south.

A new generation of Catholics experiencing the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will surely help the Church as she continues her "reform of the reform" using the "hermeneutic of continuity." Praise God for that.

Now Father's Z's comments on Bishop Morlino's stroke of genius, but of course it was the Holy Father's stroke of genius to be sure:

Bishop Morlino did not say that they would be required to use it all the time, but that they must know how to use it. If seminaries are not offering the opportunity to learn the older form (which they ought to be, by the way), they could go to workshops or find priests who could help them to learn it. Bottom line: they are to learn the Extraordinary Form.

I think this was a remarkable.

How many bishops, after all, are saying this openly to their seminarians?

It was also, frankly, a paternally charitable thing to tell the seminarians.

First, if there were any doubts about their bishop’s attitude toward his seminarians and traditional forms, these doubts were thereby removed. They need never fear the bishop or worry about what would happen to them when he heard that they were going to TLM’s here or there, learning the rubrics, serving Masses. They need not on this account fear the rector of the seminary they attend, since they are following the expressed desire of the bishop. Moreover, Universae Ecclesiae (the Holy See’s commentary on Summorum Pontificum) gently asserts that seminarians are to know the Extraordinary Form.

Second, knowledge of and use of the older form of Mass teaches men -seminarians and priests alike – something about the priest and the priesthood which the Novus Ordo doesn’t really do on its own. The older form stresses the sacrificial and priestly nature of the priest’s actions and words during Mass as well as the priest’s own deep unworthiness and complete dependence on God’s mercy and grace.

Third, no priest of the Roman Rite ought to rest easy until he knows also the older form. Ignorance of the older form means ignorance of his own rite. Furthermore, when it comes to their ordination, someone must stand up and attest to the ordaining bishop that the men have been properly formed. How can he honestly say they are properly formed if they have been left ignorant by their seminaries of their rite? The seminarians of Madison, by learning the Extraordinary Form, can always be at ease on this point.

At last, the bishop brought them into a larger vision for the “new evangelization”, as it were. I prefer the image of the “Marshall Plan”, by which the USA rebuilt devastated post-war Europe so as to foster good trade and to build a bulwark against encroaching Communism. In our day and in the Church, Benedict XVI is helping to rebuild our Catholic identity in continuity across borders and centuries as well as bolster a bulwark against the dictatorship of relativism. By giving these men their task to learn the older form, Bp. Morlino also brought them as actors into our Holy Father’s project. It seems to me that, as the men ready themselves to go back to their respective seminaries, this is a good start for their participation in the Year of Faith.


Joseph Johnson said...

If Bishop Hartmayer would do the same then the question about the availability of the EF in the Savannah Diocese would become less of an "if" and more of a "when."

That's exactly what is needed if the EF is the have its desired effect on te OF--it needs to be more available and it needs to be inevitable and in the foreseeable future!

rcg said...

Doesn't this really make sense? Our new translation is a more proper translation of the Latin, the NO is derived from the EF and it would help the priest understand what is being prayed and why. It supports him when he is asked about the Liturgy and can refute some of the crazy things lay theologians trry to push on us.

William Meyer said...

When was there shame in loving the EF?

Even with the wonderful way you celebrate the OF, Fr. McD, I would prefer the EF.

Fr. Peter Muha said...

I was recently at dinner with a seminary rector and asked him if his seminary offered anything on the EF. He replied with obvious disdain: "No we don't and no bishops are asking us to." How sad.

Unknown said...

I'm proud to call this man my bishop. Please pray hard for him. He has a very difficult time in Madison.