Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

22/10/2018 - 18:11

Making Oxford's Streets sacred again

The Latin Mass Society held its annual Pilgrimage to Oxford last Saturday.


In the 19th century a surprisingly broad cross-section of Anglicans incorporated into their thinking the notion of sacred space, leading to a new conception of what churches should be like: a conception which harked back to many old churches' Catholic past. This conception of sacred space had a natural parallel in the idea of processions. This was also the historical moment when Catholic church-building and processions began to be largely untrammelled by legal restrictions, so Catholics, less surprisingly, were doing the same things at the same time. For about a century England saw an amazing number of these, and then they suddenly almost died out in the 1970s.


The idea of sacred space implies that one place can be a better one than another for prayer not just because it is convenient and quiet but because it is holy. When our churches are consecrated there are lots of prayers and ceremonies which call down God's blessing on the building with this idea in mind. But consecration by a bishop is not the only factor: it will also particularly please God to answer our prayers if the place where we are praying is associated with the lives and sufferings of his saints. It is natural therefore to build churches at the sites of martyrdoms (the origin of St Peters and of many ancient Roman churches) and to bring relics of the saints into them. We can also go out to such sites, such as do not, yet, have churches built over them.


The site of the Catholic martyrdoms of 1589 was the Town Gallows, now occupied (approximately) by 100 Holywell Street. Four brave men, two priests and two laymen, made the ultimate witness to the Catholic Faith there, and we can witness to the Faith we share with them by going there in procession. When there the cleric with us says the Collect from the Mass of the Martyrs of England and Wales, and we sing the Church's hymn of thanksgiving, the Te Deum.


This year the sun shone and numbers were higher than they have been for quite a few years, with 70 in church and a very creditable 35 people processing through Oxford's tourists and shoppers.

Many thanks to the Prior and Community of Blackfriars for hosting us, and to Fr Lawrence Lew OP for celebrating the Mass, and to Mrs Shaw for providing lunch for pilgrims in Blackfriars' Aula.


Read more about the martyrs and this event here.

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19/10/2018 - 11:30

Oxford Pilgrimage 20th October 2018

This is tomorrow!

Join us for the Latin Mass Society's annual pilgrimage in honour of Oxford's Catholic martyrs, particularly those of 1589 whose site of martyrdom, where 100 Holywell Street now stands, we will be visiting.

11am Dominican Rite High Mass
Followed by refreshments in the Aula in Blackfriars
2pm Procession from Carfax to Holywell Street, and back to Blackfriars
4pm Benediction
With the Newman Consort directed by Alex Lloyd
Missa Quem dicunt homines Antonius Divitis 1475-1530
Laetamini in Domino Jacob Regnart 1540-1599
Dominican Chant with the Schola Abelis of Oxford directed by Dominic Bevan
A recent High Mass in Blackfriars in the Dominican Rite

These pilgrimages are an occasion when we take the Faith out into the streets of Oxford. Last year we went to the site of the 1610 martyrdom of Bl George Nichols, a priest, in the Oxford Castle complex. This year we'll be going to where the town gallows used to stand, outside the portion of the city walls which are still preserved in New College gardens. The junction of Holywell Street, Manor Road, and Longwall Street was called 'Hangman's Corner' within living memory, and four beatified martyrs made their heavenly nativity there in 1589.

The procession last year, with a processional statue of Our Lady of Walsingham

In 2008, the pilgrimage included the blessing of a newly installed plaque marking the site of these martyrdoms, by Bishop Kenny, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Blessing of plaque

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15/10/2018 - 20:04

Newman Colloquium: a new project in Oxford

Once a month the Newman Colloquium will be presenting a 'conversation' before an audience on a matter of Catholic interest. I am delighted to be part of this project and will be the interlocutor for some of our guest speakers. The first is the excellent Michael Wee of the Anscombe Centre, and we will be talking about 'Humanae Vitae at 50'.

It will take place in the newly refurbished parish hall at SS Gregory & Augustine's, on Saturday 27th October, from 3:45pm.

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14/10/2018 - 10:00

Bishop Genn's fear of Traditionalists

Published on LifeSiteNews. The article begins:

Despite the fact that his diocese is desperately short of vocations, Bishop Genn of Münster recently declared: “I can decidedly say I don’t care for pre-conciliar types of clerics, and also I will not consecrate them.”

This is not an uncommon attitude, and it is not limited to Germany. I have heard stories from the English seminary, St. Cuthbert’s College at Ushaw, now closed for lack of custom, that superiors were so concerned to root out conservatively-minded candidates for the priesthood that they would watch how they held their hands during Mass. If they folded them prayerfully, this went on the record as a mark against them. Seminarians would meet to say the Rosary in each others’ rooms, in secret, for fear this subversive activity would get them into trouble, and hide theology books by Joseph Ratzinger.

This attitude seems to go beyond a simple matter of theological disagreement. Signs of conservatism are regarded as akin to signs of leprosy, and indeed, it is not uncommon to hear theological conservatism or traditionalism compared to mental illness. It should be said that this attitude is much less bad, at least in the English-speaking world, than it was a generation ago, but it has not gone away, and it is striking that a German bishop should embrace it so openly.

While I lack any special information about Bishop Genn, I think I can shed light on the phenomenon as a whole. The language commonly used about young conservatives and traditionalists – “rigid,” “conformists,” “authoritarian,” “clericalist” – are related to trends in psychiatry which were influential in the decades after the Second World War. Here is a typical description of the “authoritarian personality” published in 1970 (Peter Kelvin, The Bases of Social Behaviour):

Read it all there.
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13/10/2018 - 10:00

Welcome Princess Alexandra of Hanover to the Roman Catholic Church

Published on LifeSiteNews: the article begins:

Every now and then a closer or more distant blood relation of Britain’s Queen becomes a Catholic, and in doing so is removed from the "line of succession." This is one of the last legal remnants of a system of anti-Catholic discrimination which once saw Catholics banned from living in London and becoming army officers, long after the bloody persecution ended. It means that however unlikely it might have been in any case, swimming the Tiber washes off the theoretical possibility that you could become King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Recently, it was the turn of Princess Alexandra of Hanover, who at 19 has adopted the Catholic religion of her mother.

Princess Alexandra is rather more closely related to the houses of Hanover and of Monaco than to Britain’s House of Windsor, and she probably gave this aspect of her conversion little thought. Somewhat closer to the British throne was Lord Nicholas Windsor, who was received into the Church in 2001; he gave an interview to LifeSiteNews in 2011.

Catholics are excluded from the line of succession by the Act of Settlement of 1701; Britain’s monarch is, after all, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Catholics are the Act’s targets, because it was passed in the aftermath of the English Revolution of 1688 (called by its supporters the “Glorious” Revolution), which saw the overthrow of the Catholic King James II. The greater friendliness of his brother and predecessor King Charles II to Catholicism and to the leading Catholic power of the time, France, led to the anti-Catholic moral panic of the fraudulent Titus Oates plot. When the Catholic James II had a son, and so looked set to establish a Catholic monarchy for the foreseeable future, a group of powerful Protestant nobles staged a coup.
Read it all on LifeSiteNews

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12/10/2018 - 15:40

The cultural front-line in Oxford

I have a piece on the Catholic Herald website. It begins:

Recently I spent many hours on the front line of the new evangelisation. In a formerly Christian country, Britain, where the cultural achievements of the Church are still remembered and appreciated, at least by some, I was working on the via pulchritudinis: the “way of beauty”.

As Pope St John Paul II expressed it in 2003 (Ecclesia in Europa 60):

“Nor should we overlook the positive contribution made by the wise use of the cultural treasures of the Church. … artistic beauty, … a sort of echo of the Spirit of God, is a symbol pointing to the mystery, an invitation to seek out the face of God made visible in Jesus of Nazareth.”

Where was I? At Oxford University’s Freshers’ Fair, as I am every year, recruiting singers for a Gregorian Chant schola named after an Oxford student who died for the Faith, Blessed Thomas Abel.

Read the whole thing there.

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10/10/2018 - 10:00

Ouellet replies to Viganó

October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Those observing the developing controversy which has followed Archbishop Viganó’s extraordinary denunciation of Pope Francis had their patience rewarded by an official response from a leading Cardinal, the Canadian Marc Ouellet. As Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops since 2010, he is uniquely qualified to confirm or deny what is perhaps the central factual claim of Viganó’s testimony. This is that in 2009 or 2010 (I quote from Viganó’s testimony):
Pope Benedict had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the Cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.
(McCarrick had retired at the usual age from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. in 2007. On June 20, 2018, he was stripped of the title of Cardinal in light of allegations that he had sexually abused a minor. He retains the rank of Archbishop.)
This claim is explosive because following the election of Pope Francis, McCarrick was, as one journalist approvingly expressed, “back in the mix and busier than ever,” having been “more or less put out to pasture” by Pope Benedict.
Archbishop Viganó made a special point in his testimony of pointing to Cardinal Ouellet, among others, as able to corroborate his claims. In a second public letter, he addressed Cardinal Ouellet directly:
Your Eminence, before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.

Read more on LifeSiteNews

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09/10/2018 - 17:05

Peter Kwasniewski: Visit to England 26th to 30th October

Prof. Peter Kwasniewski, a prolific blogger, author, and writer for LifeSiteNews, is visiting England later this month, with a brand new book:
Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile.
Professor Kwasniewski will be at the following events:
26th Oct, Friday, Oxford: High Mass 6pm followed by book launch, SS Gregory & Augustine's, Woodstock Road, Oxford
27th Oct, Saturday, Aylesford: LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, Mass at 1:30pm followed by talk from Prof. Kwasniewski. Mass will include the premier of a Mass setting by Prof Kwasniewski.
28th Oct, Sunday, Ramsgate: Sung Mass 12 noon, St Augustine's Shrine, Ramsgate, followed by talk and book signing. Mass will include a premier of a Mass setting by Prof Kwasniewski.
28th Oct, Sunday, South Woodford: High Mass 6pm, Church of St Anne Line, South Woodford, London, followed by talk and book signing.
30th Oct, Tuesday, London: 6pm Sung Vespers, Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street, followed by book launch.
This book isn't even available yet, but it will be on sale at the various events organised for him by the Latin Mass Society, at Oxford, Aylesford Priory, Ramsgate, South Woodford and Warwick Street in London. 
As part of the tour, two new choral compositions will receive their world premieres by the ensemble Cantus Magnus, under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn: a motet “Ego Mater Pulchrae Dilectionis” (SATB) on October 27th at the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, and the Missa Rex in Æternum (ATB) on October 28th in Ramsgate; these will be joined by three UK premieres of other motets.
SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford
Full details below
Friday, October 26th – SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford

6:00 pm – Votive High Mass for St Gregory the Great
7:30 pm – Refreshments
8:00 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “Pillar and Ground of the Roman Rite: The Roman Canon as Doctrinal and Moral Norm”
8:30 pm – Signing of Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico, 2018)

Aylesford Priory

Saturday, October 27th – Annual LMS Aylesford Pilgrimage: Relic Chapel, Aylesford Priory

12:45 pm – Confessions (Fr Neil Brett)
1:30 pm – Missa Cantata (Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary) Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP
de Rivera, Missa a cuatro voces
Kwasniewski, “Benedicta et venerabilis” UK PREMIERE
Kwasniewski, “Ego mater” WORLD PREMIERE
 (All sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
3:00 pm – Talk by Dr Kwasniewski: “The Spirit and Spirituality of Gregorian Chant”
3:45 pm – Enrolment in the Brown Scapular
4:15 pm – Vespers (Little Office of Our Lady) and Benediction

Shrine of St Augustine (designed by Pugin)

Sunday, October 28th – Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate, Kent

12:00 pm – High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King
Kwasniewski, Missa Rex in Æternum  WORLD PREMIERE
Kwasniewski, “Christus vincit” UK PREMIERE
Kwasniewski, “Jesu dulcis memoria” UK PREMIERE
 (All sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
2:30 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “On Living Tradition: The Basic Good of Catholic Culture and the Spiritual Discipline of Fine Art” 

Sunday, October 28th – Church of St Anne Line, South Woodford, London

6:00 pm – High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King
7:30 pm – Talk by Dr Kwasniewski in Parish Hall (7 Grove Crescent, South Woodford, London, E18 2JR): “Tradition as Ultimate Norm: Clearing up Confusion about Essentials and Incidentals”

Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory

Tuesday, October 30th – Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, London

6:00 pm – Vespers with Palestrina’s Magnificat quinti toni
 (Sung by Cantus Magnus under the direction of Matthew Schellhorn)
6:30 pm – Lecture by Dr Kwasniewski: “Liturgical Reform, Ars Celebrandi, and the Crisis on Marriage and Family”
7:30 pm – Signing of Tradition and Sanity: Conversations & Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico, 2018)

For Oxford:

For all events:

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05/10/2018 - 10:00

The lay vocation and subordination to the clergy

LifeSiteNews has a piece by me on the lay vocation. It begins:

Recent and very public failures of bishops raise the question of what role the laity should have in the Catholic Church. Lay people can feel like dumb spectators watching a tragedy in which bishops and other clergy have all the leading roles. This is clearly not a healthy situation, but what, in fact, is the lay vocation? In what way are lay people called, as members of Christ’s mystical body, to advance the kingdom of God? Certainly, the laity are crew, not just passengers, in the barque of St. Peter, and not even subordinate crew. As the 1983 Code of Canon Law tells us (Canon 208):

From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.

What, then, is the function related to the lay condition? The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam actuositatem (4) tells us:

The laity must take up the restoration of the temporal order (ordo temporalis) as their own special task. Led by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church and motivated by Christian charity, they must act directly and in a definite way in the temporal sphere.

As the Decree goes on to detail, this can be done in the context of family, professional, and political life.

What this suggests, along with the traditional teaching of the Church on the “two swords,” the division of labor in the Christian society between Pope and Emperor, is that bishops and clergy as such should not seek to direct in detail the work of Catholic statesmen, academics and teachers, and parents. It is given to the clergy, and above all to bishops, to judge according to the moral law, but judgment on matters of prudence — scientific judgment, educational judgment, political judgement, and so on — is the special gift and duty of the lay state.

Read the whole thing here.

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04/10/2018 - 10:00

More about the Prayer to St Michael

LifeSiteNews has published a short piece of mine on the Prayer to St Michael, reflecting on the renewed used of the Prayer to St Michael by in six dioceses of the United States of America, in the context of the abuse crisis.

I write:

The [Second Vatican] Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes 37 remind us:

A monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested.

This is exactly what the Prayer to St. Michael reflects. Why did it ever disappear from use?

Read the whole article here.

The Prayer to St Michael was composed in the context of pressure on the Church from outside, above all from the Kingdom of Italy, which had annexed the Papal States and made the Pope for practical purposes the prisoner of an often hostile government; the intention of the prayers was later changed to the oppression of the Church by Communist Russia. When I published, for Una Voce International, a Position Paper on the 'Leonine Prayers' (of which the Prayer to St Michael is one) said at the end of EF Low Masses, the focus was on the persecuted Church.

The use of the prayer over the abuse crisis, while undoubtedly appropriate as far as the wording is concerned, is very different. Instead of persecution from without, the issue today is the sins of those within the Church, and the damage they have caused.

But actually, is this so different? Since the 1960s those who have refused to sign up to the regime of novelties, of theological madness and sexual licence, have often felt not just ignored, but actively persecuted. This is a true persecution of the Church, using the structures of the Church to carry it out. Indeed, there are precedents for this: the persecution of St Joan of Arc by Bishop Couchon of Bauvais is a classic example. What is remarkable about the situation of recent decades is that entire countries should be dominated by bishops and priests so concerned not to rock the boat by exposing or condeming terrible crimes, that those who do oppose them find themselves harried from pillar to post.

The Masonic, anti-clerical principles of the Kingdom of Italy of the late 19th century and Communist Russia in the mid 20th century have found a new manifestion: within the very walls of the Church.

It remains true, however, that since the sins against the Church are being done by members of the Church, it behoves us not only to pray for deliverance against the Church's enemies, but to do penance for the sins of our fellow-Catholics. A good next step would be for the bishops of the United States following the example of the Bishops of England and Wales in restoring Friday abstinence.

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