Thursday, August 17, 2017

Trump, Fascism, Evangelisation

Here is a post I did on Trump back in May 2016.

It may be time for me to write something about the 'traditionalism' of the 'alt-right', though I am put off by the prospect of reading up on it. There is an excellent article on the attitude of Richard Spencer (the alt-right's founding figure) to the pro-life movement, which perhaps tells us what we need to know. He's against, because he likes the fact that lots of black babies are aborted.

As I've said before, people who didn't like the 'religious right' are going to love the 'post-religious right'.

Proclaiming the Gospel: at the LMS Training Conference, Prior Park
I've been reading the collection of Dietrich von Hildebrand's writings published as My Struggle Against Hitler, which I highly recommend. Hildebrand, who much later emerged as one of the intellectual founders of the movement for the preservation of the Traditional Mass, was an important ideological opponent of the Nazis. He had to flee Germany when they came to power, and set up an anti-Nazi newspaper in Austria, until he had to flee from there as well.

Hildebrand was a philosopher by profession, and his analysis of the Nazi phenomenon, as a contemporary, is fascinating. He regards Nazism and Communism as feeding off a rejection of liberal individualism, but offering a false alternative to it. Instead of restoring to people a sense of identity rooted in genuine communities, they gave people an ersatz sense of belonging through the whipping up of mass hysteria, and based their ideologies on an idolisation of particular communities at the expense of all others, and of the value of the individual: for the Communists it was class, for the Nazis, race.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Autumn Mass of Ages published

Mass of Ages is the quarterly magazine of the Latin Mass Society. It contains reports on our many activities across the country, national and international news of Traditional Catholic events, feature articles on different aspects of traditional Faith and culture, and opinions and views on developments in the Catholic Church.

The autumn 2017 edition is now available. The cover article, History in the Making, is a report on the first Ordinations in the Traditional Rite in England for more than 50 years. Other features are Angels and devils, by Canon Amaury Montjean of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest on the writings of St Francis de Sales, Thirty years of the Old Rite, a history of the Traditional Mass on the Isle of Wight and The Peace of Christ, in which the LMS Chairman, Dr Joseph Shaw, looks at the history of the paxbrede.
Also in the edition of Mass of Ages:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Music and silence: how I hate them both!

Reposted from February 2016


So exclaimed Screwtape, the devil imagined by C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters. Music and silence have a lot in common, and it is something which enrages the devil.

Matthew Schellhorn, pianist and the LMS Director of Music for London, is this week exploring the relationship between the two on the Catholic Herald website. Here's a taster.

January 2016 saw an appeal from Cardinal Sarah for a “high-quality liturgical renewal” involving silence as a fundamental component. We need to respect silence in the sacred liturgy as “a Christian ascetical value”, a “necessary condition for deep, contemplative prayer”. Sarah asks: “If our ‘interior cell phone’ is always busy because we are ‘having a conversation’ with other creatures, how can the Creator reach us, how can he ‘call us’?”

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Deadline for the Walsingham Pilgrimage!

There deadline is Monday 21th August. This is necessary for the caterers and other aspects of the pilgrimage; please don't try to book after that date! Do it before! Do it now!

The Pilgrimage runs from Thursday 24th (we gather in the afternoon and evening in Ely) to Sunday 27th, when we have our big Mass in Walsingham at 2pm, followed by a procession to the site of the Holy House. Some stay the night in Walsingham but it is possible to get back to London on Sunday. If you stay until Monday morning, we have another Mass, sung, in the Slipper Chapel at 10am.

We walk over three days the 55 miles from Ely to Walsingham, accompanied by the Traditional Mass and devotions, in the spirit of the great Chartres Pilgrimage.

Here is a little video about it. The booking page has lots more information.

It is an unforgettable experience, plus hot evening meals!

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

Mass in the Slipper Chapel at the shrine.
The cost is £90 for an adult, if you are an LMS member - and you can join at the same time.

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

Book here.

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Cardinal Burke to celebrate traditional Pontifical Mass in Glasgow, 2nd Sept

Leo, Cardinal Burke, will celebrate a Pontifical High Mass on Saturday 2nd September, at 12 noon.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church is 162 Broomfield Rd, Glasgow G21 3UE

Well done to UV Scotland for arranging this!

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ivereigh on converts and cradle Catholics

Our Lord surrounded by converts.
Austen Ivereigh has done it again: driven his opponents (many of whom he helpfully names) into a defensive frenzy, one which almost seems to prove the point he is making - namely, that these individuals get worked up too easily.

I want to say something about Ivereigh's modus operandi, before saying something about the substantive issue, which is to do with the fact that Ivereigh has noted that a number of people who worry about aspects of Pope Francis' papacy are converts, not cradle Catholics.

I must be frank: I think Ivereigh is a kind of genius. Watching him debate Matthew Schmittz of First Things on Al-Jezeera is like watching a gad-fly in combat with a sumo-wrestler. He has done the same thing in this recent post on Crux about converts. I am interested in the form as well as the content of arguments, and I recognise a master at work. How does he do it?

There is, in fact, a formula.

1. Whenever your opponent raises an objection to something you have said, don't let yourself be pinned down: just change the subject.

You have some detailed and nuanced concerns about the interpretation of Amoris laetitiae? Let's talk about converts and cradle Catholics!

This is effective in extended public debate, private conversation and televised discussion alike. Some years ago I fell into conversation with the distinguished Church historian, Prof Henry Mayr-Harting - a pretty liberal Catholic - on a crowded train from London to Oxford. He was in pugnatious mood and we argued pleasantly the whole way. But he never replied to my objections to anything he said except in such a way that I was provoked into addressing a substantially new claim that he was making. By the end of the journey I felt as if I'd spent an hour wrestling with a ghost. Since then I've seen this strategy in action from Mgr Basil Loftus as well as Austen Ivereigh.

This works by appealing, in one's defence, to principles or facts with which one's opponent strongly disagrees, and that brings us to the next part of the formula.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Come to Walsingham with the Latin Mass Society!

LMS Pilgrims outside the Slipper Chapel at the Catholic Shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham

We are preparing for the Latin Mass Society's annual walking pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham, which is a pretty long walk, over three days. The details and booking forms are here.
For those who'd prefer to make a pilgrimage with mechanical assistance, there is the option of the 'Day Pilgrimage': you can join us in Walsingham for Mass on Sunday with the walking pilgrims, and the procession to the site of the Medieval shrine. The LMS can get you there and back on a coach.
From the website:
Day pilgrims will arrive at the Basilica Shrine in time to greet the walking pilgrims. High Mass will be celebrated in the Chapel of Reconciliation at 2pm. This will be followed by a procession along the Holy Mile from the Slipper Chapel to the ruins of the Abbey in the centre of Walsingham itself.
Seats on the coach, WHICH MUST BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE, will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
The cost of the round trip is £25 per head. If you would like to book a one-way journey, the cost is £15 per head.
To reserve a seat on the coach, please complete the following form - one entry for each person travelling - and submit payment via the PayPal button at the bottom.
The coach will depart from Ambrosden Avenue (at the side of Westminster Cathedral) at 9.15am sharp. For the return journey, the coach departs Walsingham at 5.15pm, arriving in London at approximately 8.30pm.
Book here.
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Friday, August 04, 2017

Family Day with the Friars in Gosport 12 Aug

I'll be giving a talk during a Family Day organised by the Friars in St Mary's, Gosport, on Saturday 12th August.

St. Mary’s Church, 32 High Street, Gosport, Hampshire, PO12 1DF
Tel: 023 9258 0119
(* During the talks for the Adults there will be talks and activities for the Children and an opportunity to receive the Chord of St. Philomena)
9:30 am - Holy Rosary
10:00 am - Solemn High Mass (in the Extraordinary Form) for the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi.
12:10 pm – Opening welcome
12: 15 - First Talk – ‘The Crisis of the Father’ by Dr. Joseph Shaw Chairman of the Latin Mass Society (Including a Question and Answer session).
1:00 pm – 2:00pm - Lunch (please bring some food to share if you can).
2:15 pm – 3:00 pm - Second Talk – ‘Fatima and Marriage’ by Fr. George Mary Roth (talk will be given in the Church).
3:00 pm – Holy Rosary (in the Church).
3: 30pm – 4: 00 pm – Tea Break and Social gathering.
4: 00 pm – 4:45 pm – Third Talk – ‘Why we home school and how it works’(Including a Question and Answer session).
4:45 pm – 5: 00 pm – Short break.
5: 00 pm – 5: 45 pm – Fourth and Final Talk –  ‘Presentation on Modesty for women and girls’ by Mrs. Elizabeth Dulston (Including a Question and answer session).
5:45 – 6:15 pm – Further discussion and talk with our speakers.
6:30 pm –  Conclusion with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Solemn Vespers.
Please check for local parking.
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Thursday, August 03, 2017

A modest proposal about the public treatment of mothers

Quiz at the SCT Summer School
During a discussion of large families and (inevitably) of Natural Family Planning, on Facebook, one of my FB friends remarked:

We suffer both extremes, those who feel the need to take it upon themselves to make such invasive and snarky comments, that think NFP is there to make sure you only have a respectable number of kids, or, as I call them, NFP crusaders; and on the other hand certain trads that think all NFP is evil and even if you are dying you have to keep popping out kids (even though permission for NFP goes back to Bl. Pius IX).

I don't think this is simply a Catholic problem arising out of the debate about Catholic teaching. It is, rather, a Catholic version of a wider phenomenon. Another commentator had started off the discussion by pointing out, of parents, and particularly of mothers, with more than two children:

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Letter in The Tablet: Liturgical pluralism

The Dominican Rite celebrated in Oxford, alongside the Traditional Roman Rite, and, of course,
the Novus Ordo. The Carthusian Rite is also regularly celebrated in England; before the Council, the
Norbertine and Carmelite Rites were also found here. Before the Reformation, the Roman Rite was
celebrated by the Franciscans, and secular clergy would have celebrated the Sarum Rite.

The current Tablet carries a letter by me, in response to an article by a Jesuit priest, John Baldovin. The Tablet descibes him as a 'professor of historical and liturgical theology at Boston College, and author of Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics.' What is astonishing, then, is his assertion (in his article): 'A number of legitimate rites have always coexisted in the Catholic Church: the Byzantine, Coptic and Armenian Rites, for example, but these are rites of independent churches in union with Rome: there not two “forms” of the Armenian Rite running in parallel.' Is he really so ignorant of the history of the Latin Church as to imagine that the Roman Rite was and is the only Latin Rite? 

And here's the funny thing. He doesn't actually assert that there were and are no non-Roman Latin Rites or Usages. He just leaves his expression of indignation hanging in the air, with that implication. To me this suggests that he knows that the bald assertion would be a lie, so he holds back. But maybe I'm wrong, and he's an ignorant ass.

Anyway, here's my letter.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

St Catherine's Trust Summer School: some photos

The end of school quiz.

The St Catherine's Trust Summer School took place last week: it runs from Sunday to Sunday. Numbers have gone up every year for several years, and we welcomed 39 children this year. There was a full minibus load from London, and nine travelled by train from Scotland.

High Mass, with Fr Richard Bailey celebrating and Fr Aidan Keiran as subdeacon: these
priests were involved with the Latin Course which runs alongside the Summer School.

The Summer School exposes children to a week of traditional liturgy, which they would only otherwise experience by visiting a monastery. We have sung - usually High - Mass every day, sung Compline each evening, Benediction twice in the week; each day begins with the Rosary. We always have Stations of the Cross on Friday.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Clifford Longley on what Latin expresses

Prayers for the Absolution at the Catafalque at a Requiem Mass: Fr Mark Elliot Smith (centre)
at Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street.
Clifford Longley is not a man I expect to agree with: still less his column in The Tablet, which I've criticised here and here. Last weekend, however, he said something, in his own way, which I have been saying a lot recently, particularly in the talk I gave at the Roman Forum in the Gardone Riviera.

This is an extract. Subscribers can read it all here.

He starts by noting that people who attend the Mass in English do not, actually, understand it: 'They get the essentials, but it’s a fair bet a lot of important stuff goes right over their heads – as it does over mine.' He continues:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

More on 'liturgical reconciliation'

The Prophecies of the Ember Saturday (of Lent, in this case). A feature of the OF lectionary
which I haven't even mentioned.
The debate about the possible development of the 1962 Missal in the direction of the Ordinary Form, raised by Cardinal Sarah, has brought to light some extra points I'd like to highlight.

Fr de Souza, whose Catholic Herald article on an interview given by Cardinal Sarah initiated the discussion, has written a follow-up piece in which he refers to my Catholic Herald blog post, a post on the New Liturgical Movement by Gregory diPippo, and one by Fr John Zuhlsdorf. It is nice to see us presenting a completely united front, which Fr de Souza notes. But he doubles down on his claim that the superiority of the Ordinary Form Lectionary is 'almost unanimous', except, it would seem, among those (like the three of us) who disagree...

It is certainly very widely said that the OF Lectionary is superior, but though I have seen this sentiment expressed countless times, I have not encountered much in the way of reasoned defence of it in light of criticisms. People think it is just obviously better because it is larger, a quite amazingly lazy argument which runs out of steam as soon as anyone points out that 'more is not necessarily better'. Very few supporters of the OF have bothered to read anything about the liturgy written by Traditionally-minded Catholics, but doubts about the new Lectionary have been around for a long time. I recall one of the first things I read on the liturgical reform, Michael Davies Pope Paul's New Mass, in which Davies suggested out that the three lections on a Sunday overloaded the 'Liturgy of the Word' in relation to the 'Liturgy of the Eucharist', and overloaded the listener who could not be expected to take in three different texts, all probably unfamiliar, some rather obscure, and one not thematically related to the other two.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Requiem in London: on silent and hidden liturgy

Yesterday I attended a High Mass of Requiem in London, in the lovely Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street. I was able to take photos from the gallery, which is enormous: not just a choir loft but a large seating area, curving round both side walls of the church so that the wings are close to the sanctuary of the church: a brilliant place from which to see what is happening.


It struck me how much of the Traditional Mass is not, in fact, intended to be seen at all. Even from this advantageous viewpoint, I only saw glimpses of the priest's hand gestures (each of which has a distinct meaning), the blessing of the incense, the pouring of wine and water in the chalice, the lavabo, and so on. It was a High Mass, and in certain points the deacon and subdeacon formed a more complete screen than the servers usually would.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My reply to Cardinal Sarah on 'liturigical reconciliation'

It seems that the most trad-friendly Prelates of the Church actually want the Traditional Mass to disappear. Thus, Cardinal Burke said in 2011:

It seems to me that is what he [Pope Benedict] has in mind is that this mutual enrichment would seem to naturally produce a new form of the Roman rite – the 'reform of the reform,' if we may – all of which I would welcome and look forward to its advent.

Cardinal Sarah has now said the same thing.

It is a priority that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can examine through prayer and study, how to return to a common reformed rite always with this goal of a reconciliation inside the Church,

Cardinal Sarah's concrete suggestions point to an intermediate state, in which the two 'Forms' have converged somewhat. I have addressed these suggestions in a post on the Catholic Herald blog here. Notably, the Novus Ordo Lectionary cannot be simply be inserted into the Vetus Ordo Missal, because it reflects a liturgical vision which is completely different from that of the ancient Mass: which is why all the other changes were made at the same time. A compromise between these two two understandings of what the liturgy is for and how it should work will not produce a perfect synthesis, but a muddle.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Photos of the LMS Fatima celebration


The Latin Mass Society organised a Mass and devotional day to mark the centenary of the apparaitions at Fatima, with the World Apostolate of Fatima's statue of Our Lady of Fatima, and their relics of the seers. Photos by John Aron (more here). It took place at St Dominic's, Haverstock Hill, and the Mass was in the Dominican Rite.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Victoria's Requiem in Warwick Street on Saturday

All welcome.
High Mass of Requiem at 11am
Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, London, W1B 5LZ

Accompanied by Victoria's Requiem, sung by Cantus Magnus under Matthew Schellhorn

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Guest post on The Tablet blog: and factionalism

The day that Damian Thompson decries 'factionalism' is the day irony dies. Nevertheless, he has a point: the temperature of internal debate had gone up in recent years to levels not seen since the 1970s, the immediate post-conciliar period of ecclesial introspection and the ferocious persecution of those thought to be innsufficiently in tune with the 'spirit of Vatican II'.

The reception of Amoris laetitia has similarly stirred up a hornet's nest. I feel in fact that the frayed tempers on social media reflect something really worrying. A lot of Catholic commentators, from across the spectrum of opinon, feel as though they are in a pressure-cooker. Careers and livlihoods are on the line, along with fundamental issues of the Faith.

Here is something I wrote about factionalism back in the innocent days of November 2012. I've reposted the linked piece which had been on The Tablet blog on my philosophy blog, since it is no longer available on The Tablet website.


Today The Tablet has published a guest post mine on their own blog: see it here. It is a response to George Weigel's article in last weekend's Tablet, which itself was a response to John Haldane's article calling for married clergy.

See if you can spot the pattern here. In introducing his remarks, Haldane takes a moment to describe the two dominant traditions in the Church, conventionally called the 'conservative' and 'progressive' (or 'liberal') approaches, as, respectively, 'nostalgic and slavish' or 'faithless and craven'. Having thus established his bona fides as a non-partisan, independent thinker, he proposed the most predictable and re-heated item on the liberal menu, the ordination of married men, as the solution to the Church's difficulties.

Fighting for a theocracy? Fr Spadaro speaks

Vatican II called for a practical ecumenism. In Unitatis redintegratio 12, the Council Fathers proclaimed:

In these days when cooperation in social matters is so widespread, all men without exception are called to work together, with much greater reason all those who believe in God, but most of all, all Christians in that they bear the name of Christ. Cooperation among Christians vividly expresses the relationship which in fact already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant. This cooperation, which has already begun in many countries, should be developed more and more, particularly in regions where a social and technical evolution is taking place be it in a just evaluation of the dignity of the human person, the establishment of the blessings of peace, the application of Gospel principles to social life...

The official channels of ecumenism, such as the 'ARCIC' talks between Catholic and Anglican theologians, have been spectacular failures in practical, just as in theoretical terms, but this passage is not aimed primarily at such efforts, but at ordinary believers at the coalface, as it were, of social and political activism. Such collaborative efforts must, indeed, be seen in the context of the mission of the laity as expressed in another Vatican II document Apostolicam actuositatem, which also talks about cooperation with 'men of good will' (8, 10, 11), and proposes as a proper role of the laity the attempt (19):

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Young Catholic Adults annual RetreatL 20-22 Oct

Young Catholic Adults Weekend 20-22 October 2017

During the weekend of the 20-22 October 2017, Young Catholic Adults will be running a retreat at Douai Abbey, it will feature Fr. Lawrence Lew O.P., and Canon Poucin ICKSP.

The weekend will be full-board. YCA will be running the weekend with the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge of Cambridge who will be holding Gregorian Chant workshops.

There will also be a Marian Procession, Rosaries, Sung Masses, Confession and socials. All Masses will be celebrated in the Extraordinary form.

Please note to guarantee your place this year Douai Abbey have requested that everyone books in 3 weeks before the start of the weekend i.e.29th Sept 2017.

Prices start from £18.50 per person per night.
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Monday, July 10, 2017

Institute of Christ the King given another church in Preston, England

Here is the press release.

The historic and landmark (Grade II Listed) Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury & the
English Martyrs on Garstang Road, Preston (known simply as English Martyrs) has been given a
promise of a sustainable future following an announcement made today by the Bishop of
Lancaster, the Rt Rev Michael G Campbell OSA.

Bishop Michael Campbell and Monsignor Gilles Wach, Prior General of the Institute of Christ the
King Sovereign Priest, together with Rector, Canon Adrian Towers, have agreed that, as from the
autumn, the Institute will assume the administration of the church.

This move will enable the church to be open each day to become a vibrant shrine of devotion to
and promotion of the English Martyrs under the care of the Institute who already have the
administration of St Walburge’s Shrine Church, Weston Street, Preston. The new shrine will
specifically provide for the celebration of Holy Mass and the other Sacraments in the extraordinary
form of the Roman Rite.

Friday, July 07, 2017

On causing scandal and reporting scandal

Reading the mind-boggling story about Monsignor Luigi Capozzi ('gay orgy in same building as CDF raided by Vatican police'), I thought I would repost this, from July 2015.


This is not the kind of blog which goes through people's bins - metaphorically speaking - looking for scandalous accusations to make against priests, bishops, and prominent lay Catholics. Nevertheless, I do from time to time talk about events which I would rather had not happened. Events which shed a poor light on the Church, which reveal problems. I do this because persistently to ignore the things which are causing pain, sometimes great spiritual suffering, to my fellow Catholics, where these are issues on which I would be expected to take an interest or have some light to shed, would be to a failure of charity.

That's right, a failure of charity.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

The problem of catechising children with popular culture


This comment on the American Protestant phenomenon of 'Vacation Bible Schools' is superb, and applicable to attempts to use popular culture in the catechising of children in Catholic contexts too. The post is here.

These programs are written and produced by Christians with good intentions, but the baseline bait n’ switch philosophy is perverse, like trying to get your child to eat vegetables by embedding them in a Twinkie. Sure, the child will hear some good things about God, but the medium of the message—the razzle-dazzle theme, characterless music, throwaway crafts, forced theatrics, the theological minimalism—is what the child internalizes.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Book now for the LMS Latin Course: 24-28 July

Reminder: don't leave it too late!


Latin is the doorway to a full appreciation of Catholic culture, spirituality, liturgy, history, theology and law. St John Paul II told young people:

Let them realise that this remark of Cicero (Brutus 37, 140) can be in a certain way referred to themselves: ‘It is not so much a matter of distinction to know Latin as it is disgraceful not to know it.’ (Address to the Latinitas Foundation, 27th November 1978)

Don't miss out on the Latin Mass Society's intensive, residential Latin Course, which takes place from Monday to Saturday, 24th to 28th July. Book online here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Damien Ashby RIP (updated)

A long-serving Latin Mass Society Representative and activist, Damien Ashby, has died.

Details of his funeral:

Friday 14th July, 12 noon 

12 noon at St Mary Magdalen Church, 55 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FH.

· Burial thereafter at Lawn Memorial Cemetery, Woodingdean, Brighton BN2 6DX at approx 1.30pm.

· Reception thereafter will be nearby at Downs Hotel, Woodingdean

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A curious attack on the 'four Cardinals'

IMG_0590A certain Stephen Walford has written two blog posts at Vatican Insider criticising the stance of the four Cardinals who have asked Pope Francis for a clarification of the teaching of Amoris laetitia.

It is difficult to criticise a request for clarification: as Cardinal Pell put it, How can you disagree with a question? The opposition, some of it quite embittered, to the Cardinals' request reminds me of the advice given to Sir Gawain by his mother in his quest for the Holy Grail. 'Don't ask questions', she said: but it was only by the asking of a question, the seeking of the meaning of the strange vision he witnessed in the Grail castle, that the curse could be lifted. Have we come so far, as a Church, that questions are forbidden? Are we, the children of the Church, to be reduced to silence? Did Vatican II usher in an era of - what was that phrase? - dumb spectators? Does the old clericalist motto of 'pay, pray, and obey' now apply not just to the laity but to the most senior clergy in the Church?

The first of Walford pieces is about how we should accept the teaching of Amoris laetitia on the basis of the teaching of previous popes on the subject of Papal authority. He correctly points out that the Ordinary Magisterium can be infallible - infallible teaching is not limited to 'extraordinary' pronouncements such as the anathema of General Councils and solemn ex cathedra statements by Popes. He also, correctly, notes that not everything Popes say counts as Magisterial at all, let alone infallible: indeed they can teach error (he mentions Pope John XXII's sermons against the Particular Judgement). When this happens we say, obviously, that what they taught was not the teaching of the Church, but the Pope's 'private' views.

New Book: Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, by Peter Kwasniewski

Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness

Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages


Foreword by Martin Mosebach

I've provided a blurb for this book; here it is in full below. Buy the book here.

Peter Kwasniewski's tremendous new book is an eloquent and erudite confrontation with the very root of the liturgical debate: whether the radical de-mystifying of the Catholic liturgy has been for the good of souls. It is not a matter of personal preferences, the evolving needs of 'modern man', or even of the reverence of the celebrating priest. It is rather of the truth or falsity of the massive testimony of the liturgical tradition, which is the testimony of the Church herself, that the kind of liturgy which pleases God, softens the hearts of sinners, and raises the pious towards sancticy, is the mysterious product of centuries of development. When a functionalist liturgist rejects ceremonies and language whose meaning is not immediately clear, he rejects precisely the vehicles which can carry the full weight of the Faith, something which cannot be expressed in a common-place formula. Only something whose meaning cannot be exhaustively expounded by the liturgists of today, will have insights for the Catholics of tomorrow, and of every age.

Josep Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, England

Buy the book here.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

LMS AGM Mass with Fr Alex Stewart FSSP: photos

Fr Alex Stewart, ordained only a week, celebrated a High Mass in St James' Spanish Place in London for the LMS Annual General Meeting.




Monday, June 19, 2017

Ordinations in Warrington: Photos


Holy Orders was conferred, and Mass celebrated, by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, in St Mary's Church, Warrington. The ordinands were  Alex Stewart, FSSP and Krzysztof Sanetra, FSSP. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury was in choir.



Friday, June 16, 2017

A computer game based on Plato?

I know nothing about computer games, but no doubt some of my readers do, and may be interested in this Kickstarter funding campaign to create a game based on Plato's Critias - the one about the lost island of Atlantis.

This is a fantasy 'quest', based not on the Hollywood nonsense-history of Lara Croft and company, but on the profound and intriguing myth-history of Plato's Critias. Perhaps many historians today would like to turn the more eccentric corners of their studies into a computer-game, but the creators of 'The Unwritten Critias' have the technical virtuosity actually to do this.

Official Trailer

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Juventutem Mass in London Friday 23rd

With the newly ordained Fr Alex Stewart FSSP, in St Mary Moorfields, London EC2M 7LS

7:30pm, Friday 23rd June

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trinity Sunday in Holy Trinity Hethe


The Victoria Consort under Dominic Bevan accompanied the patronal feast of Holy Trinity, Hethe, celebrated by the parish priest, Fr Paul Lester.


Readers will perceive that I don't only go to modern churches. Holy Trinity, in fact, is the oldest Catholic parish church in Oxfordshire, dating from 1839. It has some lovely stained glass, and the stunning wall decorations date from the church's centenary refurbishment; architecturally, it is very simple.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ember Saturday of Pentecost in Holy Rood, Oxford


The southern part of Oxford is part of Portsmouth Diocese, since the Thames is the diocesan boundary: as it was in the Middle Ages. So just outside Birmingham Archdiocese, at the modern church of Holy Rood in the Abingdon Road, Fr Daniel Lloyd, Parish Priest and member of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, celebrated the Ember Saturday of Lent. This Mass was sponsored by the Latin Mass Society and accompanied by the Schola Abelis, Oxford's dedicated Chant schola (the Oxford Gregorian Chant Society).


I'm not going to claim that this is the style of church I would choose above all others if I was allowed to choose... no one would believe me anyway. But as a matter of fact this church was built for the Traditional Mass, and the first Masses here were celebrated facing East, as it was last Saturday. Today the EF is celebrated every Friday at 12:30pm, and it is also the place in Oxford to find the Ordinariate Use.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Protestantism and the cult of ugliness

Reposted from June 2014. A footnote to what I write here is an interesting fact I have since learned about 'Puritan' fashions: the Roundheads and Pilgrim Fathers and so on wearing black. The contrast between Roundheads and Cavaliers in the English Civil War derived from two different inspirations: the Cavaliers took their fashions from Catholic France, the Roundheads from the Protestant Netherlands. And where had the Netherlands got it from? Spain: a natural influence because of the Spanish control over much of it. This is of course an historical irony, but even in its Catholic origin it was a statement about rejecting frivolity and licentiousness. (See this section of a Wiki article.)


This is both ugly and glamorous.
Continuing our series on a Catholic approach to fashion, I interrupt the posts of Queen of Puddings with a little philosophical interlude. I promised to say something about how the Protestant attitude is different from the Catholic, something referred to (without being developed) by Tracey Rowland.

Our inveterate commenter 'Eufrosnia' wants to know if there is anything wrong with dressing in an ugly way. Of course there is.

1. Ugliness is a natural evil. (Will anyone disagree with this?)

2. To embody it is bad. (This just follows from 1)

3. To do so deliberately or through negligence is morally bad. (This just follows from 2.)

Friday, June 09, 2017

FSSP Ordinations in Warringon

Mass for the installation of the FSSP in the church, which was previously owned by the
Benedictines of Ampleforth. Abbot Cuthbert of Ampleforth, as well as
Archbishop McMahon of Liverpool, were present.
Next weekend two seminarians of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) will be ordained to the priesthood in their impressive church of St Mary's, Warrington by Archbishop McMahon. Everyone is welcome to this historic events: the first ordinations in England using the traditional rites since the liturgical reform.

The Fraternity are putting on a full programme for thos who can stay the night in the area. The church can be found on a map here.

The Ordinations Weekend at St Mary’s Warrington (Smith Street, Cheshire, WA1 2NS) will include:

Saturday 17 June:

·         11am Priestly ordination of Deacons Alex Stewart, FSSP and Krzysztof Sanetra, FSSP by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool (no booking needed)
·         1:30pm Refreshments in Priory Garden – while First Blessings are given by the new priests
·         2pm Buffet Lunch at nearby venue (no booking needed)
·         5pm Solemn Vespers

Sunday 18 June:

·         11am First Solemn High Mass of then-Father Alex Stewart, FSSP on the Feast of Corpus Christi, with First Holy Communions of children
·         12:30pm First Blessing by Fr Stewart and Picnic lunch (bring & share) in Priory Gardens
·         3pm: Corpus Christi Procession led by Fr Alex Stewart, FSSP with wider parish: with 30 FSSP clerics, diocesan clergy, First Communicants and families

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Reacting to novelties in the Church

Reposted from March 2016

LMS Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Caversham. Come on in.
It must be a perennial truth about the Church, that to every issue some people will criticise what you do - whatever it is- as too 'soft', and others as too 'harsh'. Since Vatican II, this has gone from being a parlour game to a major industry, as those who have wanted to maintain the Faith in its integrity cheer themselves up by criticising each other for being either too accommodating of novelties, or too suspicious of them.

The 'circular firing squad' this easily becomes is not helpful to the cause, but the question, of how suspicious or accommodating one should be, is an important one and does need to be addressed seriously. Which new initiatives, new theological perspectives, new structures or new forms of worship, are perfectly ok, and which are not? Of the latter, which need to be criticised, where possible evaded (by not using them), or repudiated? Each initiative should in principle be treated on its merits, though the scale of the avalanche of new things since 1960 is itself open to critical assessment.

(Anyone afflicted by the thought 'Anything the Pope says must be ok' should, of course, read my posts about Papolatry, but can still follow the argument in this post by considering examples where the Pope had not actually mandated anything. In a number of cases Popes have condemned novelties, which have still spread through the Church, such as routine use of EMHCs, or General Absolution.)

The difficulty in most cases has been that the problem presented by the new things has been not that they contradict the teaching of the Church in a propositional way - only in seminaries and certain academic institutions have Catholics actually been asked to deny the faith in as many words. Rather, where the old version of whatever it is pointed towards the teaching, the new one points away. They are typically accompanied by official documents which are worded in such a way that they can be read, perhaps with a little effort, in accordance with the Church's teaching, and also read, with a little effort, in accordance with a new view which is not compatible with the teaching of the Church (although this may depend on ignoring some of the document in question).

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Institute of Christ the King to open a school in Preston, England

This was noted in their newsletter of last weekend. It seems they have a building for the school, which is often a big obstacle to opening a school.

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has a very successful, highly professional, bi-lingual school in Belgium, the Brussels International Catholic School, with the energetic English priest of the Institute, Canon William Hudson as headmaster.  It is wonderful news that the Institute is starting something in England; I wish them luck.

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Monday, June 05, 2017

Islamic terrorism: What can we do?

Fr Mark Withoos celebrates a Low Mass in the church of
the Domus Australia, under a picture of St Peter Chanel, a
a French Marist priest brutally killed in Tonga in 1841. He is
the protomatyr of Oceania.
Reposted from August 2016

I wrote the below shortly after the killing of Fr Jaques Hamel, but for various reasons it's publication has been delayed until now.

The brutal murder of Fr Jaques Hamel in Normandy is the culmination of an extraordinary period of violence, even allowing for the tendency of the media to get into a rut of similar news stories. Even as an attack on a Catholic priest or a Catholic church, it was not as isolated as one might hope, since minor acts of violence are not usually reported nationally or internationally, but this represents a new low. The movement behind these attacks is not going to dissipate quickly on its own, and it is perfectly possible, indeed probable, that this kind of thing, at some level of intensity, is going to become part of our lives in the West, in the way that it is part of the lives of our Christian brothers in Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia, and many other places.

To say that these events are meaningless, irrational, or incomprehensible, is not a way of understanding them: it is a way of refusing to understand them. In truth, they are none of those things. They are the logical outcome of an ideology which says that a Muslim can redeem a far-from pious life by attacking, abusing, terrorising and killing non-Muslims, or Muslims who fall below the ideology’s standards. The attacker’s own death can even be seen as a bonus, as it is imagined that he or she will immediately attain the promised, supernatural reward. There is no need for any close organisational connection between those bitten by this ideological bug, or training, or special equipment, although some of the recent attackers had some or all of these. In the words of Fr Hamel’s killer, Adel Kermiche: “You take a knife, you go to a church, you make carnage, bam!”

It is a type of terrorism which is significantly different from those we have experienced in the recent past, but it is not entirely without modern European precedent. A parallel is offered by the anarchist assassins of the late 19th century. Like the Islamists, they emerged from a milieu (in their case, of left wing radicalism) in which most people, most of the time, lived fairly normal lives, and certainly weren’t constantly in danger of murdering people. Out of this milieu a few individuals got the super-radical bug, deciding that only assassinations were going to achieve their political goals. All they needed was an easily-obtained pistol or some dynamite; since they were careless of their own survival, they were very difficult to stop. Their ‘propaganda of the deed’ encouraged both admiration and imitation. Just as secular ideology inspired history’s greatest acts of mass-murder, so, in its day, it has inspired suicidal terrorism. It must be admitted, however, that there were only ever relatively tiny numbers of such assassins, and they generally chose only very specific targets.

I don’t have the expertise to offer specific policy suggestions in the face of this challenge, but I’d like to make two general observations about our response, the response of the target, Western societies, to the latest pattern of outrages.

The first thing to note, since it is being (apparently) denied by some, is that violence, and other forms of coercion, is certainly part of the solution. It is sometimes possible to stop unjust violence non-violently, but generally speaking it requires violence. I’m talking about violence and coercion by the forces of law and order, and occasionally private self-defence. Christ chose not to use violence to defend himself against the unjust actions of the public authorities of his own day; it is perverse to interpret this as undermining the right of public authorities to use violence justly. States may not neglect the necessary, violent, means to defend the populations which they are supposed to be governing. The state has the right and duty to employ violence, up to and including the right to kill, in war and in police action, for the sake of public peace. Public officials who refuse to defend the public by just and necessary means are not being noble; whether or not they are motivated by cowardice, they are doing grave wrong. Citizens and voters won’t put up with inaction, and nor should they. As far as the aggressors are concerned, a failure to use violence to oppose them is seen, correctly, as a sign of moral weakness, a sign that this is a society wide open to demolition.

So, within the limits of justice, we should support state action aiming to give effective opposition to terrorism. The danger of injustice here makes it all the more important to support just measures, or at least (if we disagree about their effectiveness), to make it clear that we do not regard them as unjust. If things get really bad, our societies are going to need to hear voices making a distinction between killing unjust aggressors and killing the innocent. If we have opposed every measure taken against terrorism, however mild and common-sensical, up to that point, no one is going to listen to us when they really need to.

A second, related, thing to note is that, while the cultural self-hatred of some on the political left is not a direct cause of terrorism, it is certainly making the situation worse. This goes beyond its manifestations in public policy. Outsiders see in the West a society which does not believe in itself, in its own values. As a society we suffer from the low self-esteem of the classic victim of bullying. In philosophical terms, there has been a move, over a number of centuries, from the substantive values of Christianity and classical culture, towards empty formalism. Instead of saying: ‘this is true’, ‘this way of life has value’, or ‘this work of art is good’, modern Westerners want to say: ‘nothing is true or false’, ‘only the choice between ways of life can be called good’, or ‘any purported work of art is good if they artist says so’. We can maintain for a little while a community of people committed to the notion of choice and the power of the individual to invent himself and set his own goals, but eventually people will ask: ‘If nothing substantive is true or good, why should choice or self-invention be true and good?’ There being no answer to this question, the whole thing turns out to be an empty charade. Even before the final, post-modern implosion of Western culture, there is nothing here for the soul to feed upon, there is nothing of substance to give society common values, there is nothing worth defending or promoting. People who possess nothing they regard as worth defending are not going to be very vigorous in its defence.

Here, there is something which can be contributed by people who still believe in something, something wholesome and historically rooted. Self-doubt and self-flagellation, even when offered by Christians, has nothing to offer the West; these are things already widespread in our societies. What we can offer is something substantive: that life, beauty, and God are real and have value, are worth something, and can give shape, discipline, and meaning to our lives. If Westerners really believed these things, and set themselves in their lives to live accordingly, then the Islamists would not be confronting such an easy and open target.

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Saturday, June 03, 2017

On hat-doffing, in the Catholic Herald

A Roman sacrifice: the (male) priest has covered his head.
This weekend I have a letter in the Catholic Herald about hats.

I've written about headcoverings in church here, and the decline of hats in fashion here.

What I didn't mention in the letter is that the view I put forward in it, which I think is overwhelmingly plausible--that the discipline on head-coverings in the primitive Church was at the time a counter-cultural sign, as a reversal of Jewish practice--contradicts the standard narrative explaining why Catholic women are no long obliged to cover their heads in church today. This view found its way into the 1976 Instruction of the CDF, Inter insignores: that St Paul's stern demand that what he describes as a universal custom among Christians was 'probably inspired by the customs of the period', or, more simply, was a 'cultural fact'.

Friday, June 02, 2017

SCT Summer School 2016: photo essay

Sign up for the Summer School 2017! For children aged 11-18, at Pantasaph, North Wales.

The dates are Sunday 23rd July to Sunday 30th July.

There is no fee!

Further information and online booking here.

The below is reposed from July 2016.


This was the tenth Summer School run by the St Catherine's Trust. Numbers have been increasing over the last several years, and we are now close to capacity with 35 students.


Fr John Hunwicke, the celebrant above, and Fr Richard Bailey of the Manchester Oratory, were present for most of the week teaching the Latin Mass Society's residential Latin course, with Fr Andrew Southwell, the Summer School's chaplain.