Tuesday, October 26, 2021

New Book: From Benedict's Peace to Francis's War: Catholics Respond to Traditionis Custodes

A new book from Angelico Press, which includes short pieces by me, and by many very distinguished people as well! Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Angelico direct.

From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War: Catholics Respond to the Motu Proprio Traditiones Custodes on the Latin Mass 

406 pages Paper (ISBN 978-1-62138-786-2): $22.95 / £18.00 
Cloth (ISBN 978-1-62138-787-9 ): $32.00 / £24.50 

An anthology of essays and articles by prelates and pastors, theologians and canonists, philosophers and cultural figures—including:  Cardinal Walter Brandmüller • Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke 
Cardinal Gerhard Müller • Cardinal Robert Sarah 
Cardinal Joseph Zen • Archbishop Thomas Gullickson 
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò • Bishop Rob Mutsaerts 
Bishop Athanasius Schneider • Msgr. Charles Pope 
Dom Alcuin Reid • Abbé Claude Barthe 
Fr. John Hunwicke • Michael Brendan Dougherty 
Ross Douthat • Edward Feser • Michael Fiedrowicz 
Peter A. Kwasniewski • Phil Lawler • Martin Mosebach 
George Neumayr • Joseph Shaw • and many others 

 Already on July 16, 2021, the reactions to Pope Francis’s severe restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass in Traditionis Custodes were like a river in full flood: articles, essays, interviews, podcasts—everywhere and from every point of view. An emotional, spiritual, intellectual dam had broken and the waters of discourse poured forth across the world. The sheer volume of writing occasioned by ­Traditionis Custodes is unlike anything seen in the history of papal documents—testimony to a neuralgic subject on which arguments proliferate and passions run high. The two-month period following the release of the motu proprio gave proof that the traditionalist movement was no fringe phenomenon, but something that had gained significant strength and sympathy during the relatively peaceful years from 2007 to 2021 (the “Pax Benedictina” to which the book’s title refers). The purpose of this volume is to gather in one convenient place some of the finest and most appreciated essays and articles published in the period from mid-July through September of this fateful year, 2021—not only from America and England (although these predominate), but also from other nations: France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Poland, Kazakhstan, and China. This book is not, and makes no pretense of being, a presentation of “both sides of the argument.” It offers a variety of critiques of this profoundly unwise and unpastoral decree, which suffers from incoherent doctrinal foundations, grave moral and juridical defects, and impossible ecclesiological implications.

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Monday, October 25, 2021

Interview with InfoCatolica

Procession to St Peters at the 2019 Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage, Rome

The following interview with me has been published, in Spanish translation, on InfoCatolica. This is the English original.

1.       What does it mean to be president of the International Federation Una Voce?


The Federation an an umbrella group for lay Catholics attached to the ancient Latin liturgy of the Catholic Church. We do not exercise authority over our members, but they come to us for advice, and we represent their concerns in the Holy See and in the world-wide media.

The Federation’s members elect a Council, currently about 20 people from all over the world, and a President; the Council elects the Treasurer and Secretary and allocates other tasks to its members. Because of the geographical spread of councillors, we communicate mainly by email and have instituted regular Zoom meetings.

The President, generally with a colleague or two, usually travels to Rome once a year to meet Curial officials, clergy, journalists, and others, to keep up with what is going on. As Secretary I have been involved in such trips for some years, and it has been very interesting. As well as concrete information, one gets a feeling for the assumptions and habits of mind which govern the Holy See. This insight is reflected in the way we carry out all our work: whether we want to appeal to these assumptions in our representations to the Holy See, or to modify them, one needs to know what they are.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage: 29-31 October

I will be there! The Latin Mass Society is part of the organising board for the pilgrimage.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Last Rites and the Emergency Services

My latest on the Voice of the Family Bulletin.

As the United Kingdom has secularised, so the role of Christian ministers has diminished. If you read stories of natural crises from fifty years ago, priests and Anglican vicars are often involved. At the 1966 disaster at Aberfan in Wales, when a heap of spoil from a coal mine engulfed a school, the local vicar was practically the only person regarded as having responsibility for the emotional and spiritual trauma suffered by the people of the town. One of the most memorable images from the “troubles” of Northern Ireland is of a Catholic priest waving a white handkerchief, escorting a group of people carrying an injured man to safety, on “Bloody Sunday” in 1972. Times, sadly, have changed.

As the role of the Church has diminished, so have priests’ opportunities to make a positive difference. Last week a prominent Catholic Member of Parliament, David Amess, was stabbed by (apparently) an Islamist fanatic. As he lay dying, a Catholic priest was refused admission through the police cordon to give him the Last Rites. The priest seemed to accept the explanation: Amess, surrounded as he was by police officers and medics, was in a “crime scene” which couldn’t be disturbed by anyone as trivial as a priest.

Read the whole thing there.

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LMS Oxford Pilgrimage: photos


This pilgrimage was initiated by me as the Local Representative for Oxford of the Latin Mass Society back in 2005. It honours two batches of martyrs: four in 1589, who died on the Town Gallows, and another in 1610, on the Castle Gallows. After Mass we have a procession to one of the two sites of martyrdom: both are (thanks to our efforts) marked with plaques naming the martyrs which have been blessed, by Archbishop Longley (in the Castle) and by his auxiliary bishop Bishop Kenney (the site of the Town Gallows).

The Epistle

In recent years the Mass has been a High Mass in the Dominican Rite in Blackfrairs. This year was the turn of the procession to the Town Gallows. Fr David Rocks was celebrant with Br Matthew Heyene and Br Albert Robertson as deacon and subdeacon; Fr David led the procession.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

LMS Pilgrimage in honour of the Chideock martyrs


Chideock, near Dorchester in Dorset, has several Catholic martyrs associated with it: it was throughout penal times a recusant Catholic house with a chaplain who ministered to the local faithful. There were martyrdoms in 1587, 1588 (a martyr in chains); in 1594, and in 1649: more details here.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Traditional Mass and Diversity

Venerating Our Lady of Walsingham at the end of the
LMS Walking Pilgrimage in August this year.

My latest on 1Peter5

In a recent article in the Illinois Times, Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia, is quoted as follows, of a specific Traditional Mass location:

It’s not an accident that all of these Catholics at the old Mass are white, because one of the things that happened after Vatican II was an ‘inculturation’ of the liturgy. …The Latin Mass is white and European by its definition, because it’s a product of the Catholic Church of the 16th century. So, this is creating serious problems because it is never limited to the liturgy only, but it is always the first step to saying Vatican II was a disaster.

I would far rather ignore these childish accusations, but I fear that if they are repeated frequently enough without rebuttal they will become established as part of the liberal narrative about the Traditional Latin Mass. But in order to shoe-horn the movement for the ancient Mass into the role of the bad guys in some racially-charged political confrontation, Faggioli needs to distort the past and ignore the present. Let’s start with the past.

Read the whole thing there.



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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

New edition of the FIUV's magazine: Gregorius Magnus 12, Winter 2021

Cross-posted from the blog of the FIUV, Una Voce International.

I am pleased to announce the Winter 2021 issue of Gregorius Magnus is available.

Gregorius Magnus 12, Winter 2021, is now available as a PDF, and on ISSUU, optimised for mobile devices.

In this edition:

Reactions to Traditionis Custodes

From members' magazines: Peter Kwasniewski on proclaiming the Gospel to the north; Pope Francis and Dante; Remembering Mgr Richard Soseman; Cardinal Merry del Val.

Features: J.R.R.Tolkien by Robert Lazu Kmita; Traditional walking pilgrimage in Spain.

50th Anniversary of the English Indult; Petitions from 1966 to 1997.

Become a Friend of the Federation and receive Gregorius Magnus by email.

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Saturday, October 09, 2021

Part time job vacency in the LMS


The Latin Mass Society is unique among Una Voce groups around the world in having a permanent office and paid staff. Above is a picture of our office which I took when we moved into it (from a smaller one) in 2009. It is big enough to have volunteers working in part of it, and for schola rehearsals in the evenings and vestment mending on Saturdays. It is located in Holborn, London's theatre district, not far from Corpus Christi Maiden Lane.

We have two full-time members of staff, two freelancers (our publicist and our magazine editor), and, usually, a part-timer. Our previous part-time employee is moving to Canada, so we need to replace her.

Details below.

The Latin Mass Society has a vacancy for a part-time Office Assistant, based in Holborn.


Office administration - The Office Assistant acts as the principal secretary for the LMS office. This includes general correspondence, answering telephone calls, post and emails.
Membership administration - The Office Assistant is responsible for the membership database (CiviCRM), membership renewals, data entry, data analysis, data export (print or email mail-merges).

Mail-order - The Office Assistant is responsible for the administration of the LMS online shop (Drupal Commerce). This includes stock replenishment, stock management, product updates/additions and order fulfilment (picking, packing & mailing).

Information administration - The Office Assistant is responsible for compiling information which pertains to the Charity, including research and document publication and distribution.
Volunteer administration – The Office Assistant is responsible for overseeing office work undertaken by volunteers.

Other tasks as determined by the General Manager.

The full job description and details of the application process can be found here. Closing date for applications is Friday 22nd October 2021.

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Friday, October 08, 2021

LMS Pilgrimage to Oxford, 11am Sat 16th October, Blackfriars

At 11am the Dominicans will be celebrating for us a High Mass in honour of the Martyrs of Oxford University. It will be accompanied with Dominican chant and polyphony.

At 2pm there will be a procession following the final journey of the martyrs of 1589, from the site of the Bocardo prison (by St Michael at the North Gate) to the site of the Town Gallows (100 Holywell Street), followed by Benediction in Blackfriars.

We've not been able to have this pilgrimage, which has been an annual event for more than ten years, since 2019. Please come along to support it!


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Thursday, October 07, 2021

Online stole making course from the Guild of St Clare, 30th October

An 'off line' Guild event

The Guild has arranged a one-day stole making course with the Royal Society of Needlework, which will demonstrate the traditional technique used for the making of vestments. 

The date is the 30th October 2021, and the course will run between 10am and 4pm. Thanks to our long-standing relationship with the RSN, we are able to offer this course at a reduced price which, excluding the materials, is £108. Online booking for this event is now open: click here to register.

More information from the Guild.

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Sunday, October 03, 2021

Photos Masses in Oxford


We had two Sung Masses last week: for St Michael the Archangel, and a Requiem for someone who died during the Coronavirus epidemic. Both were accompanied with polyphony directed by Dominic Bevan.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Who’d like to talk about Socrates?

Reposting: last call for this round.

Socratic Seminars: October 2021

I am returning to these after a break over the Summer. I have been doing them since January 2021 and have an established pattern, alternating different dialogues to discuss in a series of four  seminars.

The idea is that these are open to anyone over 16, regardless of prior knowledge, and take place on line, for a modest fee. The early dialogues are works of real philosophical value but presented in a way designed (I imagine) to engage people without prior training: they are the training. These seminars have been satisfying for me and have engaged the interest of a range of participants: at any rate they tend to come back for more.

This round the following are on offer:

For beginners:

Series 2: Apology (on Socrates' mission), the Crito (on political obligation), Charmides (on temperance), and Hippias Minor (on voluntary wrongdoing). 

Intermediate (for those who've done either or both of the introductory series of seminars 1 and 2):

Series 4: Protagoras (virtue and its teachability) and Gorgias (oratory and justice), each divided into two parts.

More advanced (for those who’ve done either or both of the intermediate series of seminars, 3 and 4):

Series 6: Symposium (on eros) and Parmenides (on the Forms), each divided into two parts.

I teach on Thursdays, we find a time convenient to each person in each seminar. Numbers between two plus plus me to five plus me.

I hope to start on Thursday 7th October.

Email me to register your interest. Joseph.shaw99 AT gmail.com

More information can be found here.

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Friday, October 01, 2021

New Guild of St Clare video: a large patch

In this video the Guild of St Clare demonstrates how to make a large patch, demonstrated with a threadbare shoulder on a dalmatic.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Students protest about Christian conference

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

One of Oxford Univeristy’s constituent colleges, Worcester College, has apologized for allowing an Evangelical campaign group, Christian Concern, to book its facilities for a residential event during the summer break. 

The fact that the event had taken place at all only became known to the college’s radicalized students when one of them found a flyer from the event lying around. Since the students were not in residence at the time, they missed the chance to be upset by hearing any of the talks or discussions, or traumatized by meeting any of the attendees. They had to make do with their distress at the fact that the college’s hallowed meeting rooms and corridors had felt the presence of a wider range of views than has become usual. 

Read the whole thing there.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Server training and vestment mending at Spanish Place


Our activities at St James' Spanish Place were jolly affairs as usual on Saturday, and well attended. The Guild of St Clare vestment making and mending was in the basement, and the Society of St Tarcisius server training was in the church upstairs.


As well as lots of progress being made on various vestments belonging to the Latin Mass Society, we had several groups of server trainees going through Low Mass and a team looking at the rubrics of Missa Cantata. We were fortunate to have four excellent instructors (I don't count myself!).


Friday, September 24, 2021

A Sacristan's Reflections on the Walsingham Pilgrimage

Charles Bradshaw assists Fr Henry Whisenant with the Blessing of Pilgrims

The New Liturgical Movement has published a lovely reflection on the LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham by Charles Bradshaw, who was our Sacristan.

We’re on the road again!” The past few years have seen a sharp increase in off-grid living, and with it a deep desire to give the modern world the heave ho. Off-grid traditional Catholicism is certainly what it feels like as you pack the car for the annual Walsingham Pilgrimage, not just with your backpack and tent but an entire sacristy, from vestments right down to grains of incense. Blessed with Solemn High Mass on each of its three days, the pilgrimage offers a chance to shed the cares of this world for a brief moment and connect with the essential: God; carefully lifting every second of the liturgy from suitcase to sanctuary.
Read the whole thing there.

High Mass in the Chapel of St Margaret, Oxburgh

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Server training in London this Saturday: last call for bookings


This Saturday we are holding another Server Training day with the Society of St Tarcisius, in St James' Spanish Place, from 10:30am. We conclude at about 4pm. 

Please book a place: this gives us an indication of number and of what people want to learn.

No previous experience is necessary, and there is no fee.

25th September: St James' Spanish Place, London 

(booking page) (info about the venue)

20th November: St James' Spanish Place, London 

(booking page(info about the venue)

As usual, there will be a Guild of St Clare Vestment Mending Day running alongside these events: see here for more details.


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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Videos from the Guild of St Clare

The Guild of St Clare is releasing a series of instructional videos about how to do simple repairs on vestments and a bit of domestic sewing--one episode to come will explain patching children's trousers.

This is the introduction to the series.

This one explains how to thread a needle, and how to stitch down loose braid. Yes, pretty well anyone can do a simple thing like this, and with a bit of patience and practice, and the right advice, can do it to a decent standard.

A lot of vestments in parishes bear the marks of incompetent repairs: certainly the LMS vestment collection does, as is noted in the video. This is not necessarily the fault of the people who carried out the repairs, who were often pressed to do it by priests who did not know anyone else who could have a go. The problem is that while every parish contains a few people who can sew, the techniques and skills needed for vestments, while not necessarily more challenging, are different. If you want to do repairs properly, even quite skilled sewers can pick a tip or two from this series.

A real eye-opener on the distinct nature of traditional vestment-making is the way stoles are made, a technique applicable to many other things. You can sign up to an online stole-making course here for 30th October (10am-4pm).

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Monday, September 20, 2021

LMS London events and Masses at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane


As I have mentioned before that the Sung Masses have recommenced under professional leadership on Mondays at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, which is a Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament (like SS Peter & Paul and St Philomena in New Brighton, which is looked after by the ICKSP). Another, a Requiem, will take place this evening, for the repose of Fr Wilfrid Elkin who died in March. It is being accompanied by the new polyphonic consort with Victoria's setting, a fitting tribute to a lovely priest who did so much to support tradition.

Enquire about joining the singing of polyphony or the chant on Mondays at Maiden Lane by emailing southwell@lms.org.uk; more info here.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The challenge of a new school year

Quiz at a St Catherine's Trust Summer School a while back. We've not had the Summer School
for two summers due to the pandemic.

My first article in a new initiative, a weekly Digest (bulletin) from Voice of the Family.


Two recent news articles greeted the start of the academic year. The Irish Times informs us that official statistics confirm that since teacher assessments have in whole or in part replaced anonymised formal examinations, the relative performance of boys against girls has fallen. In the Daily Telegraph, Melanie McDonagh complains that her 14-year-old daughter’s Catholic school has brainwashed her into being a woke activist.

These are both troubling claims, and they may seem extreme, but the people making them are far from marginal. The problem of systemic bias against boys has been acknowledged by the Irish government, which is hardly a bastion of cultural conservatism. It was in fact established on the basis of world-wide statistics some years ago, in a study sponsored by the OECD. The creation of a generation of school-child activists all saying the same things about race and gender has been denounced by Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. Lest anyone imagine she is some conservative culture warrior, she recently made headlines apologising for Oxford’s education of the prominent Conservative Party politician Michael Gove.


Read the whole thing. You can subscribe at the bottom of the page.
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Friday, September 17, 2021

Iota Unum talks in London are back: Jamie Bogle on 24th Sept

Fr Edward van den Bergh giving the last Iota Unum talk of 2019

After a long break necessitated by the epidemic, we are returning to our face-to-face talks in London.
The Latin Mass Society's 'Iota Unam' talks take place on Friday evenings in Our Lady of the Assumption Warwick Street (please enter by the back entrance into the basement: 24 Golden Square, W1F 9JR): click for a map.

6:30pm for 7pm. Refreshments provided. £5 on the door.

Confirmed talks:

Sept 24, James Bogle: Bl Charles of Austria

Oct 22, Joseph Shaw: Headship and Hierarchy in the Family

Nov 19, Dominic O’Sullivan: Spanish Integralism

Dec 10, Sebastian Morello: de Maistre on Liturgy and Politics

Jan 29: Tom Pink: 'The Papal Monarchy: the exercise of power in the Church, its theological and legal basis, and its limits'

During lockdown we have been doing podcasts: have a listen!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Why priests should learn Latin

Bilingual Vesting Prayers in the Sacristy of Westminster Cathedral

My latest on Catholic Answers. The LMS is putting its money where its mouth is: clergy and seminarians in or from England and Wales can get an 80% discount on the fee of an online Latin course.


There is an amusing video on YouTube showing an American Latinist engaging priests in the Vatican in spoken Latin. He remarks that he spoke to a dozen priests, but only three were brave enough to go on camera with him and use Latin in actual dialogue.

Spoken Latin might sound like the preserve of hobbyists, like spoken Elvish or Klingon, but being able to speak a language is the ultimate test of fluency, and for the Church, Latin isn’t just any other language. As well as being the sacred language of the liturgy, it is an indispensable key to the Church’s theology, history, law, philosophy, and poetry. As Pope Benedict XVI described it, it is the language the Church considers as her own.

It is for this reason that Latin has always formed an essential part of the education of the clergy. The Second Vatican Council’s decree on Priestly Training, Optatam Totius, says seminarians “are to acquire a knowledge of Latin which will enable them to understand and make use of the sources of so many sciences and of the documents of the Church” (13). This means a serious grasp of the language: being able to sit down and read St. Augustine, for example—not as a homework exercise, but because you want to know what he says about something.

Read the whole thing there.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Introductory video from the Guild of St Clare

Produced by the great Peter Jones of One of Nine fame. More 'how to' videos are to follow.

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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Statement of the Religious Superiors (and Taylor Marshall)

Cross-posted on Rorate Caeli.

The Superiors General of the Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and a number of other Superiors General of priestly institutes and religious communities attached to the Traditional Mass (including three communities of women), have issued a joint letter in response to Traditionis Custodes. Here it is, on the FSSP website. It is addressed to the Bishops of France, not, as some have assumed, to the Holy See.

As befits such a document, it is carefully worded. In principle, Traditionis Custodes creates an impossible situation for the signatories. They are founded on the charism of the Traditional liturgy, and the Letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes tells us that it is the intention of the document that in the longer term this liturgy should entirely disappear. Furthermore, the justification for this given in the Letter is that the clergy and faithful (who are not distinguished) are detached in some sense from the unity of the Church.

The argument which needs to be made to the Bishops of France at this point is thus a delicate one. Negatively, it should be obvious that to strike a defiant attitude, to threaten disobedience to Traditionis Custodes or the Bishops, or to suggest that they might go over to the Society of Pius X, would serve to confirm the purported justification of Traditionis Custodes. It would be directly counter-productive. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Monday Masses at Maiden Lane: professionally-led singing returns


The Latin Mass Society has a very long association with the historic London church of Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, located in Covent Garden, and we organise a Traditional Sung Mass there every Monday at 6:30pm. This practice was disrupted by the epidemic, but maintained as far as possible with two singers and no servers.


We are now back, and last night we had the first Mass with the newly formed Southwell Consort. This is led by Dominic Bevan and consists mainly of men and women with musical training who have chosen not to pursue music as a career. It is an opportunity for them to sing some lovely sacred music in the liturgical setting for which it was composed. Last evening they had a whopping 17 singers. They sang Missa O Quam Gloriosum, Victoria; Ave Maria a 8, Victoria; Panis Angelicus, Rebelo, and I must say (hearing this from the sanctuary where I was serving) it was extremely impressive.

Friday, September 03, 2021

LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage: more photos

TLM pics-84

These are by the photographer and videographer Peter Jones, who runs the One Of Nine YouTube channel.

TLM pics-79

Thursday, September 02, 2021

LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham, Part 2


The little girl in red managed the entire walk, 56 miles over three days.


Our fantastic non-walking volunteers, on Saturday evening in Great Massingham.


Some of the tents at Great Massingham.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham: Photos, Part 1


In thanksgiving for the easing of the Covid regulations, allowing us to have this event, I decided to do two new things, personally. One was to do a pre-pilgrimage, walking from Cambridge to Ely: extending the pilgrimage backwards. The other was to do the walk in a kilt. So there I am, above, looking a bit the worse for wear outside the Catholic Shrine on the final day: photo courtesy of Peter Jones. (The rest in this post are mine.)


It was by far the biggest walking pilgrimage we have done. There were about 120 people walking and 12 non-walking volunteers: cooks and drivers. For the first time, we had four chapters, which walk, sing, and pray, as a group, with gaps between chapters to let cars overtake more easily on roads: the same system as is used on the Chartres pilgrimage.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Contradictions among those defending Traditionis Custodes

Final blessing at the High Mass in Westminster Cathedral;
Mass for the Latin Mass Society's AGM

My latest on 1Peter5: on some conflict among those who defend Traditionis Custodes.

It begins:


Pope Francis has offered two reasons for wishing to bring celebrations of the Traditional Mass to an end: attitudes of some of the faithful which have become associated with this form of the Mass, and the idea that the unity of the Church requires a unity of liturgical rite. Accordingly, some of his defenders have focused on one of these points, and some on the other. Both are having difficulty explaining and justifying Pope Francis’ action.

Targeting the Innocent to Punish the Guilty?

I recently fisked an article by Michael Sean Winters which laid the blame for Traditionis Custodes (TC) on the people who like it, singling out the journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty. There is much wrong with Winters’ argument, but suppose he was right about Dougherty being a dangerous schismatic, what would be the significance of this? To be crass about it, who cares what some journalist thinks? If he were the head of an organization, clerical or lay, with serious popular support, which was closely associated with the TLM, that might indicate a wider problem, but as it is, it proves nothing at all.

As if realizing that he needed to widen his evidence base, towards the end of his article Winters brings in Martin Mosebach, accusing him of rejecting Vatican II without being able to quote him doing so, and the views of George Weigel, apparently unaware that Weigel has a long and distinguished history of gratuitouslyinsulting Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass. As a representative of the movement, he doesn’t really fit the bill. Nevertheless, that’s the best Winters can come up with.

Another problem with this approach is identified by Terrence Sweeney on the Where Peter Is blog, and in fact is acknowledged even by Winters himself: in Sweeny’s words, “Even if many are acting schismatically, this does not justify a restriction that affects those who attend the Tridentine rite but remain faithful.”

Read it all there.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Is Traditionis Custodes calling for more Latin?

High Mass in Westminster Cathedral for the Latin Mass Society.
Photo by John Aron

 Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

A number of American writers claim that Traditionis Custodes should spur priests to make their celebration of Mass more reflective of the liturgical tradition. Others commentators, including a number of bishops implementing it, apparently think the opposite.

Those in favor of the first interpretation can cite a couple of passages from the Letter to Bishops which accompanied Traditionis Custodes. Pope Francis quotes Pope Benedict complaining about liturgical abuses—“unbearable distortions”; later he remarks:

Whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements.

The Roman Canon being Eucharistic Prayer I in the reformed Missal.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Latin: not as dead as you think, on Catholic Answers

Fr Henry Whisenant insensese the Altar in Westminster Cathedral:
Annual Mass for the Latin Mass Society

I am delighted to have been asked to write a short article for Catholic Answers, a website which has been addressing questions about the Catholic Faith since its foundation by Karl Keating in 1979. It is about the use of Latin in the liturgy, and it begins:

From an early date, the Church in the West has used Latin—not only for administration, study, and communication, but for prayer. This was natural for regions where Latin was the majority language, but as the centuries passed, the Western Church persisted with a Latin liturgy in evangelizing peoples on and beyond the edges of the Roman Empire not conversant with it, such as the North African speakers of Punic and the speakers of Celtic and Germanic languages in western and central Europe. By contrast, the Eastern Churches sometimes made use of the languages of their new converts, even when these had to be specially developed in their written forms for this to be possible, as with Ethiopia’s Ge’ez and Russia’s Church Slavonic.

There is thus a close association between the Western Church and the Latin language. Even today, when the liturgy can be celebrated in a huge range of languages, this relationship has left its mark, and Latin remains an option for both public and private prayer—not only in celebrations of the pre-Vatican II liturgy, but also for the reformed Mass.

Why has the Church been so attached to Latin? The answer is that liturgical Latin is not just a convenient language, but a sacred language. 

Read the whole thing there.

Improve your Latin with an online course! Liturgical Latin is the target of Matthew Spencer's latest course, and the Latin Mass Society is giving an 80% discount to clergy and seminarians who wish to take it up.

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Friday, August 20, 2021

The LMS' London chant schola, the Houghton Schola, will return to singing in September

Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, London

Cross-posted from the Gregorian Chant Network blog.

It has been a long winter for Gregorian Chant, but we can finally announce that the Houghton Schola, the Latin Mass Society's all-male training schola for London, will resume rehearsing and singing in September.

They will be singing at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, two Monday evening Masses a week, and as a rule they will have one rehearsal a month to prepare both Masses, in the office of the LMS itself, which is in Macklin Street, Holborn.

To register your interest in singing, please email southwell@lms.org.uk 

The Director, Dominic Bevan, is also leading a new, mixed, polyphonic consort, the Southwell Consort, which you can also enquire about through this address.

The Houghton Schola trains chant singers who may or may not have previous experience. The Southwell Consort provides an opportunity to sing in a liturgical setting for people with musical training but who have not become professional musicians. 

The first rehearsal of the Houghton Schola will be on Friday 10th September.

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Iota Unum Podcast on the former Communist bloc

Today we release a discussion about the Church and the Traditional Mass in the former Communist countries of central and eastern Europe, with contributions from Russia, Poland, and Romania.

See it here on Podbean; you can find it on other platforms as well if you search for the Latin Mass Society.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Michael Sean Winters attacks Michael Brendan Dougherty

Fr Henry Whisenant at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday; photo by John Aron

(I've put this on Rorate Caeli too now.)

Michael Sean Winters has written an attack, mainly on an article by Michael Brendan Dougherty (MBD), and it is interest to contrast MBD's sometimes artless sincerity and distress over Traditionis Custodes with Winters' manipulation of the facts and instrumentalisation of Pope Francis. For Winters Traditionis Custodes is not about the liturgy at all: it is an instrument of political power. This is what theology and spirituality has come down to for Winters and his little gang.

Winters' words in black, my comments in red.


In the weeks following Pope Francis' Traditionis Custodes, the motu proprio rendering his decision to revoke the permissions to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass contained in the 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, there has been a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who champion the old rite. Many of them have proven why Pope Francis was right to do what he did: The traditional Latin Mass had become an incubator for division. Schism is in the air along with the incense.

Top of the list is Michael Brendan Dougherty, of National Review, for an op-ed in the New York Times. Dougherty gets a lot wrong for someone who claims to be a journalist. He suggests that Gregorian chant only flourished after Summorum, but I worshiped at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington since 1985 and we had Gregorian chant at every 10 a.m. Mass. They also have it at St. Paul's Cambridge outside Boston. And St. Clement's in Chicago. And in lots of churches.

Great, so there were a handful of churches where they had a bit of chant in the Novus Ordo. I could name three in London, too. But what about the tens of thousands where there was no chant? The fact is a young Catholic from a Novus Ordo parish almost certainly has no idea what chant is, and it is overwhelmingly likely that if he ever encounters it in Mass, it will be with the TLM.

This is not some freak accident. Paul VI actually said 'We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant' (General Audience, 1969). And it came to pass.

The only expression of the Roman Rite?

A Low Mass celebrated after the 2019
LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham,
in the Medieval Slipper Chapel.

I have become a contributing Editor of the blog founded by Steve Skojec, 1Peter5, and my first article for them has just published. It begins:


The practical fall-out from Traditionis Custodes will be making itself felt for some time to come. In some places it has already been devastating; in others, it appears it will be minimal. The theological fall-out, however, threatens a profound problem on a different plane. This arises from the claim made in Article 1 of the document, and repeated in the accompanying Letter to Bishops, that “the liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.”

The official English translation which I have quoted is actually a poor rendering of the Italian expression, “l’unica espressione”, which means the only expression. The document is claiming that the only Missal which expresses the Roman Rite’s lex orandi, its “law of prayer,” is the reformed Missal.

The Church’s law of prayer, her lex orandi, must correspond to, and indeed determine, her law of belief (lex credendi): that was the claim of Prosper of Aquitaine when he coined the phrase in the 5th century. Prosper was making the point that if you want to know what people believe, then look at how they express themselves in prayer. If they genuflect at the reference to the Incarnation in the Creed, of if they kneel to receive Holy Communion, this tells you something: Arians will refuse to do the first, and Lutherans the second. A Missal is a “law of prayer” in the sense that it sets out a way for people to pray, and we would expect Catholic Missals to give a theologically correct law of prayer and Arian and Lutheran ones to give theologically erroneous ones. What, then, can it mean to say that the Roman Rite has only one law of prayer, and that this is the one expressed in a particular Missal, and not in another, in a document which allows both to be used in the Church?

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Last Call for the LMS Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham: deadline, 23rd August


The deadline is Tuesday 23rd August. Register here.

There are discounts for your people and clergy and religious are free.

This is going to be a year to remember! Don't miss out.


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Saturday, August 14, 2021

LMS AGM and High Mass in Westminster Cathedral: photos


Today, Saturday 14th August, the Latin Mass Society held its Annual General Meeting. Among other things I gave talk which can be heard on Soundcloud here (37 minutes): Traditiones Custodes: What difference does it make?

Friday, August 13, 2021

Are Canonisations Infallible? A new book of discussions

I am a contributor to an important new book collecting essays on this topic: are Canonisations infallible?

Get it on Amazon: UK here; USA here.

I have mentioned the issue a couple of times on this blog: I am inclined to doubt it, for the simple reason that the kind of affirmation a canonisation implies, on the holiness and eternal fate of a particular historical personage, is not part of the deposit of Faith, and is not included among the things covered by the doctrine of infallibility as defined by the First Vatican Council.

Canonisations have always involved historical research: reviewing the written works of the individual, interviewing witnesses, and so on. Such research can give us a strong reason for believing a conclusion about an historical fact, perhaps even one which goes beyond reasonable doubt, but such scholarly certainty is quite different from our attitude towards objects of Faith.

These very simple and I would have thought obvious points are resisted fiercely by some. This book sets out arguments on both sides of this important question.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Latin for Clergy: 80% discount from the Latin Mass Society


To respond to Pope Francis’ challenge that those celebrating the ancient Latin liturgy should ‘possess a knowledge of the Latin language sufficient for a thorough comprehension of the rubrics and liturgical texts’ (Traditionis Custodes 3.4), the Latin Mass Society is pleased to announce a special online course designed to assist the clergy to improve their Latin for liturgical use.

This will be led by Matthew Spencer, who has been working with the Latin Mass Society to provide online Latin teaching for more than a year.

We are offering an 80% discount to the usual price for Catholic priests, seminarians, those accepted for seminary admission, permanent deacons, those studying for the permanent diaconate, and novices and professed religious of both sexes who come from or are based in England and Wales.

With this we have arranged independent certification from Dr Justin Stover, Senior Lecturer in Medieval Latin at Edinburgh University.

Dates: Module 1, 6 Sep - 1st Oct; Module2, 11 Oct - 5 Nov; Module 3, 15 Nov - 10 Dec

To apply email Matthew Spencer: intensivepali@gmail.com 

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Friday, August 06, 2021

'After Traditionis Custodes': Podcast

Dominican Rite Mass in Holy Trinity, Hethe, 2019
Today we launch a new season of our Iota Unum podcasts, to publish weekly.

In the opening episode I give an hour-long talk on the implications of Traditionis Custodes.

In this presentation I address the question of whether the Traditional Mass has value, according to the Post-Conciliar Popes, whether it makes sense to think of it existing alongside the Novus Ordo, and how to understand the rejection of this possibility in Traditionis Custodes. And finally, where we go from here.

It can be found on various platforms, here it is on Spotify, on Podbean, and on the LMS website.

I have put down a long list of links to documents I refer to in this podcase in the shownotes, here.

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