Thursday, November 30, 2023

Requiem for the Catholic Military Association


On Wednesday 29th November, the Latin Mass Society arranged a Requiem Mass for the Catholic Military Association of Our Lady of Victories (see their website and their Facebook page). This association, which is only a few years old (though it had precursors), supports Catholics in the British armed services, and their families.


The traditional Missa Cantata was celebrated by Fr Mark Elliot Smith, parish priest, in Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, in London.


It was accompanied by Gregorian Chant and Anerio's Requiem, sung by the Southwell Consort under Dominic Bevan.


It was attended by two members of the Association, in uniform: Wing Commander Gerry Doyle and Captain Francis Osborn.



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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Bishop Schneider in Milton Keynes


Last Sunday Bishop Schneider celebrated Mass in Milton Keynes. This was part of a trip organised by Catholic Voice, a newspaper based in Ireland. As news of the Mass spread, it became clear that the local churches would be too small, so it took place--with the approval of the bishop and the parish priest--in a school hall, with a remarkable portable altar. 


It was a Pontifical Low Mass, and the Latin Mass Society sponsored polyphonic motets to accompany it. Following Mass Bishop Schneider gave a talk in the same venue.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Who is to blame for lapsations? Me in Crisis magazine

Closer than most young Catholics will ever get to the Traditional Mass.
LMS Annual Mass in Bedford in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

My article begins:

Every now and then we read on social media about a Catholic lapsing from the practice of the Faith, or apostatizing—transferring allegiance to some grouping not in communion with the Holy See. This is always a tragedy. As St. Peter said to Christ when some disciples left Him because of His teaching on the Eucharist, “Thou hast the message of eternal life” (John 6:68).

There are many reasons why people leave, and it is something which has happened on a truly apocalyptic scale in recent decades, starting in the 1970s, in Europe and North America. It is depressingly predictable that many Catholic commentators display very little curiosity about why it has been happening, until they think they have found a way to use it as a stick to beat an opponent. This is what happened to Eric Sammons on Twitter/X when he shared the content of an email he had received by someone who had left for the Orthodox Church. 

Not only do many of Sammons’s respondents show no compassion for the man in question, or understanding of the factors which influenced his decision, but they contrive to blame Sammons, and the Traditional movement in general, for what happened. Their argument seems to go like this: the guy complains about poor liturgy; therefore, the people who recognize that liturgy is indeed often poor and want to improve it must have influenced him into thinking that liturgy is important enough to leave the Church over. The same goes for his other complaints: effeminacy, the lack of “challenge,” the impression that even some priests don’t believe in the Real Presence, and so on. If we address these concerns by trying to improve things, we are part of the problem because we are admitting that some aspects of Church life could be improved. 

Read it all there.

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Saturday, November 11, 2023

Annual Mass of Reparation for Abortion in Bedford: photos


The Latin Mass Society began this Mass following the tragic abortion referendum in Ireland. The Church of the Holy Child & St Joseph, Bedford houses the national shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the pro-life movement.


The celebrant, Fr Gerard Byrne, was assisted by Fr Michael Cullinan and Fr Thomas Crean OP. Fr Byrne preached a barnstorming sermon.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Sewing Retreat: photos


The Sewing Retreat took place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th November. The Retreat giver was Fr Stephen Moseling OPraem; it took place at St Joseph's Centre, Ashurst. It was well-attended and a lot of sewing, and a lot of praying, took place!


Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Talk on the Latin Mass and the Intellectuals

Come along to the London launch on Thursday 9th November! More details, and to sign up, see here.

This is the talk I gave to the Pax Liturgia Conference in Rome to launch my book, The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals. If you click below it will start at 3 mins 35 secs and skip the introductory matter.

More about the book, including how to buy it.
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Monday, November 06, 2023

Book launch: The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals, 9th Nov

(Reposted) I delighted to announce the launch of 

The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals:
Petitions to Save the ancient Mass from 1966 to 2007

Preface by Martin Mosebach

With contributions from Leo Darroch, Fr Gabriel Díaz-Patri, Philip Maxence, Sebastian Morello, Matthew Schellhorn, and Erik Tonning

In due course it will be available from Arouca Press (in the USA) and the Latin Mass Society shop (in the UK), and Amazon: see my author page.

I introduced it in Rome, at the Pax Liturgia Conference, Friday 27th October.

The London launch will take place at the St Wilfrid Hall, London Oratory  SW7 2RP

6:30 for 7pm; refreshments

All welcome. Please RSVP through Eventbrite

More about the book can be found here.

When the Church's ancient Mass was in peril, in 1966, 1971, and in later years, a huge outpouring of support for it came from artists and intellectuals, many Catholic, many not, including Anglicans, Jews, non-believers, and even Communist sympathisers. What they recognised is that this Mass is part of the cultural and spiritual patrimony of the whole world, and that it would be a tragedy if it were to cease to be celebrated.
    This book looks at the petitions, the petitioners, their historical context, the arguments they used, and the intellectual and artistic movements of which they were part. It includes long-forgotten documents, new archival research, and discussions of key ideas. Why did the pacifists like Lanzo Del Vasto and E.I Watkin sign? What was the appeal of the Mass to artistic modernists like David Jones, Benjamin Britten, Robert Lowell, and Sir James MacMillan? How is this connected with the movement promoting the Middle Ages? Why did so many converts sign, like Evelyn Waugh, Malcomn Muggeridge, and Compton MacKenzie? Why are there so many Argentinians among the signatories, so many members of the Académie française, so many Nobel laureates and nominees, and so many people who had distinguished themselves in the fight against Fascism?
    Furthermore, this book draws out from the shadows the outstanding contribution to the organisation of the early petitions by otherwise obscure figures: the Italian Cristina Campo, and the Englishman Bernard Wall, their circles and their concerns.

As the Trappist, and theological liberal, Thomas Merton wrote in 1964:

As you know, I have many friends in the world who are artists, poets, authors, editors, etc. Now they are well able to appreciate our chant and even our Latin. But they are all, without exception, scandalized and grieved when I tell them that probably this Office, this Mass will no longer be here in ten years. And that is the worst. The monks cannot understand this treasure they possess, and they throw it out to look for something else, when seculars, who for the most part are not even Christians, are able to love this  incomparable art.

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Monday, October 23, 2023

Oxford Pilgrimage 2023: photos


Another successful Oxford Pilgrimage, thanks to the Dominican community and some hardy pilgrims, willing to run the gauntlet of tourists, shoppers and students to retrace the steps of the martyrs, dragged on hurdles from the Bocardo prison (next to St Michael's at the North Gate in Cornmarket) to Hangman's Corner, the far end of Holywell Street. It was particularly good to see plenty of students this year.

Click on the photos to see the whole album.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Oxford Pilgrimage Saturday 21


High Mass in the Dominican Rite in the Priory Church of the Holy Spirit, Blackfriars

St Giles, OX1 3LY, at 11am. Accompanied by polyphony from the Newman Consort.

This is followed, after a break for lunch, by a procession to one of the sites of Martyrdom in the city at 2pm. This is followed by Benediction at Blackfriars.

Do join us! We even have a gallows at the site of the martyrdoms.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Westminster Cathedral: in Crisis magazine

The Kiss of Peace at a Pontifical Mass following the LMS AGM in 2019

I have written more about this, in Crisis Magazine. Some key paragraphs:

"The Cathedral was packed with people, many standing all down the aisles, in the galleries, and at the back of the Church. It was a most impressive celebration and astonished the foreign visitors by the beauty of the church, the music, and the intense devotion of the congregation. We could not have hoped for a more triumphant assembly.… There were representatives from Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and other places."

This is a description by Geoffrey Houghton-Brown, my predecessor as Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, of the first Traditional Mass to be celebrated in Westminster Cathedral after the liturgical reform, on Saturday, June 17, 1972. 


One of the many puzzles of Traditionis Custodes and subsequent documents is whether it is seeking to marginalize traditional Catholics or to integrate them. The radicalization of traditional Catholics that it condemns, fairly or not, is the predictable result of marginalization. The “parallel Church,” which it decries, develops when one group suffers marginalization. But the solution being put forward is also marginalization.


The policy of Traditionis Custodes is not a policy founded on hope, like Pope Benedict’s hope for the enrichment of the Church by the ancient liturgy. It is, instead, fearful of the future, fearful of young Catholics and the changes they may bring. It is a policy that “stands athwart history yelling Stop.”

Read the whole article there.

Preparing to process out of the sacristy, Annual Requiem 2016. Photo by John Aron.

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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Westminster Cathedral and the Traditional Mass: in the Catholic Herald

The Annual Requiem in 2016. I'd forgotten I'd been on the serving team on that occasion.
Photo by John Aron.

The Catholic Herald has published a short piece by me reflecting on the cancellation of our Annual Requiem. It begins:

The Latin Mass Society has been informed that the Traditional Latin Mass may no longer be celebrated at the High Altar of Westminster Cathedral, as is has been twice a year since 1972. With a break for Covid, there have therefore been about 100 such Masses over fifty years. The next one would have been a Requiem Mass on 4 November.

A monthly Low Mass will continue, on First Saturdays in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, but these two annual Masses are regarded as being for the Latin Mass Society, and therefore not part of the Cathedral’s pastoral provision. Many Catholic associations have Masses in the Cathedral, and over many years these ones have, indeed, served as the Society’s Annual Requiem and the Mass for our Annual General Meeting. Nevertheless, they had the same origin as the monthly Masses, as part of Cardinal Heenan’s response to the “English Indult” for the Traditional Mass, which he personally sought and gained from Pope Paul VI.


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Friday, September 29, 2023

Pilgrimage, suffering, and sacred geography: for 1Peter5

LMS Procession through the streets of Little Walsingham, in the rain.

My latest for 1Peter5. It begins:

I recently walked the 76 miles from Cambridge to Walsingham in Norfolk, via Ely, over four days, a walk organised by the Latin Mass Society. I met most of my fellow pilgrims—for that was what they were—after the first leg, and walked with them for the remaining 57 mile: 200 people slogging along paths and roads, or looking after the walkers as drivers or cooks. Some of the young men never seemed to lose their bounce, but I think for everyone at certain points, and for a lot of us for a lot of the time, the element of suffering, of penance, dominated our feelings. After a certain point you can keep walking in a mechanical way, despite the discomfort of your feet or legs, but the discomfort remains.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

LMS Annual Requiem in Westminster Cathedral Cancelled

LMS Annual Requiem 2018, celebrated by
the retired Bishop Patrick Campbell, in Westminster Cathedral.

28th September 2023

The Latin Mass Society has been informed that the Annual Requiem (sung, 1962 Missal) scheduled to take place at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 4th November at 2:30pm will not take place.

The 1962 Missal will continue to be used in the Cathedral on First Saturdays at 4pm (Low Mass), including Saturday 4th November. A Sung Requiem Mass for deceased members and benefactors of the society will take place at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane on the following Monday, 6th November, at 6:30pm, accompanied by the Southwell Consort.

The Annual Requiem has taken place in consultation with the Latin Mass Society since Cardinal Heenan gained the 1971 ‘English Indult’. The series of monthly Low Masses were established at the same time. The Latin Mass Society lays a wreath on the tomb of Cardinal Heenan annually, in thanksgiving for his intervention, and this tradition will continue.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Annual Mass in Snave: photos


Yesterday say the eighth annual LMS Mass in St Augustine's, Snave (bearing in mind a break for Covid). St Augustine's is one of fourteen churches in the care of the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust. While the others continue as Anglican Parish churches, this does not, and has only two services a year: a Harvest thanksgiving/ evensong, and this Missa Cantata organised by the Latin Mass Society Local Representative, Marygold Turner.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

On Lying, for Catholic Answers

My latest for Catholic Answers.

It begins:

The Catholic tradition takes the Eighth Commandment—“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”—extremely seriously. Strict condemnations of all kinds of lying can be found from the Fathers of the Church, notably St. Augustine (who wrote two short works on the subject), to the Doctors and the modern Magisterium. The act of lying is per se malum: it cannot rightly be done even for a good end.

One reason for this is that lying is contrary to the nature of God, who is Truth. It is of the utmost importance that we can believe what God tells us—both what he reveals about himself and what he promises to those who love and obey him—since this is the basis of the Christian life. God could permit the children of Israel to take others’ property, as when the Israelites conquered Canaan, because he is the primary owner of the whole universe. God could permit Abraham to kill Isaac, because all humans born in original sin owe God a life. But he cannot permit anyone to tell a lie.

Read the whole thing there.

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Thursday, September 14, 2023

A short film on St Elisabeth Hesselblad: Sweden's 20th century saint

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

This beautiful 30-minute was produced by EWTN's Norwegian branch, EWTN Norge, and is narrated by Dr Clemens Cavellin, a traditional Catholic academic.

Elisabeth Hesselblad (1870-1957) was canonized in 2016, as the first Swedish saint since the late middle ages. She emmigrated to the United States in 1888, where she converted to the Catholic Church. Her life mission became to bring the Bridgettine order back to Rome, to the house of Saint Bridget, and to Sweden. She founded a new branch of Bridgettines that now has many convents worldwide, particularly in India. This film focuses especially on her early life as she describes it in her memoirs.

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Saturday, September 09, 2023

Byrd Festival in London


The Latin Mass Society is sponsoring a festival of William Byrd's Catholic liturgical music, to mark the 400th anniversary of his death, in London. You can see the full programme of Masses here. William Byrd, one of England's greatest composers, managed to combine a job at the court of Queen Elizabeth I ('Bloody Bess') not only with his Catholic Faith, but active support of the underground Catholic community through his composing.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Walsingham Pilgrimage 2023: photos

Photo by John Aron

The Latin Mass Society's annual Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham continues its post-Traditionis Custodes rapid growth: whereas before Covid we were treading water at 80-90 pilgrims, this year we have 200, and are bursting out of various churches and venues.

Photo by John Aron

I'm grateful for a charming write-up by Thomas Colsey of the Catholic Herald which can be seen here. Here are some photos.

Photo by John Aron

Many thanks to the more than 30 volunteers and all the pilgrims who made this such a success.

Photo by John Aron

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Iota Unum talks in London this autumn

After a break for the summer, we resume the Iota Unum series with three talks for the autumn.

They take place in the basement of Our Lady of the Assumption; please enter by the back entrance into the basement: 24 Golden Square, W1F 9JR near Piccadilly Tube Station (click for a map)

Doors open at 6:30pm; the talk will start at 7pm.

There will be a charge of £5 on the door to cover refreshments and other expenses.

28th Sept (Thurs), Joseph Shaw: Clericalism and Clerical Abuse

19th October (Thurs), Fr Thomas Crean OP: Can a Christian be a restorationist?

24th Nov (Fri) Henry Sire: Pope Francis: how much lower can we go? A personal view.

Fr Thomas Crean OP at a Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat

Henry Sire

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Tuesday, August 08, 2023

On liturgical abuses: for Catholic Answers

Fr Alan Robinson of Corpus Christi Maiden Lane. Note what he's doing 
with his fingers: he has to hold forfinger and thumb together from the
Consecration to the washing of his fingers after Communion.

My latest for Catholic Answers is about liturgical abuses. It is an interesting and important topic and one to which I have devoted a fair amount of time to over the years. But I also feel a bit detached from it, since this debate is all about the Novus Ordo. Attending the Traditional Mass provides an opportunity to worship God without worrying about this issue, except on very rare occasions.

People sometimes say: surely liturgical abuses are possible in the TLM too? In one sense they are actually easier, as there are more rules to break. There was an old joke about how many mortal sins a priest could commit while saying Mass. Many of these things would be invisible to the people, however, and the rule-defined nature of it inculcated, and continues to inculcate, a very different attitude to the liturgy from that characteristic of the Novus Ordo. It is more likely that a priest will break the rules that do exist, if he is trained up to use his own words in numerous places, and to experiment with countless options. The Novus Ordo has a distinct spirit and liturgical culture: everyone knows this. And this culture is not about strict adherence to the rules.

Sunday, August 06, 2023

St Catherine's Trust Summer School 2023


We held our annual Summer School last week at St Cassian's Centre, Kintbury, in Berkshire, with the largest ever number of children: 62. Three others dropped out at the last minute, but apart from that we were at the capacity of the venue.


These Summer Schools are supported by the Latin Mass Society. They are not Summer 'camps': it is not just fun activities, or sleeping in tents, but lessons, designed to support the children in their education and expand their horizons of Catholic thought and culture. We do a bit of Latin, introduce them to Greek, explain a bit of Gregorian Chant, look at some sacred art, and Catholic history; this year I taught some lessons on the Problem of Evil. The children answered questions on all their subjects in the quiz we had with great enthusiasm.

Monday, July 24, 2023

St Walburge's, Preston, with the ICKSP


By good fortune I was in St Walburge's, Preston, yesterday, for Sung Mass, a church that is in the care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. It is a magnificent edifice, gradually being fixed up by the ever-active Institute. Water penetration to the sacristy and the nave of the church has been stopped, so decoration and restoration of the interior can be addressed.


Sunday, July 16, 2023

LMS AGM 2023: photos


Our Annual General Meeting took place yesterday, and as always it was a jolly occasion, a chance for members to meet the Society's Officers and staff and spend some time together. This year, as well as a rather good cold lunch there was a book stall.


We were addressed this year by John Smeaton, who recently honoured by taking up the position of Patron--one of several we currently have. His talk and my own will soon be available in video and podcast format.

Monday, July 10, 2023

'Sacred and Great': booklet introducing the TLM by Joseph Shaw

I'm delighted to announce the launch of a revised edition of my booklet introducing the Traditional Latin Mass. Non-polemical and informative, this is a booklet you can safely give to your non-traditional friends, priests and bishops, or have on sale in churches and bookstalls.

In 2019 I wrote a booklet for the Catholic Truth Society, 'How to Attend the Extraordinary Form'. This is a revised version of this booklet for the American market: a little shorter, a little updated, and with fewer references to the situation in the UK.

I am very grateful to the Catholic Truth Society for giving permission for this new edition, and for Peter Kwasniewski for seeing it through the press.

Bulk discounts are available directly from the publisher:

The discount is applied automatically at checkout:
6-10 copies - 10% off
11-15 copies - 15% off
16-20 copies - 20% off
21-25 copies - 25% off
26+ copies - 30% off

US customers may do all this at the website. Customers outside the US who are interested in placing a bulk order should contact the publisher's email [info(at)] for details.

Also available from and so on, but without bulk discount option. 

You can still buy the CTS version, from them and from the Latin Mass Society.

Here's Peter Kwasniewski's 'unboxing video'.

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Saturday, July 08, 2023

Pilgrimage to Holywell: photos


Today about 90 people attended a the LMS Pilgrimage to Holywell, organised jointly with the Fraternity of St Peter. Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP celebrated the Mass. A coachload of people came from the FSSP church at St Mary's, Warrington.


Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Interview in The European Conservative

Julian Kwasniewski was kind enough to interview me by email for The European Conservative.

It begins:

Dr. Shaw, at the beginning of this year, Os Justi Press published your latest book The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity, which I read with considerable enjoyment. I wanted to speak with you today on some further questions arising from your discussion in that book of the family and its place in the modern world. Based on your experience, can you say something about how large, traditional Catholic families, which have become something of a stereotype, differ from the current socially dominant type?

Having a large family tends to push one into a more old-fashioned approach to raising children, and away from either of the two extremes modern families fall into. One of those extremes is what we might call the ‘hippy’ model, in which you let your children do whatever they like. This is manifested in the attitude that parents should allow their children to choose for themselves what religion to have, or even how to spell. The other extreme is the ‘tiger mum’ or ‘helicopter’ model: it’s as if the parents are hovering over their children checking everything they do, and intervening if things don’t go as they want them to, and intervening in minor conflicts the child might have even when they are young adults—at university or in employment.

With a large family you can’t allow every child complete freedom, because there would quickly be conflict between the children. You also can’t try to control everything they do, since that is simply impossible. You find yourself governing a community, setting a framework for young people who have a lot of freedom but need to exercise that freedom in ways that do not impinge negatively on each other. But this is not like the liberal ideal of neutrality, since no family can be value-neutral. From the pictures on the walls to the shared activities, parents have to feed their children’s emotional and spiritual lives.

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Monday, July 03, 2023

Stuart Chessman review The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity

Mr Stuart Chessman of the Society of St Hugh of Cluny has been kind enough to review my book The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity on his blog.

He begins:

Mr. Joseph Shaw, the chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and president of the International Una Voce Federation, offers us a book of reflections on the Church and society of today and especially on the position of the Traditional Catholic Movement. Even though the author taught philosophy at Oxford University for many years, The Liturgy, the Family and the Crisis of Modernity is no abstract treatise. Our author, by virtue of his office, is squarely in the midst of the liturgical wars of today. Shaw returns again and again to the refutation of attacks launched against Traditionalists by their enemies within the Church. The Liturgy, the Family and the Crisis of Modernity serves, first of all, as a valuable arsenal of information and arguments for the Traditionalist. And this is an honorable role! Wasn’t the City of God also inspired by the need to respond to contemporary calumnies against Christians after the fall of Rome?

Shaw, however, goes far beyond the role of a controversialist. He works to understand what is happening in the Church today. In contrast to most commentators on liturgical issues, Shaw knows that the Church is embedded in history and in society. As the title of this collection of essays indicates, liturgical questions cannot be severed from other theological issues and from the daily life and experience of the faithful. This book develops these interactions and influences. Shaw sets the controversies and deviations of the moment in a broader historical, philosophical and sociological context. This deeper understanding will be necessary to the Traditionalist in the continued conflict between the Church establishment and Catholic Tradition – a struggle that may last years, decades or even generations.

Read it all there.

See more about the book here.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Confirmations in Warrington


Some good news for a change!

On Saturday I was privileged to be present at the confirmation of 22 children and adults at St Mary's, Warrington, a church belonging to the Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP). The FSSP has the privilege of the use of all the liturgical books of 1962 so this was perfectly licit, and the confirmations were carried out by the local ordinary, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP. 

St Mary's, once a parish church built by and served from Ampleforth Abbey, is now a shrine, and its Rector is Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP.

I was a truly splendid occasion, in the large and beautiful church, with music provided by the church's regular singers. Photos are by me.

Monday, June 12, 2023

How to obey the Church in the liturgy

Maybe... like this.

My latest for OnePeterFive

Among the familiar phrases of the debate on the liturgy are ones involving obedience to the Church. “The Church asks us…”, “we must obey the Church…” and the like, generally employed by supporters of the liturgical reform. It is not immediately clear what they mean. What are these people saying when they refer to “the Church”?

When theologians want to discern the “teaching of the Church” they may be able to pick out some “extraordinary” act of the magisterium, such as an ex cathedra definition by the Pope, but very often there isn’t one available. This being so, they go to Scripture and Tradition, as containing the Deposit of Faith: they will tell us what the Church teaches. The Fathers and Doctors are witnesses to the Tradition and also draw out its implications. This is the “ordinary” magisterium of the Church, and the ordinary way in which the Church passes on the teaching which has been entrusted to her by our Lord.

This is how, ordinarily, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us; this is how, ordinarily, the Holy Spirit speaks to the Church: through what has been passed down. When people are moved to overturn established Tradition in favor of a radical new reading of Scripture, perhaps inspired by a private revelation, we can expect to hear some heresy.

This I hope is not controversial, but when it comes to the liturgy a very different attitude often takes hold. Liturgical progressives tell us that the Spirit has called them, or is calling the entire Church, to adopt some liturgical innovation: to take just one example, consider the service of the altar by females (altar girls). This overturns a tradition of only men and boys serving at Mass going back as far as the records go, which is the late 4th century (see canon 44 of the Collection of Laodicea).

Read the whole thing there.

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Saturday, June 03, 2023

Letter in the Catholic Herald from Sir Edward Leigh MP

Sir Edward Leigh, the distinguished Catholic Member of Parliament, recently agreed to be one of the Latin Mass Society's Patrons. I was delighted to see this letter from him in the current Catholic Herald.

Catholic Herald, Letters, June 2023

Keep the old Mass alive

Sir — I was appalled to read in the Catholic Herald of the way in which bishops are restricting the Traditional Latin Mass (April 2023). In a world beset by rampant indifference to religion, what possible harm is caused by a few faithful attending a form of Mass which has been used for centuries? I do not write on my own behalf; I am very content to attend the new-rite Latin Mass at 10.30am in Westminster Cathedral every day. It is a good compromise and the sung version on Saturday morning is wonderful. But for many, particularly for young people, the old rite is a beautiful and calm spiritual experience, so unlike the rest of our busy, crowded lives. Some people do not find the stream of everyday English in the Mass a joyful experience. Many of our ancestors — including, in my family, Blessed Richard Leigh, who went to Tyburn in 1588 — suffered greatly, even to the point of martyrdom, to say and attend the old Mass in England and thus keep the Faith alive. Surely we should allow its use in their memory, if nothing else.

(Sir) Edward Leigh MP

London, UK

As a poscript, Bl Richard Leigh was a priest, ordained at Rome; he was beatified in 1929, after the Catholic Encyclopedia entry was written. His feast is on 30th August.

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Ad orientem at the Last Supper; Hebrew from the Cross

Mass at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane

The Tablet has published a letter from me in the ongoing discussion of the celebration of Mass 'ad orientem', facing the apse. It is remarkable how people have strong feeling about this (and many other things) and just assume that the Scriptures support them.

This time The Tablet has published my letter in full. (I always keep them short.)

I could have added that the Mass, while it certainly memorialises both the Last Supper and Calvary, is also a continuation of the Temple and Synagogue traditions, and the heavenly liturgy described in the Apocolypse. Although certainly a liturgy, what happened at the Last Supper is not some kind of template for Mass, as if the question of 'facing the people' could be settled on that basis.



Peter Simmons informs us that at the Last Supper and at Calvary Jesus ‘faced those who were present and spoke to them in their own language.’ It would seem Mr Simmons’s imagination is more powerful than the facts.

The awkwardness of seeing and conversing with Christ as he was reclining at the head of the table at the Last Supper, with the Apostles arranged in a row on the same side as depicted in ancient mosaics, is reflected in the need for St Peter to pass a message to Him via the Beloved Disciple (John 13:22ff). Moreover He would certainly have addressed them at a Passover meal in the liturgical language, Hebrew, and not the day-to-day language, Aramaic, just as Jews do to this day.

On the cross Jesus’ use of Hebrew actually caused confusion and misunderstanding: hearing the Hebrew ‘Eli’, ‘Lord’, bystanders thought He meant ‘Elijah’ (Matt 27:46ff). He didn’t care, because He was addressing not them, but His Heavenly Father. As Mr Simmons says, this is a lesson for us.

Yours faithfully,

Joseph Shaw
Chairman of the Latin Mass Society

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Thursday, May 18, 2023

Take children to Mass


My latest on Catholic Answers.

The presence and management of children at Mass is an issue that can generate more heat than light. I would like to tackle it here on the basis of a slightly deeper set of principles than is usual.

Full disclosure: I am a father of nine; my youngest has recently turned three. We have had to manage a child under five at Mass since our first was born in 2003; for most of the time, we’ve had two under five. That may sound extreme, but a couple who have three children at three-year intervals will have a child under five, and sometimes two of them, for fourteen years. This is a big chunk of your life.

The first question is whether bringing small children to Mass is good in principle. Children under the “age of reason” (usually about seven) are not bound by canon law to attend Mass. Often parents have no choice but to bring them in order to attend themselves. But supposing they had the choice—if they could attend different Masses, or leave the children with friends—is the ideal to bring them or leave them behind?

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Letter to the Tablet, from 1965

The tenth station: Jesus is stripped. Fr the Church of SS Gregory & Augustine's,

My researches on the background to the petitions to save the Traditional Mass have revealed something else worthy of a wider audience: a published letter to the press by a certain Gillian Edwards. The writer had been a member of the Latin Mass Society Committee, and the letter indicates that she had been a convert and lived in Cambridge, but I don't know anything else about her. The then-Chairman of the the Latin Mass Society, Geoffrey Houghton-Brown, said this letter had more effect than anything else written at the time, so I looked it up in the archives of The Tablet.

Published in The Tablet 21st August 1965.

Dear Sir,

Your correspondents are convinced that all who love the Latin Mass must be classical scholars. This is quite untrue. Latin is so rich for us precisely because it does not tie us down to one particular limited meaning. When we hear the common and familiar phrases we know if we are glorifying God, confessing our sins or asking for mercy. Consciously they unite us with the priest, with our fellow-men, with the whole Church in space and time, praying the same words. Unconsciously they leave us free to approach God in our own way. They say for us all those things we long to say and cannot. They liberate us from ourselves as only great poetry and music can do, and combined with what used to be a charged and holy silence bring us as close to the knowledge and love of God as we are ever likely to come.

This is what Mr. [Evelyn] Waugh means by the "raising of the heart and mind to God." It is what drew many of us into the Church, a potency and depth of worship which few other Christians preserved and which we had been looking for all our lives. It is also what the Church, to our bewilderment, now appears to condemn as "private devotion" and to look on as not only worthless but sinful. Misery is not a strong enough word for what we feel.

Unfortunately those who do not share this conception of what worship should be cannot understand it. But unless it is an attitude reprehensible in itself, which I cannot believe, that is no good reason why their joy in singing hymns and reciting English prayers should deprive us of the quieter joy we used to know. Isn't there room for both?

Yours faithfully, 

Gillian Edwards, Cambridge.

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