Thursday, December 03, 2020

Sticker wars in Oxford and Edinburgh

My latest on LifeSite.

After a pause due to everyone being confined to their homes due to the coronavirus, the war of the fly-posted stickers is hotting up. In Edinburgh, someone has posted stickers on street furniture saying, “Seahorses ARE horses. Hotdogs ARE dogs. There is no debate. #WarOnWomen.” Another says, “I © JK Rowling.” Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series of children’s books, has been attacked for not supporting the trans agenda.

I have seen similar stickers in the streets of Oxford. What the reports tend not to say is that this is a conflict of two sides. Certainly in Oxford, stickers asserting the existence of women (“Woman: noun. Adult human female”) are a response to a long sticker and graffiti campaign by trans activists. Last October, I captured images in Oxford of stickers saying “Oxford [heart] our trans sisters” and spray-painted “Trans happiness is real.” Posting stickers is a form of vandalism and is illegal, as is graffiti, but although the perpetrator was boasting about it on Facebook, where full personal details could be viewed, the local police had better things to do than enforce the law in this case. When someone started posting stickers from an alternative point of view, the reaction was very different.

Seeing lamp posts, poles carrying street signs, parking-ticket machines, benches, post boxes and so on covered in stickers, some partially torn off by irritated humans or the effects of the weather, contributes to an impression of lawlessness and neglect. Along with litter from fast-food outlets blowing about the gutters and homeless people sitting in doorways, central Oxford, which is of course a World Heritage Site, can look pretty slummy. Perhaps the police really do have more pressing priorities, but it doesn’t take much imagination to anticipate the consequences of allowing one side in the most contentious cultural issue of the day to have the run of public spaces for their propaganda, in a city full of students. Yes, someone is going to go into competition.




Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

LMS Launches the Iota Unum podcast series

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Another image from the Bedford Pilgrimage

You can now listen to the first ever LMS Podcast, an interview by me of Matthew Ward, the Director of Music at Mayfield and a leading exponent of Gregorian Chant, on Chant and Prayer.

You can find our podcasts on Podbean here.

There are some older recordings on the channel, the talks from a conference the LMS hosted a few years ago, but the interview with Matthew is the first of a new series. 

These are a continuation of the Iota Unam talks in London by other means - these talks have been impossible since early this year due to the Coronavirus. Queeezing forty people into a church basement to hear a talk and to chat and drink wine is about as far from Covid-safe as it is possible to imagine, so when we will be able to get back to that format I do not know. This is sad as the talks served an important social function for those who attended, quite apart from the content of the talk.

To salvage something from this initiative, including some of the people who had already agreed to give talks, we are doing these podcasts. Our guests are not all household names but we are talking about issues of interest and importance to Traditional Catholics in navigating modern life and the Church, and I hope they reach a large audience.

They will be published on successive Tuesdays in Advent. Coming up are discussions with Maria Madise, John Rao, Daniel Dolley, and Jules Gomez.

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

David Starkey attacks the Real Presence

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The 'commixtum': High Mass for the LMS Pilgrimage
to Our Lady of Guadaloupe at Bedford

Having been “cancelled” by various charities and academic institutions for racism, David Starkey has taken to a new, British, anti-woke magazine, The Critic, to snipe against the “trans” phenomenon, as the champion of common sense against the “experts”. How does he do this? By comparing gender ideology to Catholicism.

In case anyone of intellectual self-respect was inclined to feel sorry for Starkey, allow me to fisk this strange article for you. The idea, you see, is that when transsexuals tell us that they can change sex just by saying so, so the Church says that the bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Christ just by a priest saying some words. This is terribly neat because Starkey can then say that trans ideology is taking us “back to the Middle Ages”.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The new normal

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Viewing Mass through the window at the back of SS Gregory & Augustine, in Oxford

Some people are excited about a post-Covid future, since the epidemic and government responses to it have had some good results, such as cleaner air, and have speeded up some processes they regard as positive, such as a move of economic activity online. For the World Economic Forum, which may perhaps be beginning to regret popularizing the phrase “the Great Reset” (too late now), a bright future beckons. All we need to do is “adapt”. Well, I don’t mind if some tedious and pointless meetings in the future take place online, and if that means that some people take fewer long-haul flights, that’s great. But I’m not sure they have really thought about the cost.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Ecumenical martyrs: Letter in The Tablet

I'm sorry to say that The Tablet are back to their old trick of removing the key section from my letters. They can publish what they want, of course, but it's not an honest way of hosting a discussion. 

Here is my full letter, with the bits not published in bold. On the egregious Stephen College, see his Wikipedia entry.

Sir,

 

John Mulholland (Letters 7th Nov) regrets the lack of a memorial to both Catholic and Protestant ‘martyrs’ in our cathedrals. Having lived with such a monument in Oxford’s University Church for some years now, I cannot agree.

 

As well as obvious candidates like Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley and a number of canonised Catholics, this large and expensive memorial lists Catholics who took up arms in the local version of the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549, who were executed by Cranmer’s regime, Archbishop Laud, executed by Protestant zealots, and Stephen College, a co-conspirator with Titus Oates, executed by the spiritual heirs of Laud.

 

I think College’s name alone renders this memorial deeply embarrassing, not to say insulting, but the alternating rounds of persecution it recalls raises deeper questions. Do we really want to say that the persecutors of the Prayer Book rebels, or of later Protestant non-conformists, or of High Churchmen, were sanctified simply by the fact that the wind changed direction and the law caught up with them?

 

It is surely a good principle that people should not be commemorated together who would not wish to be. Putting Thomas Cranmer alongside Edmund Campion may make us feel virtuous, but it is an historical falsehood. As Mgr Ronald Knox pointed out, ‘Each of them died in the belief that he was bearing witness to the truth; and if you accept both testimonies indiscriminately, then you are making nonsense of them both.’

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Joseph Shaw


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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Gregorius Magnus, magazine of the FIUV: new edition available

Want a break from the US election?

You can read a good dal about the response of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV) to the survey of the world's bishops on the Traditional Mass carried out by the CDF earlier this year in the newly published magazine of the FIUV: Gregorius Magnus 10.

Having recently returned from Rome, I can say from multiple sources that what the bishops have said about the EF in their dioceses is not all negative by any means, and no one seems to expect any bad outcomes from this survey. Nevertheless, the FIUV has also presented the CDF with a report, covering 364 dioceses from 52 countries, of the experiences of the traditional faithful, whether in enjoying the Traditional Mass or merely asking for it, to supplement the perspective of the world's bishops.

Gregorius Magnus also has much else of interest which I hope readers will appreciate, including extracts from traditional Catholic magazines from around the world, some published in English for the first time.

It is now available as a pdf here.

For the first time, and thanks to sponsorship by the Latin Mass Society, it is also available to read on ISSUU, which optimises the content for display on mobile devices. You can download the app, or look at it on the web.

Direct link to Gregorius Magnus 10 on ISSUU here.

Link to Gregorius Magnus on ISSUU with the last three editions here.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Coronavirus restrictions and Mass-going

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A be-masked Supply of Ceremonies Omitted in the Private Baptism
in Oxford last weekend.

A lot of people are very upset about the obligation to wear masks, particularly in church. Certainly, there is something a bit weird and oppressive about being obliged, nor for any religious or symbolic reason—for example as a sign of mourning—to cover one’s face, and to see everyone around one doing the same. I can’t say I’m happy about my four-month old baby not being able to see me smiling at her during Mass.

Perhaps the public health arguments in favor of masks are justified, and perhaps they are not. I’m not qualified to take a view on that, but equally I’m not one to insist on the most stringent interpretation of the rules where there is room for maneuvre.

What I determined to do, however, is to make the most of what freedom there is to maintain my own sacramental life, and to help others to do the same. The Latin Mass Society is organizing and facilitating events to the maximum amount allowed. Most parishes and dioceses are doing the same. If the Government says something is allowed, after all, then it is allowed.

Friday, October 30, 2020

UK Government consults on regulating home-education

From an email

On 6 October 2020, the Children’s Commissioner told the Committee that the Department for Education (DfE) has committed to introduce a compulsory register of home-educated children. She also insisted that the DfE should introduce termly inspections of home-educating families.

This will inevitably result in state interference in what and how parents teach their children at home, in the same way that the RSE and LGBT agendas have been imposed on schools.

The Christian Institute have produced a very good short briefing on the matter setting out the key issues at stake and suggestions of best way to respond in the consultation:
https://www.christian.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Home_Education_briefing_Oct20.pdf

The consultation itself is here (I understand the proposals only apply to England though anyone can respond):
https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/255/home-education/


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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Big Tech turns Big Censor

My latest on LifeSite.


Some weird things have been happening online recently. If you search for certain words or phrases on Google, you are directed not to the website or news story about the thing you are searching for, but a series of sources attacking or debunking it. When you try to post about certain things on Twitter or Facebook, your followers see your words accompanied by a link to an article attacking what, according to some algorithm, you may be promoting, or else you can find yourself suspended or banned from the platform.

I’m not talking about searching for racist political parties, pornography, or how to make a bomb. This happened to the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’, a statement by a group of scientists about government policy on the coronavirus. Even with the weight of the New York Post behind it, a major story about Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, disappeared from social media and Google results. Even tweets by President Donald Trump have been vanishing. Rather than expressing concern over this, or countering its effects, mainstream media outlets have in many cases been following the tech companies’ lead in burying particular stories.

Friday, October 02, 2020

The intolerance of the tolerant towards Judge Barret

My latest on LifeSite.

A member of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s staff made a revealing statement on Twitter the other day. Arguing that Amy Coney Barrett reportedly believes that the husband should be the head of the household, someone pointed out that this is also part of the traditional faith of Jews and Muslims.

Nikitha Rai (@RaiNotWheat), deputy director of data for the Biden campaign, replied:

True, I’d heavily prefer views like that not to be elevated to SCOTUS, but unfortunately our current culture is still relatively intolerant. It will be a while before these types of beliefs are so taboo that they’re disqualifiers.

She’s deleted her account, but the internet remembers.

Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sir James MacMillan becomes Patron of London-based choir Cantus Magnus

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Cantus Magnus is a small polyphonic choir which sings exclusively for the Traditional Latin Mass, and is directed by the Latin Mass Society's London Director of Music, Matthew Schellhorn.

Matthew reports on the Cantus Magnus Facebook page:

'We are utterly thrilled that Sir James MacMillan CBE has agreed to become Patron of Cantus Magnus. Speaking of the appointment, Sir James wrote: "I was delighted when Matthew Schellhorn invited me to become Patron of Cantus Magnus. His endeavours seek to bring souls to God with the highest possible quality in performance of the best Catholic music. Matthew is a consummate musician in both the secular and sacred spheres and I have known and admired his work for many years. His hard work has never been more needed, and helps the Church and its music go from strength to strength."'

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Support Sacred Music in London and Offer Masses for Your Loved Ones

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Cantus Magnus, a professional sacred music choir under Matthew Schellhorn, is announcing a scheme whereby anyone can ask for a Sung Requiem Mass to be celebrated for their loved ones, to be fitted in to or added to the regular EF Masses which are celebrated in London.

London is unique in the world for the number of Sung Traditional Masses which are celebrated regularly. As well as a Sung Mass on Sundays in St Bede's, Clapham Park, the normal, non-lockdown pattern, to which we are at last returning, is a Sung Mass every Monday in Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, every Wednesday in Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, and one Friday a month in St Mary Moorfields for the Juventutem group. A good number of these Masses are High Masses with deacon and subdeacon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

In Defence of Primary Educators: a protest against Sex Ed in Catholic schools


Below is a piece I've written for LifeSite on the campaign against Sex Education in Catholic schools. Our Coalition in Defence of Primary Educators now has a website, and with LifeSite we have created the following video.


Last week, on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, I knelt with two others in front of Westminster Cathedral, the magnificent Byzantine-style mother-church of the premier diocese of England and Wales, and the seat of Britain’s only Cardinal, Vincent Nichols. We prayed the Rosary together for our bishops. We had already written to them: we, and supporters or our three organisations, which have come together for this cause—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Catholic Man UK, and the Latin Mass Society, of which I am the Chairman—and we received formulaic responses from most of them, telling us that everything will be fine.

But it is already not fine, and we can all read for ourselves the legislation and official guidance which will before long be enforced on schools under our bishops’ authority, which will make things even less fine. For this legislation is imposing a program of “Personal, Health, and Sex Education” (PHSE) which demands that choosing not to kill the child in the womb is just one acceptable option among others, and that Christian marriage is just one life-style choice alongside same-sex unions, and every other possibility. We know from the lesson-plans, produced not only by the Government but by the Bishops’ own agency, the Catholic Education Service, that children in schools claiming to be Catholic and funded in part by Catholic offertory collections are already bullying, browbeating, and shaming children who dare to give voice to their instinctive regard for natural marriage. This approach will be rolled out and enforced with greater and greater rigor when the new legislation comes into force next year, after a delay caused by the Coronavirus.

Read the whole thing.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Schellhorn Prize for sacred music composition

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See my posts about the previous winner, Marco Galvani, here. That was in 2015; the prize is being revived in light of the abject state of music performance after three months of Covid lockdown.

Contributions to the prize are welcomed: see here.

-------------------

The Trustees of the Schellhorn Trust are pleased to announce the 2020 Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition competition.

Classical pianist Matthew Schellhorn founded the prize in 2014 in memory of his parents to foster artistic endeavour and encourage excellence in the Sacred Liturgy. The inaugural Prize was awarded in 2015 and was won by Marco Galvani.

The Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition competition is announced for 2020 and will be held in December with the winning entry performed on Christmas Eve.

The panel of judges for the 2020 Prize will include:

Mr Matthew Schellhorn (Chairman)
Diana Burrell (composer)
Marco Galvani (composer; Yehudi Menuhiin School)
Dr Peter Kwasniewski (composer)
Professor Nicola Lefanu (composer)
Mr Andrew Morris (Pastmaster, Worshipful Company of Musicians)
Mr Tim Watts (composer; Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge & Sub-Director of Studies in Music and Teaching Associate, St John’s College, Cambridge)

Founder and Chairman Matthew Schellhorn writes: “The Covid-19 situation has seen a hugely detrimental effect on the arts sector, and musicians have been amongst the most adversely impacted. I hope this prize will provide an incentive to be creative and to build up a working relationship with other professional musicians as we support each other.”

The Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition is supported by The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Westminster Cathedral Choir is in peril

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Westminster Cathedral: the LMS Annual Requiem


The saga of Westminster Cathedral Choir School claimed a fresh victim last week with the resignation of another senior employee, the Music Administrator Madeleine Smith. Like the Director of Music, Martin Baker, she was unhappy about the sidelining of the choir at Englands premier Catholic Cathedral. Baker resigned late last year, and was absent from Christmas services. There was no official explanation, and he has not been replaced. What is going on?

Westminster Cathedral Choir is served by men and boys, in the ancient Catholic tradition. The boys attend a school set up specially for them by Cardinal Vaughan, the founder of the Cathedral, in 1902. He wanted to have something in his new Cathedral equivalent to the great choirs of the Anglican Cathedrals, which commonly have their own schools—boarding schools—so the boys can be recruited from a wide area and are available to sing on Sundays. Vaughans vision was realized, and Westminster Cathedral Choir is famous. It is, or was until recently, at least as good as the best Anglican Cathedral choirs, such as those of Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s, and in the context of the global melt-down of Catholic sacred music since the 1960s, it was regarded as the best Catholic Cathedral choir in the world. Westminster Cathedral was the only Catholic Cathedral in the world to have a Sung Mass every single day: again, until recently.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Support this Angelico Press project: the Vulnerary of Christ

Angelico Press.org
Kickstarter Project page
The Vulnerary of Christ 
Kickstarter campaign to translate and publish a book
about the five wounds of Christ and their mysteries
Kickstarter Page
Back this Project

WHAT IS THE VULNERARY OF CHRIST?

A book about the history of emblematic depictions of the Five Wounds that Jesus Christ suffered at the Crucifixion: their symbolism and representation in religious art, liturgical objects, heraldry, even household items. Evidence is provided of extensive devotion to the Heart of Christ centuries prior to official recognition of devotion to the Sacred Heart by the Catholic Church in 1765. Fascinating evidence also connects these themes to the legend of the Holy Grail.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

What are the defenders of 'Cuties' really saying?

My latest on LifeSite. A highlight:

I’m not going to review Cuties because I’ve not watched it, and I have no intention of doing so. What I can comment on is the reaction to it, particularly those of people defending it. One might expect defenders of the series to claim that it does not endorse what it depicts — sexualized dancing by underage girls — and they do say this, up to a point. But actually, they do want to endorse it. Here is the New York Times reviewer, Richard Brody:

The subject of “Cuties” isn’t twerking; it’s children, especially poor and nonwhite children, who are deprived of the resources — the education, the emotional support, the open family discussion — to put sexualized media and pop culture into perspective.

What does this story tell us, exactly? Brody patiently explains that in the oppressive, patriarchal society these girls are supposedly part of, despite their complete lack of supervision or effective moral formation, their adoption of sexualized dancing is a way of rebelling and establishing their own identities. So it’s actually good. But it’s also bad, because they are doing it only because they lack resources and education, and are oppressed.


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Friday, September 11, 2020

More about Downside

My latest on LifeSite.

In 1993, a Benedictine monastery, Fort Augustus Abbey in Scotland closed the school that had been its major work since its foundation in 1880, though latterly plagued by allegations of child abuse. In 1998, citing the high cost of maintaining the monastic buildings, the community itself was dissolved, its members dispersing to other monastic communities.

A similar process is now taking place with another Benedictine community, Downside Abbey in England. In 2019, the community was legally separated from the school which had existed alongside the monastic community since 1617, at that time an English Catholic institution in exile on the Continent. School and monastery have shared the current site in southwest England since 1814. But now it has been announced that the monks will be leaving: exactly when and to where has yet to be determined. The monastic buildings were designed for fifty monks, and the community is down to eight, with little prospect of new members. It is expensive to maintain, and co-existing on the same site as a school they no longer run is awkward. It is time, apparently, to move on.

The problems these institutions have had with vocations and with their schools are distinct, though entangled. Britain’s fee-paying boarding schools have had a difficult time in recent years, but many continue to flourish. It seems that they will do so without such a strong contingent of Catholic monastic schools among them as in the past. The more fundamental problem for these and many other communities has been the lack of vocations.


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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Downside: Open Letter from Fr Christopher Basden

The news that the monks of Downside Abbey in Somerset are to abandon their home of more than two centuries, including the fabulous Abbey Church which is one of only four Minor Basilicas in England, came as a shock to English Catholics. It is difficult to imagine them surviving as a separate community, and we know that many other religious communities are not far behind the monks of Downside in terms of declining numbers. Which will be the next to go?

Fr Christopher Basden, long-time Parish Priest of St Bede's Clapham Park, and now Parish Priest in Ramsgate and Minster in Kent, has written the following letter appealing to the community to think again. St Bede's has been a model of the integration of the Traditional Mass into a territorial parish, and demonstrates the way this can contribute to securing the future of a church. Decline is not inevitable: some monastic communities are growing today: those who have reconnected themselves with the roots of tradition. 

Reproduced with permission.


OPEN LETTER OF APPEAL TO DOWNSIDE

On behalf of untold people throughout the world I write to appeal against the monks of Downside surrendering to the current zeitgeist and leaving their monastery. Downside is part of the fabric of English Catholic history. The restoration of the Catholic Church and of monasticism is one of the great victories of Grace after the horrendous rape and interruption by Henry VIII in the 16th Century. We appeal against this decision in the face of a more insidious enemy: that of secularism, relativism and modernism which destroys the Church from within.

Surrendering does not solve the problem. We have faced enemies before and a flight or dispersal to another location(s) is simply the recipe for swift extinction as we have seen previously (Fort Augustus and countless female communities). Have we no faith in the grace of God and the irresistible attraction to the consecrated life and the eternal truth of the Catholic Church? 

More about Obedience

My latest on LifeSite.

Readers may be surprised, or scandalized, that Catholics like myself critical of bishops who appear to be pushing the practice of Communion in the hand during the COVID-19 epidemic are minimizing the importance of the virtue of obedience. So having criticized one view of what obedience is about, I’d like to say something positive about obedience.

Obedience is indeed a wonderful virtue. We should not see it as a passive or effeminate virtue, but as a primary virtue of the soldier. Christians are, after all, soldiers of Christ, and it is the constant theme of traditional Catholic spirituality that we should overcome our self-will in order to conform ourselves to the will of God. This, after all, is what the love of God is: “If you love Me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15). Furthermore, our religious superiors exercise over us God’s authority, and for most of us our opportunity to obey God in specific matters comes in the form of obeying God in our superiors.

The difficulty modern Catholics have had with obedience is partly the result of spiritual writers of recent centuries taking it too much for granted that they are not talking about obeying our superiors in matters of sin, or about “rash” obedience when what we are commanded might be sin; nor about matters that go beyond our superiors’ competence, or about commands that fail to promote the common good. 


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Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Obedience and Holy Communion

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Holy Communion in happier times. LMS Holywell Pilgrimage 2014.
My latest on LifeSite.


J.D. Flynn, editor at Catholic News Service, has told his Twitter followers:

Every time I go to Mass it is hard for me to receive in the hand.

Every time I go to Mass, I have to say consciously, “He is the bishop, and you’re not, Flynn.”

That’s been an incredible source of grace. Obedience has been more fruitful for me than any devotion could be.

Mr. Flynn’s argument here is that his reception of Holy Communion in the hand is an exercise of the virtue of obedience, and therefore a source of graces. This is problematic for a number of reasons.

Most obviously, no bishop’s guidelines say that Catholics are obliged to receive at all. Catholics are, in normal times, obliged to receive Holy Communion once a year. Frequent reception of Holy Communion is recommended by the Church for Catholics in a state of grace, but here and now other factors are in play. Some Catholics in this situation have chosen not to receive at all for this period of time. Others have found priests, perhaps on the other side of diocesan boundaries, willing to distribute on the tongue, which of course is perfectly legal.

Read the whole thing.

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Friday, September 04, 2020

Downside Abbey to be abandoned: letter of the week

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The mighty Abbey Church at Downside, where Bishop Schneider celebrated the EF
for the Latin Mass Society's Priest Training Conference in 2010.


The news that the monks of Downside Abbey--all eight of them--have agreed that the community should leave their home of two centuries has come as a shock, though the logic of it is undeniable. Having severed ties with the school, their presence in the school grounds is an anomoly. With little prospect of young men applying to join the community, it is difficult to see any future for it elsewhere either. If I were a betting man, my money would be on them joining another community.

An interesting insight into the demise of this once-important community is given by this letter to The Tablet by Joseph Bevan, whose father's time as Director of Music at Downside covered the period of the liturgical reform. 

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The news that the Benedictines are to leave Downside Abbey will fill most loyal Catholics with distress and foreboding. The laying low of one of the greatest bastions of English Catholicism leads us to wonder who will follow, for the meltdown is gathering pace. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Interview in The Remnant

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High Mass of Requiem for Colin Mawby, Patron of the Latin Mass Society,
in St Mary Moorfield, shortly before the Coronavirus epidemic.


A longish interview with me has been published in The Remnant. Read it there.

Some highlights.

Q. Isn't the intellectual conception behind this dedication to the Tridentine Mass just another form of "antiquarianism"?

Joseph Shaw: ...The question can be approached from a subjective or an objective perspective. Subjectively, it is legitimate to ask what forms of liturgy and what devotions are most helpful to souls. Some may be of particular benefit to some Catholics, and others to others. Some like the Divine Office, or the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, but they are not compulsory, and to say one legitimate devotion or liturgical form is outdated or inappropriate for the current year is ridiculous. If it has been approved the Church, and someone finds it helpful, that is all that needs to be said.

...

Monday, August 31, 2020

My weekend pilgrimage

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Bust of St John Henry Newman in lay clothes in The College, Littlemore

Over the last weekend - Friday to Sunday - the Latin Mass Society hosted a series of online events and invited people to make local pilgrimages in lieu of the annual Walsingham Pilgrimage.

I am my little party--three of us, most of the time--took in two ruined Abbeys, two sites of martyrdom, the place St John Henry Newman was received into the Church, the place where he attended a public celebration of Mass for the first time, and several Catholic churches: all locked, sadly. We are fortunate in Oxfordshire, but not uniquely so: many places in England have an equally rich sacred geography, and Catholics should always make the effort to familiarise themselves with it.

Here's a little photographic essay.

Friday, August 28, 2020

'Work hard, be nice' is not racist

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Children doing the Stations of the Cross at the St Catherine's Trust
Summer School in 2019.

My latest on LifeSite

One of my favorite Twitter accounts is that of Katherine Birbalsingh (@Miss_Snuffy), the Headteacher of an experimental school in a deprived part of London, Michaela Community School. The experiment involves conveying knowledge to the children in an environment in which teachers and pupils do not live in constant fear of being assaulted. Naturally, this is an almost unique experiment, and she is constantly attacked by the progressive teaching establishment. There are precedents for her approach, however, and she expressed her dismay when one of these, the American Charter School chain KIPP, explained that in light of the Black Lives Matter movement that it had decided to change its motto and discipline policy. It explained:

We are retiring “Work hard. Be nice.” as KIPP’s national slogan; it ignores the significant effort required to dismantle systemic racism, places value on being compliant and submissive, supports the illusion of meritocracy, and does not align with our vision of students being free to create the future they want.

The obvious response to this statement is that if children cling to an attitude of angry non-cooperation toward their teachers, they are not going to learn anything or do well in any exams, and if they start off in deprivation, then they will stay there. KIPP, like Miss Birbalsingh’s school, has as its mission lifting children out of poverty and desperation, and if the school is giving up on that, this is a tragedy.


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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Sacramental validity matters

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The Sacrament of Confirmation. It won't be valid if your Baptism isn't valid,
and Holy Orders won't be valid if your Confirmation isn't valid.

My latest on LifeSite

The big story of the weekend came from the Archdiocese of Detroit. A certain Matthew Hood watched a video of his own baptism and realized that the officiant, a permanent deacon, had used an invalid formula: he had said ‘We baptize you’, not ‘I baptize you’. This was of special concern since Hood, now an adult, had been under the impression that he had been ordained a priest in 2017.

In some ways, the story is reassuring. It was a letter from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, under Pope Francis, insisting on the importance of these things, which set this chain of events into motion. The Archdiocese acted swiftly to have Hood properly baptized, confirmed, and ordained, and has done its best to reach other people baptized by the rogue deacon. 

Two things remain worrying, however. One is that it is impossible to know how many other people are affected by invalid sacraments. The other is that many Catholic commentators seem not to care.



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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Take part in the LMS Walking Pilgrimage online this weekend!

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Every year since 2010 the Latin Mass Society has had a walking pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham, which is about 60 miles, for the conversion of England. This year we can't do it because of the Coronavirus: it would have taken place this weekend. Instead we are doing an online version, which you can take part in not only as a participant in live-streamed Masses and devotions, spanning the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden, Our Lady of the English Margyrs in Cambridge, and the Slipper Chapel in Walsingham, the restored Catholic shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham.

Futhermore, you can join our prayer and penance by actually walking - whereever you are.

How will it work?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Bishops' onerous obligation

My latest on LifeSite

Bishops are discouraged by all sorts of things from performing their duties with the fidelity and vigor that the nature of their job enjoins. I don’t envy them. It is often said that many priests decline the offer of episcopal promotion, and it is not difficult to see why. But there is a big difference between saying that doing the right thing is very difficult and saying it is impossible. We can be obliged to do what is very difficult. We can’t be obliged to do the impossible: that is, really impossible.

What should bishops be doing? They have an obligation to safeguard the salvation of all the Catholics in their dioceses, so they must act against spiritual dangers to their flock. Thus, they are under an obligation to denounce ideas or individuals who present an urgent threat to their people’s spiritual welfare, and remove people from roles in the diocese, including schools, where they threaten people’s spiritual welfare. 

This kind of thing must be done in an intelligent and strategic way, and there is nothing wrong in itself in a bishop minimizing bad publicity and observing his obligations as an employer and things like that. But it is difficult to avoid the impression that even many bishops who have a reputation for orthodoxy are not doing this intelligently and strategically: they are just not doing it.

Read the whole thing.

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Friday, August 21, 2020

LMS Virtual Walsingham Pilgrimage 28-30th August

LMS WALSINGHAM VIRTUAL PILGRIMAGE Friday 28th to Sunday 30th August

Our Lady of Walsingham small

Every year for the last 10 years the Latin Mass Society has held an annual Pilgrimage to Walsingham, walking from Ely in Cambridgeshire to Walsingham in Norfolk over three days during the August Bank Holiday weekend. This year, because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have decided to continue this tradition but this year it is to be a virtual pilgrimage from Willesden in north London to Walsingham, and we invite you to get involved.

Willesden small

How will it work?
After the success of our July Digital Conference, we will be bringing pilgrims a daily schedule of Live-streamed Masses, Meditations, Online Rosary and prayer sessions as we travel along our virtual route from Willesden to Walsingham.

We invite you to join the walk in your own locations; Willesden to Walsingham is 118 miles. We need pilgrims to pledge to walk a distance during the Pilgrimage, which can be anything from half a mile to 100 miles! You can do your own pilgrimage in your back garden, in your street or even the local countryside, wherever you are in the world and whatever feels safe and suits you. With as many pilgrims as possible signed up to the virtual pilgrimage, and all praying together, we can add up the total of the miles walked, along with rosaries said and songs sung, as we pray this August to Our Lady of Walsingham.

The three day event will be streamed live on our Facebook page and Youtube channel.

How can l sign up?
To register your interest in the pilgrimage, sign-up from our website and you will receive reminders and updates about the pilgrimage.

How do I participate as a walker?
If you would like to take part as a walker, you need to download the Starva app to your mobile phone. Once in the app, you should join our ‘LMS Walsingham Club’, details of how to do this are on our website.

We would then like to share your experiences during the Pilgrimage online and amongst our other pilgrims. If you are unable to join in with our walk then we hope you will pray for the pilgrims.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

New webite for the Catholic Medical Association, and their annual Requiem 14th November

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The CMA has a cool new website here: https://catholicmedicalassociation.org.uk/

With sponsorship from the Latin Mass Society, they are holding their annual Requiem in the traditional Domincan Rite at St Dominic's, Haverstock Hill, on Saturday 14th November at 11:30am.


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Saturday, August 15, 2020

It is time to admit that French Catholic Churches are under attack

My latest on LifeSite.

A Rwandan refugee who had been employed as a caretaker has confessed to starting the July fire at Nantes Cathedral, for reasons that remain obscure. The causes of the terrible 2019 fire that severely damaged Notre Dame in Paris may never be known. Fires can start for all kinds of reasons, but there is sadly a pattern of Catholic churches in France being deliberately burned down by people with a hatred for the Church and the Faith. There are, indeed, about 1,000 attacks a year.

The British weekly The Tablet recently reported:

“Something is happening in French society that's long been neglected but is  becoming evident with these fires”, said Stefan Lunte, secretary-general of Justice and Peace Europe. “The country is becoming de-Christianized, and there are people who wish, for whatever reason, to vandalize and destroy Christian symbols ... The long-held strategy of keeping this under wraps simply does not work”.

The Justice and Peace movement is not normally associated with wild claims about culture wars, and as an adviser to the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, Lunte must be familiar with the safe and stodgy institutional mainstream of the Catholic Church in Europe. He is clearly fed up with it.


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Friday, July 31, 2020

One problem with infallible canonisations



Dr John Lamont made the theological case against the infallible nature of decrees of canonisation on Rorate Caeli a couple of years ago: here's the first post, and here is a follow-up. The other day I stirred up Twitter by repeating some of his arguments and it didn't surprise me at all to see a fair amount of resistence to this idea from traditionally-inclined Catholics.

This follows very naturally from the fact that a lot of old books and old authorities say that canonisations are infallible. What one has to remember is that St Alphonsus and the rest used the term 'infallible' in a far looser way than Vatican I's definition, and when the term is used today it is that definition which tends to uppermost in our minds. Again, the process of determining the sanctity of individuals has been vastly, well, 'speeded up' would be a polite term. Saints generally needed four miracles to be canonised in the past, now they need two. And so on.

But I'm not going into all that again: Dr Lamont lays it all out. No one outside Twitter has ever seriously suggested that the infallibility of canonisations was itself a doctrine of the Church which requires the assent of Catholics. So we can agree to differ, as theologians in fact always have.

I want to point out something else which is of huge importance. The process of canonisation has always required money - the researchers have to be paid - and many of those canonised have well-funded supporters. Having rich chums does not in itself show that a person is not holy - even Christ had some rich friends, after all. But joined to a, ahem, streamlined process, there is a potential problem.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Guild of St Clare sponsorship awarded

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A Guild of St Clare Vestment Mending Day before the Coronavirus

This is the second year we have awarded sponsorship to assist a student undertake the Royal School of Needlework Certificate Course. The RSN is planning to restart teaching, with various safeguards, so our sponsored student will be able to start in August.

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The Guild of St Clare and the Latin Mass Society are pleased to announce that an award has been made for their Sponsorship Scheme which assists students in doing the Certificate in Hand Embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework. 

The recipient is a religious who prefers to remain anonymous. We are delighted that the skills offered by the Royal School of Needlework will be joined to a vocation of hidden prayer and service to the Church.

The Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Communion on the tongue is an ancient practice

My latest on LifeSite.
I was honoured to be included in one of the videos created by LifeSite of people affirming their intention to receive the Holy Eucharist only kneeling and on the tongue. There are many ways of approaching the issue. John Henry Westen has approached it with a piece titled 5 reasons why Catholics should only receive Holy Communion on the tongue; also worth reading on this website is Peter Kwasniewski’s response to the suggestion by Fr Dwight Longenecker that reception on the tongue is somehow indicative of self-righteousness. 
I would like to open up another avenue, a historical one. It is constantly reiterated by the proponents of reception in the hand that this is what the early Christians did. This is often put forward as part of a historical narrative that goes like this. As with many doctrines, the early Church had a very basic and common-sense understanding of the Blessed Sacrament, which was turned into something much more elaborate and extreme by the theology and devotional practices of the Middle Ages, which established the term ‘transubstantiation’ and the practice of Eucharistic reservation and adoration. The Protestants reacted against these extreme ideas with some justification, and Vatican II rowed back from them as well in the interests of getting back to the pure doctrine of the earliest Christians.
While it is true that theological terms became more precise, and devotional practice did develop, it is demonstrably false to suggest that Christian authenticity requires us to repudiate the more developed teaching and practice of the Church. 
Read the whole thing.
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