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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Open Letter to Some of My Traditional Seminarian Friends in America and on the Continent of Europe

I write to you in the States and to those on the Continent of Europe. I do not write to those in Great Britain as there is more of an acceptance of individual talents and interests which allows for a healthier seminary experience. But, for those who are upset 24/7, here is some maternal advice.

The reason why you feel emotional about the Latin Mass and cannot be peaceful, is that you are in an adversarial climate.  It is very unhealthy to be in battle mode all the time. In an atmosphere of liberalism and modernism in the Catholic Church in the seminary or even in your parish, it would be too easy to fall into a mind-set of being against and anti-authoritarian all the time. This becomes a habit of mind, which is very unhealthy.

One does not need to be in a mode of defense or even of apologetics all the time. If one is constantly in a "fight or flight" mode, one cannot be creative, cannot learn, and most importantly, cannot love.

Yes, some of us are called to be prophets, like Jeremiah or John the Baptist, but they knew the love, the piercing, cleansing love of God in their lives which kept them grounded. This is what you need, to focus on the Love of Christ and His Mother and less on the evils in the Church. You are called to the Order of Melchizedek, not to the order of prophets. One in a million priests are called to public prophecy. Melchizedek was the King of Salem, the King of Peace.

You will not grow into the loving, kind and prudent gentleman and priest God wants you to be if you are constantly fighting. Even soldiers get battle fatigue and emotional problems because they are on guard against the enemy all the time. I do not mean merely "r and r" , a vacation, but a presence of mind which is positive and living in the grace of God, which always reaches out to those who need Him. The presence of mind is living in the Present Moment of Brother Lawrence, in that simple book, The Practice of the Presence of God. I recommend this.

I am not advocating false, nicey nicey love or a false tolerance of evil. No, I am talking about you finding that still center of your soul where you can work out of peace instead of turmoil and the adversarial mode. One must live and work in peace and not in turmoil.

All of this is in the Will. If you decide to follow peace, the emotions will follow.

I have learned not to live in this mindset and here are some tips from my experience, which is like others.

Number one, be absolutely honest with yourself and others at all times. Never allow deceit of any kind into your life. If you are clear, you will avoid turmoil. Deceit divides. Honesty unites. 

Number two, look for the common ground even with your "opponents". There is always some place where we can start a discussion rather than have an argument if we can find that common ground. If this seems totally impossible, we pray for insight.

Number three, respect yourself, me, others, all men and women, even if they seem like they do not deserve respect. All of us are sinners and all men and women have the dignity as sons and daughters of God, even if we cannot see this. St. Paul's admonition that we have all fallen short of the glory of God should be in our minds constantly.

Number four, pray to see the suffering Christ in those who oppose the Latin Mass. Christ is suffering in that person who hates the Mass, either through serious sin, bad teaching, ignorance, or corruption of mind. Pray and fast. Do not judge.

Number five, realize that the adversarial mode is unhealthy not only for you but for your opponents. You make them more obstinate if you pursue Truth without Love. Love and Truth, even tough love, go together. Tough love is real love, love with honesty. If someone starts an argument, defuse the situation gently but firmly. 

Number six, pray about your role in the Church. Very few priests are called to hard prophecy. I think that is the role of the laity. John the Baptist was not called to be a priest. A priest is called to minister to those whom God loves, His People. If you have a vocation to the priesthood, do not follow the way of the prophet at this time during your studies, but be more humble and wait. Prudence is knowing when and where to speak a truth, even about the Latin Mass.

Number seven, focus on what you are supposed to be doing now, your duty. I think you must actively and strenuously pursue your vocation. Do not get sidetracked. Go back to Latin studies, read the Doctors of the Church and the Early Church Fathers. You have many years of preparation and that is what your focus should be. Learn to learn on your own and not rely on false teaching. Make sure you match everything up to the glorious teaching of the Catholic Church. Rejoice in the beauty of these teachings. Say your Office, say your rosary. Live in the now.

Number eight, pick your battles. Wisdom is knowing when to speak and when to be silent. We do not have to be seen as being "right" all the time. That is intellectual pride. If something is important enough to fight, fine, but this should be the exception rather than the rule. 

Number nine, learn boundaries. Your generation does not know psychological boundaries because of the public sharing of information and because of the lack of manners. Not everyone has to know everything about you and your life. Boundaries protect your soul and mind, and create healthy relationships.

Number ten, remember your First Love. The reason why you are pursuing the priesthood is because God has called you and you have answered "yes". You are in a relationship with the Living God, who is your First Love. All else flows from that.

Number eleven, be patient. I know that it is in the nature of youth to be impatient for change. Learn patience.

Number twelve, be more patient. 

God bless you.