Sunday, January 30, 2022

The LMS and the SSPX

I can't find an image of Houghton-Brown online,
but he was an artist and this is by him:
Richeldis founding the Holy House at Walsingham.
The long-lost autobiography of Fr Bryan Houghton is being republished by Angelico Press. It contains a description of a famous meeting, which Fr Houghton attended himself, between the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, Geoffrey Houghton-Brown, the President of Una Voce International, Eric de Saventhem, and some others, with Archbishop Lefebvre, in 1969. At this meeting it was agreed that Latin Mass Society/ Una Voce groups should stick to seeking permissions for the Traditional Mass from bishops and the Holy See, while the Archbishop, and the fledgling SSPX which he founded, could continue to act as he saw fit, with or without permission. (Fr Houghton was a cousin of Houghton-Brown, incidentally.) 

From Unwanted Priest, p141

I may say that this was not the first time that I met Monsignor Lefebvre. I had already met him (perhaps in the summer of 1969) at the Kenworthy-Browns. There had been present: Mr and Mrs Kenworthy-Brown, Monsignor Lefebvre, Mr and Mrs de Saventhem, Mr Geoffrey Houghton-Brown, Mr Vernor Miles (representing the Countess of Kinnoull) and myself. Monsignor’s lack of English was a bit of a bore, but luckily the de Saventhems, Geoffrey and I were fluent in French, and the Kenworthy-Browns understood most of it, although a bit tongue-tied. But poor Vernor Miles was still at school-French: “My aunt’s pen: la plume de ma tante.” This was perhaps rather fortunate—divine Providence. Monsignor Lefebvre wanted money to start up in England in a big way. Now, Vernor Miles represented Lady Kinnoull, who had one of the biggest Catholic fortunes in England. It had been left to her by her husband and she was childless. At the crucial moment Mr Vernor Miles was unable to understand.

Anyway, the problem was: whether the Latin Mass Society should associate itself with Lefebvre or not? It was decided that the two organisations should remain divided: the LMS trying to get the hierarchy to admit the old Mass; Lefebvre producing the old Mass in spite of the hierarchy. I felt quite sure that this was the right decision.

With hindsight the wisdom of the decision may seem evident, but of course in 1969 the SSPX had not been suppressed (1975), and the Archbishop had not been excommunicated (1988). Neither side knew how the situation of the other would develop, what threats and opportunities it would face. In 1971 the LMS won the first great concession from the Holy See, the English Indult, under which it gained the thankless task of seeking permissions for celebrations of the ancient Mass. A world-wide version followed in 1984. These document rather defined the task of the Una Voce movement up to 2007, and it seems we are back to that situation again today. On the other hand, the SSPX gained complete freedom of action at the cost of canonical regularity.

Whether the Archbishop and his followers were justified in doing what they did I leave to readers to judge. What is perfectly clear is that it would not have helped the situation if the Una Voce movement had stopped trying to get permissions from bishops and popes. Insofar as we have been successful, we have carried on the same battle, the battle for the Traditional Mass and the Faith it embodies, as the SSPX, from another direction. Insofar as we have failed, we--or rather, the bishops and popes at issue--have provided the SSPX with evidence that their disobedience was necessary.

This has been true throughout our history, and it certainly has not ceased to be true today.

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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Learn Latin and become a citizen of Europe

Reading the Epistle: Fr Gabriel Diaz at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane

We are delighted to announce the opening of bookings for the Latin Mass Society's Latin and Greek Summer School: an intensive course of one week looking at the Latin of the liturgy for beginners and intermediate students, and New Testament Greek for students with the basics of the language. It will take place 8-13 August at Park Place Pastoral Centre in Hampshire. We also have on-line courses to recommend; all of these have huge discounts for clergy.

And here is an unexpected, but perfectly logical, new reason for learning Latin and Greek, which appeared in the press before the Christmas rush but is worth repeating.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, France's Education Minister, is re-introducing the study of Latin and Greek into France's professional schools: it will be possible to study them as part of the 'technical' baccalaureate. This is part of an international effort to 'strengthen the EU', alongside Italy, Greece and Cyprus.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Confirmations: Being Stricter than the Law


My latest in the Voice of the Family Digest

Since 2004, with a break in 2020 for COVID, the Archdiocese of Westminster has supplied an auxiliary bishop to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the 1962 liturgical books. In the 16 services which have taken place over 17 years, 593 candidates have been confirmed using this rite. These services were open to Catholics from all over England and Wales, and indeed beyond: occasionally we had candidates from Scotland and France. As time has gone on several other bishops have plucked up the courage to hold confirmation services in their own dioceses. One such was due to take place in just a couple of weeks, 6th February, in the Oratory at Birmingham.

These have now all been cancelled. It seems the bishops of England and Wales had a meeting, online, and decided that they must not be allowed, under the terms of the Responsa ad dubia, which the Congregation for Divine Worship published before Christmas. The Responsa ruled out the use of the older Pontifical, the liturgical book which contains the Rite of Confirmation, and also the Roman Ritual. Neither of these books was mentioned in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, Traditionis Custodes. It is not clear how or why a Roman Congregation, supposedly interpreting Pope Francis’ document, is adding entirely new regulations not found in the original. They are, we might say, being stricter than the law.

Bishops in England and Wales, and around the world, have in any case the authority to abrogate from the universal law of the Church for the good of souls, under Canon 87.1. They referred to this Canon in addressing the problem thrown up by Traditionis Custodes, which appeared to say that parish churches should not be used for the traditional Mass, when the overwhelming majority of such masses are being celebrated in parish churches, with no practical alternatives available. This Canon has not been changed. If bishops, who can see the harm done to the good of souls by a strict implementation of the Responsa which itself does not have the force of law, want to implement it anyway, they themselves are being stricter than the law.

Read it all there.

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Monday, January 24, 2022

Traditional Confirmations cancelled in England and Wales

Bishop Sherrington, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster Diocese,
administers the confirmation 'slap'. He wears a cope and mitre, and holds a
crozier, symbols of his office.

Latin Mass Society Statement on Confirmations: January 2022

The Latin Mass Society regrets to report that Cardinal Vincent Nichols has made the decision (communicated to the Society by letter) that the Sacrament of Confirmation is not to be celebrated according to the 1962 liturgical books in the Archdiocese of Westminster. The annual celebration which has for nearly twenty years been organised by the Latin Mass Society at St James’ Spanish Place, at which candidates were confirmed by an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese—and on one occasion, by Cardinal Raymond Burke—will accordingly not take place this year, or until this decision is reversed.

We understand that another planned celebration of this Sacrament, by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, has also been cancelled.


Sunday, January 23, 2022

Server Training in London: February, April, May

Server training in St Mary Moorfields

Cross-posted from the Society of St Tarcisius blog.

We have booked dates for the first half of the year as follows:

26th February, St Mary Moorfields, from 10:30 am to 4pm. Booking page.

2nd April, St Dominic's Haverstock Hill, from 11 am to 4pm (please come to the parish hall on the left of the church). Booking page. Note the new venue!

21st May,  St Mary Moorfield, from 10:30 am to 4pm. Booking page.

St Mary Moorfield's is 4/5 Eldon Street, London EC2M 2LS: more on the venue.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Are Traditional Catholics 'corrupt'? A response to Austen Ivereigh

Mass of Reparation, celebrated in response to clerical abuse revelations in 2018.

Cross-posted on Rorate Caeli.

Austen Ivereigh writes that he has been troubled by a criticism of the restrictions on the Traditional Mass brought in last July by Pope Francis' Traditionis Custodes. This is the point, made even by people with no particular interest in the ancient Mass, that it was an example of collective punishment: the innocent were being deprived of the Mass alongside those, whoever they are, who are truly guilty, of whatever it is they are supposed to be guilty of. Even if we accept Pope Francis' characterisation of Bad Trads, it can't be true of everyone who has derived solace from the old Mass. It can't, in fact, even be true of most, because it implies a degree of theological engagement which is unusual. Most Catholics don't spend their time talking about Vatican II's teaching on Religious Liberty, for example, because most Catholics, whether they have encountered the old Mass or not, don't have a very clear idea of what it is -- the idea is absurd.

Ivereigh even takes a moment to consider those simple faithful who really aren't involved in these disputes: people who appreciate the ancient Mass because they find it predictable, orderly, and calming, like the neuro-diverse: people with Aspergers and the like. Austen's comment: they are 'oddballs'. They are beneath his consideration. 

Furthermore, we have been told over and over again that Pope Francis is all about 'dialogue', 'meeting people where they are', not expecting people to be perfect, seeing the Church as a 'field hospital', not 'throwing stones' and all the rest of it. His treatment of Catholics attached to the Old Mass seems, to put it mildly, in tension with this

Ivereigh quotes Greg Hillis: “At a time when we as a church are embarking on a synodal path,” Hillis wrote, “I have difficulty understanding why a more synodal—a more dialogical—approach is not being taken with traditionalists.”

Friday, January 21, 2022

Iota Unum 2022 Season

The talks are in the basement of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street. Doors open at 6:30pm for the talk at 7pm.

Refreshments provided. £5 on the door.
Prof Tom Pink

Please come to the Golden Square entrance directly to the basement: 24 Golden Square, W1F 9JR, near Piccadilly Tube Station (click for a map)

Friday January 28th, Prof. Thomas Pink: ‘Papal Monarchy’
Thomas Pink is a Professor in Philosophy at King's College London and a Patron of the Latin Mass Society. He has a particular interest in the history of theology in the early modern and modern periods, on religious liberty and the role of the Papacy.

Theo Howard
Friday February 25th, Theo Howard: ‘The Dominicans and the English Parliament’
Theo Howard is a contributing editor of the traditionalist web journal OnePeterFive. His writing has also appeared in Crisis, the Catholic Herald and The European Conservative.

Friday March 25th, Pierpaolo Finaldi ‘On the vocation of the Catholic author’
Pierpaolo Finaldi
Pierpaolo Finaldi is the CEO and Publisher of The Catholic Truth Society, Master of the Catholic Writers' Guild, a regular guest on EWTN global Catholic TV, a Catholic Herald top 100 trailblazer Catholic, a husband and father of seven.

Friday April 29th, David Hunt ‘The perennial sin of Usury’
David Hunt
David Hunt studied at the International Theological Institute in Austria to study philosophy and theology, and recently completed an MA in Philosophy at the University of Buckingham with a thesis titled ‘Usury Redux: A defence of the scholastic position on usury’. David lives in Kent with his wife and five children.

Friday May 27th, Dr Jeremy Pilch ‘St John Henry Newman and Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces’
Jeremy Pilch

Following undergraduate studies at Oriel College, Oxford, and an MA at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (UCL), Dr Jeremy Pilch was awarded a scholarship for a doctorate at the University of Bristol, researching on the doctrine of deification in the Russian tradition, focusing especially on the thought of Vladimir Solov’ev. At St Mary’s University, Dr Pilch is the Programme Director for the BA In Theology, Religion, and Ethics. He regularly teaches across a range of topics, including modules on Systematic Theology, Mariology, Mystical Theology, Theological Anthropology, Christian Ethics, Ecclesiology, and Eastern Christianity.
Tim Stanley

Friday June 17th, Dr Timothy Stanley ‘Whatever Happened to Tradition?”
Dr Stanley is a well-known historian and journalist, and author of the recent Whatever Happened to Tradition?

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

The attack on Latin: Tito Casini

The celebrant blesses the deacon before the latter proclaims the Gospel at High Mass.
LMS Annual Mass for our Annual General Meeting in Westminster Cathedral, 2021

My latest on 1Peter5

I have been reading the Traditionalist classic, Tito Cassini’s The Torn Tunic, first published (in Italian, La Tunica Stracciata) in 1967, reprinted by Angelico Press. It is an impassioned, indeed ferocious, statement of the case for liturgical traditionalism, written and published before the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated. Casini, like most Catholics of the time, has only the vaguest idea what further changes were being cooked up. What he was objecting to was the things which had already been done, notably by the 1964 Instruction Inter Oecumenici, and the liturgical abuses which had been springing up. Casini’s focus, like that of the Latin Mass Societies and Una Voce groups which were founded as early as 1964, was the use of the Latin language.

Read the whole thing there.

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Monday, January 17, 2022

Iota Unum talks: Prof Tom Pink on Papal Monarchy, Friday 28th Jan


We are delighted to announce a new series of Iota Unum talks. The following have been confirmed. Great speakers, great topics, plenty of wine, an intimate setting and lots of time for discussion: if you in reach of London, don't miss out!

January Friday 28th: Thomas Pink: ‘Papal Monarchy’

February Friday 25th: Theo Howard: ‘The Dominicans and the English Parliament’

March Friday 25th: Pierpaolo Finaldi ‘On the vocation of the Catholic author’

April Friday 29th: David Hunt ‘The perennial sin of Usury’

May Friday 27th: Dr Jeremy Pilch ‘St John Henry Newman and Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces’

June Fri 17th: Dr Timothy Stanley ‘Whatever Happened to Tradition?”

Doors open 6:30pm; talk at 7pm

Basement of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Warwick Street: enter via

24 Golden Square, London W1F 9JR (click for a map)

Refreshments provided; £5 on the door.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Direction of Worship, for Catholic Answers

LMS Pilgrimage to Chideock. Photo by John Aron.

My latest on Catholic Answers.

It begins:

The subject of which direction the priest should stand while celebrating Mass has generated a great deal of attention since about the middle of the twentieth century. The celebration of Mass “facing the people” (versus populum) was officially encouraged after Vatican II, but the historic practice, of “facing East” (ad orientem), is still permitted in the reformed Mass and normative for the traditional Latin Mass.

Even before the Second Vatican Council, some important historic churches, notably St. Peter’s in Rome, had altars at which celebration facing the people was possible. In St. Peter’s (and also in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem), this was because the high altar was over an important holy place, which needed to be accessible from the nave of the church, via steps. The solution to the design problem was to allow the priest to celebrate facing east, toward the rising sun, from the apse side of the altar. This general arrangement was imitated (or anticipated) in some other ancient churches.

Monday, January 10, 2022

The idealised past and anti-Tradition: the Brown Windsor Myth

King Alfred the Great lets the cakes burn.

A key feature of tradition is the notion of a past as in some sense normative: the past as a guide to action in present, because that past should in some sense be restored. Tim Stanley talks about this in his Whatever Happened to Tradition? 

As Stanley says, this is not nostalgia in the simple, and often pejorative sense. Critics of appeals to the past often say: but look that past you like was also characterised by Bad Things! Stanley responds by pointing out the obvious: if we agree they are bad, then obviously they are not among the aspects of the past we want to restore. We want to 'restore', if that is the right word, an idealised past. In fact, the creation and development of a shared sense of an ideal past is essential to a society's sense of what it should be like now and in the future. Idealising the past is a way of imagining the future. It is a way of developing a political programme.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Online Latin Courses: discounts for Clergy & Seminarians

The new year will see a new set of online Latin Courses from Matthew Spencer. The Latin Mass Society is happy to sponsor clergy (priests and deacons) and seminarians (or those preparing for the diaconate) to tune of 80% of the course fees.

Yes, we are serious about promoting Latin! It is not only the key to the celebration of the ancient Latin Mass: this language is, within the Latin Church, an abundant well-spring of Christian civilisation and a very rich treasure-trove of devotion (Paul VI).

We have even arranged a way for your grasp of Latin to be certified by a senior academic Latinist at a British university: if you need to show anyone you have it.

Details here.

More from Matthew Spencer.

Do you wish you had better Latin — to follow the liturgy, or immerse yourself in the theology and history of the Church?