Sunday, March 21, 2010

Apostolic Visitation of Irish Seminaries

While the recent Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father addressed the litany of Clerical Child Abuse in Ireland, he also mentions that part of the program for renewal will be, among other things, an Apostolic Visitation of the Seminaries. Ireland has only three diocesan seminaries left: St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, St. Malachy's in Belfast (which offers formation only during the first few years of priestly formation - during philosophical studies) and the Irish College in Rome (which will presumably - and hopefully - fall under the remit of the Apostolic Visitor).

Having spent time in two of these three institutions I am delighted to hear that this visitation is taking place. Since my time in formation I have been convinced that the renewal of the Church in Ireland must begin with a renewal of our houses of formation, which in my experience were (are?) woefully inadequate. Let's just say they didn't inspire a strong sense of priestly identity and one didn't always feel that being truly Catholic in one's outlook was all that important or necessary even.

It is time that the Church in Ireland moved beyond 70's style formation programs which have proven themselves to be disastrous at so many levels. It is time that seminary training involved the encouragement of young men to become holy men of God, zealous for the Lord's flock and faithful to the teaching and direction of Holy Mother Church. I can honestly say that not one (with the exception of one spiritual director I had) ever even hinted that the priesthood had anything to do with the salvation of souls.

I know from experience, and many who shared my time in the seminary will also know, that many times we were asked to compromise here, there and everywhere on what we knew was the right thing to do. Not on any grand scale perhaps - but my philosophy has always been fidelity in small things - so the Lord can entrust me with bigger things.

Perhaps one fruit of the Visitation will be that the Seminarians in Maynooth will once again return to the traditional posture for the Consecration of the Mass - i.e. that they will get on their knees and not remain standing. It might not be a massive issue in alot of peoples minds, but I think it is symptomatic of something greater. As Pope Benedict wrote (as Cardinal Ratzinger):

It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture – insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the One before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core.” (Spirit of the Liturgy)

End of rant!!!

1 comment:

  1. But such a great rant! Thank you, Father. We need priests like you to challenge us to faithfulness and holiness. Wish more of our priests would "rant."

    Thank you, Father. I pray you are being richly blessed during this year dedicated to priests.