How many of you attend a regular, Novus Ordo parish? How many of you cannot remember the last time your parish produced a seminarian, let alone one who went all the way through to ordination? I come from a pretty good parish, but it has only become decent in the last three years or so. I have asked around from many people who have been here for a decade or more, and none of them can remember the last time a seminarian came from our parish (I am happy to say that I know of at least three young boys here now who feel a call to the priesthood but are still too young to enter seminary). I even asked one woman who has been here for thirty years, and neither could she tell me the last time a seminarian had come from our parish.
And yet down the road but three or four miles, there is another parish which has eleven seminarians studying for the priesthood just this year. Eleven out of thirty-seven total in the diocese. Out of ninety parishes in our diocese, one parish alone supplies almost one third of all seminarians. Furthermore, this is not new. In the eight years I have been paying attention, this particular parish always churns out seminarians the way Central Asia churns out barbarian hordes. Year after year, more and more seminarians come from this parish, causing their pastor to humbly boast that his parish has produced the most seminarians east of the Mississippi. By the way, this parish happens to be the one parish in our diocese dedicated to the Charismatic Renewal. And let me point out, I do not just mean they use guitar in their Masses (that would be an oversimplification of what it means to be charismatic), but this entire parish was founded as an extra-territorial parish dedicated to serving the needs of an already existing cluster of charismatic Catholic families.
Now, is it the Charismatic Renewal alone which brings these vocations? I don't think so. We Traditionalists also are aware of other parishes and dioceses which spring way ahead in vocations. They are parishes where Tradition is maintained, where Latin is used, where the Traditional Mass is offered, where Gregorian Chant is the norm and where orthodoxy and Catholic culture are the heart of parish life. Traditional oriented institutions, like the FSSP, the Diocese of Lincoln and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have had no lack in vocations -- some have so many they are turning people away. So, on one end, we have a great number of vocations from the Charismatic Renewal parish, and on the other, a great deal from Traditionalist bodies as well.
This brings us around to the oft speculated connection between charismatic Catholics and Traditionalists. Though there are many threads of connection there, I think the reason these two types of parishes seem to spit out vocations at high velocities is because they both have a very fundamental issue in common: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We know that the Charismatic Renewal emphasizes a personal relationship with Christ -- almost in ways and means that have earned them the approbation of Traditionalists and the label of crypto-Protestants. Perhaps this is the case at times. But we ought to think why we are reacting: is anybody really against having a personal relationship with Christ? Of course not. If you are, you don't know what it means to be Catholic. Yet, this is what Traditionalists share in common with Charismatics: a deep reverence and devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. We might not use the Protestant phraseology "personal relationship with Jesus," but is that not what we are cultivating when we spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament, piously meditate on the Gospels or pray the Rosary? What else are we striving to develop? Pious feelings? The mere appearance of sanctity? No, of course not. It is all geared towards better knowing and loving the One True God and His Only Begotten Son, with Whom we hope to spend eternity.
When there exists true devotion to Christ, people are enraptured by love of Him and willing to lay down their lives for Him, and there (and only there) will young men realize the joy or giving their lives over to Him in the priesthood. This is also why dissenters, heretics, progressives are the way they are: they lack devotion to Christ.
"Boniface, that is being way too broad. Are you saying that if anybody disagrees with you then they don't have a relationship with Christ?"
Well, not on account of somebody not "agreeing" with me. But, yes, to the degree that a person professes heresy, embraces progressivism or dissents, then yes, they lack a relationship with Christ. Because if they did know and love Jesus as a real and active Person, a presence in their lives, they would never be able to say and do the things they do, because they would realize how offensive these things are to God and would understand that Christ commands rigorous adherence to the truths He came to teach us and the life He empowers us to live. No person who had a true relationship with Jesus and understood why He suffered and died could possibly equivocate on the question of abortion or any other moral issue.
In my opinion, it is Traditional Catholicism which best promotes devotion to the Person of Christ, for the whole liturgy and devotional life of Traditional Catholicism is oriented towards honoring God (instead of affirming the people). If you read the writings of some of the great saints, especially St. Therese of Lisieux, you will see how their whole lives were permeated by a very personal love for Jesus Christ, which was fed by the Church culture they operated and lived in. The Charismatic Renewal, while serving a valuable function, is a symptom of the lack of reverence for Christ in our Church. It is only because the mainstream Church since Vatican II has failed in its duty to promote proper devotion to Christ that so many Catholics turn to the Charismatic Movement for that sense of personal, unrestricted devotion to God. And I am glad they do. "He who is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:50). But if the Church had been faithful to its tradition, then we might never have needed a Charismatic "Renewal" to renew us, and the only pity about the Charismatic Renewal is that so many Catholics feel obliged to look for their spirituality and their source of renewal outside of the Traditions of the Church.
Whatever type of parish we attend, promote personal devotion to Jesus Christ, and everything else will fall in to place. Conversely, if we lack personal devotion to Jesus, nothing else that we do in our parishes will really matter.