Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

07/02/2019 - 10:00

Is repentance possible?

My latest on LifeSiteNews. It begins:
Today, entire bishops' Conferences appear to be telling people that living according to God’s law is impossible for Catholics in so-called irregular unions. I say ‘appear’ to be telling people this, but if they don’t really mean this, should they not then clear up the confusion?
The answer to that question seems obvious enough. Less obvious, however, is the answer to the question: How did things come to this? How could it have come about that vast numbers of Catholics — from ordinary faithful to bishops, cardinals, and even the pope — should feel it possible, and apparently praiseworthy, to render systematically unclear, if not explicitly to deny, the seriousness of fundamental moral principles, like the Sixth Commandment – Thou shall not commit adultery?
It has never been part of the Church’s teaching or pastoral practice to ignore the difficulties faced by sinners in changing their lives. Among the greatest saints, we find those who went through the most painful processes of conversion, such as St. Mary Magdalen, St. Mary of Egypt, and St. Augustine of Hippo: in modern times we find the example of Alessandro Serenelli, the murderer of St Maria Goretti, among many others. Humanly, what they did would seem impossible, but Christ tells us, speaking of the difficulties some have in reaching heaven: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
The Church exists, in fact, to make available the means which God has provided to make the impossible possible. What Christ was able to do for St. Mary Magdalen, to stimulate her repentance and to cleanse her from her sins, is available in the Church today. The hearts of sinners can be reached by the example of the saints, by grace flowing from the liturgy, by preaching, by means of sacramental confession and absolution. All of these are a means to cleansing the human heart of the heaviest sins and restore it to friendship with God.
Read it all there.

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06/02/2019 - 10:00

Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat, Spring 2019: photos and report

Cross-posted from the Guild of St Clare blog.


This year's spring Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat, like last year's, took place in the snow: last time it was the 'Beast from the East' in early March. By now we knew the route up Boars Hill which doesn't turn into a toboggan run for cars, so the disruption was manageable. I had even bought the car some 'snow socks' and other widgets for bad weather, which came in handy.


The last day of the Retreat, Sunday, also happened to be St Blaise's feastday, and we had the Blessing of Throats.


Lots of sewing was done, and various large projects for the Latin Mass Society and others were brought closer to completion. The Retreat was sold out--numbers are limited--and much edified by Fr Edward van den Burgh's spiritual conferences, Masses, and other devotions, and also by his joining in the sewing himself! He went home with advice on the repairs of one liturgical item he had brought with him and completed repairs on others.


Many thanks to the Guild of St Clare for organising another successful retreat!

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05/02/2019 - 15:46

Children at Mass: against Fr Michael White

An infant receiving the Blessing of Throats on the Feast of St Blase, during the
Guild of St Clare Sewing Retreat, at Boars Hill, Oxford.

I've written a fair amount on this topic on this blog; here is a piece I've done for LifeSiteNews.

It begins:

In a blog post on January 26, Fr. Michael White got himself into hot water by criticizing parents who bring their young children to Mass. 
In an article titled “Why we don’t encourage (little) kids in Church” he wrote: “There is something in Catholic Church culture that insists kids belong in the sanctuary [church?] for Mass. I must say I don’t totally understand it, but it is definitely a Catholic thing. Part of the thinking is that sheer exposure to the service imbues them with grace and other good things in some kind of effortless and mindless sort of way. But if they can’t understand the readings and they cannot take Communion, it is unclear what they are ‘receiving’ Sacramentally.”
Fr. White, who is pastor of Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland, even quotes Scripture to back himself up: “Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women and those children old enough to understand” (Nehemiah 8:3).
I was puzzled by this quotation because it appears to contradict another with which Fr. White should be familiar, as it is quoted with approval by Christ (and in relation to children taking part in what amounts to a liturgical event: Christ’s entry into Jerusalem): “Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise” (Psalm 8.3: see Matthew 21.15-16).
Even more directly comparable is Joel 2.15-7:
Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather together the people, sanctify the church, assemble the ancients, gather together the little ones, and them that suck at the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bridal chamber.
“Those who suck at the breasts” are invited to the Prophet Joel’s penitential liturgy. Are they really excluded from the High Priest Ezra’s solemn reading of the Law?
The puzzle over these conflicting passages evaporates, however, when one notices that the word “children” does not actually appear in the text of Nehemiah. The Latin says simply “in conspectu virorum et mulierum et sapientium”: “in the sight of men and of women and of the wise”. Looking at the Bible Hub where multiple translations can be seen side by side, it is clear that Fr. White went to a lot of trouble to find one which mentions children. It is possible that “men and women” refers to Jews, and the extra clause refers to sympathetic non-Jews. In any case, if the meaning is unclear, we must refer back to precedents, for Nehemiah is re-enacting the solemn reading of the Law found in Deuteronomy 31.12:
And the people being all assembled together, both men and women, children and strangers, that are within thy gates.
(See also Joshua 8.35 and 2 Kings 23.1-2.) It is hardly plausible to claim that Nehemiah wanted to exclude those explicitly included by Moses.
Read it all there.

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03/02/2019 - 11:12

Dialogos Institute colloquium 2019: Integralism


The Second Vatican Council spoke of the “traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ”. Over the course of the last seventeen hundred years this his duty has been realised in many different ways. In recent years the concept of Integralism has inspired renewed interest and controversy. This summer eight scholars from around the world will gather in Norcia to consider the vision and the reality of a broad cross section of integrally Christian societies.

SPEAKERS include Prof Tom Pink, Fr Thomas Crean, Dr Alan Fimister and Fr Edmund Waldstein.

Full details here.
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02/02/2019 - 15:54

Covington: don't blame social media

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

People looking at social media over the first 48 hours of the story were presented with a wall of vituperation directed at the Covington boys, and this very naturally influenced their response. However, social media also speeded up the dissemination of a fuller set of evidence. In the old days of newspapers, steam-trains, and telegraphs, there was still a gap between initial, slanted reports of events, and later, fuller information, and still the urge among commentators to make statements before the fuller information became available: if it ever did.

Read the whole thing there.

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01/02/2019 - 11:10

St Albert the Great Summer School at Norcia 2019 on the Gospel of John

June 16th – 28th In Norcia, Italy

Full details here.

The St. Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies will hold its 8th annual summer theology session in Norcia, Italy, in partnership with the Monastero San Benedetto in monte. This summer’s program will be focused on a close reading of the first eight chapters of the Gospel of John, supported by the commentary of St. Thomas Aquinas on this Gospel.
The St. Albert the Great Center is dedicated to the revival of higher studies in theology undertaken according to the mind and method of the great scholastics, and in particular the work of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The tutors guiding the 2019 program include: Rev. Dr. Thomas Crean, O.P. of the Dominican priory in Leicester, England; Rev. Dr. Yosyp Veresh, a Byzantine Catholic priest of the Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo (Ukraine); Dr. Alan Fimister, who is Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.
Besides the daily seminars and lectures offered by the tutors, there will be a guest lecture by one of the monks of the Monastero di San Benedetto. The two-week program reaches its climax in an authentic scholastic disputation, moderated by one of the tutors.
In addition to the academic program, there is the opportunity to participate in the daily life of worship of the Benedictine monks who live and pray at the birthplace of Ss. Benedict & Scholastica, including Mass and the prayers of the Divine Office.
There will be an optional excursion planned. The destination is still to be confirmed, but will likely be as in the past either Assisi or Orvieto, where Thomas lived for a time. Participants are encouraged to plan for extra time before or after the program in order to explore Rome.
Full details here.
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29/01/2019 - 09:44

John Houghton Schola launched at Maiden Lane

Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, in London, following recent restoration.

The Latin Mass Society's new London Chant Schola, the Schola Cantorum Ioannis Hougton, has now had its first rehearsal and accompanied its first Mass.


The Masses at 6:30pm on Mondays at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane present a problem from the musical point of view because London-based singers find it difficult to get there in time for an extended rehearsal before Mass starts, after their work day. So the Houghton Schola rehearses on the previous Friday evening, in the Latin Mass Society's Office. I attended the first of these myself, as did the Schola's Chaplain, the usual celebrant at the Maiden Lane Masses, Fr Gabriel Diaz Patri.

The Schola's eight members turned out to have every level of experience--from 'lots' to 'none'--and it will be very interesting to see them develop as a group. The first Mass went extremely well, thanks to the seriousness of the singers and the preparation and leadership of Matthew Schellhorn, its director and the Latin Mass Society's Director of Music for London.

The Schola's next dates in Maiden Lane are (Mondays)

18th Feb; 11th March; 15th April; 13th May; 10th June.

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23/01/2019 - 15:01

Cafeteria Catholics won't save the Church

My latest on LifeSiteNews

It is often said in the context of the clerical abuse crisis that the laity must act, or be given responsibility. It is natural enough, in reaction to a problem arising with one part of the Church, to hope for salvation from another, and there are some wonderful historical examples of lay action to deal with clerical failures. 
My personal favorite is the action of the laity between 1268 and 1271, during the time of the longest conclave (Papal election) in the Church’s history, which took place in the town of Viterbo. Becoming impatient with the Cardinals’ inability to agree on a new Pope, the town authorities locked them into their meeting room, and proceeded to remove the roof and restrict their diet to bread and water. Something similar had already happened in the conclave of 1241.
Such rough handling of Princes of the Church must be seen in the context of the cheerful physicality of the Middle Ages, but the general principle is simply that the laity have, if they stop to think about it, all kinds of ways of making their needs and desires forcefully known to their pastors.
There have been various actions by the American laity in recent months to protest against past crimes and present foot-dragging, but vigorous action by the laity is impeded by a number of factors.

Continue reading on LifeSite.

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21/01/2019 - 15:40

Prof Tom Pink this Friday: talk in London

Friday 25th, 7pm

Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London W1B 5LZ

Click for a map.

Prof Tom Pink: The Church and the World

The first of a 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., takes place in the basement of Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory, Warwick Street, London on Friday 25th January at 7pm. The speaker will be Prof. Tom Pink on The Church and the World’

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.

Facebook event

Info on the LMS website

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20/01/2019 - 10:00

Can we believe the bishops?

My latest on LifeSiteNews.

A taster.

Catholics today find themselves in an institutional Church whose keynote appears to be moral cowardice. Those failing to display its telltale symptoms are weeded out of seminaries or, as priests, are dumped in marginal parishes. Only those willing to play the game are encouraged and promoted.
At first, all that is asked of them is to turn a blind eye to problems that they have no power to address: indeed, they know well that to make a fuss does no good to the victims, only harm to oneself. But as time goes on, more is asked of them. Playing the game means brushing off victims and their families. It means covering up. It means lying. It means facilitating abuse. It means, even for those who don’t themselves abuse, getting into the swamp right up to the neck.

Read it all there.

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