Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mass in Milton Manor Sat 11th Feb, 11:30am

Milton Manor is one of our local historic Catholic houses here in Oxfordshire, with a lovely 18th century chapel. Come along, if you can, to honour Our Lady in her appearances in Lourdes 150 years ago. The celebrant will be Fr Philip Harris, Parish Priest at nearby Didcot.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

What, then, should we do? Part 3: what it means for you.

Latin Mass Society Waling Pilgrimage to Walsingham.

The first post in this series is here, the second here.

In the last two posts I have given a number of reasons why the defence of the Faith and those upholding it will best be done through the movement for the restoration of the Traditional Mass. This post is about what that means in practice for you, dear reader.

First, let me summarise the reasons for what I know will be a uncomfortable conclusion for many good-hearted Catholics, some of which I have discussed at greater length in the previous posts.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What, then, should we do? Part 2: why the Traditional Mass

A young man being made a soldier of Christ, at the Traditional Confirmation ceremony
organised by the Latin Mass Society in London.
The first post in this series is here.

The Church is enriched by all sorts of organisations and movements, many of them doing good work. I have just argued that in response to the current crisis Catholics of good will should rally to the banner of the Traditional Mass, and the movement which supports it. Why? What is wrong with all the other organisations and movements in the Church, and indeed one’s own geographical parish?
The advantages the Traditional movement has in the current crisis are both tactical and strategic; I shall give two examples of each. Consider the tactical ones first.

The recent history of the FFI and the Order of Malta illustrate two important tactical realities. One is that the Traditional Mass is a de facto rallying point for orthodoxy on a wide range of issues. (This has been the fear of opponents of the ancient Mass from the beginning.) The other is that internal divisions, including divisions about the liturgy, provide both an excuse and a point of leverage for attacks on an organisation (/ group / parish). It follows from these two undeniable facts that the Traditional movement has an obvious advantage. It is by definition united around this banner of orthodoxy.

Yes, it is possible for people not committed to orthodoxy to like the Traditional Mass, and yes, it may be—and has been—possible to find or foment divisions in an organisation theoretically committed to the Traditional Mass. I do not claim that particular elements of the Traditional movement are invulnerable. They are simply better off, in these respects: they are more united, and they are united, furthermore, around something with a strong connection with orthodoxy.

The second tactical advantage is that the Traditional movement is not dominated by any one organisation: the blogs, priestly Institutes, lay groups, periodicals and so forth all exist among a good number of others of their kind. The suppression of one or another would not be the same kind of disaster as is the suppression of the FFI or the Order of Malta, because resources and support can be transferred between them far more easily than between non-traddie conservative organisations. Traditional groups are not interchangeable, but the fact that they support the Traditional Mass is a decisive reason for nearly everyone who supports them, to support them, and these supporters are, normally, already very familiar and friendly with other Traditional Catholic groups and organisations, and would be highly likely to find another group to support instead, were their current favourite to disappear. The orthodox Catholics who support the Order of Malta (as with other worthy conservative bodies) do so for all sorts of complex reasons, and if the Order were, for practical purposes, to disappear, they would be scattered to the four winds. As a force for good the Order would be gone, and no similar organisations would be proportionally strengthened. This is not a criticism of the Order, but in the current crisis it is a disadvantage.

As noted in the last post, this fact means that, in fact, traditional groups are to this extent less likely to be suppressed, because they present somewhat less tempting targets. In the same way, no Traditional group has amassed huge resources which could be taken away from the movement as a whole by a strike on that one group. Their resources come from their supporters, and their supporters, if necessary, would go elsewhere within the movement.

Next, for the strategic reasons.

The first strategic reason is this. As the cases of the FFI and the Order of Malta illustrate, internal struggles over teaching and liturgy are endemic within conservative Catholic organisations, and within the broadly understood ‘conservative Catholic movement’, if we want to call it that. The tactical consequence, of offering an opening to the enemy, has already been noted. The strategic consequence is that this makes them a terrible front in the war in which to invest resources, not just because of this tactical vulnerability, but because so much of one’s efforts will be spent on internal, organisational conflict.

You might say: these internal battles need to be fought. Well, that is a judgement each person needs to make on the spot. The organisation at issue may be in a great position to make a valuable contribution to the struggle if only X, Y, and Z internal battles are won by the good guys, and that may be a realistic prospect. In my experience such prospects are never as rosy as one imagines. Nevertheless, if you really judge that to be so, good luck to you, but remember this: while this battle is going on, the efforts going into the internal battle are not going into the apostolate. They are not doing the work the organisation is supposed to be doing. In the meantime, you are helping to keep an organisation afloat which may be doing bad things as well as good ones. And finally, in my experience internal battles are disproportionately exhausting and demoralising, whereas work ad extra can be very rewarding and energising.

The second strategic reason is that the connection between orthodoxy and the Traditional Mass is not accidental: it is profound. The texts and ceremonies are beautiful expressions of the Faith, emphasising our need for penance and grace, acknowledging the role of Our Lady and the Angels and Saints, reiterating the message of the Gospel (not just the nice bits), and encouraging participants into the most profound, contemplative, engagement in the prayer of the Church.

There is more to it even than this, however. As I have written before, the ancient liturgical tradition is inseparably linked to the power and prestige of the Church’s past: of the Tradition. Attacks on the teaching of the Church have to deal with the fact that this teaching (if genuine) was upheld by the Fathers, Doctors, and Popes of the past. The success or failure of these attacks ultimately depends on whether Catholics today regard the past, the Tradition, as having real force. It is for this reason that the liberal attack on the teaching of the Church in the 1960s had to be preceded by an attack on the liturgy, because the ancient liturgy is, as we might call it, an efficacious sign of our continuity with our Catholic predecessors. It both symbolises it and makes it real. You cannot for long love the Fathers and Doctors and Popes of past centuries, and hate the liturgy which they celebrated, treat with contempt the words they used in addressing God, and claim that they were trapped in a liturgical form which excluded all real participation. They stand and fall together.

In a word, if we are serious about restoring to Catholics a lively orthodoxy, a real attachment to the teaching of the Church, then giving them the impression that it was all invented by Vatican II and Pope St John Paul II is a truly terrible idea. A real attachment to the teaching of the Church has to come from a sense of continuity in the Faith handed down from the Apostles. That sense is nurtured by the Traditional Mass. Promoting the Traditional Mass is not an optional extra in restoring orthodoxy. It is the fundamental means by which alone it can be achieved.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

What, then, should we do? Part 1: what is required.

They are coming... A procession at the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat.

People keep asking this question; it is a fair question, and I want to try my hand at answering it. This is the first of a series of three posts on the subject.

The question refers to the current crisis in the Church. This may dissipate tomorrow by some intervention of Providence, but we must be prepared for the crisis to develop further according to its own logic. On this logic, we can expect priests and laity to come under increasing pressure to deny and to act contrary to the immemorial and irreformable teaching of the Church, the explicit teaching of Christ in the Gospels and of St Paul in the Epistles, about divorce and the sacraments.

We should not hope to escape all the bad consequences of the crisis while still giving witness to the Faith. We are called to give witness, and it is very likely that we will be called to confirm our witness with suffering. Many reading this will already have suffered greatly over this. Few, perhaps, will have escaped entirely unscathed. The question ‘what should we do?’ is not about finding a hole to hide in, but about finding a way to coordinate our work and provide mutual support and encouragement in such a way that, in human terms, this suffering will not be in vain. It is about avoiding a situation in which those who retain the Faith can be picked off one by one, quietly, and thereafter cease to be able to make any contribution to the cause. That, sadly, is what has been happening up to now.

Let us imagine what would serve us best in this crisis; it may be something we need to adapt ourselves to, but we should be prepared to make the necessary effort.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The death of law in the Church

A general of the Vendee uprising against the French Revolution
On October 9, 1965, 450 conservative participants in the Second Vatican Council submitted written interventions for discussion, demanding the condemnation of Communism. Under the rules governing the Council, the interventions should have been debated, but they were not. At first, the excuse was made that they had not been submitted within the deadline. Then, when this proved to be untrue, Archbishop Garrone of Toulouse explained, on behalf of the Council's secretariat, that the interventions 'were not examined when they should have been, because unintentionally they had not been transmitted to the Commission members.' By then it was too late to do anything about it. So that's all right, then. (I take this summary of events from Michael Davies, Pope John's Council pp150-1.)

The recent events surrounding the Order of Malta have raised the question of the role of law in the Church, as, on the face of it, the admittedly unique and peculiar legal rights of the Order would seem to have been trampled underfoot. The problem of respect for law and legal procedure goes back further, however, as this anecdote from 1965 illustrates. Accounts of the Second Vatican Council are replete with stories of procedural shenanigans; this one was perhaps the most shameless. In the 1980s and 1990s some degree of stability was restored to the life of the Curia, perhaps, but around the world the Church's law had for many purposes simply died. Liturgical law, laws governing the training of seminarians, laws governing clerical discipline and the procedures for dealing with breaches of those laws, were only referred to, in many parts of the Church, in a purely opportunistic way to punish priests, nearly always the more conservative ones, who had annoyed their bishops or religious superiors.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Archbishop Longley in Holy Trinity, Hethe: photos


Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham paid a pastoral visit to the parish of Holy Trinity, Hethe, last weekend, and celebrated Pontifical Low Mass on Sunday at noon. It was accompanied with motets sung by the Victoria Consort under Thomas Neal. The Archbishop was assisted by the Parish Priest, Fr Paul Lester, and Deacon Keith Crocker.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Diocese of Rockford: no Summorum Pontificum here

Bishop Malloy of Rockford in the USA has told his priests that, whatever Summorum Pontificum may say, they need his permission to celebrate the Traditional Mass.

Though this puts traditionally-minded priests at an advantage to those seeking to implement the Reform of the Reform: in the same letter, Bishop Malloy informs them that celebration versus populum is forbidden.

Does the Pope's writ run to Illinois? The mind boggles.

I've blogged about this over on Rorate Caeli, where the letter can be seen in full.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Archbishop Longley is coming to Holy Trinity Hethe on Sunday

The church is close to Junction 10 of the M40, outside Bicester: OX27 8AW. Mass is at 12 noon. Lunch is provided afterwards. Pontifical Low Mass will be accompanied by some polyphonic motets.

It's going to be great: come along!

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vatican II on liturgical preservation

Reposted from Feb 2014. The 'good bits' (from a conservative point of view) in Vatican II on the liturgy were completely without force during the reform which followed it. As Michael Davies wrote somewhre, the only passages in official documents which are of any real importance are those which allow what was previously forbidden, or forbid what was previously allowed. That's a lesson a lot of conservatives have been slow to learn.

Tenebrae: Solemn Offices of Holy Week, abolished in the Ordinary Form after Vatican II
This is what the Second Vatican Council  said about the Seasons of the liturgical calendar. (Sacrosantum Concilium 170)

The liturgical year is to be revised so that the traditional customs and discipline of the sacred seasons shall be preserved or restored to suit the conditions of modern times; their specific character is to be retained, so that they duly nourish the piety of the faithful who celebrate the mysteries of Christian redemption, and above all the paschal mystery.

Not only is there no mandate to abolish the Season of Septuagesima, but it is clearly ruled out. Both because all the seasons are to be 'preserved or restored', and you can't preserve or restore something by annihilating it, and because this applied a fortiori to Septuagesima since it is part of the preparation for 'the Paschal Mystery', Easter, to which this passage (rightly) accords a special importance.

If you accept Vatican II, you'd better get over to Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form during this season. Because in the Ordinary Form it does not exist.

But we can say the same about a number of things. Take Latin. Here is Sacrosanctum Concilium again, section 36.

Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

You can't 'preserve' a thing by abolishing it. If you want to be faithful to the Council, you'd better attend a Mass in Latin. That will, sadly, be almost impossible in the Ordinary Form, so it had better be the Extraordinary Form.

Isn't this word 'preserve' interesting? Talking of rites in general, Sacrosanctum Concilium declares (para 4)

Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.

Following the Council, the Dominican Order effectively forbade the Domincan Rite, a situation which only changed with Summorum Pontificum in 2007. Forbidding something, however, is not a way of preserving and fostering.

The Dominican Rite: effectively suppressed after the Council
Of course the Council did mandate a liturgical reform. It says (50)

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance;

Again, it is impossible to preserve the substance of a rite by abolishing it. But that is what happened to the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel. The ancient Offertory Prayers were also removed, to be replaced with new ones with a markedly different 'substance'. They were not 'preserved'.


114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care. 

Now music continued to exist after the Reform, but the process cannot be described as one of preservation. What existed before - Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony - was destroyed, with so few exceptions that, at its low ebb, they could be counted on the fingers of one hand, as far as the Ordinary Form is concerned.

Chant and Polyphony: for practical purposes they ceased to exist in the Ordinary Form

How about sacred art? Para 123:

Thus, in the course of the centuries, she has brought into being a treasury of art which must be very carefully preserved.

Again, 129:
In consequence they [clerics] will be able to appreciate and preserve the Church's venerable monuments, and be in a position to aid, by good advice, artists who are engaged in producing works of art.

To labour the point, art and monuments cannot be preserved by being destroyed. If it means anything, this clause means that what happened to St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, and to a million other churches around the world was wrong.

What are those who defend the liturgical reform to say about these passages? They can point out that Sacrosanctum Concilium is not infallible, since the only things in a General Council which are infallible are the anathemas (lists of condemned propositions which are found in every other General Council in the history of the Church, but which the Fathers of Vatican II eschewed).

They can point out that the practical decisions made in the course of a liturgical reform are prudential, and the guidelines given by the Council are generally prudential, and that applying them is prudential: in short, it is impossible to draw a simple line from doctrine to what actually happened in the reform.

They can point out that, as far as the law of the Church is concerned, the Pope has the authority to promulgate new rites, and the Council was actually not strictly necessary.

Defenders of the reform very seldom make these points, however: they prefer to ignore the problem. It is left to me to defend Pope Paul VI from the charge of heresy implicitly levelled against him by a liberal who thinks that deviations from Vatican II are incompatible with the Faith (or thinks that 'conservative' Catholics should think so).

The reason is simple: they don't want to shatter the illusion that those attached to the Traditional Mass are being wickedly disloyal to Vatican II, and have placed themselves irretrievably in the wrong. But if Traditionalists have done this, the reformers of the liturgy, and their supporters, have done it with knobs on.

Ruins of the Priory at Walsingham, visited by LMS pilgrims. From the point of view of
'preserving' sacred art, many Catholic churches haven't done much better since the Council.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Malta sinks

'Weep not for me, but for yourselves
and for your children.'
In World War II, Malta was described as the 'unsinkable aircraft carrier'. Well, it has sunk now. The Bishops  of Malta (both of them) have stated that anyone in an irregular union who feels 'at peace with God' should not be excluded from Holy Communion or from Sacramental Absolution: at least, that's what they seem to say. Readers can judge for themselves.

If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).


there are complex situations where the choice of living “as brothers and sisters” becomes humanly impossible and give rise to greater harm (see AL, note 329).

I wonder what would happen of a priest decided that an adulterer had not undertaken a process of discernment with the requisite humility? If he'd had humility, but not 'love for the Church'? Or maybe that his 'search for God's will' was not, as required, 'sincere'? Would Archbishop Scicluna congratulate such a priest for his pastoral sensitivity?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Photos of High Mass in Blackfriars

Yesterday the Oxford Dominicans celebrated a High Mass in their own, proper, rite, the ancient Dominican Rite, in honour of St Hilary of Poitiers.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

A footnote on Freemasonry

One of my favourite liturigical rituals, and one of the most dramatic and expressive:
the kiss of peace at High mass.
Further to my post on Freemasonry here, a comment left on my FB page is worth reproducing, from a mason.

Most Freemasons of my acquaintance are traditionalists in the sense that they value and appreciate traditional values, especially morality, so might there not be scope for traditional Catholics and Freemasons to be allies in the fight against the advance of inappropriate modernism? We could still agree to disagree on details of doctrine (Freemasonry is not, and does not claim to be, a religion).

In light of the Church's condemnations, the prospect seems a dim one. Perhaps Freemasonry may be a promising field for evangelisation. However, my experience of people who regard themselves as guardians of 'traditional values' outside the Church is that there is usually a lot less to this than meets the eye. A classic position of liberal elites shoring up the established order is trying to stop people not-like-us reproducing: the poor, the stupid, members of less favoured ethnic groups. I wonder what masons think about issues like that. Maybe they'll tell me in the combox.

All the same, the last word should go to Walton Hannah.

In general, Freemasonry is Scotland is more popular and relatively far more numerous than in England, partly because it tends to be cheaper, and because austere Presbyterianism has eliminated most of the colour, glamour, and ceremonial from Christian worship. When the soul is starved of these elements in religion, it will naturally tend to compensate for them itself in less desirable ways. It is not only the hostility of Rome that has left Masonry weak in Catholic countries.

Darkness Visible pp257-8.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

A note on Freemasonry

Since Freemasonry is regarded as significant by Pope Francis, as well as many previous popes and in various private revelations by the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought I'd try to educate myself a little about it. I can't say I've come to any very exciting conclusions, but I can recommend a couple of books, and make a few observations.

My interest has been in the philosophy (or religion, or ideology) of Freemasonry, as opposed to the extent it has, or fails to have, influence in local or world events. The second subject is one where reliable information is obviously going to pretty difficult to find, and I think that Freemasonic influence over the Church, specifically, is going to be of importance only if it is connected with a philosophy which is opposed to the Church's teaching. Many dubious people have had undue influence over the Church locally, or in Rome, over the centuries, but if what they are after is money or prestige then the damage they do to the Church, while real, is at least comprehensible and repairable. The ultimate threat to the Church, against which Christ has given his ultimate guarantee, is not prelatial nephews spending the revenues of dioceses they never visit on wine, women and song, or criminal gangs arranging flamboyant funerals for deceased mobsters, disedifying though these are, but the Church ceasing to proclaim the Gospel because of the influence of an alien ideology.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Will Pope Francis come after the Traditional Mass?

A recent Missa Cantata in Holy Trinity, Hethe, in Oxfordshire.
Having seen this story on Rorate Caeli and elsewhere, my own feeling, which I concede is very fallible and certainly isn't based on any very special intelligence gathered in Rome, is that Pope Francis isn't going suddenly to open up another front in the conflict he is currently engaged in. I don't see why that would make sense to him, at this point.

In brief, the story is that Archbishop Arthur Roche, formerly the bishop of Leeds in England and now the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship under Cardinal Sarah, has been charged with working to undermine in some way what was one of the key documents of the conservative counter-offensive in Rome, which took place from the mid-1990s to the end of Pope Benedict's pontificate: Liturgiam authenticam, an Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship published in 2001. This document is about the principles which should inform liturgical translations, and it completely overturned the consensus which had governed the dreadful translations of the 1970s, by saying that liturgical texts should aim not only for easy comprehensibility, but for accuracy, plus an elevated style which evokes the idea that one is engaged in a holy action. (Take note, Neil Addison, who never tires of criticising the LMS translation of the Ordinary of the Mass for doing exactly this. That's the price of fidelity to the living magisterium I suppose.) Unusually, Liturgiam authenticam not only supercedes but explicitely abrogates earlier documents about translations, which did not say this (for a flavour of those, see this):

8. The norms set forth in this Instruction are to be substituted for all norms previously published on the matter, with the exception of the Instruction Varietates legitimae (1994) ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Epiphany in Oxford: photos


The celebrant was Fr John Saward, Priest in Charge at SS Gregory & Augustine's. We always have candles all round the church for Epiphany.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Do something good in 2017: sponsor a pilgrim to Walsingham (or go yourself)


The booking form for the LMS Walking Pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham is now live, with a discount for early booking: secure the same prices as the 2016 pilgrimage by booking before Easter Sunday: and yes, they will be going up, and even so will not cover the whole cost of the pilgrimage.

If you feel that walking nearly 60 miles in two and a half days at the end of August isn't for you, or if you simply can't make it this year, you can still take part, thanks to a new scheme we have organised: you can sponsor a pilgrim.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Mass for St Hilary in the Dominican Rite, Oxford: 14th Jan

Blackfriars, aka the Priory of the Holy Spirit, is in St Giles in the centre of Oxford, postcode OX1 3LY: click for a map.

The Schola Abelis will be learning to sing the Dominican chants for the feast, which are slightly different from those in the Roman books. The Dominicans want to celebrate this as a High Mass, with deacon and subdeacon, so it will be a splendid Mass. If you can make it, please come along to honour the great St Hilary, who has given his name to Oxford's spring term, the term which starts on the very next day.

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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Coat making workshop with the Guild of St Clare

Three day coat making workshop

Oxford, 28th Jan, 18th Feb & 4th Mar 2017

Riding high after our mastery of waistbands, zips, collars, cuffs and plackets, we are holding a set of three workshops over the course of which we will construct a coat or jacket.

See more at the Guild of St Clare

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

2017 Wall Calendars still available from the LMS

Now that you've remembered that you forgot to get one of these, you still can! Yours for £7 from the LMS website here.

It opens up to a list of dates arranged vertically, giving you much more space than in the usual formats to write things in, with our lovely photos arranged down the left.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

LMS vs. CTS Ordinary Booklet: the translation


The Catholic Truth Society boasts that the translation they include in their booklet of the Ordinary of the Mass is a newly commissioned one. This is a good thing, for many translations in old hand missals are not very good - surprisingly enough, from the era when a good number of Catholics would have had the Latin to notice errors and infelicities, at least so one would imagine.

I think it would be a good thing if Catholics could get into serious discussions about the meaning of Latin words, so I am going to do a little digging. The CTS translation is not too dreadful, but - obviously - the LMS one is far superior. (Buy it from the LMS website.)

Monday, January 02, 2017

EF Ordinary Booklet: LMS vs. CTS

Ever mindful of feedback, we will be using this slightly
revised, less cluttered cover when the booklet is reprinted.
The contents will also have some tiny,
and I mean tiny, corrections.
One of the reasons we at the Latin Mass Society created a booklet of the Ordinary of the Mass was because the widely-used red 'Booklet Missal' produced by the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei is American and contains some American feasures, such as the American version of the Prayer to St Michael. We also thought we could do better in certain ways.

You can buy it here.

While we were still thinking about this, the Catholic Truth Society brought one out. That is a good thing; it is good that the the CTS is using its considerable market penetration to spread knowledge about the Traditional Mass, in a handy pocket format with a smart leatherette cover. The only problem is that this booklet contains a series of mistakes.

A second edition was published, and I thought they might address some of these, but in fact the only difference, as far as I can see, is the title: it is now called 'The Extraordinary Form of the Mass' instead of 'The Traditional Latin Mass'.

So what are these mistakes?