Monday, January 29, 2018

A Dominican Mass for St Thomas Aquinas

The Schola Abelis sang for a High Mass in the Dominican Rite at Blackfriars, Oxford, last Saturday.


This Mass, celebrated just because the various people involved - singers, Dominicans - simply thought it would be rather nice, attracted fifty people. These Masses now happen near the beginning of each University Term.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Statistical decline of the Church

Inspired by some discussion on Twitter about the Church's failure to oppose the legalisation of abortion in the 1970s, effectively, I'm reposting this from April 2013. And with apologies for not posting for so long.


Counter-cultural young ladies at the Family Retreat
 As I wrote in the last post, contrary to the gremlins which have falsified the figures for mid-century ordinations in England and Wales on the Vocations Office website, the Catholic Church was riding high by every conceivable measure in the middle of the 20th century. Figures for ordinations and the like peak in or shortly after the 1960s. This is true all over the West: outside the Communist bloc, throughout Europe and North America. Vatican II and the subsequent reforms took place at precisely the time the decline commenced. QED.

Actually, it is not as simple as that. For the Church's difficulties coincided with very similar problems for a whole range of other organisations. As I have blogged before, membership organisations of all kinds grew rapidly in the first half of the 20th century, and began to decline in the 1970s. Not only that, but a number of other measures of 'social capital', such as whether people trust strangers or know their neighbours, rose and declined in exactly the same way. It is an extraordinary phenomenon.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Prior of Norcia to celebrate Candlemas in London

From the UK Friends of the Benedictine Monks of Norcia

To be celebrated by Prior Benedict Nivakoff of Norcia

High Mass with procession
6:30pm, Friday 2nd February, 
in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, W1B 5LZ

William Byrd: Mass for Four Voices
William Byrd: Senex puerum portabat
Orlando Lassus: Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sung Mass for St Scholastica in Holy Rood

To be celebrated by Fr Daniel Lloyd the Parish Priest, 
and accompanied with chant from the Schola Abelis.

Sat 10th Feb, Sung Mass at 11:30am.

Holy Rood, 35 Abingdon Road, Oxford OX1 4PD

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thoughts on the Mortara case

As has been well described elsewhere, in 1858, in Bologna when it was part of the Papal States under Pope Pius IX, a 6-year-old Jewish boy who had been secretly baptised by a servant when he had been thought to be at the point of death, was taken from his parents to be raised a Catholic.

This was a rare kind of case, but it had been contemplated in the civil law of the Papal States, and the decision was in accordance with longstanding practice. In the face of an international outcry, Pope Pius IX refused to restore little Edgardo to his family.

First Things has been getting more ‘traddy’ in recent years but they have jumped the shark by publishing a defence of this action of Pius IX by a Dominican theologian, Romanus Cessario. This must surely be one of the most indefensible actions by any Pope of modern times, not least because there is no dispute about the facts of the case. Nothing in the article made me remotely more sympathetic to this action of Pius IX.

LMS Latin Course booking open

Fr Richard Biggerstaff celebrating the Vetus Ordo
in the chapel of the Carmelite Retreat Centre
for the Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat last year.
Resideintial Latin course for adults 30th July to 3rd August 2018.

Since 2009 our intensive Latin course has helped a few dozen priests and laity to brush up their Latin for liturgical and scholarly purposes, in a Catholic atmosphere and with daily Traditional Mass.

Now it is taking place in a more accessible venue with more space and lower costs. Don't miss out!

Book here!

Five days with Fr John Hunwicke and Fr Richard Bailey, not in Wales this year but in the Carmelite Retreat Centre in Boars Hill near Oxford.

Full price is £340 (+ £30 optional single room supplement); without accommodation £290.
LMS Member £290 (+ £30 optional single room supplement); without accommodation £240.
Clergy, students and Seminarians full price £240 (+ £30 optional single room supplement); without accommodation £190.
Clergy, students and Seminarians LMS member £190 (+ £30 optional single room supplement); without accommodation £140.

Book here!

Some Latin Course students with Fr Richard Bailey last year.
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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Dominican Rite High Mass for St Thomas Aquinas in Oxford, 27th Jan

Saturday 27th January 2018, 11am, in Blackfriars, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LY

A votive Mass for St Thomas Aquinas. Accompanied by the Schola Abelis of Oxford.

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Monday, January 08, 2018

Catholic Medical Association 10th March, with me

The Catholic Medical Association invites all juniors and students of the healthcare professions (doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, AHPs...), and all young people involved in the pro-life movement, to our next youth (18-35 years old) conference, entitled “Catholics in Healthcare: Men and Women of Conscience”.

Tyburn Convent, London. 11:15am registration. The conference will commence with Holy Mass (Missa Cantata) and talks will follow on The English Martyrs by one of the Tyburn nuns, Dr Joseph Shaw on conscience in healthcare and Dr John Smeaton (SPUC) on abortion and conscience.

Entry £10 donation, includes lunch, all profits to Tyburn Convent.

Sign up via event page on Facebook and EventBrite. Search “CMA England and Wales”.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Vermeule's mistake about human traditions

Adrian Vermeule (an academic lawyer and professor at Harvard) has written a very interesting and in some ways helpful article in the Catholic Herald about the the nostalgia felt by a number of conservative/ traditionalist-leaning Catholic writers for the apparent live-and-let-live harmony between the Church and the 'liberal' state in the USA and elsewhere in the past, recent or not quite so recent. (I'll come to my disagreement with him in a minute.)

His argument is simply that liberalism is an ideology inherently hostile to the Faith with which no long-term, stable compromise is possible. He is absolutely right. As he writes:

Put differently, as I have argued elsewhere, the main “tradition” of liberalism is in fact a liturgy, centred on a sacramental celebration of the progressive overcoming of the darkness of bigotry and unreason. To participate in that tradition, that liturgy, is necessarily and inescapably to commune with and be caught up into a particular substantive view of time, history, world and the sacred – the liberal view.

The same point can be expressed in a slightly different way, from a historical perspective, which was made clear to me by reading Edward Norman's Secularisation. Norman points out that the brief golden age in the UK with neither religious intolerance from the dominant religion, or secularist intolerance from a liberal state, was simply a momentary equilibrium of forces in the long decline of the influence of the formerly dominant religion (Anglicanism) and the long rise in the power and self-confidence of the liberal state. This golden age - more like a golden milli-second - has inspired absurd amounts of political theorising, but was simply a moment when Anglicanism was too weak to assert itself against others but still too strong to be pushed around.

Vermeule goes on to say that we should seek eternal habitations and not place our trust in princes, though he doesn't express it quite like that. Again, this is correct. But he draws a rather surprising conclusion from this. He writes:

Friday, January 05, 2018

Prior of Norcia to celebrate Candlemas in London

Those interested in the Benedictines of Norcia will like to hear that Prior Benedict Nivakoff will celebrate a Sung Mass in Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, in London, at 6:30pm on Friday 2nd February, the feast of the Purification of Our Lady (Candlemas).

Prior Benedict succeeded the founder, Prior Cassian Folsom, in 2016, as I noted on this blog here.

More details about the Mass to follow.

Now-retired Prior Cassian Folsom celebrating Sung Mass in Our Lady of the Assumption in May 2016
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Thursday, January 04, 2018

First Saturdays in the London Oratory

The Fathers of the London Oratory are extending the practice they adopted for the centenary year of the Fatima apparitions, of celebrating a Traditional Mass on the First Saturday of each month, at 11am, usually at the Lady Altar (on the right near the front). The first one of the New Year is on Saturday 6th January.

More information about the devotion, recommended by Our Lady at Fatima, below the fold.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Scottish Chartres Chapter

I'm delighted to pass this on from Una Voce Scotland. The Scots have had their own 'chapter', a segment of the huge column of pilgrims, on the Chartres Pilgrimage, for a few years now, often supported by the Sons of the Holy Redeemer (the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists), who created this 'Bonny Prince Jesus' image (and had it authorised for public use). This year they are joined by the indefatigable Fr Michael Rowe who was the Chaplain of the Latin Mass Society's Walsingham Pilgrimage in 2017.

The contact email address is

There is also a Facebook page.

The Chartres Pilgrimage (17th-21st May 2018) is something everyone attracted by the Traditional Mass should do - the younger the better, but if you are reasonably active, or can make yourself so by May, then you have no excuse not to. 

It is amazingly cheap, totally exhausting, and no less spiritually rewarding.

If you are based in Scotland, or would just like to hook up with the Scots for this event, this is the group for you. 

(The English contingent, with whom I've walked three times, can be found here. The Irish group is organised by the Latin Mass Society of Ireland, who can be found here.)
Here are some practical details.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Statement on Amoris by Bishops of Kazakstan

This document speaks for itself; I post it here in full.


Profession of the immutable truths
about sacramental marriage

After the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris laetitia" (2016) various bishops issued at local, regional, and national levels applicable norms regarding the sacramental discipline of those faithful, called "divorced and remarried," who having still a living spouse to whom they are united with a valid sacramental matrimonial bond, have nevertheless begun a stable cohabitation more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse.

The aforementioned rules provide inter alia that in individual cases the persons, called "divorced and remarried," may receive the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion, while continuing to live habitually and intentionally more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse. These pastoral norms have received approval from various hierarchical authorities. Some of these norms have received approval even from the supreme authority of the Church.

The spread of these ecclesiastically approved pastoral norms has caused a considerable and ever increasing confusion among the faithful and the clergy, a confusion that touches the central manifestations of the life of the Church, such as sacramental marriage with the family, the domestic church, and the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.

According to the doctrine of the Church, only the sacramental matrimonial bond constitutes a domestic church (see Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 11). The admission of so-called "divorced and remarried" faithful to Holy Communion, which is the highest expression of the unity of Christ the Spouse with His Church, means in practice a way of approving or legitimizing divorce, and in this meaning a kind of introduction of divorce in the life of the Church.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Unpublished letter to the Catholic Times on Loftus

I sent this off long enough ago to give them plenty of time to find room for it if they wanted to publish it. However, I didn't seriously imagine that they would; it is more of a protest than anything else. Only a periodical with a much greater self-confidence than the Catholic Times would publish a letter so critical of their editorial policy.

The letter I refer to by Miss Thomas was excellent, incidentally; some of my readers may have seen it on Facebook. The subject of the correspondence was Loftus' extraordinary (even for him) attack on Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City, for being pro-life, which I discussed here.

I've pinched the image of the mythical Basiliscus Loftus from Bruvver Eccles.



Unlike Mgr Basil Loftus, I was unable to detect 'intemperate language' in the letter of Miss Rhoslyn Thomas (8th December 2017), which he 'regrets'.