Monday, September 30, 2013

St Philomena in the Wirral

A while ago I did a post about St Philomena, against Mgr Basil Loftus' graceless attack on her. This mentioned the little shrine to her in SS Peter & Paul and St Philomena in New Brighton, the Wirral, served by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. I've just been sent a photograph of what it looks like now.

The temporary shrine has given way to a most beautiful altar which came from an old chapel in Scotland. The altar houses a first class relic to the Martyr.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fraternity of St Peter now offering Mass in Chesham Bois

For some time the Fraternity of St Peter, who in England are based in Reading, have had an official 'chaplaincy' in the diocese of Northhampton, given them by Bishop Doyle. They have been saying Mass in Flitwick and, more recently, Luton. They have now moved to look after a well-established group of faithful attached to the Traditional Mass in Chesham Bois, solving the very serious problem which followed the death of the Parish Priest, Fr Davenport, who established the Traditional Mass there and many years ago. Even at the early time of 8am, this Mass draws 70 people.

From the current issue of the FSSP magazine, Dowry.
11 August: last Sunday Mass in Luton. By decision of Bishop Peter Doyle, from Sunday 18 August 2013, the diocesan Gregorian Chaplaincy led by the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (i.e. FSSP) relocates from Sacred Heart Church in Luton to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church, 30 Amersham Road, Chesham Bois, Bucks HP6 5PE. Mass is offered in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite every Sunday morning at 8.00am. Confessions and refreshments take place every time as usual. Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP and Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP officiated as Deacon and Subdeacon at Fr Davenport’s EF Solemn Requiem Mass last year. They are glad to be able to continue the EF ministry which he had started more than 20 years ago in that parish and they look forward to a happy collaboration with his successor, newly appointed Fr Graham Platt, P.P. whom they thank for his kind welcome. The priests of the FSSP also thank Fr Chris Whitehouse. P.P. and the local parishioners for their friendly support in Luton over the past semester.

Reason for Homeschooling N.94...

Anne Roche Muggeridge The Desolate City (2nd Ed 1990) p 190

We have in my family what amounts to a test group in the post-Vatican II modernist experiment. Our oldest child was in the first classes to be exposed to that early neo-modernist masterpiece, the Canadian Catechism, Come to the Father. ... Over the years, tension between the faith professed at home and that officially presented through the Catholic system has produced some exceedingly nasty arguments with our children. Rearing them as Catholics has increasingly involvd angry descents on the schools, removal from particular classes, constant contradiction of what they have been taught by people they rightly want to believe, expostulatory letters to various levels of heriarchy, sotto voce arguments with priests after Mass and louder ones in less sacred forums. When orthodox parents lost this civil war for hears and minds, their children first accept the whole reletivist proposal, second, abandon Catholic faith. Unbelief begets unbelief. And if the parental world view prevails, the result in a precocious cynicism, destructive to Catholic community but often what one must settle for.

I've posted another extract from this book here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Singing on the Pilgrimage to Walsingham

One of the most memorable aspects of the great walking pilgrimages, such as Chartres, is singing the Hail Mary. In deference to our French hosts, the British pilgrims on the Chartres Pilrimage sing it in French as well as in Latin and in English. In fact the French melody is such a characteristic sound on the Chartres Pilgrimage that it would be perverse not to join in.

In the video below we are singing it in Latin, to the usual melody used on the Chartres pilgrimage. It is amazing how this jaunty little tune keeps you going!

Here we are singing it in English. This is new, at least to; Fr Bede Rowe taught to sing it in two parts. In this video we are processing into Walsingham after Mass at the shrine.

 Here we are processing into the Catholic Shrine complex singing the Gloria Laus.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Loftus embraces Catharism

2011 07 26_0711
Three things the Cathars detested. 1: The solemnisation of Marriage.

In his Catholic Times column of 8th September, Mgr Loftus wants to have a go at Pope Innocent III. Loftus seems incapable of seeing the problem: that this Pope, who encapsulates so much of what he doesn't like, was God's instrument in approving the Rule of St Francis, a rule of poverty so radical that it had to be toned down as time went on, and caused endless problems in the Order Francis founded. An impartial observer might easily judge that Pope Innocent III was so reluctant to 'crush the spirit', so open St Francis' charisma and personal holiness, that he didn't do enough to inject some common sense into the enterprise. This is the man, as Loftus says with some truth, who occupied the See of Rome at the zenith of its temporal power and influence over European politics. St Francis, on the other hand, adopted the liturgy of the Papal Court as that of his Order, which then spread through Europe as the form of the Roman Rite we all know and love. So maybe life is a bit more complicated than you've imagined all this time, Basil?

Loftus' attempt to line everyone in history up into Good and Bad, Progressive and Lace-loving, goes even more horribly wrong when he gets to the Cathars, or Albigensians. On the time-worn principle 'my enemy's enemy is my friend', because Pope Innocent III is Bad, the Cathars must be Good.

Referring to them:
Their criticism of the worldly and material lifestyle of the Papal court so riled Innocent that he ordered the French King to go on yet another crusade against them. 

Oh is that right? The Cathars were persecuted for criticising worldliness, while St Francis somehow not only escaped this persecution but actually got the Papal blessing for his aescetical new order. How is that supposed to work? In fact, the Cathars were a particularly nasty kind of dualist, who thought matter so evil that marriage and procreation were barriers to salvation. Is that what Loftus means by rejecting 'worldliness'?

2: The Blessing of an Expectant Mother.

The Cathars are good company, however, for the two other examples Loftus provides of people persecuted unjustly by the Church's heresy-hunters: 'good men such as Teilhard de Chardin, and writers who are simply exploring the truth ... good men such as Sean Fagan in Ireland today.' 

Fr Fagan, at 84 I suppose a contemporary of Mgr Loftus, has been calling for the ordination of women, among other things.

Another very strange passage occurs later in the column.

As Christians we are community. We are called to Salvation not as individuals, but as members of the Church, just as the chosen people prepared for the first coming of Christ in community, so too today we prepare for his [sic] return in glory by living in the community of the Church. Salvation is corporate within the community of the Church.

What does it mean? Perhaps nothing at all. It does remind me strangely of the heresy of mono-psychism, combated by St Thomas Aquinas, that said all human beings have only one soul between them. This was condemned because it was incompatible with, well, individual salvation, and individual eternal reward and punishment. The point to keep in mind, Mgr, is that we aren't all saved, or damned, together: each of us must pay for his own sins. Perhaps the Cathars can put him straight on this one.

3: the Baptism of a baby, with siblings looking on. Does Loftus hate them too?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Introduction to the Theology and Spirituality of the Traditional Mass, Pantasaph

Canon Montjean blessing Summer School students with the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of St David, Pantasaph 

This two-day conference / retreat led by Canon Amaury Montjean sounds very interesting; the lovely venue, of course, I know well from the Summer School.

Theology and Spirituality of the Traditional Mass
Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
18th to 20th October 2013

Canon Amaury Montjean ICRSP
Canon Montjean is from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a congregation dedicated to the traditional form of the mass. In recent times the traditional rite has become more available in the main stream life of the Church. For many this is either new or rediscovery of a way of worship that needs to be explained to us once again in order to obtain the maximum benefit.

This is just such an opportunity.
Tel: 01352 711053
Deposit: £25 - £90 full offering.

Franciscan Retreat Centre
Pantasaph, Holywell, Flintshire. CH8 8PE
E-mail: -

Canon Montjean giving a spiritual talk to the students at Pantasaph

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Loftus: the Conciliar reform was a failure

I'm catching up with some columns I've missed for various reasons, this one is from the 18th August: as always, the Catholic Times. Today we are treated to the startling admission I quote in the title of this post.

A constant theme running through Archbishop Bugnini's The Reform of the Liturgy is the fear that Pope Paul VI continually expressed to him--that no liturgical reform would succeed unless the officials of the Roman Curia come 'on board'. he was right. They didn't come 'on side'. And the reform didn't succeed as the Council had intended.

Certainly, the Council intended that Latin, for example, 'be preserved in the Latin Rite', and this was thwarted: I give similar examples in a post here. It wasn't thwarted by conservative Curial officials, but by gung-ho reformers like Bugnini. But isn't it interesting that Loftus, in his old age, looks back at the reform and says it was a failure. 'It did not succeed as intended.' What should have happened? The mind boggles.

Bishop McMahon is helped into his vestments
After spluttering a considerable length about who the proper persons are to wash the hands of prelates at Mass, and according to what details of what liturgical law -- something which suggests, not for the first time, that Loftus is a bit of rubrical obsessive -- he suddenly tries to turn it around.

Most dioceses have the odd priest who has always been considered to be 'odd' also in the eccentric sense - the one who takes the beggars at the presbytery, or pesters the bishop for a non-parochial posting among the down-and-outs. Those margins of diocesan life may be about to become the centre of the local church. These priests may be set to be the bishops of tomorrow.

Conversely, the introspective counters of grains of incense, the 'doers' of the bits in red and 'sayers' of the bits in black in the Roman Missal, the devotees of lace and frills, may soon find themselves in the margins of the Church.

The multiple layers of self-delusion to be found in these two paragraphs are amazing. One is the idea that priests faithful to the texts and rubrics of the Mass have been 'at the centre', whatever exactly that means. It says a lot about Loftus' own feelings of marginalisation that he imagines the people with Fr Z mugs in their kitchens are somehow in charge, and not, as in reality, at the margins along with the down-and-outs, or indeed the lepers. Pope Benedict, before his election, had a more accurate appraisal when he remarked, of Traditionalists:

The jewelled mitre is removed; mitres go on and off a few times.

Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here.

Another of Loftus' delusions is that there is some kind of mutual incompatibility between taking the liturgy seriously and taking an interest in the vagrants. He doesn't present any argument for this view, he tries to establish using purely rhetorical means. But those most attached to evangelical poverty, and those most concerned with making the liturgy as lovely as possible, have often been the very people most committed to the poor. Loftus even suggests that Mother Theresa is on his side: he should watch out, she was a ferocious opponent of Altar Girls, one of Loftus' hobby-horses. Another good example is St Jean Vianney, who wouldn't spend money on himself but bought the finest silks from Lyon for the service of the Altar.

Wearing the lighter, plain mitre, he blesses the deacon who is about to sing the Gospel.
Loftus goes on.

Christ instituted a Church served by bishops, not ruled by princes. They in turn co-opted priests as their associates, not mini-prelates, canons, prebendaries, deans, and provosts. The later changes had nothing to do with the Church he [sic] founded, and everything to do with a system of government borrowed from the Holy Roman Empire, which clerics began to ape from the fourth century onwards. This system made a mockery of the unity of the Popel of God baptised in Chrisit, by giving more importance to the division of clergy and laity. It shows every sign of coming to an end.

Loftus seems to be advocating some kind of ecclesial anarchism here. Does he not think that the Church should be governed? What, for example, does he think Provosts do: don't superiors have a necessary function?

He washes his hands - this happens twice. The Assistant Priest in the cope looks after his ring during this.

All becomes clear at the end of the column: he wants ot 're-establish diocesan and parochial councils where these have fallen into desuitude, ...'

He's not against power being exercised, he just wants it to be exercised by a bureaucracy. Give me a prebendary any day.

But isn't this wonderful? The Church began to 'ape' the 'Holy Roman Empire' in the 4th century. The Holy Roman Empire can be said to have come into existence with the coronation of Charlemagne on Christmas Day in the year 800. Those 4th century Popes and bishops, they had uncanny foresight.

And now he is doing what the whole thing was for: feeding his flock.

Pictures: just to annoy Mgr Loftus, they show Bishop McMahon pontificating in his own diocese, at the Latin Mass Society Priest Training Conference at Ratcliffe College, Leicester.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Paul Inwood up to his old tricks

For only about the hundredth time, Paul Inwood claims that Summorum Pontificum was a concession  only to those previously attached to the traditional liturgy.

As I have pointed out on this blog before, the claim is fatally undermined not only by the complete lack of support in the text, but the reference in the Letter to Bishops which came with it to 'young people' who appreciate it. This implies a process of spreading and discovery of the traditional Mass - 'proseletyzation' - with which Pope Benedict was completely comfortable.

#22 by Paul Inwood on September 20, 2013 - 4:17 am
I think Francis is right to be worried by the ideologization and exploitation of the Vetus Ordo.
This was never Benedict’s intention — he wanted to make room for those (he described them as a very small group) who still hankered after a particular way of worshipping. In other words the original intent was a pastoral one.
SP allowed those who had previously continued with an older form — existing members of a group — to become “normative” rather than continuing to be subject to indult. It did not give them permission to proselytize, to attempt to draw in new members (that only came later on with Ecclesia Dei), and I think Benedict quite na├»vely believed that proselytization would not happen. Allowing them to worship in their own way would be enough. The bishops of France and of England and Wales, who had first-hand experience of the sort of people Benedict was reaching out to, urged him not to promulgate SP because they knew he was wrong about that and foresaw that proselytization and ideologization would follow, as indeed they immediately did.
Francis recognizes Benedict’s pastoral desire for inclusion of the EF folk, and describes it as prudent. From that point of view it was rather like lancing a boil. In the fullness of time, it would die down and heal and disappear. But in expressing concern that the EF is now the subject of ideologization and exploitation he also acknowledges that the boil has instead become a running sore. And the problem he faces is that it is going to be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to turn it back into a boil.

But what's this reference to 'Ecclesia Dei'? This encyclical was promulgated by Bl. Pope John Paul II in 1988 - not 'later' than SP in 2007. It does, of course, give the green light to 'proseletyzation' because it proposes religious orders committed to the ancient liturgy, and therefore a permanent presence of the EF in Catholic life promoted by them.

Or does Mr Inwood mean Universae Ecclesiae, the Instruction issued in 2011? What does that say about proseletiyzation?

The fact is, we need no permission to promote a liturgy in full conformity with the laws of the Church, which Pope Benedict described as a 'treasure' which should be made available to future generations.

Loving Mantillas: brilliant idea for a blog

Mantillas arouse strong feelings; I've done a post on the rationale here.

It is of course a tradition endorsed in the strongest terms by St Paul: I Cor 11.5

'But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head'

It is common to say that St Paul was simply reflecting the social mores of his day, but he has an elaborate theological rationale for his position, while those rejecting it appear ... simply to be reflecting the social mores of their day. Or else are reacting to some kind of childhood trauma - some older women start jabbering about officious nuns putting hankies on their heads if they went to church without a mantilla, as if they were recalling an episode of water-boarding from Guantanamo Bay. There was a remarkable example in Fr Ray Blake's combox the other week, there is a reference to Kleenex being put on girls' heads, but the position is backed up as follows:

As for Paul, yes, what he wrote about a lot of things is "inspired" but sorry, his "opinions" on social conditions of the day and social norms as he wanted them to be are NOT "gospel." They are HIS OPINIONS - he even says so himself. I find his "reasoning" on a lot of these things are lacking in logic and reason. Frankly, I don't know that the men of the day liked him either -- starting with the two disciples he told to go get circumcised to go preach. Like he couldn't find any former Jewish men to do that, or do it himself? They should have told him to go take a hike. I don't have to kiss his patootie regards his opinions on the social structure 2000 years ago. And I refuse to do so. 
Well, St Paul wasn't just 'inspired', the writings of Scripture are literally inspired, they have a Divine author who doesn't make mistakes. And on the subject of head coverings St Paul does not say it is his own opinion; on the contrary,

If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God. (1 Cor 11.16)

Venerating a relic of Bl Dominic Barberi at the Summer School
I've no reason to doubt the existence of wicked nuns, as well as good ones, and other officious women in the decades before I was born, and the damage they did in their day, but future generations can't be expected to have their lives and devotions determined by them one way or another. Young Catholic ladies are rediscovering the mantilla; the traumatised older generation are going to have to grin and bear it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Officiorum omnium: decree on Seminaries, 1922

I'll be very impressed if anyone reading this blog has heard of this document, but it is referred to more than once by Bl John XXIII's great Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, which must be the most important modern magisterial document to fail to appear on the Vatican Website. Officiorum omnium is one of a long list of magisterial documents, from both before and after the Second Vatican Council, which call for more Latin in seminaries. A fairly comprehensive list can be mined in the FIUV Position Papers on Latin in Seminaries, with their main arguments examined.

Since Officiciorum Omnium is an Apostolic Letter (of Pope Pius XI), and not just an Instruction of a Roman Congregation, and since it is fairly short, I have commissioned a translation. The Latin is available on the on-line Acta Apostolicis Sedis (Volume XIV, 1922). The translation will be posted in full on the LMS website when it is ready, here are some highlights.

It came out in the first year of Pope Pius XI's pontificate, promulgated August 7th 1922: he clearly regarded it as a high priority. And so should we.

One striking thing about the pre-Conciliar calls for more Latin is that they are not particularly interested in the liturgy. Officiorum omnium doesn't even mention it. Latin liturgy could be taken for granted; the reason why seminarians must learn Latin is for their studies.

On praying for vocations.
First of all since, as we have said, the affairs of the sacred order and of the Church have a very close mutual linkage, there can be no doubting that at all times an adequate number of men is destined by God for the priesthood; otherwise God would ever be failing his Church in an essential matter, and even to mention that is wicked.

Even so, in this very matter, just as in other matters necessary for the common salvation of souls, that law of divine providence is in force, that prayers in common should have the fullest place for bringing it about.

God is sending us the vocations, but He still wants us to pray for them.
Fr John Hunwicke teaching at the LMS Latin Course in July.

On Latin as the language of the Church.
Since the Latin language is such, it was divinely foreseen that it should be something marvellously useful for the teaching Church, and that it should also serve as a great bond of unity for Christ’s more learned faithful; that is to say, by giving them not only something with which, whether they are separated by spatial location or gathered into one place, they might easily compare the respective thoughts and insights of their minds, but also – and this is greater – something with which they might understand more profoundly the things of mother Church, and might be united more closely with the head of the Church.
...And you might say with admiration that it was ready-made to serve the glory of the Roman Pontiff, to whom the very seat of Empire came as by a bequest.

Even the laity should study Latin
But if in any layman who is indeed imbued with literature, ignorance of the Latin language, which we can truly call the “catholic” language, indicates a certain sluggishness (apathy) in love towards the Church, how much more fitting it is that each and every cleric be adequately practised and skilled in that language! Their task is certainly to defend Latinity with all the more steadiness, aware as they are that it was with all the more violence that it was attacked by the adversaries of catholic wisdom who in the 16th century shattered Europe’s accord in a single doctrine of Faith.

Latin is necessary for the study of theology and philosophy.
we wish the alumni to be instructed very exactly in the Latin language, and also for this motive, in case, when they afterwards approach the higher disciplines which are certainly both to be handed on and to be received in Latin, it happens that through ignorance of the language they are unable to achieve full understanding of the doctrines, let alone to exercise themselves in those scholastic disciplines by which the talents of youths are sharpened for defending truth.
Br Richard Bailey teaching at the LMS Latin Course

Lack of Latin throws seminarians to the mercy of second-rate modern theologians.
...that our clerics and priests, when they have not put enough effort into the study of Latin literature, by neglecting the copious volumes of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church in which the dogmas of the Faith are presented and are both set forth very lucidly and defended invincibly, seek for themselves a suitable supply of doctrine from more recent authors, in which not only does a clear kind of speech and an exact method of arrangement often scarcely usually exists, but also a faithful interpretation of dogmas is lacking. 

Another of Pope Pius XI's headaches was the rise of Italian Fascism, and he was not slow to condemn it as a form of paganism. It seems he has a little swipe at it in this document, promulgated just weeks before Mussolini's coup.

Mussolini and his Blackshirts march on Rome, October 1922
For the Church, since it both contains all nations in its embrace and is  also going to endure until the consummation of the ages, and it absolutely keeps the mob away from its governance, requires by its own nature a universal language, unchangeable, not that of the mob.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Loftus on legalism: good or bad?

LMS AGM 2012, with Bishop Rifan. Would Mgr Loftus refuse them all Communion?

This is from his Catholic Times column of 21st July, which I'm catching up with.

The usual prolix introduction about about the how bad it is to resist change, the characteristic of 'integrism' as he understands it, or 'intransigence'.

Even when the 'law' allows flexibility, as in the case of receiving Holy Communion standing and in the hand, permitting female altar-servers and lay ministers of the Eucharist, or having white vestments at funerals, there are those priests who will not comply.

What does 'comply' mean here? How can you 'comply' with a permission? The context suggests he is talking about cases in which the Faithful have asked for something, and the priest is saying no. In the case of Altar servers and Eucharistic Minsters, is he really suggesting that priest can never say 'no' to someone who is unsuitable or just unnecessary?

At the Summer School in Pantasaph, North Wales 

But he attains another level of strangeness in the implicit suggestion that there are priests who refuse to give Communion in the hand to people standing, at the Ordinary Form. (There is no indication that he is talking about the EF.) I have never heard of such a thing; it is utterly incredible. What has happended, to such an extent that the Congregation for Divine Worship had to condemn it, was priests refusing communion to people who were kneeling. Redemptionis Sacramentum 91:

[I]t is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

Maybe Loftus is condemning those priests who were intransigent about allowing the Faithful to receive kneeling? Sadly, that's not a possible reading of the sentence, and this exposes some strange double-standards. On a previous occasion Loftus condemned people for receiving kneeling, in the guise of criticising their clerical puppet-masters, and their

...varied attempts to infantilise and individualise the People of God who approach Holy Communion in a united and adult manner, all conflict both with that common priesthood and with the unity of the whole People of God.

The lesson is, if you want something traditional, then you are the victim of clericalism and must be forced to be free. If you want something progressive, then anyone who opposes you is a clericalist. It is the mad logic of the extreme Left: workers who oppose them have false consciousness, they've been brainwashed; workers who agree with them are free.

Next he says: 

Yet when we look at the Church as a whole, it has always valued institutional diversity. We just need to learn to extend this to individuals.

Yes, Mgr, and that means you! In this sentence he has made hypocrisy an art form.

A First Holy Communion in Oxford

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What does the Latin Mass Society do? 3: Research and Campaigning


In my last two posts, I discussed the devotional activities the Latin Mass Society organises, and our training and educational initiatives. These represent a whirlwind of events: there is always something happening, or about to happen, over and above the more routine matter of supporting the celebration of the Traditional Mass week by week in parishes, which is of course a ball we can never allow to drop.

But there is another aspect of our work which is also necessary: research and campaigning. The liturgical restoration will not take place without the right side winning a number of arguments, and not without drawing facts and arguments, including the facts of the Church's law, to the attention of the Catholic public and, on occasion, of the hierarchy. If you like what we do, then show your support by becoming a members of the LMS.

If seminarians are all taught and accept that Latin is a barrier to participation in the liturgy, that the priest celebrating with his 'back to the people' symbolises contempt for them, and that Chant should be rejected because it is too difficult for congregational singing, things are, quite simply, never going to improve. In point of fact seminarians are today increasingly not being taught these old orthodoxies, and they are increasingly rejecting them, because the liberals have lost the argument on these issues. The work of Pope Benedict XVI, as a private theologian as well as his teaching as Pope, and that of a large number of young scholars, have made the old arguments untenable. The old orthodoxies retain their grip on those who have not caught up with the latest thinking, however, and continue to damage the prospects of restoration. When a priest suggests celebrating ad orientem, for example, he is likely to be met with opposition from the Faithful based on just those old arguments. Those ideas need to be exposed, held up to the light, and refuted, again and again and again, until the message gets through.

Nearly 14,500 adult conversions in 1960. It's about of third of that now.

This needs to be done not with angry polemic, nor with sloppy arguments from dodgy websites, but with charity, care, and scholarship. This was the thinking behind a major project of the International Federation Una Voce, a series of 'Position Papers', which began to be published individually in 2010 and in 2019 appeared as a book: The Case for Liturgical Restoration, published by Angelico Press. The are highly compressed, heavily footnoted, executive summaries of the arguments needed by those engaged in any kind of serious debate. No one on the internet can any more have any excuse to wheel out the old liberal canards, the discredited scholarship of 60 years ago which once seemed so daring and so unanswerable. They remain online and free to read here.

Since then I have published a Catholic Truth Society booklet on the Traditional Mass, and then an international version, Sacred and Great, of this which is being translated into various languages.

I have published a book of essays addressing criticisms of the Traditional movement--The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity, and a book about the people who signed petitions to save the Traditional Mass: The Intellectuals and the Latin Mass.

This blog itself has some role to play. But to take the battle, not so much to the enemy as to the unconverted, I and other Latin Mass Society people regularly get letters and articles, as well as news reports, into the press. I write in a number of online platforms -- see the sidebar for links. If we didn't exist, if we weren't supported by our network, if we didn't have expertise to call on and volunteers to help with research, and if we weren't given some standing by the fact of our representing a large organisation, this would be impossible, and the traditional and conservative point of view would be vastly less well represented and less well argued in the UK and internationally.

To repeat: it is the Latin Mass Society which makes this possible. A good illustration is the research we did on the number of ordinations over the decades. Having seen some dubious claims being made in public, we are able to put a team of volunteers (including me) into one of the very few places in the country with the entire set of Catholic Directories, and get the necessary research done in a couple of weeks. The work we did took many, many man-hours, a bit of money, some good friends and some zealous supporters. The Latin Mass Society had the will and the means to do it: if we hadn't it wouldn't have happened. And the idea that more priests were ordained this year than in the 1950s would probably still be out there in public.

A different kind of campaigning goes on behind closed doors. We enjoy good relations with the hierarchy, at the human level, and we always have, despite our disagreements. Before Traditionis Custodes Mass has been celebrated for us by Bishop Hopes, the new Bishop of East Anglia, Bishop John Arnold, an auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and Bishop McMahon when he was bishop of Northampton. Bishop Drainey of Middlesbrough, Bishop Davis of Shrewsbury, and Archbishop Longley of Birmingham have been present at our Masses. We talk to and exchange letters with bishops both in relation to matters in their dioceses and in relation to their responsibilities in the Bishops' Conference. We are also in touch with a good many different persons and departments in Rome. This kind of thing is only possible if you represent some organisation with some kind of standing, if there is continuity over many years, and if you have some kind of office support. No lay person, no priest, could keep this kind of dialogue up consistently. We can do it, not because we are heroes, but because there is a structure to keep it going.

Bishop Terence Drainey at the LMS York Pilgrimage 2012

Something else we have is a database: of priests who say the Traditional Mass, and of laity who want it. On several occasions in the last year or so we have had non-public campaigns which have involved getting in touch with large numbers of priests or, in a particular part of the country, with our lay supporters, to seek their views or support for a specific initiative, or how to respond to the crisis represented by COVID. These tasks used up enormous amounts of office and volunteer time, and they would  have been simply impossible without our network of supporters, our database, and the administrative support the Office gives us. We are probably never going to get any public credit for these things, but if you'll take my word for it they were important and successful. If the Latin Mass Society hadn't existed, these things would not have happened.

Does the Latin Mass Society do anything useful? Yes, we do. If you are at all interested in dealing in a positive way with the aftermath of the 'collapse of the liturgy' which Pope Benedict spoke about as Cardinal Ratzinger, then it must be pretty difficult to say that we don't have a positive role to play. We can't do this without support. Forget your prejudices about not wanting to join things, or about what happened twenty years ago, or whatever it is which stops you joining, and join the Latin Mass Society!

As Kipling wrote:
Oh, England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing 'Oh how beautiful' and sitting in the shade...

Friday, September 13, 2013

What does the Latin Mass Society do? 2: Education and Training

Priest training at Ratcliffe College, Leicester

In my last post I said something about the devotional activities the Latin Mass Society organises. This is a very large part of the Society's work, and it is done by every single Local Representative: I could not possibly list all the Masses, pilgrimages, and devotional events of which the Society is a part. This is a very obvious way in which the Latin Mass Society is an important and positive part of Catholic life in England and Wales today.

We also do a huge amount of training and what might broadly be called education. This is done more on a regional or national than a local basis, and depends very much on the network we have to spread the word about our events and gather up the necessary volunteers for them. If you think this work is worthwhile, then please join the Latin Mass Society.

From 2007 until 2018 we organised high-profile priest-training conferences, in Prior Park, Ratcliffe College and a number of monasteries. These were attended by 100 priests -- excluding double-counting -- many attending several.  Among these were priests from Scotland, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. The fees are very low thanks to a very heavy subsidy by the Latin Mass Society.

St Tarcisius Server training in London

This kind of thing is much more difficult in the current environment, and priest-training tends to happen now one-to-one. What has taken off in more recent years is the training of altar servers by the LMS' Society of St Tarcisius, which holds five or six training days a year in London, and occasional ones elsewhere.

It is clear that a lack of Latin is a big barrier to many otherwise enthusiastic priests taking up the Traditional Mass, and we address this specifically with an intensive, residential Latin Course running from Monday to Saturday, to allow priests to be in their parishes on Sunday. We also sponsor online Latin learning for clergy and seminarians -- and of course lay people can join these courses too.

The Residential Latin Course

The St Catherine's Trust Summer School is also of course educational: it not just a fun 'camp' for the children to run around, we aim to teach them something about their Faith, and the culture which goes with it, as well as have fun. This is a huge undertaking each year, with more than 50 children taking part, and would be impossible about both the financial and also the moral support of the Latin Mass Society.

St Catherine's Trust Summer School

Something else which comes into this category is our magazine, Mass of Ages, which in a very evident way has been steadily improved over the years, with the appearance of new contributors. It is a magazine the Traditional movement in the UK can be proud of.

If the liturgical restoration is to happen -- and this is true regardless, within limits, of your conception of what that restoration should look like -- we are going to need a vastly expanded number of priests who understand the liturgical tradition, and have a grasp of Latin. It will depend on many, many people being able to sing chant, and serve. And it will depend on an even larger number of people being well-informed, and supportive of sensible initiatives, whereever they come from: from restoring Friday Abstinence to restoring the Altar rails.

Audience laughing at one of Fr Z's jokes, a One Day Conference in 2012

If you think this work is worthy of support, don't just watch us do it, join the Latin Mass Society. That is the support we need most: members.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What does the Latin Mass Society do? 1: Devotional events

Solemn Mass in the Dominican Rite for the Oxford Pilgrimage

For those of us on an academic timetable, September is a good moment to look forward and back at what we have achieved and what we have planned. Here is a little illustration of what the LMS has been up to in one aspect of its work: organising an expanding range of devotional events, which are of course publicly advertised and open to all. If you like what you see, why not join us?

The great Medieval Shrines to Our Lady, which were restored with such devotion by our predecessors in the Faith, are the destinations for several Latin Mass Society pilgrimages. We have had pilgrimages to Our Lady of Caversham, in the outskirts of Reading, in Lent, once visited by Queen Catherine of Aragon; to Our Lady of Willesden, a favourite of St Thomas More, in North West London; in August we go to Our Lady of Walsingham, in Norfolk, visited by a stream of English Kings and dating from before the Norman Conquest. In the last case we go on foot from Ely, 55 miles of prayer for the conversion of England. We have visited the restored Carmelite Priory at Aylesford, where we honour Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who promises such graces to those who wear the Brown Scapular. A special mention is also due to the Chartres Pilgrimage, for which the Latin Mass Society provides a number of sponsored places, to those willing to walk from Paris to the great shrines of Our Lady in Chartres Cathedral, despoiled at the French Revolution and again raised up for our veneration.

Procession for Our Lady of Willesden. 

Another Medieval Shrine, uniquely intact from pre-Reformation times, is that of St Winefride in Holywell, Wales, a favourite of Lady Margaret Beaufort, a long-standing venue for an LMS pilgrimage.

The hatred and destruction of the Protestant Revolt was matched by the heroism of our English and Welsh martyrs, who have given us another set of shrines to visit. We have honoured the Padley Martyrs at Padley Chapel in Derbyshire, and the Oxford Martyrs (the Catholic ones) in our Pilgrimage to Oxford, which is something I organise as Oxford's local Representative. Glastonbury was a holy place before Bl Richard Whiting was martyred there in 1539; we have honoured him and Our Lady in Pilgrimages to Glastonbury.

Mass for a Day of Recollection in Westminster Cathedral

As a Catholic organisation, it behoves us to pray for our deceased members and benefactors, which  until recently we were able to do with a splendid Pontifical High Mass in Westminster Cathedral each November. In 2023 we have had to make alternative arrangements. We also gather to pray together at our Annual General Meeting, often in the company of very distinguished celebrants and guests. 

Overseas: as well as sponsoring the Chartres Pilgrimage, we have had pilgrimages to Lourdes, and Rome.

Solemn Mass for the York Pilgrimage, in St Wilfrid's, in the presence of Bishop Drainey, 2012

The Latin Mass Society is not the only group organising devotional events, but I don't think there is any other lay association, religious order or indeed diocese in England and Wales which can boast of such a range of events, across England and Wales and overseas. These are all, of course, events where the Traditional Mass is celebrated, often Solemn Mass with fine music. They are expanding in number, and becoming better supported musically. The Aylesford and Willesden Pilgrimages have in the last few years been revived with great success, the walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham is only in its fourth year and is growing rapidly, the Pilgrimages to Oxford and Caversham are also quite new. Wouldn't it be fun to do more? To fill in some of the gaps in the map, to go to Compostella, to do things bigger and better. With our supporters' help, we can.

Does the Latin Mass Society do anything useful? Judge for yourself. And we do it as unpaid activists: with support from our staff of two and a half in London, certainly, but the great bulk of the work in organising these events is done locally. These things would not happen if it were not for the Latin Mass Society: the Traditional Mass would not be celebrated in most of these places, and certainly not for large numbers.

This is all in addition, of course, to the work of local Representatives facilitating in all sorts of ways the celebration of the Extraordinary Form in parish churches every week of the year. The Latin Mass Society can fairly claim to have preserved the Traditional Mass in England and Wales as a living part of Catholic life, in the dark days before the Motu Proprio, and our regular work has certainly not diminished since then.

Especially, but not only, if you live in England and Wales, and care about the Traditional Mass, if you are not yet a member of the Latin Mass Society you should join us. Because by joining us you are supporting this work, this vital aspect of the Catholic life of England and Wales which is the expression of our devotion to the ancient liturgy.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Traditional Mass touches the heart

Mass in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed,
Corpus Christi 2013 at SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford 

This story, for the website of the Archdiocese of Miami, has special poignancy for me because the church this lady is talking about it is one in which I regularly attend the Extraordinary Form, and sing at: SS Gregory & Augustine's, Woodstock Road.

Vida Tavakoli knew she had found her home in the Catholic Church when she first attended Latin Mass in England.

Formerly an atheist, her aversion toward religion changed at the end of her college career, when she became a Protestant. During her post-collegiate travels she became resolute in converting to Catholicism after attending a Missa Cantata, or sung Mass, in the parish of her favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Catholic who penned the “Lord of the Rings” series.

Though the homilies, the first reading and a translation of the Gospel are said in the vernacular, the prayers at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are chanted in Latin, in the Church’s traditional Gregorian form.

When she heard Latin hymns coming from the choir loft, Tavakoli said, it felt like “hearing angels on high.”

She was mesmerized. “It truly is extraordinary,” she said. “There is something beautiful and sacred about this form of the Mass."

For more about the 'angels' who sing at this church see their website: the Schola Abelis. Here's a video of theirs.

Introit Cibavit of Corpus Christi, & Palestrina Kyrie's from his Missa Lauda Sion

Monday, September 09, 2013

Walsingham Pilgrimage: Postscript


After the official end of the Walsingham Pilgrimage, on Sunday afternoon, a number of people stayed the night in the area and, as last year, we had a Missa Cantata in the Slipper Chapel on Monday morning.


This was celebrated by Fr Michael Rowe from Perth, Australia, where he is a chaplain to the traditional Catholic community. He says the EF every day and three times on Sundays!


It was great to have him with us on the Walsingham Pilgrimage; naturally he is a regular on the Christus Rex Pilgrimage in Australia, which was part of the inspiration for the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage.


Mass in the Slipper Chapel is quite a privilege, and of course only about 30 people can actually fit in.


After this Mass, out of curiosity I visited the Anglican Shrine, which I haven't seen for a very long time. As we approached we heard some kind of service going on, with singing, but when we crept cautiously in it turned out to be piped out of loudspeakers. I was left with the impression of the whole place being just a little weird. I'm not quite sure what they are trying to be, but it is clear that they are trying very hard indeed.


Once this was the flower of the Anglo-Catholic movement, now, I understand, the whole thing is a shadow of its former self. It might always have been a bit odd, to Catholic eyes. Now it is very hard to understand.


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Update on the Fransiscans of the Immaculate in England

The Friars at Stoke and the Sisters at Lanherne in Cornwall have both confirmed that they have the necessary permission to continue to have the Traditional Mass as they have in the past: in Stoke, on Sundays, and at Lanherne every day.


I don't know how the FFI are getting on elsewhere in the world, but this at least is very positive.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Understanding a liturgy in Latin: exchange in the Catholic Herald

You can't hear what they are saying, but you can see what they mean.
My letter to the Catholic Herald criticising Mark Shea has itself elicited a response. Despite the fact that I wrote in general terms about 'liturgical restoration', Mr A.K. Whitehead has launched a frontal assault on the Extraordinary Form, on the basis of his childhood experiences, and on the new translation of the Ordinary Form.

'Joseph Shaw (Letters, August 23) provides something of a conundrum. On the one hand he knows what other people can't possibly know, such that "liturgical meddlers have done incalculable damage to the spiritual lives of Catholics", and yet, as chairman of the Latin Mass Society, he says we must "allow the liturgy to speak to us" and "be sensitive to its symbolism" and "nuances."

A dramatic presentation of Something very special
I don't think Mr Whitehead knows what a 'conundrum' is. But I do know that liturgical meddlers have done terrible damage, for both Bl Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict said so. John Paul II:  (Dominicae caenae 12): 'I would like to ask forgiveness--in my own name and in the name of all of you, venerable and dear brothers in the episcopate--for everything which, for whatever reason, through whatever human weakness, impatience or negligence, and also through the at times partial, one-sided and erroneous application of the directives of the Second Vatican Council, may have caused scandal and disturbance concerning the interpretation of the doctrine and the veneration due to this great sacrament [the Eucharist].'

Pope Benedict, Letter to Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum: 'I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.' 
A visible way of honouring the congregation: no words, but incense.

But back to Mr Whitehead.

But speaking as an "ordinary Catholic", for us to be sensitive to any text, and if that text is to have any "nuances" for us, we must first be able to understand it. Yet I know (with the same degree of perception as Dr Shaw) that at least 99 per cent of English congregations today do not understant Latin. Indeed, in the actual days of the Latin Mass, I was an altar boy and could recite every response both without difficulty and without understanding a word. For me, it had nothing recognisable as a "nuance" and there neither did it "speak" to me, nor have any "symbolism."

Mr Whitehead has forgotten that the liturgy is not just a text. Can you not see the symbolism of, say, the priest washing his hands at the Lavabo, without hearing the text he is reciting, in English? It is a problem if not: the text is to be said silently even in the Ordinary Form. Silly old Paul VI and Bugnini: wrong again!

... So unless Dr Shaw has devised a means of mass (sic) teaching of Latin to almost the whole of English-speaking Catholic congregations, his impressive-sounding references to "nuance", the "liturgy speaking to us" and to its "symbolism", members of the Latin Mass Society would be better to resign and form an English Mass Society, eradicate just the latest work of "meddlers", eg "sending your Holy Spirit on them like the dewfall" (which belongs to and should have been left in the Old Testament), because for 99 per cent of Catholics the previous version was fine, did speak and did have nuance and symbolism.

Yours sincerely,
AK Whitehead, Pontefract, Yorkshire.

'The man who learns to believe, learns also to kneel': Pope Benedict

Now it is the Holy Ghost who is under attack, for using obscure imagery in Sacred Scripture. He should have known better: 99% of people are unmoved by poetry and don't know what 'dewfall' is anyway. Or so Mr Whitehead appears to think.

This is one of those letters which seems to teeter on the brink of coherence. One has to be selective, in any case, in choosing what points to respond to; I wrote, and have been published this weekend, as follows.

The Lavabo: another silent symbol.
I am sorry to read that Mr A.K. Whitehead (Letters, August 30th) learnt the responses to the old Latin Mass as a child ‘without understanding a word’. To do so he must have consistently resisted the temptation to look at a translation; these were ubiquitous on the eve of the Second Vatican Council, so I suppose this is an achievement of sorts, though not one he should be congratulating himself upon half a century later.

But there is more to engaging with the Latin liturgy than looking at a translation. Bl John Paul II wrote (Dominicae Caenae 1980, 10), speaking of those educated in this liturgy, that ‘through its dignified character [it] elicited a profound sense of the Eucharistic Mystery.’ The fact that it is in a beautiful, ancient, and universal liturgical language, and not our cradle tongue, communicates something to us which, as the late Holy Father worried, is difficult to communicate in any other way.

In a recent survey in America, the respected Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate found that not only do only half of self-identified Catholics believe in the Real Presence, 37% were not aware that this was the teaching of the Church. They attend Mass in their native language: do they understand it? It seems not.

The Asperges on Sunday: a poetic image, of sprinkling and washing, acted out.