Up to the first half of the 20th century, western societies taught their children stories which illustrated and reinforced a particular conception of marriage and family; the same conception was supported by the civil law, by social expectations and social sanctions; and the same model was experienced by the vast majority of people. The same is true of the conception of the role of the state, the place of religion in society, gender roles, and a thousand other things. These shared understandings, which took on distinct flavors in different countries and in different cultural and ethnic groups, were the basis of a sense of solidarity.
One does not have to imagine that the culture of any particular time and place was perfect in every way, in order to realize that a society which lacks a culture in this sense is in serious trouble. But that is our situation today. The old models of how to live have not entirely gone away, but they are no longer supported by a social consensus. Our children are continually exposed to mixed messages, and civil law and social norms not only fail to support the old model, but in many ways work to undermine it. On the other hand, that model has not been replaced by a consistently applied, widely understood, and coherent, alternative.
Since people on the “progressive” side of the debate generally need not fear exclusion from social media and public spaces, they usually do not need to make such appeals, so this appeal to free speech is becoming increasingly associated only with the defense of conservative voices. We now hear from liberals that the principle of free speech is being “weaponized,” a rhetorical preparation for saying that the principle should be rejected, as the latest Google memo comes close to doing.
This is quite a turn-around from the depiction of the Catholic Church as the opponent of liberty, and the historic attempts to undermine the Church’s institutions and influence by scurrilous pamphleteering: characteristic tactics of the Church’s opponents since the time of Luther. In response to this kind of activity, Popes down the ages remind us that freedom of expression is not an absolute right. Typical was Pope Pius IX, who had the Papal States to administer as well as the Universal Church, and who wrote in 1864 (Quanta cura) of “that erroneous opinion”
that a right resides in the citizens to an absolute liberty, which should be restrained by no authority whether ecclesiastical or civil, whereby they may be able openly and publicly to manifest and declare any of their ideas whatever, either by word of mouth, by the press, or in any other way. Read it all there.
There are inevitably those who are uncomfortable with the commemoration of the war dead, the commonest complaint being that it ‘glorifies war’. This seems a curious reaction to the ritualized expression of public grief, but it contains this grain of truth: the laying of wreaths and the parading of soldiers does not merely remember the dead: it honors them. If one takes the view that all war is evil, then this is no more appropriate than publicly honoring a roll-call of mass-murderers.
But the meaning of the words is only one aspect of the listener’s experience of these chants. Gregorian Chant is remarkable for expressing emotion without manipulating the hearer: it doesn’t twang on the heartstrings with euphoric or lacrimose cords, but expresses joy and sorrow in a way at once authentic, dignified, and restrained. Equally striking, with the chants for the dead, is their powerfully insistent tone, especially evident in the Dies irae. There is no need to speak at length about despair, but there is need to spend time begging God’s mercy, because God is pleased to grant it at our insistence, if we insist with a confidence that does not tip over into presumption.
The church of St Joseph, Bedford, has one of the limited number of specially produced replica images of the famous tilma in Mexico, which have been touched to the original. You can see it above and below in the sanctuary of the church. The image regularly tours the country, but this is its home.
Following the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court judge, an occult book shop in New York hosted his mass-“hexing”: people identifying as witches gathered to curse him. They had earlier done the same thing to President Trump. Reading such stories in reputable news sources like the BBC brings to mind G.K. Chesterton’s remark:
When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.
As LifeSiteNews has reported, however, self-described witchcraft has grown to the level which is no longer simply a joke. It is important to keep three points in mind about it. First, the claims of today’s occultists and witches to some historical continuity with European paganism are completely deluded. Secondly, it is nevertheless spiritually dangerous. Thirdly, Catholicism is the form of religion it most detests, and also the form which can most help its adherents.
Mass for Remembrance Sunday at Holy Trinity Hethe inn 2015
This Sunday is Remebrance Sunday in the UK, and wherever the Traditional Mass is celebrated here it will be a Mass of Requiem. Readers should seek out a Sung Mass if possible to experience this to best effect, and unite themselves to the prayers of the Church for those who have died in war.
St Bede's, Clapham Park: as always there will be a Sung Mass at 11am
Address: 8 Thornton Rd, London SW12 0LF (click for a map) Holy Trinity Hethe will have a Sung Mass at 12 noon this Sunday. Holy Trinity is distinguished, among other ways, by having war graves in its cemetery.
Address: Hardwick Rd, Hethe, Bicester OX27 8AW (click for a map) St Walburge's, Preston, which is served by the Institute of Christ the King, will see a High Mass at the special war memorial altar, at 10:30am.
Last Saturday the Latin Mass Society's Annual Requiem took place in Westminster Cathedral. As more than ten years not it is always, thanks to the generosity of the Archdiocese of Westminster, a Pontifical Mass. This year it was celebrated by the recently retired Bishop Patrick Campbell of Lancaster.
A special feature of interest this year was the vestments. We have in the past used the Cathedral's, but this year they were the property of the Latin Mass Society. We have received a large bequest from a late member, John Arnell, and wished to perpetuate his memory with the purchase of a really good black High Mass set. Each item in the set is now marked with the Latin Mass Society's name, and the note 'Please pray from John Edward Arnell.'
With the kind permission of Fr Matthew Power SJ, a traditional Requiem Mass was celebrated on Saturday 3rd November in the St Thomas More Chapel of the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy. The celebrant was Fr Daniel Seward of the Oxford Oratory.
This weekend I have an article in the Catholic Herald's print edition. It begins:
On November 26, 1971, the front page of the Universe informed its readers as follows:
As from this Sunday, the first in Advent, it is forbidden to offer Mass in the Tridentine rite anywhere in the world. In very special circumstances old or retired priests may apply to their own bishop for permission to use the rite, but for private use only.
Only a few days later, however, on December 2, the Times carried a rather different story, under the headline “Pope sanctions traditional Latin Mass in Britain”. The Tridentine Mass was, in fact, celebrated in Westminster Cathedral on June 17 the following year, the first of a series of two annual Masses at the High Altar using the older Missal. Monthly traditional Masses in the Cathedral’s crypt were also initiated. Both series of Masses continue to this day, although the crypt Masses have now moved to the Lady Chapel.
In the nick of time, it would seem, the public celebration of the Vetus Ordo, now also called the Extraordinary Form, was preserved, at least in England and Wales. How had this come about?
Following a ruling of Britain’s Supreme Court over the summer, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that the Government will make the necessary changes to allow heterosexual, and not just homosexual, couples to contract ‘Civil Partnerships’, as opposed to marriages, in England and Wales. (Scotland will probably follow.)
Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton, on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, urged couples not to use this option:
God blesses the marriage bond only when the couple freely and without conditions exchange their consent. We hope that today’s ruling does not deter people from that sacred and life-long commitment.
Back in 2004, when Civil Partnerships were introduced for same-sex couples in the UK, the Bishops of England and Wales did not oppose the legislation, on the basis of government assurances that they would be clearly distinct from marriage. The idea seemed to be that Civil Partnerships addressed the legitimate grievances of same-sex couples, notably over hospital visiting rights and exemption from Inheritance Tax when leaving each other money, and that it would obviate the need for same-sex ‘marriage’.
Things did not turn out that way. Having established the principle that the state has an interest in regulating same-sex relationships in a way clearly paralleling the regulation of marriage, the scene was set for same-sex ‘marriage’ itself in 2014.