- Why should the Traditional Mass be promoted?
- How does the Latin Mass Society promote the Traditional Mass?
- How is the Latin Mass Society organised?
- Local and National Events
- Priest Training
- Training Servers: The Society of St Tarcisius
- Training Singers: The Gregorian Chant Network
- Latin Courses
- Families & Young People
- International Links
- How you can get involved
- Our 50th Anniversary
The Latin Mass Society, founded in 1965, is an association of Catholic faithful dedicated to the promotion of the traditional Latin liturgy of the Catholic Church, the teachings and practices integral to it, the musical tradition which serves it, and the Latin language in which it is celebrated. The intrinsic value and continuing importance of the Church’s ‘earlier liturgical traditions’ have been affirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (SP) of 2007 (Preface), which rules that the Roman Missal of 1962—‘the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII’—has never been abrogated. Mention should also be made of the other sacraments and rituals, the traditional Divine Office, and the other legitimate Rites, Uses and liturgical customs of the Latin West, as important and living parts of the Latin liturgical tradition.
The Traditional Roman Missal is the result of incremental and organic development from the time of Pope Gelasius (d. 496) and Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604), so it is sometimes called the ‘Gregorian Rite’. After the Council of Trent, a carefully revised edition of the Missal was issued by Pope St Pius V in 1570, so it is sometimes called the ‘Tridentine Rite’ or ‘Tridentine Mass’. The way the Mass has been handed down over so many centuries is reflected in the name ‘Traditional Mass’. Pope Benedict XVI ruled that this form of the Mass should be regarded, legally speaking, as a ‘form’ or ‘use’ of the Roman Rite, with the Missal of 1970 being regarded as another ‘form’ or ‘use’ of the same Rite. Hence it can be called the ‘extraordinary form’, or the ‘earlier use’ (usus antiquior’), of the Roman Rite (SP Art 1). In Summorum Pontificum Article 1 the Holy Father ruled that this form of the Mass was ‘never abrogated’: at no time was it forbidden. In Article 2 he rules that all priests of the Latin Church can celebrate it freely: ‘the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.’ With these important points clearly established, its usage is becoming more and more widespread today, and it is the work of the Latin Mass Society to promote its celebration in a variety of ways.
Why should the Traditional Mass be promoted?
In the Letter to Bishops which accompanied the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict explained, referring to the ‘earlier liturgical traditions’:
It behoves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.
If these traditions, and the riches they contain, were to be lost, the Church as a whole would be impoverished.
The Saints and Doctors of the Latin Church, from the sixth century up to 1970, were familiar with the Mass, the Office, and the other Sacraments in forms identical or close to that preserved in the liturgical books of 1962. These forms were the basis of their spirituality and informed their theology. If modern Catholics are unfamiliar with these forms, or worse still reject them, they will find the writings and the spirit of these men and women alien, and will become disconnected from their own traditions.
These liturgical traditions contain, implicitly and explicitly, a perfect expression of the Church’s teaching, discipline, and spirituality. The incremental changes which took place in the Mass, accepted by the Church after great reflection, represent the Church’s unfolding of theological understanding. Those parts which were never or almost never changed, such as the Canon of the Mass, represent a sacred deposit regarded as fundamental by Popes and Doctors of the Church for more than fifteen centuries. The importance of this is encapsulated in the phrase ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’: the law of prayer is the law of belief.
How does the Latin Mass Society promote the Traditional Mass?
The Latin Mass Society is not a religious order or priestly association; although we have many priest members. What we do as a Society is to co-ordinate those activities by which lay people can assist priests in saying the Mass.
We organise training for priests, for altar servers, and for singers, and talks and courses on the liturgy and on Latin.
Our Local Representatives provide encouragement and moral and material support for priests who say the Mass, and keep our members and the wider public informed of where Masses are taking place.
We invite priests to lead special events such as pilgrimages, retreats, and days of recollection.
We maintain a network of like-minded Catholics, both lay and clerical, through our Local Representatives, our local and national events, and our quarterly Magazine, Mass of Ages.
As required, we represent the needs and views of lay Catholics ‘attached to the earlier liturgical traditions’ (SP Art .1) to our bishops and to the Vatican, as well as to the Catholic and secular media.
There are, and always have been, associations of the laity which support the Church’s liturgical activities, such as guilds of singers and servers, and sodalities which organise pilgrimages and processions. The Latin Mass Society continues this tradition, with a commitment to all aspects of the liturgy in its Traditional Form. Our work is carried out by a small staff in our London office, a network of volunteer Representatives covering the whole of England and Wales, and our membership, drawn from every age group and walk of life.
How is the Latin Mass Society organised?
In Church law, the Latin Mass Society is an association of the faithful (Can. 215: ‘The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of these purposes’). In English civil law it is an ‘unincorporated association’ and a registered charity (Charity Number: 248388).
The Society’s property is vested in its trustees, who make up the Society’s ‘Committee’, which has ultimate responsibility for the management of the Society (LMS Constitution, Section 17), and appoints Local Representatives, Chaplains, Patrons, and the Society’s employees.
The Committee comprises three Officers (Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer) and five Ordinary Committee members, all elected for three-year terms by members, plus up to two Honorary Officers elected by the Committee itself. The National Chaplain and the General Manager receive Committee papers and may attend meetings, as may others as decided by the Committee from time to time.
The Committee meets four times a year, on the first Saturdays of March, June, September and December, in addition to the Annual General Meeting of the Society held usually in June or July, and the annual Joint Committee and Representatives’ Meeting, held usually between late October and mid December.
As noted, the Committee appoints a National Chaplain, and Regional Chaplains for the Dioceses of Wales, for the South East of England, the South West of England, the Midlands, and the North of England.
The Committee also appoints the Society’s Patrons, prominent lay people who support the aims of the Society.
The Society employs a General Manager, who is the line manager for all other employees and freelancers working for the Society, including the Editor of Mass of Ages.
At a local level, the work of the Society is carried on by Local Representatives and Assistant Representatives, who cover a diocese or part of a diocese, or a specific event such as an important pilgrimage. Local Representatives and their Assistants are, like Committee members, unpaid volunteers.
Local and National Events
The Latin Mass Society has for many years had a Mass in Westminster Cathedral on the day of the Annual General Meeting in the early summer, and a Requiem Mass in November for our deceased members. In 2015, the latter was celebrated with great solemnity by Raymond, Cardinal Burke; both are often Pontifical Masses celebrated by a bishop.
The Society also holds an annual Day of Recollection in St Edmund’s College, Ware, and local Days of Recollection elsewhere. There are also a number of annual or more frequent Masses in Cathedrals.
We also organise many pilgrimages nationally; please see the pilgrimages tab for more information.
The Latin Mass Society’s local Representatives have the task of supporting Traditional Masses in their areas, and have initiated annual pilgrimages and other special events. These Latin Mass Society events now take the Traditional Mass to the great majority of the most important shrines and holy places in England and Wales.
For instance, annual pilgrimages take place to the English National Shrine at Walsingham and to the Welsh National Shrine to Our Lady of the Taper in Cardigan. The ancient shrine of Holywell in Wales and the ancient site of Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset also have annual pilgrimages, as does Oxford (in honour of Oxford Catholic martyrs), the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead, and many others.
The Latin Mass Society organises foreign pilgrimages, led by a priest. Over recent years this has gone to Rome, Lourdes and Poland.
The annual Pilgrimage to Chartres: the British contribution to this great annual event over the Pentecost weekend is financially supported by the Latin Mass Society, which makes possible sponsored places for those unable to afford the usual costs, especially young people. The pilgrimage walks the 70 miles from Paris to Chartres, accompanied by the Traditional Mass. With numbers around the 10,000 mark it is the longest and largest pilgrimage of its kind in Christendom. Not surprisingly it is dominated by young people, and the British section has several ‘youth’ chapters.
Starting in 2007, the Society has organised one or two Priest Training Conferences each year. Experienced priest-tutors teach small groups of priests in a practical way, with the rubrics of Low Mass, Sung Mass or Solemn Mass, according to their level of experience. Conferences also include a number of other talks or classes given by priests or lay scholars, covering topics such as the spirituality of the Mass, the other sacraments (Marriage, Baptism, Extreme Unction, etc.), Latin, the history of the Mass, Gregorian Chant, and the 1962 Calendar. As well as Mass, the Conferences include sung public offices, such as Lauds and Vespers, according to the 1960 Breviary.
These Conferences have been attended by more than a hundred priests, who have returned to their parishes to celebrate the Traditional Low Mass, or its more solemn sung forms. As well as priests from all over England and Wales, the Conferences have been attended by priests from Scotland, Ireland, Nigeria, and South Africa.
These events have been supported by a great many LMS volunteers, who have helped administer the Conferences, serve the Masses and sing. The Conference fees for priests attending are heavily subsidised by the Latin Mass Society and its generous benefactors. Like all LMS events, the Priest Training Conferences take place with the full knowledge of the Bishops of England and Wales. The first Conference, in Oxford in 2007, was opened by the then Archbishop of Birmingham.
Training Servers: The Society of St Tarcisius
As well as training priests, it is necessary to train men and boys to serve the Mass. The service of the altar is indispensible to the worthy celebration of the liturgy, and has always been a rich source of vocations to the priesthood. While training to serve Low Mass can best be done ‘on the job’ alongside a more experienced server, study and practice are needed for the more demanding roles in Sung and Solemn Mass.
To facilitate this, and a general high standard of altar service, the Latin Mass Society established The Society of St Tarcisius (SST), a sodality for those serving the Traditional Mass, in May 2010. The SST runs server training sessions and special events for its members. Membership is free and open to anyone who can serve Low Mass; associate membership is available to those hoping to learn to serve Low Mass.
St Tarcisius, the Society’s patron, was a Roman martyr who gave up his life rather than allow the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament. He is the patron saint of altar servers.
Training Singers: The Gregorian Chant Network
Singers, as well as servers and sacred ministers, are naturally required for Sung and Solemn Mass, as well as for many other liturgical functions (Benediction, the Office, processions and so on). The more splendid and solemn forms of the Mass have a special place in the Church’s liturgical life, and cannot be dispensed with. They are often the most attractive forms for those, Catholics or non-Catholics, not familiar with the Traditional Mass.
For all these reasons the promotion of Gregorian Chant, as the form of music uniquely suited to the Roman liturgy, is one of the founding purposes of the Latin Mass Society. The LMS has always supported a number of scholas; currently there are around twenty non-professional groups singing regularly at Traditional Masses in England and Wales, with the encouragement and support of our local Representatives.
To develop things more systematically, the Latin Mass Society was the initiator and founding supporter of the Gregorian Chant Network (GCN), set up in January 2010 with the support of a number of organisations and individuals interested in promoting Gregorian Chant. The GCN puts Chant Scholas in touch with each other, through its website and bi-annual meetings for Chant directors and experts, and organises chant training events. It holds a three-day chant training event in the Spring, and two or more local one-day events; it also collates information about chant initiatives organised by others and keeps its members informed.
GCN training events are sponsored by the Latin Mass Society, and there are discounts for LMS members.
In recent years, the Chant Training Weekends have been led by Colin Mawby, the composer and former Musical Director of Westminster Cathedral, and Patron of the Society, and Chris Hodkinson, a Director of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge.
For more information about the Gregorian Chant Network see its blog
One of the founding objectives of the Latin Mass Society is the promotion of the Latin language, and it is appropriate that we enable the faithful to gain a better knowledge of Latin. While knowledge of Latin is not necessary to an appreciation of the Traditional Mass, even a limited knowledge begins to open up the beauty and theological profundity of the prayers, which are often models of poetic concision.
The Latin Mass Society sells its own, unique ‘teach yourself’ Latin course book, Simplicissimus, which unlike any other course in English uses examples taken exclusively from Church’s traditional liturgy, including both the Ordinary of the Mass and the Lectionary. Simplissicimus will soon be available in a revised, second edition.
The Society also runs a week-long intensive Latin course in late July, open to people of all levels of experience aged 16 or over. This takes place at the Franciscan Retreat Centre at Pantasasph in North Wales, with two tutors to enable the group to be divided in the more and less experienced. It has been led for some years by Fr John Hunwicke of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and Fr Richard Bailey of the Manchester Oratory-in-formation. For more information, and to book, see here.
Families & Young People
Pope Benedict observed, in the Letter to Bishops which accompanied his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, ‘it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.’ The Traditional Mass has indeed proved to be enormously attractive to young people, who have been less affected by post-conciliar polemics, and can approach the Traditional Mass in a fresh way. Young Catholics and Catholic parents wish to recover the Catholic culture which enabled earlier generations of Catholics to live out their faith in an often hostile environment; they recognise that this culture is nourished by the Church’s traditional teachings, liturgy and spirituality. The Latin Mass Society promotes a number of initiatives which support young people and families with young children.
The St Catherine’s Trust Summer School: the support of the Latin Mass Society and other benefactors enables the Summer School to admit pupils regardless of their ability to pay. The week long school, which takes place in late July/early August, has a Sung Traditional Mass every day, and includes not only catechesis but also teaching in a wide range of subjects from an enthusiastic volunteer staff. The school admits around 50 pupils aged between 11 and 18.
The St Catherine’s Trust Family Retreat: financially supported by the Latin Mass Society, around 150 people gather for a three-day retreat with daily Traditional Sung Mass and devotions, spiritual talks and a chance to socialise. The Retreat’s organisation is designed to make it as easy as possible for families with children of all ages to attend, with special talks and activities for children of different ages.
Confirmation: The Latin Mass Society organises annual Confirmations according to the usus antiquior in London. Confirmation is conferred, by a bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster.
Young Catholic Adults: supported by the LMS, the YCA is the British affiliate of the international Juventutem movement, organises retreats and other events for young Catholics (aged between 18 and 35), and publishes a Newsletter.
The annual Pilgrimage to Chartres:The British contribution to this great annual event over the Pentecost weekend is financially supported by the Latin Mass Society, which makes possible sponsored places for those unable to afford the usual costs, especially young people. See the pilgrimages tab for more information.
There are a number of other local initiatives for children, young people and families which take the Traditional Mass as their starting point: retreats and days of recollection, groups meeting to catechise children or simply to supplement their education, and home-schooling groups. The LMS’ initiatives for servers and singers also attract large numbers of young people, and more initiatves are planned to cater for this growing part of the Traditional movement.
The Chartres Pilgrimage is one example of an international event in which the Latin Mass Society is an enthusiastic participant.
The Latin Mass Society is also closely involved with the international religious orders committed to the Traditional Mass. The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), based in Gricigiliano, near Florence in Italy, has a number of priests and seminarians of British origin, and carries out an apostolate in the North West of England. The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), based in Wigratzbad in Germany (with another seminary in the USA), also has a number of British priests and seminarians, and has English apostolates based in Reading and Warrington. The Latin Mass Society helps to support the priests of these orders when they are in this country, and also sponsors all the English and Welsh students at the seminaries of these orders.
The Latin Mass Society was a founding member of the International Federation Una Voce (FIUV). This now has around 40 members, from all over Europe and North America, and increasingly from South America, Asia and Africa. The Federation holds meetings in Rome every two years, to which the LMS sends delegates. The LMS is the oldest and the most financially well-established member of FIUV, and plays an important part in its activities. Three FIUV Presidents have been LMS members, Michael Davies (d. 2004), Leo Darroch and latterly Jamie Bogle, and at the time of writing the LMS Chairman is a member of FIUV’s Council (its governing committee).
FIUV has the immensely important role of interceding on behalf of Catholics ‘attached to the former liturgical traditions’ from all over the world. While the Latin Mass Society makes its own representations to Vatican departments on matters pertaining to England and Wales, FIUV is able to present a global picture thanks to its international network of members.
How you can get involved
The Latin Mass Society is without question the foremost organisation promoting the Traditional Mass in England and Wales. It can only carry out its work, however, thanks to the support of its members.
Joining the Latin Mass Society: this is itself an important way of helping our work, by contributing financially and adding yourself to our network. You will be kept informed of local events by your local Representative and of national events by the Society’s magazine, Mass of Ages. You will get advance warning of local, regional and national events of all kinds.
Attending our events: our Masses and other events are put on for the benefit of the public, and it is important that these opportunities are not wasted. It is also important to show local parishes, clergy and bishops that interest in the Traditional Mass is real and substantial, and that good numbers of people are more than willing to take the trouble to attend it.
Become informed: regardless of the frequency with which you attend the Traditional Mass or other events, reading good books on the Mass and its history, and on the teaching and history of the Church more generally, is of enormous value both for one’s personal appreciation of the liturgy, and to enable one to answer questions posed by others. The Society’s magazine Mass of Ages with its news coverage, articles on subjects related to the liturgy, and book reviews, is an excellent starting point.
Gaining some familiarity with Latin is also helpful. Even a basic knowledge of the language helps one see how the liturgical texts have been translated in one's missal, and gives one an insight into the profound poetry of the Mass.
In an era in which Catholic education and catechesis have declined, people are often kept away from the Church and the Traditional Mass by misunderstandings and ignorance. If someone asks you to explain something about the Church or the Mass, you need to be able to give an accurate and helpful answer.
Singing and serving: these are very practical and necessary ways of supporting the Traditional Mass, and as mentioned elsewhere on our website, the LMS has established special groups to ensure that they are carried out to the highest possible standards. The Society of St Tarcisius is our sodality of altar servers, and will help you learn to serve, if necessary, and put you in touch with a network allowing the best use to be made of your experience and skills. The Gregorian Chant Network, similarly, organises training events; these are open to all, including beginners, so even if all you want to do is sing as a member of the congregation, attending a training event will give you an insight into how Gregorian Chant works and how it should be sung. It also groups together all the choirs and scholas singing at the Traditional Mass, many of whom sing polyphony as well as Gregorian Chant. Singers of all levels of experience and ability are needed.
Other roles: LMS Representatives as well as priests always need volunteers to help run events and organise mailings, mend vestments, and make contacts with new parishes and interested individuals. We are always looking for people to help locally or nationally with the innumerable tasks associated with promoting the Traditional Mass.
What the Latin Mass Society can do depends on its resources. Its most important resource is the commitment and energy of its members. So get involved!
Our 50th Anniversary Year
2015 saw the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Latin Mass Society. To celebrate this we were able to execute a full programme of annual events, many of which attracted record attendance. This included pilgrimages to York, Holywell, Walsingham, Glastonbury, Wrexham Cathedral, Brinkburn Priory, Caversham, Willesden, Cardigan and Aylesford. The Society, one again, sponsored fifteen young people who took part in the Paris to Chartres pilgrimage. As a means of promoting the Society during the Jubilee Year, our Mass of Ages magazine was distributed free of charge to more than ninety cathedrals and churches around the country, more than doubling circulation.
The Society celebrated the Triduum Sacrum at St Mary Moorfields in London which, for the first time, included Tenebrae for all three days. Our annual Day of Recollection was held in St Edmund’s College, Ware. At the instigation of our Local Representatives and members, a number of regular Sunday and weekday Masses were started. A Requiem Mass for Michael Davies preceded the Michael Davies Memorial Lecture, which was delivered by Professor Roberto de Mattei. Professor de Mattei was also the guest speaker at the Annual General Meeting, which was followed by High Mass in Westminster Cathedral, celebrated by The Rt Rev. Mark Jabalé O.S.B., Emeritus Bishop of Menevia. By kind permission of the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust, a Missa Cantata was celebrated in the church of St Augustine, in Snave, Kent, the first to be celebrated there in almost 500 years.
Our residential Training Conference for priests and altar servers was held in Prior Park College, Bath, to which priests came from as far away as St Lucia, Poland and Ireland. A further training day for servers was held in London. The residential Latin Course was, once again, held in Pantasaph, and the Society maintained its commitment to promoting Gregorian Chant and supporting traditional family life by continued sponsorship of The Gregorian Chant Network and The St Catherine’s Family Trust.
The highlight of the year was the visit in November, at the invitation of the Society, of HE Raymond Cardinal Burke. Cardinal Burke conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional Rite at St James’s, Spanish Place and also celebrated our Annual Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral.
After many years in the making, we published our Ordinary Prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass booklet. A copy was sent to each member, copies have been donated to churches where the Traditional Mass is celebrated and hundreds of copies have been purchased by people from around the world.
To mark our 50th anniversary, we launched the Anniversary Supporters’ Appeal, a scheme to ensure the continued expansion of the Society’s work. To provide a predictable income for the Society for our new and existing projects, we called, and continue to call, on our supporters to consider making regular donations of a few pounds a month.
To make a regular donation to the society - click here.
Looking back over those 50 years, so much has been achieved by so many who have gone before us. Looking forward to the next 50 years, it is clear that we cannot rest on our laurels as so much still needs to be done. Many areas of the country still lack the Traditional Latin Mass, and a great deal of misunderstanding and prejudice exists against those who hold the Traditional Latin Mass and orthodox Catholic teaching and practise so dear. For these things to change, we need your help. Join the Latin Mass Society today so that, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, ‘to the praise and glory of His name,’ and ‘to the benefit of all His Holy Church.’”