Monday, July 15, 2019

LMS Latin Course: book now

For details and booking see the LMS website here.

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Dates: 29th July to 2nd August 2019

The Latin Mass Society’s Residential Latin Course for adults is an intensive course, taught by two experienced tutors, focusing on the Latin of the liturgy.

It is ideal for priests and seminarians wishing to improve their Latin, and all clerics and seminarians (and those about to enter seminary) enjoy a 50% discount on the course fees, which are extremely low anyway.

Monday, July 08, 2019

The Dominican Rite in Cambridge

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On Sunday, a First Holy Communion took me to Cambridge Blackfriars, a place I have not visited before. The Dominican priory churches in Oxford, London, and Leicester, where I have attended Mass, are large and impressive neo-gothic buildings; for various reasons the Cambridge Blackfriars is very modest. The chapel was, I am told, originally intended as a lecture-room, but plans for a chapel elsewhere were shelved for various reasons.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Friars ordained by Bishop Egan: photos

Last night Bishop Philip Egan ordained four members of the Franciscan community based in Gosport, in his cathedral in Portsmouth: St John's. I was there.

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The community at Gosport is called the Family of Mary Immaculate and St Francis. This is an institute of diocesan right established by Bishop Egan, and the superior is Fr Serafino Lanzetta. At their parish in Gosport, which comprises St Mary's and St Columba's churches, they celebrate both Forms of the Roman Rite. The ordinations took place in the older Rite. The new priests are Fr Philomeno and Fr Rosario, who will be familiar to readers who have attended the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage, and Fr Faustino and Fr Michele.

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Is this a persecution of the Old Mass?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

I have been reflecting on Henry Sire’s article about the recent decision by the Grand Master of the Order of Malta to ban the celebration of the Traditional Mass in the Order. He seeks to debunk the idea that the former Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, who likes the Traditional Mass, was seeking to impose this Mass onto everyone in the Order, and was simultaneously trying to create (along with Cardinal Burke, the Order’s Cardinal Patron), a center of opposition to Pope Francis and all he stands for.
This narrative is set out with great enthusiasm, but absolutely no evidence, by Christopher Lamb of the UK’s liberal Catholic weekly The Tablet, and by Austin Ivereigh, the English biographer of Pope Francis, among others. Sire points out (to simplify) that Festing believed that Pope Francis had ordered him to deal with the problem of his subordinate, Albrecht von Boeselager, distributing condoms as part of the Order’s charitable works. Festing was forced out (according to Sire) by an alliance between Boeselager and Cardinal Parolin, the powerful Secretary of State, who had a common interest in stopping the Order of Malta disputing the way a large sum of money, supposedly left to the Order, was being distributed.

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Successful book launch


Thanks to everyone who joined us at the launch for The Case for Liturgical Restoration in the St Wilfrid Hall at the London Oratory.


We were joined by Felipe Suarez, President of the Una Voce Federation (FIUV). It is him on the left in the top picture.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Order of Malta: article in the Catholic Herald


I'm on the front cover of the Catholic Herald this weekend. My article begins:

Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, has informed members that henceforth all Masses celebrated in the context of Order events must be celebrated according to the Ordinary Form: that is to say, there must be no more Traditional Latin (Extraordinary Form) Masses.

This will come as a heavy blow to many of those associated with the Order in England and Wales, where it has long had celebrations in both Forms. It is one more example of an ongoing problem, however: that even as the Church’s ancient liturgy becomes more and more a normal part of Catholic life around the world, some religious orders have found it difficult to handle.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Statement of the FIUV on the Order of Malta

I neglected to post this on my blog until now. Edward Pentin also has an article about the issue here.


Rome, June 13, 2019

The FIUV notes with regret the letter, dated 10th June, from Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaler Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta (the ‘Order of Malta’), forbidding the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (the Extraordinary Form) in the context of the Order’s liturgical life.

Since this letter has become public, we would like to observe that it does not accurately present the provisions of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter, given motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum. Article 3, cited in the Grand Master’s letter, explicitly allows religious communities to have not only private but conventual celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, without reference to the Major Superior (in the case of the Order of Malta, the Grand Master or the Prelate). His permission is required only in cases where the community ‘wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently’.

The Grand Master’s letter also neglects the right of the faithful, from which the religious and lay members of the Order of Malta are not excluded, from requesting celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Article 4). Celebrations in the context of special occasions such as pilgrimages are explicitly anticipated (Article 5 §3). Pastors and rectors of churches are directed to accede to such requests (Article 5, §1 and §5).

The Federation would like to emphasise that the Extraordinary Form is a part of the liturgical patrimony of the Church which represents ‘riches’ for the Church, which should not be neglected or excluded, and certainly not on the basis of a narrow conception of unity which excludes the variety of liturgical expressions permitted in the Church. As Pope Benedict expressed it:

‘These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.’ (Summorum Pontificum, Preamble)

Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce


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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Feminine modesty: the third-rail issue claims another victim


My latest on LifeSiteNews.

Last week saw the deletion of another Twitter account by someone who aroused the anger of the mob. Fr. Kevin Cusick deleted his account when, after tweeting about the importance of modest attire in church, he was overwhelmed by angry responses. Actually, “angry” was not the right word. It was deranged.

Twitter’s moderators inevitably found that Fr. Cusick has breached their rules.

In explaining why women should cover their shoulders, Fr. Cusick volunteered the suggestion that it was for the benefit of men who are otherwise distracted during Mass. This fits the same pattern of thought expressed by Maryann White, a mother who wrote to a Notre Dame student paper that the leggings worn by some female students in the Notre Dame Basilica distracted her sons. White also suffered a huge social media backlash. The more substantial objection made against both Fr. Cusick and Mrs. White is also that made against the judges or police officers who occasionally make the mistake of warning women that they increase the chance of being raped by wearing practically nothing, late at night, in less salubrious city districts, while under the influence of alcohol.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Summorum Pontificum at the Order of Malta?

Fr Zuhlsdorf has this remarkable letter from the Grand Master of the Order of Malta banning celebrations of the Traditional Mass at their events.


I wonder if the misspelling of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontific[i]um is a cunning ruse to stop recipients googling Article 3. Here it is, anyway:

Art. 3. If communities of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, whether of pontifical or diocesan right, wish to celebrate the conventual or community Mass in their own oratories according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, they are permitted to do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and their particular laws and statutes.
So, no, it doesn't say that in order to have celebration of the EF in the context of religious communities the permission of the Superior is necessary.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Hospital fined for false imprisonment

I wrote this for LifeSite News a while ago but forgot to link to it from here.

Last weekend, a British newspaper reported on a legal first: A hospital was fined for “false imprisonment”; that is, for refusing to allow a patient to leave.
The details are complicated, but certain facts stand out.
The patient was unable to make decisions for herself, but devoted family members — two of whom were medically qualified — visited her daily. Doctors had written on the patient’s notes that the issue of her discharge was not to be discussed with them, however. The final act of the drama was her transfer to a nursing home without the family’s knowledge, let alone agreement, where she died shortly afterward.
Read it all there.

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Thursday, June 06, 2019

Do Traditional Catholics worship ash?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

On the plane back from Romania, Pope Francis responded to a question about Pope Benedict, who, he said, he thought of as a wise old grandfather. He then spoke about the nature of tradition:
Speaking of tradition, [the composer Mahler] said that tradition is the guarantee of the future and not the keeper of ashes. It is not a museum. Tradition does not preserve ashes; the nostalgia of fundamentalists [is] to return to the ashes. No, tradition is the roots that guarantee the tree grows, flowers and gives fruit. 
Pope Francis is here freely combining two images: Mahler’s, and one of his own, of tradition as a root or source for what we do. In Evangelii Gaudium he expressed it slightly differently, in relation to evangelization:
Nor should we see the newness of this mission as entailing a kind of displacement or forgetfulness of the living history which surrounds us and carries us forward.
Tradition, memory, history, give energy to even the perpetually new enterprise of evangelization.
Mahler’s dictum says something similar. The original German is “Tradition ist nicht die Anbetung der Asche, sondern die Weitergabe des Feuers”: that is, tradition is not the worship of ash, but the passing on of flames. 
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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fr Lawrence Lew: talk in London on Friday

Fri 31 May: Fr Lawrence Lew OP will speak on 'The Traditional Liturgy and Lay Men in the Church'

This is one of the Iota Unam talks; it will start at 7pm in the basement of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street. Doors open at 6:30pm.

Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory
Warwick Street
LONDON, W1B 5LZ

(click for a map)

Please use the Golden Square entrance.

The talk will be preceded by drinks and followed by questions and a recitation of Compline of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Letter in the Tablet

Google images suggests that Fr Baldovin favours
the 'tab' collar, when he's not in a
jacket and tie.
This weekend I have a letter in The Tablet. Last week they carried a strange lament by an aging liberal, Fr John Baldovin SJ, complaining about the traditional tendencies of young Jesuits: I assume his experience is of the USA. Since the formation of these men is in the hands of his own generation, it must feel like a bit of a failure. He informs Tablet readers that he has to spend ages explaining to these youngsters that the Traditional Mass and associated things like the Roman collar (horrors!) are bad because they carry with them the baggage of an 'insular' conception of the Church from before the Council. Alas, he doesn't have space to explain exactly what that means or how it works. Why prayers composed in the 7th century, for example, or ceremonies developed in the 12th, are all about the Church of the 1950s.

They have published my response.

Fr John Baldovin SJ (11th May) makes a surprising criticism of the ancient Latin Mass: that it brings with it a ‘insular’ vision unsuited to mission. Is this not the Mass which converted Latin America, which established the Church in Imperial China, and which was equally at home at the court of Louis XIV, and the mission stations of Africa?

The astonishing breadth of historical and cultural circumstances in which the Church’s venerable Latin liturgy has sustained martyrs and formed saints reflects both the long and varied period in which it was developed, and also an attitude, which it encourages, towards the liturgy as something objective, given to us, and precisely not specially adapted to our personal needs and circumstances.

The reformed Mass, by contrast, not only relies more heavily on the personality of the celebrant, but [inevitably] bears the marks of its creators’ interests and concerns. These are those of a small group of mainly European liturgists, whose ideas formed in the 1940s and ‘50s. To the younger generation of traditionally-inclined priests who cause Fr Baldovin such concern, the Mass these men produced looks about as up-to-date as the transistor radio.


The Letters Editor cut out the word 'inevitably', making me sound a little less reasonable, a little more hostile. When trying to win the argument about the Mass, every advantage is worth having, isn't it?

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review of Mosebach "Subversive Catholicism"

This was commissioned by, and is printed in, the European Conservative, a journal of which I had not previously been aware.
The book is Martin Mosebach Subversive Catholicism, a collection of essays, which you can buy from Angelico Press (which also pubishes a revisised edition of his Heresy of Formlessless) or Amazon.

Here's the beginning:

In 2006 Martin Mosebach sprang to fame, in the English-speaking world, as the author of The Heresy of Formlessness. It was a defence of the ancient Latin liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church: the liturgical tradition which had been celebrated by all western Catholic priests until just 40 years earlier, had provided the spiritual roots for the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, had sustained the martyrs of the Nazi and Communist prison camps, and had inspired the Church’s greatest artists, poets, and musicians.

That such a phenomenon as the ancient Roman Rite should find a conservative defender might not seem surprising, but at that time this form of the liturgy had become a kind of forbidden fruit, something which conservatives who wished to be taken seriously as mainstream figures had ritually to disavow. In this context, it was little short of astonishing that Mosebach’s volume of reflections would be published by Ignatius Press, a conservative American Catholic publisher which had made the avoidance of this ‘third-rail’ issue the key to its intellectual respectability.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The book of the Position Papers is now available

Long-term readers will remember the series of short 'Position Papers' I published on behalf of the FIUV--Una Voce International--on a variety of subjects about the ancient Mass, both aspects of it which need to be explained to those unfamiliar with it, and ways in which it can assist the Church in evagelisation.

These papers, gathered together and thoroughly revised, are now available as a book from Angelico Press, with a Preface by Cardinal Burke.

I will be organising book launch events in Oxford, London, and Rome.

You can buy them from the Latin Mass Society in England, from Angelico Press in the USA, and from Amazon.

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The Case for Liturgical Restoration

Una Voce Studies on the Traditional Latin Mass

EDITED BY JOSEPH SHAW

Preface by Raymond Cardinal Burke

432 pages
Paper (ISBN 978-1-62138-440-3): $19.95 / £16.50
Cloth (ISBN 978-1-62138-441-0): $30.00 / £24.00

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Can we accuse the Pope of heresy?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

For any Catholic of the last two or three centuries, the idea that one might accuse the Pope of heresy seems almost unthinkable: almost a contradiction in terms. The Holy Father is the guarantor of the Faith, the recipient of the gift of infallibility; union with the Pope is union with the Church.
Nevertheless, it is not quite unthinkable.
When Jesus Christ gave St Peter the Keys, to bind and loose, and the guarantee that the gates of Hell would not prevail over the Church which would be built upon the ‘rock’ of Peter (Matthew 16:18-19), the very next thing he said to him was to call him ‘Satan’ (Matthew 16:23), for trying to divert Christ’s mission in a worldly direction. When the Risen Christ gave St Peter the mission of feeding his sheep, he did so in the context of a thrice-repeated question, ‘Do you love me?’ (John 21:15-17), a question recalling, and undoing, St Peter’s thrice-repeated denial of Christ in the house of the High Priest (John 18:17, 25-27).
We are called to accept this painful paradox, of the Pope’s supreme spiritual authority, and his infallibility in solemn acts of teaching, along with his limitations as a member of the fallen human race. History tells us that popes have been guilty of all kinds of sins, including sins against the Faith. It is unsurprising that popes have tended to be theologically sound, politically astute, and morally upright. But there is no supernatural guarantee that they must be. 
The recently published letter accusing Pope Francis of the crime of heresy makes for uncomfortable reading. Most readers will know that Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (2016) contained passages which were troubling to many orthodox theologians. Many people, including me, thought that those passages could be explained in an orthodox sense. The difficulty with this approach, as time has worn on, is that Pope Francis has given no indication that such orthodox readings are correct. On the contrary, the whole tenor of papal remarks, documents of varying levels of official status, and the guidance given to and conclusions drawn from bishops’ synods in Rome, has tended to undermine those orthodox readings.
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Saturday, May 04, 2019

Don't modernise Notre Dame

My latest on LifeSiteNews

LifeSiteNews has a petition going to oppose the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, badly damaged in a fire, with modern additions. Ominously, President Emmanuel Macron has already opened a competition for architects to propose designs.
Like previous French presidents, Macron may well wish to leave a mark on a great historic building. President Mitterrand spoiled the classical masterpiece of the Louvre Palace, now a museum, with a much derided glass pyramid in the middle of the great courtyard and added insult to injury by obliging visitors to use it as the entrance.
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Friday, April 26, 2019

Rigid Catholics: a talk in London

Corrected time: 7pm (door open at 6:30pm)

And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.

I shall be giving a talk, 'Why do they call you rigid?', in London on Friday.

It is part of the Iota Unum series, and will take place at

7pm (door open at 6:30pm)

in the basement of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, on Friday 26th (Easter Friday).

Access via the basement steps from Golden Square (map).

£5 on the door; drinks provided.

I shall be discussing the development of the notion of psychological rigidity from the 1930s, the way the theory has been used, problems with the theory, its relationship with the Catholic faith, and how one can respond when accused of rigidity.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Easter Triduum in London: photos

I have processed my photographs from the Easter Triduum at St Mary Moorfields in London, which were organised by the Latin Mass Society. Here are some highlights; click through to find the whole set.

Maundy Thursday: the Mandatum
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Maundy Thursday is always well attended. The church was packed.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Priest attacked for wearing a clerical collar

I'm putting this back to the top of my blog since there is now a petition open in support of this priest. Sadly, his bishop's response to the investigation has been to remove the priest from the parish, and his future is now uncertain.

See also this Facebook page.

A recent LifeSite article by me. It begins:

curious letter is doing the rounds on social media. It is from a parishioner of a Catholic church in Tasmania, Australia, in the small diocese of Hobart, addressed to the young, recently arrived parish priest. Maureen—for that is her name—notes that people have spat at Fr. Nicholas Rynne, and been unwelcoming to him. Far from condemning this behavior, however, she endorses it. Her criticisms are that he has started a Traditional Latin Sunday Mass in the parish, in addition to the two Ordinary Form celebrations, and that he wears clerical dress (read full letter below). 
It is not that she is obliged to attend this newly established Mass, or that clerical dress harms her in some direct way—how could it?. Rather, they represent the old days, the old beliefs and practices of the Church, and these fill her with rage. She claims to remember these, which suggests she is of the older generation.
It is possible that Maureen suffered personally from priests of the pre-1965 era (when Mass was still always in Latin): she mentions clerical sex abuse as an issue, although it is evident that translating Mass into the vernacular was not enough to solve that problem. In any case, bad experiences from that era can hardly be blamed on a priest who must be young enough to be her son, if not her grandson. And she can hardly imagine this young man is singlehandedly going to bring back the schools, convents, orphanages and other institutions of the distant past, simply by wearing a clerical collar. No, her reaction is irrational. By the same token, it is doubtless sincere. 
Continue reading.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

What were Catholic schools like in the Bad Old Days?

A friend of mine found a school Religious Instruction curriculum dating from ther 1930s or '40s in the Diocese Clifton, and I've written a LifeSiteNews article about it.

Here's a quote.

It is impossible to tell from this document how many hours were devoted to Religious Instruction, and how detailed the instruction was. Nevertheless, it is clear that the pupils of non-elite, parochial schools were expected to be able, by the end of their courses, to have some idea of the sweep of history from Abraham to the Russian Revolution, to be able to discuss the Church’s social teaching, to have read the latest papal encyclicals, and — for the more advanced pupils — to be able to sing the complex Gregorian Chant ‘propers’ for major feasts.
The typical pupil at the eve of departing a Catholic school in England today would probably not know what Gregorian Chant is, and is extremely unlikely ever to have read a papal encyclical. Religious instruction in Catholic schools has, in fact, improved somewhat in recent years, but it is narrowly focused on doctrine, with a particularly shocking neglect of Church history. The stereotype of the past is actually more true of the present.
Read the whole thing there.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

London Easter Triduum: World premiere of Peter Kwasniewski tenebrae compositions

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PRESS RELEASE from the Latin Mass Society

This Holy Week in the heart of London, a rare opportunity to experience one of the oldest services in the Catholic Church along with a feast of chant and polyphony including a Sacred Music World Premiere.

Beginning on ‘Spy Wednesday’ with the ancient office of Tenebrae, The Latin Mass Society will be celebrating Holy Week with a wealth of traditional Latin liturgy at St. Mary Moorfields in the heart of the City of London. This year’s Triduum celebration will be directed by the Latin Mass Society Director of Music for London, Matthew Schellhorn with his group ‘Cantus Magnus.’

Since his appointment as Director of Music, Matthew Schellhorn has involved more professional musicians, both singers, organists and composers, in the work of the Latin Mass Society.

In October 2018, Cantus Magnus gave the World Premiere of new commissions Missa Rex in Æternum and Ego mater along with UK Premieres of several other works by American composer Peter Kwasniewski (b. 1971).

The Latin Mass Society is pleased to announce that the renowned composer and theologian Peter Kwasniewski has been commissioned to write for Cantus Magnus, and his Lamentations of Jeremiah will be sung at the daily Tenebrae during the Sacred Triduum.

This new work, structured in three parts for each day, will allow the entire liturgical text to be sung by incorporating the original chant for the Lamentation narrative, preceded by polyphonic introductions and concluding with a haunting meditation on the text, ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum’ (‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God’).

Friday, April 05, 2019

Pilgrimage to Caversham

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Mass for this year's Ember Saturday pilgrimage to the restored Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham was celebrated by Fr Seth Phipps FSSP, and accompanied with chant and polyphony provided by the Schola Abelis of Oxford and the Newman Consort.

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We had the full set of prophecies, which make the Ember Saturdays like little Easter Vigils.

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Thursday, April 04, 2019

Sponsorship scheme for embroidery training at the Royal School of Needlework

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Embroidery repair at the Guild of St Clare sewing retreat, Feb 2019
From the Latin Mass Society

The Guild of St Clare is launching a brand-new and very exciting initiative: the chance to study for the Certificate course at the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) at a subsidised rate of approximately 50%. The RSN Certificate Course is intended as a part-time course for keen amateurs and can readily be fitted around existing work and family commitments. It enables students to develop solid skills and become part of a long tradition of maintaining the highest standards in hand embroidery. More information about the course can be seen on the RSN website here.

Part of the mission of the Guild of St Clare is the teaching of skills essential to our work. We hope that in sponsoring places on the RSN Certificate Course we will be helping enthusiasts to gain the solid skills needed to repair, maintain, and create beautiful vestments and altar furnishings. Applicants should be able to demonstrate an enthusiasm for and commitment to hand embroidery and the restoration and creation of vestments. Further details about the sponsorship and how to apply can be found here.

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At the Guild Vestment Mending Day in London, March 2019

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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

New book by Martin Mosebach

Angelico Press has brought out a new book, a collection of essays, by Martin Mosebach, author of the excellent book The Heresy of Formlessness.

Amazon.co.uk has it here.

I was asked to write a blurb for it, here it is in full.

Martin Mosebach has once more demonstrated his ability to provide provocative insights into the condition of modern Catholicism in this collection of essays. He notes the tension between the liturgical principle, found in East and West, that the rites be "fear-inspiring", and the modern worshipper who "relaxes in an armchair waiting for [God] to arrive". He suggests that the needs of the ordinary believer are satisfied, if at all, in the kitsch products of Lourdes gift-shops, while elite Catholicism offers him an empty aesthetic puritanism. He suggests that the replacement of the monarch with the people, as the holder of sovereignty, makes for fiscal profligacy. He explores the parallel between the prayer wheels of oriental religions with the church bells of European Christianity. These essays are a tonic to our deep-rutted discourse on liturgy, spirituality, and religious sociology, refreshing, challenging, and setting us on new paths of thought.

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Monday, April 01, 2019

Should the Pope apologise to Mexico?

A recent article of mine on LifeSite. It begins:

 It has been reported that the newly installed President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has called on King Felipe VI of Spain and Pope Francis to apologize for the treatment of the native peoples of Mexico during and after its conquest in the 16th century. The proposal has already been rejected by the Spanish Government.
President Obrador is often viewed as a populist, and this demand certainly has the hallmarks of a publicity stunt. In a country ravaged by drugs cartels and corruption, which Obrador was elected, like all Mexican presidents, to oppose, it is very convenient to fix national attention on the crimes of five centuries ago, committed by institutions today represented by people thousands of miles away.
This is not to suggest that there were no wrongs committed by Spanish Catholics during the period of the Conquest, or that the right of the Spanish crown to conquer the area in the first place is straightforwardly correct. These are complex issues.
But demanding apologies does little to clarify these issues or to promote reconciliation. If they have any impact at all, such gestures tend to reinforce one stereotype at the expense of another, when a more nuanced view is necessary for a just historical appraisal. Part of that appraisal would be an acknowledgment that Europeans did not import the institution of slavery into some kind of ideal, peaceful community, but found in central America a society characterized by slavery, exploitation, and human sacrifice on an industrial scale. Another would be that at key historical junctures the Church, and indeed the Spanish crown, worked to improve the lot of enslaved peoples, even at the risk of provoking civil war with slave-owners.
Continue reading.

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Family Retreat: last call

I'm re-posting this: please book NOW! On the SCT website.

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The St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat takes place at the Oratory School, Woodcote near Reading, Friday to Sunday 5-7th April this year.

Booking is open: go to the SCT website.

As the name implies, in organisation and pricing it is adapted for families, with children. Unaccompanied adults are very welcome as well.

This year it will be led by Fr Konrad Loewenstein and Fr Seth Phipps of the Fraternity of St Peter. The theme is the Passion.

Don't miss out on this unique event. The Gregorian Chant Network's Training Weekend runs alongside: see the same page for information and booking.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Cardinal Marx on Celibacy

A recent LifeSite article of mine. It begins:

When asked what he thought about Western civilization, the Indian independence campaigner Gandhi is supposed to have replied, “I think it would be a good idea.” A similar witticism might seem appropriate when considering priests engaged in sexual abuse and celibacy. Celibacy: It would be a good idea.
Cardinal Marx takes a different view. During last October’s Youth Synod, he seemed disappointed that the subject was not discussed. LifeSiteNews reported him as saying that, although “celibacy is not the cause for abuse,” the stresses of unmarried life might be a factor. Now he has arranged for it to be discussed by a synod of the German bishops, saying “sexual freedom” is intrinsic to the “inner freedom of faith and orientation to the example of Jesus Christ” and that celibacy might not be “realistic” for all priests.
It sounds as though Cardinal Marx is preparing to dismiss celibacy, even while paying lip service to its value as an “expression of religious commitment to God.”
Continue reading there.

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Re re-print: the Parish Ritual

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

Preserving Christian Publications has brought out a beautiful reprint of a book once almost as essential to the work of a priest as the Missal or Breviary: the Parish Ritual.

Published in the USA in 1962, it is the equivalent to the Small Ritual published in England in 1964. It is an extract from the Missal and the Roman Ritual, containing the texts needed by a priest for weddings, baptisms, and funerals, Extreme Unction, receptions of converts, and a large number of blessings (of Rosaries, the Miraculous Medal, Holy Water, etc. etc.), all in a handy format worthy of use in the liturgy itself.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Calx Mariae on Sex Education in Schools



I have an article in the new and excellent edition of Calx Mariae, which is published by Voice of the Family. You can take out a subscription here.

Calx Mariae is an impressive publication, with some very distinguished contributors: this issue has articles by Prof Roberto de Mattei and Duke von Oldenburg.

My article begins:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Chant Training Weekend, 5-7th April, now booking

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Booking open for the Gregorian Chant Network Chant Training Weekend

GCN Logo

5-7th April
Oratory School, Woodcote, near Reading RG8 0PJ
Registration is from 4pm to 4.45pm on Friday 5th April.
There is a Sung Mass at 5pm followed by dinner.
Late registrations are possible from 7 to 7.30pm, after which the course begins.
The course ends after Mass and lunch on the Sunday (lunch at 1.10pm approx.).
The weekend is being led by Fr Guy Nichols and Dominic Bevan.
Deep discounts for two, three, or more members of a single choir or schola!
I look forward to seeing many of you there!
Joseph Shaw
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Sunday, March 10, 2019

We need better bishops, not (just) better procedures

My latest on LifeSite.

Many proposed solutions to the crisis in the Catholic Church focus on structural or administrative reform. Administrative solutions are attractive because they promise that our problems could be solved by a committee somewhere coming up with a new set of rules. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? It is true that some administrative systems are better than others, and we should naturally prefer better over worse, but no system is better than the people who administer it. What was going wrong in past decades was already against the rules, but the rules were not being taught in seminary, they were not being preached from the pulpit, they were not being defended in public by bishops, and they were not being enforced by Rome. The rules failed because of a failure of will.
An illustration is given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s insistence, in 2001, that all cases of the clerical abuse of minors be thenceforth dealt with by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), of which he was then Prefect. Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict, deserves credit, which he usually does not get, for driving this through. The reason it made a positive difference was not that before 2001 no one had the job of dealing with these cases. The reason is that for many years a huge number of local bishops, and great swathes of the Vatican curia, had lacked the will the deal with the problem. At that time, the CDF was one of the few places one could go to find people who still believed in sexual sin, and in the appropriateness of punishing it.
Ratzinger’s reform was good news for the many victims who, finally, began to have their accusations taken seriously. But it couldn’t address the fundamental problem, the problem of bishops and various categories of officials who were by character and attitude incapable of dealing with clerical abuse in an appropriate way. Their incapacity is obviously closely linked to the attitudes and behaviors of the abusers themselves.



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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Felt banners and participation

My latest for LifeSiteNews.

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The Christ-child with the Doctors of the Law: an elaborate, classical, and beautifully
executed sculpture in St Dominic's, Haverstock Hill, in London. The time, money, effort, and
sheer  competence represented by the sculptures for the fifteen altars corresponding to the
Mysteries of the Rosary is staggering.
An alien from outer space studying the Catholic Church of the last few decades might be puzzled at the frequency and apparent significance of the phrase ‘felt banners’ in Catholic discourse. It seems to sum up much of what is wrong with the Church, at least for many Catholics, but it is rarely explained. It doesn’t need to be, because we have all seen these objects, and we know the significance of the attitudes and processes which led to their production and display.
If I wanted to explain to Zog the Martian what is at issue when felt banners come up in conversations among Catholics, I might say that ugly and inappropriate items of church decoration exemplify and have come to symbolize an attitude of hostility towards objective standards of beauty, excellence, and truth. Zog, however, might find this explanation even more strange than the items themselves. How on earth did such an attitude come to be held by people in the Church, let alone by those with power over what gets hung on the walls of places of worship?
Familiar as the phenomenon is, it is useful to try to articulate what is at issue. The partisans of felt banners do not necessarily prefer ugliness over beauty. Their concern, rather, is to prioritize the contribution to church decoration of the artistically incompetent over that of the artistically competent. Because the latter might be paid, or might not be members of the parish, or might be long dead, their contribution has less value seen as a form of participation in community life. Indeed, the artists who beautified the Catholic churches of yesteryear, and the few who still place their expertise and judgment in the service of the Church, were and are not thinking of their work primarily in terms of community participation, but in terms of objective standards of devotional appropriateness and of artistic excellence.
Read it all there.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Survey of US Traditional Catholics

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LMS Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the Church of St Joseph, Bedford
I have a piece in LifeSiteNews on this widely-reported survey, which says exactly what one would expect: Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass overwhelmingly believe the teachings of the Church and fulfill their obligations to attend Mass and go to confession.

I think the survey is a good effort, but I'd like to put its contrast with data from other surveys on the beliefs and practices of Catholics as a whole into some context, beyond what I wrote for LifeSite.

Conservative Catholics reading the period results of mainstream Catholic opinion and
practice may get the feeling that the findings exceed their most pessimistic estimate of their
co-religionists. Amazingly few Catholics appear to know, let alone confess, the teaching of the Church on the Real Presence; scarcely any actually follow the Church’s teaching on contraception

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Fr Andrew Pinsent to speak Friday 22nd in London


Fri 22 Iota Unam talk, Fr Andrew Pinsent: 'The Traditional Mass and the Formation of the Virtues' 7pm in the basement at Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street.
Doors open at 6:30pm
All welcome. £5 on the door.
Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory
Warwick Street
LONDON, W1B 5LZ
The talk will be preceded by drinks and followed by questions and a recitation of Compline of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Fr Andrew Pinsent has doctorates in both Physics and in Philosophy, as well as theological training, and is Director of the Allan Ramsey Centre in Oxford University.
This is the second of the Iota Unum series of talks, which will focus on topics connected with the everyday life of traditionally-minded Catholics: the domestic church, homeschooling, traditional catechesis, moral instruction, culture (high, common, and religious), religious history etc..
The purpose of the talks is not only to inform but to help traditionally-minded Catholics from across London and beyond to meet, discuss matters of mutual concern, and form a greater sense of community.
There will be a charge of £5 on the door to cover refreshments and other expenses.

Other events coming up in London

March
Wed 6: Ash Wednesday
Mon 11: Houghton Schola at Maiden Lane, Feria of Lent
Sat 9: St Tarcisius server training Day/ Guild of St Clare Vestment Mending Day
Sat 16: LMS Pilgrimage to Caversham: Ember Day. Mass 11:30am with polyphony
Mon 18: Cantus Magnus Polyphonic Mass at Maiden Lane, St Cyril of Jerusalem
Fri 22: Juventutem Mass at St Mary Moorfields, 7:30pm
Tues 26: Iota Unam talk, Stuart & Clare McCullough ‘The liturgy and crisis pregnancy counselling’
April
Fri 5-7: St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat & Gregorian Chant Network Chant Course Fri-Sun at the Oratory School, Woodcote: see here.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ivereigh: what makes you think Christ wasn't gay?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.
Having only just written for LifeSiteNews about the tweets of Austen Ivereigh, I would not wish to return to the subject but for the extraordinary nature of the latest. Bear in mind that this man has been the Director of Public Affairs for the late Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, was a founder of the Catholic media organization “Catholic Voices,” and has written a biography of Pope Francis: he is what you might call a “professional Catholic.”
Discussing the latest claims about priests working in the Vatican who are homosexual, Ivereigh suggests:
The issue, as the priests make clear, isn’t celibacy and chastity, but having to hide who they are. The denial makes it impossible to live the vow in freedom. That’s what they’re saying.
This is a convenient argument for someone who wants to say that the Church has made homosexuality into a problem by her negative teachings about it. Get rid of the teachings, and you’d get rid of the problem!
A Twitter user replied, in Spanish (this is the Google translation):
They must serve God and his people without the entanglement of manifesting or hiding a hidden tendency. The priests, I believe, must be heterosexual. They act in persona Christi. And I do not think our Lord had homosexual tendencies.
To this Ivereigh replied, in Spanish (again, this is the Google translation any Twitter user can access at the click of a button: it is perfectly accurate):
Why do you say that our Lord did not have homosexual tendencies? From what signs or sayings or gestures do you deduce this?
It is typical of Ivereigh to make a point with a question. It allows him some plausible deniability over whether he believes in the implications of his question.
So I am not going to claim that Ivereigh thinks that Christ had homosexual tendencies. The implication of his rhetorical question is rather that the conforming to Christ required of priests does not involve, even ideally, a sexual identity which is not disordered: or, rather, the claim that homosexuality is not a disordered sexuality.
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