Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

05/04/2019 - 14:54

Pilgrimage to Caversham

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Mass for this year's Ember Saturday pilgrimage to the restored Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham was celebrated by Fr Seth Phipps FSSP, and accompanied with chant and polyphony provided by the Schola Abelis of Oxford and the Newman Consort.

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We had the full set of prophecies, which make the Ember Saturdays like little Easter Vigils.

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With thanks to Mgr Patrick Daly the Parish Priest, and the parish in general for their hospitality.

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04/04/2019 - 14:29

Sponsorship scheme for embroidery training at the Royal School of Needlework

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Embroidery repair at the Guild of St Clare sewing retreat, Feb 2019

From the Latin Mass Society

The Guild of St Clare is launching a brand-new and very exciting initiative: the chance to study for the Certificate course at the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) at a subsidised rate of approximately 50%. The RSN Certificate Course is intended as a part-time course for keen amateurs and can readily be fitted around existing work and family commitments. It enables students to develop solid skills and become part of a long tradition of maintaining the highest standards in hand embroidery. More information about the course can be seen on the RSN website here.

Part of the mission of the Guild of St Clare is the teaching of skills essential to our work. We hope that in sponsoring places on the RSN Certificate Course we will be helping enthusiasts to gain the solid skills needed to repair, maintain, and create beautiful vestments and altar furnishings. Applicants should be able to demonstrate an enthusiasm for and commitment to hand embroidery and the restoration and creation of vestments. Further details about the sponsorship and how to apply can be found here.

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At the Guild Vestment Mending Day in London, March 2019

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03/04/2019 - 12:31

New book by Martin Mosebach

Angelico Press has brought out a new book, a collection of essays, by Martin Mosebach, author of the excellent book The Heresy of Formlessness.

Amazon.co.uk has it here.

I was asked to write a blurb for it, here it is in full.

Martin Mosebach has once more demonstrated his ability to provide provocative insights into the condition of modern Catholicism in this collection of essays. He notes the tension between the liturgical principle, found in East and West, that the rites be "fear-inspiring", and the modern worshipper who "relaxes in an armchair waiting for [God] to arrive". He suggests that the needs of the ordinary believer are satisfied, if at all, in the kitsch products of Lourdes gift-shops, while elite Catholicism offers him an empty aesthetic puritanism. He suggests that the replacement of the monarch with the people, as the holder of sovereignty, makes for fiscal profligacy. He explores the parallel between the prayer wheels of oriental religions with the church bells of European Christianity. These essays are a tonic to our deep-rutted discourse on liturgy, spirituality, and religious sociology, refreshing, challenging, and setting us on new paths of thought.

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01/04/2019 - 10:00

Should the Pope apologise to Mexico?

A recent article of mine on LifeSite. It begins:

 It has been reported that the newly installed President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has called on King Felipe VI of Spain and Pope Francis to apologize for the treatment of the native peoples of Mexico during and after its conquest in the 16th century. The proposal has already been rejected by the Spanish Government.
President Obrador is often viewed as a populist, and this demand certainly has the hallmarks of a publicity stunt. In a country ravaged by drugs cartels and corruption, which Obrador was elected, like all Mexican presidents, to oppose, it is very convenient to fix national attention on the crimes of five centuries ago, committed by institutions today represented by people thousands of miles away.
This is not to suggest that there were no wrongs committed by Spanish Catholics during the period of the Conquest, or that the right of the Spanish crown to conquer the area in the first place is straightforwardly correct. These are complex issues.
But demanding apologies does little to clarify these issues or to promote reconciliation. If they have any impact at all, such gestures tend to reinforce one stereotype at the expense of another, when a more nuanced view is necessary for a just historical appraisal. Part of that appraisal would be an acknowledgment that Europeans did not import the institution of slavery into some kind of ideal, peaceful community, but found in central America a society characterized by slavery, exploitation, and human sacrifice on an industrial scale. Another would be that at key historical junctures the Church, and indeed the Spanish crown, worked to improve the lot of enslaved peoples, even at the risk of provoking civil war with slave-owners.

Continue reading.

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31/03/2019 - 10:00

Priest attacked for wearing a clerical collar

A recent LifeSite article by me. It begins:

curious letter is doing the rounds on social media. It is from a parishioner of a Catholic church in Tasmania, Australia, in the small diocese of Hobart, addressed to the young, recently arrived parish priest. Maureen—for that is her name—notes that people have spat at Fr. Nicholas Rynne, and been unwelcoming to him. Far from condemning this behavior, however, she endorses it. Her criticisms are that he has started a Traditional Latin Sunday Mass in the parish, in addition to the two Ordinary Form celebrations, and that he wears clerical dress (read full letter below). 
It is not that she is obliged to attend this newly established Mass, or that clerical dress harms her in some direct way—how could it?. Rather, they represent the old days, the old beliefs and practices of the Church, and these fill her with rage. She claims to remember these, which suggests she is of the older generation.
It is possible that Maureen suffered personally from priests of the pre-1965 era (when Mass was still always in Latin): she mentions clerical sex abuse as an issue, although it is evident that translating Mass into the vernacular was not enough to solve that problem. In any case, bad experiences from that era can hardly be blamed on a priest who must be young enough to be her son, if not her grandson. And she can hardly imagine this young man is singlehandedly going to bring back the schools, convents, orphanages and other institutions of the distant past, simply by wearing a clerical collar. No, her reaction is irrational. By the same token, it is doubtless sincere. 

Continue reading.

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29/03/2019 - 21:56

Cardinal Marx on Celibacy

A recent LifeSite article of mine. It begins:

When asked what he thought about Western civilization, the Indian independence campaigner Gandhi is supposed to have replied, “I think it would be a good idea.” A similar witticism might seem appropriate when considering priests engaged in sexual abuse and celibacy. Celibacy: It would be a good idea.
Cardinal Marx takes a different view. During last October’s Youth Synod, he seemed disappointed that the subject was not discussed. LifeSiteNews reported him as saying that, although “celibacy is not the cause for abuse,” the stresses of unmarried life might be a factor. Now he has arranged for it to be discussed by a synod of the German bishops, saying “sexual freedom” is intrinsic to the “inner freedom of faith and orientation to the example of Jesus Christ” and that celibacy might not be “realistic” for all priests.
It sounds as though Cardinal Marx is preparing to dismiss celibacy, even while paying lip service to its value as an “expression of religious commitment to God.”

Continue reading there.

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23/03/2019 - 10:00

Re re-print: the Parish Ritual

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

Preserving Christian Publications has brought out a beautiful reprint of a book once almost as essential to the work of a priest as the Missal or Breviary: the Parish Ritual.

Published in the USA in 1962, it is the equivalent to the Small Ritual published in England in 1964. It is an extract from the Missal and the Roman Ritual, containing the texts needed by a priest for weddings, baptisms, and funerals, Extreme Unction, receptions of converts, and a large number of blessings (of Rosaries, the Miraculous Medal, Holy Water, etc. etc.), all in a handy format worthy of use in the liturgy itself.


One of the useful features of the book is that although all the Latin texts have a translation on the same page, a clear distinction is made between what, under the rules in force in 1962, must be said in Latin, and what can be said in English.

Preserving Christian Publications has not just scanned in an old copy. The whole book is reset, including the chants where applicable, bound in strong but flexible leatherette, with a reading ribbon and gilt pages, with good quality paper and rounded corners.

Even more important, they have replaced the Pian psalms with the ancient psalter wherever necessary. The Pian Psalter, created by Augusin (later, Cardinal) Bea, was a Latin translation of the Psalter in a supposedly more Classical Latin style. The whole idea was absurd, and unnecessarily distances the user from the words used by the Fathers and Doctors. It was criticised, implicitly, by the Second Vatican Council (for more on all this see here). But it was officially endorsed when it came out in 1945, and started appearing in liturgical books, though never made compulsory in the Office or the Roman Ritual.

In my copy of the Small Ritual the older psalms are given as an option, in an appendix. This is obviously far from convenient, and Preserving Christian Publications has simply put them back into the main text.

This book makes an ideal present for priests. If they are working outside the United States, they will need to be aware of US-specific customs in a few places, but notwithstanding that the book will be useful throughout the English-speaking world.

Since all priests have the right to use the blessings and sacramental forms in this book, it could even be of interest to a priest does does not yet celebrate the Traditional Mass, but would like to put a toe in the water with a legitimate alternative to the much-criticised post Vatican II 'Book of Blessings'.

You can buy it direct from the publishers here or from Amazon.com here.

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22/03/2019 - 13:10

Calx Mariae on Sex Education in Schools

I have an article in the new and excellent edition of Calx Mariae, which is published by Voice of the Family. You can take out a subscription here.

Calx Mariae is an impressive publication, with some very distinguished contributors: this issue has articles by Prof Roberto de Mattei and Duke von Oldenburg.

My article begins:

I confess I am a reluctant home-schooler. I do not believe that schools are intrinsically problematic, or that formal education is bad. Clearly they have their limitations in trying to cater for the individual needs, interests, and abilities of a room-full of children, but in principle they also have many advantages: the specialisation and therefore expertise of the teachers, the sharing of resources, and the interactions and group projects, from sports to drama, of the children. If I were living in any other era where schools existed, I would be sending my children to them. So what is the problem today?

The headline issue has long been sex education, known as PHSE (‘Personal, Social, and Health Education’). Long ago I came to the conclusion that I would be wrongly abdicating my responsibility as a father if I allowed my children to be subjected to the teaching materials used in these lessons with the approval of the state and, in many cases, of the Catholic bishops. Text-books, lesson plans, ‘teachers’ resources’, and videos for showing to children as young as five are not difficult to find online, although teachers themselves can be understandably reluctant to show parents what they are using. Many parents seem to prefer to remain in ignorance.

Formal sex education classes are, however, just one manifestation of the problem with education today, and it would be besides the point, even where it is possible, to withdraw one’s children from those lessons alone. The deeper problem is two-fold. First, the state and the educational establishment has decided that the cultural and moral education of children is a matter for them, and not for parents; second, they have simultaneously lost all confidence in traditional Western culture and morality.
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12/03/2019 - 10:48

Chant Training Weekend, 5-7th April, now booking

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Booking open for the Gregorian Chant Network Chant Training Weekend

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5-7th April
Oratory School, Woodcote, near Reading RG8 0PJ


Registration is from 4pm to 4.45pm on Friday 5th April.
There is a Sung Mass at 5pm followed by dinner.
Late registrations are possible from 7 to 7.30pm, after which the course begins.
The course ends after Mass and lunch on the Sunday (lunch at 1.10pm approx.).
The weekend is being led by Fr Guy Nichols and Dominic Bevan.
Deep discounts for two, three, or more members of a single choir or schola!
I look forward to seeing many of you there!
Joseph Shaw

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10/03/2019 - 10:00

We need better bishops, not (just) better procedures

My latest on LifeSite.

Many proposed solutions to the crisis in the Catholic Church focus on structural or administrative reform. Administrative solutions are attractive because they promise that our problems could be solved by a committee somewhere coming up with a new set of rules. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? It is true that some administrative systems are better than others, and we should naturally prefer better over worse, but no system is better than the people who administer it. What was going wrong in past decades was already against the rules, but the rules were not being taught in seminary, they were not being preached from the pulpit, they were not being defended in public by bishops, and they were not being enforced by Rome. The rules failed because of a failure of will.
An illustration is given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s insistence, in 2001, that all cases of the clerical abuse of minors be thenceforth dealt with by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), of which he was then Prefect. Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict, deserves credit, which he usually does not get, for driving this through. The reason it made a positive difference was not that before 2001 no one had the job of dealing with these cases. The reason is that for many years a huge number of local bishops, and great swathes of the Vatican curia, had lacked the will the deal with the problem. At that time, the CDF was one of the few places one could go to find people who still believed in sexual sin, and in the appropriateness of punishing it.
Ratzinger’s reform was good news for the many victims who, finally, began to have their accusations taken seriously. But it couldn’t address the fundamental problem, the problem of bishops and various categories of officials who were by character and attitude incapable of dealing with clerical abuse in an appropriate way. Their incapacity is obviously closely linked to the attitudes and behaviors of the abusers themselves.
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