Saturday, August 31, 2013

Longenecker vs. Voris

Looking in from the outside, at Walsingham
An interesting spectacle has arisen on the internet: Michael Voris has criticised Catholic Answers for the high salaries their big-name people have, and Fr Dwight Longenecker has defended his friends and criticised Voris. I have in the past criticised both Voris and Fr Longenecker, for different reasons, and now I feel both of them has a point.

Voris is railing against 'professional Catholics' being paid six-figure salaries (in dollars, of course). Fr Longenecker says he'd like to see a few more professionals in Catholic apologetics. Touche - I also think Voris is a bit of an amateur. (Full disclosure: I am not a professional theologian, and nor am I paid by the Latin Mass Society. I get expenses, mostly for travel, when I get round to claiming them.) But I think Fr L has missed Voris' point, which Voris doesn't articulate but I think takes for granted. These salaries are connected in Voris' mind with the big salaries of liberal diocesan administrators, as part of a military-industrial complex - well, ideological-liturgical complex - of the Catholic Establishment, which has done nothing over the last two generations but preside over a disastrous decline. Leaving it to amateurs like Voris to say the things which need saying.

No doubt the guys at Catholic Answers see themselves as a beleaguered remnant battling against the odds for the truth. (Funnily enough, Catholic liberals have the same self-image.) But from Voris' perspective, they are part of the Establishment of mutual back-scratching, and the salaries demonstrate this. The fact is that there is, in the USA at least, a Conservative Catholic establishment, with endowed institutions, a career-structure, access to the hierarchy and so on. And, Voris says, while acknowledging the good they do, they are also part of the problem. Because they refuse to see the real causes of the problems in the Church.

The problem Voris identifies with certain 'conservatives' is that, in order to have a seat at the big table as part of the Catholic Establishment, they profess themselves content with, or even enthusiastic about, the wrenching discontinuities of liturgy and theology which are present in the Church today. This then manifests itself with a contempt towards Traditionalists.

There is an established definition of a Catholic Traditionalist: they are people who wish to live in continuity with their predecessors in the Faith. This means that, while not rejecting organic development or new initiatives, they prefer the Traditional Mass, they gravitate towards traditional spirituality, they regard innovations of institutional form or theology as having to make their case: they must carry the burden of proof. This is, of course, what all Catholics should be like, this is the attitude called for by Popes down the ages, it is even explicitly demanded, in liturgical matters, by the Second Vatican Council.

Sacrosanctum Concilium 22:
Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

Not fruitcakes on the march, just Catholics on pilgrimage, doing what we've always done.
I don't object to the intelligent labelling of schools of thought, but really, Traditional Catholics are just Catholics. People who think the Church began in 1962 may be baptised and confirmed members of the Church, but their attitude is not a Catholic one.

But this Catholic attitude is a rebuke to some 'conservatives' - maybe they have a guilty conscience. So we have incessant attacks on 'radtrads', as Fr Longenecker delightfully calls them. He doesn't bother telling us who exactly he has in mind, he neither names names nor specifies theological positions, but when challenged he says that he likes good Traditionalists and is only attacking the bad ones. This is a lazy old trick: who is which? What kinds of 'traditionalist' attitude counts, according to Longenecker, as sede vacantist or anti-semitic?

You can't spend long in the Catholic world attached to the Traditional Mass without being called a sede vacantist or an anti-semite. I have been called both, at least by implication, over the years. I have no way of telling whether my own views don't put me into Fr Longenecker's sights: whether, that is, he is only criticising people who are genuinly sede vacantist and genuinely  anti-semitic, or whether he is using these terms as hiss-words to apply to a much larger group. Of course, there is a lunatic fringe, there are people attached to the Old Mass who have genuinely unpleasant views, and I've been attacked by them as well. I am a bit hazy about exactly what Christian Order stands for these days, but they think I am insufficiently hard-core for them and I am pretty content with that situation. But even if Fr Longenecker does have only the nut-jobs in mind, it is hardly helpful to fixate on them.

I don't spend all my time attacking the people who've been excommunicated for carrying out bogus ordinations of women: the radical liberals. Why not? Because they aren't a serious part of the conversation. Not even the Tablet takes them seriously. Sure, if they got too much influence they could drag the whole progressive Catholic groove into disrepute - to parallel Fr Longenecker's argument about trads - but that isn't going to happen, they know perfectly well what lines they can't cross. Fr Longecker should apply his critical faculties to the positions which are part of the conversation: the views of ordinary Traditionalists, their respected publications, organisations, conferences and so on. There's plenty there to get your teeth into.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pro-life Witness in Oxford tomorrow

Saturday, 31st August

3pm- 4pm

Please come and pray for all unborn babies, their families and those involved in the crime of abortion.

We meet at the Church of St Anthony of Padua, Headley Way, Oxford.

Witness is at the entrance of the JOHN RADCLIFFE Hospital , Headley Way.

Refreshments available afterwards in the Church hall.

Information, call, Amanda Lewin 01869 600638

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LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage: Report and photos. Part 1

The 2013 Walsingham Pilgrimage was a fantastic experience, successful at every level. Here are some photos to give a sense of it.
The 2013 pilgrimage was our biggest ever, 25% bigger than last year, around the 90 mark including the support team. Last year was itself double the size of the previous year. It has been extremely successful in drawing people in: there were a number of recent converts on the pilgrimage, and for many people the intensive exposure to the Traditional Mass was like nothing they had experienced before.


This year we had four priests: Fr Bede Rowe, Fr John Cahill, Fr Thomas Crean OP and Fr Michael Rowe from Perth, Australia. So we had Solemn Mass every day. IMG_4214

The music was led by Matthew Schellhorn; it consisted of a number of pilgrim-volunteers. In the final Mass Matthew was joined by two professionals making a Byrd three-part Mass possible.IMG_0827

The cooking team was entirely dedicated to the task: cooking for 90 is no joke. We are quite a crowd now.

Many of the women were able to sleep indoors, but the men were outside in tents all three nights.IMG_4320

The weather varied from wet - IMG_0851

to sunny and hot.

 To be continued.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Solemn Profession in Chelmsford


Last night I attended the Solemn Profession of Br Stephen Morrison, into the Canons of St Norbert, the Norbertines or Premonstratensians. The community in Chelmsford looks after two parish churches; Our Lady Immaculate, used on this occasion, was packed out.


One of the interesting features of the ceremony was the handing over of the cat. At least, it looks like a cat. I couldn't get a good photograph, but Br Stephen now has, as part of his choir dress, a large white fur item called an almutium, worn a little like a maniple, over the left arm. He is given it during the ceremony.

Here his confreres are wearing them.


Here's an old picture from the community's website (though on the other arm for some reason).

The community was once based at Miles Platting in Manchester, but the local population had disappeared and the church building was falling down. They have come to rest in Brentwood Diocese, where Bishop McMahon has also given a very warm welcome to the Ordinariate. The diocese is short of priests, and the Norbertines and the Ordinariate have been a shot in the arm.

In its new home the community is thriving, and there will be more such solemn professions in the coming years, and ordinations too. The Norbertines have their own liturgical 'use', a variation on the Roman Rite, just as the Dominicans do, and I look forward as things develop to the increased use of this once more in English parishes.

Br Stephen is an old friend and Lucy Shaw Cakes provided a suitable edible tribute to the occasion. IMG_4550

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mark Shea on thinking about the liturgy


In the weekend before last's Catholic Herald, the conservative Catholic apologist Mark Shea told us not only to stop arguing about the liturgy, but to stop thinking about it. At least, I think that's what he was saying, the article is a little obscure - you can read it (or a slightly longer version) on his blog here.

The fact that it appeared simultaneously on his blog - without any reference to the Catholic Herald - presumably explains why it makes no concession at all to a British audience. Philistine that I am, I confess I was completely baffled by the American cultural references. I resorted to Googling Lincoln's assassination, but apart from being reminded that it took place in a theatre, I am none the wiser.

'Remember who shot Lincoln'

What does it mean? And who is Dave Brubeck? Let's hope it's not important.

Shea has a good line: 

I don’t want a liturgy I can look at. I want a liturgy I can look along—to see God. Liturgies should be like a well-done play: anything that takes you out of the story is bad.


To liberals, comparing Mass to a piece of theatre is like showing a red rag to a bull. They want it to be natural and spontaneous. Nevertheless, Shea has a point: you need to lose yourself in the liturgy. The trouble is that doesn't make the point he wants it to make, which is that thinking about the liturgy is a Bad Thing.

There may sometimes be an element of 'I murder to dissect': if you are thinking too much about how the poet is producing his effect, it won't have its effect on you. But it equally won't have its effect if you can't understand the words or images or references (like me reading Mark Shea's blog), or if it is being read badly or printed in the wrong order. So learning about poetry or drama and getting a good text or a good performance will ultimately enhance your experience. Learning about the liturgy, and attending its worthy celebration, will enhance your liturgical experience.

If liturgy is important, as Shea presumably thinks it is, if he thinks it allows you to 'look along - to see God', then we need to argue about it a lot, we need to make it better, we need to adorn it with the best music we can and art set it in the best architecture. There's no easy escape for those 'conservatives' who don't want to takes sides on liturgical issues, I'm afraid.

The Catholic Herald has published a letter of mine about this article. Here it is.

It is perhaps understandable that, after a century of debate about the liturgy in the Catholic Church, Mark Shea (Comment, 16th August) should express the desire just to attend Mass without thinking about it too much.

But liturgical analgesia cannot be the answer. If we are to allow the liturgy to speak to us, we must be sensitive to its symbolism and the nuances of the texts, even if this means that we will also find bad
liturgy and abuses harder to bear.

Over the decades liturgical meddlers have done incalculable damage to the spiritual lives of ordinary Catholics. It doesn't follow that we must profess ourselves content with the waste-land they have so often produced: on the contrary, we must see how the damage can be repaired. Pope Benedict showed us how to begin a liturgical restoration which will provide for our spiritual needs, notably by encouraging Communion on the tongue, celebration ad orientem, and the Traditional Mass.

Shea may be feeling weary of the battle, but bad arguments and poor scholarship must be replaced by better, and a banal liturgy with something which speaks to us more clearly of heavenly things.


Pictures: different angles on the liturgy: Solemn Mass for the Latin Mass Society's Annual General Meeting in Southwark's St George's Cathedral. More photos.

Mass in the Slipper Chapel, Monday #Waldingham

Said by Fr Rowe

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We made it! #Walsingham

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Setting off on last leg #Walsingham

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Morning stop #Walsingham

East Rudham.

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Last day #Walsingham

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Breakfast #Walsingham

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dinner Friday #Walsingham

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Oxburgh Mass #Walsingham

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Setting off in the rain #Walsingham

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Leaving lunch stop #Walsingham

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Morning stop #Walsingham

We left Ely with the Litany of the Saints, and have continued with a sung Rosary in Latin, English and French.

So far we are ahead of schedule!

Glorious sunshine. A well-earned break.

Setting off again now, while the singers have a practice.

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Walsingham: more



Blessing of pilgrim staves and scrips.

Fr Bede Rowe.

In Ely Cathedral, praying for the healing if schism.

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Walsingham live bloging: we're off!

We gathered last night for am excellent meal in a Methodist church hall.

Schola practice.

After a night in tents or on mats in the hall, we had solemn Mass this morning for the feast of St Philip Benzini.

Celebrated bt Fr Thomas Crean OP.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Autumn Mass of Ages on sale now

 Buy a hard copy of the entire magazine,

Here are some taster articles you can read online.

True North - a season of testimony versus the tumult

Scarcely, if ever, can two LMS events have served as more acute occasions of counterpoint witness to Truth against society's seemingly insatiable desire to fall headlong into the destructive clutches of an increasingly liberal, relativist agenda.

The LMS - putting the Latin back in video!

Regular visitors to the LMS website will have noticed the recent appearance of some new buttons to click in the top right corner of our home page: Gloria TV and Vimeo. It's all part of the Society's increasing communications output...

En vacances holidays or hoydays?

Finally, summer arrived! If you were lucky, you may have been on holiday, or perhaps still planning one. Where did (will) you go to Mass? In the past few years we have made several wonderful trips to Catholic Europe with our children. Beautiful ancient churches in every village, stupendous cathedrals full of truly devotional art, saints' shrines and pilgrimage sites galore, not to mention affordable feasting and dependable sunshine - but Traditional Mass? Read more>>

And who does this, left, remind you of? Drawn by 'Br Choleric' (Fr Hubert van Zeller) and published back in 1973. It accompanies the 'Chairman's Message'.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Live blogging from the Walsingham Pilgrimage

A little experiment with Blogpress before the Pilgrims gather tomorrow. We are getting ready - this is going to be dinner for nearly 90 people.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pray for the Philippines

With the disastrous floods floods in the Philippines displacing many thousands of people, please pray for them.

Here are a couple of photographs less likely than others to find their way into the mainstream media: 300 people taking refuge in a Catholic church. As it happens this church, of the Holy Family, is an important centre for the Traditional Mass, thanks to its parish priest, Fr. Michell Joe "Jojo" Zerrudo.

Those zealous in the service of God are not lukewarm in their service of their fellow men.

'The b--ing up of the Church': Waugh on the Mass

For an interesting article on Evelyn Waugh's trenchant views on the consequences of the liturgical reform, see this article in The Tablet by Fr Ian Ker.

For some reason they have replaced the apostrophes with question marks...

A taster.

EVELYN Waugh lived to see the Second Vatican Council. For him, that was a misfortune. He died in 1966, a year after the council concluded its proceedings. 'The buggering up of the Church', he wrote to his friend Nancy Mitford, 'is a deep sorrow to me'. It is well known that Waugh's principal objection to Vatican II was the replacement of the Tridentine rite with the new vernacular liturgy. Waugh's feelings were, of course, not at all unusual at the time; but what is interesting is the peculiar nature of his own sense of loss.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Supplement to the New Catholic Encyclopedia

The 'New Catholic Encyclopedia' has just brought out a four-volume supplement on 'Ethics and Philosophy', I have just received my copy.

It looks impressive - and not just because I wrote the entry on Utilitarianism!

There are in fact quite a few philosophical reference books; this is a big one, and it is good to have something written from a Catholic point of view. I was encouraged, for example, to include a reference to the condemnation of Utilitarianism by Bl Pope John Paul II's Veritas Splendor.

If your university library doesns't have the New Catholic Encyclopedia, it should, for all its inevitable limitations. And now it should have the Ethics supplement too.

Much of what Wikiepedia has to say about Catholic matters is lifted from the old edition, published in 1914, which is online.

The first 'New' Catholic Encyclopedia came out in 1967, we now have a Second Edition, published in 2002.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fighting a lost war: Loftus on the new translation of the 1970 Missal

Young people fleeing the reverence and beauty of the Traditional Mass 
Mgr Loftus is helping me catch up with his columns by writing twice on the same theme in successive weeks: the old standby, the new translation of the Novus Ordo.

In the column of 4th August, he makes a truly contorted argument against the translation of 'pro multis' by 'for many'. It really is a tour de force of confusion and non-sequiters, which would be too tedious to retype. But, in a nutshell:
People of all ages being 'alienated' by the ancient liturgy

1. Pope Francis has said that Christ died for everyone.
2. Hang on, so did Pope Benedict!
3. So Pope Benedict must have been contradicting himself when he said that the ancient liturgical text be translated accurately.

Does Loftus really think that the Pontiff Emeritus is that stupid? And is it really impossible that Loftus has lived so long without coming across the very simple explanation? Let me state it as simply as possible:

Christ's blood is available to all. Christ's blood is actually efficacious not for all, but only for many.

It is true that Christ died for all. It is also true, in a different sense, that his blood is shed - efficaciously, with salvific effect - only for many. I'm not aware of anyone denying the first proposition. Plenty deny the second, and they are wrong to do so; the correct translation of the formula shows that they are wrong, with the authority of this very ancient liturgical text. Until Loftus can produce an authoritative teaching from Pope Francis or Pope Benedict that all are saved, then he can forget about showing that there is anything theologically problematic about the translation. If, per impossibile, this did happen, it would not only contradict the Church's immemorial refusal to accept 'Universalism', the theory that all are saved, but also the liturgical text itself. We'd have to change, not just the translation, but the original. The Latin just does not say 'all', but 'many'.

Clearly these young folk can't stand all that Latin.
With the column of 11th August, he assumes, without any real argument, that Pope Francis will agree with him about everything.

What a pity, then, that Francis was not Pope in time to abort the monstrously over-intellectual new English translation of the Roman Missal, which far from furnishing us with a 'grammar of simplicity', obfuscates the whole Mass through tortuous constructions, contorted vocabulary, and a plethora of dependant clauses. [Is this a parodying illustration of the style he is criticising? No, it's just the Loftus muse doing her stuff.]
     As we wait for all this to be corrected we can at least rejoice that it is highly unlikely that further inroads will be made into the translation of the lectionary readings at Mass, or the Children's Eucharistic Prayers. Or if there is any progress to be made, then it will be in different hands from those which now must be completely disqualified.
... Too much tidiness not only makes for unhappiness, in the Church as in a family, but it particularly alienates the young.

Don't hold your breath, Mgr. It took a decade to get the new translation through. No one is going to undo that any time time.

Loftus, of course, knows all about what alienates the young: he's been an expert at doing it for half a century at least. Does he really think that non-chaotic liturgy and accurate translation alienates the young? The older translation didn't exactly set the Faithful on fire (recall what the sociologist Anthony Archer said about it). But the free-wheeling liturgies Loftus wants have in all seriousness driven two generations of young Catholic out of school Masses and University chaplaincies: hasn't he noticed?

Congregation at a Mass during the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage. They must be mad. 
This is what many young people like: order, dignity, reverence, a sense of the sacred. I can't say 'all', most of them haven't had the chance to experience it; others have been indoctrinated against it with some effect. But it is attractive to an important percentage, and it is often the same ones who are seeking a life in accordance with the laws of God. They actually want to be Catholics.

Come and meet them on the Walsingham Pilgrimage next weekend: 22-24 August.
Sign up here.