Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The mysterious teaching union that doesn't want to teach

My latest on LifeSite.

Britain’s teaching unions are decidedly unenthusiastic about the re-opening of schools as the coronavirus lockdown eases. Surprisingly, they aren’t keen on online learning, either. The National Education Union (NEU) has told its members not to live-stream lessons from their homes, engage one-to-one with pupils, or expect any input from parents. Their bald statement, directed to primary (junior) school pupils, “Teachers cannot be expected to mark work,” sounds like a parody of obstructive trade unionism from the 1970s.
It is a particularly puzzling attitude in the context of education. There has been a lot of talk of the harm done to the education of children by the closure of schools and how this will widen the gap between the educationally privileged and the educationally deprived. There has also been a lot of talk about the non-educational functions of schools. Apparently the role of schools is not just education, but the provision of childcare, especially for “key workers”; the surveillance of children in danger of domestic abuse; and the provision of nutritious meals. Given what is said about the nutritional value of much school catering, I can only assume that this last claim is made against a very low baseline.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Another chat with Fr McTeague: On Criticising Fellow Catholics

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Spot the sinner! Can you see him? If there is one there, clearly this is no place for
respectable Catholics. Cardinal Burke celebrates Mass in Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, London.
Last evening I was interviewed again for The Catholic Current, a radio show hosted by Fr Robert McTeague SJ (a good one).

Our theme was an article I posted on Rorate Caeli and here, 'On Criticising Fellow Catholics'.

As regular readers will know I'm not against criticising people. My specific concern was the tendency on social media to divide Catholics into segments according to their views or preferred liturgy, and to make catty generalisations about them on the basis of isolated personal experiences: most often taking the form 'I went to that Mass once, and I felt uncomfortable because of what someone said to me afterwards'.

An important point here is that obviously there are sinners in the congregation and obviously the clergy and others should not chuck them into the street for breaking 'message discipline': nor yet lock them in the broom cupboard whenever a potential new recruit hoves into view.

You can listen to our chat here:

Episode Page:

Direct Audio Link:

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Spare a thought for Church musicians

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A professional singer, Dominic Bevan (facing right), leading a training choir during the
Latin Mass Society's Chant Training Weekend in 2019.
The excellent article on church music by Matthew Schellhorn in the new Catholic Herald, who among other things is the Latin Mass Society's London Director of Music, prompted me to write on a related subject for LifeSite.

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Church employees have been badly affected by the coronavirus epidemic and the subsequent cessation of public services. Particularly hard hit are those who did not have formal contracts, or who were paid service-by-service. This includes many musicians.
There is a strand of thinking in the Church that says that the liturgy should be served by musicians who appear spontaneously from the congregation and offer their skills for free. Sometimes this is possible, and in particular circumstances it may be the best solution, or the only one. Indeed, I am an amateur singer myself. The worrying thing about this claim, however, is the word “should” which appears in it: the idea that it is somehow less authentic, or appropriate, or worthy of the liturgy, to pay musicians. 
Occasionally a parish may find that a member of the congregation has the skills to help fix the heating; quite often parishioners help with the accounts. But generally, people with professional qualifications need to be paid for their services. This extends to things intimately connected with the liturgy, such as vestments and sacred vessels. The more important something is for the liturgy, the more willing a parish should be to part with cash to get the best possible results.
Read the whole thing.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

DIY First Holy Communion in Ireland

My latest for LifeSite.

The Irish broadcaster RTE’s website posted a strange story on Saturday: “Children celebrate a virtual First Communion via video link.”
At first I couldn’t understand the headline. How can you receive Holy Communion via a video link? Did RTE mean that the children made a Spiritual Communion?
But no. It turns out that, since the children had been due to make their First Holy Communion, their parish priest decided to allow them to do this at home. “Fr George consecrated the hosts at an earlier mass today and then families were given different time slots to collect them.”
They received Holy Communion in the course of watching a live-streamed Mass. The priest commented:
The parents of ten pupils took up the offer of a virtual Communion. It gave me a real sense of what the early Catholic church must have been like, when people gathered for mass in each other’s homes.
Except, of course, that it has nothing to do with having Mass in a private home. Mass took place in church, without the people. The only thing that happened in their homes was the reception of Holy Communion.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Prepare carefully for post-lockdown Holy Communion

My latest on LifeSite.

As the Easter season proceeds, the liturgy begins to prepare us for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Last Sunday, the fourth after Easter, in the Extraordinary Form lectionary that I follow, the Gospel contains Christ’s promise to send the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to the Apostles after he is finally taken from them at the Ascension. 
And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin and of justice and of judgment. Of sin: because they believed not in me. And of justice: because I go to the Father: and you shall see me no longer. And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged. (John 16:8-11)
Public Masses are still impossible in England and I have been reading liturgical commentaries with particular attention during this time. Dom Proper GuĂ©ranger comments on this passage, in his monumental The Liturgical Year (which is available online):
By these words, which were spoken shortly before his passion, our Savior does more than tell us of the coming of the Holy Ghost; he also shows us how terrible this coming will be to them that have rejected the Messias.
The coming of the Holy Ghost will be a bad thing, for some? We are more used to stressing the gifts and graces He will bring on the nascent Church, which are passed on to all members throughout the ages, particularly in the Sacrament of Confirmation. But as our Lord emphasizes, the Holy Spirit’s arrival will be a moment of vindication for the Apostles, and by that very fact it will be a moment of condemnation for their opponents. You can’t have one without the other.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Summer Mass of Ages is here!


Yes, the Latin Mass Society has published Mass of Ages as usual, though the post is a bit slow and my copy only arrived yesterday.

It is a little thinner than usual because the Mass listings are shorter. We do include all the live-streamed Traditional Masses in England and Wales.

It is full of interesting material as always, and if you are not a member receiving it every quarter automatically you can get your free copy from the LMS HERE, or read it online HERE.

In this issue Kevin Symonds reveals new details about the accusation of Freemasonry made against Annibale Bugnini, as a result of him leaving a suitcase behind in a Vatican meeting-room.

Also in this issue: • Joseph Shaw asks: Why is the Traditional Movement stronger in some places than in others? • Paul McGregor explains how the Traditional Mass returned to Culiacan, Mexico • Maurice Quinn tells the history of Dorset’s ‘Little gem’ – Our Lady of Marnhull • Clare Bowskill shows how the Traditional Mass online was the norm for us all this Easter • Charles A. Coulombe on fire and water – and ghost stories • Joseph Shaw on the Coronavirus epidemic and the liturgical reform • Lucy Shaw reports from the Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat held earlier this year.

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Saturday, May 09, 2020

Video interview with CTS

Pierpaolo Finaldi, Director of the Catholic Truth Society, interviewed me by Skype on the booklet by me which they have published: 'How to Attend the Extraordinary Form'.

The booklet can be purchased here.


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