Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

22/02/2020 - 16:18

Sunday Masses in Holy Trinity, Hethe


We have had some lovely Sung Traditional Masses in this historic church--the oldest Catholic parish church in Oxford, founded in 1839. And these will continue in 2020!

Quarterly Masses, Sung, at 11am, on the following:

22nd March, Laetare Sunday

31st May, Whitsun
1st Sunday of October: Our Lady of the Rosary, 4th Oct
Gaudete Sunday, 13th Dec
Holy Trinity Church
Hardwick Road
Hethe, Oxfordshire England
OX27 8AW
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21/02/2020 - 19:18

Spring 2020 Mass of Ages available

In this issue: • We feature the Pontifical High Mass at Birmingham Oratory in thanksgiving for the Canonisation of St John Henry Newman • Joseph Shaw finds no evidence to support the idea that traditionally minded Catholics are 'rigid' • Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP reports on the success of the Priory Campaign • Charles A. Coulombe shows how the British Empire helped spread the Faith • Henry Walker is inspired by the number of young people attending the Traditional Mass • Barbara Kay reports on a visit to a new hybrid education venture in Bedfordshire • Jeremy Boot introduces a Muslim colleague to the beauties of the Traditional Mass.

Copies are mailed to members and available in many churches around the country for free: or get one here.

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15/02/2020 - 10:00

The liturgical reform and 'the missions'

A key part of the argument for the liturgical reform was that it was needed for 'the missions'. What was never explained was why a reform which responded to objections from Enlightenment thinkers to the liturgical tradition was appropriate for cultures to which such objections were completely alien, and indeed incomprehensible. The Emperor Joseph II, Voltaire, and the like complained about excessive ritual, supposedly superstitious veneration of holy places, images, and objects, the obscurantist use of sacred languages, silence, and so on and so forth. What on earth have these concerns to do with traditional societies? Unless, perhaps, one imagines that they are Rousseauist 'noble savages', like the lovers of 'noble simplicity' imaginatively projected in the Early Church by liturgists.
Daniel Dolley put paid to such fantasies about the native peoples of South America in his excellent article in the Catholic Herald which I commented on here, and this weekend Dr Pia Joliffe has had a letter published in the same place about the traditional culture she studied in Thailand, the Karen.

SIR – It was with great joy and interest that I read Daniel Dolley’s article on “how to evangelise the Amazon” (Cover story, January 24).

Dr Dolley’s point that the Amazon communities are more traditional in their approach to gender roles, religion and ritual action than those who advocate on their behalf is also valid for the Karen communities in northern Thailand, where I did my own ethnographic fieldwork for my DPhil in International Development.

I lived for a total of 12 months in a Catholic Karen village in Chiang Mai province. An elderly French missionary priest was responsible for the village church and the community appreciated his liturgical correctness. There were daily Masses and morning prayer and weekly rosaries and Stations of the Cross during Lent. The women in the village formed a Legio Mariae group and most households had holy water at home.

The village elders started to become Catholics in the 1950s and spiritual protection was – just like for the Amazon people – a major reason for conversion.

During my stay, villagers told me several times that they preferred priests who wore proper vestments, including an alb, to those who just use a stole for celebrating Mass. A good liturgy and the correct vestments gave the religious service the dignity that the Karen expected from sacred rites. Indeed, like the Amazon people Dr Dolley wrote about, the Karen people in Thailand did not find it difficult to engage with the traditional rituals of the Church.

Perceiving this parallel between the Amazon people and the Karen of northern Thailand highlights to me the global dimension of the issue at stake, ie how the Church can best serve indigenous peoples around the world.

Pia Jolliffe Cumnor, Oxfoorddshire
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14/02/2020 - 14:33

The usefulness of Latin

Mass during the LMS Priest-training Conference in Prior Park.

Letter published this weekend in The Catholic Herald.

On Richard Ingrams’ reminiscences of his classical education (‘The Perils of Latin’, Charterhouse, 7th Feb), it is indeed astonishing how much time many of our predecessors spent on Latin and Greek. It didn’t seem to do them much harm: this was, after all, the generation which invented the computer, space travel, and the nuclear bomb.

Cobbett’s rejection of learning ‘what can never be of any real use to any human being’ (quoted by Ingrams) is corrosive of a humane education. Even in the sciences, the vast majority of what children learn, once they get beyond the kindergarten level, is not going to be of direct use to them in adult life.

For a few, it lays the foundations for later specialisation. For the great majority, it serves as a pedagogical task which trains memory and reasoning, and gives an intellectual formation in the fundamental concepts and world-view of their culture. Latin and Greek are ideally suited to both roles.

Ingrams wonders if the Prime Minister Harold MacMillan was well-prepared by his classical education to deal with the Profumo Affair. MacMillan’s exposure to the intense interest among classical authors in the way lust can disrupt society would certainly seem more more relevant to that particular challenge than knowledge differential equations or the formation of the Himalayas.

In Boris Johnson we seem to have a Prime Minister not only educated in the Classics, but actually living them: displaying a combination of high principle, opportunism, and a complicated loved-life which could have taught Pericles and Julius Caesar a thing or two.

Sadly, this Classical education was shaped by the Enlightenment to connect modernity to the ancient world while bypassing Christianity and the ages of Faith. Boris would have benefitted from  the psychological insights of St Augustine, the subtle vision of St Thomas Aquinas, and the beauty and insistent faith of the Latin liturgical tradition.

Catholic schools and parents must do their best to ensure that our own children do not miss out on these key components of our religious culture.

Yours Faithfully,

Joseph Shaw

Chairman, The Latin Mass Society

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11/02/2020 - 13:01

Reply to Prof Healy in Homiletic and Pastoral Review

Low Mass in the Slipper Chapel at Walsingham, England

Professor Mary Healy, a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, recently wrote a piece for the Homiletic and Pastoral Review on the 50th Anniversary of the Novus Ordo Missae: the 'Ordinary Form'. She wrote:

It has become common to blame today’s lack of Eucharistic faith and fervor on the revised rite. Critics rightly point to certain weaknesses such as collects that are less expressive of God’s majesty, and the omission of important biblical texts from the lectionary. Another unfortunate change is the elimination of the Octave of Pentecost, giving the impression of downgrading the great solemnity that culminates the Easter season. The primary problem, however, is not the reformed rite itself but its flawed implementation, due to poor — and, in some cases, catastrophically defective — theological and spiritual preparation among clergy and laity alike. Too often, the liturgical changes were accompanied by a downplaying of the notion of sacredness. A casual attitude toward the liturgy was fostered, and beautiful churches were “wreckovated.” Lukewarm liturgy has, tragically, obscured the authentic renewal called for by the Council itself.

I found this very encouraging, in the sense that it represents a big advance on the anti-Old Mass polemic one might have expected in a mainstream organ like the Homiletic and Pastoral Review. Official and establishment publications would until recently have thought unstinting praise for the reform would be compulsory, with just a nod towards the problem of liturgical abuses. Prof Healy agrees that criticisms of core aspects of the reform such as the collects are actually justified, and though this is not made explicit, the implication is that she also accepts that the liturgical reform has played a role in 'today's lack of Eucharistic faith and fervor', even if the 'primary' driver is the issue of implementation and abuses.

It is admittedly difficult to quantify the effect of different factors, but it seems to me that this is a defensible claim: that the abuses/ 'implementation' issues of ad-libbing, invalid matter, female altar servers, communion in the hand, the complete elimination of Latin and traditional sacred music, terrible English translations, and the wrecking of churches to make 'versus populum' celebration possible, had at least slightly more negative effect on the eucharistic faith of the people than the changes to the collects, lectionary, signs of reverence, and the loss of so many beautiful and expressive ceremonies.

Even if we disagree, this is a pretty interesting discussion to be having 50 years after Pope Paul VI promulgated the reformed missal. We have truly come a long way.

Healy goes on, nevertheless, to assert the superiority of the Ordinary Form in a number of respects, and I have responded to her points in a piece now also published in the Homelitic and Pastoral Review. I am delighted that they given house-room to a debate such as this, and I hope readers find it interesting.

You can read my article here.

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03/02/2020 - 17:59

The peoples of the Amazon need Christ

My latest on LifeSite, inspired by the cover article in the Catholic Herald by Dr Daniel Dolley the other week.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus records a story about a young man who caused the accidental death of his brother. Fleeing from home, he was taken in by a king who performed the necessary rite of purification and took him into his own household. One day, out hunting with the king’s son, the young man accidentally caused the prince’s death. In despair, he took his own life.

What is the moral of this story? The king’s act of kindness was misjudged; the rite of purification was not sufficiently powerful; those whom the gods have chosen to afflict cannot be helped. Perhaps the young man had inadvertently offended some deity, a common occurrence in Greek myth. You can’t be too careful: Works and Days by Hesiod attempts to summarize omens and auspicious and inauspicious days for everything from getting married to planting beans. The result is a mind-boggling collection of material that, if taken seriously, would control one’s every action, with no guarantee of success. This is what life under paganism was like in ancient Europe, and it was to this world that the Church’s sacraments and spirituality were first directed.

02/02/2020 - 10:00

Talk on consent and sex eduction

A talk from last December.

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01/02/2020 - 12:15

The vocation to have children

My latest on LifeSite.

The basic outlines of the Church’s teaching on family life, in terms of what we must on no account do, are clear, but we need to beware of the more subtle ways our thinking has been warped by our contraceptive culture. This is a hugely complex topic and I want to look at just one aspect of it: the attitude to large families.
It has become a joke, albeit a boring one, that many people can’t see a family of more than three children without having a dig at the parents. My lifestyle does not expose me to much of this but I did get a “You should get a TV” from a stranger recently, which was intended as light-hearted. (Actually, I’d rather have the children.) Such comments can be particularly upsetting when they come from fellow Catholics. No less annoying is the counter-pressure occasionally found in those pockets of Catholic society where larger families are more common. It is such a stupid thing to ask mothers if they are going to have another baby. Who knows what has been going on? Just don’t do it.
These opposing remarks have something in common, which is the odd way they hold parents to account for having or not having children, and see a certain family size as the right one for everyone: whether is it two children, six, or none. This is obviously absurd in ignoring the particular circumstances of different families, above all biological factors which are of no concern to complete strangers. But it also puts an artificial limit to family size, whether the limit small or large. 

Carry on reading.

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31/01/2020 - 12:13

Engaging with post-Brexit politics

I've written for LifeSite about the possibilities for Catholics to engage with the new generation of politicians who have emerged from Brexit: despite their greater distance from the practice of Christianity than their predecessors.

It begins:

There is a theory going around that Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, is going to grasp a historic opportunity to realign his Conservative Party in relation to emerging voting patterns. It goes like this. Johnson’s predecessor-but-one, David Cameron, combined austerity and globalisation with social liberalism, notably by forcing “same-sex marriage” through Parliament, against great opposition from inside his own party. This did much to neutralise the opposition of the liberal media and arts establishment.

But things have moved on. The hyper-liberalism of the political left has cut them adrift from their traditional working-class supporters, who value family and country. Public finances don’t look quite as bad as before. The vote to leave the European Union and the ferocious opposition to this by the political and media establishment has crystalized the break between the left and its traditional base. Johnson’s strategy will be to pivot the Conservative Party into a more socially conservative, but less capitalist-friendly, party, to scoop up these newly available votes.

28/01/2020 - 10:00

Serving and Sewing for the Kingdom of God


What can we do to advance God's reign on earth? What does it mean, today, to work in the Vineyard? If you are in despair about state of the Church and the state of society, what can you actually do about it?

It is far from the case that you can't do anything. The work of resistance to the chaos and of restoration is going on all around you. Here are two examples taking place in London: training on how to serve the Traditional Mass by highly experienced Masters of Ceremonies, and the mending of old vestments under expert guidance. Stop complaining, and come along! You don't need any qualifications, and there is no fee to pay.

Photos from last Saturday. The next dates are

March 14th (booking page for the serving), and May 9th (booking page for the serving). More info.


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