Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fr Longenecker's 'Questions'

about the Traditional Mass: in the context of the expected Motu Proprio, what is the point of it, and particularly what is the point of the Latin and the silence? Fr Longenecker is a recently ordained, extremely zealous convert, and his questions must reflect those of many 'conservatives' in the Church.

I've posted the following in his comments box.

One key idea which needs to be emphasised is that the Mass is an act of worship offered to God. The people's participation in it is extremely important, but this is a participation in an act of worship directed to God. So they follow with their eyes and prayers when the priest disappears behind the Temple veil, the iconostasis, or the rood screen, or simply turns towards the crucifix. They know that what is important is the offering the priest is making to God, and they know what that is - from catechesis or from their missals. They don't need to hear the words or see the actions; on the contrary, the fact that the priest is in a sense alone with the offering and God is the most eloquent expression of what is going on. The use of a liturgical language, special clothing, special vessels made of precious metals, etc. all serve to emphasise the same point.

BXVI makes some very strong points on the eastward orientation in 'The Spirit of the Liturgy': it shows the Mass is a worship of God, whereas versus populum suggests a 'closed circle' with the people. The orientation, the language, the silence, the vestments and so on are all part and parcel of this idea.

I'd defend Masses - Low or Sung - in which the people make little or no verbal contribution on the simple basis that interior participation is more important than exterior participation (isn't that much obvious?) and that it is a fact of pastoral experience that exterior participation can be a barrier to interior participation. I'm never so distracted from the sacred action as when I am looking up a hymn number, or even enjoying singing a hymn.

As for readings in Latin: obviously, people can follow them in their missals, but note two things. First, the more restricted lectionary is a great boon in enabling the people to gain a familiarity with the texts. That great passage from Proverbs is always read on the feast of Holy Women; you know what's coming next when the choir sings 'Cogitationes corde mea' (viz., a votive Mass for the Sacred Heart), the liturgical year kicks off with St Paul telling us to put on the armour of Christ. The readings and prayers become old friends, and you hear them preached repeatedly. My own experience of daily Mass in the Novus Ordo and maybe twice weekly Mass in the TLM for a much shorter time is that my engagement with the scripture is far deeper with the latter.

Second, the proclamation of the scriptures in the liturgical language is an integral part of the act of worship offered to God. The pedagogical value is subordinated to this. Everything in the Mass is subordinated to its essential character as an act of worship (isn't that as it should be?) That the readings retain their pedagogical value in this context is part of the genius of the traditional liturgy.

Finally, I assume you've read BXVI 'The Spirit of the Liturgy'; I urge you to read 'The Heresy of Formlessness' by Marin Mosebach, which addresses many of these points.

Monday, June 25, 2007

LMS Oxford Pilgrimage: procession and benediction

This has been reported in both the Catholic Herald and the Oxford Times.

LMS Oxford Pilgrimage: report and pictures of Mass

The annual LMS Pilgrimage to Oxford, in honour of the Catholic martyrs executed in Oxford, took place on Saturday 23rd June. Our third pilgrimage featured the second Solemn High Mass celebrated in the Oxford Oratory since the liturgical changes, with Fr Dominic Jacob as celebrant, Fr Jerome Bertram as Deacon and preacher, and Br Joseph Welch (recently ordained deacon) as sub-deacon. Mr Edward Stratton was MC, and an excellent team of servers was assembled for the occasion. The Mass was the Vigil of the Nativity of St John the Baptist.

After a break for lunch, Fr Anton Webb led a record-breaking sixty-strong procession from the ancient church of St Michael at the North Gate to the East end of Holywell Street. The is the route taken by the four martyrs of 1589 – the seminary priests Richard Yaxley and George Nichols, their gentleman helper Thomas Belson, and a Catholic inn servant, Humphrey Prichard – from the Bocardo prison in Cornmarket to the town gallows where thy were hanged, drawn and quartered. All four were beatified in 1987. The procession sang the Litany of the Saints on the way to the gallows, and then the Te Deum and a number of vernacular and Latin hymns while we returned to the Oratory church, where Fr Anton celebrated Benediction for us. This was a great witness to the faith in the streets of Oxford. Thanks are due to the Fathers of the Oratory for their hospitality, to Fr Dominic and his minsters, and to Fr Anton, as well as to the large number of people who came, many from long distances, to join the pilgrimage.

There are more pictures on another blog, here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Goodbye Amnesty International

Today I cancel my membership of AI. I have sent them an email:


Membership: 19912/524

Following the adoption of a policy supporting the right to abortion, I must cancel my membership. I have already cancelled my regular donations to Amnesty.

I took part in the consultation on the matter but I see that members’ views have been ignored. This is a sad day; I have been a member of AI since I was at school in the late 1980s. I joined an organisation campaigning for human rights, not a political agenda. The protection of unborn children is as much a legitimate object of government concern as the protection of children who have been born.

I have read the press release making the bizarre distinction between supporting the right to abortion and supporting a woman’s right to choose abortion, so please don’t bother me with that one. I am a published moral philosopher and I can understand English.


Joseph Shaw

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Oxford Corpus Christi Procession

Continuing Oxford's 'marching season', the day after the Life Walk was the day of the annual Corpus Christi procession, in which the whole North Oxford Deanery takes part. This year it was led by Bishop Kenny, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdioce, and attended my many clergy of the Deanery.
As usual it began at the Oratory Church, stopped in at Blackfriars, and continued to the Chaplaincy. Like the Life Walk, it too seemed to be significantly bigger than last year, and included a brass band to accompany the hymn singing, interspersed with Rosary led by megaphone. The procession is so large that a number of police were present to deal with the traffic when it had to cross roads etc..
It is difficult to photograph such a long procession, but here it is: first, the clergy and flower girls; then the Blessed Sacrament under a capony; then the main procession, including the brass band, and the banners of various parishes. Spot the bishop's crozier being carried by an altar boy (second picture), the two Knights of Malta (Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society and Mr James Bogle, Chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain) (fifth picture), and a number of members of the University in 'Academical Dress' (gowns). Close up photos of the leaders of the procession can be found here.

For last year's procession see here. This year's pictures are definately better!

Oxford Life Walk

On Saturday 9th June, Oxford pro-lifers marched through the streets to support the rights of the unborn, as they do each year, starting outside the New Bodleian in Broad Street, passing through Cornmarket, and ending at the University Catholic Chaplaincy, where they had lunch. With significantly greater number than last year, interestingly there was a small counter-demonstration, with drums (!), waiting for the procession in Cornmarket. This is the first counter-demonstration for many years, and may indicate that pro-abortion activists are concerned that the public debate has not been going all their own way recently.

In accordance with a long-standing tradition, banners saying 'Save the Humans' were carried by people wearing suits representing endangered species of animals: a tiger and a panda.

Thanks to all who took part in this event, the local LIFE group which organises it, and the Chaplaincy for their hospitality.
For last year's Life Walk, see here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gregorian Chant Training Day 2007

The Gregorian Chant Training Day took place on Saturday 2nd June, Ember Saturday after Pentecost (Whit Saturday). Due to Dr Berry's indisposition, the day was led by Philip Duffy, who directed music at Liverpool's Catholic Cathedral for thirty years, and coached our group with great skill, erudition, patience, good humour and enthusiasm. Twenty singers participated in the day, including some American singers from Cape Cod who were visiting Dr Berry, and others from all over England, including a visitor from York.
Fr John Saward, Priest in Charge at SS Gregory & Augustine's Church in the Woodstock Road, Oxford, gave us the use of his Parish Hall, and we sang at his regular Saturday Benediction at 11, and then at a special Missa Cantata at 3.30pm, which he celebrated. Since this was the Ember Saturday of Pentecost, the Mass and the music were of a special solemnity, combining the last day of Eastertide with the penitential character of the Ember Days. So we sang numerous Alleluias, and the magnificent 'Golden Sequence', the Veni Sancte Spiritus of Pentecost, commonly regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of sacred Latin poetry ever written, a contribution to the Church's musical patrimony made by an Englishman, Archbishop Langton of Canterbury (d. 1228).
Mr Duffy succeeded in the impressive feat of turning a group of twenty singers, of all levels of experience of singing the Chant, and none of singing with each other, into an servicable choir in time for Mass, and indeed this was the most musically impressive Traditional Mass ever celebrated in Oxford, in the present writer's memory. Thanks to Mr Duffy for his time and effort, to Dr Berry and her assistants for their help, to our MC David Forster and his team of servers, to Lucy Shaw for her splendid lunch and to Fr John Saward, our host and celebrant. Such a hugely enjoyable day must certainly be repeated!