Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cardinal Burke's Low Mass in Oxford


No sooner was I back from Chartres, than I was able to attend this Mass in Oxford.

It was a very moving Mass. Low Mass, said by a Prelate, is most notably different in that the prelate is served by two priests - in this case, Fr John Saward, the Priest in Charge of the parish, and Fr Richard Biggerstaff - and in the prelate vesting and un-vesting in the sanctuary.


Like all bishops saying Mass, there is the odd difference to the words used, notably in the blessings he gives.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Video on mantillas

There are a good many videos like this, but this is new and nicely done by the Catholic News Service.

The young lady in the middle who says that women are special because unlike men they can be touched by God, when they conceive a baby, has been reading (or at least influenced by) Alice von Hildebrand. I'm not convinced by this argument, and I might address it on this blog at some point.

Right now I'm trying to catch up with normal life after the Chartres Pilgrimage! Photos and reports of that soon.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

More on segregated seating in Church

(A pre-scheduled post. Follow me on the Chartres Pilgrimage on Twitter: @LMSChairman )

Thanks to interactions on Twitter and in the comments of this blog, I've learnt a bit more on the history of seating in Catholic churches being segregated by sex. (For my previous post, see here.)

One of the things which has puzzled me about it is that, although recommended in the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Canon 1262.1), I've come across no literary references to segregated seating in churches. But I think that the practice was never re-established in Catholic churches in England after the Reformation; the disruption of having to worship in secret and so on caused the custom to disappear, and it was never something which people felt strongly enough about to make a special effort to restore. (I read in Archer's Two Catholic Churches that eyebrows were raised by some English Catholics at the restoration of such 'Italian' practices as the Asperges before Sunday Mass, in the early 19th century.)

As I've already mentioned, I myself have seen segregated congregations: in 1990, in the Cathedral of Tabora in Tanzania. At that time it wasn't practiced in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

I've now heard from several people in Ireland who can vouch for it surviving in rural districts up to the time of Vatican II, and even later: the 1980s and 1990s. It is worth noting, as several did, that it wasn't enforced: like mantillas today, it just happened, where it was a custom, with the odd person in the wrong part of the church either through ignorance or out of conscious defiance.

Here's a blog post talking about segregation in a church in Nova Scotia, Canada, up to the time of the Council.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Off to Chartres: Saturday to Monday

I have found by experience that live blogging from the Chartres Pilgrimage is almost impossible. But I will be live-tweeting, so follow me on Twitter:


Please pray for the pilgrims; we will be praying for you.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

The Traditional liturgy south of Oxford

Fr Philip Harris saying Mass a few years ago in Basingstoke
There have been some very positive developments south of where I live which deserve to be more widely known.

The series of Friday Low Masses in Holy Rood, Abingdon Road, which is in Oxford but in Portsmouth Diocese, which were started for Lent, have continued, thanks to Fr Daniel Lloyd of the Ordinariate. They are at 12:30 pm, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of this this modern church.

Fr Philip Harris, who not long ago was assigned to the English Martyrs in Didcot, is now saying quite a few EF Low Masses in his church:

Tuesday 26th, 8am
Wednesay 27th, 7.30pm

Tueday 2nd 8am
Tueday 9th 7.30pm
Friday 12th 7.30pm
Wednesday 17th 7.30pm  
Wednesday 24th 7.30pm

Wednesday 1st 7.30pm
Thursday 2nd 7.30pm
Friday 3rd 7.30pm

Fr Anthony Conlon, a former National Chaplain of the Latin Mass Society, is now Parish Priest of Our Lady & St John in Goring-on-Thames now has 1962 Vespers on the Third Sunday of each month at 4pm in the second church of his parish, Christ the King in Woodcote: South Stoke Road, Woodcote, Oxfordshire RG8 0PL.

More on events in the Portsmough Diocese part of this area (South or West of the Thames) from the blog of the local Representative for Reading and Portsmouth North, Adrian Dulston; I am the Rep for the South of Birmingham Diocese (North and East of the Thames), and my Mass listings page for that is here.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

LMS Confirmations and Annual Requiem with Cardinal Burke

Last year's Confirmations, with Bishop John Arnold
As a way of marking the Latin Mass Society's fiftieth anniversary, we have invited His Eminence Raymond, Cardinal Burke to England in November.

On Saturday 14th November, he will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form in St James', Spanish Place, at 11am.

He will go on to celebrate the Latin Mass Society's Annual Requiem in Westminster Cathedral, at 2pm.

These promise to be very splendid events, and naturally they are open to all. Candidates for confirmation - who don't need to be from Westminster Archdiocese, they can come from anywhere - need to get in touch with the LMS to register. They will need a baptismal certificate and a letter from a priest saying they are ready to be confirmed: details on the right here; here's an online form.

We are very grateful to our own Cardinal Nichols for his generous permission for both events.

Last year's Requiem, also celebrated by Bishop Arnold
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Juventutem London Mass, Friday 29th May

As usual the Mass takes place on the last Friday of the month at 7:30pm in St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street, London EC2M 7LS. It will be High Mass for the Ember Friday which follows Pentecost.

See Juventutem London's Facebook page.

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Young Frenchman wants to spend a month in England

At this time of the year I always get emails like this; often it is young ladies offering to do a bit of baby-sitting for the chance to improve their English. This year it is a 16-year-old lad who's able to do a bit of gardening. What they all want, naturally, is a friendly Catholic environment where they'll be able to get to the Traditional Mass.

If you can open your home to someone like this let us know via, subject line 'FAO Joseph Shaw', and we'll put you in touch.

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The chicken run


We must accustom ourselves to the sight of prominent Catholics abandoning public positions in favour of the teaching of the Church, of the Natural Law, or simply of common sense, under pressure from an increasingly intolerant consensus contrary to those things. It is depressing, but somehow we must not be depressed by it.

Here's Michael Coren's explanation for his apostasy: a man who made himself famous as a Catholic apologist, on television and in books.

The change was to a large extent triggered by the gay issue. I couldn’t accept that homosexual relationships were, as the Roman Catholic Church insists on proclaiming, disordered and sinful. Once a single brick in the wall was removed the entire structure began to fall.
I refused to base my entire world view and theology, as so many active Catholics do, around abortion, contraception and sex rather than love, justice and forgiveness. Frankly, it was tearing me apart. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pilgrimage to Shrine of St Augustine, Monday 25th May


There will be a procession at 11 am, and a Missa Cantata, celebrated by Mgr Gordon Read, at 12 noon.

See the full details of their week of events, here; the Facebook event is here.

The church, Pugin's masterpiece, is at:

St Augustine's Road, CT11 9PA Ramsgate.


Photos from Bishop Schneider's visit: more here.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Cardinal Burke comes to Oxford

Cardinal Castrillon celebraring Low Mass for the FIUV in the Chapel of the Blessed
Sacrament, St Peter's Basilica, Rome, in 2009
On Wednesday 27th May
the Ember Wedesday of Pentecost,
Cardinal Burke will celebrate Low Mass 
in the Extraordinary Form - Pontifical Low Mass - 
in SS Gregory & Augustine in Oxford, at 8am.

Please come along if you can. I'm told he is going to preach. There will be polyphonic motets during Mass. Low Mass celebrated with solemnity by a Cardinal is an impressive - and an unusual - liturgy, and well worth making the effort to see. Here is a set of photographs showing Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos celebrating Low Mass for the FIUV in St Peter's a few years ago.


Later in the same day, His Eminence will be officiating at (traditional) Vespers at the Oxford Oratory at 4pm, and giving a lecture in the Chaplaincy at 6pm, on the intellectual legacy of the reign of Benedict XVI.

On Tuesday 26th, he will be celebrating an Ordinary Form Mass in the Oxford Oratory for the feast of St Philip Neri, at 6pm.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Loftus rejects the Gospels of Luke and John

Part of the Rosary Walk at Aylesford Priory
Catholic Times 15th May 2015

We need here to revisit the difficulties mentioned in this column on Easter Day - namely the emphasis placed by Luke (and also by John) on graphic physical details manifested by the Risen Christ - inviting Thomas to place his hands in his side, telling the disciples that he was not a ghost because ghosts didn't eat, as he did. There is almost a suggest of re-animation, rather than Glorification in Luke's Gospel, and indeed in John's. This clashes with St Paul's assertion that "Flesh and Blood cannot inhereit the Kingdom of God" (1 Cor, 15:44, 50), and with his dismissal as "stupid questions" of concerns expressed to him about what kind of body people will have "when they come back". Paul is adamant. There is nothing physical about the risen body - either for Christ or for us. He tells us that what is sown and goes intot he grave, is a physical body (psychikon), but what is raised is a spiritual body (pneumatikon).

We've heard it all before from Loftus, though he goes further than before in explicitly rejecting as worthless two of the four Gospels. The two, that is, which have anything of detail to say about the nature of the Resurrected Christ.

It is a pity that Loftus doesn't extend his admiration for St Paul to St Paul's teaching on sexual morality. As soon as St Paul says anything about that, Loftus is the first to dismiss him as an irrelevant dinosaur.

As for St Paul contradicting the Gospel account of the Risen Lord, the clue is in the term 'spiritual body'. St Paul preached the resurrection of the Body: a teaching which went down very badly with educated Greeks, who were perfectly comfortable with the idea of the immortality of the soul.

Acts 17:32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.”

Yet St Paul persisted, because it is the truth: while the nature of the resurected body defies exact description, it is not a merely spiritual existence we can look forward to, and which is enjoyed by Christ. The survival of the soul after the death of the body is one thing; the resurrection, of Christ on Easter Sunday and of us on the Day of Judgement, is something else, something which adds something to our existence after death.

What, Basil, do you imagine that it adds?

There's a petition going about old Loftus; go and have a look here.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Church and Art

James Gillick's impressive reredos for SS Gregory and Augustine's, Oxford
Mark Judge writes about why he left the Catholic Church.

In the end, I left the Catholic Church because as an artist I could no longer hold out hope that there would be a place for me in the church. The Catholic Church, which gave the world the Sistine Chapel, Dante, and the genius filmmaker Robert Bresson, has lost interest in supporting artists. God is a dynamic and creative universal force who can be found in movies, rock and roll, and poetry.
What I was not prepared for is how negative, obstructionist, and soul-crushing the church has become when it comes to art. I have asked prominent Catholic scholars and theologians why the Catholic Church has no foundation, think tank, fellowship or even website for the study of popular culture. St. Augustine wrote entire volumes about paganism, and in doing so managed to baptize millions of new converts. Surely something, perhaps a single fellowship at a Catholic think tank, might not be a bad idea?

This is a pretty dreadful justification for leaving the Church, but it is, nonetheless, a motivation for doing so which tells us something about the state of the Church. Judge is right that the Church has a serious problem today in relation to art, even if it is unfair to say that no one in the Church is interested in creating, discussing, or promoting art.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A few statistics on gender ratios at Mass

I have had some response to my appeal for statistics about the participation of men and women at Mass in Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form. I'd like a lot more, but the few statistics I have allow me to illustrate what this is about in a way which is perhaps easier to understand.

The first line represents the situation from one part of Ireland, 2 and 3 are from two are different parts of England, and 4 is from Wales. The bottom of the line shows the percentage of men at the Ordinary Form, the top the percentage of men at the Extraordinary Form.

The line shows the difference the form of the Mass makes.

The percentage of men shoots up when a church hosts a Traditional Mass.

To make a proper statistical case - even the beginnings of one - I need a lot more figures. For the same or similar church, I need to see the percentage of men at the Traditional Mass and the percentage of men at the Novus Ordo.

It is a bore, yes, and it may have to wait for a week or two as the Sundays pass but it would be worth it to show this is a real effect, wouldn't it?

Please send your statistics to with the subject line 'Statistics'.

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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Walsingham Pilgrimage: appeal for volunteers


The Latin Mass Society's Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham will take place 27 to 30 August 2015: book your place by emailing us (a booking form will soon be live).

The Pilgrimage relies on a number of people helping out in various capacities. As it has grown we've had to make these roles more formal, and we've also made the decision that, for those roles which make a big difference to the pilgrimage experience, those undertaking these tasks should not have to pay the usual fee. By the same token we take seriously volunteers' spiritual participation and will do our best to facilitate this as well.

We are appealing for volunteers for this year, and we would like to hear from you if you can help. We need:

Servers, and an MC

We'd also like to hear as soon as possible from any clergy who are thinking of coming, since this is an important part of our planning.

Get in touch with me directly or through

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Friday, May 08, 2015

Filial appeal to the Holy Father on marriage

Read it. Sign it. Spread the word. (Click on the image.)

Christ, the great Prophet, who proclaimed the Kingdom of His Father both by the testimony of His life and the power of His words, continually fulfills His prophetic office until the complete manifestation of glory. He does this not only through the hierarchy who teach in His name and with His authority, but also through the laity whom He made His witnesses and to whom He gave understanding of the faith (sensu fidei) and an attractiveness in speech so that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life.
Lumen Gentium, 35

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Worries about the Secular Critique of Islam

Once upon a time The Spectator was a conservative publication, but there is nothing socially conservative about what Kate Maltby had to say on its website about the Labour Rally in Hodge Hill, Birmingham, from which Labour MP Sion Simon tweeted this image.

There can be no excuse for requiring women to sit separately at an event at which they’re supposed to use their brains as engaged citizens, not as sex objects or as baby machines. True, orthodox branches of both Islam and Judaism require men and women to sit separately in their religious services – one reason why I’m not planning to convert to either any time soon – on the grounds that proximity to the opposite sex may distract worshippers from meditating on God. As yesterday’s rally wasn’t a religious service, I can only conclude that rather than meditating on God, the organizers were anxious that no sexual thrill should distract the watchers from meditating instead on the noble figure of Tom Watson.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Worries about the Evangelical response to Islam

Bones of the recently canonised
matyrs of Otranto, victims of a
Muslim raid into Italy in 1480.
Just as a failure of mainstream politics to deal with Islam has contributed to the issue feeding non-mainstream politics, so the failure of mainstream religion, including Catholicism, to address Islam publicly, consistently, and honestly, has led to it becoming an issue in which more marginal figures can make a name for themselves. If you want to hear a Christian analysis or critique of Islam, it's not long before you find yourself looking at people like David Wood over at 'Answering Muslims.'

Wood has a lot of very interesting things to say about Islam, because he has on his team Muslim converts to Christianity who are well informed about Islam; for a taster of his work, start from this page. (I'd be equally interested in an Islamic rebuttal of his arguments, of course.) He doen't come across as a nutter, although his aggressive polemic makes me a bit uncomfortable. He is, however, an Evangelical. I think it is very tempting for conservative and traditionally-minded Catholics to take their cue from Evangelicals, who seem terribly well-organised, vigorous, and effective, so I think it is important to point out the problem.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that at least some of the arguments presented on Wood's website against Islam don't work, because they are based on Evangelical theology. In fact, he ends up criticising Muslims for what they get right: things they have in common with Catholics. Here are a few examples.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Remembering Sue Coote

I never met Sue Coote, a long-standing member of cigarette-fuelled Latin Mass Society Committee of the 1970s and 1980s. It was only shortly after I started going to the Traditional Mass regularly, in 2002, that I heard it announced that she had died. She was clearly a remarkable lady, the driving force of the Latin Mass Society for many years as its Secretary.

Until we revised it a few years ago, the LMS Constitution's list of duties for the Secretary was longer than the lists for all the other offices combined. Oh that was for Sue Coote!, I was told.

I'm delighted that the Mass of Ages has an appreciation of her in the new issue; you can read it as a pdf here. The hard copy should be arriving in members' homes and parishes this week. She was a true mulier fortis, a valiant woman.

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Monday, May 04, 2015

Voris in London: how to witness to the Faith

Witness to the Faith: the Walsingham Pilgrimage, in August. Book now.
On Friday evening I went to see Michael Voris give a talk in London, organised by the remarkable John Rodger of St Paul Street Evangelization. Voris spoke with great eloquence about the importance of personal holiness in the current and developing situation in the Church, in which we are experiencing the beginning of a serious persecution by the secular authorities.

On this persecution, he referred to the case before the Supreme Court in the USA about same-sex marriage. If they find it to be a constitutional right, everything changes: and not for the better.

I think the emphasis on the importance of being in a state of grace, which I've seen from some other orthodox Catholic sources in recent years as well, is extremely good. It can't be stressed too much that if you are in a state of mortal sin you have no sanctifying grace in you; you have lost the friendship of God and the life of God in your soul. Not only will you go to hell if run over by the proverbial bus, but you can't expect to be effective in situations of what we might call spiritual combat. You won't be able to stand up well to temptations; you won't be able to give good advice to friends and colleagues who need it; you won't be a witness to the faith. If you've committed fornication, if you've used contraception, if you've been complicit in an abortion, engaged in vindictive gossip, fiddled your taxes, or cheated your employer or an employee: for heaven's sake get to confession.

There's another aspect of what he said which, in the same spirit of constructive criticism I employed after his last London talk, I want to question. For he said repeatedly that as good Catholics we should challenge people, such as family members and colleagues, about religion. He said it was not enough, for example, to have a statue of Our Lady by your place of work, hoping it might stimulate enquiries or conversations; you must go out and initiate these conversations.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Published letter on Mgr Loftus

With others, I recently wrote a letter to The Catholic Times, The Tablet, and The Scottish Catholic Observer to protest at the public scandal caused by the writings of Mgr Basil Loftus in these publications. Only the Scottish Catholic Observer deigned to publish my letter, in a form cut to ribbons by the Editor, Liz Leydon.

In light of this, and in response to Loftus' latest outrages, Patricia McKeever of Catholic Truth Scotland has started a petition to the two bishops with authority over Mgr Loftus: his ordinary, Bishop Marcus Stock, and the Bishop of the diocese where he lives, Bishop Hugh Gilbert.

Since I have written to these bishops, already, privately, on this matter, without response, a public letter seems to me to be justified. However I should emphasise that this is Miss McKeever's petition, not mine.

Here is the letter as it appeared in the Scottish Catholic Observer, with the bits edited out inserted in red. The black square brackets and elipses are retained from the published version.

SCO, Letters, 24 April, 2015

Concern over writings of monsignor 

WE, THE undersigned, believe the time has come to publish a protest against the [the stream of personal abuse, libellous accusations, and theological error, contained in] articles and letters [written] [published in The Scottish Catholic Observer, The Catholic Times, The Tablet, and elsewhere] by Mgr Basil Loftus. These have been appearing for more than 20 years, but have become particularly unacceptable in recent months.

In these articles Mgr Loftus describes a respected Cardinal, Malcolm Ranjith, as a ‘Cappa Magna fetishist’, the arrangement of candlesticks on the Altar favoured by Pope Benedict as ‘dumb insolence’, calls for ‘anger’ against Bishop Mark Davies, accuses the Apostolic Nuncio of gross financial extravagance, denies that the arisen Christ had a ‘physical body’, and declares that up to three traditional religious institutes in the United Kingdom are characterised by ‘at least quasi-schismatic ecclesiology’, which is ironic coming from Mgr Loftus whose theology is far more questionable. Most recently he has accused the Congregation for Divine Worship under Cardinal CaƱizares of behaving like the Gestapo.

It is fast becoming a scandal…[that Mgr Loftus is permitted to defame the reputation of good priests, religious and laity in this manner.] Out of respect for the Church, his victims have thus far refrained from taking [any] [legal] action. [but, if this abuse is allowed to continue, action may become necessary.]

His writings disturb the peace of the Church, they violate the respect due to our bishops, and they deprive numerous individuals of the good name which is their right under canon and secular law.

We call upon Mgr Loftus' canonical superior, Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds [and others concerned] to take the necessary steps [to take the necessary steps to bring Mgr Loftus’ campaign of abuse to an end.]

A dossier of quotations from Mgr Loftus is available on the website of the Latin Mass Society.

Dr Joseph Shaw

James Bogle

Fr Michael Clifton

Fr Thomas Crean OP

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Bookings open for the LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham

You can now book for the 2015 LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham: walking over three days the 55 miles from Ely to Walsingham, accompanied by the Traditional Mass and devotions, in the spirit of the great Chartres Pilgrimage, 27 to 30 August 2015.

Here is a little video about it.

It is an unforgettable experience, plus hot evening meals!

Show your devotion to Our Lady, walk in the footsteps of your Catholic predecessors, do some penance and take some important intentions to the feet of the Lady of Walsingham.

Mass in the Slipper Chapel at the shrine.
The cost is £75 for an adult, if you are an LMS member - and you can join at the same time.

There are generous discounts for students, and all are welcome.

Procession along the 'Holy Mile' to the site of the Holy House in Walsingham, from the
Slipper Chapel and Catholic Shrine
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Friday, May 01, 2015

Sex ratios at Mass: a call for statistics

2011 04 17_9187
Part of the Palm Sunday congregation with the FSSP in Reading: waiting for the Blessing of Palms
I'm appealing for help from all over the world: if you have the chance to observe the congregations attending the Traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo, in the same or comparable churches on the same or comparable days, to count them and how they are made up and let me know, as an informal empirical study of the phenomenon of both the proportions of men and women, and of the presence of children at Masses in the two Forms.

Please send your observations to with the Subject line 'Statistics'.

To illustrate what I want, here is my own report for this project.

In SS Gregory and Augustine's Church, Oxford, England, the 9:30am OF Mass on Sunday 19th April was attended (including clergy, servers, and singers) by 74 people: of whom 22 were male, and 11 under 17. 

The 12 noon EF Mass in the same church on the same day was attended by 39 people, of whom 21 were male, and 12 under 17.