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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Can non-Latinists pray the Latin Mass?

Reposted from Feb 2016

Eloquent gestures and expressive ceremonies in the Traditional Requiem Mass.
Dr Robert Kinney (his doctorate is in Pharmacy, interestingly) has argued over at the Homiletic and Pastoral Review that is it impossible actually to pray in a language one does not understand, or with a celebrant who is using a language one does not understand.

[A]s Catholics, we believe that the Mass is the most powerful prayer on earth. If the Mass is said in an unfamiliar or entirely unknown language, though, can it properly be labeled as a “prayer”? Or, are the words uttered merely beautiful-sounding syllables without willed meaning?

This would have some pretty radical implications for Catholics visiting foreign countries and Masses celebrated for international congregations: in Lourdes, for example, it is common to find Masses celebrated in several languages, one lection in German, one in English, a prayer in French, another in Italian, and so on. The thought 'they'd be better off using Latin' is one which Dr Kinney presumably shares, since praying just a snatch of the Mass, or hearing just one lection meaningfully, must count as almost pointless.

It also implies that the silent prayers (the 'priestly prayers', such as the Lavabo) of the Novus Ordo are so much mumbo jumbo, even when Mass is celebrated in the congregation's mother tongue. If you can't hear the prayer, you can't understand it, right? As so often, attacks on the Traditional Mass rebound on the 1970 Missal. That Bugnini and Pope Paul VI: they got it all wrong, eh, Dr Kinney?