Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wearing the colourful cardigan

When I was 'doing time' studying in a diocesan seminary there was a saying amongst those who were overtly 'sound'. Some of the seminarians were described as 'wearing the colourful cardigan'. This meant that they were basically orthodox but had decided that it was best to appear liberal and not incur the wrath of the modernist gerentocracy. This was in the days, by the way, when black trousers and a white shirt were tantamount to requesting automatic dismissal at the behest of the rather caustic members of the faculty. A reason would be found to diagnose 'immaturity'. A seminarian with 'problems' over the ordination of women (always expressed as one day in the future) would be probed for every kind of psycho sexual malaise to discover why he had issues with women. Worst of all the annual peer review was a time of absolute misery- pay back time in effect. The point is I worry whether 'wearing the colourful cardigan' actually did greater harm to these fragile creatures in the long term as far as priestly character goes. More than once the charade of being liberal slowly slipped into reality.

Now I have a minor miracle on my hands. Two young men I know have been accepted for training and they are both traditionalists and have made no bones about it. I suspect it could have only happened under the current Holy Father. But I have a gnawing suspicion that a form of 'lip service' is being paid on the part of some seminary and diocesan authorities. They are quite happy to show on the returns to Rome that they have seminarians in preparation for the traditional rites but what happens after the returns are dispatched and the appropriate boxes are ticked in some dusty office? Both of these guys know their catechism well enough to know theological nonsense when they see it but are they ready for the social pressures that seem endemic still in the seminary system?  Can they survive the drinking culture that pervades many places? Will they be subject to malign psychological pressures exerted by semi trained practioners of Rogerian Realities. Will they really have to define themselves by their Myer Brigg's Indicator type?

Here's the challenge to us 'traddies'. How do we support these guys who have decided to try the difficult path of negotiating the largely rocky ground in post conciliar seminaries? I don't begrudge the support given to those noble pkaces that have provided us with good and holy men in unhappier times but perhaps, just perhaps, it's time to find a subtle way of providing for those of our soldiers preparing for what is still an uncertain battle.


  1. we could always set up an online support group, I'm pretty sure that their excellencies at the E&WBC would rather celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal rather than send an email

  2. I respect seminarians toughing it out in the Novus Ordo seminaries. After reading "Goodbye Good Men" I was shocked at what went on in the USA.

    I suspect if some of the traditional priestly societies had more apostolates here in the UK, then more candidates from here would go to the FSSP or ICKSP. Sadly, our bishops are more intent with church closures than reviving them as personal parishes.

    As regards to diocesan seminaries and traditional minded candidates, my theory is this: if you don't leave, then they'll kick you out.

  3. We have a local seminary here that would just love to take them. Send them here! ;-)

  4. How about prayer chains - prayer rosters. Works for the non-Catholics. You can send out an semi-annonymous picture (perhaps just first name) with no mention of which seminary and ask people to pray.

    e.g. Here is a picture of Ralph who has just entered a seminary. He needs someone to pray for him (perhaps a number of people to volunteer to pray on different days)…

  5. They are welcome here at any time, for any support I can give them (and I teach at a 'modern' seminary).

  6. Several years ago, our family 'spiritually adopted' a seminarian. He was an orthodox and positive young man, and we prayed for him at family prayers every day - and he prayed for us. We also invited him for family meals occasionally and so on. He is now a priest, and doing very well - and continues to be a great friend of our family.

    So I would strongly recommend this practice!


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