A while ago on this blog I linked to something being promoted by a group in the USA calling itself 'the Latin Mass Society'. So I think it behooves me to make it clear that, although there wasn't anything as far as I could see intrinsically wrong with that particular initiative, the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has nothing to do with this group, has no formal links to it, and in light of more recent developments wants nothing to do with it, and would recommend to others to have nothing to do with it either.
This isn't a very edifying topic, but a little bit of background.
It is always a little bit irritating when two organisations have the same name, and when 'the Latin Mass Society' popped up on a campus in the USA with a slick website we asked them to find a way of differentiating themselves from us - there are many Latin Mass Societies around the world, as there are Ecclesia Dei groups and Una Voce groups, but they always have some kind of geographical qualifier ('of Ireland', 'of Florida' or whatever). Eventually they put a tiny disclaimer at the bottom of the home page; you'd need a magnifying glass to see it. Anyway, I didn't want something silly like that to stop us collaborating with people who supported the cause, so when some time later Anthony Perlas came on the scene as the head of this group, I didn't see any reason not to give support his initiatives.
In the last few months, however, something rather odd has been happening on his web pages. Perlas is a photographer, and he seemed to be focusing on photos of attractive young women wearing head coverings. And there was something a little... odd about some of these photos, and the accompanying text.
In September things seemed to come to a head, and I was encouraged to take a closer look. It was clear from the websites that many, if not all, of these ladies were professional models. One pictured on his Facebook page (it seems not to be there now) was, sitting under a tree and wearing a mantilla, looking at a hand missal with an expression of mingled incomprehension and boredom which was a sight to behold. Her own FB page was linked and there it was evident she had no particular interest in religion. I've nothing against the lady, though I'm not sure about the extensive tatooing. But this approach to promoting the Traditional Mass is not a good idea. People see through the insincerity; even if they can't articulate the problem. It is unconvincing, and leaves us feeling uneasy. It is what Dietrich von Hildebrand called aestheticism: an interest in a beautiful thing from the liturgy, without interest in its religious context.
I take the connection between the aesthetic and theological very seriously, which is why I think that good photography can be a good way of promoting the Tradition. If the link between the beauty of the thing depicted and the truths of faith is unreal, then the pictures won't mean anything, and won't promote anything, except possibly the photographer. It is a mistake to imagine that only bad photography, or bad singing or bad vestments, can be a sincere expression of the truth; we must equally avoid the opposite mistake, of imagining that an image which is attractive in purely natural terms, such as a glamour model, will draw people into the Church or the Mass just by some accidental association with them. Put a glamorous agnostic on your poster for some religious event and you achieve nothing, apart from making yourself look ridiculous.
However, things with this 'Latin Mass Society' are much worse than just this. The excellent Steve Skojek of 1Peter5, who has had more contact with Anthony Perlas and his work, has all the details and the links. There is a warning out about him from an FSSP parish. He's done a nude photo shoot. He quotes Adolf Hitler, apparently with approval. There's a lot of frankly disturbing new agey stuff about angels on his sites. Something has gone very wrong.
Say a prayer for him, and for his models. But keep away.
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