Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

12/04/2018 - 10:00

Bishops have become strangers to each other: here’s why

The Tower of Babel (Wikipedia Commons)

Here's the feature article of mine published by the Catholic Herald last weekend. It's not on the website.


In the 1973 film Catholics,Martin Sheen—playing a Jesuit come to bring a remote Traditionalist monastery to heel—informs the abbot that Vatican IV has forbidden the Latin Mass and the Sacrament of Confession, except for mortal sins. Author Brian Moore’s dystopian vision has not come to pass, and one reason to doubt that it ever will is that if a future Pope wished to call a General Council, let alone two, the assembled bishops would not be able to communicate with each other. Unlike in 1962, when the Second Vatican Council opened, they do not have a common language.

Pope Benedict called Latin ‘the language of the Church’. Evelyn Waugh imagined a Catholic British army officer arranging a Requiem Mass for his wife, killed in the Blitz, in a foreign country with a local priest, in Latin: there being no other common language. C.S. Lewis conducted an extended correspondence with an Italian priest, now canonised, St Giovanni Calabria, in Latin, for the same reason. By the time of Vatican II fluency in Latin among prelates could no longer be taken for granted, and a lot of work was done by experts to compose speeches and brief bishops about the significance of debates. At least, in the 1960s, hundreds of such experts existed. Today, they do not.

Readers might assume that the Church can carry on as a kind of religious United Nations, with scores of translators in little boxes telling assembled bishops what is being said. But the real work at the UN and similar institutions is done in committees, where business is conducted as much as possible in a single, mutually comprehensible language. Senior diplomats, naturally, are able to communicate fluently in the most important languages of international institutions, above all in English.

The world’s bishops are not diplomats or linguists, and they have no common language. In Roman synods they are divided into language groups, which means that they will never effectively communicate with those they may most need to hear: those with significantly different cultures, experiences, and insights. The melding together of different views is not done by the bishops in discussion, but by the synod secretariat, in drawing up draft documents in Italian, which are then translated into various other languages. Hearing a translation of a translation of other bishops’ views, which may have been expressed in a second language the first time round, is a hardly a meeting of minds. This process is a terrible way to form a consensus, or draft a theologically precise document.

Proposing Latin as a means of communication may seem quixotic, but the problem with it—that many people would have to learn it—would not be avoided by choosing a modern vernacular. Should we work for the day when seminarians, and other educated Catholics, can exchange ideas in Italian? English? Spanish? We might as well learn Latin.

Latin’s advantages are huge, since it has been the Church’s language of administration, law, and teaching for fifteen centuries. It is impossible, in fact, to engage seriously with historic Catholic thought and culture without Latin. Furthermore, precisely because it is no-one’s cradle language, it gives no nation an unfair advantage. Italians and Spanish-speakers may find learning it a bit easier, but English-speakers receive a special benefit from engagement with language with Latin’s more formal grammar. They needn’t torture themselves with Cicero’s convoluted perorations or Virgil’s metrical metaphors, however, any more than business-users of English need to study Chaucer. Latin need not be hard.

St Giovanni Calabria. His correspondance with
C.S. Lewis has been published here.

This year, Pope Francis promulgated a new document on seminary education, Veritatis gaudium. It demands, like its many predecessors, that future priests learn Latin: not for the liturgy, but to the far higher standard required for studies. The few seminarians who actually do get a bit of Latin can learn some interesting things. While modern Church documents are drafted in a vernacular language, they generally have to be translated into Latin to go into the Church’s official records. This seems to have become an opportunity for a final review of the contents: things are toned down or tightened up. This process came into public view when it was revealed that the first, French, edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church took a significantly more accommodating line on lying than the later, but official, Latin version. On other occasions, a progressive spin has been given to texts when the official Latin is turned into English and other vernaculars: most notoriously with the documents of Vatican II, and with the ‘old ICEL’ translation of the Mass.

The problem is not Latin: the problem is the process of translation to and from a language that most educated Catholics cannot understand. It will not be solved until there is a language which most educated Catholics do understand. The Church needs a common language. The Church needs Latin.

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11/04/2018 - 10:00

Some thoughts on Jordan Peterson

My favourite Anglican theologian, Alastair Roberts, has written in some detail on Jordan Peterson, and in order to get to grips with his thought from a Christian perspective I recommend reading this post of his at least. For the benefit of my own readers--and, as often on this blog, to clarify my own thinking--I want to take a different approach, and say something reasonably brief on why Catholics should welcome, in part, and disagree, in part, with the Peterson phenomenon.

For it is indeed, a phenomenon. Sometimes these things are shortlived but Peterson is, at least by social media standards, an intellectual heavyweight, which I think will give him greater staying power. In any case, he is influencing a lot of people, and I think that over the next decade we will increasingly encounter young people, particularly men, who have been influenced by him. It's really that which motivates me to write. So what is it all about?

There is a practical and a theoretical aspect to his work. The practical stuff is about how self-discipline and an aspiration to objective value is necessary to have a decent life, in combination with a refusal to go along with a number of politically correct ideas. This is underpinned by the theoretical aspect of his thinking. What I've seen of this can be summarised, very crudely, as 'Jung meets evolutionary biology', and it is this which I want to talk about here.

Jungians take mythology and religion very seriously as psychological phenomena: they regard mythical and religious stories and world-views as embedding deep truths about human traits and the human condition. This YouTube video of Peterson's about the Easter message shows how he does it. Thus, human socialisation involves establishing a reputation for generosity and engaging in reciprocity, and this can be taken to a higher level in sacrificing things in the present for the future. This can in turn be represented in terms of sacrificing things for the sake God, in the hope that God will be good to us in the future. This kind of psychologising interpretation can be applied across the Bible and indeed to other religious traditions.

The dangers with this should be obvious. It is simply indifferent to the historical basis of the stories. It equally says nothing about the metaphysical reality of the actors in these stories: i.e., whether God actually exists. It represents an open invitation to distort the Christian message for the sake of shoe-horning it into a favoured psychological theory: Jung himself famously interpreted the newly-proclaimed Dogma of the Assumption as raising Our Lady to membership of the Blessed Trinity. And it consistently leaves out the operation of grace: as Alastair Roberts points out, it is Pelagian. Unless you commit yourself to God being a real actor in the human story, you can't expect Him to intervene to help you out, even in the subtlest ways.

On the other hand, it is nice to hear someone talking about Biblical ideas with interest and respect, and by no means is all of the genuine message lost in Peterson's retelling. The mere fact that the Bible is being brought into the conversation is a huge opportunity for the Church, and we must be ready to engage with the interest Peterson arouses and correct what needs to be corrected. One of the interesting aspects of this is that Peterson's quest for his own brand of psychological insights leads him away from a historical-critical or liberal interpretation. Thus, when God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Peterson is not concerned to explain this away or ignore it. He says, rather: well, the real world is like that, isn't it? Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you are most attached to.

What Peterson is doing goes back to Kant, who looked for moral allegories in Scripture. Christ is the Ideal Man and so on. Kant's approach influenced the liberal tradition of interpretation which claims that brotherly love and the Golden Rule comprise the 'real message' of Jesus, and not any of that stuff about being God or sacrificial offerings. Peterson's interpretation is different, because his own moral outlook is different: and maybe because he's a bit more sensitive towards the authentic message of the Bible.

The Jungian stuff is, of course, also far from new, and one thing readers should be aware of is the weaknesses of Jungianism as a psychological model. Jung's standards of clinical research were abysmal, and if Freud's conclusions were sped by his cocaine habit, Jung tried to confirm his conclusions by dabbling in the occult. Both Freud and Jung made the fatal error of assuming that other people's psychologies were like their own, as Dr Pravin Thevasathan has pointed out in his CTS booklet on mental health.

Again, Modern students of mythology are prone to dismiss the whole whole world of psychological interpretation, which includes J. G. Frazer's Golden Bough, Joseph Campbell, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Bly, as being too dependent on selective reading and wishful thinking: they only find patterns by ignoring the bits which don't fit. The putative psychological insights, of course, must stand or fall on their own merits.

A related weakness of Jung is the theory of the collective unconscious. This is the idea that we all have similar or identical ideas at the backs of our minds, of the king and the witch and the mother and the dragon and what not, and it is not that these derive from experience and story-telling, but that the experience and story-telling are explained in large part by these 'architypes' already in our minds. Put explicitly this sounds pretty ludicrous, and so indeed it is. It ignores cultural differences, for one thing; more fundamentally, there is no mechanism for such ideas to be passed on from one generation to another, except by teaching.

To hear Peterson and other Jungians talking about first the development and then the mysterious passing on of complex cultural artifacts, such as the idea of the hero, is ultimately to listen to a fairy-tale.

But here, Peterson hopes, evolutionary biology can come to the rescue, at least in some part, by its claim that patterns of behaviour, as well as the length of our legs or the size of our brains, have been honed and developed by the demands of survival over thousands of generations. At this point Catholic readers shouldn't be too frightened off by the idea of the evolution of human nature, problematic though that can certainly be, because the role this idea has in the argument for present purposes is simply to reaffirm that there is such a thing as human nature. People are not just organic machines which can be programmed in infinitely many ways. No: we have instincts and aspirations built in, and there are therefore certain ways of living which work, which lead to happy individuals and communities, and others which just don't. Among the ways of living which are simply hard-wired into human nature, on this view, are some pretty old-fashioned thoughts about gender roles and - a particular theme of Peterson - social hierarchy.

So Peterson's Jungian psychology, turbo-charged with evolutionary psychology, is a friend of social conservatism. It reaffirms the importance of the stories, myths and rituals of our religion and culture. It underpins traditional models of the family and society. It teaches that traditional morality, self-restraint and self-sacrifice have value. In all cases the value these things are said to have is ultimately value for the self: for mental health, for happiness. One could see it as a kind of Aristotelianism, a civilised morality of virtue and happiness. All the time, the truth of our religious claims is left hanging. Peterson is an agnostic. But worse than that, the Jungian and other influences he exhibits prompt him to place meaning ahead of the outside world. Meaning is imposed on reality: this isn't subjectivism, however, because we are all imposing the same meaning, or at least something sufficiently similar, because of our shared human nature/ Jungian architypes/ evolutionary behaviour patterns.

Ultimately, Peterson and his disciples are trapped in a universe whose meaningfullness is, or could very easily be, the product of collective fantasy, perhaps driven by the imperatives of the evolutionary struggle. This may seem preferable to a universe whose lack of meaning is laid starkly bare, as it is for too many young people growing up without religion or culture. But it is a lot closer to it than may at first be apparent.

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09/04/2018 - 14:19

Family Retreat 2018: photographs


The St Catherine's Trust annual Family Retreat took place last weekend, led by two priests of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, Canon Amaury Montjeand and Canon Scott Tanner. They were joined on Saturday by Br Albert Robertson who was subdeacon at High Mass.


As always it was attended by many children - more than ever, in fact. The retreat is structured to make it possible for families to attend to attend together.


Alongside the Retreat the Gregorian Chant Network has its Chant Training Weekend: the singers attending this sing at the Retreat's liturgies. The Chant was led by Chris Hodkinson and Matthew Ward.








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02/04/2018 - 12:00

London Triduum Photographs


I attended all of the Triduum in St Mary Moorfields, organised by the Latin Mass Society, this year, for the first time.

Taking the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday

Prostration on Good Friday

The Passion on Good Friday
The 'crowd' (turba) sung polyphonically by the crowd during the Passion
Revealing the Crucifix

Venerating the Crucifix

The Blessed Sacrament, from the Altar of Repose
Blessing the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil
Processing back into church
Candlelit interior during the Vigil
Newly blessed water for the baptismal font
Easter Vigil Gospel
Final blessing

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29/03/2018 - 15:33

Update on LMS Latin Course, 30th July to 3rd August 2018


Dates: 30th July to 3rd August 2018

The Latin Mass Society’s Residential Latin Course for adults is an intensive course, taught by two experienced tutors, focusing on the Latin of the liturgy.

It is ideal for priests and seminarians wishing to improve their Latin, and all clerics and seminarians (and those about to enter seminary) enjoy a 50% discount on the course fees, which are extremely low anyway.

They are joined by lay men and women who wish to engage more closely with the ancient Latin liturgy, or do studies involving Latin.

This year's course will differ not in content but in other ways from recents years;
New Venue: since Pantasaph Retreat Centre closed, the Latin Course will take place in the Carmelite Retreat Centre at Boars Hill outside Oxford.
Duration and price: it will be Monday to Friday, not Monday to Saturday. We are passing on a significant saving to students.
New tutor: Fr Hunwicke, of the Ordinariate, will lead it as before, but as Fr Richard Bailey can't make it we will be joined by a layman, Jean van der Stegen, who teaches at the London Lycee and has a remarkable number of linguistic interests - see his personal website.
For more details, and booking, see the LMS website here.
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28/03/2018 - 13:18

New tutor for the Chant Weekend, 6-8th April


The Gregorian Chant Network's annual Chant Training Weekend will take place in the Oratory School, near Reading, 6-8th April.

There is a change of tutors to announce: sadly Fr Guy Nichols, who was one of the two tutors last year, can't make it. Instead we will be joined by Matthew Ward, who is Director of Music at Mayfield School.

Full details of the course, and booking, is here.

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24/03/2018 - 22:58

Online radio from the Friars at Gosport

High Mass at St Mary's, Gosport

Cross-psted from Rorate Caeli.

See : explained below.

“Ierusalem, Ierusalem, covertere ad Dominum, Deum tuum”
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord, thy God.”
This is the gut-wrenching cry we hear at the Office of Tenebrae during the Paschal Triduum at the end of the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah. Jerusalem - the Holy City of God; where the faithful of the Lord are supposed to dwell are called to turn back and face the Lord once again. The Lamentations of Jeremiah are rather disquieting as one hears the miseries of a people who have abandoned the Lord, of Jerusalem whose destruction is close at hand.
 We could almost lament like the prophet Jeremiah about the situation of the Church in our times. We live in a time where the Church, “that Jerusalem which is above” (CCC 757) has in many of her members turned away from the Lord. Robert Cardinal Sarah during a visit to Belgium in early February even descried how high-ranking prelates in the Church are guilty of a “new betrayal” and have “abandoned” God. Cardinal Sarah has spoken on many occasions about a return the traditional practice of receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament kneeling and on the tongue. The forgetting of our rich Tradition in the Church has led to a crisis in faith – particularly in the Blessed Sacrament. Modern society has been enslaved by the ‘chief vice’ which is pride; this pride is what causes man to stop kneeling before his God, to say that he no longer needs God for his Father nor Mary for his Mother, the same pride which caused Lucifer to be cast out of heaven.
 For our times, it is key that we hear the cry to turn back to the Lord, our God. To do this will require humility; for us to truly be man and stop vying for the place of God. This is surely why we have seen a growth in religious orders, institutes and confraternities who faithfully offer the Tridentine Mass. The Mass of the Ages which expresses in a greater way the True Presence of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. We must turn back to belief in the True Presence. We must turn back to True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
 To that end the Marian Franciscans of Gosport have within the month launched an all new Radio App for Radio Immaculata – the 24/7 radio station run by the Friars. It has been encouraging news to hear that this year the pre-Pius XII Holy Week will be in use again around the country, and during the Paschal Triduum this liturgy will be broadcast LIVE out of St. Mary’s in Gosport on Radio Immaculata ( The Friars wish this radio station to ‘Bring Forth Christ through Mary’, with the aim of assisting Catholics to turn back faithfully to the Lord in these times of trial for the Church and our world by devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
 Do download the Radio Immaculata App, available on both Android and Apple devices and encourage others to do so too. Let us do all we can in these times to heed to those unsettling words we will hear ringing through our ears during the Triduum – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord, thy God!  The programme for Holy Week will be as follows:

Maundy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, 29th March 16:00

  • Good Friday Solemn Liturgy, 30th March 17:00
  • Holy Saturday Paschal Vigil, 31st March 14:00
  • Easter Sunday Holy Mass, 01st April 17:00


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22/03/2018 - 15:45

Introducing the Vademecum Peregrini

Buy it from the LMS online shop here
or from Lulu, the printer, here.

We created this booklet for pilgrims on the Walsingham Pilgrimage, but it was always intended to be of wider application, containing information, Mass propers, and special hymns and prayers for Latin Mass Society Pilgrimages to York, Oxford, and Holywell, as well as notes about many others.

After much expansion, revision, and correction, we can now offer this to the general public. If you get a copy and subsequently decide to come on the Walsingham Pilgrimage, you can bring it with you and save a few pounds on your fee.

It contains the Ordinary of the Mass, the same version as the LMS Ordinary Prayers booklet, a number of Mass Propers (prayers and readings) used in pilgrimages, and a great many prayers and devotions useful on pilgrimage and elsewhere: for Communion, for Confession, the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary (with traditional meditations on each Mystery), the Seven Penitential Psalms, and lots more.

In addition is has a huge amount of music in it. Not re-set Chant settings for Mass, but chants, hymns, and songs 'for the road': including the best of traditional Catholic, the most familiar non-Catholic hymns which have become part of our country's common musical and spiritual heritage, and great hymns from Ireland, the USA, Australia, and the Chartres Pilgrimage.

It is 270 pages, in a narrow 'pocketbook' format that - as its name suggests - fits into a pocket.

Where else will you find settings of the Hail Mary suitable for singing the Rosary, in English, Latin, and French?

The Litany of the Saints, of Loreto, of the Sacred Heart, and St Joseph, in Latin, with the music?

The Song of the English Zouaves, sung by the British defenders of the Pope in 1860, with a musical setting by our Patron, Colin Mawby?

Rousing songs to overcome the miles at the end of a long day's walking, such as Men of Harlech, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Rule Britania?

All with an Imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Westminster!

We've found it convenient to upload it to the print-on-demand service Lulu, which has printing facilities all over the world. If you are overseas, buy it from Lulu and it will print it locally to you, ovoiding overseas postage.

£9.99 + p&p:
from the LMS online shop here
or direct from Lulu, the printer, here.

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21/03/2018 - 08:52

Walsingham Pilgrimage: early bird offer till Easter!


Get a 10% discount on the fees for the 2018 LMS Walking Piligrimage to Walsingham, until Easter: 1st April. Don't miss out!


The dates are 23th to 26th August (the Bank Holiday weekend): meeting on the evening of the 23rd, and finishing in the afternoon of Sunday 26th.


Walking the 58 miles from Ely to Walsingham with about 60 others, with the Traditional Mass, is an unforgettable experience. This year we will be accompanied by Fr Michael Rowe of Perth, Australia, and Fr James Mawdsley FSSP as our Chaplains.


Our Pilgrim's Handbook - the Vademecum Peregrini - is corrected and revised with the best selection of chants and songs for the road, traditional devotions, and information about this and other pilgrimages.


Book here.



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19/03/2018 - 09:08

Easter Triduum in London; Lassus Tenebrae

Cross posted from Rorate Caeli.

The Holy Fire is lit outside the church's back door, from which it is a short procession
through the streets of the City of London to the church's front door.

This Holy Week in London, a rare opportunity to experience one of the oldest services in the Catholic Church along with a feast of sacred music rarely sung in its proper context.

Beginning on ‘Spy Wednesday’ with the ancient office of Tenebrae, The Latin Mass Society will be celebrating Holy Week with a wealth of traditional Latin liturgy at St. Mary Moorfields in the heart of the City of London.This year’s Triduum celebration will be directed by professional musician and classical pianist, Matthew Schellhorn with his group ‘Cantus Magnus.’
Matthew Schellhorn, the LMS Director of Music for London, said:

“It is once again a great pleasure to be making the musical preparations for the Latin Mass Society’s flagship celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the Archdiocese of Westminster.

“Music by Franco-Flemish renaissance Orlande de Lassus (1532–94) will enhance the Office of Tenebrae, which will be particularly special with not only the haunting four-part Responseries but also the great five-part Lamentations of Jeremiah. These glorious masterpieces, date from the 1580s.

“As in past years, I have included well known repertoire in order to draw upon the rich treasury of Sacred Music in the Church’s possession. Along with further works by Lassus, repertoire will come from the English Renaissance  – William Byrd (c.1539/40 or 1543 – 1623) – and the Italian Renaissance and Baroque – Felice Anerio (ca.1560–1614) and Giuseppe Ottavio Pitoni (1657–1743).

“I also like to introduce less familiar masterpieces, with a view to enriching the experience of those who attend year on year. In this way, the English Emancipation-period composer John Richardson (1816–79) will provide our Reproaches on Good Friday, and the French Romantic and Twentieth-Century organist-composers Jacques-Louis Battmann (1818–1886) and Théodore Dubois (1837–1924) will provide uplifting fare for the Easter Vigil. These works are rarely heard, and it has been rewarding to prepare special editions from the sources – a musical resurrection, if you will!”

Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society says “ 'I am delighted that the Latin Mass Society continues to make a unique contribution to the liturgical life of the capital in putting on these services, with the solemnity and the excellent musical accompaniment which they deserve.'

The Holy Week services commence with Tenebrae at 21.00 on Wednesday 28th March and continue until the great celebration of the Easter Vigil at 18:00 on Saturday 31st March.

As well as the services at St Mary Moorfields, Traditional Triduum liturgies will be celebrated at churches throughout the country. Details of Holy Week Mass listings are:

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