Friday, February 28, 2014

LMS Latin Course 2014: 28 July - 2 Aug

Fr John Hunwicke, director of the Latin Course, as deacon at High Mass in th
Pugin chapel of St David in Pantasaph last year; the subdeacon is Fr Thomas Regan,
who was a student on the Latin Course. The Celebrant is Fr Andrew Southwell,
chaplain of the SCT Summer School.
The LMS Latin Course, now in its fourth year, has been hugely successful and I am delighted we can offer it again this year on the same terms as last year.

It will as before be taught by Fr John Hunwicke and Br Richard Bailey of the Manchester Oratory. By then, Br Richard will be ordained, so that is an added excitement!


This is an intensive course from Monday to Saturday. It has proved its worth to a growing number of seminarians, those about to enter seminary, and priests: those in all three categories need only pay half price. It is also open to lay men and women.

The accommodation - unless you arrange your own - is in the St Winefried Guest House in Holywell. The classes take place down the road at the Franciscan Retreat Centre at Pantasaph, where the St Catherine's Trust Summer School takes place alongside. This means that we have Sung or - most days - High Mass, with deacon and subdeacon, every day before lunch, with Gregorian Chant.

For priests we have in many cases been able to provide an opportunity to learn or practice particular liturgical roles, such as deacon or sub; there is also an opportunity for priests to say Low Mass in whatever Form they prefer before breakfast, in Holywell's parish church, next door to the Guest House.

The full price is already rock-bottom; the discounts for clergy and seminarians come out of Latin Mass Society funds. We know that the future of the ancient liturgy depends on priests knowing Latin: there is simply no getting round it. Be part of the future! Sign up on-line today.


How to love that boring Latin Mass: video

This video, by someone completely unknown to me, sums up in a rather artless way a lot of what I have been saying about the different kind of participation proper to the Old and New Masses. This is one of the young people those close to the Holy Father would do well to listen to carefully.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Death of the Reform of the Reform, 5: 1965?

The Psalm Judica: crossed out in 1965
Guide to this series:

Part 5: 1965?

In my last post I discussed the Novus Ordo celebrated in Latin. This is an example of the 'Reform of the Reform' whose value is now being questioned by a number of people, prompting a return to first principles. So let us accompany them to these first principles.

One reason why many good-hearted people wanted a 'Reform of the Reform' is that some kind of reform was called for by the Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium ('SC'). Now that some of them have given up on the project of tinkering with the Novus Ordo, an alternative would seem to be going back to the 1962 Missal and using the Council's criteria to make the reform again. To undertake the Reform We Should Have Had. Fr Somerville-Knapmann suggests it might look like the transitional Missal of 1965. Fr Mark Kirby says very much the same thing with more detail.

The first thing to note is that this wasn't a new edition of the Missal, but just a set of provisional revisions made by the Instruction Inter Oecumenici. There was another lot in 1967, and then the new Missa Normativa came out in 1969. Inter Oecumenici says about itself that it

authorizes or mandates that those measures that are practicable before revision of the liturgical books go into effect immediately.


Until reform of the entire Ordo Missae, the points that follow are to be observed: ...

The most striking of these 'points' are that the vernacular is allowed for most of Mass (the rest followed two years later), a number of silent prayers are said aloud, the Psalm Judica in the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, and the Last Gospel (and Leonine Prayers), have gone, and Mass is encouraged facing the people. It is interesting to note that, apart from the 'wider use of the Vernacular', none of these changes find direct support from the Council.

Rubrics erased in 1967

On these changes, what can one say? The animus against silence in the liturgy has undergone a complete reversal since 1965. Pope Benedict pointed out in one of his World Communication Day messages that

It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place...

In the Spirit of the Liturgy he says, of the silent prayers of the Mass,

The number of these priestly prayers has been greatly reduced in the liturgical reform, but, thank God, they do exist.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of 1965. (And see the FIUV Position Paper.)

Mass versus populum is, perhaps the aspect of on the reform which has come under the most sustained attack by those otherwise committed to the 1970 Missal. Cardinal Ratzinger's critique in The Spirit of the Liturgy is simply blistering. The FIUV Position Paper refers to a remarkable sermon of Cardinal Schönborn, preached to Pope John Paul II, all about the importance of worship 'obviam sponso', facing East: and Schönborn is no trad. Fr Michael Lang's book on the subject, with a foreword by Cardinal Ratzinger, reveals the seriously deficient historical scholarship which was used to support the versus populum position.

The Psalm Judica and the Last Gospel are now back in the liturgy of the Anglican Ordinariate. The consensus of the 1950s and early 1960s that these were useless accretions to the operative Eucharistic liturgy has collapsed, even in the Congregation for Divine Worship.

On each of these issues the old consensus was based on a functionalist approach to the liturgy. You identify what the liturgy does, and clear out the bits which don't do it. The same era gave us functionalism in other areas of life too: functionalist buildings which eschewed decoration or even elegance, because these things aren't necessary for a building's function of keeping you warm and dry. It wouldn't be such a stupid idea if the theorists didn't have such a narrow view of functions. (Is that really all that buildings do?) But it's old hat now, in any case: it belongs in the history books. Are we really going to live by the discarded theories of the 1960s? Can't we benefit from all the scholarship which has been done since then?

Fr Kirby suggests that at the time the 1965 changes were understood as 'the reform', complete, but this is contradicted by the very text of the document implementing it, and by the fact that no new edition of the Missal was printed. He quotes the then Cardinal Secretary of State Cicognani as saying that: “The singular characteristic and primary importance of this new edition is that it [the revisions of 1965] reflects completely the intent of the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.” Unless he was being deliberately misleading, or had been misled, Cicognani must surely have meant 'as far as it goes.'

Last Gospel: crossed out in 1965
Indeed, the poor mugs in the pews were deliberately misled by Cardinal Heenan (as he later admitted) to stop them rioting. But in those days ordinary Catholics did not have easy access to the official documents.

Again I have to disagree with Fr Kirby and Fr Somerville-Knapman about 1965's connection with the norms of the Council. As already noted it goes beyond them in some ways; in others it doesn't fulfil them. For example it hadn't caught up with the multi-year lectionary which SC explicitly mentions. Again, changes later justified by reference to the Council's talk of 'noble simplicity' and texts 'not difficult to understand', and the rejection of 'useless repetition', have not been applied in 1965; some came in 1967.

But it is no mystery why. 1965 represents not a purer level of the reform, before the bad people took over. It represents exactly what it says it represents: those changes which were easiest to implement, from a purely practical point of view. It didn't require the printing of a new Missal, the approval of new texts, or the construction of a complicated multi-year lectionary. It just needed few minutes annotating the old Altar Missal with a felt-tip pen. When Inter Oecumenici was issued work on the 'entire Ordo Missae' was already in progress. For example, the principles of the new lectionary were decided at a meeting of the Concilium in April 1964. Fathers! Get out your copies of Bugnini's Reform of the Liturgy and see for yourselves. It is recorded on p410.


As I noted at the start of this post, a major motivation for seeking solace in 1965, as with the whole Reform of the Reform movement, is the idea that, because the Council called for liturgical reform, we are obliged to show our loyalty to the Council by having a reform of some kind, even if it not the kind which actually happened. The loyalty to Mother Church here is noble, and I don't want to criticise that. But we must keep in mind two things.

First, the Council's Sacrosanctum Concilium is a compromise between what quite radical reformers wanted, and what the Fathers of the Council would accept. (The radicals were already practicing versus populum, handshakes at the kiss of peace, wide use of the vernacular and so on.) This means that we are never going to establish to everyone's satisfaction what the clear meaning of the document is.

Second, any proposal for reform is necessarily a matter of prudential judgement. The Council Fathers were not stupid, and their advisers were not evil. They were nevertheless subject to all the difficulties involved in hugely complex prudential judgements, where the ultimate consequences of different proposals are impossible to predict. The type of reform envisaged was something, remember, that the Church had never before attempted.

A massacre of signs of the cross in 1967,
and changes to the Words of Consecration
in 1969

In sum, we are not obliged under pain of sin to undertake a reform of the 1962 books because it was called for by the Council. If that were the case, Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum would have been impossible. He not only allows us to continue to enjoy the ancient liturgy, but, in the letter accompanying it, he actually places an obligation upon us:

It behoves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. 

This post concludes the series. No doubt the debate will continue.

You can get all the posts of the series (annoyingly, in reverse order) under this label.

Photos: a mutilated Altar Missal. The owner tried to keep up with Inter Oecumenici in 1965, and Tres annos abhinc in 1967, and even the changes to the Roman Canon in 1969. The 1967 changes eliminated almost all the genuflections, signs of the cross, and the kissings of the Altar.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Death of the Reform of the Reform, 4: Novus Ordo in Latin?


Guide to this series:

Part 5: 1965?

In my last post I said that a compromise missal, with 'the best' of the Ordinary Form and of the Extraordinary Form, could turn out to be something which doesn't allow the Faithful to engage with it effectively, in either the typical Traditional fashion or the typical Novus Ordo fashion.

The idea that you can make the Traditional Latin Mass easier to participate in by making various changes - using the vernacular, having silent prayers aloud, having the priest face the people - is based on the idea that there is only one kind of meaningful participation, and that is an intellectual, verbal participation: a comprehension of the liturgy by a grasp of the liturgical texts word by word, as they are said.

But, as I argued, this is not so. There is another form of participation, which makes use of a much broader range of means, and communicates not only at an intellectual, verbal level, but at a range of non-verbal levels. Anyone familiar with the Traditional Mass knows what 'Ecce Agnus Dei' means, for example, or 'Nobis quoque peccatoribus': these things work at the verbal level. We may agree that you can get a lot more verbal communication by translating the whole thing into banal English and amplifying it, but this will wreck the sense of the sacred, and you will actually end up with less communication, overall, verbal and non-verbal, than before.

I also warned that something similar can happen from the other direction. If you take the Novus Ordo and put it into Latin, for example, you instantly take away much of the intellectual, verbal engagement for which the 1970 Missal was designed. Will you create a sense of the sacred to compensate? Perhaps. But the whole rite has been set up wrong, from that point of view, and most Catholics in the pew will not find it at all obvious how to allow themselves to engage with it at the appropriate way, in the context of the mixed signals they are getting from the ceremonies and texts.

So let's think about the Novus Ordo in Latin. I went to this for years before I discovered the Traditional Mass. Like many people I found the insistent demands of the standard Novus Ordo, to engage with it 'actively' in various ways, off-putting, and the English translation jarring. The Latin NO dimmed the interrogator's lamp a bit. But the form of engagement we were encouraged to have with this was still very much intellectual. We all had little Latin-English booklets and the words were all aloud, with the optional exception of the Offertory. (Actually there are still a few other lines of silent priestly prayer in the Novus Ordo, but the average pew-sitter won't even notice them.) We were prepared for the Latin Canon, in fact, by a typically 'engaging' Liturgy of the Word, in English, with bidding prayers and lay readers and all the rest. And as soon as the Consecration had taken place, we had to make the 'Eucharistic Acclamation'. There was no time for silent adoration.

For me, it was in some ways a preparation for the Extraordinary Form, which was (as far as I knew) not locally available. It got me used to to idea of a liturgical language, for example, and familiarised me with a number of the texts. But while popular with a particular constituency, I was conscious that most Catholics didn't like it. And its constituency had easily identifiable characteristics. I don't want to deal in stereotypes, but the fact is that English Catholic parishes are plagued by the phenomenon of different Masses on Sunday being colonised by different social groups and classes, who then fail to mix with each other. I will just say that the Latin Novus Ordo option didn't exactly help.

The English Novus Ordo is an intellectual exercise, but it is a very easy one. The Latin Novus Ordo is an intellectual exercise, and a much harder one. It really helps if you've got a bit of Latin, for example; if you don't you'll struggle to find your place in the booklet. It is easy for people to assume that the Traditional Mass, which is of course has even more Latin, is on this same spectrum, but a lot further along in the direction of 'difficulty'. I don't want to disparage the efforts of those who over the decades have kept the tradition of liturgical Latin alive in the Church, but I have to say it.

The Latin Novus Ordo can very easily put people off the Traditional Mass.

Actually, I know that it has done, I know people of whom this is true. Nine times out of ten, when someone talks about 'elitist' liturgy he is, in fact, basing his assumptions on the Latin Novus Ordo.

The Latin Novus Ordo can be a bridge between the English Novus Ordo and the Traditional Mass: perhaps it was for me. But for other people it can be something else, something more like the 'false light' put up by wreckers to distract ships from the lighthouse and lure them to their doom. It can put people off the whole idea of a Latin liturgy in same way that overzealous evangelical Protestants can put people off the whole idea of Christianity.

The TLM is not, in fact, more 'difficult', and by the same token it is not more exclusive. You can test the hypothesis for yourself by going to a few regular EF Sunday Masses: you will generally find a complete social and educational mix in the congregation, and unless it is at a non-child-friendly time, you will find lots of children there. The children won't lie to you: talk to them and you will find that they can engage with the liturgy at their own level. Knowledge of Latin is of course a good thing, but lack of Latin is no more a bar to participating in the ancient Mass today than it was for our ancestors, for the simple reason that this form of the Mass uses a broad range of verbal and non-verbal means of getting the message across.

If we are going to talk about the future, of what there is some chance of really working with the bulk of ordinary Catholics, the Reform of the Reform is based on a terrible mistake. The mistake is to assume you can preserve what is attractive about one Form while combining it with what is attractive about the other. You can't, because they are incompatible. As I said in an earlier post in the series, and as a series of Position Papers have argued, in the EF it is precisely those things which impede verbal communication which facilitate non-verbal communication: Latin, silence, worship ad orientem and so on. An attempt to ramp up verbal communication in the EF will destroy what makes it attractive.

Similarly, an attempt to bring in more 'sense of the sacred' in the OF will radically reduce its big selling point: the ease of verbal communication. I'm not saying that it's not a good idea to try, I'm just saying you need to be terribly careful. The easiest thing in the world is to turn your parish Novus Ordo into something which for the average pew-sitter seems a bit of a struggle. For example, are you seriously going to ask them to make Latin responses which vary between three options, on no very predictable basis (the 'Eucharistic acclamations')? Do you want to make it impossible for them to become familiar with the Canon by having four (and in theory many more) different options? Do you want them to wonder if they'll be expected to say 'Peace be with you' to their neighbours in Latin (or should it be, 'Et cum spiritu tuo')?

If you want something with the potential to attract the broadest possible range of people, we already have it in the Traditional Mass. It is perfectly true that some people who attend it for the first time don't like it: they try to use the usual Novus Ordo form of participation and it falls flat. This is why it can take a bit of getting used to, and it is also why it is important to talk about participation and counter the assumption that the only form of participation is word-by-word intellectual comprehension. The answer is definitively not to adapt the TLM to accommodate this form of participation, because you will simply destroy what you are trying to promote.

The reality is that a much higher proportion of people will see the point of it if they attend a few times. This is why it is often so successful to have the TLM alongside the Ordinary Form in a parish, so parishioners can try it out from time to time; gradually, more and more come to like it. If this were the situation across the country, we would be, in terms of liturgical restoration, in business. At the moment, of course, only a tiny minority of Catholics have the chance to attend it at all.

Tomorrow, in the final post of this series, I will talk about another Reform of the Reform option: the transitional liturgical books used in 1965.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Death of the Reform of the Reform Part 3: Falling between two stools

Eloquent gesture: genuflecting in the Last Gospel

In my last post I described the historical process by which we ended up with a liturgy from which drama, gesture, mystery, awe, and beauty have been systematically removed. There is still some left, but less than before; the point is that their removal was not accidental, but deliberate and systematic. There was a principle at work:

Mass should be readily comprehensible.

Drama, poetry, anything which is hidden from sight or in a foreign language: these are inevitably harder to understand. And who can argue with the principle? What the reformers took for granted was the presupposition that we are talking about verbal communication. So let's get this assumption out in the open:

Mass should be readily comprehensible at the level of verbal communication.

Suddenly it looks less obvious. Might it be possible that what is more readily comprehensible at the verbal level is actually less readily comprehensible, or, to use another term favoured by liturgists, meaningful, taking verbal and non-verbal forms of communication together? Listen to what Fr Aidan Nichols OP observed (Looking at the Liturgy p59):

To the sociologist, it is by no means self-evident that brief, clear rites have greater transformative potential than complex, abundant, lavish, rich, long rites, furnished with elaborate ceremonial.

When you put it like that, it is clear enough. It is perfectly possible that the effort to make Mass more meaningful at a verbal level has had such a deleterious effect on its non-verbal aspect that we've ended up with something which is less meaningful all things considered.

It should be borne in mind I'm talking about 'verbal communication' in a very narrow, intellectual sense. When we read a poem or watch a play, we are engaging with words, but the effect the words have on us is something broader and more complicated than the purely intellectual effect which the reformers wanted. We can appreciate things we don't fully understand - a somewhat obscure poem can have great meaning for us - but the reformers wanted us to understand every syllable. This is why, in the 1974 translation of the Missal, they didn't want to hear 'He took the precious Chalice in His Holy and Venerable hands' (which is what the Latin of the Roman Canon says), and opted for 'He took the Cup'. 

There is another aspect which I don't want to go into, but don't want to ignore, which the sociologist Anthony Archer mentions: ritual efficacy. People were content to go to a service where they couldn't see what was going on or understand (or even hear) the words in part because the whole thing said to them that something important was being performed and accomplished on the Altar. He contrasts, for example, 'those who regarded the sacred as mediated through participation rather than ritual efficacy'. The Novus Ordo does not encourage us, in the same way, to see the point of Mass as the stupendous appearance of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and the offering of Him to the Father, a thing with which we can unite ourselves spiritually.

Back, however, to the problem of the Reform of the Reform. The Novus Ordo is geared towards verbal comprehension. It may be lacking in other things - certainly the Reform of the Reform (RotR) people tell us so - but in terms of understanding the liturgical texts it must be said it is pretty successful. They are read nice and clearly, usually amplified, in one's mother tongue (at least for those of us who have a major language as a mother tongue, and live where it is an official language); the vocabulary (at least until the new translation) is not challenging. Yes, we get the message, at the intellectual, word-by-word level.

To say the Vetus Ordo operates at another level is to state the obvious. You can't even hear the most important bits - they are said silently. If you could hear them, they'd be in Latin. And yet, somehow, it has its supporters. It communicates something, not in spite of these barriers to verbal communication, but by means of the very things which are clearly barriers to verbal communication. The silence and the Latin are indeed among the most effective means the Vetus Ordo employs to communicate what it communicates: the mysterium tremendum, the amazing reality of God made present in the liturgy.

If you take the Novus Ordo and make it verbally incomprehensible, or take the Vetus Ordo and take away the Latin and the silence, you are not creating the ideal liturgy. You are in grave danger of creating something that is neither fish nor fowl: that doesn't work at either level.

But to be clear, it is not a matter of balance, of trade off. First, because the entire modern rite has been designed for comprehensibility as opposed to mystery, you are at a huge disadvantage trying to make a revised form of the OF eloquently mysterious. The same goes the other way round: because the texts of the EF were not intended to be read aloud (in many cases), or in the vernacular, they are too long and conceptually and grammatically complicated to work at all well at that verbal level.

But secondly, and more importantly, the two forms of participation imply two, incompatible, kinds of attitude on the part of the Faithful. On the basis of the theory of participation which lies behind the liturgical reform, you have to be drinking in every word, and taking part as much as possible with acclamations, responses, hand-shaking and so on. On the basis of traditional liturgical participation, you have to engage contemplatively with the mysterious rituals going on in the sanctuary, with heart and soul.

Both take a little getting used to. They require formation. And once you are formed in one way, you can't easily flip over and engage with the liturgy in the other way. Even more obviously, you can't expect people (as many in the RotR crowd suggest) to engage in the first way in the first half of Mass, and then flip over to the other way in the second: to have a touchy-feely vernacular 'liturgy of the Word' followed by a Moses-on-the-Mountaintop type of Canon.

This is important because it explains why some people (not everyone) can feel a bit uncomfortable going to the 'form' of the Mass they are not used to. They have learnt over many years to engage with the liturgy in a way which is spiritually satisfying - or, at least, satisfactory - and when they attend the other form, whichever way round it is, they find it doesn't work. They are frustrated, they come away dissatisfied.

Just to illustrate the point, recall the development of the liturgical movement I described in my last post. By the time of the 1950s, the emphasis, by liturgical experts, on verbal comprehension was huge, but the Mass as it then existed did not lend itself to this form of engagement. Two old ladies - today one is a stalwart of orthodox Catholicism, and one a leading liberal campaigner - separately explained to me why they welcomed the Novus Ordo: because as young women they has been trying to follow every word in their missals, and it was a huge relief when this was no longer necessary, they could understand it straight away because it was in English. It was a particular relief for the one who had had children by then: coping with them in Mass made close attention to her hand-missal impossible. The liturgical formation of these pious ladies - they were both educated, middle class, cradle Catholics - had prepared them for the Novus Ordo. They were trying to engage with the TLM in way to which it was not really suited. They represent a certain educated group among Catholics at the eve of the Council.

I'm not against hand missals for the Faithful. Reading and understanding the texts can be hugely helpful, and the books and commentaries of the liturgical movement unpacking the riches of the ancient liturgy are a magnificent achievement which I recommend to everyone. But most people who attend the Traditional Mass put their books down at a certain point and stop worrying whether the priest saying the Canon is on one paragraph or the next one. They know the little bell will prepare them for the Consecration. They are well described here by Fr Bryan Houghton, recalling the less self-conscious Faithful before the Council (Mitre and Crook p44):

‘Some meditate for a moment but soon give up; some thumb a prayer book without much conviction; some finger a rosary without thinking; the majority just sit and kneel and become empty. They have their distractions, of course, but as far as they are able they are recollected. 

You see, the state of prayer of the overwhelming majority of the faithful is that of “simple regard”. 

 ‘…Human activity is reduced to its minimum. Then the miracle occurs. At the fine apex of their souls, imperceptible even to themselves, the Holy Ghost starts making little shrieks of “Abba, Father” or,  after the consecration, soft groans of the Holy Name, “Jesu, Jesu.” They adore: or rather, to be more  accurate, the Holy Ghost adores within them.’

A number of position papers are relevant to these posts, and you can see them on the FIUV website. Notably:

Liturgical Piety and Participation; Worship ad orientem; Latin as a Liturgical Language; Silence and Inaudibility; The Proclamation of the Lections in Latin.

In the next post I will say something about the implications this all has for future liturgical development.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Oxford Pro-Life Witness, again


On Saturday we had our witness again, and again the 'pro-choice' people joined us. In fact they were there before we, and took up a central position where we normally stand. We start with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, so don't gather where we are going to stand, but in the church next to it.


It didn't matter too much. We had to bunch together more, but that helped us keep the Rosary going against the sound of their amplified music.


There were 50 of us, and nine or ten of them. That didn't include people praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament all the time we were out there.


The police kept them in order, more or less.


Here is a video of a little confrontation between one of them and our cameraman.

We ended the vigil with Benediction.


Caroline Farrow points out that, in the campaign against abortion, prayer is never wasted. The reaction of the pro-abortionists to our little group (their presence has doubled our numbers), like their reaction to Bishop Hopes leading prayers outside the Bedford Square clinic for 40 Days for Life, suggests that, as some level, they agree. As a matter of political impact, at the very small scale at which we are able to operate in Oxford the prayer witness has had a remarkably big effect in galvanising pro-lifers, in raising awarness of the issue locally and further afield, in presenting pro-lifers as peaceful and reasonable, and allowing the pro-abortion activists to present themselves as aggressive and unpleasant. It has, in short, been a huge success.

The Death of the Reform of the Reform? Part 2: The Liturgical Movement

What is this priest doing? Just adding incense to the thurible.
Guide to this series:

Part 5: 1965?

In my last post I introduced the idea that the Novus Ordo and the Vetus Ordo have, corresponding to them, distinct understandings of liturgical participation. I think a little argument, in this and the next post, can make what I mean both clear and incontrovertible. This has dizzying implications for the future liturgical development in the Church, but we'll come back to that.

During the course of the Liturgical Movement, liturgical enthusiasts became very excited about the wonderful riches of the Catholic liturgy, and about conveying these to the Faithful in all their glory. They were liturgical historians, so they were looking at the texts. So they wrote lots of very good books about the Mass and commentaries the liturgical year. These were very successful, but naturally they were read only by a small minority of Catholics.

As time went on, members of this movement began to wonder about how to get more of the riches of the texts across to the Faithful. You can only do so much by writing books. You need to do things in the liturgy itself. They tried a whole series of things. There was a great revival of chant going on, so they encouraged people to sing the newly-edited ordinary chants (Kyrie, Sanctus, Gloria etc.). They tried to get people to look at the text of the Mass while Mass was going on, with hand-missals: after all, everyone could read by now. They tried to get people to make the responses which the servers make, in Low Mass.

These aren't necessarily bad ideas. But they are all going in the same direction. Because the liturgists of this era - the early and mid 20th Century - were focused on the texts, they wanted the Faithful to focus on the texts too. They began to think that if the Faithful don't follow and understand the Mass at the level of the texts, they aren't really participating. This idea began to find its way into official documents: Pius X talked about 'active participation' in the context of getting people to sing, for example. Later, an instruction spoke of saying the words of the server in Low Mass was the 'more perfect' way of participating. And among the liturgists, you start hearing a polemic being developed against the way that ordinary Catholics attended Mass, if they haven't been drilled enough. They are called 'dumb spectators'. It wasn't long before they realised that this charming description applied, if to anyone, then to almost every lay Catholic from at least the 8th century up to 1930, and to the vast majority from 1930 to 1964. That liturgical period, in which the Mass as we experience it was, in many ways, developed, was just a dead zone. It was spiritually worthless.

Some liturgists made a final effort to get the wonderful texts of the ancient liturgical tradition across to the Faithful. They experimented with having Mass facing the people, so everyone could see what was going on. Then they realised that, if you want people to understand the texts, you really are a lot better off having the texts read aloud, and in the vernacular. It stands to reason! But things were moving on. Even aloud, and in English, the texts were too long, too complicated. In fact, putting them into the vernacular simply served to emphasise that these texts were unsuitable for repetitive use in the congregation's mother tongue. Furthermore, the order in which things happened was confusing and (apparently) illogical. And then there were other theological fashions which disliked the emphasis on sin, penance, and the saints. It all had to go.

What we got instead was a Missal which the Faithful could follow word by word, without the need (after a while) of hand-missals. The prayers were simple, the ceremonies short and cut down to the bone, and (apparently) logical. It was in the vernacular. It faced the people. The translation used words of one syllable wherever possible. It all fitted together.

I have on a previous occasion quoted the Catholic sociologist Anthony Archer as saying something which is is really shattering to this whole development.

But it was an unkind fate that allowed the new mass to come to completion just when – elsewhere – the importance of non-verbal communication was being rediscovered.

This was what was missing from the Liturgical Movement. An appreciation of non-verbal communication is not incompatible with the writings of the earlier exponents, such as Guéranger, despite his emphasis on 'understanding'. But as the movement develops, and turns into the movement to create the Novus Ordo, a blindness to non-verbal communication (and a parallel lack of interest in gestures and visual ceremonies) becomes increasingly evident and increasingly problematic.

But what was going on between the years 700 and 1930? How was it all those saints were formed by the liturgy? Contrary to the patronising assumptions of scholars like Josef Jungmann, they were participating, they were understanding, despite not hearing the words of the Canon, despite not understanding the Latin even when they did hear it. They understood it at a profound, contemplative level. This kind of engagement with the liturgy was, in fact, particularly intense, because it is not just intellectual. Don't believe me: believe the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, which was composed when non-verbal communication was beginning to creep back into theology.

2711: ‘Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we “gather up” the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us.’ 
2716: ‘Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God's lowly handmaid.’
2718: ‘Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery, the mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.’

Isn't this amazing? Non-verbal prayer is actually being proposed as the model for liturgical participation.

However, it is not a very good model for participation in the Novus Ordo. To be brutal, contemplative engagement is not allowed. There is too much jumping up and down, shaking hands, and making responses. The priest is trying to catch your eye. The texts are trying to get your attention. People are being spontaneous. The readings are unfamiliar and often obscure. You don't know what is going to happen next, because of all the options. These are all tricks which were included in the liturgy quite deliberately to aid the word-by-word engagement which is the kind of participation the creators wanted.

There are problems with this, at least according to the Reform of the Reform crowd. Something is missing from the Mass, the sacrality has gone. So they want to put some sacrality back. They see the things which seem most associated with it in the Traditional Mass, and they want to put them back. So they propose, and actually practice, the use of Latin, celebration ad orientem, Gregorian Chant and so on. These are all good things. But when the reformers said that they had to be sacrificed for the sake of comprehensibility, they weren't entirely wrong. Thinking about word-by-word understanding, verbal communication, it is perfectly true that, unless you are a superhuman Latinist, it is harder to follow the Canon in Latin than it is in English. Unless you are lip-reader, it is harder still if it is silent. Unless you have X-Ray eyes, it is harder still if the priest has his back to you.

Pope Paul VI famously said, using a phrase of Jungmann's, that Latin was a 'curtain' which obscured the liturgy, it had to be drawn back. Yes: if you have a very narrow understanding of participation. But that is the understanding of participation upon which the entire reform was based.

So here is my suggestion. If you take the texts and rubrics of the Ordinary Form, and add to them all the bells and whistles you can from the liturgical tradition, you will, obviously, not wholly succeed in creating the atmosphere and liturgical drama which draws us in to the ancient Mass, and allows us a profound form of participation of heart and soul. What you will certainly do, however, is draw a curtain over the texts from the point of view of verbal participation. You will very easily succeed in making the texts incomprehensible - you do that just by putting them into Latin.

So the problem is this: you can end up falling between two stools. The Novus Ordo has a completely different approach to the Traditional Mass in its form of participation. Just as attempts to get people to engage with pre-1970 Missals on a word-by-word basis were unsatisfactory, so attempts to get people to have a contemplative engagement with the 1970 Missal is never going to be wholly successful. You can't jump in and out of a deep contemplation.

'Dominus vobiscum', after kissing the Altar: an eloquent liturgical gesture.
In the next post I will explain this some more.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The death of the Reform of the Reform? Part 1

What is this priest doing? Simply praying, silently, at the Altar. (Dominican Rite.)

Guide to this series:

Part 5: 1965?

Over at the New Liturgical Movement, Peter Kwasniewski has done a very good post drawing together several recent posts from priests associated with the Reform of the Reform. What Fr Thomas Kocick, Fr Mark Kirkby, and Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman all say is that, having been committed to this great project of the 'Reform of the Reform' of the Novus Ordo, they have come to the conclusion that it doesn't work. There are fundamental difficulties with the Novus Ordo which make it impossible.

To clarify: what is the RotR and what were they trying to achieve? By saying the Novus Ordo with as much reverence as possible, and by using the most traditional options available, such as Latin, celebration ad orientem, and so on, they hoped to create a liturgical experience with more in common with the Traditional Mass. They looked forward and called for (in a long succession of books) to changes in the Missal which would allow even more traditional options (such as the old Offertory Prayers), and even the suppression of some decidedly non-traditional options (such as some of the new Eucharistic Prayers). They even looked forward, sometimes, to a merger of the two rites, in some kind of compromise missal. The point of the exercise is to bring back to the celebration something which is too often absent from the Novus Ordo, and something noted by Pope Benedict as a characteristic of the Vetus Ordo: sacrality, a sense of the sacred.

I recommend readers to look at the NLM post to review the arguments, and the very interesting comments. I'm not going over again what is said there.

I have in the past pointed out the practical, pastoral problem of the RotR: far from it being, as its proponents ceaselessly claim, easier to foist on a parish than the Traditional Mass, it is harder. The argument is simple: if a priest gets rid of the Altar girls, moves the Altar round to celebrate facing East, and introduces some Latin, in the typical parish Novus Ordo, he will create a civil war in the parish which he will almost certainly lose. If he introduces a Traditional Mass in a new time-slot, he may blot his copy-book with a hostile Dean and Bishop, but he will very probably get away with it in the short and medium term. (In the long term, of course, he may be moved.) This has been confirmed over and over again. Many of the commentators over on the NLM need to free themselves from their illusions on this. RotR is not the easy option.

But I want to introduce another idea. While I am in favour of Latin, worship ad orientem and pretty well everything the RotR promotes, it is clear to me that the difficulty of imposing them on the Novus Ordo is not just a matter of parochial habits. The problem with the texts and ceremonies, in terms of bringing them closer to the Traditional Mass, is not just a matter of how many changes you would need to make. The problem is that the Novus Ordo has its own ethos, rationale and spirituality. It encapsulates its own distinct understanding of what liturgical participation is. It is to promote this kind of participation that its various texts and ceremonies have been done as they are. If you put it in Latin, ad orientem, and especially if you start having things not currently allowed, like the silent Canon, then you undermine the kind of participation for which the Novus Ordo was designed.

This means that there is a danger, in promoting something which amounts to a compromise between the two Missals, of falling between two stools. I will put some more details on this bare-bones suggestion in my next post.

What are they doing? Performing a noiseless ceremony symbolising the Peace of Christ and
mutual reconciliation. The schola is singing the Agnus Dei. The congregation watches.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What is Septuagesima? Why was it abolished?

And what's the point of retaining it in the Extraordinary Form?


The video format is something which we at the Latin Mass Society very much want to develop, as a tool for explaining issues connected with the TLM as well as to promote our events. This should be the first of many.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cornwell on Pius X: letters in The Tablet.

Further to my previous post, I wrote a letter to The Tablet about the egregious John Cornwell, and his claim that children didn't go to confession before 1910.

They published most of it. The cuts are predictable; what is missing is in bold.

John Cornwell asserts in your pages that 'confessing children in the seven to 13 age group was an innovation brought in by Pius X'. Elsewhere he has said that a 'decree' of Pope St Pius X 'lowered the age of a first confession' from 13 to 7, in 1910.

Cornwell is here displaying the same problematic relationship with the facts which has long troubled readers of his attacks on Pope Pius XII. St Pius X issued no decree on the age of confession in 1910, or in any other year. He didn't need to: the age of first confession had been fixed at the 'age of reason', that is, about 7, by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 (canon 21). Pius X's 'innovation' had taken place 695 years earlier. It was confirmed by the Council of Trent in 1551 (Session XIV, canon 8).

Can we expect a correction?

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Shaw
Chairman, The Latin Mass Society
The letters editor tells me he was only cutting to save space. Believe it who can.

If Cornwell has any academic integrity he will correct his (let us suppose, honest) mistake about Pius X. He never did about his 'mistakes' about Pius XII; it took years for the publishers to even partially correct the label on the cover photograph used on 'Hitler's Pope', for example, and as far as I know there has never been an acknowledgement of the howler from Cornwell himself.

Let me explain. In 1999 Cornwell's book 'Hitler's Pope' appeared. On the American edition the above photograph appeared, with the caption (as usual, on the back of the book), saying that this showed Cardinal Pacelli in March 1939: the very month he was elected Pope, and well within the time of Hitler's ascendancy. The implication is that it showed Pacelli paying a visit to Hitler.

But the photograph was actually taken in 1927; Pacelli was leaving a reception to celebrate the birthday of the President of Germany under the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg. The soldiers standing guard are not soldiers of the Third Reich; their distinctive helmets were, in fact, developed during the First World War.

'She's not beautiful, but she's good at cooking!'
The caption, accordingly, was a bare-faced lie. It gained plausibility from the fact that the soldiers are reminiscent of German soldiers of the Second World War. The car slightly undermines the late date: it is clearly a car from the 1920s, with its square door. So what did they do? They cropped off most of the car. Then they made most of the photograph fuzzy, bringing Pacelli out into stark relief. It is no longer clear that the chauffeur is a chauffeur: you might think he was wearing an SS uniform.

We are not dealing with a serious academic debate, here. It is just a cheap trick.

Here is an indication of what the Nazi's really thought about Cardinal Pacelli: a Nazi cartoon shows him cuddling a Jewish woman holding a Communist newspaper, who is preparing poison labeled 'anti-Nazi'. Hitler was enraged when Pacelli was elected Pope.

Now why exactly does The Tablet want to publish Cornwell's latest helping of bile and suppress any references, however politely expressed, to doubts about the truthfulness of his previous book?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

LMS Pilgrimage to Ramsgate with Bishop Schneider

2010 08 12_7343
Bishop Schneider celebrating Mass in Downside Abbey for the LMS in 2009
As well as speaking at the LMS One Day Conference (book here) on Saturday 24th May, Bishop Athanasius Schneider will lead the first Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate, on the Feast of St Augustine of Canterbury which providentially falls on Monday 26th.

Church of St Augustine, St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT11 9PA
Pontifical High Mass at 12pm,
followed by Veneration of the Relic

Mass will be preceded by a procession at 11am with the Relic of St Augustine.
The procession leaves the Shrine and takes a route along the cliffs and back to the church.

Pilgrims who have bought a packed lunch will be able to eat it in the church's has a cloister or a room, and there is also a cafe close by.

Another procession along the cliffs in honour of St Augustine

In the evening, at 7pm, there will be Rosary and Benediction. There will also be a reading from St Bede's account of St Augustine's bringing the Catholic Faith to England.

The Shrine at Ramsgate is a stunning Pugin church, near Pugin's own house. The Shrine has been created only recently, but the present Custodian, Fr Marcus Holden. Here's a video news story about Fr Holden's successful big for Lottery money to restore the church.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cornwell turns his sights on St Pius X

Pope Pius XII visiting a bomb-site in Rome in wartime
Over the last week we have been treated to a real demonstration of how to promote a book. Extracts in one newspaper are enough to create news stories in others, and the author is invited to write a feature article in the weekend press to give the whole thing a bit of top-spin. Nice friends with big name recognition queue up with the plaudits:

Eamon Duffy: “a major contribution to the Catholic Church’s examination of conscience about the roots and circumstances of sexual abuse.”

Catholic best-selling author, David Lodge:  “the key that explains so much that is discreditable  in the history of the Catholic Church.”   

They are talking about John Cornwell's latest, 'The Dark Box'. It is about the wickedness of confession, at least for children.

Sarto (later Pius X) as a bishop
Cornwell observed how a work of fiction - Hochhuth's grossly slanderous play about Pius XII, 'The Deputy' - has had such an impact on public perceptions, and, because it established a narrative so congenial to liberals (not to mention the KGB) who want a stick to beat the Church, he saw how it achieved a success wholly disproportionate to its literary merits. So he decided to stick to fiction himself: it is so much easier to research than history, and you can still say it is history, so you can have it both ways.

Cornwell has done very well out of the whole thing, but the time had to come when the weight of historical evidence would begin to tip the scales even of the mainstream press against his claims. Good books debunking Cornwell and his imitators have been coming out for years, the Holocaust Museum in Israel has softened its stance on Pius XII, a rabbi has called for Pius XII's saving of Jews from the Nazis to be publicly recognised. Time to move on, perhaps, to smear another Pope, and watch the money roll in for another decade or so till his defenders can finally make themselves heard over the anti-Catholic din.

The intellectual dishonesty of Cornwell is staggering. Ronald Rychlak, who has written a 500-page tome on Pius XII, was asked to address Cornwell's accusations by the Promotor of Pius XII's cause, as soon as they were published. He looked up all Cornwell's references to the massive dossier created by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and found ... nothing. Cornwell said he was 'shocked' by what he read there, but when confronted on this by Rychlak he said what had shocked him was a report of gossip that Eugenio Pacelli (before his election as Pope) had been too close to his housekeeper. Evidence of anti-Semitism? Try again, Cornwell. Rychlak gives a very interesting talk on this here. He points out that, as Nuncio to Bavaria after World War I, Pacelli gave more than 40 speeches attacking aspects of Nazi ideology, particularly racism.

But it is, at least, easy to see what Cornwell gets out of it: this whole circus has made him famous. What is really disturbing is the sight of Catholic writers with established reputations who want to burnish their liberal credentials by endorsing Cornwell. On the subject of Confession, Cornwell's central contention is that children didn't go to confession before the age of 13 until the wicked Pius X 'decreed' they did so in 1910. This is pure fantasy. All Catholics have been obliged to confess once a year since the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215, when they attain the 'age of discretion'. The law of the Church is exactly the same to this day. (H-T to canonist Edward Peters.)

But now we read Eamon Duffy saying Cornwell's book is wonderful. Is Duffy ignorant of the decrees of Lateran IV? No, he devotes a large section of The Stripping of the Altars to the importance of the obligation of annual confession established in 1215. He appears to link this, at one point, to the reception of communion: he talks about the 'houselling folk' going to confession (p60). But I find it very difficult to believe that he is not aware that the obligation was imposed on all Catholics of the age of discretion. All you have to do is read the canon, for heaven's sake (it is number 21, Eamon, if you're reading this). Even if he is confused by the modern practice of first Confession and first Communion coming together, he explains in The Voices of Morbath that in the late Middle Ages girls received their First Communion not at 13, but at 12. That should have given him pause for thought.

The fact is that Duffy, David Lodge, and The Tablet, and many like them, jump on any bandwagon they can find to attack the Church's moral discipline, without asking too many questions. It maintains their credibility with their non-Catholic friends and colleagues. And what a wonderful story it is: the 'pessimistic' Pius X, who lowered the age of First Communion (is that pessimistic?), condemned children to being alone in a 'dark box' with a potential paedophile. This is, in short, a daring, not to say desperate, attempt to link the sex abuse crisis with traditional, pre-conciliar Catholicism, and not the let-it-all-hand-out era when Freud began to make inroads in the Church (from about the 1950s) in which the vast majority of it actually happened. Pius X's patronage of the SSPX is an added bonus.

Low EF Mass at the tomb of St Pius X
But it doesn't make sense. The anecdotes Cornwell quotes to back the theory up are about priests who wanted to hear confessions outside the 'dark box', in a nice, friendly, brightly lit face-to-face encounter. Paedophile priests had been hampered by the 'fixed grill' which under both 1917 Code of Canon Law (Canons 908-910) and the 1983 Code (Canon 964) must be installed in a a confessional in churches. The same canons say that these confessionals are the 'proper place' for confessions: confessions outside this, while certainly possible (the deathbed springs to mind), are exceptions. In the 1917 Code, for a priest to hear the confession of a female outside the box, except in the case of illness or 'true necessity', is illicit: it is not allowed (Canon 910). (In the 1983 Code the hearing of confessions outside the box is allowed for a 'just cause': Canon 964.)

Perhaps Pius X was not so stupid. Consider this: unlike any of his successors in office, and unlike the vast majority of his predecessors, he had worked as a parish priest. He actually knew something about pastoral life, about the struggles, temptations and opportunities of the parish priest at the coal-face. He had actually encountered children as their pastor. He hadn't spent his entire adult life behind a desk.

No, the craze for face-to-face confession cannot be laid at the door of St Pius X. It happened in tandem with the breakdown of clerical discipline, from the 1950s and accelerating after the Second Vatican Council, under the influence of the idea that confession should be a form of therapy. Yes, the very same fashionable theories from Freud to Carl Rogers which saw so much potential in a more relaxed setting for the sacrament of penance, also saw sexual repression as a bad thing. This isn't hard, guys: it was not a coincidence.

Watch out, you liberal Catholics condemning the wickedness of the 'the box', or you'll end up condemning, not the harsh and pessimistic discipline current in Pius X's day, but the liberalisation of those disciplines after the Council.

A confession on the road on the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage: in fact this would not
have been allowed under the 1917 Code, with a female penitent.