Friday, February 26, 2010

Prospective members of Una Voce International

Please form an orderly queue!

I tweeted the other day that an Una Voce association has been set up in Belarus, Una Voce Albaruthenia (Albaruthenia is the Latin for Belarus, also known as White Russia).

At the last meeting of the Una Voce International Federation (FIUV) the General Assembly noted the membership of associations from Malta, Mexico, Peru, Columbia, Chile and Ireland. Associations from Malta and Spain joined not long before. This brought the total number of member associations to 31.

The Federation has since then already recieved applications from associations in Argentina, Cuba, and the Philipines.

A dozen new members in a short space of time is a staggering rate of growth, and indicates that Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio has reached parts of the Church - notably the Spanish-speaking world - which the previous indults didn't reach. From being a group of associations from no more than most of the major Western countries plus a handful of others, FIUV will clearly soon be a group with member associations in every country with a Catholic population.

This is creating more work for FIUV, and it reflects a lot more work being done on the ground by these associations as well. As the LMS has noticed, things have not 'settled down' after the Motu Proprio, as some predicted. On the contrary, the work of the lay and priestly supporters of the Traditional Mass alike is increasing with the opportunities we have.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Server Master Class for the usus antiquior

On Saturday 15th May, at Blackfriars in Oxford, with the assistance of Fr Armand de Malleray, Mr David Forster and Br Lawrence Lew OP.

The day will consist of a session on Missa Cantata from 11.30 to 1 and a session on Solemn Mass from 2 to 3.30.

Training will assume familiarity with serving Low Mass, and will focus on the more difficult roles in Sung and Solemn Masses, such as thurifer and MC.

All are welcome, please contact me so we have an idea of numbers.

Training servers has always been an ad hoc matter in the Latin Mass Society; with the rapidly expanding number of Sung and Solemn Masses, we need to be more systematic, if we are to meet the demand without making excessive demands on anyone. We always have sessions for server training at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School (photos); this is the first LMS training day for servers, and I hope it will be the first of many.
Learning to serve Low Mass is best done on the job. You can study the rubrics and the responses, but to learn it you need to do it, preferably with another, more experienced server, and preferably at least once a week for a couple of months. In the old days, of course, with large numbers of Low Masses, mostly private, taking place daily in Catholic schools and parish churches, learning to serve was easier than it is today, but the number of Low Masses taking place in Oxford is steadily increasing and anyone wanting to learn should again contact me for a pointer.

Sung and Solemn Masses requires much more coordination with other servers, as well as involving more complex ceremonies, and being 'on the job' usually means being in front of a sizable congregation, so a serious effort to learn one's role in advance is needed.

Books on serving from Southwell Books:

Cheap and helpful: 'How to Serve Low Mass and Benediction'

Comprehensive: 'How to Serve in Simple, Solemn, and Pontifical Functions'
Or: Learning to Serve: A Guide for Altar Boys

With card and CD: 'Serving at the Altar: Low Mass with One Server'

Servers' cards (95p each).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Traditional Sung Mass today at SS Gregory & Augustine's

Fr John Saward continues to celebrate his regular 10.30 am Sunday Mass in the usus antiquior from time to time. The last one was on Remebrance Sunday; one took place today; the next one will be the 4th Sunday After Easter, 25th April. All of these are Sung Masses.

For the first time the Parish Choir was joined by five members of the Schola Abelis - one of whom is a member of the parish choir as well - to help with the chants. We sang the enormously long tract to a Psalm-tone (does anyone sing it in full?), and the Schola Abelis singers did the Graduale on their own, but the other chant propers, Mass XVIII, and Credo III, were done with all the singers. And it was a pretty good result.
These Masses are an interesting experiment, presenting the Traditional Mass to a congregation who are mainly there simply because they always go to the 10.30am Mass. They seemed to enter into the spirit of it.

More photos here.

Solemn Requiem for Duke Humphrey


This took place at Blackfriars yesterday afternoon. It was organised by the Duke Humphrey Society, which has been organising Requiems annually since 2007 in St Albans Abbey (where he is buried); for the first time it has taken place in Oxford.

It was a very solemn and moving Mass, with an excellent sermon from the celebrant, Fr Richard Ounsworth OP.
More of my photos can be seen here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Vernacular readings at the TLM

It is often asked, with puzzlement, why the readings are read in Latin in the usus antiquior. That they must be read in Latin has been reiterated by the PCED in a recent ruling, although they can be repeated in the vernacular. But surely, people say, the readings are intended to be understood by the people! What is the point of reading them in Latin?

The greatest obstacle of all to the acceptance of the TLM by ordinary Catholics brought up on the Novus Ordo is this simple point, which is implicit even in the New Mass but is inescapable in the TLM: the ceremonies and prayers may be edifying to the people, if they understand them, but they are directed towards not the congregation but to God. That is why the 1970 Missal continues to make use of ceremonies and language people cannot readily understand. Placing a fragment of the consecrated host into the consecrated chalice: how many people understand what that means? (Indeed, is there a single uncontroversial answer?) The priest continues to pray silently at the Lavabo. And of course the use of Latin, especially Latin chants, is still recommended. The 1970 Missal does plenty of things the people can't see, or hear, or understand, because it is directed towards God.

In the usus antiquior the pretence that the people 'should be able to see and understand everything' is totally impossible. You are forced to see that what the congregation is doing is looking at a sacred action carried out on their behalf by the priest who ascends the altar steps to face God Himself. The kind of participation possible to the congregation is principally that of uniting themselves to the sacrifice offered by the priest to God. This is what makes them more than mere spectators, but this is a prayerful interior participation, not the participation of fellow actors on the stage.

A colleague of mine put the point very eloquently:
The translations of the readings read in vernacular, in fact, do not belong to the Liturgy. Even the homily is not part of the Mass, because of that the priest before preaching often takes off the maniple (and sometimes even the chasuble).... The Liturgical readings in Latin do not have mainly a didactic purpose: they are also and primarily acts or worship. They do not have to be understood in terms of a rational knowledge (the eagerness to understand clearly and distinctly every single part of the Mass and especially the readings is pure Cartesianism). We should look upon the readings of the Mass with the Eastern mentality (as we are reminded by Msgr. Klaus Gamber): as true Epiphanies of God who, as Saint Paul says, "multifariam, multisque modis olim Deus loquens patribus in prophetis : novissime, diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio". The Epistle is the manifestation of Our Lord through the Prophets and the Apostles, whilst the Gospel is His Epiphany in the Son. It is for this reason that the Gospel is honoured, accompanied by the candle-bearers, incensed by the deacon and kissed by the priest in High Mass. The Gospel in the Mass is the Logos made flesh (Verbum caro factum) and manifested to us. The readings of the Mass, then, are sacred and worthy of our deep veneration and must not be considered as a mere "instruction" (the instruction comes with the homily or in the teaching of the catechism).

There is a lot we have to re-learn about the liturgy, including many things which were being forgotten in the first half of the 20th Century. The desire that everything should be immediately comprehensible has, thankfully, been rejected in the context of the new translation of the 1970 Missal, which is going to use words not readily comprehensible by all members of the congregation, but about which they will need to be catechised. The wider point, however, is that, as Martin Mosebach puts it in his book 'The Heresy of Formlessness', when Mass begins we enter into a sacred time characterised by the sacred space, clothing, and language of the liturgy. He asks us to acknowledge breaking into that sacred time, and interupt what is being done in the sacred space of the sanctuary in the sacred language, as being problematic: he is speaking of the sermon. Perhaps it would be better to have the sermon at the end of Mass, as was formerly done. But even if we think that a vernacular sermon after the gospel, preceeded by a reading of translations of the epistle and gospel, is justified, the point is that we are holding our breaths: the sacred action is suspended. It will recommense when the priest puts his maniple back on, and returns to the altar.

A number of priests all over the world have, in good faith, adopted vernacular readings to the exclusion of the Latin in the EF for 'pastoral reasons', thinking this has been permitted by the Motu Proprio. I have always found this a little puzzling: why not simply repeat them in the vernacular? However, the legal goalposts have now been moved.

Long Crendon videos up

See here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ash Wednesday

In SS Gregory & Augustine.
More photos here.

PCED Clarification on the Motu Proprio

Late as I am I want to comment on the recent document from the PCED on the interpretation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

First, here is a summary of the main body of the document. You can see a scan of the letter, in Italian, on the NLM (where the translation also come from).

1. If there is no other possibility, because for instance in all churches of a diocese the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum are already being celebrated in the Ordinary Form, the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum may, in the same church in which they are already celebrated in the Ordinary Form, be additionally celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, if the local ordinary allows.

2. A Mass in the usus antiquior may replace a regularly scheduled Mass in the Ordinary Form. The question contextualizes that in many churches Sunday Masses are more or less scheduled continually, leaving free only very incovenient mid afternoon slots, but this is merely context, the question posed being general. The answer leaves the matter to the prudent judgement of the parish priest, and emphasises the right of a stable group to assist at Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

3. A parish priest may schedule a public Mass in the Extraordinary Form on his own accord (i.e. without the request of a group of faithful) for the benefit of the faithful including those unfamiliar with the usus antiquior. The response of the Commission here is identical to no. 2.

4. The calendar, readings or prefaces of the 1970 Missale Romanum may not be substituted for those of the 1962 Missale Romanum in Masses in the Extraordinary Form.

5. While the liturgical readings (Epistle and Gospel) themselves have to be read by
the priest (or deacon/subdeacon) as foreseen by the rubrics, a translation to the vernacular may afterwards be read also by a layman.

It is fair to say that all these points were already in the Motu Proprio, but (since clarification was requested), they needed reiterating. In particular, it is quite astonishing that point 3 needed making, but Twitter was filled with re-tweets on this point as if it were surprising. But Article 2 of the MP says that any priest may say a private Mass (Missa sine populo) without requiring any permission to do so, and article 4 clarifies that despite its confusing Latin name ('sine populo') people can actually attend these Masses. Furthermore, article 5 notes that scheduling public Masses requires only the permission of the priest in charge of the church or chapel. In other words, the two forms of the Roman Rite are exactly the same where permission to celebrate is concerned. (The same goes for the need for the priest to be 'idoneus' and not juridicially impeded.)

Point 2 is implicit in the Motu Proprio, though not explicit. Since the two Forms of the Rite are equally in the power of the Rector of a church or chapel, he may introduce one at a time formerly occupied by the other. If you think about it, you have to ask: why shouldn't he be able to do this?

Point 5 is the most interesting. It was a custom in certain places before the new Missal was introduced for a vernacular translation to be read by a layman after the priest had read or sung it in Latin. In some cases this was done simultaneously with the priest's reading in Latin. The ruling here makes allowance for this, on the condition that the Latin text be read by the priest first. It must be read, and it must be read first before anything else happens.

A great deal of confusion has arisen over the Motu Proprio Article 6, which says

In Missis iuxta Missale B. Ioannis XXIII celebratis cum populo, Lectiones proclamari possunt etiam lingua vernacula, utendo editionibus ab Apostolica Sede recognitis.

This led to some suggestions that it would be possible to use the lectionary of the 1970 Missal (which would lead to the use of the 1970 calendar as well); this is not supported by the text, however, and is now definitively ruled out by point 4 of the PCED's letter.

Another interpretation of the MP Article 6 was that the readings may read in the vernacular without them being read in Latin first. But that is not what the Latin says: Lectiones proclamari possunt etiam lingua vernacula means that it is possible to read them ALSO in the vernacular.

Unfortunately even the translation improved by Rorate Caeli and posted on their website fails to translate the 'etiam', as does the semi-official English translation provided by the Vatican Information Service on the Vatican website.

It is just possible that 'etiam' could mean 'even' (as in: 'on occasion'), but this is now ruled out by the PCED. The permission to have the translation read does not allow the Latin not to be read by the priest. The Latin texts of the epistle and gospel are part of the Mass.

That this should be so requires some explanation, which I propose to address in the next post.

Weekly Sunday TLMs around the world

Rorate Caeli has some interesting statistics on the number of regular weekly Sunday Masses in the usus antiquior offered in different countries, both with ecclesiastical permission and by the SSPX. Here is the table, which gives the number of TLMs with permission and the total with permission and offered by the SSPX.

1) United States: 289 authorized every-Sunday TLM sites out of a total of 359 (80.5%)

2) France: 156 out of 312 (50%)

3) Germany: 49 out of 88 (55.7%)

4) Italy: 73 out of 86 (84.9%)

5) United Kingdom: 37 out of 53 (69.8%)

6) Brazil: 42 (including those in Campos) out of 48 (87.5%)

7) Switzerland: 21 out of 45 (46.6%)

8) Canada: 23 out of 39 (60%)

9) Australia: 17 out of 28 (60.7%)

10) Poland: 15 out of 26 (57.7%)

Under the Indult system it was always far easier to get permission for 'one off' Masses than for regular Sunday Masses, and when permission for a Sunday Mass was given, not only was the time sometimes inconvenient (the middle of the afternoon, for example), but a rota of different venues might be involved.

The view seemed to be - and this was sometimes made explicit - that bishops did not wish to see a community of people going mainly or exclusively to the TLM. Why this reasoning was not applied to people who go mainly or exclusively to folk Masses, or the New Mass in Latin, was never properly explained.

The situation changed with the Motu Proprio which not only refers (as the Indults did) to people 'attached to the former liturgical traditions' (ie to people who would like to go mainly or exclusively to the TLM) but actually gives groups (or communities) of such people the right to demand a regular Mass. Far from being a something to be eradicated if possible, communities of people attached to the usus antiquior are now a pastoral phenomenon to be provided for like everyone else.

The main obstacle to increasing the number of Traditional Masses on Sundays today is fitting them into the busy Sunday schedules of parishes and priests, sometimes against a certain amount of lingering opposition. The number is steadily increasing, nevertheless, and the PCED's clarification that parish priests may convert an OF Sunday Mass into an EF Mass on their own initiative will give this process a boost. I intend to blog about the PCED statement separately.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Visit of Mgr Wach to the LMS Office

2010 02 16_5213_edited-1
Mgr Gilles Wach, the founder and Superior General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, visited the new offices of the Latin Mass Society on Tuesday. He is in the middle of the group with the distinctive blue piping on his cassock.

The Institute is one of the 'Traditional Priestly Orders', that is an order whose priests are ordained in and say the EF Mass. Fr William Hudson (standing next to Mgr Wach) serves the traditional faithful in the North West of England as well as being headmaster of a school run by the Institute in Brussells. Founded in 1990, the Institute is growing quickly and is involved in an astonishing number of apostolates, notably in the USA and Canada, France, Germany, and Africa.

With our General Manager, John Medlin, and a number of LMS people we had lunch with the charming and cultivated Mgr Wach, who was visiting England for a week.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gregorian Chant Network launched

On Saturday 30th January I chaired an LMS-sponsored meeting of directors of chant scholas and other interested parties in St Wilfrid's Hall at the London Oratory to discuss the promotion of Gregorian Chant, and launch a new organisation: the Gregorian Chant Network.

This meeting was a long time in preparation. I have been discussing ways to promote chant with a number of people for about a year, and gathering names and contact details.

One thing I am particularly proud of is getting a pretty definitive list of the amateur groups singing regularly at the Traditional Mass: something the Latin Mass Society has never had before, and which is going to be extremely useful. However, the meeting was by no means limited to 'LMS people'. It was addressed by Colin Mawby, the well-known composer who was Director of Music at Westminster Cathedral in the 1960s, and attended by a number of people connected with the Association for Latin Liturgy and the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, and representatives from Una Voce Scotland, the LMS's Scottish equivalent.

The Gregorian Chant Network has two functions: to link chant scholas to each other, for mutual support, and to organise training events. The training events will be coordinated with the existing groups to meet their needs, but are also intended to draw more people into the chant.

View CGN Affiliated Scholas in a larger map

The Latin Mass Society supports this project because promoting Gregorian Chant is one of its charitable objects. It is also supported by the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, which is the biggest existing group promoting the chant and organising training events, and Una Voce Scotland, and the Association for Latin Liturgy. Nick Gale, the Director of Music at St George's Cathedral in Southwark, is also a keen supporter of the initiative, and will be directing our first training event.

The coming together of the LMS, the ALL, the Schola Gregoriana, Una Voce Scotland, many of the most prominent people in the Chant world in the UK, such as Colin Mawby, Nick Gale, and Jeremy de Satgé, and more than twenty chant scholas from all over England, Wales, and Scotland, to launch a new organisation, is a truly significant event. The enthusiasm of all the participants was very encouraging: everyone recognises the need for an organisation of this kind, and has undertaken to do what they can to promote it.

The meeting itself met our first objective: to put chant people in touch with each other, and give them moral and practical support. Colin Mawby led a practical session on conducting the chant (on Gloria TV here) which was fascinating and also of great practical usefulness to the many chant directors present.

The second objective, of chant training, we aim to accomplish by both weekend residential events and one-day workshops in strategic locations. Our first event is already being advertised: it is Nick Gale's course at the Oratory School, 9-11th April (Low Sunday).

Fr Ray Blake, whose Chant director was at the meeting, has already spotted the GCN website; it is now ready to be publicised more widely. It already has a good selection of chant resources, to which we plan to add as time goes on. Please spread the word!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mass in Long Crendon

Today, for the first time I took the Schola Abelis out of Oxfordshire and Archdiocese of Birmingham, to sing at a Mass in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire (diocese of Northhampton). This was in honour of the Oxford martyr, Bl Thomas Belson, and his companions, who were executed in Oxford in 1589; his home, at Brill, is in the parish.

It is not coincidence that the Belson family lived over the county boundary. At the time of the Reformation the family had property in both Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, but they moved their main residence to a secluded spot in the latter county because the Sherrif was a Catholic. Asked to list the local 'recusants' (Catholics who refused to go to Protestant services), the necessary investigation was less than zealous.
The long arm of the law caught up with Bl Thomas Belson, however, on more than one occasion, and after violating a sentence of exile by returning the England to help priests in the mission, with his intimate knowledge of the local area, Thomas was arrested with two priests and an inn servant in a Catholic inn, the Catherine Wheel, in Oxford. All four were executed there. Thomas was 25 years old.

Fr Eric Manley-Harris has been a great supporter of my project to have a plaque put up to mark the martyrdom, and we had a Missa Cantata in the 'side chapel' he has created behind the main altar of his modern, circular church. Fr John Saward sang the Mass. Pleasingly some of Thomas Belson's descendents attended the Mass.

The feast of the Martyrs of England and Wales is peculiar to England and Wales, and falls on May 4th. The propers can be found in Missals with the necessary supplement; not without some difficulty I got hold of the chants for the feast, since Graduales with an E&W supplement are rare. I intend to put the chants and propers on-line in some form to make them more widely available.

The Mass was a great occasion. The congregation, mostly from the local parishes, filled the chapel, and in addition to the Chant we had a polyphonic ordinary. The proper chants were put together first for the feast of St Thomas More and St John Fisher, who were beatified in 1886 and canonised in 1935. The texts are sanguinary, being taken mostly from Ps 78, but the chants, though awkwardly composed in places, lend them a certain gentleness. Even as the blood of the martyrs runs in rivers and cries out for vengeance, the tone is one of humble petition. It is an interesting comment on the feelings of English Catholics at the time.

I'll be putting up video clips of the singing as soon as I've processed them.
More pictures here.

Here is Fr Saward's sermon.

Message to The Tablet

Thanks for quoting my blog in your story about the LMS advertising for a new General Manager (13th Feb 2010, p16).

If you would like to understand the LMS accounts published on the Charity Commission website, however, you could quickly gain an insight by emailing or ringing me, the Treasurer, or the General Manager.

Putting together stories entirely from internet resources is what bloggers do. A weekly magazine should be aiming a little higher.

The headline figure of a deficit of £100,000 in the year 2008-09 includes paper losses (since, largely reversed) on our investments and expenditure in one year of ear-marked money raised and accounted for after the year-end. It is understandable that, being journalists and not accountants, you might not realise this, but why not give us a call?

H-t to Fr Finigan for the image of the Bitter Pill.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why Catholic Apologetics doesn't work

I have been reading the rhetoric of the Church's enemies, and the response of good Catholics, with increasing despair. As a philosopher, with familiarity with political philosophy in particular, it is clear to me that this is a dialogue of the deaf. The Church's critics aren't interested in a profound understanding of the Church's position, but neither are they as stupid as it is tempting to believe. Not only is their position quite clearly worked out, but many of their key assumptions are accepted unwittingly by Catholic spokemen.

I have written a long blog post on this debate: you can read it all here; below are some extracts. the secularist’s lights the Church arbitrarily picks out one group of people, whose with a homosexual inclination, and tells them they may not seek sexual fulfilment: she casts them as second-class citizens, to face either a half-life of impossible self denial, or moral condemnation. And really, the first option is itself a kind of moral condemnation, because the Church is condemning their only route to sexual self-expression. Saying that the Church condemns homosexuality is a convenient short-hand for this argument.

What the separation of Church and State, aka ‘State neutrality’, means is that the State withholds from using religious arguments and claims in justifying public policy, in order to avoid privileging one religion over another. Since the state has to use some basis for policy decisions (as I have discussed here), it uses a conception of rationality and associated conception of justice which are supposed to be uncontroversial: common ground. The conception of justice protects us from criminals and guarantees contracts, so we can all get on with pursuing the good life as we understand it.

...the ideology of ‘equality’ is, as David Cameron so memorably puts it, ‘a bottom-line, full essential’. It follows closely from a conception of justice based on Enlightenment rationality, of allowing each person to pursue his own desires without interference. When a ‘gay school pupil’ is taught the Faith in a Catholic school, or a Catholic parish declines to employ a catechist with an immoral lifestyle, these are barriers to those people joyfully pursuing their desires, and therefore are infringements of justice. The religious or private context can and should (on this argument) lend no protection from prosecution.

An effective apologetics has to address the issues over which the secularists disagree with the Church, and not concede the assumptions which make their position correct and the Catholic position incoherent. The issues we need to press are these: the hedonism at the basis of modern political calculations is sterile and unsatisfying; and the state should not be neutral between value claims—something which is not even possible—but accept the correct values. This approach does not guarantee success, but we will at least be engaging in a useful debate, and not ‘beating the air.’

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Regular Masses in St Anthony of Padua

Fr Aldo Tapparo, Parish Priest of St Anthony of Padua, is now saying Low Mass in his church on Thursdays at 9am.

St Anthony of Padua, 115 Headley Way, Oxford, OX3 7SS

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Baptism and Churching

Baby and godparents are met in the church porch, where two exorcisms and an anointing take place. The priest gives the baby some salt, representing the wisdom of the Church's teaching, which has itself been exorcised.

Yesterday Margaret Shaw was baptised, and her mother was given the blessing of a woman after childbirth, 'churching'. A friend of mine present at the service, a permanent deacon, said he 'hadn't realised we had it' - he'd heard of churching as an Anglican thing, but not as a Catholic one. It deserves to be more widely used: you can buy laminated cards with the prayers and rubrics on it from Southwell Books here.
During the confession of faith, the priest leads the child and the godparents into the church with his stole.

The ceremonies took place in St Bede's Clapham Park, and were performed by Fr Andrew Southwell. We have a long association with St Bede's, and going to London makes it possible for my mother to attend. Margaret is her sixteenth grandchild.

The godfather, in case you were wondering, is Br Stephen Morrison, a novice of the Premonstratensians at Chelmsford.
Arriving in the baptistery, the priest gives the child a third exorcism, and pronounces a blessing of the child's ears and nostrils: 'Ephpheta! Be opened, and breath fragrance. But thou, foul fiend, begone, for the judgment of God will overtake thee.'

After the renunciation of the devil by the godparents, an anointing with oil, and a second confession of faith, the baptism proper is performed. The water used, as is traditional, is blessed at Easter with the addition of chrism. In medieval churches it was regarded as so valuable it was kept under lock and key, hence the large fonts with elaborate closing tops.
The baby is anointed with chrism, and given her white linen baptismal garment (a cloth, in this case), and a beeswax candle lit from the Paschal candle. 'Take this burning light, and keep your baptismal innocence.'

The Churching of Women also involves the leading of the woman into the church by the stole: again, it is symbolic of her (re-)entering the church. After prayers in the porch, and the recitation of Psalm 23, where she is given a candle which is lit, she is led to the communion rail. Psalm 23 is one of the 'enthronment' psalms, about the 'King of Glory', God, entering His Temple.

She kneels again for a blessing. 'Let not the enemy prevail against her.' - 'Nor the son of iniquity approach to hurt her.'

It is a ceremony which combines thanksgiving with prayers for protection and blessing.

"Almighty, everlasting God, who, through the delivery of the blessed Virgin Mary, hast turned into joy the pains of the faithful in childbirth, look mercifully upon this Thine handmaid, coming in gladness to Thy temple to offer up her thanks: and grant that after this life, by the merits and intercession of the same blessed Mary, she may merit to arrive, together with her offspring, at the joys of everlasting happiness. Through Christ our Lord."

More photos here.

LMS: New General Manager required

Our long serving General Manager, John Medlin, is partially retiring - he will be giving up the role of General Manager, and continuing to edit the magazine, Mass of Ages, and manage our publicity, on a reduced number of days a week.

So we need a new one. John has been doing the job on a 4-day week, but his replacement needs to be full-time. The LMS is expanding its activities, and we have a nice new office, larger than before, to work with; soon we will have a new website too: we need more staff-hours at the office than ever before.

We need someone who has an understanding of the work we are doing, with adminstrative ability. There aren't that many people around who fit that description: if you do, we want to hear from you!

Here is the LMS press release. There are adverts in the Catholic press this weekend.


The LMS wishes to appoint a full-time General Manager will be responsible for the day to day administration and development of the Society as directed by the Committee. The post is based in the LMS’s office in Holborn, London WC2. Applicants will have excellent managerial and communication skills and a proven track record of success. They will also have a knowledge and love of the Traditional liturgy and movement. The salary and pension package is in the range of £35K to £40K.

Much of the work involves the co-ordination and organisation of flagship national/international events including training conferences, the LMS AGM and the production of the annual Accounts, major Masses and liturgical events with national importance. It also involves maintaining and developing contacts with the hierarchy, diocesan authorities, Traditional Catholic bodies in England and abroad and the Traditional priestly and monastic orders. The General Manager will develop the LMS’s Seminarians Fund in order to assist vocations.

The General Manager will also make strategic recommendations to the Committee, particularly concerning development, the generation of increased publicity, membership and income, and the timely control of expenditure. He/she will oversee and administer legacy generation work and will support the Society’s network of diocesan representatives.

This position will entail some evening and weekend work, and travel, both UK and internationally.

A job description and details of the application process are available from the LMS office at 11-13 Macklin Street, London WCB 5NH. Tel: 020 7404 7284.

E mail:

The closing date for receipt of applications is Thursday 4 March 2010. Interviews will be held in London from mid to late March.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Fr Dwight Longenecker on the 'rad trad'

I have posted before (and here) on people attacking Traditional Catholics; here is what appears to be another example. I say 'appears' because Fr Longenecker's target is not clearly identified.

Here's the money quote:
But what happens when the people are forgotten and all the emphasis is on rubrics and rules and liturgical finesse and ecclesiastical fine-ness? There is a danger that it all turns into a precious religious ceremony for the liturgical elite. I've heard of parishes where the music is so fine and the ceremonial so refined and the servers so meticulous and the liturgy so correct that ordinary people are repelled by it all. They are not connoisseurs of brocades and birettas, Lassus and lace; Mozart and maniples, and when the liturgy gets so high and mighty it only makes them feel low and lowly.

Really? People are repelled by Mozart? Well, there are a couple of things to be said here.

First, Fr Longenecker is not talking about Catholics - priests or laity - attached to the Traditional Latin Mass. He doesn't in fact even mention it, though he refers to 'radtrads', whatever that means. It clearly isn't the form of the Mass which is at issue, but the embellishment and presentation of the liturgy.

The fact is, the long period in which the Traditional Mass was available only in hotel reception rooms and the like purged the Traditional movement of people who were only in it for the lace. I myself started going to the usus antiquior in a meeting room in the West Oxford Community Centre. We later graduated to the sports hall in the same building, as shown in these photographs (there are more here). (And this was with the full permission of Archbishop Vincent Nichols.) The more solemn presentation of the liturgy is something we may desire, but it is still pretty rare.

How many places in England and Wales have Mozart or Lassus at the Traditional Mass? Once a month at St Bede's Clapham Park, and on an occasional basis at the London and Birmingham Oratories. Once a year in a handful of places where there are Latin Mass Society pilgrimages.

I actually don't think the USA is all that different: the kind of liturgy Fr Longenecker is referring to is rare, certainly in the context of the Traditional Mass. Reading the blogs - like the New Liturgical Movement - might give a different impression, but the point is that those blogs lap up these splendid occasions because it is NEWS. It is because - as they sometimes remark in the comments - the vast majority of readers can't get anywhere near that kind of thing themselves, that they want to read about it.

When these events do happen, pretty well everyone is very pleased; numbers on these occasions indicate that there is pent-up demand for Mozart and his ilk. If Fr Longenecker has met people who are put off by it, why do they go, for heaven's sake? They still have the other 99.99% of Masses to choose from.

However, he has identified something real: there really are people who don't like it. I spoke to one parish priest who said that when he first wore a Roman chasuble - at an English Novus Ordo Mass - one of his parishioners told him afterwards that it made her feel physically sick. One can only speculate that it was associated in her mind with a lot of things she didn't like - doctrinal orthodoxy, for example. (She would certainly be getting that from this particular priest!) But what are we to say to people who have that kind of reaction?

It reminds me of a story of Fulton Sheen. He was giving a woman instruction in the faith, and when he came to the subject of Confession she reacted in a very negative way. The more he talked the more she went nuts. He said finally: 'When did you have an abortion?'

The fact is that the reaction of a whole set of Catholics to certain liturgical practices is pathological. It is connected with deep psychological complexes, linked to their experiences of the liturgical changes, the permission liberal theology may give their lifestyles, their roles in parish life, and a host of other things. We have to have compassion, and we have to deal with local situations as gently and pastorally as we can. But we can't let these reactions stop us restoring to the liturgy the dignity it deserves, and for which most Catholics long, any more than the deep dread of facing up to old sins, on the part of some people, should stop the Church offering us Confession.

We need Confession: the lady in the story even more than the rest of us. We need to restore dignity to the liturgy, and although the people who object will probably go elsewhere when it is done in a particular parish, in reality they need it more than anyone. The people who think they can relate to God only in the context of rainbow vestments and pottery chalices have clearly lost the sense of the His transcendence, and this is going to have a bad effect on their spirituality, their theology, and their lives as Catholics.

If the liturgical restoration spreads to the point at which this kind of Catholic is forced to confront his inner demons, that will be a good thing. But they can relax: it won't be soon.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Candlemas and St Blaise

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This Christmas season ended with Candlemas (Feb 2nd), and as usual we had a Sung Mass with blessing of candles and procession at SS Gregory & Augustine. The crib was still up.

Fr John Saward preached on the humility shown by the Blessed Virgin Mary in submitting to the Law of Moses.

I love the pictures of the Purification which show Our Lady going up to the priest in a procession with candles - the liturgy commemorating a Gospel event influencing the way the event itself is depicted. This phenomenon is used by Eamonn Duffy, in the Stripping of the Altars, to demonstrate how deeply the Medieval liturgy had penetrated the consciousness of the people before the Reformation.

The following day (Feb 3rd) was the feast (or at least the Commemoration) of St Blaise, and at end of the regular Wednesday evening Mass there was the blessing of throats - always useful at this time of the year!
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Two remarkable customs, and associated sacramentals, on successive days. One of the traditional uses of the candles blessed on Candlemas is to burn them during childbirth - this we have always done. I doubt the NHS would take kindly to patients lighting candles but happily all our children were born at home.

More photos here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pope's address to the Bishops of England and Wales

The Holy Father addressed the Bishops of England and Wales at the conclusion of their as limina visit to Rome, and refers to a number of the challenges facing Catholics here in a wonderfully clear way. This is a brave and brilliant speech, and I want to give readers the chance to let it speak for itself, without commentary. (Authoritative text on the Vatican website here.)

Dear Brother Bishops,

I welcome all of you on your ad Limina visit to Rome, where you have come to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank you for the kind words that Archbishop Vincent Nichols has addressed to me on your behalf, and I offer you my warmest good wishes and prayers for yourselves and all the faithful of England and Wales entrusted to your pastoral care. Your visit to Rome strengthens the bonds of communion between the Catholic community in your country and the Apostolic See, a communion that sustained your people’s faith for centuries, and today provides fresh energies for renewal and evangelization. Even amid the pressures of a secular age, there are many signs of living faith and devotion among the Catholics of England and Wales. I am thinking, for example, of the enthusiasm generated by the visit of the relics of Saint Thérèse, the interest aroused by the prospect of Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and the eagerness of young people to take part in pilgrimages and World Youth Days. On the occasion of my forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain, I shall be able to witness that faith for myself and, as Successor of Peter, to strengthen and confirm it. During the months of preparation that lie ahead, be sure to encourage the Catholics of England and Wales in their devotion, and assure them that the Pope constantly remembers them in his prayers and holds them in his heart.

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed. I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?

If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the Bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short all who are engaged in the task of communicating the Gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal.

Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission. In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that "kindly light" wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.

Much attention has rightly been given to Newman’s scholarship and to his extensive writings, but it is important to remember that he saw himself first and foremost as a priest. In this Annus Sacerdotalis, I urge you to hold up to your priests his example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel. You yourselves should set a similar example. Be close to your priests, and rekindle their sense of the enormous privilege and joy of standing among the people of God as alter Christus. In Newman’s words, "Christ’s priests have no priesthood but His … what they do, He does; when they baptize, He is baptizing; when they bless, He is blessing" (Parochial and Plain Sermons, VI 242). Indeed, since the priest plays an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church, spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and emphasizing to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priesthood. Encourage the lay faithful to express their appreciation of the priests who serve them, and to recognize the difficulties they sometimes face on account of their declining numbers and increasing pressures. The support and understanding of the faithful is particularly necessary when parishes have to be merged or Mass times adjusted. Help them to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted.

Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue assume great importance in England and Wales, given the varied demographic profile of the population. As well as encouraging you in your important work in these areas, I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.

With these thoughts, I commend your apostolic ministry to the intercession of Saint David, Saint George and all the saints and martyrs of England and Wales. May Our Lady of Walsingham guide and protect you always. To all of you, and to the priests, religious and lay faithful of your country, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.