Rorate Caeli

John XXIII: What priests are supposed to do

John XXIII offers the Holy Sacrifice,
Dec. 1962
50 years ago, as he prepared for the opening of his Council, Pope John XXIII met participants at the first International Congress for Priestly Vocations. It was a Saturday, like today, May 26, 1962. If only the Council had expressed this spirit, the spirit with which he concluded his short address... 

 Finally, may priests be careful not to give themselves totally to activism and exterior works of their ministry. By acting with such imprudent behavior, by slowly impoverishing the soul, one is incapable of working for the good of the parish and of the diocese. This also causes grave detriment to the vocations to the priesthood. For how will young men understand the seriousness of the priestly office if they do not see in priests an example of perfection which they may want to imitate?

For which priests must remember, in order to give example of perfect behavior, that the most important activities in their mission are: [1] to offer the Sacrifice of the Altar worthily; [2] to announce the word of God; [3] to give the Sacraments; [4] to be near the infirm, particularly the dying; [5] to teach the faith to the ignorant. All the rest that is not pertinent to these activities must be put aside or, at most, tolerated.


  1. A priest in his 30s11:25 AM

    It makes me sick to my stomach every time I am reminded about the 50th anniversary of V2. Everything that has happened is contrary and contradictory to the initial aspirations of Bl John XXIII and I'm sure the vast majority of the council fathers.

    The council was a mistake. It should have never been called in spite of any good intentions of Pope John with all of his holiness and concerns about the Church and modernity. I'd say that the bad results have unfortunately been more numerous than the good however, I don't see any good and perceptible fruits to begin with - positive things in the Church in recent times, especially through the efforts of Pope Benedict are only valiant acts of damage control.

    1. When people speak of the "Good fruits" of the Council it usual consists of the vernacular liturgy and ecumenism. What a raging success that has been. The demolition of the Catholic state is what saddens me most. The practical application of Religious liberty as a 'right' for false religions to expand in Catholic countries, What a disaster.

  2. Bartholomew11:54 AM

    This, of course, is exactly the opposite of the way priests are trained in every post-conciliar seminary.

    No wonder Cardinal Ranjith said he'd be comfortable having the SSPX train his seminarians.

  3. What is the life of a priest in the curia? In Spain we have a sentence for this: At the house of the smith they have wooden knifes.

    Diacons had a primitive function for something and not for nothing. Human traditions destroyed that function and now you must be tolerant.

  4. There are dire consequences for ignoring the Queen of Heaven.

  5. Carol1:47 PM

    Yet the Church is contradicting its own principles by beatifying (and considering the causes of) politically involved priests whose lives have been devoted mainly to social activism. An example is Fr Anton Schwartz who was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 21 June 1998.
    On the pretext of helping workers, Fr Schwartz joined in several strikes (especially the 1889 Communist-led Vienna tram drivers' strike), inciting workers to insurrection, against the advice of their Bishops who forbade such strikes.
    We know from historical evidence that this particular tram strike was funded and promoted by the Socialist leader, Victor Adler, who worked in association with Friedrich Engels in the Trade Union movement, and that it caused major disruption, extensive violence, injury and death.
    These strikes were without any benefit for the Church or, consequently, for the salvation of souls. There is no evidence that they even helped the material condition of the workers during a time of economic recession. This was bound to result in an even worse fate for the poorest members of society who were still suffering from the effects of the 1873 stock market crash.

    A Catholic priest should have no part in such activities. As Pope John XXIII rightly said: “By acting with such imprudent behavior, by slowly impoverishing the soul, one is incapable of working for the good of the parish and of the diocese.”

    It is obvious that that the traditional criteria for heroic sanctity had not been fulfilled in the case of Fr Schwartz, and that there was no justification in Catholic Tradition his beatification. We can conclude from this example that the modern beatification process is often reduced to a publicity stunt for a particular political point of view. Whoever next? Liberation theologians?

  6. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Can any one respond to what the Holy Father was saying ? or ignore it and go right to the damages of the V2 council. He was not talking about that.( That came later) He was talking about what a priest should focus on his ministry and what to avoid. Evidently he saw many that would do a self centered work.
    Julia of Arc

  7. Anonymous3:32 PM

    The true "Spirit of Vatican II."



  8. P.K.T.P.8:09 PM

    Well, as there is (as expected) no notice of signing today, I might as well play the prophet and predict announement times, as this Pope tends very much to respect symbolic dates for such things.

    First of all, I expect that he signed some instrucment today of recognition of the S.S.P.X. Since it would be unjust to ask Society priests to stop hearing confessions and contracting marriages for the next two months or so, I'm assuming that, from this day forward (assuming that they do agree on a canonical form in the summer), Rome recognises the Society, and the Society will not be in any way subject to the local bishops. But we must wait and see before singing Alleluia.

    Were the announcement to be negative, and were this to be bounced back to the C.D.F. for more negotiation, he would have done so before Pentecost and on the last ferial day of Ascensiontide, which was Thursday. I am sure that we have a green light, therefore.

    Now there will follow a short period in which interested parties (e.g. the local bishops, the dicasteries, the S.S.P.X superiors) will be informed of the new terms, but the period should not need to be long because it does not require episcopal action and the S.S.P.X will not need to do anything new. The earliest likely day for an announcement would be Thursday of next week, 31st May (or its eve, the 30th), the Feast of the Coronation of our Lady. If more time is needed, I expect a date between Trinity Sunday (3rd June) and Corpus Christi (Thursday, 7th June), likely the Feast of St. Boniface, Apostle to Germany, on the 5th. I can't imagine a date beyond that, but it took nearly three weeks between signing and announcement in the case of U.E. last year. So the latest date might be the eve of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 14th June.

    On 23rd June (a Saturday, and the Vigl of St. John the Baptist this year), another shoe might drop, for that is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the 1962 Missal. It might be chosen as the day to publish a new 2012 Missal for the Traditional Latin Mass, to come into effect at least for optional use by the First Sunday of Advent of 2012 (later to be made mandatory).

    I'm guessing that the 2012 Missal will add *optional* NewMass Prefaces, revise the calendar quite a bit, both moving saints to their N.O. feastdays and adding some postconciliar saints, and restoring the pre-1958 Holy Week liturgies (except that the new Good Friday Prayer for the Jews will be imposed). Bishop Fellay will likely accept the 2012 Missal but refuse to use the NewMass optional Prefaces. There might be a new Mass written for that Divine Mercy Sunday thingy. I'm not sure if it will be mandatory if added. If they try to move Christ the King to its NewMass place, there will be real trouble, but I think that this Pope might do the very oppposite, and move the NewMass back to its proper place at the end of October. It was a real loss to remove the apocalyptic Mass for the Last Sunday after Pentecost, and this Pope is sensitive to things like that.


  9. Perkins, Perkins, remember that the Pope has so much in his 85-year-old hands right now...

  10. To other commenters, please let us avoid speculating on things of which we are certainly not aware.

    Thank you,


  11. No, I'm not going to prophesy!

    I very much doubt there will be a new edition of the Missale Romanum in the near future. There is no need for one.

    We may be looking at some new feast days for new saints, and a few new prefaces. That's all.

    This would involve a (minor) emendation to the 1962 editio typica, not a new edition.

    As to any convergence of the old and new calendars, it seems far more likely that the novus ordo calendar will, at some stage, be conformed more closely to the old Roman calendar, particularly with regard to the temporal cycle. Rome's approval of the Ordinariate calendar points the way.

    I would not try to predict a date for the announcement of an agreement between Rome and SSPX, much less with regard to what will happen after that.

    We know an announcement of some sort is imminent, but that's all we know !

  12. P.K.T.P.11:23 PM

    Since we are now in waiting mode (and we've all had experience with that, after we waited for two years for S.P., remember?), I thought I might drop some information about what a reconciled S.S.P.X might mean on the ground, in terms of recognised Masses on the every-Sunday basis. This is fun stuff and a good diversion, and it gives visitors some idea of what effect this would have for our people.

    I start with Australia and New Zealand, of all places, because it is difficult, reading Wikimissa and other sources, to determine where Masses are situated in terms of dioceses. I have an old list connecting places to sees, and it only required a very minor adjustment.

    At present, episcopally-approved T.L.M.s are offered every Sunday in nine of the 27 Latin dioceses in Australia (one third). Were S.S.P.X Masses to be recognised publicly, that proportion would rise to 12 (43%). What is more interesting, however, is to calculate the per centage of faithful who live in these twelve dioceses, for many Australian sees cover huge territory and have few people living in them. If the S.S.P.X be reconciled, 76% (about three-quarters) of Australian faithful will live in the territory of a diocese having the T.L.M. each and every Sunday. That's not bad, and both S.S.P.X and F.S.S.P. apostolates will be able to expand into other dioceses, esp. the more populous among them. The Northern Territory and dicoeses in the Great Western Desert may have to wait a bit.

    The following dioceses already have recognised every-Su. T.L.M.s:

    Sydney, A.; Melbourne, A.; Brisbane, A.; Adelaide, A.; Canberra & Goulburn, A., Perth, A.; Parramatta, Sandhurst, Wagga Wagga. If the S.S.P.X Masses be recognised, we can add the following: Maitland-Newcastle, Ballarat and Toowoomba.

    The national capital and all the state capitals have these Masses, save Hobart, Tasmania.

    In the case of N.Z., five of the six dioceses already have every-Su. episcopally-approved T.L.M.s. The dioceses are not huge, so Kiwis have excellent access to the ancient Mass compared to faithful in most other countries. If the S.S.P.X be recognised, we shall have 100% coverage. It is interesting that the sole hold-out in N.Z. just happens to be one of the last Pauline Bishops on the planet earth. He is approaching 75 now. We love you, Bishop Browne. The S.S.P.X has a very strong presence in Bishop Browne's Diocese of Hamilton, with a school and Dominican sisters. They likely targetted him, and rightly so.


  13. P.K.T.P.11:25 PM

    New Catholic:

    Well, we can certainly say that he isn't bothering to appoint many (hardly any) bishops. And he isn't water skiing.


  14. Marty Jude1:56 AM

    P.K.T.P. said...
    "Since we are now in waiting mode (and we've all had experience with that, after we waited for two years for S.P., remember?), I thought I might drop some information about what a reconciled S.S.P.X might mean on the ground, in terms of recognised Masses on the every-Sunday basis. This is fun stuff and a good diversion, and it gives visitors some idea of what effect this would have for our people."

    Thank you for this. It is a bit of fun and interesting too.

    Have you been able to research any other countries?

    Thanks again

  15. P.K.T.P.,

    Reading your comment of 26 May @ 20:09, I have to ask, what happened to the Holy Week rites in 1958 ?

    I always thought the Holy Week changes made under Pius XII were introduced ad experimentum in 1951, and were subsequently incorporated into the Missale Romanum in 1955.

    As to revising the old Roman calendar in use in 1962, what about the Breviarium Romanum in use in 1962 ? You can't very well change one without the other. Otherwise, a priest using the older liturgical books would (presumably) find himself celebrating one feast in the Missal and another in the Office, which certainly wouldn't do (unless of course he were celebrating Mass as an external solemnity).

    It's just something to think about ...


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