Saturday, January 28, 2012

'Restore Comunion on the Tongue Alone'

A couple of Australian priests have started an online petition to the Holy Father for the restoration of the practice of receiving communion on the tongue for the whole Latin Church. They should be supported: why not go over there and sign up?

Bishop Athanasius Shneider and Cardinal Burke have already signed up! Bishop Shneider's book 'Dominus Est' is an excellent intriduction to the arguments.

Pope Paul VI allowed communion in the hand only as a concession, limited to places where the abuse was already established. It has become clear that the original arguments in favour of communion in the hand - historical, theological, pastoral - were spurious and it is time this permission was withdrawn.

We need also to make reparation for the countless acts of profanation of the Blessed Sacrament which have been facilitated by this practice.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Letter on Child Protection

This weekend the Catholic Herald has published a letter of mine on the subject of 'Child Protection'. It responds to an article by Will Heaven.

Will Heaven (Comment, Jan 20th) tells us that monastic schools, like Downside, where there have been failures of child protection, should be handed over to lay trustees. By the same logic, I assume he would want the many lay schools plagued by such failures to be handed over to monks.

We need to look, not at the clerical or lay status of trustees, but at their attitudes and policies. Unfortunately the leadership of Catholic schools appears to be following the example of its secular counterpart, both by imposing explicit sex education on our children and by an increasing reluctance to expect staff to live in accord with Church teaching.

The secular model is to promote anarchic sexual liberalism in schools, balanced by an hysterical concern for the procedures of child protection. This is not going to solve the problem of the sexual exploitation of children in the long term. Until the Catholic school sector is prepared to buck this trend decisively I, like an increasing number of Catholic parents, will be teaching my children at home.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Shaw

Two things struck me about Heaven's article. The first was his idea that the problems at Downside would go away if the monks were no longer the trustees. It is reasonable I suppose that a religious order which makes a hash of an apostolate hands it over to someone else, but Heaven's suggestion smacks of anti-clericalism. How, exactly, would having lay control help? Hasn't he noticed all the non-religious, indeed non-Catholic schools which have had child protection issues? It is the attitudes and policies of the individuals in positions of authority which are important, not whether they wear clerical dress. On this, Jonathan West of 'Confessions of a Skeptic' agrees with me, in his Tablet article this week and his comments under Heaven's article: lay leadership is not a 'silver bullet'. (Tablet link for subscribers.)

I have another concern about the attempt to separate monastic schools from the monasteries which founded them. If this happens we will have two institutions sharing a site, but nothing else. It will be entirely reasonable for the monastic community to ask why they are allowing this alien institution to take up so much of their land, rent free. Why not turn it into luxury flats? Hybrid models, in which the Abbot appoints some trustees and some unnamed person others, seem to be a recipe for permanent conflict.

The other thing which struck me was Heaven's jaunty reference to Downside going mixed. He writes:

There is no question about it: Downside School is still flourishing. A few years ago, I wrote in this newspaper about its “second spring”, which occurred after 2005 when it allowed girls to join. I noted that the school was livelier and noisier than before and was at its capacity of 430 pupils.
Alas, Downside – as a community – is now experiencing an unexpectedly harsh winter.
You might think that the sudden onset of colder weather might make Heaven wonder whether 2005 was spring after all. For why did they they let in girls, to a school which had been single-sex since its foundation a century earlier? Did the monks suddenly feel a special charism to look after the emotional needs of adolescent girls? I don't think so. Letting in girls enabled it to bring number back up to capacity: oh, that's it!

I don't blame the monks of Downside in particular, they were just following the trend. The point is that this is a trend in which the interests of pupils were sacrificed to financial considerations, and to educational fashion. No one was ignorant, by 2005, of the educational benefits to girls of being in a all-girls' school; the subject had been studied to death. Catholic boys' schools, usually with superior brand-recognition and resources, continued to undermine the girls' schools by going mixed because it was in their interests, not in the girls'.

If anyone is interested in the Church's teaching on co-education, they can look at Pius XI on the subject in 1939 (Divine illius magistri):

68. False also and harmful to Christian education is the so-called method of "coeducation." This too, by many of its supporters, is founded upon naturalism and the denial of original sin; but by all, upon a deplorable confusion of ideas that mistakes a leveling promiscuity and equality, for the legitimate association of the sexes.

This is related, by the denial of original sin, to the real elephant in the room, which I mention in my letter, which is the sexualisation of children. The motto of the secular educational establishment is 'Do whatever you are comfortable doing; don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it; don't let anyone do to you what you're not comfortable with'. This places the burden of child protection on the children themselves. Since the only standard of what is abusive is the child's perception, accusations of abuse are justified almost by definition. By the same token, the 'grooming' activities of abusers, in which they attempt to convince their victims that abuse is really ok, have been adopted as school policy: nothing is not ok, children, if you just accept it. This is why we have the extraordinary situation in which schools are deliberately sexualising children, and then crying blue murder at the least plausible accusation.

The Catholic Church has a great opportunity here, because the secular orthodoxy has become so extreme, and so incoherent, that at least some people will give an alternative a hearing. The Natural Law tells us what is abusive, and we have the intellectual resources to create an environment for children in which abuse is less likely to happen. Why not do it, and make a virtue of it?

I see Oona Stanard is stepping down from the Catholic Education Service. Perhaps her replacement can give these matters some serious consideration.

Full disclosure: I am a Fellow of St Benet's Hall, a Hall of Oxford University whose trustees are the Abbot and Council of Ampleforth Abbey.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A welcome distraction

Yesterday evening another family member arrived, a little girl. Mother and baby are both very well.

Here she is with her big sister.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

LMS Pilgrimage to Lourdes: 17-21st September.

Apologies to my readers for the slow posting. Term has started in Oxford, and the busy-ness of the Latin Mass Society, and other things, has reached a sort of crescendo for reasons too tedious to explain.

Here, however, is a project close to my heart which I can now announce: a traditional pilgrimage to Lourdes, with the sick, organised by the Latin Mass Society. We have actually booked the space on one of the tour-operators' schedules, so we have dates: 17-21st September 2012.

The LMS has had groups going to Lourdes before, but the point of Lourdes, more than of any other shrine, I think, is taking the sick, and we have never done that before. Our Lady commanded that people should come on pilgrimage 'with the sick', and created a spring in which they could be bathed. Many, many graces have been bestowed through this means over the century and a half which have elapsed since then, included a stream of extraordinary miracles of healing which have continued to this day.

If you haven't been to Lourdes, you must go. If you've been, then you'll want to come on this pilgrimage, where the liturgy and spirituality will be traditional: the traditional Mass, traditional devotions, and so on.

Lourdes is an extraordinary place. It is the most visited 'tourist' destination in France, and when you get there you will understand why. It is famous for its tacky shops but that is not why the visitors are there: they are there for Our Lady.

After my appeal in the Mass of Ages in the last issue, a number of very good people have come forward to volunteer to help organise it: lay people and clergy with considerable experience of Lourdes. We can now throw the thing open to all who would like to register an interest, both the hale and hearty and those who would come as 'malades', those needing medical care, help with mobility and so on. We can't take your money for booking at this stage but we'd like to hear from you.

The dates are 17-21st September (Monday to Friday). We'll be flying from Stanstead (unless you want to make your own way there) and the all-inclusive price will be in the region of £600.

Email us to register your interest, and let us know if you've been before:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Retreat and Chant Course


You can dowload an application form for both events here. 

You can book entirely online for the Retreat

and for the Chant Course.

We are on track for a lot of very exciting events this year, and here are some of the first: the regular St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat and (running in parallel) the Gregorian Chant Network Weekend Chant course, on Low Sunday weekend, after Easter, 13-15th April.

2011 04 09_8868
The venue is the Oratory School in Oxfordshire, between Oxford and Reading and near Pangbourne railway station (link to map).

The Family Retreat is a unique event, with around 150 people, including children of all ages, on retreat with the Traditional Mass and devotions. Everyone is welcome - you don't have to be or have a family! - but we have activities for children of all ages to enable their parents to attend the spiritual conferences as easily as possible. This year we will have two priests, Fr Andrew Southwell and Fr Thomas Crean OP, and hope to have a seminarian as well.

2011 04 09_8862

Running alongside this is a Chant course. Again, everyone is welcome, with any level of experience. The course is led by Colin Mawby, the composer and former Director of Music at Wesminster Cathedral, and Christopher Hodkinson, of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge. Having two chant tutors will enable us to divide the group according to the experience of the singers, so everyone will get the most out of it. The singers accompany the Masses and devotions of the Retreat, so as well as theoretical work on the chant there is live singing with an audience.

You can dowload an application form for both events here. 

You can book entirely online for the Retreat

and for the Chant Course.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

English FSSP Seminarian in the Catholic Herald

Ian Verrier, who I mentioned just the other day as a Fraternity seminarian visiting the FSSP apostolate in Reading, has given a interview in the current Catholic Herald. It's not on the CH website, but happily the interviewer, Mary O'Regan, has it on her own blog, The Path Less Taken.

And a very good interview it is too! Go over to her to read it.

The number of men from England and Wales joining the seminaries of Traditional orders - the Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer - is one of the great success stories of the Traditional Movement here. There will be a feature article about this phenomenon in the next Mass of Ages: don't miss it, you'll be able to get it here. Don't read it three weeks after everyone else like The Tablet does, get it delivered your door by joining!

The Latin Mass Society gives financial support to these courageous young men: you can make donations to our 'Seminarian Fund' which is spent on nothing else.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

A meatless Epiphany

Friday was the first, and I think perhaps it will be the last, time that English Catholics will be required to abstain from flesh meat on 6th January, which is the Feast of the Epiphany in both the reformed Universal Calendar and the 1962 Calendar. We had a splendid candle-lit Mass in SS Gregory and Augustine to celebrate this important feast.

A good occasion for lobster and caviar, perhaps!  IMG_8633
The Church of SS Gregory & Augustine's looks quite well lit, but it is a trick of the camera. It was lit entirely by candles, except for the choir loft - we had a single electric bulb!
The solemn proclamation of the moveable feasts of the year, after the Sermon: chanted in Latin. IMG_8663
The distribution of blessed chalk, at the end of Mass.
A lovely occasion. Many thanks to Fr John Saward and the parish of SS Gregory & Augustine's in Oxford, and the Schola Abelis, who accompanied the Mass.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Solemn Mass and Chant Training in St George's Cathedral, Southwark, 11th February

2011 07 02_0320
Solemn Mass St George's Cathedral, Southwark

Saturday 11 February 2012 10:30am

with Gregorian chant sung by the Cathedral Choir

Same day:  
Gregorian Chant Training Day with Nick Gale and Mark Johnson
(Gregorian Chant Network)

11:45 Course begins, registration, plenary session with Nick Gale
 13:00 Lunch (bring packed lunch)
13:45 Chant Course afternoon sessions (Nick Gale and Mark Johnson)
15:30 Break 15:45 Rehearsal for Vespers
16:30 First Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday
17:00 Ends

Fee: £15; reduced to £10 for LMS members.

To register interest for the Gregorian Chant Training Day please email

lmssouthwarknorth AT gmail DOT com

Contact (replace AT with @ and DOT with .)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New toy

I have a new toy - or rather, my Iphone has. It turns pictures like this -

Into pictures like this. A zoom lens.

Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP was celebrant.

We were joined today at Reading by another FSSP seminarian, Ian Verrier. His musical skills were much appreciated!

The advantage of this lens is that I can do better blog posts directly from the phone.

Happy Feast of the Circumcision! And what must be the shortest Gospel in the lectionary.

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