Scots College: Will the “New Breed” of Seminarians Make Sound Priests?

Scots College: Will the “New Breed” of Seminarians Make Sound Priests?

It’s nearly always when I read something in the Scottish Catholic Observer that I feel there is just no hope for the Church in Scotland – at least for the foreseeable future…

In an article intended to make us all feel warm and fuzzy about seminarians at the Scots College, we come across this…

Catholic apps

Don’t worry if you see a seminarian using his phone in church. He isn’t scrolling through Twitter: he is probably just praying his Divine Office, a mobile phone app being more portable than a chunky breviary (although, admittedly, if the church is really nice, he may post a photo of it to Instagram later).

He knows more jokes from the BBC’s Limmy’s Show than from Morecambe and Wise. He gets his philosophy and theology books from Amazon, not the library. Chinos and Doc Martens are out, skinny jeans and New Balance trainers are in.

OK, I don’t speak for everyone on that last point—diversity of style is as important as diversity of background!  Read entire article here…

WOW!  Are YOU impressed with this ” new breed of seminarian”?  Well, it had to come. We’ve had the new Mass, the new Rosary, the new Catechism, the new Morality, the new just-about-everything-else, by now, so why not a “new breed of seminarian”?

Just when I’ve been receiving expressions of concern from various people who have witnessed lay people using their phones in church – and that, possibly, for prayers – we’re reading that the “new breed of seminarian” is likely to be doing the same. Gimme strength!

Nobody should be using technology in church for anything – I’ve had horrified comments from those who have witnessed the shenanigans at Sacred Heart Bridgeton. A beautiful church destroyed by this nonsense modernisation – not to mention the (what shall we call it.. O, I know, the “housekeeper”) scandal we reported some time back…

Now, we don’t want to be “negative” do we – that’s one of the few sins around today, so don’t let me mislead you into thinking that there’s no alternative “breed” of seminarian.  Take a look at the short video clip below, following a day in the life of a seminarian cast in the “traditional” mould.  Which “breed” of seminarian is  likely to make the best priest, in your considered opinion?

Comments (101)

  • John Rayner

    You may not know it but Perth is the capital city of Western Australia. Here we have two Seminaries. The older one is St. Charles seminary and that is the archdiocesan seminary. The second one is Redemptoris Mater and that is a Neocatecuminate seminary where seminarians are sent there from various countries in the world. There seems to be a preponderance of South American countries as the sources for those seminarians. I pray daily for the seminarians in our two seminaries to be well instructed in their studies and for those who make it to Ordination to be fine, strong and faithful priests. I know both seminaries quite well and have been a guest at them both from time to time. I think that they both do actually turn out fine priests.

    August 28, 2019 at 12:20 am
    • editor


      I find it of serious concern that there is any such thing as a Neocatecuminate seminary.

      August 28, 2019 at 11:18 am
      • Wilson

        You should be ashamed of yourself. The article is written with such pride in vocation and with such sincere love of faith in God…this is a youngster offering his life to serve us! Imagine being that seminarian and coming across your snobbery, your judgement. Having taken the giant leap into holy life, and finding this? It’s actually cruel. Your response is sad and embarassing. God bless that young man and all our seminarians. You should seek him out and apologise.

        And consider this – who are you to decide what the standard is?

        August 30, 2019 at 8:40 am
      • Margaret Mary


        From the seminarian’s description of his seminary training, he doesn’t seem to be giving up “his life” – he’s living in the same way as any other young man:

        He knows more jokes from the BBC’s Limmy’s Show than from Morecambe and Wise. He gets his philosophy and theology books from Amazon, not the library. Chinos and Doc Martens are out, skinny jeans and New Balance trainers are in.

        The priesthood suits men who would be natural bachelors anyway, as I once heard a nun say a few years ago. So, if marriage is the only thing they are “giving up”, that may not be much of a sacrifice anyway.

        The seminarian was not criticised it was the seminary training that has been discussed on this thread. If anyone is due an apology it’s the Catholic people who are not getting well trained priests IMHO

        August 30, 2019 at 9:46 am
      • sentirecumecclesia

        “The priesthood suits men who would be natural bachelors anyway”- don’t agree. Marriage is a great good and the best priests are those who make the sacrifice of this great and holy good for a higher calling. It’s true that, in order to be a priest or religious, a balanced ability to live chaste celibacy is demanded, so those who absolutely need to get married in order to keep lower desires in check are ruled out. But great priests and religious are made by those who acutely felt the natural calling to earthly spouse and family and chose the heavenly Spouse as a higher good. It’s also true that a good deal of prayer is allowed and facilitated by the single life, and those who are called to live celibacy are often drawn to hours of prayer. So those single people who wish to dedicate their lives in prayer, charity and chastity for God- excellent preparation for or (in the case of inability to follow the religious life, for example, the sick or carers for the sick) a substitution for religious life. But those who desire the single life for selfish natural reasons, who don’t want to be bothered by or take responsibility for a family- boys or girls about town- these would not make the best priests or religious.

        August 30, 2019 at 10:18 am
      • sentirecumecclesia

        There are of course saintly priests and religious who have never felt the natural desire for marriage, and who desired always celibacy- St Margaret Mary, St. Therese spring to mind, as many a saintly priest- but this was not from a natural bachelor “leaning”, but a supernatural call from a young age.

        August 30, 2019 at 10:36 am
      • editor

        Margaret Mary & Sentire Cum Ecclesia (& All) –

        Both of your comments went into moderation this morning and I can’t – on a quick skim – see any reason for that.

        So, this is by way of an “extended apology” because, I’m afraid, I’ll be away from my computer for the majority of today and this evening, so any comments which go into moderation will have to languish there until I see them later. Apologies.

        It’s very hit and miss, so don’t let it put you off posting, just be aware that if your comment disappears or goes into moderation, it WILL be released as soon as I see it. All is not lost 😀

        August 30, 2019 at 10:49 am
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Don’t worry Editor- I think I’ve exhausted my verbosity for today anyway. 😁

        August 30, 2019 at 11:02 pm
      • Wilson

        Just who are you to decide how much this young man has given up? In 21st century any seminarian deserves nothing but support and prayer. This is humiliating. It’s cruel. It is rooted in sin, actually, and the writer of this blog should be utterly ashamed.

        August 30, 2019 at 3:41 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        Just who do YOU think you are coming on here and telling us that we are sinning just by commenting on an article written by a seminarian which is in the public domain, saying we are “humiliating” and “cruel”. What a load of nonsense.

        I know modern Catholics think the Pope and bishops are above criticism, but it’s a bit of a shock to learn thatg we can’t even criticise the training of seminarians! LOL!

        August 30, 2019 at 4:28 pm
      • RCAVictor

        While I agree with your statement that any seminarian deserves our support and prayer, you seem to have missed a few things which these Scots College seminarians have failed to give up: their cell phones, their repository of TV jokes, their skinny jeans (which promote transgenderism) and New Balance trainers…

        And please identify exactly which sin the writer of this blog is guilty of by publicizing the blatantly secularized habits of these seminarians – habits which directly undermine the environment of sanctity within which they should be pursuing their vocations.

        August 30, 2019 at 4:32 pm
      • Margaret Mary

        RCA Victor,

        Hear, hear! As usual, you’ve put the case in a nutshell!

        August 30, 2019 at 4:36 pm
  • liberanos

    On several of my many visits to the SSPX Church in Paris I witnessed quite a few young people( there were lots there) following the Mass on their Smartphones. It does look a bit odd and disconcerting, but may be something we just have to get used to.

    August 28, 2019 at 6:22 am
    • editor


      Speaking to a young mother who is working very hard to keep her children AWAY from technology – having suffered her eldest effectively addicted to Facebook and seldom off her phone – she expressed dismay at the idea of using a smartphone in church. As she said, even if it is supposedly for prayer/following Mass, it would be difficult to avoid the temptation to read and even answer an incoming text, or to read a news alert. Personally, I would find it very distracting to sit beside someone using a phone during Mass.

      One small detail in relation to the “may be something we just have to get used to…”

      I think it’s commonplace (I certainly do this) to keep various prayer cards, memorial cards etc in our missals, to remind us to say certain prayers (I have one for priests!) and to pray for various deceased relatives. So that would be yet another little custom/tradition consigned to the dustbin, in the name of modernisation.

      I’m all for using modern technology when necessary – although I steadfastly refuse to have a smartphone (when I’m away from my computer, I’m away…I don’t want to be like a doctor, on call 24/7) – but it is not always appropriate and I cannot see how it is appropriate in church – especially those claiming to be “traditional” churches.

      August 28, 2019 at 9:16 am
      • liberanos

        Good point about the prayer cards. Young people are perhaps less inclined to do this I think. I also agree that Missals are the best way of following the Mass, but youngsters may disagree. The fact that young people spend far too much time on their ‘phones is irrefutable and sad.

        August 28, 2019 at 10:57 am
      • Laura


        It is definitely irrefutable and sad that young people spend far too much time on their ‘phones – so it’s important, IMHO, to have somewhere on the planet where ‘phones, ipads / tablets are not to be used, ever. If church isn’t that place, where is? It’s one surefire way of teaching about what “sacred” means, that there are some things we just don’t do in the a sacred space, and pushing buttons or whatever, to make life easier for ourselves in church, is one of them. That’s a simple message to give to the young and as long as the adults are setting the example, I can’t see how it would fail and might even help curtail the addiction which is so obviously a problem with these gadgets.

        September 3, 2019 at 7:26 pm
      • Margaret USA

        Occasionally when I go to Adoration at the local [Catholic] church, someone will be looking at their smartphone.

        That REALLY irks me. If you’re going to Adoration, bring your Bible, Rosary or good Catholic spiritual reading with you.
        DON’T use your smartphone. Grrr…

        August 29, 2019 at 11:18 pm
      • Laura

        Margaret USA,

        That would completely ruin the time in church for me. I would no longer feel calm and at peace but really annoyed with the person who hadn’t even bothered to switch off their phone on entering the Real Presence Exposed, and was even using it! That would tell me all I need to know about that person’s “faith”.

        September 3, 2019 at 7:29 pm
  • Chris McLaughlin

    “Nobody should be using technology in church for anything”

    You know books were new technology once, generally now thought by most historians to have been invented by early Christians for their new-fangeld bibles. Prior to that time scrolls were used (for example see Luke 4:16-17). Books were a superior technology as they allowed readers to jump back and forth within the text rather than being forced to proceed through the entire thing in order. In many ways electronic bibles, prayer books and missals are superior to books. They are small, light, and searchable. I used to cart a daily missal around with me for use at Mass which was very combersome and often inconvenient. I now carry 14 volumes of daily meditations, daily missals in ordinary and extraordinary forms, spiritual reading, copies of the scriptures in three languages and dozens of translations, several prayer books, a Catholic Encyclopedia, as well as the world’s largest Catholic dierectory, around with me in precisley zero more additional space than is used for the mobile phone I carry anyway. I appreciate that to an older generation mobile electronic devices may seem a strange inovation, particularly in church, but they are hardly a preserve of the young. I am almost forty and have grown up with these devices. My hearing impaired, sixty-five year old mother loves her electronic daily missal, without which she would find it almost impossible to follow Mass. Sometimes new things are actually better than what they replace, and I think that is the case with modern Catholic apps, just like printed books two thousand years ago.

    August 28, 2019 at 8:21 am
    • editor


      I cannot see – never do – the false analogy with books. When I see people reading a book on their various screens, e.g. in a waiting room, I metaphorically shake my head. I don’t see the attraction. I’d much sooner sit with a real book, and thumb the pages. I don’t think it’s an age thing at all – I am delighted to have the use of a mobile phone, very reassuring when driving or in any other situation where it may be necessary to make contact with others, but I don’t want my entire life to be run by technology. And I certainly don’t want to see the church turned into a veritable internet café.

      August 28, 2019 at 9:23 am
    • Fidelis


      The scrolls/books analogy doesn’t work for me, since books have never “pinged” or required buttons to be punched on a regular basis, just the pages turned quietly.

      I am willing to concede that maybe it’s just because I’m not used to the use of phones in church, but right now, I find the idea totally off-putting. Will we see priests using tablets/ipads at the altar, as well?

      August 28, 2019 at 12:09 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        I read somewhere recently about a bishop who has banned the use of screens at Mass and instructed his priests to use the liturgical books. I wonder if they will obey?

        August 28, 2019 at 1:34 pm
      • Fidelis

        Margaret Mary,

        I doubt it. This is an answer from a priest on Zenit about the use of phones at the altar, and the bit that struck me the most is where he talks about the things used in the liturgy being sacred.

        August 28, 2019 at 1:40 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Oh yes, well there is a big difference between using a tablet to pray ine’s breviary on a walk or in a private visit to the church, or to look at thr gregorian propers while singing, and using a phone at the altar. I totally agree that that would be very distracting a it would bring a mundane element into the liturgy. I guess I had a discreet personal use in the pews in mind. If it would be an occasion of sin- checking texts during Mass would be a sin outside of an emergency- that’s an individual issue. Btw, I might have letters tucked into my missal, but I can’t read ‘em during Mass……😊 isn’t that just an issue of self discipline?

        August 28, 2019 at 6:36 pm
      • Michaela


        “checking texts during Mass would be a sin outside of an emergency- that’s an individual issue. Btw, “

        That just proves to me that it is a huge mistake to allow people to use phones for following the Mass. All of my life I have taken it for granted that I am just not accessible during Mass, and that included periods when I was in the middle of emergency situations, family illnesses etc.

        It’s putting God second, however you dress it up. I can just imagine the situation where several or many members of the congregation are checking their phones to see if granny is still alive or has she died, the friend in that accident, is she any better, has the new baby arrived yet, or whatever the “emergency” is. We’ve all nearly always got something we are following – I put my phone on right after Mass for that reason, but never would I dream of keeping it on during Mass, let alone check it for updates.

        It just goes to show how easily the standards slip. Keeping holy the Sabbath day entails more than merely physically attending Mass – we’re supposed to give that entire hour to God, exclusively, and also to make holy the rest of the day. To say “I’ll go to Mass but I might have to leave if there is a development in this or that emergency” is quite shocking IMHO.

        August 28, 2019 at 6:52 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Good point Michaela- by emergency, I literally meant a doctor on duty! I have a doc in the family! and that is a matter of life and death sometimes, which would definitely excuse from Mass. But you’re right, everyone could easily jump on the personal emergency bandwagon. Seriously though, can people not just turn OFF their text features if they want to read the missal on the phone?

        August 28, 2019 at 6:58 pm
      • editor


        Can you provide more information about that – a link maybe? No rush – yesterday will do… 😀

        August 28, 2019 at 4:24 pm
      • Margaret USA

        Kudos to that bishop!

        August 29, 2019 at 11:45 pm
  • Petrus

    I’m against using technology in church. I don’t see the need. Bulky Breviary? Try coming to Mass on a bus with 5 or 6 young children and all the paraphernalia that goes along with that! I can’t see why a seminarian would find it difficult to carry a Breviary.

    The danger is the temptation to delve back into “the world”. Intentions may be good, but a message pops up and we are immediately distracted. We could hit the wrong app and a photograph comes up which again causes distraction.

    However, I think for me the deciding factor is the example it sets to children and young teenagers in the congregation. I work hard to limit screen time to extremely small time slots of recreation with my children which is always closely supervised. Talk about undermining parents when children see other adults using technology at Mass!

    August 28, 2019 at 8:22 am
    • editor


      Well said. You have expressed, beautifully, the same concerns as the young mother to whom I refer above. Setting a good example for children is crucial. Just imagine a child being given a smartphone to use as a missal during Mass. They’d have to be very saintly indeed to stick to the programme and only use it for prayer. Most children would be sorely tempted to text friends back and forth.

      The young mother I mentioned used exactly the same term – “undermining” – as you have done. It’s hard enough fighting the secular world, she said, without being undermined by priests and congregations at Mass.

      August 28, 2019 at 9:26 am
      • sentirecumecclesia

        You’re right there, Editor. I certainly don’t think kids could be trusted with the temptation of a smartphone during Mass. But actually, the original question was priests praying Breviaries- private prayer, not public liturgy, usually. I see a big difference. I totally get not wanting the Sunday congregation to look like a disunified gaming outfit, but it couldn’t be assumed that it’s a distraction for private prayer.

        August 28, 2019 at 11:35 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      You make a really important point about setting the young an example. Everywhere I go, I see young people on phones, tap tapping away and completely oblivious to what is going on around them. I don’t think it’s healthy. In fact, they say mental health issues are on the increase due to social media and technology. I can’t see the young escaping that.

      August 28, 2019 at 1:33 pm
  • sentirecumecclesia

    If used for worldly reasons, to distract from the worship of God, technology in church is reprehensible, of course. In principle, though, I don’t see how a slimline, portable, online Breviary is a problem- I’ve used an iPad in the choir, it’s very convenient- just need to make sure ringtones are off!

    August 28, 2019 at 8:24 am
    • editor


      “just need to make sure the ringtones are off” … and what about the text and news alerts? I think I’ve covered most concerns above so won’t repeat myself on this. I’m actually stunned to see so much support for the use of screens in church.

      August 28, 2019 at 9:28 am
      • Chris McLaughlin

        It’s the easiest thing in the world to put a phone in aeroplane mode, which disables all notifications, internet, texts, etc.

        August 28, 2019 at 9:53 am
      • editor

        You see what I mean? Someone like my unworthy self might not know that and then, voila!

        August 28, 2019 at 11:00 am
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Use the “Do not Disturb” button. Obviously, people who don’t know how to manage technology shouldn’t bring devices to sacred places, but mightn’t there be a danger of presuming people are distracting themselves with devices when they are actually using them to pray better? I have helped my family by accessing beautiful pictures for the family rosary on iPad. Spiritual reading is also stored on device, as are many prayer apps. It’s no distraction to me at all, and I take jolly good care it does not distract my neighbour when I use it for private prayer. However, I wouldn’t tend to use it at the public liturgy, apart from choir, as the (untrue) impression given is one of absorption in a screen, and the mundane note does not uplift mh neighbour, I assume. So yes, it is as well to be vigilant, but I don’t think we can assume that it’s always a problem. For private Divine Offive, I’m totally at a loss to see how anyone could have a problem

        August 28, 2019 at 11:26 pm
      • Margaret USA

        “Do not disturb” is not the same as airplane/aeroplane mode. The latter shuts off all calls, notifications etc.

        Now i have to go into “Sleep” mode. Good night!

        September 4, 2019 at 5:28 am
      • Margaret USA

        Occasionally at adoration, someone’s smartphone beeps and it scares the living daylights out of me.

        August 29, 2019 at 11:48 pm
  • editor

    So far, the focus on this thread has been limited to the use of technology in church, but that is not, in fact, the key question for discussion.

    The key question is about the “new breed” of seminarian where the young men in training appear to be living a very secular life, judging by the kind of TV they view, and general lifestyle.

    Compared to the strict regime in the traditional seminary, the question was/is, which type of training is most likely to result in sound priests.

    I voted for “strict traditional seminary training” – what about the rest of you?

    August 28, 2019 at 9:31 am
    • sentirecumecclesia

      Totally want strict traditional seminary,of course, just didn’t think that reading breviary on a tablet was a sign of incipient Modernism….🤣…..the less the priest conforms to worldly manners and fashions, the better, which is why the cassock is so powerful.

      At the same time, technology is only a tool: probably, when the first priest was spotted taking an aeroplane flight, people did a double take. Now, no one would bat an eyelid. The real danger of technology is when it becomes either end in itself, or a means to gratify the lower appetites (e.g. the vanity of having the latest gadgetry.). Such an attitude, of course, would work against the unworldly witness of the priesthood.

      Traditional formation always involved some degree of separation from the world and a set of disciplines not imposed on the layman: concentration on prayer, early retirement and rising, and a reduction of indiscriminate socialising- but, of course, this “otherness” of the priest, and therefore the separation to some extent of the seminarian from the world, followed on the clear understanding of the supernatural excellence and otherness of the priesthood communicated in the ancient and venerable rite of the Mass.

      And that- in one- is why seminaries who follow the Novus Ordo can never quite strike the correct keynote in the training of priests. Even the most conservative seminary cannot train a priest well using a medium composed both by and for Protestants.

      August 28, 2019 at 6:14 pm
  • Chris McLaughlin

    I don’t have any expertise in seminary training whatsoever, so don’t feel qualified to comment. What I will say is that I have been extremely impressed by young priests I have encountered recently who have graduated the Scots College in Rome in recent years – the ones I have known are intelligent, orthodox, reverent, and liturgical.

    August 28, 2019 at 9:56 am
    • liberanos

      I would agree. Things are changing.

      August 28, 2019 at 10:51 am
      • editor


        Anyone, reading that SCO article by the seminarian, and watching the demeanor (and timetable) of the young men in the video, and thinks things are changing for the better (which is the import of your comment), has a very different notion of the Catholic priesthood and holiness than has been the tradition for 2000 years.

        Things are changing all right – they HAVE changed, to the point where you are more likely to meet a young priest in a “gay” bar in Glasgow than to find him in the confessional. The idea of sitting for a few hours in the confessional during an advertised period of time has gone; that would be considered a waste of time, instead of time well spent in prayer and spiritual reading, awaiting possible penitents.

        Yes, things are changing all right – the Patron Saint of priests, St John Vianney, spent 14 hours a day in the confessional. Now, that’s good daytime TV that would be missed – can’t have that!

        August 28, 2019 at 11:11 am
    • editor


      I don’t have any expertise in teaching Maths but I’d soon recognise the gaps if I met someone who couldn’t add two and two and make five four!

      I take it you’ve missed our “…scandals waiting in the wings… Scots clergy concerned” thread?

      I think I make the point on there somewhere, that I, too, thought seminarians I met in Rome were sound… Seems I was wrong – big time.

      That’s not to say that the whole barrel of apples is bad, but I doubt if many people, given the choice, would opt for a seminary training which is overtly worldly, and the kind of training shown in the video. The fashion in recent years has been for priests to be trained to be (literally) “one of the boys”. Doesn’t appeal to me, at all. Why would I confess my sins to a young man indistinguishable from one of my brothers? Or any friend?

      August 28, 2019 at 11:02 am
    • sentirecumecclesia

      Btw, I don’t mean that a priest trained in a modern seminary CAN’T emerge as orthodox and reverent- some of them may well fight heroically against the system which is generally (can’t speak for particular seminaries) stacked against them- as anyone who has experience of a relative in a modern seminary will know. Here’s the problem, though: seminary years should be years of calm, peace and personal formation, though, in preparation for the battle for souls. How can a seminarian train himself in virtue, self-knowledge, authentic spirituality, correct philosophy and theology? Perhaps by a miracle of grace, he can escape de-formation, but it may well be at the cost of his nerves and certainly at the cost of much missed learning. And this is the extraordinary case, as generally speaking, students become as their teachers, and subjects as their superiors. Which makes one shudder rather.

      August 28, 2019 at 6:23 pm
  • Fidelis

    There’s no question in my mind that the lads in the video are being trained to be “priestly” in their behaviour, whereas the Scots College seminarians are preparing to be just an ordinary “guy” – and that’s because there is a wrong-headed way of thinking about the relationship between priest and parishioner, as if the more “ordinary” the priest is, that means he is more approachable and understanding. I think the opposite. When I go to see my GP I find him to be professional in his attitude and behaviour. If he was the “relaxed dude” type, I would change my doctor, LOL!

    I can see why people don’t necessarily have strong feelings about the use of technology in church but personally I don’t like the idea – I’ve never seen it, but my gut instinct is against it.

    August 28, 2019 at 12:07 pm
    • editor


      “Priestly” is the key word. That – in my considered opinion – is the key difference between those seminarians trained in traditional vs modernist seminaries.

      Doesn’t mean, of course, that every “traditionally” trained priest is a great priest. Trust me on this. I could write the book. At least, though, with a disciplined background training, they have a head-start.

      August 28, 2019 at 4:23 pm
  • RCAVictor

    There is something completely incongruous, in my opinion, with using electronic technology during Mass, or during the Divine Office, for that matter. It reminds me of trying to co-opt rock ‘n roll music by adding “Christian” lyrics.

    I have a difficult time envisioning the sacred space and liturgy of a Catholic Church being preserved by clergy (or laity) staring into screens. “Sacred” means holy, and “consecrated” means set apart from the world. A screen is a doorway into the world, no matter what appears on it. The doorway – all such doorways – should be closed and locked when appearing before our Creator to worship Him.

    That said, I also think the use of electronic devices fits right in with the Novus Ordo, which is a secularized liturgy that destroys the Faith, and a mentality which cultivates pride, worldliness and indifference.

    August 28, 2019 at 7:53 pm
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      I’m totally with you on this: “I have a difficult time envisioning the sacred space and liturgy of a Catholic Church being preserved by clergy (or laity) staring into screens. “

      And this…

      ” “Sacred” means holy, and “consecrated” means set apart from the world. A screen is a doorway into the world, no matter what appears on it. The doorway – all such doorways – should be closed and locked when appearing before our Creator to worship Him”

      So, why didn’t I just type “I agree with you, 100%”? No wonder men say us women are difficult to understand… I have to admit that they do have a point.

      August 28, 2019 at 11:48 pm
  • RCAVictor

    Moreover, when one uses a tablet or cell phone to access a liturgical website in Church, what’s the first thing you have to do?

    Log in. Worldly.

    What’s the second thing?

    Look at your desktop or home screen, which is full of icons that open non-sacred “apps.” Worldly.

    So instead of placing yourself in the presence of God and recollecting yourself, you are logging in to a device and exposing your eyesight to worldly distractions. This is also a custody of the eyes problem.

    August 28, 2019 at 10:59 pm
    • sentirecumecclesia

      I really don’t get the hype about using an electronic breviary (in the conggation, not on the altar.). I suspect it comes from those who don’t actually use technology so much and who think of an iPhone or iPad as a little, explosive, unpredictable TV, ready to burst with distracting content. Except it isn’t. It’s way less distracting using an iPad for choir than trying to fiddle around with forty sheets and fifty hymnbooks. There’s a switch you can flick called “do not disturb” which automatically silences email, text. FaceTime and any other intrusive things. It’s just a lit-up page, then. Saves footering with torches in dark churches. Much less distracting than folder, book, torch, fumble routine.

      August 28, 2019 at 11:13 pm
      • editor


        I can’t improve on RCA Victor’s explanation of the problem – see his final paragraph about placing ourselves in the presence of God.

        It makes me sad to see what amounts to an addiction to screens, being extended into even traditional churches. Frankly, I don’t WANT to be sitting myself someone with a lit-up screen. I was in a situation yesterday where I needed to ask directions (as a pedestrian) and gave up trying to find someone whose face wasn’t in a screen. Instead I picked someone who was typing onto the screen and apologised for disturbing her. Got a glare, asked my question, at which she turned and pointed in silence at the place for which I was looking (probably thinking “talk about not seeing the wood for the trees”) but really, it redoubled my resolve never EVER to buy a smartphone. I’ll make do and mend with my humble phone, rather than risk becoming an addict – and a bad mannered addict at that.

        I don’t get your reference to “torches, folder, book, torch, fumble routine.” I have my missal marked for Mass before I enter the church and I am able to switch silently between the necessary pages, courtesy of the coloured ribbons marking the relevant pages. Never known anyone to bring a torch to Mass, but then, up here in Scotland we had electricity installed a while back 😀

        August 28, 2019 at 11:34 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Ha ha. True. Have you ever tried singing all the propers and polyphony and kyriale – on separate sheets- at candlelit Mass of Advent/Christmas though? I guarantee you, you’ll be getting the iPad out

        August 28, 2019 at 11:39 pm
      • editor

        O, I get it now. Here’s me thinking you were our latest candidate for the Funny Farm. It all makes sense now… 😀

        August 28, 2019 at 11:41 pm
      • RCAVictor


        I’ll reply to your other post later, but regarding separate sheets flying around, has your choir/schola director ever thought of using the Liber Brevior, or Usualis, or Graduale (for propers and kyriale, that is)? And for the rest, don’t you have a choir folder? Three-ring binder? How about clip-on battery lights?

        Alternatively, there’s always this solution:

        August 29, 2019 at 4:06 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Ha ha….is it battery operated and do batteries count as technology?

        RCA Victor, do you sing in a choir? Try juggling the Liber with the bound folder in the 3 second slot between the Offertory proper and polyphony, while you are dodging, without voice wobbling, the thurifer going back to the sacristy for incense, and while you move from the fringe of the Gregorian to the Alto side for polyphony, dropping your offering in the basket en route, making way for the elderly lady who can only come through the choir at the back since the other door is beside the confessional, and it’s the deaf penitent.

        iPads are the least of the distractions.

        August 29, 2019 at 8:29 pm
      • RCAVictor

        I do sing in the choir, and I’m the organist to boot – but what are you doing dodging the thurifer, etc.? Don’t you have a choir loft?

        August 29, 2019 at 9:50 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Nope. 😀 No choir loft. Now everyone can have a go at working out who Sentire is, based on all the trad chapels minus a choir loft.


        You’re so lucky to be able to play the organ. What a great gift to offer God.

        August 29, 2019 at 10:34 pm
      • RCAVictor

        If your chapel is the one I’m thinking of, I hope the SSPX finds you a bigger building soon. Traditionalists (that is, Catholics) shouldn’t have to worship under Mother Hubbard conditions, though I suppose that’s been the lay of the land since Vat. II.

        August 30, 2019 at 3:09 pm
      • RCAVictor


        I’m wondering if you are prone to a wee bit o’ exaggeration? I ask that because I’ve been singing in traditional choir lofts for about 12 years now, in 3 different parishes, and have never had the problems you cite – neither lighting issues, nor shuffling papers and books. And none of those choirs was especially noteworthy, musically speaking.

        Also, I notice you describe this topic as “hype” – why so? This is a serious discussion about a serious topic. (That is, except for Editor’s cartoons….)

        On the other side of the coin, though, our former (and rather young) parochial vicar directed our choir for several months last year during an interim period, and he used an IPad to follow the readings and to sing the Propers. I’d have to admit it never bothered me then; perhaps because I knew him fairly well and could trust him not to be distracted by whatever else was on his device (he was also a rare Liber collector).

        Finally, that “do not disturb” switch kind of proves my point about recollection. That sign, not fooling with electronic devices, should be in your mind upon entering the Church, the exact opposite of Dante’s “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” In other words, ask for the grace to take up faith, hope and charity, and leave the world behind.

        I think that for me the bottom line is that these devices are an addiction that should be minimized. And speaking of cartoons and this addiction:

        August 29, 2019 at 7:02 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Prone to exaggeration? Yup, can’t say as I haven’t been justly accused. Well, perhaps I am a perfectionist on the smooth transition minus rustling of sheets, but….the iPad is the frazzled singer’s friend.

        Oops. Didn’t mean to be offensive with the word hype. I just meant that to me people seemed to be overreacting to technology. I mean, when we got electricity, the people in the pews might have missed the candlelignt and found the full glare of a bright winter day on their neighbour somewhat….distracting.

        August 29, 2019 at 8:33 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        I lovvvve the cartoon! 🤣🤣

        August 29, 2019 at 8:34 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Great cartoon! 😂😂

        August 29, 2019 at 8:36 pm
  • sentirecumecclesia

    And it wastes fewer trees, for those bothered about climate change.

    Only a wind up. Ha ha

    August 28, 2019 at 11:14 pm
    • editor

      O, well, that makes ALL the difference 😀 We’re big into saving the planet here, as I’m sure you know!

      August 28, 2019 at 11:35 pm
  • sentirecumecclesia

    I’m well aware of that. 😃 Catholics are big into fire insurance, too

    August 28, 2019 at 11:37 pm
    • editor

      I’m not sure I get the fire insurance joke (although Hell sprang to mind 😀 ) but here’s one that made me smile…

      August 28, 2019 at 11:44 pm
  • Andrew

    “Nobody should be using technology in Church for anything”

    I play music at Mass and use my iPad for the score, obviously in flight mode, except for Bluetooth for the page turner. More convenient since it’s how I organise my music generally, easy to arrange a set list for the day and more convenient to play, mark-up, etc. Almost all musicians work the same way nowadays, for obvious reasons. Plus it saves on the waste of printing out paper. But this would be banned by you.

    Personally, I would have absolutely no problem with the Priest and/or Deacon reading from an iPad. And I really don’t mind if information during Mass is on a screen, or the Priest uses a microphone, which would also be banned by you since they involve technology. Along with lighting and heating and a host of other things.

    Sounds rather like you’ve drawn an arbitrary line to decide what technology is acceptable and what is not. I’m curious as to where that line has been drawn.

    September 1, 2019 at 10:23 pm
    • Fidelis


      I think most people who go to the new Mass would think the same as you. It seems to be the people who attend the Latin Mass who are against the use of technology.

      I am against it in both cases because it seems out of keeping with the sacred atmosphere which should be in the church during Mass or Benediction.

      I don’t think it’s an arbitrary line – the use of screens is different completely from the use of a microphone or lighting etc.

      September 2, 2019 at 8:56 am
  • RCAVictor


    Interesting question. I daresay there is no objective line at this point, because the Church hasn’t ruled on it. And I doubt if the Church will do so any time soon, since the hierarchy is too busy figuring out how to surrender to the world, the flesh and the devil and sending souls to hell.

    To me that line would have something to do with this: what visual elements preserve the sacredness and reverence of the liturgy, and what elements do not? This would cover many more things than “technology,” about which you appear to be splitting hairs, since we are talking about recent developments in computing and communication, not microphones, lights, furnaces and air conditioners.

    I think your statement “Almost all musicians work the same way nowadays” is a bit of an exaggeration. The accurate statement would be, “Almost all musicians that I know work the same way nowadays.” I am also a church musician, and I know of zero church musicians who work the way you do. We, in fact, “waste paper,” though I confess I am puzzled by the idea that using books and scores is a waste of paper. This sounds suspiciously like the “sustainability” agenda of the UN.

    As to where the line is, perhaps you would find Martin Mosebach’s book The Heresy of Formlessness quite interesting and inspiring.

    September 1, 2019 at 11:22 pm
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      WOW! I was about to answer Andrew but there’s no more to be said – you have, literally, said it all, and said it so well that there’s just no answer to anything you’ve written. Mind you there might be a loophole in there… like this one…

      September 2, 2019 at 12:11 am
      • RCAVictor


        That’s the kind of loophole I could drive a truck through…

        Uh oh, I just ended a sentence with a preposition….

        September 2, 2019 at 12:13 am
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        You did? End a sentence with a preposition? What did you do that for?

        September 2, 2019 at 12:23 am
    • Andrew

      OK, perhaps not all Church musicians. It’s more an extension of playing music in general. Using forScore means not having to lug 3 or 4 Real Books (or copying lead sheets and then losing the one you marked up), dealing with awkward page turns half way through a sonata, etc.

      For Church there are printed scores, although they tend to be only for C instruments, so depending on what I’m playing I’m happy to avoid transposing on the hoof, especially if sight-reading.

      Perhaps give it a try – I find it so much easier.

      I honestly can’t see how it has any bearing on the sacredness or reverence of the liturgy to have the score on an iPad instead of paper.

      September 2, 2019 at 10:27 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        I don’t see a problem either, as the choir is usually in a hidden space. iPads instead of missals at the altar would be rather distracting. And lacking in sacredness. But in the choir, I see no problem at all.

        September 2, 2019 at 10:53 pm
      • editor

        I’m just stunned at the way just about everyone is addicted to these phones, iphones, ipads whatever.

        Isn’t it nice to just switch off for an hour to worship God and to focus on Him entirely, without distractions? Personally, I’d prefer to go without the music, rather than have the distractions of phones lit up and tapping fingers.

        When I go to confession (in a city centre church) nine times out of ten I find some clown beside me checking his/her phone. It’s a real pain.

        And it ALWAYS adds to my confession list. Every time – so far, not attempted murder, “merely” one [more] instance of lack of charity but seriously can’t we all just switch off for one hour, or – to put it another way – “Can’t we just watch one hour with Him”?

        September 2, 2019 at 11:47 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia


        I’m not surprised that people using their phones for communication in the church drives you nuts. It is just plain disrespectful to do that, generally speaking (I make an honourable exception for doctors on call only.)

        Of course, no one is suggesting that anyone should be communicating using devices. At. all. People should not be “checking their phones”- Andrew wasn’t suggesting that and neither was anyone who opined that technology could be used in church – for sacred purposes only. In the latter case, the iPad, tablet or phone is a pure tool for sacred music. It is no more profane than the lightbulb or the radiator. Surely people can see the difference.

        September 3, 2019 at 9:48 pm
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Re doctors on call- I only mean leaving their phone on a soft vibrate and exiting immediately- not answering their phone in church, of course. Even on this I’m open to correction, but it seems common sense to me unless the vibrate would also create a disturbance at the altar or in the congregation at large

        September 3, 2019 at 10:31 pm
      • Fidelis

        Doctors on call is a bit of a red herring, with all due respect. The doctors I know attend Mass when they are OFF duty and they make sure that their shift allow them to get to Mass. I’ve never known a doctor to keep their phone on for that reason. They can usually get cover for a hour.

        September 4, 2019 at 10:29 am
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Fair enough- I’m not a doctor so I wouldn’t know; I said that because I have a relative doctor, who is severely over-subscribed and very faithful to her mission of curing the sick for little money. But maybe she could organise things so that she wouldn’t be on call at Mass. I don’t know.

        September 4, 2019 at 11:34 am
      • Fidelis

        There’s a huge difference between a piece of communications technology and a lightbulb or a radiator. Surely YOU can see that difference. Young people seeing a man changing a lightbulb or switching on the radiator won’t be thinking he’s checking or sending messages to friends, LOL!

        It’s all very well saying these devices are OK to use for “sacred purposes” – when I’ve seen people looking at phones, I have no idea what they are looking at, whether it’s a prayer or a message and it’s difficult to lecture a teen about not becoming addicted to their phones when they see people at Mass apparently using them.

        The more I am reaidng this thread and thinking about the various issues, the more I feel that it’s a cause of scandal for me – I just wouldn’t go regularly to any church where phones were being used in the pews and definitely not when the priest was using technology at the altar.

        September 4, 2019 at 10:37 am
      • sentirecumecclesia

        Point about teens taken. It’s a totally hypothetical question in relation to priests at the altar so I don’t think you need to take scandal- it hasn’t happened, and isn’t likely to happen. I guess when we see others, very rarely, using devices we could assume that they’re using them for sacred purposes maybe? That’s honestly what I would have assumed. I would be really shocked if people were texting in church, of course.

        September 4, 2019 at 11:48 am
      • Fidelis

        What do you think of this report – are the New Zealand bishops wrong or the one Irish bishop who seems to have tried and failed to stop this?

        Frankly, I don’t consider the priests defending the practice to be very impressive. Sounds very like “this is really making life easy for me” which doesn’t sit comfortably with my idea of a self-sacrificing priestly life. However, I am ready to concede that the type of priests I grew up admiring, are gone forever.

        September 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm
      • Andrew

        There seems to be a mixing of two things here.

        For playing music, for me an iPad is a really useful tool. If the Priest read from an iPad I also wouldn’t have an issue – as far as I’m concerned it’s no different from reading from a paper version. Goes without saying that in flight mode so there is no risk of receiving calls, messages or whatever (definitely something to avoid when playing music in any case!).

        But using smartphones or tablets to communicate in Church is totally unacceptable and should not be tolerated. In our Church the Priest installed a blocker so people can’t get a signal anyway – gets my full support.

        September 3, 2019 at 9:56 pm
      • RCAVictor

        I’m glad it suits you, but I have a processional hymn, Kyriale, a Prelude, and a Postlude, and that’s it. Once in a blue moon I play something (Prelude or Postlude) with a violinist. If I need some other music during the Offertory or Communion, I play a hymn (from a book kept at the organ) and then improvise on the tune (or try to, anyway).

        If I were a secular, “gigging” musician, I might try forScore, but first I’d have to buy an iPad, and I’d rather spend the money on something I actually need.

        As to your last sentence, I don’t see how either, but in your first post your went far beyond playing scores at the organ, if you recall.

        September 3, 2019 at 2:14 am
  • Laura

    It is interesting to see (about a few seconds ago) that 80.5% of voters in the poll up top, think a traditional seminary education like the one in the video, will produce the best priests. I agree. Otherwise, we are just getting young men who live like other young men – no real difference to make meaning of their ordination.

    I won’t be going to confession to any of them! LOL!

    September 3, 2019 at 7:20 pm
  • Helen

    I’ve come across 2 Scottish seminarians in recent months and found both of them to be fine spiritual fellows. For example, they both knelt to receive Communion on the tongue. I also heard recently that Westminster had a large intake this year and most appear to be of the orthodox variety.

    September 3, 2019 at 11:08 pm
    • Fidelis

      So, will they be allowing Communion in the hand when they are ordained and put into a parish (most are made parish priests right away, there are so few priests these days) and will they now allow Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion? You seem to set the bar very low by thinking they are “fine spiritual fellows” just because they receive Communion on the tongue, kneeling. It’s what they will allow as priests that matters, really. All priests receive on the tongue, LOL!

      September 4, 2019 at 10:32 am
      • Helen

        I can only comment on them in the here and now for how on earth would I know, what they might or might not do, in the future? It seems to me that you are deliberately setting the bar low by ASSUMING their future actions thereby judging them not to be presently “fine fellows”. I judge as I find, not as I might find down the line.

        September 4, 2019 at 4:27 pm
      • Fidelis

        Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but if I was speaking to a couple of “fine fellows” who were seminarians, I would be asking them what they would do about these sorts of important matters once ordained. What did you talk about, if you don’t mind me asking? Also, which seminary are they from?

        September 4, 2019 at 6:09 pm
      • editor


        You’ve been reading this blog long enough to know that there if there were a seminary in the UK which is turning out new priests who are remotely orthodox let alone “traditional”, we’d know about it.

        That there may be the odd lad – or two – who receive on the tongue, kneeling is fine. Good for them. It’s not enough to encourage me to shut up shop – at least not just yet 😀

        September 4, 2019 at 6:45 pm
  • Helen

    No, Fidelis, I don’t mind you asking. I met them in a social / religious situation and wasn’t in a position, nor had the inclination, to quiz them on their credentials. They seemed fine young men to me and I took them at face value.

    September 5, 2019 at 5:16 pm
    • editor


      “nor had the inclination… “

      You amaze me. The fact that they are “fine young men” is meaningless in the context of seminary training. What they believe is what matters; not whether they are nice lads or not. You really do surprise me. No, amaze me. WOW!

      Of course, you are young. Wait a few years until those “fine young men” are parish priests, one of them yours, and see if you wish you had “quizzed them on their credentials” after all…–christian-cartoons-funny-christian.jpg

      September 5, 2019 at 8:02 pm
  • Helen

    I forgot to say that they are at the Scots College in Rome.

    September 5, 2019 at 7:37 pm
    • editor


      Without giving too much away, I can say exactly the same… or could have done a few short years ago when I met what I thought were two fine young men being trained at the Scots College in Rome. More than that, I will not say. Hint: Watch closely at the Last Judgment – I’ll nod in their direction…

      As an aside, visiting Rome with another member of the CT team, we had arranged to meet them for a meal. We met them in St Peter’s Square and they marched us to the furthest corners of Rome, undoubtedly to avoid being recognised in our non-illustrious company. I was on the verge of saying “the nearest McDonald’s will do” when we reached what was clearly their destination – a lovely wee restaurant close to the French border… 😀

      September 5, 2019 at 7:54 pm
      • RCAVictor


        Here’s another traveling opportunity – aka junket – for the CT Team:

        BTW, does the CT Team have jerseys? And when you travel, do you call each other “fellow travelers”?

        September 6, 2019 at 10:19 pm
      • RCAVictor

        Editor and Helen,

        I hope the Scots College seminarians don’t circulate around Rome too much. I was told by an SSPX priest who visits Rome often (whose “orientation,” ironically, I found rather suspicious) that Rome is full of homosexuals. And they seem to have multiplied like Roman rabbits under the present pontificate.

        September 6, 2019 at 10:24 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        True – and have infiltrated even within the Vatican walls.

        Not exactly the best kept secret in the world!

        September 6, 2019 at 11:19 pm
  • Helen

    I simply didn’t think it was the time or place. Had we been in a “chat” situation I might have been more forthcoming with questions and, no doubt, I’ll get plenty of chances to do so in the future.

    September 5, 2019 at 11:43 pm
    • editor

      You should have said! Solemn High Mass is definitely not the right time or place… 😀

      September 6, 2019 at 12:02 am

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