Sunday, December 27, 2009

Altar-rail news from South Africa

Fr Gregory Charnock attended one of the Latin Mass Society's Priest Training Conferences and has been putting his new knowledge to good use in his native South Africa. With very little money he has installed altar rails, to make his church more suitable for the Traditional Mass; these were unveiled in time for Christmas.

Congratulations to him and to his parish! Please say a prayer for them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Catholic Education Service on Sex Ed

A great many Latin Mass Society members and supporters are very concerned about sex education in Catholic schools, and have been for many years. Homeschooling has become a feature of the Traditional Catholic landscape: you will find homeschooling materials next to 1962 Missals on the website of Southwell Books; homeschoolers are a key constituency for the St Catherine's Trust Summer School and the Traditional Catholic Family Alliance, and so on. These are not sandal-knitting hippies: they have simply looked into Catholic schools and do not like what they see. In this, Traditional Catholics are not alone: forceful protests to the Catholic Education Service have been made by the National Association of Catholic Families and SPUC, and on a number of blogs, such as Catholic and Loving It.

The Catholic Education Service, which is an agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, is beginning to notice the chorus of complaints, so it has very kindly produced a document, signed by its Chief Executive Oona Stannard, 'setting the record straight'. So we can all relax and send our children to school knowing that they will be taught in accordance with the Pontifical Council for the Family (PCF) 'The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality' (1986) and Pius XI's 'Divini Illius Magistri' (1929), the pertinent magisterial documents? Well, not quite. The CES document leaves certain matters unclear.

Here is my fisk. Emphasis is mine and my comments are in red.

Sex and Relationships Education: Setting the record straight

The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) generally supports Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) within Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education1 where this is appropriate to the needs of the children and young people and will help them to develop healthy lifestyles and respect for the sanctity of life.

Our expectation is that good SRE is life affirming and that it should assist in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies and abortions. [What is 'good SRE?] It can do this by helping to develop young peoples’ self esteem and belief in the value of married life alongside the behaviours necessary to resist pressures for early sexual activity and sexual relationships outside marriage. [See below.] In all these matters it will be essential that pupils in our schools develop in knowledge and understanding of the teachings of the Church.

1) Catholic Education is a three way partnership between home, school and parish.
We endorse strongly the view that parents are the first and primary educators of their children. Good.

Many teachers tell us that parents often welcome the school’s support and contribution to PSHE, building on what parents begin and continue at home. [But what about the ones who aren't happy? Is the CES taking the support of some parents as the justification of riding roughshod over the views of others?]

Similarly, we acknowledge that grandparents and the extended family, including the parish community, often serve as positive role models for children and young people. They have enormous potential to be a positive influence.

2) Much that is proposed for SRE is already taking place in schools.
This is true, particularly with respect to the biological aspects such as being able to name external body parts (for children in primary school) and learning about the physical changes that take place in the human body as children grow (Key Stage 2). These have been required within the science programmes of the National Curriculum dating back to the early 1990s. There are already programmes of study for personal wellbeing at Key Stages 3 & 4 but these are currently advisory. What the current proposals do is to make it more likely that there will, through a statutory entitlement to PSHE, be more coherence so that, for example, parents will know what is to be provided in PSHE and can expect to see the school’s policies and be able to discuss these.

[This may be an example of the classic argument: 'What you are objecting to has been happening for years, so you've already accepted it.' In fact Sex Ed delivered through the science curriculum is a long-standing reason why parents have withdrawn their children from Catholic schools, since there has never been the chance to withdraw children from it: the claim to respect parents views has been a sham 'dating back to the early 1990s.']

3) Schools will choose the materials and resources that they think will best suit the needs of their pupils in teaching and learning about PSHE and SRE within this.
There is no requirement that any specified resources from government or elsewhere will be required to be used. [A model of prose from our chief Catholic educationalist.] Therefore, it will be up to the individual school, determined by its policy for SRE and the wishes of the Governing Body, to ensure that the resources to be used are chosen wisely bearing in mind the ethos of the school and the development and maturity of pupils. [So what is required? In fact the government demands learning outcomes at different ages which leave little room for manoeuvre.] Parents have a right to see the school’s SRE policy and we would encourage parents who so wish to ask to see the resources that will be used. [Don't expect schools to volunteer the information.] We are also expecting that our Catholic university colleges and joint universities will take a proactive role in teacher training and professional development to fit teachers for their important role in teaching PSHE.
[So what is in these materials, and do they conform to the teaching of the Church? An examination of Catholic materials such as the Archdiocese of Birmingham's 'All That I Am' course, or Marriage Care's sex ed course, causes many to be concerned: are these concerns going to be addressed?]

4) Knowing about something is not necessarily the same as promoting it. [Would they say the same about information about how to make bombs or steal cars? It is worth noting the wisdom of Pius XI, speaking of sex ed., 'evil practices are the effect not so much of of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace.' (Divini Illius Magistri 66) Would the CES endorse this?]
Knowing about facts is not the same as promoting particular behaviours. To keep our young people ignorant about facts e.g. to prevent an age appropriate understanding of contraception
[No one is objecting to an 'appropriate understanding': it is a question of the age and maturity of the child. How about the PCF's clear statement:
So as not to disturb this important natural phase of growth, parents will recognize that prudent formation in chaste love during this period should be indirect, in preparation for puberty, when direct information will be necessary. (Truth and Meaning 78) Would the CES endorse this?]
its risks or to hide the negative consequences of abortion, does not help to reduce teenage pregnancies; [Actually, many studies seem to show that information about contraception increases the pregnancy rate: are we going to hear a rebuttal of those studies?] better that such learning take place in the context of the Church’s teaching rather than risk that young people be ill informed by peers, value-free advertising or the media.
Young people may experience a great deal of pressure from these sources but a well informed conscience and details of relevant biological and other facts can help to keep the young person safe, resisting behaviour into which they may otherwise be coerced. [See below.] Not only can “learning about” help children and young people to make the right decisions for themselves, it can also help them to be a force for good with their friends and peers.
[The ethos of the playground is indeed crucial: another reason why Catholics often do not regard withdrawing their children from sex ed classes as sufficient to protect them: they have to be withdrawn from the school completely. What is the effect on playground banter of being given 'information' about body parts and contraception at younger and younger ages?]

5) CESEW strongly wishes that the parental right of withdrawal of their children from SRE could have remained throughout statutory years of schooling.
However, we can also see the potential benefits of all young people receiving appropriate SRE, perhaps, most particularly as they approach the age of 16 [in English: at the age of 15] with all the opportunities and rights offered to young people at that age.
We were also mindful of the legal advice that had been provided to the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) on this issue. In making their decision to limit the right of parental withdrawal from sex education, DCSF say that they were acknowledging “the trend in the development of English law over many years towards greater autonomy for children when they are of an age to make decisions for themselves”. They point out that “this can be seen in the long line of cases concerning consent to medical treatment – most famously discussed in Mrs Gillick’s case (Gillick-v-West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority) but also contained recently in cases such as R(Axon)–v-Secretary of State for Health in 2006”. DCSF have advised that they considered this, along with fuller individual pupil participation in the Education process and the right of the child to be consulted as had been underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), to which the United Kingdom is a signatory. [So the legal system is increasingly undermining the role of the parent as primary educator - is the CES campaigning against this?]
We understand that where our Catholic schools are providing SRE, as most do, that the level of withdrawal of pupils from SRE is actually very low. [Can we have the figures?] We believe that this is a sign of the confidence that parents have in the programmes that our schools provide and the dialogue and good communications occurring between schools and parents. [In many cases it is a sign of ignorance and helplessness. Parents who look into the matter quickly find out that withdrawing their children from sex ed classes only scratches the surface of the problem, that objections will be met with the mantra 'we are now legally obliged to do this', and that the alternative, homeschooling, is a massive undertaking.] We are confident that this will continue in the future.
We very much hope and expect that what is being provided in SRE and the clear publication of school’s programmes and teaching strategies to parents will enable parents to feel content with what is being offered so they will not feel any need to withdraw their child from these lessons. Nevertheless, we remain adamant that parents must continue to have the right of such withdrawal of their children until the age of 15 years.

6) Pupils will be expected to know that there are different kinds of relationships including Civil Partnerships.
CESEW regards this as a very sensitive issue given the importance of marriage and the Church’s expectations that sexual relationships should be reserved for marriage. It is, however, the case that the media, not least television programmes including “soaps” often watched by relatively young children offer examples of many different types of friendships and relationships. [So does the CES advise parents to stop their children to watch these programmes?] PSHE will provide an opportunity to discuss friendships and different types of relationships in ways appropriate to the age and maturity of the child in the context of the Church’s teaching. [So what is that teaching?]
In teaching PSHE, teachers will need to act wisely, mindful that the teachings of the Church must be upheld in our Catholic schools and the innocence of children preserved. [The PCF says that excludes class-room sex ed before puberty. Is that the policy in Catholic schools, or not?] This must take place whilst also acknowledging pupils will often be encountering conflicting messages from external sources. This is an example of where good teaching will need to respond to the maturity of children and the environment in which they live, coupled with respect for the dignity of all human persons, upholding the Church’s teachings.
Children need to have an age appropriate understanding of the human body and such knowledge does not deprive a child of his or her innocence. [Is this an acknowledgement that premature information does do so?] For example, the age of puberty is falling, many girls beginning menstruation while still at primary school. It is important that they understand what is happening to them [no one objects to that] and that boys also understand that this is a natural and healthy part of growing up and that they are taught to respect one another’s development.

7) Don’t forget the “relationships” in SRE Education.
The government has emphasised that good SRE focuses a great deal on the relationships aspect, including teaching about the skills needed for healthy relationships. They require young people to be taught about the importance of marriage and family life. This may, for example, help young people to avoid unwanted advances and to be assertive about their own beliefs and wishes. Good relationships education rooted firmly in Church teaching will also help in an understanding of one another. [The government approach is 'Do what you want as long as you really want to do it.' This is supposed to help children resist pressure for premature sexual activity, but it leaves the door wide open for peer pressure: 'Why don't you want it? Are you immature?' For all the talk of Church teaching, it is hard to escape the impression the CES is buying into this.]

8) The Connexions Service and other external bodies work in Catholic schools at the invitation of the school, working within the parameters of the school’s ethos. [What does that mean? Are they forbidden to give confidential advice on contraception and abortion? That would conflict with their own guidelines.]
The Governors and Headteacher of a school are the ones who decide on who may come into school as speakers, offering various services, etc. Through dialogue they agree their expectations and parameters for the work of that service. It should not, therefore, be the case that any external service can come in and give advice that counteracts the school’s teaching and in a Catholic school de facto, the teaching of the Church. [So do schools forbid certain kinds of advice? No - they cannot. Conexions employees are bound by their own professional ethics: if 12-yr old girl wants to know where to get an abortion, they are obliged to tell her, in confidence.]

9) Some Catholic schools do have on site health clinics.
There are different levels of service that these clinics can offer and this is something negotiated in advance. The fact that a Catholic school may have an onsite clinic in no way indicates that the clinic is offering contraceptives, or assisting in the facilitation of abortions. [Can't you just say: Catholic schools forbid the facilitation of abortion and contraception by outside agencies or their own clinics? Apparently not.] Again, parents, in whatever type of school, are reminded that they have a right to ask about any such services operating in their child’s school and to make their feeling and expectations known to the school’s leaders. [But they have no way of stopping their children using the facilities if they are there, and their objections are likely to be ignored.]

10) Bishops and the CESEW have been given assurances by the Secretary of State that our schools will be able to deliver SRE which is in accordance with the ethos and values of our schools. [What does this mean? What is your understanding of the teaching of the Church? Is it the same as the understanding provided by the PCF?]
Whilst the outlines of the proposed SRE content is broad and lacks detail, it provides a structure from which our schools can plan their own programmes within the context of the Church’s teachings. [Which are what?] Indeed, the requirement to teach SRE should also be seen by our schools as an opportunity to ensure that young people know and understand what the Church teaches and expects on these matters.
CESEW will continue to vigilantly monitor the Government’s plans for PSHE as the new curriculum is subject to parliamentary approval. We will have no hesitation in responding robustly if the Government’s assurances to us are undermined in any way.

Oona Stannard
Chief Executive & Director
17 December 2009

Am I reassured? Sorry, Oona, I am not.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Victory for the 1962 Missal in St Peter's

When the Mass took place for the FIUV conference on the altar of St Pius X in St Peter's, our celebrant, Msgr. Pablo Colino Paulis, had to get a missal from the library next to the sacristy: there was no 1962 Missal in the sacristy. Now this situation has changed, thanks to a letter to the Cardinal Archpriest by a priest of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, Fr Stefano Carusi - a priest who addressed the FUIV conference.
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(Above: the Mass celebrated by Msgr Colino for FIUV delegates.)

Here is a very hasty summary/translation of a post on the messainlatino blog.

From the moment Pope Benedict XVI allowed priests to celebrate the Old Rite many priests have wished to do so in St Peter's. There has, however, been a practical obstacle in that there were no Old Rite missals in the sacristy.

The large number of missals of varying ages which used to be kept in the sacristy, and which could still be used by visiting priests because of the very minor changes made over the years up until the 1960s, suddenly disapeered in the period after the Council...

Such was the situation. [Fr] Stefano Carusi of the Institute of the Good Shepherd wrote to the Cardinal Archpriest of St Peter's on the great seriousness of the this situation. [Fr Carusi's letter is reproduced on the blog.] The Cardinal Archpriest [Cardinal Comastri] has responded with a very positive gesture, promising that four 1962 Missals will be made available in the sacristy from now on. We thank him for this exemplary gesture, which shows his committment to the extraordinary form.

If every cathedral in the world acted in this way the Pope's intentions would be much more easily fulfilled.

We invite all priests who love the traditional Mass to take advantage of this and not let this precious opporunity pass. Let us all say - 'Introibo ad altare dei'!

Thanks indeed to the Cardinal Archpriest! It was certainly a highly anomolous situation that there should be no Missals relating to the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite in the sacristy of St Peter's; we may hope with the author of the blog post that other cathedrals will follow where St Peter's leads.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A new office for the Latin Mass Society

Old office straight ahead, new office on the left.

Yesterday we had a small celebration for the office move, which is substantially complete - bar the unpacking of some boxes. Our new office is only a few feet from the old one, in the same building, but it is about 50% bigger, and faces the street. So we keep the postal address, and telephone numbers, but we have more space for storage, meetings, and the staff. To compare and contrast there's a photo of the old office here.
It is mainly open plan, but for the first time the General Manager has a corner hived off for his office, and where small meetings can take place without disturbing the other staff.
Fr John-Claude Selvini came to bless the office. I gave the new office a framed photograph of the Holy Father which I had bought in Rome at the FIUV conference. After the blessing we had a buffet lunch with a number of LMS stalwarts from the London area.

Many thanks to Lech Handsel, our Representative for Cambridge, whose building firm gave us the keenest quotation for the necessary work (partitions, carpets etc.) and who oversaw it.

More photos here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ushaw Conference 2010 announcement

LMS Residential Training Conference for Priests Wishing to Learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham.
The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales (LMS) is organising a residential training conference for priests wishing to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham, one of England’s most prestigious seminaries.

The conference will run from Monday 12 April to Friday 16 April 2010 (i.e. Low Week) and will feature Traditional liturgies in Ushaw’s magnificent neo-Gothic St Cuthbert’s Chapel together with a Gregorian Chant schola and polyphonic choir.

Expert tuition in the celebration of Mass in the Usus Antiquior will be provided on a small group basis. There will be tuition in Low Mass, Missa Cantata and Missa Solemnis and there will be streams for beginners and more advanced students. There will be a keynote lecture and 1962 Missals and altar cards will be available.

There will be opening and closing High Masses, daily Mass and Devotions, and Rosary. There will also be a closing Conference dinner with guest speaker.

The subsidised fee to participants is only £115.00 which includes all accommodation, meals and training materials. There are limited places and priests are asked to register as soon as possible.

Further details and registration forms can be obtained from the LMS office (Tel: 020 7404 7284, e mail: or from the conference organiser, Mr Paul Waddington (Tel: 01757 638027, e mail:

Paul Waddington said, “This is the second time the LMS has organised such a training conference at Ushaw College and we are delighted to be going back. I hope the laity will tell their priests about this wonderful opportunity to learn the Usus Antiquior in the setting of one of England’s finest Catholic seminaries.”

(See my collection of photos from last year.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chant Course with Nick Gale

Following the successful three-day chant course with Nick Gale of last spring, we have organised another for April 9th to 11th (Low Sunday).

As before it will take place in conjuction with the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat; this year the venue will be the Oratory School, Oxfordshire, which is between Reading and Oxford.

Nick Gale is the Director of Music at St George's Cathedral in Southwark, and trained under Dom Daniel Saulnier in the chant at Solesmes. This year he will be assited by Mr Mark Johnson to enable the singers to be divided into different groups to suit all levels of experience.

The feedback from last year's course, which included an introduction to semiology through the Graduale Triplex, was enthusiastic: it gave the participants, few of whom had ever encountered the Graduale Triplex before, a fascinating and very practical new perspective on the Chant. This course, in its length and scope, is unique in the UK and should not be missed by anyone interested in singing Gregorian Chant.

It is also a very good deal at £80 per person (payable to the St Catherine's Trust). All are welcome.

Pdf application forms with further information here;
an online form here.

Return the form to

St Catherine's Trust
58 Thornton Road
London SW12 0LF

Requiem at Milton Manor

Last Saturday we had a Requiem for Michael Eyston at Milton Manor. Anthony Mockler-Barrett was as always extremely hospitable and it was a great occasion.

In the small but lovely 'Strawberry Hill Gothick' chapel we had a full Sung Requiem with the blessing of the catafalque, with a chant schola of a dozen and polyphonists as well, in the chapel's choir loft.
More photos here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Missa Cantata in St Anthony of Padua, Headington

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Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP sang Mass for the LMS for the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, in the church of St Anthony of Padua. We were the guests of Fr Aldo Tapparo, the parish priest, who sat in the nave. Fr Leworthy is wearing one of Fr Tapparo's beautiful chasubles.
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The Mass was accompanied by the Schola Abelis (including me), who sang not only the chant propers but the Missa de Beata Virgine by Josquin des Pres. A video clip can be seen on the Schola's blog.
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The church is one of the most modern in Oxford (of which Headington is a suburb). It used to be dominated by pine but more recently it has been redecorated in the pastel colours you can see in the photos. Although the church was clearly not designed with the traditional liturgy in mind, it does not impede it either - there is plenty of space in front of the altar, for example, and it is possible for people to kneel in a row on a step for communion. The church also boasts a pipe organ.
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More photos here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

FIUV Conference on Sunday: Mass in SS Trinita

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On Sunday 15th delegates of the FIUV conference attended Mass at the church of the personal parish given to the Fraternity of St Peter, SS Trinita dei Pellegrini, as recently as May 2008. This is a beautiful church in central Rome, which has clearly suffered from some neglect over the years but is now home to a thriving community again.
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The Fraternity priests celebrated a Solemn Mass with a polyphonic choir; with the FIUV delegates the church was nearly full. The celebrant was Fr Joseph Kramer FSSP, the parish priest; the deacon was Fr Brendan Gerrard FSSP.
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In addition to the three sacred ministers, there were three priests in choir.
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Interestingly, the servers, and members of a sodality robed in red who sat in the nave, kissed a small icon after the Kiss of Peace. They also used a houseling cloth at communion. These customs, which remind me of medieval English customs, in fact survive in a number of places on the Continent.
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The vibrancy of the community was very evident. As soon as Solemn Mass was over a priest came out to celebrate a Low Mass at one of the side chapels, a group of the faithful going to assist - clearly for some particular reason. A group of nuns attended the Mass, and the confessional near where I was sitting was in great demand. After Mass was over the Italian families with their small children chatted in the piazza outside the church.
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It is wonderful to see the restoration of tradition at every level in Rome, from the Monsignori's early morning private Masses in the crypt of St Peter's to the local families attending the FSSP church.
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Una Voce conference in Rome

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I am now back from Rome, where I attended the biannual meeting of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, FIUV, the supra-national federation of groups like the Latin Mass Society, of which the LMS is a member.
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The 'business' part of the meeting took place on the afternoon of Saturday 13th, and for the first time FIUV was able to organise a Mass for delegates that morning in St Peter's Basilica. It was scheduled for the chapel of St Joseph, but for various reasons we ended up having it in the Chapel of the Presentation of Our Lady, under whose altar lies the mortal remains of St Pius X - it is often called the 'chapel of St Pius X'. Although there are fewer seats in this chapel (which we overflowed), the symbolism was very pleasing.
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The celebrant was Monsignor Collino, Maestro of the Julian Choir at St Peter's, who successfully resisted an attempt to replace Latin Vespers in St Peter's with the vernacular.
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Near the tomb of St Pius X is the monument to the Stuarts; King Henry IX, the younger brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie, being a Cardinal. It always gives me a jolt to see the Royal Coat of Arms in St Peter's; I associate it so much with Anglican churches and the pomp of the Anglican state. It is good to be reminded of Britain's Catholic identity.
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After lunch, we had our business meeting, at which the President of FIUV, Leo Darroch (an LMS member and honorary Vice President) was unanimously re-elected for another two-year term of office.
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I was myself co-opted onto FIUV's Council at the new Council's meeting later in the afternoon. This is FIUV's equivalent of a governing committee, which looks after things between meetings. The Council's discussions take place mainly by email, since its members are naturally from all over the world.
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One of the most heartening things announced at the meeting was that, since the previous meeting two years ago FIUV has accepted requests for membership by no fewer than six new associations: from Chile, Peru, Mexico, Columbia, Malta and Ireland. Each country can have up to three FIUV affiliates, but most of these associations represent countries which have never had associations before. It is particularly interesting to see the Spanish-speaking world coming to the table, and a great deal of work from FIUV's Spanish members has gone into this. FIUV now has members from 31 different countries, including India, Russia, and Nigeria.

A important part of the meeting is the opportunity to meet other delegates. I was particularly pleased to have made such disparate contacts as with delegates from New Zealand, Mexico and Spain, America, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fr John Berg, Superior General of the FSSP, in Reading

It was a great honour to assist at Mass offered yesterday, Remembrance Sunday, by Fr John Berg, and to hear him address the faithful after Mass and answer their questions about the Reading apostolate and the Fraternity of St Peter's work around the world.
Fr Berg spoke of his recent audience with the Holy Father. Of all the many bishops around the world, Fr Berg said the bishop with the best - indeed, a complete - understanding of and sympathy with the Fraternity, its mission and its self-understanding, is the Holy Father himself.
In the last few days Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP has taken possession of a house close to St William of York, where the FSSP's English apostolate is based. This house has been purchased outright thanks to the generosity of the faithful; it is the first house purchased by the Fraternity in the UK (they own a house in Edinburgh which was given to them by bequest). Work will soon begin on the necessary redecorations, and thereafter an extension is planned. This is a big step, and shows the committment of both the Fraternity and the Reading faithful to making the apostolate permanent and a success.
Fr Berg answered questions and then chatted with the faithful informally an the church hall.

More photos can be seen here.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Traditional Confirmations at Spanish Place

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Bishop Stack examines the confirmands in the Lady Chapel.

Bishop Stack, an auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Westminster, today confirmed thirty two candidates in the glorious church of St James, Spanish Place.
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The service was extremely well attended. Bishop Stack was assisted by Fr Tim Finnigan, of the 'Hermeneutic of Continuity', and Fr Andrew Southwell. Fr Jason Jones, custodian of the National Shrine of Wales, which I visited just a few weeks ago, was accompanying two candidates from Menevia, one of whom was at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School.
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It was a truly joyful occasion. After the confirmations, Bishop Stack led Pontifical Benediction. After that the candidates and their sponsors went down to the basement for refreshments, and I was able to thank Bishop Stack for his help.
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The Latin Mass Society has been organising these confirmation services for some years now; their development was an important milestone in that it makes the point that the Traditional Mass is not just for the old, but also for the young and children, and that those 'attached to the former liturgical traditions' have a right to all the sacraments according to the 1962 books, not just Mass. The Archdiocese of Westminster has been hosting these services, and providing the bishops, which serve the whole of England and Wales.
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Bishop Stack also did the confirmations last year; other auxiliary bishops who have done them include Bishop Alan Hopes and Bishop Bernard Longley, now the Archbishop of Birmingham.
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Thanks are due to Bishop Stack, Fr Southwell and Fr Finnigan, and to everyone at Spanish Place. St James's is a superb church, and it is good to see how well looked after it is. Everything is clean and in good repair; all of the very plentiful brassware was glowing. Here is the sanctuary.
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There are more photographs here.

Recent Masses

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All Saints fell less Sunday, and on Monday we had All Souls at the Oratory, accompanied by a particularly large group from the Schola Abelis. Fr Dominic Jacob was the celebrant, in a rather fine black chasuble, Fr Joseph Welch preached, and Fr Anton Webb join the singers. The church doesn't look very full, but there were more than sixty people assisting at Mass. See more photos here.

On Friday evening we had as usual a First Friday Mass at SS Gregory & Augustine; since there was no feast of the day we had a Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart. Fr Saward preached a very edifying sermon on the Sacred Heart and the priesthood, which can be seen in this video. It deserves a wider audience.

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More photos of the Sacred Heart Mass can be seen here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I'm not completely convinced this is a good idea, but I've been persuaded to give it a go.

So here goes: 'Follow me on Twitter!'

FSSP Newsletter: new edition available

It can be downloaded here; see here for details of hard-copy subscriptions.

Fr de Malleray has important news to report in the current edition: thanks to generous support from many benefactors, including the Latin Mass Society, the Fraternity has been able to purchase a house in Reading, between 5 and 10 minutes walk from the Church of St William of York, Upper Redlands Road, where they say Mass each day (Mass, usually Sung, on Sundays, is at 11am).

Much work needs to be done on the house, including an extension, and the Fraternity are still appealing for funds. See the 'Dowry' newsletter for full details.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More on the Anglican Ordinariate

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Holy Father's offer to (former) Anglicans and I have already drawn the obvious parallels with the offer he is likely to make to Traditionalists, should the present talks (which started on Monday) with the SSPX prove successful (and quite likely, even if they do not).

Many Catholics find the situation of 'High' Anglicans baffling, and this has found its way into a lot of online discussion. They would do well to read the extensive autobiographical literature on conversion, by former Anglican clergy: J.H. Newman's 'Apologia', and his novel 'Loss and Gain'; R.H. Benson's 'Confessions of a Convert'; Ronald Knox's 'Spiritual Aeneid', Hugh Ross Williamson's 'The Walled Garden'. (Ross Williamson was a founder of the Latin Mass Society.) Part of my own interest in these books stems from my grandfather, Edward Rich (a friend of Ross Williamson), being one of the wave of converts in the 1950s (he wrote it up in 'Seeking the City').

One of the things which characterises these books is the sheer difficulty of the move to Rome. The intellectual and emotional effort required by these intelligent and sincere men was immense. The books start with childhood because, in retrospect, that is when the process started, and it took years and years of soul searching, reading, talking, thinking and praying. Newman remarks in the Apologia that he could not have come over earlier without risking regret: as it was, he was ready and he never regretted his conversion.

How was it that Newman's great intellect was occupied, and pretty continuously occupied, by related questions for so many years, when the answer to his problem seems so obvious? And let me mention, to Anglican readers, as a matter of sociological fact, that the Anglican Communion does not impress Catholics: it seems to have not a leg to stand on, historically or theologically.

The answer is that, whatever its defects, Anglicanism had been the spiritual home of these people, and leaving home is difficult. That is not just an emotional truth; it effects the intellect as well. Intellectually, one has to start from where one is: the education one gets, the premises one accepts, one's intellectual preferences, formed by all sorts of influences. These men were not marginal Anglicans; more than one of them was a convert to Anglicanism, and they all played an important part in Anglican debates over many years. They were Anglicans to the core, but eventually they demonstrated the important fact that wherever you start you can reach the truth if you pursue it with enough vigour and courage for long enough.

There is a fascinating insight in Mgr Benson's book, in which he says that when he looked back at Anglicanism after conversion he couldn't see what had kept him there. It was, he said, like the man in the fairy tale who was entertained in the magnificent fairy palace, and when he left he looked back at it and all he could see was the bare hillside.

Things look completely different when you look at them with different assumptions. And this is not just a philosophical fact, it involves the theological truth encapsulated by St Anselm: Credo ut intelligam: I believe that I may understand. In a way which it is - for obvious reasons - hard to express, it is necessary to believe certain things before one can really understand them. One can understand enough, of course, to make the statement of faith, but not all of the implications, not all of the reality of the thing, will be visible until the proposition becomes part of one's living faith.

Another puzzling factor is the matter of the 'trigger' moment, when some particular issue seems to trigger conversions. Many Anglicans were ridiculed for converting 'because of' women priests. My grandfather, for that matter, converted in the context of the union with the Church of South India; Newman in the context of the Jerusalem Bishopric: these are pretty obscure events you may think. But clearly what happened in each case is that a particular event or issue made things finally clear. In fact what most, perhaps all, of the trigger issues did was to make it clear that Anglicanism was not part of the Universal Church, and could not be finessed into it either. This is a lesson which it seems must be learnt afresh by each generation: perhaps you have to struggle with an issue like that, and lose, to appreciate fully that most Anglicans have no interest in conforming to Catholic and Apostolic positions.

Catholics must be patient with the Anglicans; we must pray for them and extend them whatever help we can. If their path can be eased by unusual arrangements and concessions, where these are compatible with the Faith and the good of the Church they should - as the Holy Father teaches us - be made. English Catholicism is unusual, I think in fact unique, in the Europe after Trent for being constantly refreshed by large numbers of important conversions. This is as much part of Catholic life and culture here as is the more 'tribal' Catholicism of Lancashire and the Irish community, or that of the Recusant English gentry and their chapels. Personally, I value each kind of Catholicism, as representing different ways to triumph over the attempt to impose an alien creed on this country in the 16th Century. The Older Sons should not begrudge the fatted calf being made ready for the Prodigal.

Photos: Newman, Knox, Benson, Pope Benedict.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Call for assistance from Una Voce group in Cuba

I've had this message from Una Voce International. Please spread the word; I know many people, especially in America, have a special interest in Cuba and may wish to help the faithful establish the Traditional Mass there.

In the context of the appalling persecution Catholics have suffered in Cuba since the revolution, and which is not over yet, this is really a sign of hope.

If you can do anything for the Cuban traditionalists please email

I am writing to you in order to communicate a call for help from Cuba. A group of faithful of that hispanic country are organizing themselves to celebrate the Mass and probably to create Una Voce Cuba in the near future.

The problem that they have is that they don't own any ornaments, Missals, liturgical objects, surplices, cassocks for the acolytes. They need
help, and due to their special situation (economic and political environment, dominated for decades by atheist materialism) they haven't got many possibilities to get the
appropriate things, nor even to do the right steps to get public help.

If any of you could get ornaments (chasubles, maniples, etc.), even used, to send them, please contact us, they will be very grateful. They also need money to support their apostolate, and of course, prayers for their cause.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oxford Pilgrimage 2009

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For the fifth year, the LMS Oxford Pilgrimage in honour of the Catholic martyrs of Oxford took place. For the first time the celebrant was a Dominican, Fr Simon Gaine, the Prior of Blackfriars, where the Mass took place. The deacon and subdeacon, Fr Richard Conrad and Br Lawrence Lew, and the servers, were all also Dominicans, which is very pleasing. The ceremonies were performed extremely well, in what is a superb sanctuary for Solemn Mass.
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The Mass was accompanied by the Schola Abelis, which included me. In another first, some of our members sang a polyphonic Ordinary. In recognition of the nature of the celebration, we thought William Byrd would be appropriate. There will soon be videos of the Mass, including the singing, on the Schola's blog.

The procession to the site of the martydoms of 1589, which is now marked by a plaque (blessed on the same occasion last year by an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese, William Kenny), was led by Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP, who also led Benediction after that.

Despite heavy rain in the morning and during lunch, Mass was attended by more than 60 people and the procession by more than 40. It did not, in fact, rain on the procession, a fact I attribute to a very kind Providence!
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It was a busy day in Oxford. In the above picture we are passing a thinly attended anti-vivisection demonstration; matriculation ceremonies were also taking place, and we passed crowds of students wearing academic dress. In Broad Street we also passed a bizarre figure made of wood and straw (below, on the left); I imagine it is supposed either to represent Guy Fawkes or something to do with Halloween - it is hard to know which.
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Into this maelstrom of different activities we gave an impressive witness to the Faith, singing the Great Litany, the Te Deum, and Faith of Our Fathers, among other things, and praying the Rosary, as we passed down the route followed by the martyrs, where our gallows was positioned, and then returned to Blackfriars.
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More photos here.