Part 1: Where next?
Part 2: What do we need?
Part 3: The Lay Apostolate: a proposal
Part 4: Why not existing groups?
Part 5: The Lay Apostolate and the Internet
The problem: the kind of lay groups we know about from the past have become difficult to maintain because they relied on the fact that people could pop round to the parish hall on odd evenings for frequent - say, weekly - meetings. People are too busy and too thinly spread out to do this today with any ease. This is even more true of those attached to the Traditional Mass, who often have to travel long distances to get to a venue for the Extraordinary Form.
The opportunity: the need for this kind of group, both the social need and the spiritual need, has not gone away. On the contrary, traditional Catholics can easily feel very isolated. As well as wanting something like this, the common feeling among those attached to the Traditional Mass provides an opportunity for a group with a strong sense of identity and common purpose, which can cut across geography, and social and cultural differences.
Following from yesterday's post, here's the idea, which I set out in my Chairman's Message in the new Mass of Ages.
The Confraternity of St Gregory the Great, affiliated to both the Latin Mass Society and the Una Voce International Federation, will commit members to some (moderate) daily prayer, and to attending at least quarterly meetings with other members. These meetings may be simply meetings of the Confraternity, but they can also be the Latin Mass Society's regional or national events. They will however include a silent retreat, one for men and one for women, which would be organised specially. Silent retreats are something currently largely missing from the traddy scene in the UK, so this is a good thing in itself.
A lot of LMS members may be doing something along these lines already. But by committing to it, and by encouraging more people to do it, we can set up a situation in which one can expect to meet a widening circle of people at events in a fairly wide geographical area, in the context of prayer in common.
It is possible for people to get in the car and travel to events some distance away, and it is possible for people to set aside a weekend for something: people in the 21st Century go to rock concerts and stag parties, they travel to see family members and they go on holiday. What is impossible is asking people to do this every week. On the other hand, unless you do this with a degree of regularity, you are never going to establish the face-to-face relationships with like-minded people, and the moments of spiritual refreshment at a special liturgical event, which could provide the social and spiritual support more necessary for a faithful Catholic life today than ever before. And of course you won't get to to attend the Traditional Mass in the wonderful shrines, historic houses, and Cathedrals which are part of our Catholic culture and heritage.
At the moment the Latin Mass Society's pilgrimages and annual events look more or less like this. These can easily be supplemented by Confraternity events, which are at the simplest just Mass and a set of prayers together, with two or more Confraternity members.
View LMS Pilgrimages and Annual Masses in a larger map
Here's the official description of the Confraternity, and the Guild we plan to establish within it, from the Chairman's message:
it is to be a 'Guild, for the sanctification of its members and with the special vocation of supporting the work of the Society, which also connects members to the international movement. More information will be supplied to anyone inquiring, and if there is enough interest we will set it up. Here is a brief description from the Federation: “The FIUV is launching an International Confraternity to honour Saint Gregory the Great, its Patron Saint. Where a number of individuals are interested, a Guild of the Confraternity will be erected to meet four times a year for Mass in the Extraordinary Form and devotions and to make an annual retreat together. The purpose of membership will be to grow in personal holiness in the context of the Traditional Liturgy, Gregorian Chant, devotion to Saint Gregory and loyalty to the Holy See, and to be active as a group in some of the activities of the Society.” If you are interested in participating, contact the LMS, ideally by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is only going to be established if a critical mass of people want to join. So don't wait for everyone else to set it up: get in touch now!