Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Lure of a Traditional Vocation

by Andrew Cano

Greetings everyone! My name is Andrew Cano and I have recently been approved to be a regular blogger on both the FSSP vocations blog and the Traditional Vocations blog. It is my hope to provide a weekly post on each site. For now, please allow me to write a simple reflection that I will post on both blogs as I have not had the time to properly research any topic but am eager to get to work.

I am a 30-year-old faithful Catholic who is a member of the Archdiocese of Miami Traditional Latin Mass Community in Miami, Florida, in the United States. In my previous life, I was a seminarian for four years for the Diocese of Charleston (South Carolina) and completed two years of pre-theology and two years of theology studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. While I enjoyed my time in seminary for the most part and hope to touch upon my formation frequently in future posts, the theme I want to reflect on in this introductory post is whether my vocation would have best been fulfilled had I chosen to pursue it in an environment in which the Mass is celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form and where traditional discipline and regulations are still followed.

I ask myself this question because I now almost exclusively attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form and really only attend the Novus Ordo when I must fulfill an obligation and no Tridentine Mass is available. I do not question the validity of the Novus Ordo as it has been officially promulgated through the authority of the Holy Father but I simply find myself in love with the old rite and do pray for it to one day be restored as the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Furthermore, I am very much drawn to the traditions of the Church, especially the strict guidelines enforced in traditional formation programs, such as that of the FSSP.

Unfortunately for me, my affinity for these traditions had not yet been achieved when I pursued the priesthood and, thus, I chose the more contemporary seminary formation. While I had the privilege of being in an orthodox diocese (at least among the leadership) and in a relatively orthodox seminary, over the years I realized that I simply was not satisfied. In particular, the lax environment that developed during my years in seminary was very hurtful to my vocation. While I do not want to go into details to avoid scandal and because a new administration at my seminary has now created a much more fruitful atmosphere, suffice it to say that a major issue that I observed in seminary was that our "modern" approach failed to challenge men to properly develop into holy priests. While the men I was in formation with certainly did not live sinful lives, the fact of the matter was that it seemed that our superiors were not concerned with challenging us to change our lives. Rather, it seemed acceptable to enter and complete formation having achieved little more than completing the academic requirements necessary to obtain the necessary degrees. Unfortunately, even our once stringent academic standards became lax as men complained about not having enough time to pray because of their studies although they found a lot of time to spend off-campus in a variety of activities that were not inherently sinful but, in my opinion, grossly inappropriate for one preparing to become a priest.

Therefore, it is refreshing to know that there are still groups within the Church who have extremely high expectations for their priests and have developed strict formation programs aimed at forming holy priests in accordance with the traditions of the Church. Such programs, rather than suppressing one's individuality, serve to remind seminarians that they are preparing for a new life. Once a man prostrates himself before God and his bishop at ordination, that prostrating must symbolize his death to the world and rebirth as a priest. In order to reach this goal, he must have completed (survived?) a period of intense scrutiny that only a traditional formation program can offer. It is with great regret that I say I did not have the privilege of being part of such a program and, partly as a result, it is why I write this as a layman rather than a priest.

Thus, it is with great hope that, as one who once nurtured a vocation, I can assist others in finding theirs through my writings. Furthermore, I hope that my posts help convince young men everywhere that they must seek out a community which truly challenges them to leave the world behind and form them into holy priests well-prepared to fight the great evil that pervades our society today. For such young men reading this, be assured of my prayers on such a journey.

God blesss!!!

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