Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Narrative of Victimhood: Transsexuality

This is from a few months ago on my Philosophy blog. Recent flurries of activity on social media prompt me to offer it to a wider audience.


I've just noted on my other blog that living as a transsexual has been categorised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as incompatible with the Faith. This is about the argument in favour of tolerating or promoting this lifestyle.

The transsexual phenomenon is not entirely new, but it is taking on a new form and become a cause celebre with astonishing speed. From a common-sense point of view it seems sheer lunacy: people can now simply claim to be the sex opposite to that indicated by their biology, and have this assertion officially recognised, with or without any medical diagnosis or intervention (not that either would make any real difference).

Continue reading.

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

New book on the Faith and the New Age

View from the choir loft: Milton Manor, Latin Mass Society annual Mass

Roger Buck's Cor Jesu Sacratissimum: From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed is a brilliant and touching full-length treatment of the New Age and his escape from that to to the Faith.

It is available here:;

I've discussed Roger Buck's earlier book, The Gentle Traditionalist, here

I've written about the book over on Rorate Caeli. Below I reproduce part of an article I wrote for the Christmas edition of the Catholic Universe newspaper.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A smaller, weaker, impurer Church

Reposted from December 2015, since that Ratzinger passage is once more doing the rounds on Facebook.

An international pilgrimage: the traditional pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres.
From time to time people like to quote something Joseph Ratzinger wrote in 1969. Here's the key passage (source):

The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

I always like to oppose signs of false optimism, so I'll say something about this.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Easter Cards from the Latin Mass Society

This year, for the first time, the Latin Mass Society is selling Easter Cards. Make this part of your preparations for the the greatest feast of the Church's year!

Buy them here.

Pack of 6 cards for £3.99; make sure you are logged in to the website for your member's discount.

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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Juventutem Mass in London 24th Feb

7:30pm Friday 24 Feb: Mass will be celebrated by Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP.

Music by Cantus Magnus directed by Matthew Schellhorn:
Messa da Capella a quattro voci Monteverdi
Sicut cervus Palestrina
Sitivit anima mea Palestrina

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

A pre-history of the Guild of St Clare

It seems the Guild of St Clare has a pre-history: there existed, up to about the time of Vatican II, a 'St Clare's Guild' for sewing in Catholic parishes in the United States. I'd be interested to hear more about this Guild from those who have any information.

From an email:

On a regular basis, the Guild would meet to sew what I recall were "pads for cancer patients". There may have been other projects that they worked on, but I recall that one. As to the spirituality of the group, I have no clue, nor whether it was promoted by my parish (Nativity of Our Lord) or the Archdiocese of St Paul Minnesota.

What I recall was a large number of women gathering at the house on an occasional basis and hand sewing. My Mother would refer to it as the St. Clare Guild, and she participated in it probably until 1960 or so. That was a time, of course, when many women did not work outside the house but would involve themselves in charitable work.

There was quite a bit of adult catechesis at the time as well. My Mother also belonged to a parish sponsored "women's discussion club". There were many such discussion clubs set up by my parish on a neighborhood basis. Members were asked to read chapters of books written by Catholic authors (it was the time of Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen) and gather to discuss what they had read.

In addition to the women's discussion club, there were discussion clubs for couples and both of my parents participated in the one for our neighborhood.

Comment: Any group of skilled ladies doing vestment repairs would have suffered the same fate as groups of skilled singers: under the new dispensation they were no longer needed, or only for things which would not have motivated them to hang around. The new spirituality did for any groups based on spiritual matters. 

It is not clear whether this St Clare's Guild did much liturgical sewing, however, and there were other factors at work: the 1970s saw the decline of every kind of voluntary and leisure group. Robert Putnam, in his well-known study Bowling Alone, blames commuting, TV, increased female participation in the labour market, and a mysterious 'generational change'. I've discussed this on this blog here.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat: report


I've pinched some of the photos; the Guild has a short report on their blog.


"Our first ever sewing retreat finished yesterday, and I for one enjoyed myself enormously. With snow falling outside over the panoramic views of Oxfordshire countryside, an infinite supply of tea and biscuits and good company, what could be more agreeable than a weekend of sewing punctuated by traditional liturgy?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mass in Milton Manor: photos


Fr Philip Harris celebrated a Missa Cantata in the lovely private chapel at Milton Manor House for the Latin Mass Society yesterday. The Schola Abelis accompanied Mass for the Apparition of the Immaculate Conception with chant.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Church's calendar and popular culture

Reposted from 2014.


Yesterday was St Valentine's Day. That is what a thousand shop windows, restaurant menus, and service station card racks proclaimed. St Valentine was a martyr of the 3rd Century, over whose tomb a basilica was built when the Church's time of persecution was over. I attended Mass in his honour, and in the name of the Church the celebrant implored God's mercy in light of St Valentine's merits.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday [ie, death] of blessed Valentine, Thy Martyr, may by intercession be delivered from all the evils that threaten us. Through our Lord...

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Spring 2017 Mass of Ages now on sale

Leading articles feature Buckfast Abbey, The Old Mass and Children, a round-up of an extraordinary Christmas for the Traditional Mass and Gregory Hogan reports on plans to open a new Catholic academy in the Diocese of Portsmouth. These, together with the usual features, a wealth of news, reviews and reports all show how love of the Traditional Mass is growing around the country.

If you're not a member, and may not see one in a local church this weekend, you can get one sent to you for just the postage from the LMS shop.

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

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Christmas Card competition

Best religious image: well done, ACN
I will ill on the feast of Candlemas, and I am only just now taking down our Christmas cards, which we have enjoyed over the long Christmas season. The cost of postage seems to be gradually driving them out of fashion, but I think it is a good custom and I would be sad not to receive any.

In a post-Christmas spirit, I thought I'd post up the results of a little informal competition among the cards we received this year, which were as always an interesting selection, and included for the first time cards sold in aid of the Latin Mass Society.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Ancient Lectionary

Reposted from May 2013, in response to the strange blog post arguing for various improvements to the Extraordinary Form, one of which is that it adopt the OF Liturgical Calendar. (There's another response here, from the excellent Fr Albert Marcello.)

The lectionary seems to many to be an obvious example of something the OF does better than the EF, but it doesn't take long to see why things aren't so simple. The brevity, and the basis of the selection, of the traditional lectionary have their own advantages. As for swapping one lectionary for another, this would produce an incoherent muddle.


Today I'm publishing a Position Paper for the Una Voce Federation on the Lectionary. Go over to Rorate Caeli to read it.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Chant Training Weekend: 31st Mar to 2nd Apr, Oratory School

At last's year's course, Colin Mawby discussing organ accompanyment.
Gregorian Chant Network Chant Training Weekend:
Led by Christopher Hodkinson and Fr Guy Nichols Cong. Orat.

Friday 31st March to Sunday 2nd April 2017, The Oratory School, nr. Reading, RG8 0PJ
Registration from 4 to 4.45pmlate Registrations 7-7.30
Course ends with lunch on Sunday. 

An intensive chant course running alongside the Catherine's Trust Family Retreat (led this year by Fr Serafino Lanzetta). Singers will be prepared to participate in the liturgies of the Retreat, including Mass Ordinaries and Propers, Chants for Benediction and the Office, as well as discussing chant interpretation and history. All liturgies are according to the usus antiquior (the Traditional Mass). With two chant tutors, the group can be split for some purposes into more and less experienced, so everyone can get the most out of it.

Large discounts available for groups coming from choirs and scholas affiliated to the Gregorian Chant Network.

LMS members: £10 discount
£195 per person
£120 each for 2 people from the same choir or schola
£90 each for 3 or more people from the same choir or schola
Download an application form or book online:

Outside procession at last year's Family Retreat and Chant Course.
Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Opus Anglicanum: a belated review

The exhibition Opus Anglicanum in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is about to close: it does so on 5th. Right now the exhibition webpage is still up so you can see a few things about it. We went to see it before Christmas, and I thought I'd put up some random observations.

The exhibition shows off the work of Medieval English needlecraft, which was famous in its own day. This is embroidery used on a lavish scale, not simply to decorate an orphery but to cover entire chasubles, the vast copes they used in that period, and all sorts of other things.  It is a tradition dating back to before the Norman Conquest: the Bayeaux Tapestry was made by English needleworkers. However, most of the surviving examples, in this exhibition, are from the 14-16th centuries. English work was so prized that these pieces made good diplomatic gifts, which is the reason that several of the things in the exhibition have survived, in cathedrals in continental Europe. Liturgical vestments covered in pictures of virgin martyrs could have a short life-expectancy in Protestant England.