Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fr Rosica: are liberal and conservative blogs cesspools of venom, hatred, and vitriol?

Conflict is inevitable. Here is the Oxford Pro-life Witness last Saturday, with attendant
counter-demonstration, who try to stop us praying by playing music.
Never one to ignore the mote in someone else's eye, Fr Dwight Longenecker has used comments by Fr Thomas Rosica about how horrid the internet can be to attack 'traditionalists', and lists his least favourite blogs as examples.

It is interesting to note, however, that Fr Rosica does not single out traditionalists, and I think it is extremely unlikely that he has ever sampled the wares of little-read, marginal figures like Mundabor, 'Novus Ordo Watch', and 'TradCathKnight', mentioned by Longenecker. The Crux article reporting his remarks noted, instead, his conflict with 'conservative and pro-life' sites. This is Fr Rosica's description of what he doesn't like:

the obsessed, scrupulous, self-appointed, nostalgia-hankering virtual guardians of faith or of liturgical practices are very disturbed, broken and angry individuals, who never found a platform or pulpit in real life and so resort to the Internet and become trolling pontiffs and holy executioners!

Obviously, that can apply across the spectrum of opinion. Fr Rosica's personal conflicts aside, the interesting question is where we find this kind of 'venom, hatred, and vitriol' among those who are widely read, who are taken seriously, who are respected as mainstream voices among their ideological fellow-travellors: as opposed to those who are not.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dominican Missa Cantata for Bl Margaret Pole: photos

A gesture characteristic of the Dominican Rite, and not found in the Roman Rite: just after the Consecration.

Mass last Saturday was for Bl Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, executed by Henry VIII out of hatred for the Catholic Faith on 28th (or 27th) May 1541. She was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence - the one done to death in butt of wine in Shakespeare's Richard III (and, extraordinarily, probably in real life as well). Henry VII married her off to a loyal relation of his, Richard Pole, and she became lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon, both during Catherine's engagement to Prince Arthur, who died, and when she was married to Henry VIII. Margaret's son Reginald Pole, in holy orders on the continent, wrote against the break with Rome, and two of her other sons were executed for treason (ie, Catholic sympathies).

As a Plantagenant, a Catholic, an associate of Queen Catherine, and the mother of Cardinal Pole, Henry VIII had no shortage of reasons to hate her. Nevertheless she remained in the Tower for two years before the king ordered a hasty and almost botched beheading, when she was 67.


This was the first Dominican Missa Cantata I have attended. The Epistle was sung by a cleric.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Worship towards the East: video

Cardinal Robert Sarah has reopened the debate on the best 'direction' for worship, favouring the direction of 'liturgical east', the same direction as the Faithful in the nave, over 'versus populum', facing the people over the Altar like an executive facing his underlinings over a desk.

He said in an interview“But as soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted.”
In honour of this occasion I repost a video recorded in 2014. To learn more on the theology and history of the debate, see the FIUV Position Paper here.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

New book: God of the Gulag by Jonathan Luxmoore

Any book shining a light on the heroic witness of those killed for their Christian faith under Communism is to be welcomed. This major two-volume work is especially so, because of its comprehensive coverage of Soviet and Soviet-bloc persecution.

Well done to Jonathan Luxmoore, otherwise known for his occasional news stories in the Catholic press. The publication of this work marks the culmination of a massive project of research and writing.

The book is available from Amazon (Vol 1, Vol 2) and directly from Gracewing.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Video of Cardinal Burke celebrating Low Mass in Oxford

I posted a number of photos here; I have finally posted up a short video, including snatches of the very lovely music sung on this occasion.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Would you like to edit Mass of Ages?

The Latin Mass Society was incredibly lucky to secure Dylan Parry, long-standing editor of
Westminster Cathedral's magazine Oremus, to edite Mass of Ages. Now Dylan, for positive rather than negative reasons, is moving on, and we need a new editor to carry on his work.

We need someone with a degree of knowledge of the art of editing a periodical - sourcing and editing copy and photos etc. - and a degree of knowledge of, and sympathy with, the traditional Catholic scene. The role is paid, and the pay is very reasonable. We expect it to be a job taking up a minority of the editor's time. If you have the skills and the knowledge, why not apply?

From the LMS website:

Vacancy for a Managing Editor, Mass of Ages

Due to personal circumstances, Dylan Parry has decided to stand down as Editor of our Mass of Ages magazine, after publication of the autumn 2016 edition. During his time as Editor, Dylan has made an invaluable contribution to the work of the LMS and he leaves with our gratitude and good wishes.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the development of the magazine commercially (both sales and advertising) and in terms of format, style, and editorial content, in consultation with a small Editorial Board. Applicants should have proven experience in commissioning, writing and editing copy for publications, a good visual sense and an understanding of the Traditional Catholic world and its attendant issues.
This is a part-time, freelance position.

A full job description can be downloaded HERE.

Application is by way of CV and covering letter, detailing how you meet the job specification and requirements, sent to Stephen Moseling, General Manager, stephenlms.org.uk or by post to the LMS Office.

If you would like an informal chat about the job before applying, please call Stephen on 020 7404 7284.

Closing date for applications is Friday, 10th June 2016.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What sort of Mass did 'Vatican II' want?

The Traditional Mass on the Chatres Pilgrimage. Not as off-putting to young people as Pope Paul VI imagined.
Photo by John Aron.
Liturgical conservatives and progressives argue endlessly about this. Their argument will never be resolved, both because Sacrosanctum Concilium was and the subsequent magisterium has been self-contradictory, but also because neither side in the debate is willing to be honest about the historical facts. I am sorry to be harsh, but having read the output of both sides of the debate over a number of years, it is time it was said.

First, Sacrosantum Concilium: how is it self-contradictory? It makes few concrete suggestions, but it does make some. It calls for wider use of the vernacular (63); the removal of 'useless repetition' (34), and a more 'lavish' presentation of the Scriptures in the readings, arranged 'prescribed number of years' (51). It leaves further details to local initiative and an official commission. On the other hand, it says (23)

there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The OF and the EF: how they are related

Today I repost this from 2013, partly in response to two things which I saw on social media, from conservative Catholics about the Novus Ordo. Here, Fr Richard Heilman wishes that the Ordinary Form be celerbated like 'the actual Mass of Vatican II'. This turns out to be a reference to the 1965 liturgical books, which may have been celebrated during the latter part of the Council, but certainly isn't what the Council wanted the Mass to be like. Here, John Allen quotes a priest praising the new translation because it faithfully renders the Latin prayers, 'considering the antiquity and universal usage of these prayers'. But very few ancient Latin prayers survived unscathed into the Novus Ordo.

I just wish conservative Catholics would be serious and honest about the Ordinary Form and the reform. It is what it is: there is no point pretending it is something else.

Dominican Rite: lining up side by side, not, as with the Roman Rite, one behind the other.
I've received a comment on my last post:

'Joseph, for the benefit of readers, could you list some of those features which the Novus Ordo lacks -- "features ... so centrally characteristic of the Roman Rite that anything lacking them has to be categorised as something else"?  I'd like to hear the features that strike you as characteristic in such a way that the two forms would be divided by having or lacking them.'

This is a fair question, and I didn't address it the other day only for reasons of space. Here is a nice reply by the liturgical scholar and Latinist Philip Goddard, in a letter in the Catholic Herald from a couple of years ago (29 April 2011):

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Loftus attacks Archbishop Sample: on chant and children

Further to my recent posts about Montessori and children, I'm reposting this from 2014. I've not been keeping up my review of Mgr Basil Loftus output recently, but whenever I look at his columns I see that they make just as much sense as they ever did.

Children at St Mary Magdalen, Wandsworth, a Mass with Chant propers and polyphonic Ordinary.
Every now and then Mgr Basil Loftus makes reference to singing in Mass. It appears to be one of his many obsessions. A classic was his suggestion that when the General Instruction recommends a chant or song at Communion, this rules out adherence to the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum's requirement that the Communion Plate be used, and the recommendation in that instruction, now a requirement of our own Bishops' Conference, that the Faithful make an 'act of reverence' before receiving Communion, because of the difficulty of multi-tasking...

It is not surprising, therefore, that when he turns his attention to chant and hymns he comes out with the usual muddle and deliberately misleading claims.

He starts by quoting Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon:
'It is clear that the Council calls for the liturgy to be sung. In recent decades we've adopted the practice of singing songs at Mass. We take the Mass and attach four songs or hymns to it. But this is not the Church's vision. We need to sing the Mass. It is meant to be sung. The texts of the Mass are meant to be sung.'

Children at the LMS Pilgrimage to Holywell.
Loftus' comment on this typifies his disregard for making sense, as well as good manners or respect for his superiors:

The archbishop's observation, while very helpful, is also both simplistic and deceptive.

Was it a subeditor who added the phrase 'very helpful'? Or is Loftus able to hold two incompatible judgments in his head at the same time?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

About blogging on this blog

St Jerome in his study.
I need to free up some time for an academic project, so I am going to take a bit of a step back from this blog for a few months. The most-read posts - such as the ones over the last few days on Montessori and clericalism - are very time-consuming to write. I don't regret using my time in this way, as it has proved very valuable to me in developing my thinking, with the aid of reactions and comments, but I need to take a break from that for a few months.

I'll continue to post announcements and some topical material. What I propose to do to replace the posts I've been doing on liturgical and theological issues - which are the ones, as I say, which generate a relatively big readership - is selectively to re-post material already published on this blog. I hope that doesn't seem like cheating! If so, I apologise in advance.

I will fairly soon be able to post on a brand new Position Paper, however, on the Extraordinary Form and the Laity.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Montessori and the Directory for Masses with Children


Continuing from the discussion in this post, we may ask the question: What happens if you start out with the idea that children need to be constantly doing or saying things in Mass, and need to understand everything they hear immediately?

You get the nightmare scenario experienced already in the early 20th century, which Maria Montessori describes: over zealous pedagogues influenced by the Liturgical Movement turning the Mass into a classroom. (The Mass Explained to Children p3)

Some lay masters lead files of children into church, rapping out orders to them like a corporal to a squad of new recruits: "Kneel down! No, not like that, all together!" Or one sees a teaching actually taking the children by the shoulders and planing them one by one in the benches, just as if she were packing fruit into baskets.
   Another obvious mistake is to teach them during the Mass.
   ...Even at the Consecration, during those moments of silence and recollection, one hears the voice of the zealous teacher raised...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Female deacons: why not?

A male-dominated sanctuary at the LMS Priest Training Conference at Prior Park.
It is often pointed out that there are women described as 'deacons' in the early Church. Indeed, they continued to exist in the East into the 9th century. It's all there in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

This shouldn't be alarming, however, once a few pertient facts are remembered. These ladies were not ordained into the order of deacon: it was a non-sacramental ministry with distinct functions from that of ordained deacons. They would, for example, assist women who were being baptised when this meant full immersion. They ceased to exist because their special functions, like the one just mentioned, ceased to be necessary, after a period in which it it had been just an honorary role. There is no reason to imagine they existed in the primitive Church in a formalised way: there is no reference to them in Acts or St Paul's letters, though naturally women worked for the Church in all sorts of ways, by contrast with the order of (male) deacons, who were clearly quite significant.

This role could in principle be revived, as Pope Paul VI revived (or tried to revive) various other roles, like Lector and Acolyte, which had become simply steps on the way to ordination to the priesthood, and the permanent diaconate. It wouldn't be so easy to revive the things which they used to do, but maybe they could do something else. After all, women do all kinds of things in the Church.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Maria Montessori, children, and the Liturgical Reform

I've been reading The Child in the Church by Maria Montessori 'and others'; it is a collection of different bits of writing from Montessori and some of her followers on religious education.

Some people will be surprised to hear that Montessori was a Catholic. She was, and a very devout one. She had great affection and reverence for the rituals of the Church, and makes reference to such obscure things as the beautiful blessing of bells found in the Roman Ritual. She regarded religious instruction as so important that she wanted - as an ideal - an entirely separate school-room devoted to it, filled with displays and the manipulable aids to learning which characterise her movement, about every aspect of the Church's history, art, and liturgy.

She died in 1952, and her references to the liturgy and the way children could be inducted into it are redolent of the Liturgical Movement of her era. A revealing footnote in the 1965 edition of The Child in the Church which I have explains how the exciting reforms being planned by Vatican II are going to make things much better from a Montessori point of view. It is fascinating to see why the editor imagined that, how people influenced by Montessori took things forward, and also how things went wrong.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

New Mass of Ages available in parishes this weekend

Members should have received their copies by now, and it should be in parishes this weekend. See details and order a one-off copy through the website here.

Some of the contents:

Regular columnist the ‘Lone Veiler’ warns of the dangers of a celebrity civilization
• In an interview with Edmund Adamus, Director of the Department for Marriage and Family Life at the Diocese of Westminster, he outlines his views on the greatest threat facing the family today and what role the family has in the work of salvation. He is asked, “Is the family facing a particular attack by diabolical forces in our own time?” and concludes by saying why Pope Saint John Paul II has been the greatest influence on his life.
• Fr James Bradley, a priest of Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, looks at the relationship between Divine Worship (the Missal for the personal ordinariates erected under the auspices of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus) and the Extraordinary Form?
• LMS Chairman, Dr Joseph Shaw, explains why the recent petition to Rome by the Bishops of England and Wales for the prayer, ‘for the conversion of the Jews’, used in the Extraordinary Form Good Friday service, be replaced by its equivalent in the Ordinary Form is deeply troubling for the international movement in support of our liturgical tradition.
• Clare Bowskill, LMS Publicist, reports on the recent Family Retreat and Gregorian Chant Course. And, in another article, reports how extraordinary numbers attend the Triduum in the Old Rite this year.
• Barbara Kay, a regular worshipper at Christ the King in Bedford reveals how St Margaret Clitherow led her to the Latin Mass. 
All our regular features are there, including comment and opinion pieces, book reviews, Lone Veiler, Rome Report, your letters, a prize crossword, reports from our network of Diocesan Representatives, full listings of Traditional Masses across England and Wales, and much more besides. 

Read the summer edition of Mass of Ages HERE.

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Monday, May 09, 2016

Thank you, Bishop Egan: a new Oratory for Bournemouth

Ecce Agnus
Fr Dominic Jacob Cong. Orat. celebrating a High Mass for the LMS Pilgrimage to Oxford in 2008,
in Blackfriars, in the presence of Bishop William Kenney.
It was being announced yesterday that in September the church of the Sacred Heart in Bournemouth will become a new 'Oratory in formation', with an Oratorian from Oxford, Fr Dominic Jacob, and two priests of the Archdiocese of Southwark. This is wonderful news.

Bournemouth is an important center of population in Portsmouth Diocese, spilling over into Plymouth Diocese. Thanks to persistent local demand, a monthly Traditional Mass has been established there. We can expect the new Oratory to provide a more complete provision for the EF, as all the other Oratories in England do for their parishes.

This will bring the total number of Oratories of St Philip Neri, plus 'Oratories in formation', in England and Wales not to six, as the Catholic Herald suggested, but to seven. In addition to the long-standing Oratories in Birmingham and London, and the more recent foundation in Oxford, 'Oratories in formation' have or are being created in York, Manchester, Cardiff, and now Bournemouth. The rapidity of this growth is astonishing. It testifies to the new situation in the Church in England, a new openness to such foundations, and the availability of vocations to fill them.

This revival, with its emphasis on good liturgy, including the Traditional Mass, the availability of confession, and orthodoxy, is slowly transforming the Church in England from below.

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Prior Cassian Folsom to say Mass in Warwick St Sat 14th

The anniversary Requiem for Michael Davies celebrated in Warwick Street by Fr Tim Finigan last year.
Prior Cassian Folsom is going to celebrate a Missa Cantata in Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, at 12 noon on Saturday 14th May. (Click for a map.)

The event is organised by the Latin Mass Society in association with the Friends of Norcia.

Prior Folsom was due to speak at the LMS Conference that day, which sadly has been cancelled.

He will also be celebrating a Sung Mass in Our Lady of Willesden on Sunday 15th, Whitsun (Pentecost), at 5.30pm (Click for a map.)

A Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Willesden.

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Saturday, May 07, 2016

Letter in the Catholic Times this weekend: English Martyrs' feast days

Grotesquely innappropriate memorial to the 'martyrs of the Reformation'
in the University Church, St Mary's, in Oxford.
Last weekend there was an interesting letter from Christopher Keefe lamenting the neglect of the English Martyrs, who are grouped together with a feast day on 4th May in the Ordinary Form calendar. I have a letter in this weekend to point out that it is still possible to celebrate the old, separate, feasts for many of these martyrs with the Latin Mass Society.


Christopher Keefe (Letters, 29th April) laments the decline of public commemoration of the the English and Welsh Martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries, assigned a single feast day on 4th May.

In the pre-1970 calendar, used for the Extraordinary Form (Traditional) Mass, there are many separate feast days, for individuals and groups, often specific to a diocese, and this helps the Latin Mass Society in the task of commemorating these great men and women around the country. We arrange annual Masses for the Padley Martyrs in June and for St Richard Gwyn in Wrexham in October. Last weekend we honoured St Anne Line with a procession in York, as well as a splendid Mass, and will be processing through the streets of Oxford similarly to remind residents of the Catholic martyrs of that city, in October. In the last case our efforts have been rewarded with permanent public memorials at the two places of martyrdom in Oxford, which were previously unmarked. All these events are open to all.

These saints and beati certainly should not be neglected: we need their prayers more than ever today.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Sorrow hath filled your heart

John 16:5-11
But I told you not these things from the beginning, because I was with you. And now I go to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me: Whither goest thou? But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart. But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment. Of sin: because they believed not in me. And of justice: because I go to the Father; and you shall see me no longer. And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged.
Jesus leaves us, in one sense: his earthly ministry has come to an end. His continuing presence in the Church, in the Sacraments, and through the Holy Spirit, can seem difficult to discern. But the transition from one to the other is necessary for the Gospel to be preached universally, and for the glorification of our Lord: his final and permanent vindication by the Father in heaven, his taking up of his proper place of honour.

That vindication will be the Church's too: but not yet.

Happy feast of the Ascension.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Academic freedom and dissent: again

Jesus really should have made reasoned arguments which could have
been understood by those outside his faith tradition.
Back in 2012 I wrote about the argument made by Prof Tina Beattie that it was wrong for her invitations to speak at Catholic institutions (be they universities or parishes) to be withdrawn, on the basis of academic freedom.

Her argument was insane. The freedom of academics to speak and write as they wish does not imply an obligation on anyone to read or listen. It really is as simple as that. These institutions, or their leaders, are free to invite, not invite, or withdraw invitations, according to their own lights; to deny this would be to deny them freedom.

Chalcedon451, a Catholic blogger on All Along the Watchtower, has criticised Beattie's most recent critics, however. The post appears to make some concession to Beattie's claims to be using 'reason' in the service of the Church, but the central point would seem to be prudential.

This seems to me a real problem. I disagree with Professor Beattie’s views on abortion (and other matters), but to attack her in the way that has been done – as though no Catholic should ever dissent from the teaching of the Church on anything – and to make some of the comments I have seen on social media sites, is simply to turn her into the victim of what looks like a witch-hunt. If the aim is to get the Bishops to look at her activity, this seems not the way to achieve that objective. What Bishop wants to look as though he is trying to stifle the freedom of a woman academic to speak her mind?

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Beattie petition pro-abortion fringe

One of the most striking things about the Open Letter calling for continued legal abortion in Poland is the list of signatures. The petition has been promoted by some of the most well-connected people on the liberal Catholic scene, and yet the list of signatories they came up with is derisory.

Tina Beattie is ubiquitous on the liberal Catholic scene. She holds a professorial chair in Roehampton University, she sits on the Tablet's board, she is on CAFOD's  'Theological Reference Group', and she has been around a fair while - she must know everyone who matters. To promote this petition, she's been assisted by such liberal luminaries as Elriede Harth, the European representative of Catholics for Choice. And what have they come up with?

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Two insights into Latin from non-Catholic sources

Sign up for the LMS Latin Course with Fr John Hunwicke
and Fr Richard Bailey here.
Two recent news stories stuck me for their relevance to the debate about the use of Latin in the Church.

First, the Victoria and Albert Museum are putting on an exhibition of English needlework from the Middle Ages, called 'Opus Anglicanum', The Guardian carried a story about it, noting

'for the first time in decades, the museum has dared to use Latin in an exhibition title.'
It explained:

“We were a bit worried that people would find the title baffling,” said co-curator and textile expert Clare Browne. “Older people thought that younger people would find it off-putting – but in fact younger people thought it was mysterious and exciting.”

This is a startling assertion, but only because it is so exactly what we have found in the movement for the Traditional Latin Mass. I could have said it myself.

The second is a report in The Economist about whether being a native English-speaker is an advantage in a world where English is increasingly the language of business. It reported some interesting and surprising advantages enjoyed by those working in English for whom English is not their cradle language.

Ingenious researchers have found that sometimes decision-making in a foreign language is actually better. Researchers at the University of Chicago gave subjects a test with certain traps—easy-looking “right” answers that turned out to be wrong. Those taking it in a second language were more likely to avoid the trap and choose the right answer. Fluid thinking, in other words, has its down-side, and deliberateness an advantage.

(I've found an article about this research here; the reseach paper itself is here.)

From about the 8th until well into the 17th century, almost all theology and philosophy in the West was done in a language at some distance, at least, from the cradle language of those involved: Latin. In theology, a great deal of work continued to be done in such a language into the 20th century. This had so many advantages that it is hard to know where to begin: the ability of people to discuss ideas in the same language across the many linguistic barriers of Europe; the ability of people to engage directly with writers from the distant past in a language equipped with all the necessary technical terms; the levelling of the playing-field between linguistic groups; all the educational advantages ascribed to bi-lingualism, plus the special advantages of learning an inflected, and linguistically influential language like Latin.

But in addition to these manifold advantages, it would seem that people doing their philosophy and theology in Latin would actually have been doing better academic work because of the dispassionate 'deliberatness' involved in talking and writing in a second language. 

No wonder things went downhill after the loss of Latin as a working language for academics.

You can sign up for the Latin Mass Society's intensive five-day Latin course here.

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