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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Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Defending the monarchy: with Timothy Flanders

Here is a 5 in clip from an interview with Timothy Flanders of OnePeterFive on the British monarchy.

The full podcast, of which is this a clip, with more about the monarchy and about my new book The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity, can be seen here.

I've written for the blog on this subject here.

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What has the LMS achieved? 1972 edition

Quietly getting on with it. Mass at the Guild of St Clare spring sewing retreat.

More from the unpublished history of the LMS by Geoffrey Houghton-Brown. At a certain point he makes this remark, which seems to me true today, as it was then, not only for the LMS but for the Una Voce Federation and Una Voce/Latin Mass groups all over the world.


After reading so many quotations from the Press and so little, in comparison, about the activities of the L.M.S. it may be asked “but what actually was the L.M.S. doing all this time? What had it achieved? The answer is that we did, in our News Letters give our members as much information regarding the liturgical changes etc. as we could; that we did organize the saying of Latin Masses both in London and in the country so far as we were able, that our various Diocesan representatives were in touch with their bishops trying to persuade them that Latin Masses were wanted, organizing meetings and Masses where possible. But, in my opinion, our greatest activity was the mere fact of our existence. An organized body of some two thousand Catholics, small as that number is, could not be completely ignored by the bishops and was a constant witness to the existence of a body of people who wanted the Latin Mass, something that the bishops were constantly denying. It seemed to me essential to keep the Society in existence if only because of its witness as representing these many people, the vast majority of whom were not even members of the Society, who loved and wanted the Latin Mass.


Houghton-Brown goes on to talk about the great triumph of the English Indult in which the LMS had a key role, and as the years have gone by the Society has organised a vast number of Masses, pilgrimages, training events, talks, and so on. Nevertheless, what he says remains true. Even a Una Voce group which can do little of all this by its very existence is a rebuke to those who say that there is no demand for the Traditional Mass, and this is the argument our opponents love to fall back on. Like it or not, when Catholics encounter their ancient liturgy, many of them want it.

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Saturday, May 06, 2023

Prayers and a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Coronation

The LMS has organised a Mass in thanksgiving for the Coronation on Monday in Corpus Christi Maiden Lane (London WC2E 7NB) with some splendid polyphony: 6:30pm.

Dominic Bevan of the Southwell Consort, who will accompany this Mass, tells me: "we shall have a votive Mass of the Holy Ghost for the new king and queen. We shall include a motet by Taverner, commissioned by Cardinal Wolsey for Henry VIII (altered for Queen Elizabeth I), now edited with the original text and rhyme to include the name of King Charles."

This is the text of the Prayer for the King to used at the conclusion of the principal Mass on Sunday under the 1962 rules, in England and Wales. It is the basis of the prayer for private and public use recommended by the Bishops of England and Wales for King Charles on the occasion of the Coronation.

V. Dómine salvum fac Regem nostrum Cárolum.
R. Et exáudi nos in die, qua invocavérimus te.

Quǽsumus, omnípotens Deus, ut fámulus tuus Cárolus, Rex noster, quæ tua miseratióne suscépit regni gubernácula, virtútum étiam ómnium percípiat increméntum; quibus decénter ornátus et vitiórum monstra devitáre, [in time of war: hostes superáre,] et ad te qui via, véritas, et vita es, cum regina consorte et prole régia gratiósus valeat perveníre. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

R: Amen.

In English:

Friday, May 05, 2023

On pomp and ceremony, by Geoffrey Houghton-Brown

Bishop Campbell processing into the sanctuary of Westminster Cathedral
to celebrate Mass for the LMS in 2019. Photo by John Aron.

I have been reading a very interesting document from the Latin Mass Society's archives, an unpublished history of the early years of the Society by Geoffrey Houghton-Brown: Notes on the Struggle to Retain the Roman Liturgy, 1964-1972

Houghton-Brown, an artist and convert, was a founding member of the LMS, at first a Vice President and later Chairman and Diocesan Representative for Westminster. His history of these eight years is quite comprehensive, and every now and then he makes an interesting observation.

Archbishop John Carmel Heenan was made a cardinal in 1965, just when some of the pomp and ceremony of the occasion, in Rome and on his return to Westminster Cathedral, was being abolished, including the "canopy of state" which was held over his predecessors as they entered the Cathedral. This is Houghton-Brown's comment.


I do not imagine that the Cardinal refused the customary canopy in order to be better seen [as suggested by the report in The Times] but in order to comply with the Pope's wish for "simplicity". If these customary symbols of high office are abandoned the office itself, be it of Pope, King, Bishop, Judge, or Mayor, will lose its significance, its dignity, its solemnity. By the sight of these symbols we recognise that which they represent. High Office must be made visible in order to be recognised and it can only be made visible by such symbolic and customary signs as the canopy of state, the crown, the mitre, the Judge's wig and robes, the Mayor's chain etc. Remove symbols and you lesson, even destroy, all respect, for authority.

In connection with the canopy of state it should be noted that The Times (of February 26th) reported that "The public Consistory has, however, lost some of its pomp, just as it has lost the great cardinal's hat beneath which the new princes of the Church used to swear their oath before the Pope -- the great cardinal's hat has now vanished altogether from the formalities of creating members of the Sacred College."

In comparison with other reforms now taking place the suppression of the cardinal's red hat may seem extremely trivial but nonetheless it is extremely significant, indicating as it does the loss of an emblem bound up with the history of the Roman Church. A generation that has no reverence for the past is doomed to become rootless, isolated, adrift. This is the sin condemned in the commandment of Moses, - if you do not hold your ancestors in honour you will not keep for long the inheritance that they handed down to you. The keeping of this commandment is the secret of the miraculous survival of the Jewish race. It is by the preservation of their ancient laws, festivals, fasts, and liturgical language that the Jews have kept their racial identity. Pope Paul is advocating a policy of ecclesiastical suicide when he announces that the Church will "despoil herself -- of that old royal mantle -- in order to reclothe herself in more simple manner suitable to the taste of to-day." The disappearance of the canopy of state and the red hat may be small matters but like certain small marks on the body they can indicate a deadly disease.

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Thursday, May 04, 2023

Part-time vacancy at the Latin Mass Society

Would you like to work part-time for the Latin Mass Society? We are advertising for a part-time position. In addition to looking after members, the LMS Office supports our events around the country, distributes our magazine Mass of Ages, and looks after our busy on-line shop.

Our office is in central London, 9 Mallow Street, London EC1Y 8RQ.


Salary: £15,000 - £17,000 per annum
Part-time: 21 hours per week

The Latin Mass Society is recruiting an Office Assistant to work at its office in central London. The Office Assistant will be responsible for supporting the administrative work of the charity, including:

  • Office administration
  • Membership administration
  • Online retail
  • Information administration
  • Volunteer administration
See full details on our webpage here.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Feast of St Joseph in Maiden Lane: Mass for the Catholic Police Guild


With the support of the Latin Mass Society, the first Monday Mass of each month in Corpus Christi Maiden Lane is being celebrated for the intentions of the Catholic Police Guild. Last Monday, which was the Feast of St Joseph the Workman, the Guild dedicated themselves to the Sacred Heart, and their processional banner was blessed.