Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Review: Unwanted Priest, by Fr Bryan Houghton

This appears in the current Mass of Agesmagazine of the Latin Mass Society.

It is available to buy from the LMS online shop: Unwanted Priest | Latin Mass Society (lms.org.uk)

Fr Bryan Houghton: Unwanted Priest: The Autobiography of a Latin Mass Exile

Another Traditionalist Classic from Angelico is Fr Houghton’s autobiographical Unwanted Priest. With this the publisher has secured a first, however, for although it was published in French in 1990 (as Pretre rejeté), the English version never made it into print.

This has now been put right, and Houghton’s life story is available in both languages. It is a fascinating one. The son of Protestant English parents, he had much of his education in France, and became a Catholic as a young man. He had independent financial means, and consistently used this to further the apostolates he was given as a priest. While working for Northampton Diocese, he was respected as an intellectual and also elected Dean by his brother priests. Nevertheless, he was the only priest in England and Wales to resign from his position rather than celebrate the Novus Ordo Missae, in 1969. He spent his remaining years in France, where he supported an early Latin Mass apostolate, with the tacit permission of the local bishop, in a privately owned chapel. He wrote two novels well worth reading: Mitre and Crook and Judith’s Marriage, and died in 1992.

Fr Houghton’s description and analysis of what was going on in his lifetime are sober and perceptive. He distances himself from Archbishop Lefebvre, but is merciless in his assessment of the progressive faction which led the changes to the liturgy and went on to attempt a revolution in the conception of the priesthood.

Like Tito Cassini [author of Torn Tunic], Fr Houghton was particularly sensitive to the experience of the laity, and understood the laity’s mode of engagement with the liturgy as few priests of his generation did. Unlike them, as a convert he had been an adult Catholic layman himself: seminarians of that time typically went from one enclosed Catholic institution, a school, to another, the seminary, at a very young age. The laity, Fr Houghton realised, did not participate in the Mass despite the Latin and the obscurity: rather, the sacredness evinced by the ancient Mass created a setting for them to engage in contemplative prayer.

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Monday, May 30, 2022

Review: Faith of our Fathers, by Chessman

This appears in the new Mass of Agesmagazine of the Latin Mass Society.

This is available to buy from the LMS online bookshopFaith of Our Fathers | Latin Mass Society (lms.org.uk)

Stuart Chessman: Faith of our Fathers: A Brief History of Catholic Traditionalism in the United States.

The United States is the location of a major part of what we can call the Traditional Movement, but over the decades it has not had a single, continuing organisation or institution to represent it or, for that matter, to keep records. Stuart Chessman, who bloggs at The Society of St Hugh of Cluny, has put together a number of articles about the American movement’s past and present, which will do something to prevent some important events and individuals it disappearing from public consciousness, notwithstanding the geographical bias of the book.

Chessman explains the early role of those ‘conservative’ Catholics who refused to get involved in the liturgical debate; the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual collapse of Triumph magazine; and its partial replacement by the Latin Mass Magazine. Chessman notes the eagerness of Triumph to rally round the papacy following the condemnation of artificial contraception in 1968, which led to a tension in the magazine’s position as it continued to document the institutional failures of the Church in America.

A similar rallying to the establishment cause by conservative Catholics took place in the latter years of Pope John Paul II’s reign. This was led by Opus Dei and the Legionaires of Christ, and took place despite the poor episcopal treatment of conservative institutions like Ignatius Press and EWTN. It was particularly unfortunate in blinding some conservative Catholic commentators to the grim beginnings of the clerical abuse revelations. Relations between conservative and traditionalist Catholics have, since then, been transformed for the better.

One useful feature of the book is its inclusion of some historical documents. Bishop Donohoe of Fresno threatening excommunication to traditionalists in 1976; a letter from Archbishop Weakland which had to be presented by those attending a permitted Traditional Mass in 1985; a questionnaire designed to ascertain the theological soundness of would-be Old Mass-goers from the Archdiocese of New York from the same year; and so on. It is well to be reminded of some of the sillier aspects of the persecution of Catholics who, as Pope Benedict was later to describe them, were ‘totally rooted in the faith of the Church’, and wished only to worship in continuity with their predecessors in the Faith.

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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Review: The Great Betrayal by Hugh Ross Williamson

I am going to publish a series of reviews of short books suitable for light(ish) summer holiday reading, which appear in the current Mass of Agesmagazine of the Latin Mass Society.

This is available to buy from the LMS online bookshop.

Hugh Ross Williamson: The Great Betrayal: Thoughts on the Deformation of the Mass 

Hugh Ross Williamson, a founding figure of the Latin Mass Society, composed two important pamphlets in the early days of the movement: The Modern Mass: A Reversion to the Reforms of Cranmer (1969) and The Great Betrayal: Some Thoughts on the Invalidity of the New Mass (1970). These have been republished by Arouca Press, with Preface by his daughter, Julia Ashendon, and a Foreword by me.

The central concern of both pamphlets is the replacement of liturgical texts with clear theological implications, notably on the sacrificial nature of the Mass, with ambiguity and silence. This happened above all in the new Eucharistic Prayers and the Offertory.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Mass of the Ages video trilogy: Part 2 released

This hour-length documentary goes into some detail about the creation of the reformed Mass and its relationship with Vatican II.

I have three short appearances! The team came to England as well as interviewing people in the USA.

This is Part 2 of a trilogy: Part 1 is here. It has already had more than a million views.

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Friday, May 27, 2022

Summer Mass of Ages! Get your copy now.

To have it delivered each quarter, join the LMS!

If your local church doesn't get it, you can order a copy - it is free so you only pay the postage.

You can read it online on ISSUU.

In this issue: • Joseph Shaw reviews the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery until 31 July • Charles A. Coulombe remembers Dr Halliday Sutherland, a remarkable and wise Catholic convert • Alan Frost explains how devotion to the Rosary was revived in the late 15th century by a Dominican Friar • Joseph Shaw reviews six short but important books

Our regular columnists:
• The Chairman’s Message: On what we should all be promoting
• Family Matters: James Preece on how our love of God should not remain purely theoretical
Art and Devotion, Caroline Farey on a late 15th century Netherlandish picture by Juan de Flandes
• Rome Report, Diane Montagna talks to Abbé Brice Meissonnier, parish priest of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini
• Architecture: At a time when Ukraine is very much in the news, Paul Waddington takes a look at the London cathedral of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
• Mary O’Regan suggests we pray for our detractors
• Wine: Sebastian Morello on the ales of The Chiltern Brewery
• World News: Paul Waddington reports from around the Globe

We promote the walking pilgrimage from Canterbury to Ramsgate, organised by the Marian Franciscans and The St Benedict Academy in Preston, who are looking to appoint tutors for the coming academic year.

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Saturday, May 14, 2022

LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage 2022

TLM pics-97

This year's walking pilgrimage to Walsingham will gather on the afternoon of Thursday 25th August, with walking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with an extra Mass on Monday 29th in the Slipper Chapel at the Catholic Shrine for those who stay the night locally.

It's just over 20 miles walking on the first two days, and a bit less on the Sunday. It's a pretty serious walk, but shorter than Chartres and some of the other walking pilgrimages.

Physically, socially and above all spiritually it is an intense and (ultimately) invigorating experience which no-one attached to the Traditional Mass, and physically active, should miss. We will have three priests with us and, yes, Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia has given the necessary permissions for us to have the old Mass.

Register now and get a 10% discount for an early booking until Ascension, 26th March, on top of your member's discount, if you are a member. If you aren't, you can join at the same time and still save money. 

Unless you are always pretty fit a bit of walking preparation will pay dividends. I started mine yesterday, easing myself into the groove by walking eleven miles from Oxford to Woodstock, mostly by the canal. It didn't kill me, so that's something.

TLM pics-238

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Friday, May 13, 2022

Review of Kwasnieski 'True Obedience'

Obedient unto death: shrine of the Chideock Martyrs in England.
Bishop O'Toole on the occasion of a pilgrimage Mass celebrated for the 
Latin Mass Society by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

My latest on 1Peter5. It begins:

There has long been a strange asymmetry between conservatives and progressives in the Catholic Church. Theological conservatives—priests and bishops as well as lay people—have prided themselves on their obedience, and progressives have flaunted their disobedience. To give the most extreme examples, progressive bishops would make their chums laugh by talking about how they had tossed the latest Instruction from Rome—on liturgical abuses, for example—into the bin. Conservatives would obey rules and superiors’ orders even if it broke their hearts to do so, for example the rule forbidding the celebration of the older form of the Mass from Rome, or a demand by their own bishop to wreck their church’s sanctuary.

Differing conceptions of the virtue of obedience is only part of the explanation for this phenomenon. The other side was political realism. Both sides knew that when push came to shove most bishops, bishops’ conferences, the Catholic media, and often the Holy See as well, would enforce rules and back up superiors when they pushed the progressive agenda, but not when they sought to preserve things which conservatives held dear. Although in theory no priest is obliged to have females serving the Altar, in practice endless problems nearly always await priests who do not. Although in theory denying the teaching of the Church on contraception or the Resurrection should get a priest into very serious trouble, up to and including suspension as a priest and excommunication, in practice this almost never happens.

Read it all there.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Reply to Gavin Ashenden: the evangelising power of the Traditional Mass

Evangelising by doing something recognisably sacred: Walsingham Pilagrimage

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

I have an article in the current issue of Inside the Vatican, and by coincidence it is preceded by one by Dr Gavin Ashenden, the former Anglican cleric received into the Catholic Church just before Christmas. Ashenden has become an important commentator on Catholic affairs, so I was dismayed to read his treatment of the movement for the Traditional Mass, which is the subject of his article. I think, however, that Dr Ashenden’s analysis may appeal to many, in trying to put together the kinds of things Pope Francis has said along with a perhaps superficial knowledge of the movement itself. For this reason, as well as because of the respect I have for him as an intellectual, I would like to make a response.

His article is not freely available online but it is possible to buy access to just this issue of Inside the Vatican, May-June 2022, through the ISSUU platform, for a small sum, if anyone thinks I am misrepresenting him.

The first thing with which I would like to take issue is the background Ashenden proposes for the debate about the liturgy. He writes:

The civil war that dominates our day has narrowed down to a fight over liturgy. But only because liturgy has become emblematic of two ways of looking at the world; two perspectives, two competing theologies.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Liturgy and the War in Ukraine: Inside the Vatican

I have an article in the latest edition of Inside the Vatican, edited by Robert Moynihan (May-June 2022).

It can most easily be seen online on ISSUU, though you have to buy one issue or take out a subscription if you want to read the whole thing.

My article concludes:

Good will implies that we take the religious values of the region seriously. The liturgical debate taking place in the Western Church, particularly after Traditionis Custodes, can leave one with the impression that the Western Catholics, at bottom, see the whole phenomenon of the Eastern Rites as faintly ridiculous, and accordingly that disagreements among their different groupings is little more than a squabble among foolish children. This impression will not be dispelled until the Holy See has made its peace with its own liturgical tradition, and gives it the place of honour which Pope Benedict XVI hoped for it, and from which Pope Francis has tragically plucked it. 

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