Friday, July 01, 2011

Reply to Stuart Reid

2011 04 09_8896
(People at the book stall at the SCT Family Retreat 2011)

Stuart Reid has done me the honour of responding to my blog post 'Repentant Fogeys' in his column in the Catholic Herald. My blog post criticised the attacks made by him, Dr John Casey and Dr Raymond Edwards on traditionalists, which are (as I quote them) seriously over the top, and suggest a degree of bitterness surprising coming from people who claim to like the Traditional Mass itself.

2011 04 03_8786
(Blessing of roses at St Bede's Clapham Park for Laetare Sunday, after the Traditional Mass.)

So what does Reid say? He says that Dr Edwards does not 'snarl' but makes 'waspish asides'. Well, I'm not going to get into the difference between snarls and waspish asides. Reid quotes me pointing out that in an entire booklet on 'Catholic Traditionalism' Edwards does not once mention the work of the Latin Mass Society. Reid seems eager to deny this, but can't quite manage it. It is, annoyingly for him, true.

2011 03 27_8528
(Congregation at the Traditional Mass in Holy Cross, Leicester.)

Reid's main aim, however, is to contradict my denial that the Traditional Movement has been 'captured by fogeys wearing pith helmets'. He appeals to his experience attending SSPX Masses in London in 1976, and Masses today at the Brompton Oratory. This is not exactly a scientific sample, but he concludes that families are few, and fogeys many, in traddy circles.

2011 03 26_8582
(Prams choke the aisles at the conclusion of the LMS York Pilgrimage.)

I don't think anyone at the Brompton Oratory will be offended if I say that it must attract more people with fogey-ish characteristics than any other church in London - and probably the world. To go to the TLM there and declare it is full of fogeys is like going to Mass in Japan and declaring it is full of foreigners. Add to that the fact that the Traditional Mass on a Sunday in that particular church is at 9am, and without music, and it is not surprising that families are relatively scarce. This is not a family-friendly time and parents do like to take their children to Sung Mass.

(Nativity play organised by the Oxford Homeschoolers' Group.)

In point of fact, by creating an opportunity for Mass at a better time, and with music, the more traditionally-minded fathers of the Oratory have had extremely successful occasional traditional Masses aimed at families. Stuart Reid knows very well that the Traditional Mass in Reading, at 11am and with music, is packed with families: he has been to this Mass himself. Another Mass he has personally experienced is the 10.45 Sung Mass at St Bede's, Clapham Park, which is also dominated by families. Do we detect a pattern here? Why does he think these cases are less significant than his experience of the 9am Low Mass in the Oratory?
2010 10 03_7714
(Fr John Berg, Superior of the FSSP, blessing the new FSSP residence in Reading.)

Since he clearly reads this blog, it can hardly have escaped him that I (despite my fogeyish appearance) have had something to do with a series of initiatives within the traditional movement directed at families. We have a Family Retreat (photos): was it empty? No, we regularly have about 150 people there. We have had all sorts of home-schooling related groups over the years. Is this a waste of time in a fogey-only Traditional Catholic movement? Not at all, they have been very successful, and there are groups like this all over the country. We have had a Summer School for children every year for five years, and this too has been very successful.

2010 12 11_8196
(Homeschoolers visit the National Gallery with Fr Andrew Southwell, LMS Chaplain.)

These things show not only that there is demand for this kind of thing, but that there is a leadership in the Traditional movement which is eager to meet the demand. These things need organising, they soak up donations and volunteers. A movement characterised by this kind of thing is not a movement dominated by fogeys.

(First blessings at the end of a Traditional Mass in St Mary Magdalen's, Wandsworth.)

But the thing which really nails this fogey claim is the kind of young people who participate in activities aimed at, or particularly attractive to, 'youth'. Are they (young) fogeys? Well this is a matter of judgment. I will trust Stuart Reid, however, as an expert of fogeyism, to make the call himself. He can come along to the walking pilgrimages - it would be enough to attend a Mass at the beginning or the end: Reid doesn't need to walk the 70 miles from Paris to Chartres, or the 50 miles from Ely to Walsingham (photos), or even the 15 miles from Abingdon to Oxford, although it might be an appropriate penance. He can come along to the Juventutem Masses in London or elsewhere. He can judge for himself, but anyone willing to take my word for it can rest assured that the narrow social and cultural range, the extreme views, and the problematic relationship with alcohol which contribute to the stereotypical 'young fogey' do not characterise the young people at these events. I can quote Stuart Reid himself: speaking of the Mass at Reading, he wrote 'I liked the young servers I met in Reading on Sunday', and refers to a 'very agreeable young fellow with silver earrings'. A fogey? I think not.

2011 03 11_8521
(Young people at dinner after one of the Juventutem Masses in London.)


  1. Anonymous6:30 pm

    I have attended the 9am Mass in The London Oratory many times. There are usually a fair smattering of young families there. Something I often marveled at , given the relatively early hour.Mr Reid probaby just sees what he wants to see.

  2. Dylan Williams11:26 pm

    Does anyone take Mr reid seriously anymore?.
    Far more serious damage is being done in to the TLM here in Menevia. A group calling themselves 'Confraternity of the Holy Cross' has established themselves with the blessing of Fr. Jones. This is in effect undermining the excellent work of the LMS. As you can see from the ramblings of Richard Collins on 'Linen on The Hedgerow' it has been established to draw people away from the LMS and both Mr Collins and the Confraternity have some very strange ideas. When you read some of Mr Collins' posts you can well understand how the likes of Mr Reid find opportunity to show the LMS in a very bad light indeed.

  3. Joseph Shaw6:18 am

    Yes. I have managed to get Collins to say on his blog why he doesn't like the LMS - I think the main reason is that it is not 'more active on the episcopal front (I mean actually challenging the Bishops as to why they are not allowing more EF Masses)'.

    It should not be surprising to anyone that if they reject the LMS' quiet diplomacy they have scared off all priests who might learn the TLM.

  4. Anonymous12:52 pm

    I agree. Mr Collins is into telling the Bishops how to run their church. However, anyone who reads that blog and its constant attacks on those who follow the OF would well be put of the TLM, and who could honestly blame them?
    The LMS have always behaved admirably with a quiet dignity. That is what will draw souls, not the constant moaning and Bishop bashing that the likes of Mr Collins and his ilk stoop to.

  5. Alan Robinson4:56 pm

    It is a miracle to see young people at Mass at all these days, it is wonderful to see young families at Mass. Many New Rite Masses in Parish Churches look - sadly -like the chapels of Old People's Homes.  In any case, is there anything wrong - in any way - with young fogeys,old fogeys,non-young fogeys, old non-fogeys  going to Mass. I thought that the catholic church was not a sect of the like minded but welcomed everyone ?  

  6. Richard Brown8:49 am

    Dr Shaw,
    Please can you retract your false statement about Dr Edwards' booklet. Open on page 34 and you will see a section headed "Latin Mass Society of England and Wales", with nearly 2 pages devoted to the society.
    Dr Edwards says that <span>it is  “the oldest, and probably the best organized, of any traditionalist group in the world” and that it is “obviously the first point of contact for anyone in England and Wales interested in the older form of Mass”.</span>
    If you would like to receive a complimentary copy of the booklet so that you can read it for yourself, please contact me at the CTS.
    Richard Brown, Sales & Marketing Manager, CTS

  7. Joseph Shaw9:39 am

    Aha, so I have your attention. You obviously ignored the review I wrote in Mass of Ages.
    So he mentions the LMS. I confess I didn't have my copy to hand when I wrote that.
    So here's a deal: I'll withdraw this factually inaccurate statement and you can cease publication of this disgraceful booklet.
    I shall say more about it on the blog soon.

  8. Dylan Williams7:53 pm

    Well said Dr Shaw!

  9. Richard Collins12:51 pm

    @ Dylan Williams - thank you so much for your kind comments re my blog. I am flattered that you think of it in such terms as 'rambling', I can only aspire to such heights. Sadly, I did not notice any spike in my viewer statistics following your remarks.
    I would, however, take issue with you over your comments regarding The Confraternity of the Holy Cross and Fr Jason Jones, the Menevia priest whom Bishop Burns has graciously appointed as Co-ordinator for EF Masses in Menevia.
    Far from undermining the work of the LMS, the Confraternity could (if the LMS viewed it in this light) act as a conduit for new members.
    Most members of the Confraternity are followers of the OF Mass and would not normally come across the LMS; with the good offices of the Confraternity they receive a gradual introduction to the EF Mass and its associated organisations, it is then entirely up to them to join such an organisation if they so wish.
    In addition, the Confraternity raises funds to send priests on to the LMS Mass training programme.
    I would also be most grateful if you could enlighten me as to the 'strange ideas' that the Confraternity has as you allege.
    I might add that I am a member of the LMS and actively support them as will, I am sure, be confirmed by our local LMS representative.

    @ Dr Joseph Shaw - Do not confuse criticism with 'not liking' the LMS. I hope that you are aware by now that I am an active member of the LMS and wish it nothing other than success in its efforts. I do believe that there are some rather large gaps in the LMS operation and, with no intention whatsoever of damaging the LMS, the Confraternity was established by Fr Jason Jones in order to provide for a flock that is, perhaps, less LMS oriented than your normal audience. In addition, Menevia stretches over many, many hundreds of square miles and, with the best will in the world, your rep must be hard pressed to be in several places at the same time. To some degree the Confraternity fills in some of these very local gaps but never in the context of cutting across the LMS.
    Dr Joseph Shaw your comment regarding 'scaring off priests who might wish to learn the TLM' is a  low one and I think I shall choose to not answer the slur but to let all judge my blog (and yours) for themselves.