Monday, October 31, 2016

Sewing Retreat with the Guild of St Clare

This is the first such event, and I'm delighted to advertise it here: a retreat, with spiritual conferences and daily Traditional Mass, with the opportunity for confession, for people wanting to do some sewing, particularly on liturgical items. Friday 10th to Sunday 12th February

You can book here.

The priory at Boars Hill

The Retreat will run between Friday 10th and Sunday 12th February. Our chaplain is Fr Richard Biggerstaff, the Director of the St Barnabas Society, and he will give us spiritual conferences throughout the weekend and also be available for Confessions. There will, of course, be daily Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and other devotions as well. Sewing sessions will mainly be dedicated to mending and making vestments. We don't expect retreatants to have any previous experience of this, so complete beginners need not be put off! All materials will be provided. There will also be a small (very small!) shop selling sewing equipment, so if you haven't a sewing kit or need to replenish the one you've got, there will be ample opportunity to invest. Please do bring a basic sewing kit with you, if you have one: small sharp scissors, needles, pins, tape measure, a thimble if you use one.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

On Gossip and cults

Where 105 Catholics became victims of tyranny.
This short passage in a book I'm reading struck me as worth sharing. The subject is cults--groups using psychological techniques to exploit their members for an ulterior goal (usually the enrichment of the founder).

In many groups, there is a "no gossip" or "no nattering" rule which keeps people from expressing their doubts or misgivings about what is going on. This rule is usually rationalized by saying that gossip will tear apart the fabric of the group or destroy unity, when in reality the rule is a mechanism to keep members from communicating anything other than positive endorsements.

M.T. Singer, Cults in Our Midst, pp69-70

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Patriarchy, weediness, and neo-conservatism

Thinking about the ongoing debate on marriage, I thought I'd repost this, from Februrary 2016.

Feed my sheep.

Something I have mentioned a few times I can now make more explicit: what neo-conservatives have done to marriage.

Patriarchy involves rights and duties for both parties. Over the millennia, Christian and non-Christian versions of Patriarchy have given men the incentive necessary to get them to commit to spouse and family, that is, to provide their families with support and protection. Christian Patriarchy, taking inspiration from the mystical relationship between Christ and the Church, raises Patriarchy to a higher level, as grace builds upon nature, but the point of it, the incentive to men and the support and protection to women, remains. Grace builds on nature, it does not abolish nature. By connecting the traditional prerogative of authority to the authority of Christ, Christian Patriarchy tells us more about what that authority is for (the benefit of the family as a community), but emphasises even more that this authority is to be taken seriously.

Feminists and radical liberals are hostile to the very concept of the family, because the family passes on values without reference to the state, and totalitarians cannot tolerate this. But the conservatives of today have done something very strange as well. In response to the claim that Patriarchy is oppressive, their response has been: well ok, let's stress the duties of the husband to the wife, and the prerogatives of the wife over the husband, and ignore or even deny the duties of the wife to the husband, and the prerogatives of the husband over the wife.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Vespers of the Dead on All Souls Day, in Warwick Street, London

Requiem for Michael Davies in 2015 in Warwick Street.

Fr Mark Elliot Smith, the Parish Priest, will officiate at a celebration of

Vespers of the Dead


All Souls Day, 

5:30pm Wednesday 2nd November, 

in his lovely church of 

Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, 

Warwick Street, W1B 5LZ

Vespers will be in the Traditional form, and will be accompanied by
Cantus Magnus with polyphony, including Viadana and Palestrina.

All are welcome.


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Juventutem London Mass on Friday 28th Oct

The next Mass and get-together of the London Juventutem group is this Friday. All are welcome to the Mass, in St Mary Moorfields at 7:30pm; the 'social' afterwards is age-restricted (see the poster below).

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Amoris laetitia and the Bishops of Buenos Aires

IMG_0507I'm coming late to the party on this news, but I feel the need to think this through a bit by setting the matter out in a blog post. Everything in this post is, obviously, my personal opinion for which I don't claim any particular authority.

The saga of the interpretation of Amoris laetitia took a step forward with the publication of a letter addressed to priests from the bishops of the pastoral area of Buenos Aires, and the arrival in the public domain, somehow, of Pope Francis' response to that letter. This was an enthusiastic endorsement: 'The document is very good and completely explains the meaning of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia,' he told them, adding: 'There are no other interpretations.'

The choreography of the letter and the Pope's response in the media leaves little doubt that the Pope wishes this to be seen widely as the correct interpretation of Amoris laetitia. I don't say it is an 'authoritative' interpretation since the Pope's letter to the bishops does not look like a magisterial act. What it does do, all the same, is give us a clearer take on Pope Francis' personal view than we have had up until now.

Monday, October 17, 2016

LMS Pilgrimage to Wrexham

There was a Missa Cantata at Wrexham Cathedral in Wales on Saturday for the LMS annual Pilgrimage to Wrexham in honour of St Richard Gwyn, a co-patron saint of the LMS.

The diocese of Wrexham is currently suffering considerable upheaval and church closures at the moment. It's great to see the Traditional latin Mass flourishing there.

Canon Scott Tanner was the celebrant and he brought with him a team of servers and singers from the Dome of Home.

More on the LMS Wresxham blog.
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Saturday, October 15, 2016

The new LMS website is here!

to see the all-new LMS website!

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Now there's an app to learn the server's responses at Mass!

Highly recommended! Well done to Bill Redic and Una Voce Pittsburg for making this available.

This is a very specialized application - a training aid for servers of the Traditional Latin Mass. It provides a three-step aid to memorization of the Latin prayers and responses which a new server must master.
On the Memorize tab, all of the Latin prayers and responses, along with a phonetic pronunciation guide, are displayed. The new server must devote hours to the hard work of committing these prayers to memory.
On the Practice tab, the server hears a recording of a Priest and Server reciting the Latin prayers and responses. By reciting along with the Server, while following along with the written prayers, he becomes more familiar with them. Ten buttons allow easy repetition of particular prayers on the recording.
Finally, on the Test tab, the server tests his proficiency. The audio contains only the Priest's voice, and the new server must make all of the responses. By using the Pause button, he can get help with any prayer on which he is stumbling.

This app is free, and in fact makes available the audio which has been sold on tapes and then CDs by Una Voce Pittsburgh since 1995.

See Introibo in the Apple store.

See more at

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Children and the New Mass

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by / A sight so touching in its majesty. (Wordsworth)
Continuing my theme of the last post, I can summarise what I have been saying in this way. Having an experience which one doesn't fully comprehend will lead to greater understanding, if it or similar experiences are repeated regularly, especially if, further, there are opportunities for asking questions from time to time, and other kinds of help. The liturgy is like this for children, but it is also like the experience of the emotional life of the family, since it evokes emotional and spiritual responses. Just as within family life, as children grow up they become more sensitive to emotional cues and more comprehending of others' needs, they also gain acuteness, from repeated experience, in the emotional and spiritual significance of the liturgy. There is a also a parallel in the special sensitivity very small children have to atmosphere.

The Novus Ordo Missae, and the attitudes which led to it, has created a problem in relation to children, because the leading idea of the reform was that worshippers should be able to understand the liturgy at a verbal level. That is the point of putting it into the vernacular, or having shorter and theologically simpler prayers, of getting the people to make more responses, and so on. Why is this a problem for children, you ask? Doesn't all this make it easier for children to understand? At a verbal level, the OF is indeed easier for children to understand. The problem is that if your conception of participation is verbal comprehension, then you have set yourself an impossible task in getting children, particularly small children, to participate. It doesn't matter how simple the language is. Some of the children at Mass can't even talk.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Children at Mass

At the St Catherine's Trust Summer School
Seeing this post on the internet, by a Protestant about children's liturgies, which makes some good points, has stimulated me to attempt to put my thoughts into order about children at Mass. However this process is still at an early stage...

I have written on this blog about how the 1974 Directory on Children explicitly promoted the idea that children should be introduced to the liturgy through 'human values', and expected them to 'open their eyes' to the supernatural nature of the liturgy only at a later stage. I think this idea is the source of a large proportion of the confusion and mistakes which are found in the debate today. It seemed to me to parallel Maria Montissori's argument that young children are not ready for fairy stories, because they cannot distinguish fantasy and reality. It is also related to the idea we find in the Liturgical Movement, that 'understanding' is necessary to participation in the liturgy. If 'understanding' is a matter of being able to articulate the message being conveyed, then this is a argument for a drastic simplification of the liturgy, a simplification which must go even further when the liturgy is being offered to the 'simple', and to children. This is exactly the pattern we see in progressive liturgical talk, so I think this must be what they are thinking, or something like it. The poor and uneducated cannot understand complicated theology, give them something simple, they say.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Fundraiser for the Alliance of Pro-Life Students

In the current climate, student pro-life societies are under great pressure and need support more than ever. One group doing this is the Alliance of Pro-Life Students, to which Oxford Students for Life is affiliated.

You can support them through their website; they are also having a fundraising party in London on 20th October: see below.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

In favour of liturgy shaming

I'm reposting this from February 2016 since it has been linked to by a new post defending William Bornhoft's article, which stimulated this as a response.

View from the choir loft: LMS Mass at Milton Manor, a historic Catholic house where Mass was said in secret.
I was struck reading this, from my old friend William Bornhoft (linked to by the normally sensible Deacon Greg Kandra), about people who posted negative comments on a parish's Facebook photo album of grotesquely innapropriate and mostly illict liturgical frolickings.

Parish problems should be dealt with on the parish level, when possible. If that fails, they should be dealt with on the diocesan level, and so on.

Excuse me, but have you tried it?

Bornhoft is a young man, and doesn't know any better. Indeed, his naivety on this subject might even be said to do him credit, insofar as it is not a matter of wilful refusal to face the facts. The reality is, however, the course of action he recommends will very rarely have any tangible positive effect, but unless handled very carefully can easily do harm.

As Chairman of the Latin Mass Society I know a thing or two about appealing to the proper authorities, and I have heard the stories of people who have been in this game since the 1970s. Whether it is liturgical abuses, heretical school textbooks, or refusals to allow the Traditional Mass, the pattern is the same. Yes, we have had our successes, but success requires a combination of factors which rarely occur.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Requiems in November: London and Oxford

On Saturday, 5th November 2016, the Latin Mass Society will have its Annual Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral at 2.00pm. This will be celebrated by Bishop Mark Jabalé O.S.B., Emeritus Bishop of Menevia. The MC will be Canon Poucin de Wouilt ICKSP.

On Saturday 19th November, at 11:30am, the annual Requiem at St Benet's Hall, Oxford, will take place. St Benet's is 38 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LN, in central Oxford, all are welcome. Below is the report from last year's Requiem.


A work of pietas undertaken by current and former members of St Benet's Hall, to offer Mass for the repose of former members and benefactors of the institution, facilitated by the Latin Mass Society.


If a Catholic institution of any kind does not have an annual requiem for this intention, then it should do.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Richard Swinburne, homosexuality and the Society of Christian Philosophers

Last Saturday Professor Richard Swinburne, one of the world’s most eminent philosophers of religion, was the keynote speaker at a regional (Midwest) conference of the Society of Christian Philosophers. He had chosen the title‘Christian Moral Teaching on Sex, Family, and Life’. In his characteristically careful and dispassionate way, he suggested thatshould anyone wish to defend Biblical sexual ethics, he should come up with some rationale for otherwise arbitrary divine commands. What could be the rationale for the prohibition on homosexual sexual acts?  Well, homosexual couples sometimes express the desire for offspring, which cannot, in any straightforward way, be satisfied, and one may on that basis regard the homosexual orientation as a disability.If, again, there is truth in the idea that sexual orientation can be influenced by example, then forbidding homosexual sexual activity could in some measure reduce the number of homosexuals. Put the two ideas together and, if the empirical claims are true, then there’s the beginnings, at least, of a rationale for the command.

Cue outrage, vituperation, and an extraordinary attempt by the President of the Society of Christian Philosophers, Professor Michael Rea, to distance his organisation from views which are, apparently, entirely outside the range of the acceptable.