Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

29/03/2016 - 11:50

Public Masses at Prior Park during the Priest Training Conference


The chapel at Prior Park is stunning; anyone in the area should take the opportunity of the LMS Priest Training Conference to attend of the public Masses taking place there next week.

Monday 4th April: 5.00pm Solemn Mass of the AnnunciationTuesday 5th April: 11.00am Mass of Vincent FerrerWednesday 6th April: 11.00am Solemn Requiem MassThursday 7th April: 11.00am Solemn Votive Mass of OLJC In addition to these, there will be Vespers and Benediction on Tuesday 5th at 5.00pmSupport the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

28/03/2016 - 11:00

Recent Photos

Benediction in Passiontide in SS Gregory & Augustine's, Oxford.


Tenebrae in St Mary Moorfields, on Spy Wednesday. IMG_0477



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27/03/2016 - 10:00

Surrexit! He is risen.

IMG_0295From the Rosary Walk at Aylesford Priory.
Happy Easter!
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26/03/2016 - 11:27

Maundy Thursday in St Mary Moorfields, London

With Canon Peter Newby, assisted by Fr Michale Cullinan and Fr Cyril Law.

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25/03/2016 - 16:17

Stations of the Cross: new short video from the LMS

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24/03/2016 - 10:00

Triduum Recess

IMG_0110Jesus is laid in the Tomb,From a series of plaques depicting the Seven Sorrows, at Carfin Shrine, near Glasgow.

Wishing my readers a holy Easter Triduum, and the joy of the Resurrection.

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23/03/2016 - 10:00

Guild of St Clare: 'Learn to make a skirt': two-day course 7th May and 11th June

IMG_8807Children welcome. Sewing at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School, supervised by two
Guild of St Clare members.The Guild of St Clare, which is affiliated to the Latin Mass Society, serves the Church by passing on the skills needed for the maintenance, repair, and the making of liturgical vestments. It also aims to promote 'domestic' sewing skills, which should be taken for granted by those undertaking training in emboidery, goldwork and so on. It is astonishing to think that within living memory almost every household had a sewing machine, and women routinely made clothes for themselves and their children. These skills have all but disapeared. Few children today can even thread a needle.

The Guild is pleased to announce a new initiative: a two-day course within which participants will be able to make every aspect of a skirt - and do it properly, and end up with a wearable garment.

Learn to make a skirt

In response to popular demand, we are introducing dressmaking workshops under the supervision of our own in-house expert dressmaker, Clare Auty. The first of these will be spread over two days, the 7th May and 11th June, when we will make a lined skirt with a zip and waistband, and the option of pockets which can be embellished.

Continue reading here.
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21/03/2016 - 13:05

Reacting to novelties in the Church

IMG_0242LMS Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Caversham. Come on in.It must be a perennial truth about the Church, that to every issue some people will criticise what you do - whatever it is- as too 'soft', and others as too 'harsh'. Since Vatican II, this has gone from being a parlour game to a major industry, as those who have wanted to maintain the Faith in its integrity cheer themselves up by criticising each other for being either too accommodating of novelties, or too suspicious of them.

The 'circular firing squad' this easily becomes is not helpful to the cause, but the question, of how suspicious or accommodating one should be, is an important one and does need to be addressed seriously. Which new initiatives, new theological perspectives, new structures or new forms of worship, are perfectly ok, and which are not? Of the latter, which need to be criticised, where possible evaded (by not using them), or repudiated? Each initiative should in principle be treated on its merits, though the scale of the avalanche of new things since 1960 is itself open to critical assessment.

(Anyone afflicted by the thought 'Anything the Pope says must be ok' should, of course, read my posts about Papolatry, but can still follow the argument in this post by considering examples where the Pope had not actually mandated anything. In a number of cases Popes have condemned novelties, which have still spread through the Church, such as routine use of EMHCs, or General Absolution.)

The difficulty in most cases has been that the problem presented by the new things has been not that they contradict the teaching of the Church in a propositional way - only in seminaries and certain academic institutions have Catholics actually been asked to deny the faith in as many words. Rather, where the old version of whatever it is pointed towards the teaching, the new one points away. They are typically accompanied by official documents which are worded in such a way that they can be read, perhaps with a little effort, in accordance with the Church's teaching, and also read, with a little effort, in accordance with a new view which is not compatible with the teaching of the Church (although this may depend on ignoring some of the document in question).

To avoid tiresome abstractions, let me give an example: Communion in the Hand (CITH). It was allowed, we all know, by Paul VI, though strictly speaking Memoriale Domini was an Instruction of the Congregation of Divine Worship. It is perfectly obvious that CITH points away from the Real Presence. It is, in fact, acknowledged by Memoriale Domini itself, which pleads that the practice be introduced, if at all, only after 'adequte catechesis':

The result of this catechesis should be to remove any suggestion of wavering on the part of the Church in its faith in the eucharistic presence.

By contrast, communion on the tongue evidently points towards the Real Presence: as Pope Benedict expressed it, it marks it with 'an exclamation point'.

That is not to say that CITH is propositionally incompatible with a the Real Presence: heck, it's a practise, not a proposition. And it can be favoured by those who genuinely believe in the Real Presence, on other grounds, though it is notable that these grounds do not derive directly from the teaching of the Church. They might include, for example, an ecumenical motive (to bring the practise of the Catholic Church into line with that of Protestants), a desire to emphasise Christian 'adulthood'; the idea that the traditional practise emphasised the Real Presence at the expense of other features of the liturgy or the Christian life; or that the old practise was just embarrassing.

This kind of thing raises the question: 'How bad does a novelty have to be (how emphatically must is point away from the teaching of the Church), how radically must it infringe normative tradition, on the one hand, and on the other hand how weak must be the arguments in favour of it, and the mandate of legitimate authority in favour of it, for it to be a duty to evade or criticise it?' In many cases, priests are involved in implementing the novelty, so they have a particularly stark version of the question to answer. One thing which is obvious is that there is no simple way to answer such questions. No one can propose a formula for weighing the different considerations against each other, or a scale of seriousness by which the different aspects can be assessed in themselves. Reasonable people, thoughtful people devoted to the good of the Church, will draw the line in different places. It is essential that we recognise that. It is essential that we recognise the good will of those who draw the line in different places than we do ourselves.

This recognition must, however, be carefully distinguished from an attempt to turn the issue into one of personal preferences. A lot of Neo-Cons say things like: 'I personally prefer Latin / Communion on the Tongue / whatever, but I don't criticise those who don't'. If CITH, or whatever it is, was a mistake, it was a mistake for everyone. If it was a good idea, then (certain cultural and historical situations aside), it is good for everyone. In either case, the reasons for and against have got nothing to do with personal tastes. It is a matter of theology, and perhaps of human psychology.

This may be hard for people to do, or for people who aren't used to the kind of disagreement academics engage in, but we have to hold these two things together: I can accept that my opponent on one of these issues is sincere while still maintaining he is objectively wrong. Again, I can maintain that the matter we are discussing is one of objective truth and of great importance, while still respecting the moral integrity of those who disagree with me. Of course, there are positions so extreme or poorly motivated that the integrity of those holding them is called into question, but not all positions except one's own are like that. There is at least a range of options which are not completely unreasonable, and this range is wider than the range which is objectively morally legitimate, and this latter range may well be wider than just one option.

A major source of disagreement on such matters is naturally the weight to assign different factors. No doubt those who accept and even promote CITH do not regard it as as damaging to belief in the Real Presence, as those who criticise CITH. How damaging it is to the faith of ordinary Catholics is an objective question, just one not easy to answer. Suppose it were very damaging, and many Catholics did not realise this, then their acceptance of the practise would be objectively wrong, but it would still be subjectively reasonable. They would not be committing a sin by accepting it, unless their failure to realise how bad it is was itself a result of sin (of negligence, say).

Saying such issues are matters of personal taste trivialises the issues. It also obscures the effect of the novelties on the Church as a community. The novelties affect everyone, even those who do not accept them (in this case, those who go on receiving on the tongue), because it affects the general tone and atmosphere, what actions are regarded as normal and what as eccentric or singular, and of course it affects people's beliefs. If the congregation in my local Church, or the parents involved in my local Catholic school, weaken in their faith, this is a problem for me. I can't just pretend nothing has happened, and carry on as normal.

This is clearly true also for attitudes to marriage. Already we have a situation when most parents sending their children to a Catholic school accept same-sex marriage, contraception, cohabitation, and remarriage after divorce, without annulment. Things have got so bad, in fact, that it is regarded as the height of straitlaced orthodoxy, to say of a case of institutionalised adultery, 'well, let's hope that they can get an annulment', as if the only correct view to take of a sinful lifestyle is to close our eyes and imagine, without any particular justification, that for obscure reasons it may not be as bad as it looks. A lot of things the Church has done at the institutional level, a lot of post 1960s novelties, have contributed to this collapse of the Faith by 'pointing away' from the Faith. The weakening of the Church's official opposition to civil divorce, and to mixed marriages for Catholics; the failure to preach against contraception; and a widespread collapse of discipline over who can receive Communion, or be involved in Church activities.

It is unimaginable that Pope Francis is going to reverse this trend when he publishes the Post-Synodal Exhortation. The only question is how far he will go in accommodating the Church still further to secular attitudes, thereby reinforcing them within the bosom of the Church. There has been little, if anything, lay Catholics or ordinary priests have been able to do to manifest a rejection or criticism of the policies which have led us to this pass, when those policies have been a matter of changes to Canon Law, to catechetical textbooks, or to Bishops' statements on forthcoming civil legislation. As far preaching about contraception, and refusing Communion to public sinners, the pressure on priests not to do such things has been intense, and there has been little lay Catholics could do to assist them.

Developments in the future may make it harder, or in some ways easier, to criticise novelties, but how it can be done depends, as I keep saying on this blog, on the precise form they take. On the recent change to Canon Law procedure, the accelerated process for annulments, the matter is in the hands of bishops. I doubt that it would be justified for individual priests to deny the Marriage Rite or Communion to a couple who had had a 'quickie annulment', and they'd be for the high jump if they tried it. What can lay Catholics do about it? Write blog posts, I suppose.

Over the last fifty years, resistance to novelties has coalesced into the movement in favour of the Traditional Catholic liturgy. Not all novelties, of course, have been liturgical, but one's ability to make a critical assessment of any of them is crippled if one is ideologically committed to a huge number of liturgical ones. This movement has provided a home, a friendly environment and a source of moral support, for both clergy and laity uncomfortable with a wide range of novelties. It is to this movement, in my view, that we must look for any kind of sustained, collective resistance, to the next things coming down the road.

IMG_6926The Stripping of the Altar, at the end of Mass on Maundy Thursday.Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.

20/03/2016 - 10:00

Reminder: Family Retreat 2016: 1-3rd April, with the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

Update: the two priests of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, from Papa Stronsay in the Orkneys, will preach on the theme of 'Eternal Truths':

1. The Importance of Salvation 
2. Confession – necessity of contrition for confession
3. Hell – Manifestation of the Justice of God 
4. Prayer – a means of salvation
5. Devotion to Our Lady – God’s gift to mankind.
Right after Easter the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat will take place: from the afternoon of Friday 1st to lunch on Sunday 3rd, at Ratcliffe College near Leicester. It will be led by Fr Magdala F.SS.R and Fr Jean F.SS.R from Papa Stronsay; there will be High Mass and other liturgies (Benediction, Vespers etc.) in the Extraordinary Form; as always there will be a Marian procession through the lovely grounds of the Oratory School; the priests will give spiritual conferences; there will be activities for children.

The theme of the conferences will be 'Eternal Truths'.

Don't get left out! Discounts available if the headline price is a problem.

Everyone is welcome; we call it a 'family retreat' because we make special provision for families, but no one is excluded! More details; online Retreat booking form; online Chant Course booking form.

IMG_9813A past Family Retreat in the Oratory School
Alongside it is the Gregorian Chant Network's annual Weekend Chant Course - a chance for something more than a day-long training session, with a bit of theory with the practice, and plenty of opportunity to sing 'for real', in the liturgy. Led by Colin Mawby and Dr Christopher Hodkinson.

All levels of experience, men and women, everyone is welcome! There are special discounts for groups coming from the same schola. All the details are here.

Bring your choir! Get up to speed together, and you'll be able to put it into practice right away when you get home. And it will be very cheap per head.


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19/03/2016 - 10:00

The right way to deal with offensive liturgical texts

IMG_0416Another photo of the Sung Mass last Sunday, Passion Sunday, at Holy Trinity, Hethe.The way to deal with offensive texts is to explain them. Such explanation may show that they are not, in fact, offensive, or it may show that they genuinely condemn something held dear by the offended person. If the enquirer is sincere, and the explanation is of the former kind, then he will be satisfied. If the explanation is of the latter kind, then he needs to hear it.

Thus, the claim is sometimes made that some or all of the Gospels are anti-Semitic, on the grounds of passages such as the cry of the crowd to Pilate, condemning Christ: 'His blood be on us and on our children' (Matthew 27:25). In his commentary on this verse, Pope Benedict points out that being sprinkled with Christ's blood has a very different meaning, for Christians, than acquiring blood guilt (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, p187). Pope Benedict refers, like St Thomas Aquinas in his own commentary on the passage, to the Letter to the Hebrews, contrasting the effects of the blood of Christ with that of the murdered Abel (Heb 12:24). I was reminded of this last Sunday, in the Extraordinary Form, when we heard an earlier passage from Hebrews (9:13f):

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

This observation turns any possible anti-Semitic usage of the text on its head, revealing a completely different way of looking at it. Whatever the crowd meant, and whoever the crowd actually comprised (as Benedict points out, the Chief Priests and a Zealot rent-a-mob wanting to free Barabas), the cry does have a mystical and enduring significance, like the saying of the Chief Priest that 'one man should die for the people' (John 11:50), and this is not something we need to hide from.

By contrast, when the claim is made that St Paul (eg in Romans 1:27) did not think that people sexually attracted to others of the same sex were morally entitled to lives of sexual self-expression and fulfilment, we have to say: Yes, he did think that, and the Church teaches it, and it is true. The caveats we need to make are not about St Paul's sexual ethics, but the question-begging and tendentious notion of 'sexual self-expression and fulfillment', the category of same-sex attraction itself, and all the rest of the machinery of modern liberal sexual ideology. But we know what they mean when they make the claim, and in their own terms they are perfectly correct. It is a matter of deep and bitter pain to many to be condemned in this way: to find themselves, as they understand themselves, condemned. But the Church does not exist to make people feel comfortable about their sinful ways of life. The fact that such people are often deeply vulnerable and in pain does, of course, affect how we address the issue, but it also points towards the failure of modern sexual ideology to give them any kind of peace. They need a route out of the way of thinking they have become trapped in, and it is not an act of mercy to withhold it from them.

The attitude of the ancient Latin liturgy towards those outside the Faith, whether they be heretics and schismatics, pagans, or Jews, is not of indifference. It is impassioned, pleading, and strongly-worded. We are not talking about subjective guilt necessarily, but of the objectively problematic situation of refusing the call, and of the somewhat different, but also problematic, sitution of not having heard the call. The reformed liturgy comes over as a trifle self-satisfied here, but we should not be. We should not be happy about the fact that the Gospel has not transformed the lives of any of our fellow human beings. We should not be happy that they do not have the sacraments, or that they are not in union with the Pope. We should, at least, pray for them.

This concludes, at least for now, my series on the Prayer for the Jews. I should reiterate what I said at the start of the series, that I did not particularly want to spend time on this issue, but that a Position Paper became necessary in light of the action of the Bishops of England and Wales asking the PCED is replace the existing version of the prayer in the Good Friday liturgy with the Novus Ordo equivalent. The question of the place of the Jews in the economy of salvation is not a constant topic of the Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass I know, any more than sex is a constant topic of conversation among Catholics in general. We don't minimise the importance of the issue; we are simply quite happy with the teaching of the Church about it. We are, however, forced to talk about it because of the obsession of our opponents, who want to attack us through this issue. I am reminded of one of my favourite letters to the Catholic press of all time:

If the Catholic Church is identified solely by its sexual moral precepts, it is largely due to those within the Church who persistently raise objections and maintain the the Church has got it wrong. It is a paradox that the ones who object are the ones who are doing the preaching, and perhaps we should be thankful to them for keeping the matter before our attention.

I hope that, for a good long while, I have said enough. There are plenty of other things to consider.

PS there is an excellent discussion of the issue by a Jewish commentator, Yoram Hazony, here.

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