Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

11/06/2020 - 17:06

J.K. Rowling faces down the mob

My latest on LifeSite

I’m not a great fan of J.K. Rowling. I regard her as overrated as an author of children’s books, and her forays into adult fiction have, by all accounts, been less successful. I don’t object in principle to magic playing a role in fiction (many great Catholic writers used it), but the Harry Potter series ends with a strange apologia for the culture of death. Watching her 2016 film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, ended any lingering doubts. A triumph of computer-generated special effects, the plot is an attack on religion, at both obvious and subtle levels: something for another post perhaps. I came away thinking that with this film, and of course her notorious post-mortem outing of her fictional character Dumbledore as a homosexual in 2007, fame and fortune had seized her for their own. She had decided to maximize her sales by serving the progressive fashions of the day. From now on, we can expect the kind of material Hollywood will instinctively love.
It is all the more surprising, then, to see her emerge as a champion of the rights of women, in defiance of the trans lobby. She has generated a few Twitter storms already and has now written an essay setting out her position in some detail. She has been ritually denounced by actors who played leading roles in her films, and, as she must realize, she is risking a lot of future revenue, as well as death threats, by leaving the winding but brightly-lit path of wokery. However she is already extremely wealthy, and has an immense fan base, so her vulnerability to the lynch mob is unusually low for a celebrity. This is of considerable significance, because people who defy the Jacobins of our age usually disappear from public view, if they refuse to back down. Rowling is not going anywhere.

Read the whole thing.

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10/06/2020 - 13:01

Guild of St Clare sponsorship for RSN Embroidery Certificate

Crewel work completed by our first sponsored
student, James Sharpe

Cross-posted from the Guild of St Clare blog.

In 2019 the Guild of St Clare made the first award under its Sponsorship Scheme to help a student through the Certificate Course at the Royal School of Needlework. Our sponsored student has made good progress, and as he enters his second year of part-time study, we can start sponsoring a second.

The deadline is 22nd June.

The RSN Certificate Course takes between one and four years, depending on how intensively students wish to do it. Its great flexibility makes it ideal for those who can only spare limited time, or whose availability fluctuates over the year. The Certificate gives its graduates a thorough grounding in a range of traditional hand-embroidery skills, skills for which the RSN is renowned, and which its experts apply to historic restoration projects and important commissions.

Sponsored students will be able to reclaim half the cost of their tuition days, up to a maximum of £2,000 a year (September 1st to September 1st), subject to satisfactory progress in the Certificate course, and their attendance at least one of the Guild’s two annual Sewing Retreats. Students at the RSN have to pay for tuition days when they book them; they would be reimbursed at that point. Progress will be monitored by reference to the successful completion of each module, and the reports which are provided by RSN tutors on each piece of work.

More information, and how to apply, can be found here.

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08/06/2020 - 17:40

Communion and Covid: from the Una Voce Federation

A press release from the FIUV. PDF version here.

Foederatio Internationalis 
Una Voce

Quae patronum invocat sanctum Gregorium Magnum Papam.

Press Release: Communion on the Tongue and Epidemic

In light of the recent statement (and here) by Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, in the United States of America, on social distancing during the reception of Holy Communion, and related issues surrounding the reception of Holy Communion around the world in the context of the Coronavirus epidemic, the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV) would like to make the following observations.

1. In the Ordinary Form, the universal law of the Church gives every Catholic the right to receive on the tongue. This was reaffirmed by the Congregation of Divine Worship in the context of earlier public health concerns, the so-called ‘Swine flu’ epidemic of 2009. (See for example RedemptionisSacramentum (2004) 92; Letter of the Congregation of Divine Worship 24th July 2009, Prot. N. 655/09/L.)

2. In the Extraordinary Form, the universal law of the Church allows for the reception of Holy Communion only on the tongue. (See UniversaeEcclesiae (2011) 28; MemorialeDomini (1969).)

3. In neither case can the law of the Church be set aside by the Ordinary.


4. The problem of maintaining physical distance between Minister and Communicant during the Reception of Holy Communion applies equally to Reception in the Hand as to Reception on the Tongue. In both cases Minister and Communicant are obliged to come close to each other, if only for a short time, and without touching. It is difficult to see how even the use of an instrument such as a pair of tongs (for which there are historical precedents) would enable Minister and Communicant to maintain a distance of six feet or two meters.

5. Canon law is rightly very restrictive in the penalties which bishops can impose on their priests for the breach of regulations of their own devising. Bishop Rodi’s attempt to prohibit priests who do not obey his regulations to celebrate public Masses—something which amounts to a partial suspension of a priest—goes beyond what Canon law would appear to justify. (See Canons 1316-1319).

6. It has become increasingly evident that there is no clear scientific basis for the claim that Reception on the Tongue is more likely to transmit the Coronavirus than Reception in the Hand. This has been the expert advice given to Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, USA, and to Archbishop José Antonio Eguren, of Piura, Peru, and it is also the view of the experts involved in the guidelines of the Thomistic Institute of Washington, DC, in the USA. If any bishops around the world are in possession of studies or expert opinions in conflict with this growing consensus, it behooves them to make these public as a matter of urgency.

7. Where local circumstances demand it, the suspension of the Reception of Holy Communion, of the celebration of Masses open to the public, and even the opening of churches for private prayer, have been ordered by bishops and public authorities. These measures are at least even-handed and, insofar as they are justified by genuine public health concerns, do not infringe the rights of the Faithful. As these measures are gradually lifted around the world, we urge bishops to continue to act in accordance with expert advice, not arbitrarily picking out certain priests and faithful for greater restrictions than those imposed on others, and with respect for the rights of the Faithful.

The President and Officers of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, 8th June 2020

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About the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV)

The FIUV represents the needs and concerns of the world-wide laity attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition, the Extraordinary Form. It has more than 45 member associations from Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia.

The Federation has a biennial General Assembly in Rome, and publishes a magazine twice a year, Gregorius Magnus.

CONTACT DETAILS

Website: www.fiuv.org

President, Felipe Alanís Suarez: president@fiuv.org

Secretary, Dr Joseph Shaw: secretary@fiuv.org

Treasurer, Monika Rheinschmitt: treasurer@fiuv.org
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06/06/2020 - 16:38

Singing and the Coronavirus

IMG_0203
The Schola Abelis, Oxford's Gregorian Chant Schola, shrouded in incence
in the rather roomy 'tribune' (choir loft) at Blackfiars back in 2018.

Some potentially good news: there is now some evidence that the idea that singing is a specially dangerous activity in the context of the pandemic is false.

At the outbreak of the pandemic very little relevant research existed, but some has now been done: this paper, awaiting its peer-review, is at least a hopeful sign.

One of its key points is that singing does not spread air--and therefore anything carried by air such as viruses riding on droplets of water--very far:

The experiments clearly show that air is only set in motion in the immediate vicinity of the mouth when singing. In the case of the professional singer, the experiments showed that at a distance of around 0.5 m, almost no air movement can be detected, regardless of how loud the sound was and what pitch was sung. It is therefore unlikely that the virus could spread beyond this limit via the air flow created during singing. Amateur musicians who do not use the diaphragmatic breathing most commonly used by professionals when singing, but rather the natural chest breathing, do not get beyond this range either. By singing a very loud and long sequence of the same tone at about 2 Hz, a slightly wider spread of air movement could be achieved.

From: "Singing in choirs and making music with wind instruments ‒ Is that safe during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic?" by Christian J. Kähler (Prof. Dr.) and Rainer Hain (Dr.) Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics, University of the Bundeswehr Munich, Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39, 85577 Neubiberg, Germany.

The hope is that the issue with choirs will be social distancing, contrary to the cramped conditions many choirs frequently have to endure both in rehearsal and performance, but not the act of singing itself.

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31/05/2020 - 10:00

Marriage to end in the UK: with a wimper

My latest on LifeSite.
The weakening of the UK’s divorce law is reaching its final stages. 
It is currently possible to end a marriage for almost any reason, or if you prefer to divorce for no reason at all, after a period of separation (two years with the agreement of the other party; five years without). It is almost impossible for a spouse to defend himself or herself against an application for divorce. For the Conservative Party Government in the UK, this isn’t good enough. They want to abolish the requirement to give any reasons (such as that old standby, “unreasonable behaviour”), and reduce the separation period to six months, or, if they feel like changing it again later, to nothing.
The justification being used by the government and repeated across the liberal media is that the current system forces couples to assign blame, unless they want to use the separation-period approach, which is presented as an intolerable burden. Giving reasons for wanting to end a supposedly life-long union, or creating a short time in which reconciliation might be attempted, doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable. Did I say “lifelong?” Well, that is how marriage is legally defined, with the proviso “unless legally terminated.”
In truth, the phrase is the pathetic remnant of a conception of marriage that is no longer given legal recognition.
29/05/2020 - 10:00

Cardinal Koch and the amalgamation of rites

An Altar Missal defaced to keep it up to date with the
liturgical changes of the 1960s

Cardinal Kurt Koch has taken up an idea which floats into the Catholic press every now and then, that the Extraordinary Form should be merged somehow with the Ordinary Form. Here in German, quoting the Cardinal at the end. The money quote (thanks to Google Translate) is

'The Eucharist is the central celebration of the unity of the church. It cannot have this meaning
when there is argument and confrontation around them.'

In that case, perhaps the extremists among the liturgical progressives should stop attacking the EF's right to exist. If they can't do that, I can't see them rallying around a rite which is a 'synthesis' of the two, and the conflict would continue: as it does, indeed, in practically every diocese and religious community where only the Ordinary Form is celebrated.

The argument is particularly puzzling, as there are far more than two liturgical forms in the Church. In major European and Middle Eastern cities alike one can find the Latin Rite liturgy celebrated in one church and a variety of Eastern Rites celebrated down the road. Cardinal Koch is in charge of ecumenism at the Vatican, and he cannot have forgotten the role of liturgical diversity in fostering unity, not impeding it, in the reconciliation of Anglicans to the Holy See. The same thing has long been the policy of the Vatican towards our separated brethren in the East. Imposing liturgical uniformity on the Church would be an ecumenical disaster.
I paste in below an article I wrote for the Catholic Herald online in July 2017, which is no longer available on their website, which addresses the version of this idea floated by Cardinal Sarah. It is interesting to see Cardinal Koch taking up the same term, 'reconciliation', as if it were the Forms which were in conflict, rather than Catholics with different views.

I followed this up with another piece on this blog which can be found here.

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Can the Old and New Masses be ‘reconciled’?

Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society

As Fr Raymond de Souza reports, Cardinal Sarah has called for the two ‘Forms’ of the Roman Rite, the 1970 ‘Ordinary’ Form (OF) and the more ancient Extraordinary Form (EF), to be ‘reconciled’. His reasons are confusing, but his proposals are unworkable.


Writing in a French publication, La Nef, Cardinal Sarah explains: ‘ “Reform of the reform” has become synonymous with dominance of one clan over the other.’ He prefers the phrase ‘liturgical reconciliation’.


The ‘Reform of the Reform’ is a movement among practitioners of the Ordinary Form, who argue over Latin, chant, the direction of worship, altar girls, and so on. It is one of the advantages of the Extraordinary Form that we don’t have to get into these battles. Cardinal Sarah, however, seems to want to solve the endless squabbling by bringing the older Mass into the equation as well.


First, he would like to impose some reform of the reform himself(according to The Tablet, reception of Communionkneeling and on the tongue, the ‘Prayers at the Foot of the Altar’, and the ‘canonical fingers’). Secondly, he wants concessions from the other side: but it turns out these are not concessions from advocates of the Reform of the Reform, but changes to the EF. It should adopt the Lectionary of the OF, and its calendar should align more closely with that of the OF.


The new lectionary is sometimes held up as obviously superior to the old, but not everyone committed to the reformed Mass agrees. The Toronto Oratorian Fr Jonathan Robinson, wrote (The Mass and Modernity, 2005, p332):


I think the diversity, rather than enriching people, tends to confuse them… This may be because the selections, as has been noted by others, were drawn up more to satisfy the sensibilities of liturgical scholars than on traditional liturgical principles.


However, another question is raised by Cardinal Sarah’s proposal: can the lectionaries of the two Forms simply by swapped over?


The short answer is ‘no’. To take the most obvious problem, the 1969 Lectionary has no readings for the season of Septuagesima, because that season does not exist in the 1969 calendar. Were the ‘Ordinary Time’ cycle simply extended to this period of three Sundays before Lent, its penitential orations would conflict with readings which can be used after Pentecost as well as before Lent.

Variations on this problem arise throughout the Church’s year. Many of the EF’s proper texts of feast days, and a good many Sundays, refer to the readings. The choice of readings in the Ordinary Form is so different from those in the Extraordinary Form that the discordance would be particularly jarring.

Thus, on Corpus Christi, the ancient Mass gives us a reading from on the danger of the unworthy reception of Holy Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27-9). St Paul’s message was excluded completely from the new Lectionary: it is not found even on a weekday. It was felt to be so important by the liturgical tradition, by contrast, that it is repeated emphatically by the wonderful Corpus Christi Sequence Lauda Sion, and again in the Communion antiphon.


A similar story could be told of all days of a penitential character, and to a greater or lesser extent of many other feasts and Sundays. It would be fair to say that a Mass with the new lectionary and the old prayers and chants would fulfil the intentions of neither the reformers nor of the liturgical tradition. This would have implications also for the Office, where the readings of Sunday Matins, for example, comment on the readings of the Sunday Mass.


It seems unlikely that Cardinal Sarah’s advisors have thought these issues through. Something else they might like to consider is the very different role of feastdays in the Extraordinary Form. Moving some to the same date as the OF might sound innocuous enough, but a wholesale revision would endanger the distinctive character of this Form, whose weekday celebrations are not distinguished by a daily Scripture-reading cycle, but by large numbers of often very ancient feast days. Many of the saints commemorated are invoked in the liturgy itself, in the Canon or in the Litany of the Saints. Removing them from the calendar, but not from the liturgical texts, would not strengthen the Extraordinary Form, but simply make its message—about the communion of saints, intercession, and continuity—harder to discern.


Above all I would like to suggest that the Church has nothing to fear from a varied liturgical landscape: a landscape becoming more varied as Eastern Rite Catholics flee to the West. Vatican II reassured us on this point (Unitatis redintegratio 17):


…from time to time one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed it to better advantage. In such cases, these various theological expressions are to be considered often as mutually complementary rather than conflicting.


This, surely, is the direction from which ‘liturgical reconciliation’ should come. 


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28/05/2020 - 09:56

Remembering the Chartres Pilgrimage

IMG_8358
The British Chapter in sight of Chartres Cathedral, in 2014

The Chartres Pilgrimage would in normal circumstances have taken place this weekend. I should be able to make it next year. We must make it a year to remember!

And don't forget: with a bit of luck we should be able to have the Walsingham Pilgrimage this year. Book here.

My latest on LifeSite.

I have been four times on the Chartres Pilgrimage. It’s not a competitive sport, but I should add that only on two of these occasions did I manage to complete it — that is, to walk the entire distance from Notre Dame in Paris to the mighty Chartres Cathedral, more than 60 miles, in two and a half days.
It takes place over the weekend of Pentecost Sunday — Whitsun — with sometimes more than ten thousand pilgrims. Last year, for the first time for many years, it was not able to use Notre Dame because of the terrible fire there in April 2019. In 2020, it will be taking place only “virtually,” due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The participants are mostly young people, and many pilgrims come every year. Its cancelation is a great blow to them and to those hoping to experience it for the first time. Serious pilgrims are used to setbacks, however, and they will be back.

Read the whole thing.

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27/05/2020 - 10:44

Even fake 'water pistol baptisms' are disedifying

IMG_0001
A very un-socially-distanced baptism, back in the days of innocence.
The priest annoints the candidate.

My latest on LifeSite.

 Photographs have been proliferating of clerics of some kind aiming water pistols at babies in order to baptize them. Some of these seem to be fake news, inasmuch as they did the baptisms in the ordinary way but then staged the photo afterward. This makes a difference, but I’m not sure how much. Should clerics be clowning around in church after baptizing a baby? Again, there’s the photo of a priest wearing vestments using a water pistol to bless adults with holy water. If that was staged, it almost makes it worse.
Sometimes it is said that the era of the “clown mass” and other extreme examples of disrespect for the liturgy is over, but it would appear that its spirit lives on, among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Those who published these photographs, and the people in them, clearly think this is all terribly funny, and that that is fine.
Before anyone suggests that the use of water pistols is a serious response to the coronavirus, let me be the thousandth person to point out this is not so. At the “asperges” before Mass people have been blessed at a distance for centuries, with a liturgical implement called an aspergillum; as for baptisms, it doesn’t need to be the priest doing it anyway. 

Read the whole thing.

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26/05/2020 - 09:23

The Anglican Bishops aren't having a good crisis

My latest on LifeSite.

There has been a fair amount of criticism of Catholic bishops over the period of the coronavirus epidemic, but if you want to put things in perspective, you only have to look at the bishops of the Church of England (Episcopalians). While Catholic priests up and down the land were optimising their churches’ live-streaming technology, Anglican clergy were forbidden to enter their own places of worship, even if these actually adjoined their homes. Their flocks have been treated to the sight of services celebrated in kitchens and living rooms instead. This utterly pointless ruling was roundly criticised, but the bishops stuck to it even over Easter, only finally succumbing to the pressure of common sense on May 5. What possible motivation could they have had for insisting that their clergy not go through the sacristy door into their empty and locked churches to celebrate the liturgy? 
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury who thinks of himself as the successor of St. Augustine of Canterbury, who brought the Christian faith to England directly from Pope St. Gregory the Great, told us that it was to set an example. Referring to the government’s message about public health, he told the press that “by closing the churches, we make a powerful symbol of the need to listen to that message.”
I’m not someone who has called for people to flout the government’s guidelines, but going beyond them in this extraordinary way seems to me a powerful symbol of the Church of England’s worship of the idol of “health and safety.”
This isn’t the first time Welby has jumped on a bandwagon without engaging his brain.

Read the whole thing.

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20/05/2020 - 10:00

The mysterious teaching union that doesn't want to teach

My latest on LifeSite.

Britain’s teaching unions are decidedly unenthusiastic about the re-opening of schools as the coronavirus lockdown eases. Surprisingly, they aren’t keen on online learning, either. The National Education Union (NEU) has told its members not to live-stream lessons from their homes, engage one-to-one with pupils, or expect any input from parents. Their bald statement, directed to primary (junior) school pupils, “Teachers cannot be expected to mark work,” sounds like a parody of obstructive trade unionism from the 1970s.
It is a particularly puzzling attitude in the context of education. There has been a lot of talk of the harm done to the education of children by the closure of schools and how this will widen the gap between the educationally privileged and the educationally deprived. There has also been a lot of talk about the non-educational functions of schools. Apparently the role of schools is not just education, but the provision of childcare, especially for “key workers”; the surveillance of children in danger of domestic abuse; and the provision of nutritious meals. Given what is said about the nutritional value of much school catering, I can only assume that this last claim is made against a very low baseline.

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