Saturday, December 31, 2016

If the good guys win at the Synod

I first published this in October 2015. Events seem to have upheld my pessimism.

Farewell, the Year of Grace 2016! Hold onto your hats for 2017.

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time.
The Fourth Station: Jesus is met by His Blessed Mother

I wasn't around for the Second Vatican Council and its immediate aftermath, but on the basis of what I've read about those years, I feel as if I am watching an action-replay.

One thing to remember about it is that the terrible things which happened after the Council came after the promulgation of documents which had been much tweaked in a conservative direction, documents which the more conservative bishops felt they could, after all, support, since they were quite capable of being read in a way consistent with traditional views. For example, it was quite late in the proceedings that one famous sentence of the document on liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, assumed its final form:

'there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them'

with the addition of the phrase 'genuinly and certainly', 'vera et certa'. With this in the document, what more could anyone ask?

All sorts of qualifying footnotes and subclauses went into the documents of the Council to acheive the consensus votes which were thought to be appropriate - and rightly so. But the disasters which befell the Church afterwards still happened.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Children and the Traditional Mass


In the pause between Christmas and the New Year, on the feast of the Holy Innocents, I invite a little reflection on children and the liturgy.

I have written a few posts about this already on this blog, and the current issue of the Catholic Herald has a short piece by me on this topic. But today I am publishing a Position Paper about it on Rorate Caeli go there to read it.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

La Nativité - Lorenzo Costa
Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Read me in the Catholic Universe

I have a long article in the Christmas double issue of the Catholic Universe, about the Traditional Mass and the New Age. Here's a sneak preview. The article p42.

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Read me in the Catholic Herald

I'm in the Catholic Herald for their double, Christmas issue. Here's a sneak preview.

I can't say I'm very impressed by their choice of photo, but that's life.

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

The joys of polarisation

Cardinal Burke in St James', Spanish Place, for the Latin Mass Society

It is interesting to see EWTN giving Cardinal Burke the interview I posted yesterday, and the general pro-dubia stance they have taken. A similar editorial line is being taken by Church Militant. Less surprising is the support for the dubia coming from LifeSiteNews, which has long had a robust editorial line.

From a Traditional Catholic point of view, each of these organisations has come in for criticism over the years. Christopher Ferrara wrote a book, EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong with some stinging criticisms of their TV broadcasts, which showed a marked tendency to tone down their attachment to the Church's traditional teaching and spirituality after the retirement of Mother Angelica. I myself criticised Michael Voris's absurd and inconsistent vow never to criticise the Holy Father; in fact his 'Vortex' videos have continued studiously to avoid the subject of the dubia, which has been covered for them, as far as I can see, by Christine Niles. Even LifeSiteNews failed, in the end, to back up Hillary White when she was attacked some time ago by Ultramontanist fanatics for reporting something about the Pope which they simply wished hadn't happened.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cardinal Burke gives an interview

This isn't a blog which tries to keep up with all the news, but the video below is interesting. Cardinal Burke is very measured and very clear in an interview with EWTN's Raymond Arroyo.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Why is it so important to support the 4 Cardinals?

I have had a post published on First Things. It begins:

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a score of Catholic academics and pastors—of whom I am one—spoke out, in an open letter, in support of the “Four Cardinals” who submitted and then made public five “dubia” (doubts or questions) to Pope Francis on issues raised by his post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The four cardinals—Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, and Joachim Meisner—have taken a step that has few, if any, precedents.

As canonist Edward Peters has noted, the Four Cardinals’ letter is a “textbook” example of what one should do when in a state of perplexity about serious matters, according to Canon 212. What is unprecedented is that the problem should have escalated to this point, and have continued to escalate thereafter. That the pope should have declined—and made clear that he was declining—to answer such eminent petitioners, is extraordinary. That the Four Cardinals should have felt it necessary to go public is, in terms of the political expectations of the Roman Curia, little short of the nuclear option—even if the biblical, as well as the canonical, textbook would say it was their right and perhaps duty to do so (Matthew 18:15-17; Canon 212 §3). A group of academics and pastors weighing in on the Four Cardinals’ side, as certain bishops have, with a number of clerical and lay supporters of Pope Francis attacking them, would seem to be adding fuel to the flames.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gaudete Sunday in Hethe


Last Sunday I attended (and sang at) Mass in Holy Trinity, Hethe, an EF Sung Mass celebrated by Fr Paul Lester the Parish Priest.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Responses to Ivereigh on 'dissent'

Austen Ivereigh has written a rambling and intensly boring article on Crux in which he describes anyone not on board with his personal interpretation of Amoris laetitia as 'dissenters'. Yes, it is his personal interpretation because, as yet, there is no magisterial indication of how it should be understood, and liberals claiming to support the Pope over it have come up with a bewildering range of views. What does Austen think the authentic interpretation is? He doesn't say. But beware! If you reject it, you have dissented, just as those who wanted female ordination dissented back under Pope John Paul II.

Dissent from what? The word is usually used to refer to the teaching of the Church, but Ivereigh appears to mean from the personal views of the current Pope, which may of course vary from day to day and depend on whether he has toothache.

It would be nice to be able to say that anything so utterly ludicrous should be ignored but, sadly, this impassioned but empty invective appears to be the best that the semi-official Francis media team can come up with, and they are saying not only loudly, but with real menace. It serves to demonstrate, if nothing else, how completely empty is the intellectual backing for their position. Since Buttiglione tried to make a serious case for a 'liberal Amoris' and ended up contradicting what the Pope's favourite bishops were saying all around the world, they have actually nothing to say to defend themselves.

I don't have time to write more right now but several good responses to Ivereigh have appeared.

Christine Niles (Church Militant)

Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman

Fr John Hunwicke

Carl Olsen (Catholic World Report)

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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What's with a saturno?

Red Cappello Romano (or Saturno)
Blessed John Henry, Cardinal Newman's saturno, in the Birmingham Oratory

How could a harmless hat become the object of such strong feelings? Perhaps it is not so strange. My Facebook timeline has filled up with images of, mostly young, priests, wearing the things: posted by themselves. They are trying to say something by wearing it, and we shouldn't be so surprised when people who don't like the message use the hat as a symbol of it.

So what's the message?

1. Saturnos are fun.

You know what? Young priests have a sense of fun. This will perhaps be the aspect of the message which liberals find it hardest to understand. People of my generation, and younger, don't see liberalism as a blessed release from the strictures of the past. We grew up under the liberal jackboot. Liberals were the kill joys, the fun police, the people who like to say 'no'. Catholic culture is all about innocent pleasures, healthy and often edifying pleasures: about music and art and food and family life, about the joys as well as the pains and perils of pilgrimages, about feasting as well as fasting. Liberals hate those things: that, at any rate, was the impression we received.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Finnis and Grisez appeal to Pope Francis over Amoris laetitia

John Finnis and Germain Grisez, longstanding collaborators, are extremely eminent Catholic academics. Finnis is best known as a legal theorist, and Grisez as a moral theologian, but they have had the most notable influence on the Catholic debate in their joint and several work on the ethics of sex and of killing. They have been hugely influential, having founded what is identified (though not by them) as the school of 'New Natural Law' theory. They are not 'traditionalists'; they are rather establishment figures, in the context of the 'conservative' Catholic establishment. Their weighing into this debate is of the greatest significance.

I have followed their work closely as a philosopher, and there are many areas in which my own views diverge from theirs. One of the interesting things about their letter, for me, is that I agree with every word of it.

Here is their letter. There is some more commentary on First Things.


The Misuse of Amoris Laetitia to
Support Errors against the Catholic Faith:
A Letter to the Supreme Pontiff Francis, to all bishops in
communion with him, and to the rest of the Christian faithful

In this letter, John Finnis and Germain Grisez request Pope Francis to condemn eight positions against the Catholic faith that are being supported, or likely will be, by the misuse of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. They ask all bishops to join in this request and to issue their own condemnations of the erroneous positions, while reaffirming the Catholic teachings these positions contradict.

The eight positions are these.

Position A:
A priest administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation may sometimes absolve a penitent who lacks a purpose of amendment with respect to a sin in grave matter that either pertains to his or her ongoing form of life or is habitually repetitive.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Letter from Catholic Academics and Pastors in support of the Dubia


This press release speaks for itself; I am a signatory.

I have given a statement to Lifesitenews:

While many prominent prelates and academics feel obliged to remain silent during this time of crisis, it has fallen to the four Cardinals to seek paternal guidance from the Holy Father, asking him to exercise the central charism of the Papacy, and 'confirm the brethren' in the faith (Luke 22:32).

I and the other signatories wish to support that request. The Holy Father alone has the power to resolve the current confusion, and must urgently do so for the good of souls.

The message from some of those who claim to support Pope Francis' position, appears to be the Catholics should simultaneously believe that the teaching of Pope St John Paul II--and all his predecessors--remains correct, and also that it is no longer applicable in concrete situations. To demand that people undertake this doublethink is not the action of a good father; it is an abuse of ordinary Catholics and of the truth. To reject this kind of defence of Amoris laetitia is required not only by the Faith but by our sanity.


Statement of Support for the Four Cardinals’ Dubia

As Catholic scholars and pastors of souls, we wish to express our profound gratitude and full support for the courageous initiative of four members of the College of Cardinals, Their Eminences Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Leo Burke, Carlo Caffarra and Joachim Meisner. As has been widely publicized, these cardinals have formally submitted five dubia to Pope Francis, asking him to clarify five fundamental points of Catholic doctrine and sacramental discipline, the treatment of which in Chapter 8 of the recent Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (AL) appears to conflict with Scripture and/or Tradition and the teaching of previous papal documents – notably Pope St. John Paul II’s Encyclical Veritatis Splendor and his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. Pope Francis has so far declined to answer the four cardinals; but since they are in effect asking him whether the above weighty magisterial documents still require our full assent, we think that the Holy Father’s continued silence may open him to the charge of negligence in the exercise of the Petrine duty of confirming his brethren in the faith.

Several prominent prelates have been sharply critical of the four cardinals’ submission, but without shedding any light on their pertinent and searching questions. We have read attempts to interpret the apostolic exhortation within a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ by Christoph Cardinal Schӧnborn and Professor Rocco Buttiglione; but we find that they fail to demonstrate their central claim that the novel elements found in AL do not endanger divine law, but merely envisage legitimate changes in pastoral practice and ecclesiastical discipline.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The meaning of Papal silence

Jesus is stripped of His garments.

Silence is not necessarily a neutral response to a question. There is an interesting discussion of it in the courtroom scene in A Man for All Seasons. Silence implies consent: but consent to what depends on the context. Silence can imply approval and complaisance, or the opposite: contempt, or a complete lack of interest.

In any case, the question of meaning is separate from the question of motivation. Motives for actions may be hidden deep in the heart; meanings are public, and are set by the public understandings of words, gestures, and the context in which they occur. That’s not to say that any one person’s understanding of the meaning of a statement, or a symbolic action, or omission, is infallible; it is just to point out the obvious, that it is not open to anyone to use the word ‘no’ to mean ‘yes’ simply by a mental act inaccessible to anyone else. His statement may be insincere, but it still means ‘no’.

With Pope Francis, it is hard not to be reminded of politicians’ use of the phrase ‘my position is very clear’, which is generally followed by a pre-prepared statement which does not answer the question. We may say that the Pope’s position is ‘very clear’, in a similar way. The path to the present crisis is strewn with references to how the teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is maintained. But no less insistent is the claim that Amoris laetitia has not simply left things as they were before. Something has changed, something which will make a big difference to a large number of people, something which makes it possible for many people formerly considered, officially, ineligible for Holy Communion, able to receive now, after they and their friendly local priest have ‘discerned’ this.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Does anyone want a harmonium?

A (more or less) working harmonium is Holy Trinity Church, Hethe, Oxfordshire is available for anyone who wants it. (Contact details here.)

Contact the parish to see it or collect it.

Holy Trinity is a lovely church, which thanks to an enterprising former Parish Priest has a very interesting 18th century chamber organ (in need of some restoration). For some reason it also has this harmonium, which takes up a good deal of space in the tiny choir loft.

Someone: give it a home!

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Religious absolutism

Reposted from January 2015

Some years I recall a fellow Oxford academic speculating about why Christianity and Islam, among world religions, were the ones used to justify the persecution of religious dissent. Perhaps, he suggested, it was because they were absolutist religions: they claimed an exclusive possession of the truth.

It wasn't clear how he imagined Hinduism and Buddhism worked; I fancy he was as ignorant about them as I was, and am. But it must have been a long time ago, because this conversation clearly predated the emergence, at least into the Western media, of militant Hinduism in India, and the persecution of Christians and Muslims by militant Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Burma.

So, so much for that idea. But the idea of religious absolutism has been wheeled out again in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Some forms of some religions are incompatible with Western democracies, we hear, but most are fine, and the difference can be expressed by the idea of religious absolutism. Absolutist religions: bad. Non-absolutist religions: good, or, at least, ok.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

First EF Missa Cantata in Holy Rood Church, Oxford


Since the church was consecrated in 1970 I think we may fairly claim that this is the first time a Missa Cantata has been celebrated there.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Prior Cassian Folsom of Norcia retires

Fr Benedict, new Prior of Norcia
Fr Cassian Folsom, the founder of the Benedictine community at Norcia (Italy), has after 18 years as superior retired. The new Prior is Fr Benedict, of the community.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What could happen next?

Proclaiming the Gospel: Dominican Rite
The letter of the 'four Cardinals' seeking a clarification of the meaning of Amoris laetitia raises the question: what could happen next? In terms of official process, Cardinal Burke has answered: a formal 'correction' of the Holy Father. This kind of thing is so rare in the Church that the way this could happen, and the implications it could have, are simply not mapped out by custom, but only by theological speculation.

The theoretical possibility of the condemnation of a reigning Pope for heresy, in such a way that has canonical consequences, is explained helpfully by Robert Siscoe here. Although this account seems sensible to me, I'm no expert and no doubt some will find fault with it. I don't want to get into the details, however: Siscoe's analysis can serve as a reference point, the view of a traditionalist, but definitely not a sede vacantist. My point would be: if this is what people like him think, then the hoops people are going to have to jump through to make such a thing happen are, for practical purposes, insuperable. Call a council of the Church? Get it to meet? Get it to denounce him? Get it to recognise such a denunciation as activating his loss of office? Elect a new Pope? We'll all be having snow-ball fights in hell before this happens.

But if that is so, what will happen? Or, perhaps better: what is happening?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Annual Requiem in St Benet's Hall


Last Saturday the annual Requiem Mass I organise in St Benet's Hall chapel took place. St Benet's is the Benedictine house of studies and a Permanent Private Hall of Oxford University.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Is Brendan O'Neil a snowflake?

I'm reposting this from Facebook, with a little extra commentary.

Is Brendan O'Neill a snowflake? I challenged his Dan Brown version of history and got my comment deleted from his post. Funny thing is that he believes in an almost absolute freedom of expression, and I don't at all. I just think what you want to censor tells everyone else something about you.
He wrote:
The response of the old media to its waning influence over public thinking, and its displacement by new sources of information and internet chatter, has been extraordinary. Following Brexit and Trump they've behaved like those monks who raged against the invention of the printing press because they feared -- rightly, as it turned out -- that it would overturn their dominion over truth. Fifteenth-century monks feared the spread of heresy thanks to printing; now we fear the spread of fake news thanks to Facebook.
Sure, there's a lot of bullshit on the internet. I see it everyday. But so what? I still feel about the web what John Foxe felt about the printing press:
"[W]ith printing, writing, and reading, convince darkness by light, error by truth, ignorance by learning... [and] hereby tongues are known, knowledge groweth, judgment increaseth, books are dispersed, the Scripture is seen, the doctors be read, stories be opened, times compared, truth discerned, falsehood detected, with finger pointed, and all, as I said, through the benefit of printing."
This is 'John Foxe' as in the notorious Protestant propagandist, author of the Book of Martyrs, who hastily re-invented the idea of post-Biblical saints (after the real ones had been expunged from popular devotions by the Reformers), in order to score points off 'Bloody' Mary. Yes, the book was called by 'Foxe's Book of Liars' by Cobbet, who ought to be a hero to people like O'Neil but perhaps he was off school when they covered him.
I asked him if he had any sources for his claims about '15th century monks' and was told 'Jesus wept. Read some history', so I posted a photo of p77 of Eamonn Duffy's Stripping of the Altars, which begins Duffy's magisterial demolition of the hoary old chestnut that printing was more useful to the radicals than to the religious conservatives. How does O'Neil respond to reasoned argument? He hits the delete key.
It was Catholics who had the secret printing presses and the samizdat bookshops in England in the Reformation period. That doesn't fit the establishment's official historical narrative. I don't think O'Neil sees himself as an establishment shill. If he has swallowed that, it can only be through ignorance. Perhaps he should take his own advice and read some history.


Thus far FB. For my temerity in noting these events, I have now been blocked and unfriended by O'Neil.

The alliance between Catholics and libertarians is always strictly tactical, not strategic, as I've pointed out a few times on this blog. What is interesting is that O'Neil has behaved in exactly the way that what he calls the 'snowflakes' of the left have behaved, for which he has been lambasting them for years. They proclaim their openness to ideas, they talk about free speech, but when challended by actual, scholarly, arguments about something they hold dear, they throw their toys out of the pram.

Clearly, the idea that '15th century monks' were evil and oppressive is just too close to his heart for O'Neil to brook dissent. The funniest thing, really, is the idea that 15th century monks, or indeed monks of any century, somehow had a 'dominion over truth'. This is Dan Brown merging into Philip Pullman, on speed. Long before the 15th century there was a brisk non-monastic, commercial book-copying industry in London and the University towns. The monks were important in preserving classical learning in the early Middle Ages, but a funny kind of 'dominion over truth' that was: copying books they didn't agree with being more or less the opposite of Brenden O'Neil's social media policy.

For the record, I believe in censorship of pornography, blasphemy, and profanity, as far as my twitter feed goes, which is about the only thing I have any control over outside my own home, and I unfollow people who tweet those things into my timeline. Everyone is free to draw what conclusions they like about me from that.

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

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Confirmations in London: photo essay


John Aron took lovely photographs of the Confirmations which took place last Saturday at St James' Spanish Place. Bishop John Sherrington, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster, officiated. There were I think 20 candidates.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Young trads: faddish and rigid

Dominican High Mass in Oxford with the Latin Mass Society
The Holy Father's discussion of the motivation of young people who like the Traditional Mass has been somewhat eclipsed by other news, but I wanted to come back to it. There is more than has usually been quoted; here's a bit more context from Rorate Caeli.

I ask him: "Other than those who are sincere and ask for this possibility out of habit or devotion, can this desire express something else? Are there dangers?"

[Pope:] "I ask myself about this. For example, I always try to understand what is behind those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless. I have at times found myself in front of people who are too rigid, an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: how come so much rigidity? You dig, you dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, at times perhaps something else... [sic] The rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid."

I insist: what about tradition? Some understand it in a rigid way.

[Pope:] "But no: tradition blooms!" he responds. "There is a Traditionalism that is a rigid fundamentalism: it is not good. Faithfulness instead implies a growth. Tradition, in the transmission from one age to the next of the deposit of the faith, grows and consolidates with the passage of time, as Saint Vincent of Lérins said in his Commonitorium Primum

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Juventutem Mass in London on Friday 25th Nov

Friday 25th November at 7:30pm, at St Mary Moorfields', Eldon Street, London EC2M 7LS.

Polyphonic music by Morales, provided by Cantus Magnus under Matthew Schellhorn.

See Facebook here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"a formal act of correction of a serious error"

Cardinal Burke speaks to Edward Pentin: see the NCR here. But I'm pasting in the whole interview - it is quite short. It answers some of the questions people have been asking, on this blog as elsewhere.

The step of making a 'formal act of correction' would be the preliminary, according to classical theology and Church discipline, of declaring someone - anyone - a formal heretic. Being a material heretic - having the wrong ideas and not realising it - could happen to anyone and doesn't have any implications for being in communion with the Church, holding offices and so on. (This is something sede vacantists don't always understand.)

The only people who could possibly give such a warning to a Pope would be, as Burke suggests, Cardinals and Bishops. What exactly would happen if the Pope received such a warning and ignored it (maybe twice or three times), is a matter of theological dispute. These are uncharted waters, and I still don't think it very likely we'll get to that point. The process itself is important, however, because as well as the Holy Father having the right that people speak to him honestly about their concerns, the Faithful have the right to guidance, from those in the Church with the competence to give it. That is why it is necessary that, at the appropriate time, this document has been made public.

It is possible (epistemically possible: 'for all I know') that there is a way to read all the documents in such a way that they cohere and the difficulties all go away. Such an interpretation cannot just be hinted at or adumbrated by private scholars: given the gravity of the situation, it must be done both clearly and authoritatively. That is what hasn't happened, and this initiative of Cardinal Burke has been to ask, politely but insistently, that if there is such an interpretation out there, Pope Francis should not be keeping it to himself.


Your Eminence, what do you aim to achieve by this initiative?
The initiative is aimed at one thing only, namely the good of the Church, which, right now, is suffering from a tremendous confusion on at least these five points. There are a number of other questions as well, but these five critical points have to do with irreformable moral principles. So we, as cardinals, judged it our responsibility to request a clarification with regard to these questions, in order to put an end to this spread of confusion that is actually leading people into error.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Letter of four Cardinals to Pope Francis for clarification of AL: unanswered

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli - I don't have time to write about this today or tomorrow, but this is tremendously important, please read the letter, dubia, and explanations given by the four Cardinals.


The letter containing 5 clarification questions ("dubia") was signed by four Cardinals on September 18 -- Italian Carlo Caffarra, emeritus of Bologna, American Raymond Burke, emeritus of St Louis and former president of the tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and Germans Walter Brandmüller, eminent historian and emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, and Joachim Meisner, emeritus of Cologne. They were sent with an accompanying letter.

The full text is provided below (several sources, including Edward Pentin and Sandro Magister).

Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in "Amoris Laetitia"

1. A Necessary Foreword

The sending of the letter to His Holiness Pope Francis by four cardinals derives from a deep pastoral concern.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Traditional Requiem in Westminster Cathedral

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.


Last weekend the Latin Mass Society held its annual Requiem in Westminster Cathedral. Solemn Mass was followed by Pontifical absolutions at the catafalque led by Bishop Mark Jabale, the retired bishop of Menevia in Wales. Photos were taken by John Aron.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

LMS Wall calendars and Christmas cards

For the first time for many years, the Latin Mass Society is selling Christmas Cards. These are, naturally, cards with a religious theme and an appropriate picture on the front! Not something to be taken for granted from most suppliers.

Christmas cards available here.

Wall calendars available here.

Please take the opportunity to support our work by getting your cards from us and one of our beautiful wall calendars.

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

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Vespers of the Dead in Warwick Street

The Vespers of the Dead I've been advertising took place on Wednesday, and was very well attended. Matthew Schellhorn with his Cantus Magnus group sung faux-bourdon by Viadana and Palestrina on alternate verses of all the psalms and the Magnificat, which was very effective.


Chris Hodkinson expertly led the team in the sanctuary.

I hope to make this an annual event.


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

Friday, November 04, 2016

Westminster Cathedral EF Requiem this Saturday


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.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Annual Requiem in St Benet's Hall

Saturday 19th November, at 11:30am, in the chapel of St Benet's Hall, Oxford. Everyone is welcome.

I hope it will be another High Mass; if not, it'll be a Missa Cantata.

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

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

LMS Oxford Pilgrimage - and the fruits of the Reformation


The LMS Pilgrimage to Oxford last Sat honoured the four martyrs of 1589 who died on the Town Gallows, now marked with a plaque: two priests and two laymen who had protected them. 

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.


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

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

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.

Friday, September 30, 2016

'You can't fight it'

An act of evangelisation: the LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham
I have to confess that developments over the last few years in the Church and the world have left me a little dispirited. Not all the news has been bad--far from it--but on a series of issues fundamental to the continued possibility of civilised life, the forces ranged against sanity have, at present, considerable momentum. Not only is it difficult to see how they can be defeated on the current balance of forces, but the balance of forces is becoming progressively less favourable as time goes on.

To give an example from secular politics, here in the UK we have no serious political party which supports anything recognisable as social conservatism. To give an example from the Church, although numbers attending Mass have been bolstered by immigration, the decline in marriages celebrated in church continues. On previous occasions when, after all kinds of difficulties, the Church has experienced a great revival, it has been because Catholic families survived the crisis in sufficient numbers to provide the priests, lay leaders, reformers, and above all the foot-soldiers of a revived Church in the new situation. How many faithful Catholic families are there going to be, in England and Wales or indeed anywhere in the West, in 20 or 30 years' time?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Traditional Confirmations in London: not too late to book for November

Confirmation in the Traditional Rite will take place in St James', Spanish Place, in London, on Saturday, November 12 2016, organised by the Latin Mass Society.

Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Titular Bishop of Hilta, will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional Rite on Saturday 12 November 2016, at St James Spanish Place, London at 11.00am. This will be followed by Pontifical Benediction.

If you would like more information about Confirmations in the Extraordinary Form, or would like your child, or yourself, confirmed, please contact the LMS Office on020 7404 7284 or email us.

To register your child or yourself, see here for further details.

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