So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A vocations prediction.

H/T Fr. Z

Vocations to the priesthood blossomed significantly under Pope Benedict. One might argue that the continuing bump in vocations is due to Papa-emeritus Benedict's continuing influence, i.e., his call to dignity and to celebrate the Mass according to the mind of Holy Mother Church.

Our beloved emeritus pope embodied the very dignity which has invited men of integrity to enter the priesthood. Papa Benedict presented clearly the dignity of the Holy Eucharist, the Mass. When the Mass is given its due respect, vocations increase. The priest who honours the Sacred Liturgy by embodying, for example, the liturgical norms delineated in Sacrosanctum Concilium (especially SC22), is a vessel through whom God can draw and inspire others to serve Holy Mother Church. Unfortunately, far too many priests are so woefully ignorant of the Church's documents on the Sacred Liturgy that they are ill-equipped to form others in the authentic spirituality of the Mass.

Where the Benedictine ethos has permeated diocesan cultures, vocations to the priesthood continue to thrive.
A foundation for the prediction:
An Easter Blessing: Madison experiences surge in men studying for priesthood.
Madison (WKOW) — For the Catholic Diocese of Madison, a new wave of those studying for priesthood is an Easter blessing.
For the first time in forty years, more than thirty men are involved in seminary training. On top of that, six others are being ordained this June.
The bulk of these priesthood pupils are in their early to mid 20’s, but a new and growing trend of older men are also working to join the fold.
Monsignor James Bartylla says these individuals are in their 50’s. He says because they’re a bit older, the Diocese takes a different approach with them. Monsignor Bartylla says these individuals perceive the holy work as a second career.
“They’ve had a professional career and they’ve had a good income,” said Monsignor Bartylla.
“That’s why we have to be careful when they come into the seminary- these men have had careers, incomes health insurance, all these things we take for granted- we have to be ready for them,” he added.
Monsignor Bartylla says about half a dozen of the 33 men are older in age.
Fr. Z notes in a preamble to a April 2015 blog article:
This is a great story on the vocations situation in the Diocese of Madison, where the Extraordinary Ordinary, His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino is the diocesan bishop.

There is a strong connection between the bishop and number of vocations. No question.
Where the Mass is celebrated with authenticity—decorum, with reverence of heart and gesture and voice, solemnity and faithfulness to doctrine and the rubrics—men and women are coming forward and dedicating their lives to Christ in service to His Church. In parishes and dioceses where priests and bishops stray from the Mass by constantly reinventing the Liturgy, at first in seemingly small ways but which develop into licenses to depart further from the rubrics, vocations are non-existent.

In this blogger's experience, college age men and women speak of grudgingly tolerating liturgies that are irreverent, goofy, self aggrandizing and celebrated with little appreciation for the received content of the Faith. In other words, a younger generation is not interested in the inventions of rebellious priests who will not pray the Mass with even a little sense of the ars celebrandi. To put it succinctly, they expect more from their priests.

Anyone with an ear and eye for authenticity can appreciate that the "swagger of the 1970s", as one local priest lauded in a homily to university students last spring, is not the direction the Church needs to be headed. That so-called swagger is a last gasp and a clinging to a dead decade that many of us recovering children-of-the-'70s now in our fifties simply gag at for what it represents: a departure from reason; low respect for authority; and cultural and moral blandness.
A word to the wise: if a priest goes on about the halcyon days of the 1970s, flee for a safe harbour. That priest's ship is sinking.
The Prediction

Unless the Benedictine revival continues, the springtime of vocations will come to an end.
Catholic identity is weak because the Liturgy is weak. If the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, then the Mass on Vancouver Island is frequently more a valley of tears. People who have no little or no sense of the sacred will have little or no identity other than the sense they belong to a religious social club.
Mass Obscured

When priests and bishop draw so much attention to themselves instead of the sacred Liturgy by engaging in cheap theatrics or unwarranted and illicit departures from the Mass, there is little incentive to join the ranks of men who are by nature, or appear to be, rebellious attention seekers, men who are incapable of being docile to the Holy Spirit Who is the true source of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

When priests and bishops more resemble Pope Benedict XVI in teaching and practice, people are drawn to Christ. The power of the Benedictine revival of sound intellectual formation, liturgical authenticity and continuity with the Tradition of the Church has born much fruit. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life poured forth during the tenure of Papa Benedict because the Liturgy was once again honoured and celebrated with dignity. 

Christ Himself acts in the Liturgy, and when the Liturgy is honoured, Christ is honoured. Where Christ is honoured in the Liturgy and the family, He showers vocations upon the faithful. Christ works miracles where there is faith.
Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.—St. Matthew 13:57-58.
His Excellency the Bishop of Ars Celebrandi

If the bishop is good and holy, self abnegating and a man who points to Christ in the Liturgy and leads people in authentic worship with beautiful, true and good liturgy—because in true liturgy Christ is most clearly seen and therefore approached with greater opportunity—then men will be drawn to the priesthood. Yes, it is that simple.

Conversations with college age men and women have taught me that the younger generation wants authenticity, depth and meaning. They want to know how to celebrate the Mass properly with detail in form and substance. They want to be part of a legacy of faith not fiction. The fact that many supposedly learned men, i.e., priests, cannot or will not affirm the nexus between the reverent celebration of the Liturgy and vocations is a form of myopia that will continue to impact many dioceses for years to come. That is, vocations will continue to dwindled until such a time when dioceses adopt an authentic renewal of the sacred Liturgy in continuity with the actual vision of the Second Vatican Council.

There are many liturgical wastelands dying a slow death because they are inhabited by faithless ideologues who remake the Mass in their own image. The crass way in which the Mass is celebrated in so many parishes is soul destroying.

As Fr. Z reminds:
There is a strong connection between the bishop and number of vocations. No question.
Thanks be to God for bishops like His Excellency Robert Morlino. The Church could use a lot more like him.

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