Saturday, June 29, 2013

The early years of Traditionalism: 'The Living Flame'

Evelyn Waugh
'The Living Flame: the first twenty-five years of the Society of Pius X in Britain' by Ronald Warwick was was published in 1997, and is available on Scribd:

In the context of the 25th anniversary of the 1988 consecrations, this may be of interest to readers. It also sheds some light on the early days of the Latin Mass Society (which otherwise gets hardly a mention in the book): I reproduce the main passage here, which covers the foundation of the LMS and the key decision, reached in fact by all the members to the newly formed Una Voce International Federation, to seek the preservation of the Traditional Mass after 1969, and not just the new Mass in Latin. (Those who disagreed with this decision would found the Association for Latin Liturgy.)

Evelyn Waugh, the foremost Catholic writer of his day, Sir Arnold Lunn, controversialist and skiing pioneer, and Hugh Ross Williamson, media personality and historian: quite a trio of founding fathers! All them, interestingly, were converts.
Sir Arnold Lunn

Until his death in 1966, Waugh acted as an unofficial spokesman for the conservatives, expressing their growing disenchantment to Cardinal Heenan and in the press. He was also instrumental, with Sir Arnold Lunn and Hugh Ross Williamson, in founding the Latin Mass Society in Easter 1965. Almost from its inception, the Society attracted significant support and was soon organising itself at a diocesan level. Most importantly it brought like-minded laymen and sympathetic clergy into contact. Before the introduction of the Novus Ordo in 1969, its objectives were clear and completely in accord with the wording of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Liturgy and the Encyclical Letter of 1962, ‘Veterum Sapientiae’ both of which urged the retention of the Latin language in the rites of the Church. Despite this, the Society was largely ignored by the English hierarchy and sometimes treated with downright hostility, a fact which gave rise, in some minds, to a suspicion that even more radical developments were in store.

The Latin Mass Society developed into a ‘broad church’ organisation containingwithin its ranks a range of differing opinions including those who considered the very identityof the Church to be imperilled and those who preferred the Latin liturgy for cultural reasons. I suspect that most members oscillated between the two opinions. Its Annual General Meetings were rather colourful and sometimes noisy occasions at which the clash of contending views was distinctly audible.

With the promulgation of the Missa Normativa came the biggest clash of all. There were those within the Society who felt bound in conscience to accept the new rite, while others favoured carrying on the fight for the old. At the AGM of 1969 there were impassioned speeches on both sides. Hugh Ross Williamson put the case for the ancient rite, citing the privilege contained in St Pius V’s Bull ‘Quo Primum Tempore’, the famous Ottaviani Intervention and the doctrinal dubiety of the Novus Ordo. Dr R. H. Richens argued for accepting the new rite pointing out the danger of schism implicit in the alternative course of action. By an overwhelming majority, the members voted in favour of the Ross Williamson motion - a decision which was described as ‘Latin Madness’, the banner headline in the following week’s Universe. The LMS was affiliated to the international federation, Una Voce, which also decided to carry on the struggle for the traditional rite.
Making this possible for future generations: First Holy Communion with the Traditional Mass
The patient advocacy of the Latin Mass Society yielded its first fruit in the form of an Indult granted by the Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship to Cardinal Heenan on 5 November 1971. The Indult was highly restricted in a number of respects. It permitted local ordinaries in England and Wales to grant permission to groups of people to participate at Mass celebrated ‘according to the rites and texts of the former Roman Missal (27 January 1965) with the modification indicated in the ‘Instructio Altera’ (4 May 1967).’ In other words, the very mutilated rite as it existed on the eve of the Novus Ordo could, on rare occasions, be said with the express permission of the diocesan bishop. In practice, this grudging concession made little difference, though some cherished its symbolic value as the first breach in the wall of hierarchical intransigence. 


  1. The author's name is Ronald Warwick, not Richard. He happens to be a good friend of mine.

  2. Apologies - corrected.

    Is there a way of buying the hard copy?

  3. And this is what they were trying to protect:

    Watch it all - it's beautiful.

  4. I thought I would take the opportunity to congratulate
    you on your article in the Catholic Herald (and plug it for the benefit of those who haven't bought a copy yet).