Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

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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09/03/2019 - 10:00

Family Retreat: booking now

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The St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat takes place at the Oratory School, Woodcote near Reading, Friday to Sunday 5-7th April this year.

Booking is open: go to the SCT website.

As the name implies, in organisation and pricing it is adapted for families, with children. Unaccompanied adults are very welcome as well.

This year it will be led by Fr Konrad Loewenstein and Fr Seth Phipps of the Fraternity of St Peter. The theme is the Angels.

Don't miss out on this unique event. The Gregorian Chant Network's Training Weekend runs alongside: see the same page for information and booking.

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28/02/2019 - 18:48

Felt banners and participation

My latest for LifeSiteNews.

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The Christ-child with the Doctors of the Law: an elaborate, classical, and beautifully
executed sculpture in St Dominic's, Haverstock Hill, in London. The time, money, effort, and
sheer  competence represented by the sculptures for the fifteen altars corresponding to the
Mysteries of the Rosary is staggering.
An alien from outer space studying the Catholic Church of the last few decades might be puzzled at the frequency and apparent significance of the phrase ‘felt banners’ in Catholic discourse. It seems to sum up much of what is wrong with the Church, at least for many Catholics, but it is rarely explained. It doesn’t need to be, because we have all seen these objects, and we know the significance of the attitudes and processes which led to their production and display.
If I wanted to explain to Zog the Martian what is at issue when felt banners come up in conversations among Catholics, I might say that ugly and inappropriate items of church decoration exemplify and have come to symbolize an attitude of hostility towards objective standards of beauty, excellence, and truth. Zog, however, might find this explanation even more strange than the items themselves. How on earth did such an attitude come to be held by people in the Church, let alone by those with power over what gets hung on the walls of places of worship?
Familiar as the phenomenon is, it is useful to try to articulate what is at issue. The partisans of felt banners do not necessarily prefer ugliness over beauty. Their concern, rather, is to prioritize the contribution to church decoration of the artistically incompetent over that of the artistically competent. Because the latter might be paid, or might not be members of the parish, or might be long dead, their contribution has less value seen as a form of participation in community life. Indeed, the artists who beautified the Catholic churches of yesteryear, and the few who still place their expertise and judgment in the service of the Church, were and are not thinking of their work primarily in terms of community participation, but in terms of objective standards of devotional appropriateness and of artistic excellence.

Read it all there.

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27/02/2019 - 19:13

Survey of US Traditional Catholics

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LMS Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the Church of St Joseph, Bedford

I have a piece in LifeSiteNews on this widely-reported survey, which says exactly what one would expect: Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass overwhelmingly believe the teachings of the Church and fulfill their obligations to attend Mass and go to confession.

I think the survey is a good effort, but I'd like to put its contrast with data from other surveys on the beliefs and practices of Catholics as a whole into some context, beyond what I wrote for LifeSite.

Conservative Catholics reading the period results of mainstream Catholic opinion and
practice may get the feeling that the findings exceed their most pessimistic estimate of their
co-religionists. Amazingly few Catholics appear to know, let alone confess, the teaching of the Church on the Real Presence; scarcely any actually follow the Church’s teaching on contraception

One reason for this is poor methodology in the surveys themselves. Notoriously, one survey
which claimed that almost no Catholics accepted the Church’s ban on contraception arrived at this conclusion by excluding from consideration various categories of women; with other flaws, this made the survey pretty worthless

Even the respected research institute attached to Georgetown University, CARA, tends to survey ‘self-identified’ Catholics instead of Church-going Catholics. But what does it mean to ‘identify’ as a Catholic while rejecting all her teachings and never going to Church? The results of surveys including this category will reflect how many such people there are; how many there are in turn depends not only on the rate of lapsation and poor formation, but in the strength of the idea that one can be a ‘Catholic’ in some tribal sense completely unconnected with belief and practice.

Interestingly, in Britain a recent academic study showed that Anglicans are very happy to keep calling themselves Anglicans when they have lapsed, while Baptists stop calling themselves Baptists if they aren’t fully committed. The attitude of Catholics falls between these extremes. A less complete study would have suggested that Baptists are far more committed than Anglicans, but also more likely to lapse, which would have been misleading: in effect it compared committed Baptists and uncommitted Anglicans.

What this survey of church-going Catholics, attached to the ancient Latin liturgy, shows is that, within the undifferentiated mass of ‘Catholics’ who have a confusingly wide range of views and religious practices, there is at least one sub-group which is genuinely faithful to the Church, her teachings and requirements, and who average a reasonable number of children to whom this Faith can be passed on.

I hope the poor study is expanded. I would like to see information about those answering the questions - age, sex, marital status, and whether they are converts or cradle Catholics. And I would like to see a comparison with Catholics attending the Ordinary Form, as opposed to people saying they are Catholics and not attending anything. Another interesting comparison might be Catholics who are members of the ‘New Movements’ (Neo-Catechumenate, Focolare, Communion and Liberation, and so on).

In the meantime, we should be grateful that serious statistical study of Latin Mass-going Catholics has finally begun. 

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20/02/2019 - 10:00

Fr Andrew Pinsent to speak Friday 22nd in London


Fri 22 Iota Unam talk, Fr Andrew Pinsent: 'The Traditional Mass and the Formation of the Virtues' 7pm in the basement at Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street.
Doors open at 6:30pm
All welcome. £5 on the door.
Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory
Warwick Street
LONDON, W1B 5LZ
The talk will be preceded by drinks and followed by questions and a recitation of Compline of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Fr Andrew Pinsent has doctorates in both Physics and in Philosophy, as well as theological training, and is Director of the Allan Ramsey Centre in Oxford University.
This is the second of the Iota Unum series of talks, which will focus on topics connected with the everyday life of traditionally-minded Catholics: the domestic church, homeschooling, traditional catechesis, moral instruction, culture (high, common, and religious), religious history etc..
The purpose of the talks is not only to inform but to help traditionally-minded Catholics from across London and beyond to meet, discuss matters of mutual concern, and form a greater sense of community.
There will be a charge of £5 on the door to cover refreshments and other expenses.

Other events coming up in London


March
Wed 6: Ash Wednesday
Mon 11: Houghton Schola at Maiden Lane, Feria of Lent
Sat 9: St Tarcisius server training Day/ Guild of St Clare Vestment Mending Day
Sat 16: LMS Pilgrimage to Caversham: Ember Day. Mass 11:30am with polyphony
Mon 18: Cantus Magnus Polyphonic Mass at Maiden Lane, St Cyril of Jerusalem
Fri 22: Juventutem Mass at St Mary Moorfields, 7:30pm
Tues 26: Iota Unam talk, Stuart & Clare McCullough ‘The liturgy and crisis pregnancy counselling’
April
Fri 5-7: St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat & Gregorian Chant Network Chant Course Fri-Sun at the Oratory School, Woodcote: see here.

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19/02/2019 - 10:20

Ivereigh: what makes you think Christ wasn't gay?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.
Having only just written for LifeSiteNews about the tweets of Austen Ivereigh, I would not wish to return to the subject but for the extraordinary nature of the latest. Bear in mind that this man has been the Director of Public Affairs for the late Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, was a founder of the Catholic media organization “Catholic Voices,” and has written a biography of Pope Francis: he is what you might call a “professional Catholic.”
Discussing the latest claims about priests working in the Vatican who are homosexual, Ivereigh suggests:
The issue, as the priests make clear, isn’t celibacy and chastity, but having to hide who they are. The denial makes it impossible to live the vow in freedom. That’s what they’re saying.
This is a convenient argument for someone who wants to say that the Church has made homosexuality into a problem by her negative teachings about it. Get rid of the teachings, and you’d get rid of the problem!
A Twitter user replied, in Spanish (this is the Google translation):
They must serve God and his people without the entanglement of manifesting or hiding a hidden tendency. The priests, I believe, must be heterosexual. They act in persona Christi. And I do not think our Lord had homosexual tendencies.

To this Ivereigh replied, in Spanish (again, this is the Google translation any Twitter user can access at the click of a button: it is perfectly accurate):

Why do you say that our Lord did not have homosexual tendencies? From what signs or sayings or gestures do you deduce this?
It is typical of Ivereigh to make a point with a question. It allows him some plausible deniability over whether he believes in the implications of his question.
So I am not going to claim that Ivereigh thinks that Christ had homosexual tendencies. The implication of his rhetorical question is rather that the conforming to Christ required of priests does not involve, even ideally, a sexual identity which is not disordered: or, rather, the claim that homosexuality is not a disordered sexuality.
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