Vocations Foundations

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The following guest post was written by frequent contributor Fr. Donald Kloster, parochial vicar at St. Mary’s in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

I’ve been mulling over many questions lately that pertain to the families of those who enter a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) vocation to the Priesthood and/or Religious life. A related query is how well the Traditional Latin Mass retains those children now being brought up within the Traditional Latin Mass since their early childhood or at least from the time of their earliest memories.

My experience with those raised in the Latin Mass prior to the Second Vatican Council tells me that the knowledge and retention of the faith is promoted by the Vetus Ordo.  My Novus Ordo observations tell me that it leaks faithful like a faulty gasket of an engine leaks oil.

The Novus Ordo culture has produced a plethora of faithful who know very little about their faith despite a myriad of “new” catechetical gimmicks. The Rite of the Mass cannot but help to nourish the soul in the degrees of fidelity to the Apostolic praxis.  We are the result of the Mass we pray. In the Novus Ordo, the engine still runs, but it runs at a diminished capacity because of a minimalist design.

My priest friends who don’t say the TLM are almost single minded in their rebuttal of my conclusion. They insist that it’s all about the families in which people are raised.  Wrong.  On both sides of the argument, either one can point to families that were fairly exemplary but their children don’t practice the faith once they leave home.  Or, as I’ve come across, many others whose parents did not practice the Faith regularly and now their children have chosen to do so as adults on their own.

I’ve lived in 11 different US Dioceses and lived on three continents. Perhaps that speaks less in my favor as it pertains to my being bounced around as I was!  Anecdotes can only be dismissed if the sample size of the given observation is small and fairly isolated. My sample size is quite large.  Sometimes anecdotal occurrences are repeated so often that the conclusion should not be dismissed; that is as it pertains to reasonable thinking.

I’ve been involved in TLM circles for 28 years and have said the Traditional Mass for 20 years. I am, however, a product of the Novus Ordo. I never even saw a TLM until I was 24 years old. I went to the Seminary and was ordained as a Novus Ordo priest. My first TLM was as a 3 year ordained priest in 1998. I have no dog in this fight.  Really, when I began to say the TLM I thought it was just for the good of my priestly spirituality. I never thought the TLM would catch on again in any wider scope; ever.

This past year, I have been doing a National Study on the TLM only parishes in the USA. Currently, there are around 70 of these but they are exploding in numbers with each passing year because the TLM priestly vocations are outpacing Novus Ordo priestly vocations by more than 7 to 1. My preliminary numbers are exceeding my initial expectations.

There is a huge wave transforming the Catholic landscape and it is largely being ignored by the Catholic leadership.  I can now say what I suspected last year. The Novus Ordo is dying and it will be replaced by the Vetus Ordo sooner than anyone had foreseen, but certainly by 2050 the TLM will be the dominant liturgical practice once again.

My instincts tell me that 30-50% of the current vocations coming from the Traditional Latin Mass were not raised in it. Next year, I’ll try to test that feeling with the aforementioned study. A great number of the young men and women entering the TLM orders discovered it themselves; it wasn’t their family upbringing. My belief is that the Ancient Mass is the vocations catalyst and not the family per se.

One can certainly find a vocation as a Novus Ordo attendee, but all of the evidence suggests that many, many more are found as a TLM attendee. One huge proof is the precipitous vocations drop off after the Council and the abandoning of the 1962 Missal. The other proof is that vocations continue to rocket up in 2018 in the TLM and have leveled off at a very much lower level in the Novus Ordo seminaries and convents using the 1970 Missal. The Novus Ordo closed convents and seminaries will never reach their previous levels because there is no upward trend; not even in the same ballpark.  Remember, all Catholics live in the same society and we all have similar temptations and spiritual obstacles to overcome.  “By their fruit ye shall know them” (Mt. 7:16).

Finally, let’s be clear. This article is not intended to disparage anyone. Not one of us should cling to anything that is passing away. There is no reason to put your faith in something in order to win an argument or simply because at one time you thought things would improve with the Novus Ordo. Instead, things got much worse.

At the dawn of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, we bled a big majority of Mass attending Catholics. No one asked them what they preferred. No one gave them any options. If they had been asked and/or allowed to attend the Mass of the Ages, the Novus Ordo would not have supplanted the formative Mass of every canonized saint to date.

Now bishops often repeat the stale quoted refrain, “almost no one wants the TLM.” Why do they suddenly care what the proverbial “people” want? They didn’t care back in 1970 when almost none of the faithful wanted a vernacular Mass. It’s true the Church is not a democracy.  She is a theocracy and God will have His way! Everything is coming back full circle and I have a lot of buried relatives and friends who, if living today, would be overjoyed.

Posted on October 8, 2018, in holiness, liturgy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. “There is a huge wave transforming the Catholic landscape and it is largely being ignored by the Catholic leadership. I can now say what I suspected last year. The Novus Ordo is dying and it will be replaced by the Vetus Ordo sooner than anyone had foreseen, but certainly by 2050 the TLM will be the dominant liturgical practice once again.”

    I’m not saying that isn’t good news, but surely a lot has to happen other than switching one set of books with another. You have an entire infrastructure built around the official liturgical reform, from the top down. Even diocesan seminarians who study the TLM do so as an elective, at least for now.

    It is generally easier to tear something down than it is to build it back up again. I’m curious as to how anyone would expect the process to look, beyond some overly optimistic fairy-tale endings.

    I think that’s a pretty fair question to ask.

    • Father can answer for himself of course, but I see this happening organically…as one (the NO liturgy & accompanying culture) will simply produce fewer & fewer vocations, while the other (fostered by traditional parishes & communities) will achieve majority status by both growth AND by default. I don’t see the hierarchy ever intentionally taking us in that direction however.

  2. It is a very fair question you ask. The answer is in the demographics. When TLM vocations outpace Novus Ordo vocations more than 7 to 1, it’s going to be a short road to a huge transformation.

    I have 1,400 samples now in a 2018 National TLM Study I’m doing. The TLM attendees have 1.3 more babies per woman (that’s a huge numerical increase). They give 5 times more money to the collection. They are more than 4 times more likely to go to Sunday Mass.

    I know very well what the above numbers mean. So what are your numbers saying?

    • There’s another aspect of the data that I’m fairly sure can’t be quantified right now: the Stealth Trads. My wife and I are registered with a Novus Ordo parish that offers a single TLM very early on Sunday mornings. We are regular Mass attendees and have four children. While we should be counted among your TLM attendees, people like us are probably skewing the data in favor of the Novus Ordo. We aren’t alone either, not by far.

      What I’m saying is that the actual strength of the Traditionalists will be quite a bit greater than your numbers will be able to suggest. Given the option of an exclusively TLM parish, many of us would immediately switch our membership. As the number of Latin Mass offerings continues to grow in the US, I think the exploding number of attendees will be due in a large part to the Stealth Trads who are for the moment hanging on in Novus Ordo World.

      • With that idea are many Stealth Trad priests who would exclusively say the TLM if they were given the chance. The Stealth Trad laymen and priests will all one day be part of this transformation adding to the already overwhelming wave/avalanche of Traditional Latin Masses/Sacraments that is coming. Fr. Ringley (my pastor) and I have talked a lot about this very point. Thank you for bringing it up.

  3. There are those of us who are old enough to have grown up under the Traditional Latin Mass. I don’t know if it had an impact on whether we continued to practice our Catholicism or not.
    For me, the language and changes in the liturgy are irrelevant. I am a Christian because I got my inner peace and strength from my surrender to Christ apart from the mass. I take them with me to mass and wherever else I go.

    • @aiello01 with much respect,

      There is a huge difference between you and the youth in the TLM today. You were not given the option of staying in the TLM. Everyone was forced to go to the Novus Ordo. Now everyone may attend the Mass of his choice. The Novus Ordo has a lot of greying attendees and the Vetus Ordo has a lot of young families (including a lot of 20 and 30 somethings who are single).

      For the first time, we can compare the two Masses side by side and people get to vote with their feet in spite of the Bishops and Priests who are very opposed to the Mass that converted the Americas! We must heed the New Testament warning of Gamaliel; “You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”…! God always proves his Will via good fruits.

  4. I can hardly wait for the transformation to happen.
    Your post is very informative, thanks so much.
    The TLM is the only Holy Mass I attend, since
    2010 …and belong to a Traditional community.
    The modern Novus Ordo is not the true MASS, it is a complete break from TRADITION.
    So I am glad to hear that your findings …will close these seminaries down. Let us return to TRADITION and embrace the MASS of all times. God Bless

  5. Outnumber 7:1 per capita or in absolute numbers? Either way, it’s good news.

  6. For what its worth, I attend Mass at an SSPX priory which has been in existence for just over 40 years. In the parish bulletin is the list of all members of the parish who have gone on to vocations, for parishioners to pray for. This includes postulants, novices, men and women religious, seminarians and priests. That number comes to 38, for an average of one per year. These would be stunning numbers for any NO diocese and I pointed this out to a couple of the “conservative” members of the presbyterate of the local diocese, and they were dismissed out of hand of course because they are “schismatic lefebvrites”.

  7. Reblogged this on The Deus Ex Machina Blog and commented:
    FOR THE RECORD:

  8. This will happen a lot faster. Francis will approve of sodomy and there will be a great split. The faithful remnant will begin returning to the TLM.

  9. I know of Fr Kloster’ s database and will not refute his numbers but I would like to know if he had done any statistical inference testing. Ex did he test to see if his sample size was statistically large enough, what is his R-square? Has he checked other independent variables that could also explain the increase of TLM priestly vocations if his r- square was lower than .80? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered to pass any credibility test especially for journal publication. I say this with all sincerity, good luck with your research Father. I think you are on to something incredibly profound.

    • @Jeannine I’m intrigued by the questions you raised. My BA from the University of Texas at Austin is as an Economist, not a Statistician.

      So far, I have over 1,400+ samples for 4 moral questions/1 economic question/3 sacramental/attendance questions. I received 900+ samples for the #9 women only question with regards to TLM women’s live births per woman.

      The samples were 1,200+ in pew hand written surveys. The other 200+ are a nation-wide online Traditional Latin Mass only sample. So far, the in pew samples are taken from San Diego, CA – Nashua, NH – Dallas, Texas – Denver, CO

      The current national online survey has samples from Texas, Washington, California, Idaho, Connecticut, New York, Minnesota and Kansas.

      The Study will end at the end of this month (October) and I hope to surpass 2,000 samples as well as 1,200 for the live births question. I have the potential of another 8 parishes participating from Kansas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Wisconsin and Arizona.

      As you can see, my aim was to get samples from the 4 corners of our USA map; to get areas more progressive and areas more traditional; to get urban areas and parishes in smaller communities.

      • I concur entirely with the stealth trad phenomena. Never thought of it that way before.

        Many of the most solid families I know are in the Novus Ordo. They attend the TLM once in a while and would switch over no problem. They are the pillars and support of their NO parishes.

        Others I know are saints who by God’s grace simply don’t see the problems and don’t “get” Latin. They too could easily transition, but God has them in the heart of the battle and Francis’ “mess” to say the least.

        Anyways, my best and warmest regards to you, Father. And please keep my family in your prayers if you would.

        I absolutely love this study you are doing.

        Until we can enjoy a cigar some time again.

        JR

  10. How do you participate in the sample? My family attended a NO parish in Kansas and now attends a TLM in Kansas. I have not heard of this survey by Fr. Kloster, but would love to add our numbers to his survey.

    Thank you.

    Kerrie

    • Call my parish and give the parish secretary your e-mail. I’ll e-mail you the link.
      St. Mary’s Norwalk (203) 866-5546

  11. There are prophecies as well as statistical projections that point to the same conclusions as yours: https://thefivebeasts.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/st-hildegard-and-the-convergence-of-feast-days-in-2038/

  12. I wish I could share your enthusiasm for vocations from the TLM. Was raised in the N.O. and started TLM with my husband 10 years ago…we are shocked still at the lack of vocations from it…even seemingly holy families with lots of kids won’t mention vocations to their children. They are all growing up and getting married. I do think that there is a correlation between no vocations and the immodest of dress in the women and their daughters. It’s getting worse with them, now starting to lose the veil at Holy Mass. From what we’ve seen in 2 different communities we have been a part of, feminism is the ugly winner and nothing is being done about it at all…

    • Unless the parish/chapel has a written dress code not everyone is going to comply to the general standard of modesty.

  13. While I think this all good news, there is one problem. What happens when the priest who offers the TLM is told by his bishop to leave his parish? Or is suspended, regardless of the lack of legitimacy on the part of the bishop? The priest obeys. The bishop wins (in the short term anyway), but the folks who attend the TLM are now without a priest and have to go elsewhere, which can be a problem for some people.

    Eventually, the Novus Ordo will come to an end if for no other reason than the people attending it will die out. But as long as their are bishops more interested in continuing the revolution, and priests who hold the promise of obedience to their bishop to be more important than doing their duty of offering the Mass, giving the Sacraments, etc., it makes no difference how many Trads there are.

    So many people seem to forget that the FSSP and the ICKSP and other Traditional orders exist at the whim of the Pope and bishops. Ask the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate just how easy it is to destroy a religious order, and access to the TLM.

    The FSSP etc. wouldn’t even exist were it not for the SSPX, so the question is, what happens when your TLM offering priest is told by his bishop to hit the road? That has been answered.
    Most priests will cave in to unjust orders for the sake of “obedience”. Let’s face it, “obedience”
    has become the highest virtue in some circles, even higher than charity or Faith.

    While I can, to a point, appreciate the quandary a priest faces in a situation like this, I can also appreciate that sometimes we must obey God rather than men.

    • Your points are well taken, but there are a lot of bases you missed.

      1.) The FSSP has exploded in recent years and so have the number of Masses being said by non-FSSP clergy. Not even the bishops can stop the inertia.

      2.) What happened to the Franciscans of the Immaculate was an isolated incident. There are 20+ men’s/women’s religious orders now in existence who say the TLM. They will not all be shut down because there is no absolute unity within the Bishop’s Conference and we still have Canon Law.

      3.) My article was referring to a national trend; not an isolated anecdote.

      4.) The Church has always gotten through rough seas by the virtue of obedience. Your disparaging of obedience does no one any favors. It is obedience and charity and faith and hope. There is no theological zero sum game. Great favor can be obtained when we are obedient when it costs us something.

      5.) As my mother used to say, “hide and watch.”

  14. Reblogged this on Fides et Ratio and commented:
    Fr. Kloster gave me permission to repost this blog. I offer it to you colleagues for your consideration.

  15. The big problem with what Vat II did to the liturgy was not the vernacular. The Mass should have been simply translated, and it would still be the traditional Mass. But they rewrote it, and rewrote it, continuously. And then changed the calendar, and dropped the accompanying practices such as Ember Day fasts.
    Lex orandi, lex credendi. When liturgy becomes changeable, people will see doctrine as changeable too.
    There is nothing per se un-Catholic about use of vernacular in liturgy. Please remember that when the Apostles to the Slavs, Saints Cyril and Methodius, wanted to translate the Greek liturgy into Slavonic so as to better convert the Slavs, centuries ago, it was the Pope who granted them permission. Mass in vernacular has been, and still is, important for Catholic missionaries.

  16. Price comes before the fall

  17. My family attends both the TLM and the Novus Ordo fairly equally. If any of my sons expressed a desire to become a priest, I would steer them to an order that offers the TLM exclusively rather than the typical diocesan program. I have seen far too many diocesan Novus Ordo priests be falsely accused of ‘whatever,’ especially those with a traditional bent. As of now, our diocese has 7 ‘traditional leaning’ priests sitting on the sidelines, in limbo land for several years and the diocesan bishop will not release them to go minister else where. So…I would never allow my sons to become a diocesan Novus Ordo priest. The diocese once had a flourishing vocation program, with a healthy number of seminarians. Now, the number of vocations in the diocese has all but dried up. So be it, let it die on the vine while the TLM or traditional orders flourish.

  18. My son is an FSSP priest who was raised in the Novus Ordo (and altar server for 8 years). He expressed no desire to become a priest in those years. He discovered the TLM himself in college and at his first Latin Mass realized he needed to be a priest.
    So I agree totally with Fr. Kloster.
    The FSSP parishes and communities are full of large, devout families. Our son knows families who have 2 or, and one case, 3 priests in the family. I’ve heard of families who have daughters who are becoming Carmelites or other sisters.
    Also, I am not disparaging the Novus Ordo. My husband and I are involved in a N.O. parish. (We have no TLM parish or community nearby.) But I have heard priests and bishops dismiss or disparage the TLM and TLM priests implying they are hurting the Church by not being N.O. priests where they are needed. They do think nobody wants the TLM, especially the young Catholics. Well, it’s the young Catholics who are filling the TLM churches.

    • Next year, starting in about February 2019 I’ll start a new National Study on vocations like that of your son. I have lots of FSSP contacts, but I’d like your son (those with priestly and/or religious vocations) as well as laymen who are under 40 Catholics to take the survey. I want to track the vocations and see how many young adults who leave a TLM household are retaining and practicing the faith.

      Anyone can reach me at St. Mary’s Parish Norwalk, CT and thus I can begin amassing contacts for the 2019 Study. Fr. Kloster

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