Sunday, May 19, 2019

Letter in the Tablet

Google images suggests that Fr Baldovin favours
the 'tab' collar, when he's not in a
jacket and tie.
This weekend I have a letter in The Tablet. Last week they carried a strange lament by an aging liberal, Fr John Baldovin SJ, complaining about the traditional tendencies of young Jesuits: I assume his experience is of the USA. Since the formation of these men is in the hands of his own generation, it must feel like a bit of a failure. He informs Tablet readers that he has to spend ages explaining to these youngsters that the Traditional Mass and associated things like the Roman collar (horrors!) are bad because they carry with them the baggage of an 'insular' conception of the Church from before the Council. Alas, he doesn't have space to explain exactly what that means or how it works. Why prayers composed in the 7th century, for example, or ceremonies developed in the 12th, are all about the Church of the 1950s.

They have published my response.

Fr John Baldovin SJ (11th May) makes a surprising criticism of the ancient Latin Mass: that it brings with it a ‘insular’ vision unsuited to mission. Is this not the Mass which converted Latin America, which established the Church in Imperial China, and which was equally at home at the court of Louis XIV, and the mission stations of Africa?

The astonishing breadth of historical and cultural circumstances in which the Church’s venerable Latin liturgy has sustained martyrs and formed saints reflects both the long and varied period in which it was developed, and also an attitude, which it encourages, towards the liturgy as something objective, given to us, and precisely not specially adapted to our personal needs and circumstances.

The reformed Mass, by contrast, not only relies more heavily on the personality of the celebrant, but [inevitably] bears the marks of its creators’ interests and concerns. These are those of a small group of mainly European liturgists, whose ideas formed in the 1940s and ‘50s. To the younger generation of traditionally-inclined priests who cause Fr Baldovin such concern, the Mass these men produced looks about as up-to-date as the transistor radio.


The Letters Editor cut out the word 'inevitably', making me sound a little less reasonable, a little more hostile. When trying to win the argument about the Mass, every advantage is worth having, isn't it?

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review of Mosebach "Subversive Catholicism"

This was commissioned by, and is printed in, the European Conservative, a journal of which I had not previously been aware.
The book is Martin Mosebach Subversive Catholicism, a collection of essays, which you can buy from Angelico Press (which also pubishes a revisised edition of his Heresy of Formlessless) or Amazon.

Here's the beginning:

In 2006 Martin Mosebach sprang to fame, in the English-speaking world, as the author of The Heresy of Formlessness. It was a defence of the ancient Latin liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church: the liturgical tradition which had been celebrated by all western Catholic priests until just 40 years earlier, had provided the spiritual roots for the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, had sustained the martyrs of the Nazi and Communist prison camps, and had inspired the Church’s greatest artists, poets, and musicians.

That such a phenomenon as the ancient Roman Rite should find a conservative defender might not seem surprising, but at that time this form of the liturgy had become a kind of forbidden fruit, something which conservatives who wished to be taken seriously as mainstream figures had ritually to disavow. In this context, it was little short of astonishing that Mosebach’s volume of reflections would be published by Ignatius Press, a conservative American Catholic publisher which had made the avoidance of this ‘third-rail’ issue the key to its intellectual respectability.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The book of the Position Papers is now available

Long-term readers will remember the series of short 'Position Papers' I published on behalf of the FIUV--Una Voce International--on a variety of subjects about the ancient Mass, both aspects of it which need to be explained to those unfamiliar with it, and ways in which it can assist the Church in evagelisation.

These papers, gathered together and thoroughly revised, are now available as a book from Angelico Press, with a Preface by Cardinal Burke.

I will be organising book launch events in Oxford, London, and Rome.

You can buy them from the Latin Mass Society in England, from Angelico Press in the USA, and from Amazon.

the-case-for-liturgical-restoration cover

The Case for Liturgical Restoration

Una Voce Studies on the Traditional Latin Mass

EDITED BY JOSEPH SHAW

Preface by Raymond Cardinal Burke

432 pages
Paper (ISBN 978-1-62138-440-3): $19.95 / £16.50
Cloth (ISBN 978-1-62138-441-0): $30.00 / £24.00

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Can we accuse the Pope of heresy?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

For any Catholic of the last two or three centuries, the idea that one might accuse the Pope of heresy seems almost unthinkable: almost a contradiction in terms. The Holy Father is the guarantor of the Faith, the recipient of the gift of infallibility; union with the Pope is union with the Church.
Nevertheless, it is not quite unthinkable.
When Jesus Christ gave St Peter the Keys, to bind and loose, and the guarantee that the gates of Hell would not prevail over the Church which would be built upon the ‘rock’ of Peter (Matthew 16:18-19), the very next thing he said to him was to call him ‘Satan’ (Matthew 16:23), for trying to divert Christ’s mission in a worldly direction. When the Risen Christ gave St Peter the mission of feeding his sheep, he did so in the context of a thrice-repeated question, ‘Do you love me?’ (John 21:15-17), a question recalling, and undoing, St Peter’s thrice-repeated denial of Christ in the house of the High Priest (John 18:17, 25-27).
We are called to accept this painful paradox, of the Pope’s supreme spiritual authority, and his infallibility in solemn acts of teaching, along with his limitations as a member of the fallen human race. History tells us that popes have been guilty of all kinds of sins, including sins against the Faith. It is unsurprising that popes have tended to be theologically sound, politically astute, and morally upright. But there is no supernatural guarantee that they must be. 
The recently published letter accusing Pope Francis of the crime of heresy makes for uncomfortable reading. Most readers will know that Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (2016) contained passages which were troubling to many orthodox theologians. Many people, including me, thought that those passages could be explained in an orthodox sense. The difficulty with this approach, as time has worn on, is that Pope Francis has given no indication that such orthodox readings are correct. On the contrary, the whole tenor of papal remarks, documents of varying levels of official status, and the guidance given to and conclusions drawn from bishops’ synods in Rome, has tended to undermine those orthodox readings.
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Saturday, May 04, 2019

Don't modernise Notre Dame

My latest on LifeSiteNews

LifeSiteNews has a petition going to oppose the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, badly damaged in a fire, with modern additions. Ominously, President Emmanuel Macron has already opened a competition for architects to propose designs.
Like previous French presidents, Macron may well wish to leave a mark on a great historic building. President Mitterrand spoiled the classical masterpiece of the Louvre Palace, now a museum, with a much derided glass pyramid in the middle of the great courtyard and added insult to injury by obliging visitors to use it as the entrance.
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Friday, April 26, 2019

Rigid Catholics: a talk in London

Corrected time: 7pm (door open at 6:30pm)

And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.

I shall be giving a talk, 'Why do they call you rigid?', in London on Friday.

It is part of the Iota Unum series, and will take place at

7pm (door open at 6:30pm)

in the basement of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, on Friday 26th (Easter Friday).

Access via the basement steps from Golden Square (map).

£5 on the door; drinks provided.

I shall be discussing the development of the notion of psychological rigidity from the 1930s, the way the theory has been used, problems with the theory, its relationship with the Catholic faith, and how one can respond when accused of rigidity.

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