Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

19/05/2020 - 14:00

Another chat with Fr McTeague: On Criticising Fellow Catholics

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Spot the sinner! Can you see him? If there is one there, clearly this is no place for
respectable Catholics. Cardinal Burke celebrates Mass in Corpus Christi Maiden Lane, London.

Last evening I was interviewed again for The Catholic Current, a radio show hosted by Fr Robert McTeague SJ (a good one).

Our theme was an article I posted on Rorate Caeli and here, 'On Criticising Fellow Catholics'.

As regular readers will know I'm not against criticising people. My specific concern was the tendency on social media to divide Catholics into segments according to their views or preferred liturgy, and to make catty generalisations about them on the basis of isolated personal experiences: most often taking the form 'I went to that Mass once, and I felt uncomfortable because of what someone said to me afterwards'.

An important point here is that obviously there are sinners in the congregation and obviously the clergy and others should not chuck them into the street for breaking 'message discipline': nor yet lock them in the broom cupboard whenever a potential new recruit hoves into view.

You can listen to our chat here:

Episode Page:
Direct Audio Link:

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19/05/2020 - 09:35

Spare a thought for Church musicians

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A professional singer, Dominic Bevan (facing right), leading a training choir during the
Latin Mass Society's Chant Training Weekend in 2019.

The excellent article on church music by Matthew Schellhorn in the new Catholic Herald, who among other things is the Latin Mass Society's London Director of Music, prompted me to write on a related subject for LifeSite.

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Church employees have been badly affected by the coronavirus epidemic and the subsequent cessation of public services. Particularly hard hit are those who did not have formal contracts, or who were paid service-by-service. This includes many musicians.
There is a strand of thinking in the Church that says that the liturgy should be served by musicians who appear spontaneously from the congregation and offer their skills for free. Sometimes this is possible, and in particular circumstances it may be the best solution, or the only one. Indeed, I am an amateur singer myself. The worrying thing about this claim, however, is the word “should” which appears in it: the idea that it is somehow less authentic, or appropriate, or worthy of the liturgy, to pay musicians. 
Occasionally a parish may find that a member of the congregation has the skills to help fix the heating; quite often parishioners help with the accounts. But generally, people with professional qualifications need to be paid for their services. This extends to things intimately connected with the liturgy, such as vestments and sacred vessels. The more important something is for the liturgy, the more willing a parish should be to part with cash to get the best possible results.

Read the whole thing.

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18/05/2020 - 17:00

DIY First Holy Communion in Ireland

My latest for LifeSite.
The Irish broadcaster RTE’s website posted a strange story on Saturday: “Children celebrate a virtual First Communion via video link.”
At first I couldn’t understand the headline. How can you receive Holy Communion via a video link? Did RTE mean that the children made a Spiritual Communion?
But no. It turns out that, since the children had been due to make their First Holy Communion, their parish priest decided to allow them to do this at home. “Fr George consecrated the hosts at an earlier mass today and then families were given different time slots to collect them.”
They received Holy Communion in the course of watching a live-streamed Mass. The priest commented:
The parents of ten pupils took up the offer of a virtual Communion. It gave me a real sense of what the early Catholic church must have been like, when people gathered for mass in each other’s homes.
Except, of course, that it has nothing to do with having Mass in a private home. Mass took place in church, without the people. The only thing that happened in their homes was the reception of Holy Communion.
13/05/2020 - 10:00

Prepare carefully for post-lockdown Holy Communion

My latest on LifeSite.

As the Easter season proceeds, the liturgy begins to prepare us for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Last Sunday, the fourth after Easter, in the Extraordinary Form lectionary that I follow, the Gospel contains Christ’s promise to send the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to the Apostles after he is finally taken from them at the Ascension. 
And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin and of justice and of judgment. Of sin: because they believed not in me. And of justice: because I go to the Father: and you shall see me no longer. And of judgment: because the prince of this world is already judged. (John 16:8-11)
Public Masses are still impossible in England and I have been reading liturgical commentaries with particular attention during this time. Dom Proper Guéranger comments on this passage, in his monumental The Liturgical Year (which is available online):
By these words, which were spoken shortly before his passion, our Savior does more than tell us of the coming of the Holy Ghost; he also shows us how terrible this coming will be to them that have rejected the Messias.
The coming of the Holy Ghost will be a bad thing, for some? We are more used to stressing the gifts and graces He will bring on the nascent Church, which are passed on to all members throughout the ages, particularly in the Sacrament of Confirmation. But as our Lord emphasizes, the Holy Spirit’s arrival will be a moment of vindication for the Apostles, and by that very fact it will be a moment of condemnation for their opponents. You can’t have one without the other.

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12/05/2020 - 14:15

The Summer Mass of Ages is here!

Yes, the Latin Mass Society has published Mass of Ages as usual, though the post is a bit slow and my copy only arrived yesterday.
It is a little thinner than usual because the Mass listings are shorter. We do include all the live-streamed Traditional Masses in England and Wales.
It is full of interesting material as always, and if you are not a member receiving it every quarter automatically you can get your free copy from the LMS HERE, or read it online HERE.
In this issue Kevin Symonds reveals new details about the accusation of Freemasonry made against Annibale Bugnini, as a result of him leaving a suitcase behind in a Vatican meeting-room.

Also in this issue: • Joseph Shaw asks: Why is the Traditional Movement stronger in some places than in others? • Paul McGregor explains how the Traditional Mass returned to Culiacan, Mexico • Maurice Quinn tells the history of Dorset’s ‘Little gem’ – Our Lady of Marnhull • Clare Bowskill shows how the Traditional Mass online was the norm for us all this Easter • Charles A. Coulombe on fire and water – and ghost stories • Joseph Shaw on the Coronavirus epidemic and the liturgical reform • Lucy Shaw reports from the Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat held earlier this year.

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09/05/2020 - 10:20

Video interview with CTS

Pierpaolo Finaldi, Director of the Catholic Truth Society, interviewed me by Skype on the booklet by me which they have published: 'How to Attend the Extraordinary Form'.

The booklet can be purchased here.

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08/05/2020 - 18:33

German bishops repent of the past, but not of the present

My latest on LifeSite.
The German Bishops’ Conference has issued an interesting document criticizing the degree to which their predecessors failed to oppose Hitler’s programs of mass murder and his unjust aggression in starting the Second World War. 
It is a complex historical issue, and a fairly long document. But while open to criticism, it makes an important point: that in that situation, the argument of prudence led in the wrong direction. This was a moment when heroism was a duty. The bishops declare:
Inasmuch as the bishops did not oppose the war with a clear ‘no’, and most of them bolstered the (German nation’s) will to endure, they made themselves complicit in the war. The bishops may not have shared the Nazis’ justification for the war on the grounds of racial ideology, but their words and their images gave succor both to soldiers and the regime prosecuting the war, as they lent the war an additional sense of purpose.
It was understandable for the bishops to follow the lead of the Holy See, in the Concordat of 1933. It was understandable for them to want to preserve their ability to administer the Sacraments freely. It was even understandable, if not admirable, for them not to want to fall foul of a ruthless regime untrammeled by the rule of law. The “cooperation” the bishops gave the Nazis was “material”: they never intended any wrongful action. But even this material cooperation was serious and had serious consequences. The suggestion that Hitler was a legitimate leader, and that therefore he should be given the benefit of the doubt about the justness of his laws and policies, smoothed the way for his crimes. In 1933, Catholics had not come under Hitler’s spell, for the most part: they could have made a difference. The bishops chose not to encourage resistance.
It is easy, however, to repent of other people’s sins. If this acknowledgement of past complicity is to have any meaning, it must inform action in the present, when they cannot claim to fear the kind of reprisals the Gestapo would have visited on their predecessors. I am reminded of a more recent example of episcopal cooperation with evil in Germany: as LifeSite reported back in 1999:
05/05/2020 - 10:28

A dialogue with a trans advocate

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

One of the things I think many people struggle with in relation to the transgender movement is, well, understanding the movement’s assertions. As a service to the public, I would like to explore some of the things that the movement’s partisans say, in the form of a dialogue. Imagine I am talking to an apologist for the ideology; let’s call this individual Sam.
Sam: There is nothing complicated or confusing about our new understanding of gender. What is increasingly acknowledged by social norms and legislation is that gender, being a man, being a woman, and being anything else, is a matter above all of feelings. Your feelings, in your mind, are the most important thing about you, and it is natural that we accept that a person who feels she is a woman, for example, really is a woman.
Me: Even though she might have the chromosomes and characteristics typical of a man.
Sam: Yes. The transgender movement was founded by people who felt that their physical characteristics, which society had determined indicated one gender, were at odds with the gender that they felt themselves to be: they were ‘born in the wrong body.’
Me: So there might be, for example, a woman in a man’s body?
Sam: It often felt that way, because physical characteristics tend to determine the way we are treated (that is, as a man, or as a woman), but if gender is determined by the mind, then it would be more accurate to say that the body of a person who identifies as a woman is a woman’s body. She is, after all, a woman.
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04/05/2020 - 15:09

Holy Communion in a plastic bag?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

Someone in the Italian bishops’ conference has had the bright idea that people could be given Holy Communion not on the tongue, not in the hand, but in a plastic bag. There may be some logic to what is being called “take-out” communion from perhaps a hygienic point of view, but Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, was quick to point out that it is, well, “insane.”
Cardinal Sarah said, accord to Crux:
It’s absolutely not possible, God deserves respect, you can’t put him in a bag. I don’t know who thought this absurdity, but if it is true that the deprivation of the Eucharist is certainly a suffering, one cannot negotiate how to receive communion. We receive communion in a dignified way, worthy of God who comes to us.
The Italian bishops’ proposal is extreme, but it is a useful test of an idea which is widespread: that ultimately, it just doesn’t matter, or matters very little, how we receive Holy Communion, or how Mass is celebrated (as long as it is valid). Those who share Cardinal Sarah’s instinct are challenged: would you refuse to receive Holy Communion if you could not do so in a way you personally regarded as adequately respectful? Where is your love of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament if you reject Him on the basis of such trivial inconveniences?
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29/04/2020 - 10:39

New and Old Masses in Plaguetime

My latest in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

The Church reformed the liturgy at a moment of great optimism. The developed world was enjoying the long post-war boom. Seminaries were full. And new-fangled antibiotics and vaccination programs were sweeping away one major disease after another. It seemed time for a great big group hug.
It is not surprising to find that when medieval-style pestilence stalks the streets, the Church has to reach back into the past, before that brief gilded historical moment, for responses. The most obvious example is “spiritual communion”: the practice of uniting oneself in prayer to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, since one is not able to receive sacramentally. Our predecessors in the Faith used to do this at the great majority of the Masses they attended, either formally or informally, since they received Holy Communion only once or a few times a year. When I mentioned the practice as a response to the epidemic in a letter to the UK’s liberal Catholic weekly, The Tablet, the first response of one priest was ridicule. We wouldn’t, he wrote, have a “spiritual collection,” would we?1
He will have written his reply before public liturgies were suspended. I doubt he is laughing now. 

Read the whole thing.

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