Friday, September 13, 2013

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

Priest training at the Leicester course this year

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.

Our best-known training activity has been, since 2007, the training of priests. We have had priest training events all over the country, in retreat centres, monasteries, and schools, and over a 100 priests -- excluding double-counting -- have attended a course, many attending several. This represents about half of the priests who can say the Traditional Mass in England and Wales today, and we may particularly point to the opportunity these courses give for priests to learn the different roles of Solemn Mass, since this is difficult without a large number of clergy and servers to help, and of course to actually celebrate it you also need a choir. All these things, with expert tutors, are on tap at our courses, and available to priests from anywhere in the world who'd like to attend: we'd had priests from Scotland, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. The fees are very low thanks to a very heavy subsidy by the Latin Mass Society.

Going through the ceremonies of Solemn Mass, Leicester
Of course we take the opportunity to train priests and servers whenever we get the chance. We always have server training as part of the week at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School, which is supported by the LMS; this year, since it was running alongside the LMS Latin Course, the combination of priests wanting to learn and priests able to teach became a chance for some training sessions in the roles of deacon and subdeacon at Solemn Mass.

In addition to priest training, our big residential courses accomodate servers, who again benefit particularly from the chance to witness and take part in the more elaborate ceremonies. We also have one-day server-training sessions from time to time in different parts of the country; a recent day in London was particularly successful.

I have just mentioned the Latin Course: it is clear that a lack of Latin is a big barrier to many otherwise enthusiastic priests taking up the Extraordinary Form, 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. This attracted six priests and three seminarians this year, as well as a number of lay people. Their experience is not only good for them, but demonstrates what seminaries and dioceses could also do, if they wanted to.

At talk on chant to the Family Retreat and Chant course

Similarly, we organise and sponsor the Gregorian Chant Network's annual Chant Weekend; this year singers from five different choirs attended, including some who had almost no experience of the Extraordinary Form. Led by Christopher Hodkinson, this was a tremendous musical experience, and since we were teaching multiple members of each choir together, it has a better chance than many courses to make a permanent improvement to the way they sing.

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 as many as 50 children or more taking part, and would be impossible about both the financial and also the moral support of the Latin Mass Society.

Some training for clergy on the Latin Course in the Solemn Mass
Something else which comes into this category is our magazine, Mass of Ages, which in a very evident way has been transformed in the last year so, with full colour, good quality paper, and excellent writing. It is a magazine the Traditional movement in the UK can be proud of.

Also in the category of education are our One-Day Conferences. We had the first one in 2012, and plans are far advanced for a second one in 2014. We have some very special speakers lined up, and I look forward to it very much. This is an example of the expanding nature of the Society's work, based on our ability to combine volunteer hours, backroom organisation by the Office, the Society's reputation, and our financial stability. We can make this kind of thing happen.

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, the 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.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:05 am

    Excellent again. It often strikes me how often the L.M.S. is able to offer the full ceremonies of High Mass - no doubt all of this rigorous training comes into it!