QUAERITUR: Diocese asking everyone at Mass to extend arms and “bless” the priest
Posted on 29 October 2012 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
From a reader:
Diocese of Albany is asking all Mass attendees to participate in ritual of extending our arms and praying and blessing the priest who just said Mass. Part of their “Called by Name” vocations pitch. I didn’t hold up my arm, I folded my hands & prayed for the priest. Not comfortable. Am I uncharitable?
Goodness gracious. Quousque tandem (How much longer)?
Some dioceses did this “Called by Name” program some thirty years ago. If I am not mistaken, a large number of names of potential priestly vocations were identified this way. Most of them were from relatively conservative backgrounds. But in those days, the men who responded often had a hard time of it indeed. Many did not survive their seminaries, their bishops, or their diocesan vocation directors. Dark days. Dark days. Think of the book Goodbye! Good Men: How Catholic Seminaries Turned Away Two Generations of Vocations From the Priesthood.
Seminaries are different now, thanks be to God. They have been cleaned up. The cleaning began from “below”, because the seminarians themselves wouldn’t endure the rubbish anymore. They told their bishops. Bishops on the boards of seminaries had to do something. Therefore, faculties were reigned in or turned over. By now a critical mass has been attained. But I digress.
By the way, there is some… amazing verbiage about vocations to the priesthood on the website of the Diocese of Albany. For example:
“Presently the Church does not allow for the ordination of women or married men. This matter cannot be resolved at the local level. For the spiritual well being of our faithful people we cannot allow this to prevent us from aggressively seeking new priesthood candidates for our diocese.”
That’s the sort of ringing endorsement of the Church’s teaching sure to inspire hundreds, nay rather, thousands of young men to flock to Albany to become priests.
On that note, I’m thoroughly shocked that their website only shows six men in formation for Albany. By contrast the Diocese of Madison has 32 seminarians. They are all required to learn the Extraordinary Form. Albany in 2006 had 403,000 Catholics in a population of 1,351,000 (29.8%). Madison in 2004 had 269,556 Catholics in a population of 947,699 (28.4%). I’m just sayin’…
Back to the reader’s question.
I couldn’t find any specifics on Albany’s website about the congregation blessing the priest thing. I don’t doubt that it’s being done, or that it’s even being encouraged.
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“But Father! But Father!”, some are saying. “You hate Vatican II! You don’t want people to participate! I hope the ordained minister and others in the assembly ask those people why they hate Vatican II and why they object to active participation!”
If, dear questioner, you are ever quizzed about why you didn’t participate in this silly ceremony of “blessing the priest,” you might respond, “The priest is the one who’s getting a stipend for the Mass. He darn well better be the one giving me a blessing!”