Speaking in Post-VII terms, could someone please tell me if the Rite of Admission to Candidacy (the modern equivalent to the Clerical Tonsure) is before or after the Rites of Institution to Ministry i.e. The Minor Orders.
It makes sense that it will be before Institution, as this rite basically grants the user full permission to wear Clerical Clothing and the Ministries of Acolyte and Lector are generally carried out in Choir Dress, and thus in Clerical Dress) - correct?
Here in Western Canada, Candidacy comes right before Diaconate and after the Ministries of Lector and Acolyte. I’ve heard that in other places it comes first.
Acolyte is functionally equivalent to an altar server (there are a few extra privileges/responsibilities an acolyte has though), and so acolytes generally wear whatever the local custom is for an altar server. Here that means an alb (Vancouver uses cassock/surplus I believe though). Lectors wear whatever readers wear, which varies from parish to parish, but is usually dressed up in some variety of “Sunday Best” (in our seminary, the reader is also in an alb)
And that’s only when they’re serving. We have guys in the Seminary who have received the ministries of acolyte and lector who almost never “function” in those positions (either reading or serving). Reading and serving at our community Masses varies across all the guys (from brand new to last year before diaconate) from week to week. Sometimes we are asked to serve at special Masses with the Bishop, and guys who have received ministries are in no way expected to serve and can simply attend/participate (in normal formal-wear) if they wish.
I don’t believe that Candidacy grants permission to wear clericals either. A cleric, strictly speaking, is a deacon or a priest or a bishop. Candidates are none of those, they are still laymen up to the instant of their ordination. I know a guy who went through the Candidacy and sill wears ordinary clothing, not clericals.
The order is the same where I am as for CurlyCool. However, while everyone here from brand new to final year reads, serving at mass is reserved to those who have received the ministry of acolyte. Guys who have received this ministry can also serve at special masses if they wish and anyone can serve in their home parish during the breaks provided their parish priest lets them.
In Rome, wearing of clericals is allowed following admission to candidacy. I’m not sure we have a rule on it, but the reality is that for most people the time between candidacy and ordination is relatively short. That, and the confusion it would likely cause, would be why I’ve never known anyone to do it.
Hmm… my understanding is that theologates in Rome require their seminarians to be candidates the day they walk in the door (i.e., they are candidates for three years – that is, before they are instituted as either lectors or acolytes). For theology studies in the States, though, my diocese’s seminarians are instituted as lectors and as acolytes prior to candidacy (which takes place before they begin their 3rd year of theology).
You may well be right but I suspect it varies from seminary to seminary.
I think, for us, leaving candidacy until the end reflects the importance of the commitments made when a person is admitted as a candidate for holy orders. Basically, the idea is to ensure that the candidate is truly ready for the commitments that they’re called to make - this is the business end of the seminary journey.
It varies seminary to seminary and, at times, diocese to diocese. Some seminaries require Candidacy just prior to entering Theology (following minor seminary/a pre-Theology program) and others require that Candidacy be made just prior to Diaconate (3rd Theology).
As for Lector and Acolyte, they are no longer referred to as Minor Orders as they are no longer part of the clerical state. Though most diocese will only institute seminarians as either, any man is able to receive these ministries (e.g. I think Lincoln diocese has an installed acolyte program). Though again varying seminary from seminary, most seminaries install men as Lectors following 1st Theology and as Acolytes following 2nd Theology.
The NAC requires that men be admitted to Candidacy prior to entering Theology. They receive Lector in 1st Theology and Acolyte in 2nd Theology.
The dress for these ministries will normally be regulated by either the seminary or the diocese.
The Church is in an interesting time for Candidacy, as they have said little about it. Most seminaries in the US, it seems, withhold candidacy until just prior to diaconate, which is at the end of 3rd theology. This is contrary to the historical practice, where seminarians would normally have entered the ‘clerical’ state through candidacy and the minor orders prior to or when entering Theology (Major Seminary).
If you’d like here are my two cents on the matter:
Candidacy is like an engagement. The seminarian is formally requesting permission to make known his intent to study for the priesthood; The diocese is formally acknowledging the seminarian as one studying for the priesthood.
A commitment is made between the two parties. To allow this when one is entering Theology will allow seminarians to begin a shift in their spiritual discernment, moving him from a man who is considering the priesthood to a man who is intent on being a priest, if God wills it. He is not only making a commitment, but the diocese is responding to that commitment and has certain responsibilities to the seminarian.
By that definition, it would be best to put candidacy right before diaconate then.
If Candidacy is like engagement, then seminary studies is like courtship. You don’t do the courtship after the engagement, that’s just silly. During the Seminary up to Diaconate there is always the possibility that you are not called to be a priest. It would be imprudent for a diocese to stop discernment so early in the process when there are many years for the person to learn and discern themselves and for the diocese to discern (through the formation team) that this person is called to priesthood and would make a good pastor (a good shepherd).
There doesn’t really need to be a shift, in my opinion. Most guys I know in the seminary are discerning God’s call for them but believe (in at least a small way) that this is where God is leading them. We don’t generally get the guys who aren’t sure buy just are “trying it out”. All of the guys, at the very least, want to be a priest in some way (one of the questions in my vocation interview was “Why do you want to be a priest”).
There is no inherent contradiction for a man wanting to be a priest but still being open to the Will of God. There needs to be something more to lead you to the Seminary besides “spiritual searching”.
According to the PPF, prior to entering major seminary (Theology), men will have spent 2-4 years in seminary formation (Pre-Theology or Minor Seminary).* Include in this both the application process (which varies) and the discernment necessary before beginning the application process and seminarians have spent several years seriously considering the priesthood. Analogy-wise, this would, to me, seem to be the courtship period.
Interestingly enough, the PPF considers the decision to apply for seminary the first step of vocational discernment. This is followed by the next step, which is the actual application process to a diocese. If accepted, the seminarian then applies to a seminary. Then, the seminarian moves into pre-theology or minor seminary, which is preparation for theology. When entering theology, seminarians have already undergone at least three major steps in discernment over a period of several years, as well as rigorous self/peer/faculty evaluations.
At this point, there should be a shift in discernment. Note, a shift in discernment. Discernment never simply stops. The seminarian should begin a change in himself, in his prayer, asking no longer “Is this where God is calling me?” but “This might be where God is calling me. How can I live out this way of life?” It is also a time for the Church to respond to the seminarian’s discernment up to this point, providing a more formal commitment to the seminarian and re-inforcing their support of him. As with an engagement, the seminarian and the Church will still have time to discern God’s will and, if it be so, leave the seminary. But, at this point in discernment, there should be more of a certainty then when one entered seminary.
And, curlycool89, I agree that there is no inherent contradiction for a man wanting to be a priest but still being open to the Will of God. Admission to Candidacy does not stop one from being open to the Will of God. Instead, it is simply helping to start solidify what that will is. It is for these reasons I think that it should be (and, historically, has been) at an earlier point then most US seminaries allow for.
*If high school seminary is attended, that adds another 4 years of seminary formation.
PPF = Program for Priestly Formation. This is basically the USCCB guide on how a seminary is to be run.