Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

25/01/2021 - 17:53

More online Latin: and New Testament Greek

Don't miss out on the chance to start or improve your Latin and Patristic/ New Testament Greek with unthreatening online classes.


  • New Testament Greek for beginners and intermediates
  • Post‑beginners Latin
  • The Language of the Latin Mass :
  • Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) and the commentarial tradition from Ambrose to Almar — 50% subsidies for Priests, seminarians and religious




“Ardor mihi inerat ut scirem quid priores auctores haberent in corde, qui nostra officia statuerunt”


Living Greek & Latin for the World Today January 19, 2021



GREEK COURSE 1 (22 Feb ‑ 19 March 2021)

Greek Alphabet and very basic grammar for beginners

Plus Greek Course2 (19th April to 14th May 2021): Intermediate Patristics and New Testament Greek Grammar:

8 weeks total : 2 hours weekly, consisting of two one-hour sessions, with a half-hour break in between, leading to possible participation in a six‑day residential Latin Mass Society Course (in August) £400 for 8 weeks of instruction and small-group work (reduced to £300 if only one course is taken) . No previous Ancient Greek is required

NEW: Post-Beginners Latin Course (19 April - 14 May 2021).

4 weeks. £240 per person for 2 hours per week. If you have taken already Beginners’ Latin, then come along for four weeks of Psalms reading and selections from the saints in order to begin consolidating your knowledge of formal grammar, including word ending changes and sentence structure

The Language of the Latin Mass 8 Weeks (22 February ‑ 19 March 2021, and 19 April ‑ 14 May 2021)

For Seminarians, Priests, Religious, 50% subsidised; and interested laypersons; two one hour sessions, on separate occasions, per week).

£600 per person but after generous Latin Mass Society subsidy this is reduced by 50% for priests etc. Connected to England and Wales by residency or background (PLEASE SEE NOTE* below).

About Me

I read Classics as an undergraduate at Oxford (MA conferred 2007) and later did further graduate study in ancient Indian languages also at Oxford. I also hold Master’s degrees in the History of Christianity and, most recently, in Philosophy. I have published one book on the monastic life of Mount Athos and am working on a second as well as occasionally publishing on ancient Indo‑European language. I am passionate about reading and teaching different forms of ancient language and do not believe these languages, or the texts written in them, are dead. They speak to modern concerns, needs and faith.

About the courses

Christian Greek and Latin runs throughout the year, in small groups. If you already know some of the language we are studying then we will build up quickly in a smooth progression to get you reading real texts from the Christian heritage. If you are new to ancient language then we will still take the same broad path but with additional assistance as required which will help you to quickly connect with the main learning route. The lessons are encounters with the language as it was written and as it has been valued for centuries.

Homework and rote‑learning need not be a significant part of these encounters — although some students do prefer these age‑old methods and they will find themselves looked after in that regard. Primarily, we are all language users, have all learned languages before. This experience will really be no different. You will quickly be reading and, I hope and would expect, enjoying Latin and Greek. We will meet, in groups of no more than four or five, for two hours a week . There will not need to be formal preparation for most classes (except for example while learning a new alphabet) but everyone will be free to read and learn between times if they choose. Plenty of hints will be provided about this!

Why ancient languages?

In a world of uncertainty our roots anchor us. For the Catholic Christian, Latin and Greek, along with Hebrew of course, as well as a range of other languages (for example Coptic) together form one of the most significant roots that allows us to draw nearer to the heart of the thought‑world of faith. The fresh experience of reading an author like Augustine, encountering him in his own language, is like none other. These courses are designed to promote such a direct encounter and to do so quickly. Whether your interest is devotional or related to theological study – or if you just want to read some good books – the Christian Greek and Latin courses are for you. We meet online in small groups throughout the year, with some seasonal variation. ‘‘Graduates’’ of one may go on to other courses, as they choose, but doing the Beginners class is not always essential, particularly if you already have extensive background in the Latin language, or a particularly intuitive grasp of language matters.

* The regular price (e.g. for interested and qualified laypersons) is £600 for the ‘‘Latin Mass” course. But please see the following.

(The course requires some prior experience of Latin and will be a more formal introduction to the grammar of the language than the Beginners’ course, on which it builds.)

NOTE FROM THE LMS: The Latin Mass Society has agreed to pay half the fee of clergy and seminarians, as well as religious who are either based in or hail from England and Wales. Simply sign up with the course provider, and your details will be passed on to the society who will pay the provider (Matthew Spencer) on your behalf. Please pay all remaining fees (50% of the regular price of £600) directly to him according to his usual arrangements (by bank transfer or, if preferred, via PayPal transaction).

Clergy from and in other countries are encouraged to ask their local Una Voce associations for help if they need it: Una Voce Scotland, Latin Mass Society of Ireland, Una Voce America, Latin Mass Society of Australia. Latin Mass Society (Ecclesia Dei) New Zealand, etc..

15/01/2021 - 10:00

The Demographics of the Traditional Mass

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.
The online theology journal Homiletic and Pastoral Review has published an article of mine drawing on the FIUV Report which discusses the demographic profile of Traditional Mass congregations.
My conclusion:

I have demonstrated that the association between the EF and young people and families is neither a myth nor something limited to certain countries. Most Catholics have never encountered the EF, but of those who do, mostly by chance, the ones who make it their preferred Form of Mass are disproportionately young, and include a disproportionate number of families with small children. The presence of numerous children at the typical EF celebration can be confirmed, indeed, by anyone willing to set foot in one, provided it is celebrated in a reasonably family-friendly time and place, and is reasonably well-established.

The place of migrants, and in general of people of mixed cultural and linguistic backgrounds, at the EF, can be seen, naturally, only in places where the local population includes them. Nevertheless it is very evident in cities such as London, and as indicated in the statements quoted above, can be found in many countries.

Easiest of all to confirm is the presence of men at the EF. With Ordinary Form congregations in many places being increasingly dominated by older women, the ability of the EF to retain at least equal numbers of men, as well as young people and those bringing up children, is of no small significance.

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14/01/2021 - 10:00

Hypocrisy and solidarity: the intellectuals and the masses

My latest on LifeSite.
An ever-lengthening list of politicians and media personalities who have been fierce advocates of coronavirus restrictions have turned out to have flouted them. Recently the TV journalist Piers Morgan, who has turned publicly shaming minor celebrities for failures to toe the line on the epidemic into an art form, is now accused of popping off to Antigua for a holiday, against the rules. The Scottish member of Parliament Margaret Ferrier, who is facing trial over her bizarre journeys criss-crossing the country while she was waiting for a test result, had earlier demanded the resignation of Dominic Cummings, a government adviser, for doing something similar. It may be difficult to top the shamelessness of Gavin Newsom, governor of California, going to a party at a famous restaurant in breach of rules he had personally imposed on his state. But I think Neil Ferguson manages it: he was the U.K. Government’s scientific adviser, a man more responsible for the “lockdown” policy than anyone else in the country, who broke the rules in order to commit adultery.
Read the whole thing there.

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13/01/2021 - 14:56

Woke philosophers vs. Kathleen Stock

Prof. Kathleen Stock is a 'gender critical' feminist and a philosopher at the Univesity of Sussex. She has been involved in the controvery about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act which aimed to make it possible for anyone to change gender without any formal process: she is against this. I'd say the mob has come after her, but it's a mob of academic philosophers, and I wonder what the appropriate collective noun is. 'Shower', perhaps. They've written a joint open letter criticising her; there is a counter-letter in her support here, which I have signed myself. One of the leading names is Prof Peter Singer. Anyone familiar with philosophical ethics will enjoy the irony of his and my name appearing together under the same letter. Then again I'd not normally group myself with Stock either. This is about the freedom to disagree, not about defending our specific philosophical views.

I've written about the issue on LifeSite; here's a key passage.
...there is something very odd about a group of philosophers gathering to condemn a fellow philosopher for holding certain views without regard for the cogency of the views themselves. Surely, that must come into it. Surely, if Stock is correct, then any possible harmful fall-out from publicizing these opinions should be managed in some way other than by publicly shaming her? It is almost as if these critics are not confident about the force of their arguments, but hope to win the point by weight of numbers, joined with the fashionable nature of their own position.

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09/01/2021 - 16:56

Same-Sex Marriage isn't working

My latest on LifeSite. A key paragraph:


Daily Mail reports that “divorces” among same-sex couples increased from 428 in 2018 to 822 in 2019, and of the 2019 figure, almost three quarters are lesbian couples. (There were also 107,599 actual divorces that year in the U.K., an increase of 20% on the previous year.) Drew ran a clinic to help women in lesbian couples conceive children, and, as she told the Daily Mail, “a third of the 586 lesbian couples [sic] she helped to have babies between 2011 and 2015 have split up.”

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06/01/2021 - 11:49

Stay sane in 2021

My latest on LifeSite

As the U.K. and much of Europe head into ever-stricter coronavirus lockdowns, Americans can look forward to something similar from the likely incoming Biden administration. This isn’t quite the vaccine-protected, hopeful new year we were promised, and our short-term ways of dealing with the situation may be getting a bit tired.

In a similar way, some people who were worried about Pope Francis comforted themselves with the thought that his approach, which in certain obvious ways contrasts so strongly with his predecessors’, was unlikely to last long. The Italians have a saying: a fat pope is followed by a thin pope. As time has gone on, I’ve become less sure this is how things will be. They don’t seem to make cardinals like Joseph Ratzinger (elected as Pope Benedict XVI) any more.

In any case, it seems to me that in this bright new year we should be thinking about adaptation, rather than either hibernation, waiting for better times, or the hyper-activity of a response to an emergency. We can’t afford either the loss of time from the first, as months of crisis lengthen into years, or the stress of the second.

Read the whole thing.

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05/01/2021 - 10:00

Schools conceived of as care-givers undermine the family

My latest on LifeSite.

During the Coronavirus epidemic high-profile British soccer-player Marcus Rashford called for the extension of free school lunches over the school holidays. School meals are free in the U.K. for the children of poorer families, and Rashford thought that it would make sense for this concept to be extended to the time when schools are out. Prime Minister Boris Johnson caved in to the campaign in the summer, giving poorer families vouchers to use in supermarkets, but refused to do so again for the Christmas break, though a lot of volunteers did step in with offers of free cooked meals, and the government promised help through the normal channels of the welfare system. In the meantime Rashford was given an honor—“Member of the British Empire” (MBE)—usually given to people who have spent a lifetime volunteering, at the age of 23.

Rashford’s initiative was prompted by a commendable compassion, but there is something slightly troubling about the terms in which his campaign took off. Feeding the very poor is a fundamental category of good work, but what have schools got to do with it? It was difficult to shake off the impression that Rashford was benefitting from an unfortunate idea which seems to have taken hold: that schools are primary care-givers. If they are, the periods of time in which schools are not in session, for whatever reason, become problematic. Who is going to look after the children then?

Read the whole thing.
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04/01/2021 - 14:37

A New Year's idea: a reading group for Socratic dialogues

As we face heaven knows how much more time cooped up under every kind of pressure, I feel the need to get away from it all, not so much imaginatively (I'm not a great reader of romantic fiction) but intellectually

I want to go somewhere where there are no fashionable causes demanding our agreement to an ever-changing collection of insane propositions. Where I can consider something, in company with others, not indeed without relevance to ordinary life, but abstracted a little from the urgencies of today, in a calm atmosphere. And where this consideration can be reasonably prolonged and serious.
The suviving works of ancient philosophy invite us to do this, and above all, the early dialogues of Plato seem to me ideally suited to it. They tend to be short, and address specific concepts, often virtues (piety, courage, friendship). They are artfully constructed to show up confusions hidden in  common beliefs and usually end on a note of paradox, leaving readers to decide for themselves where to take the argument next, whether in a way hinted by Plato, or in a different direction.
They are ideally suited to beginners in philosophy as they don't assume too much prior knoweledge or use too much technical vocabulary. They are an introduction to philosophy in the sense that they have had an immense influence on later thinking, both in terms of their arguments (which were considered again in Plato's later writings, by Aristototle, and by many others) but above all in their style of argument.
The discipline of philosophy, it is often said, is not a body of doctrine, but a method. Plato's early dialogues are the greatest exemples of this method in the history of philosophy: all later philosophy is directly or indirectly indebted to their model, in which concepts are discussed and broken down, definitions proferred and counter-examples considered, in a conversation among civilised people--not always friendly, but always driven by Socrates, with patience and irony, in the service of the truth.
The early dialogues are likely to appear a bit dense at first and are set in a thought-world (of ancient Athens) rather different from our own, so an encounter with them is best done in the company of a guide. They are also designed to generate group discussion, and have not lost their power to do so.
I therefore invite expressions of interest in a course of online seminars on the early dialogues (in English!) to be led by me, for a reasonable fee. My thought is that a small group (between two and five people) could read one dialogue a week and spend an hour on Zoom discussing it after a brief introduction to the argument by one member of the group.
Timing and other details to be confirmed, but I'd suggest starting with a series of four, on the Euthyphro, Ion, Lysis, and Laches. The texts are all online.
I've put more information about the project here.
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24/12/2020 - 09:43

A Happy and Holy Christmas to all my readers!

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23/12/2020 - 09:42

On cancelling Christmas

Sung Midnight Mass (anticipated at 6pm) in SS Gregory & Augustine's, Oxford. Despite everything
it will take place again this year.
My latest on LifeSite. A key paragraph:
You don’t have to be a believing Christian to take part in this cultural phenomenon, but it is a cultural phenomenon built, not simply on a Christian festival, like having a long weekend and chocolate eggs at Easter, but on a Christian story. It is the Holy Family, in their journey to Bethlehem, in the birth of Jesus, and the visits of the shepherds and kings, who are at the heart of the commercialized indulgence, even if this heart is sometimes hidden. In our shopping streets they can be glimpsed in the music, the decorations, and the nativity scenes. In the most secular household they are still there too, in the idea of homecoming, family, and the exchange of gifts: and in the very idea of hope at the darkest time of the year. Without Christmas, the English winter would be nothing but dark, wet, and miserable.

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