Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

09/01/2019 - 12:28

Listen to me on 'The Catholic Current' on the Lay Vocation

Fr Robert McTeigue interviewed me for his online radio programme, The Catholic Current. You can hear me on the following links.

Link to the broadcast as streaming audio and resources:
Link to the broadcast as podcast:
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01/01/2019 - 17:02

Antisemitism in the Catholic Herald: serious or not?

Back in February, Michael Davis, the Catholic Herald's US editor, decided to fling about a few conventional, though bitter, accusations against traditional Catholics: or the 'older generation' of traditional Catholics. They were, he said, in the habit of 'going out of their way to be nasty', and, yes you guessed it, tainted by 'repugnant anti-Semitism'.

When I hear that kind of accusation made by anyone, of anyone, I want to know: does this person raise this issue because he thinks it is serious, or because he thinks it is trivial?

Is it because it is so easy to make the accusation? And it is. Making it provides the accuser with a kind of first-mover's immunity from criticism, endowing him with an immediate aura of virtue, whereas the victim is going to look shifty and defensive regardless of what they say. Davis provides absolutely no evidence for his claim: the 'traditional Catholic' is left guilty until proved innocent, but how can you even argue against evidence which has not been specified?

Or is it, instead, because, the accusation is such a weighty one? Is Davis so concerned about this semi-hidden menace in the bosom of the Church that he feels that, painful as it may be, it must be probed fearlessly and confronted?

The Christmas issue of the Catholic Herald provided the answer. One of the star turns of the US edition of the Catholic Herald which is Davis' specific responsibility, but whose article also appeared in the UK edition, is Taki, as in Taki Theodoracopulos: or, as Private Eye calls him, 'Takealotofcokeupthenos' (he once spent 3 months in prison for possession of cocaine).

Catholic Herald 21 Dec 2018

Taki delighted the readers of the Catholic Herald over the Christmas break by suggesting, in one of his characteristic, rambling 'Diary' type columns, that the New York Times under-reported sex-abuse cases in the Jewish community in New York because of the influence of their Jewish readership. This is not the most extreme example of anti-semitic speech, but it is an exceptionally clear one: a text-book case, in fact, combining the two key characteristics of popular anti-semitism, (1) the idea that Jews as a group are guilty of some particularly serious moral depravity, and (2) that they get away with it because of their shadowy network of influence. Oh, and it's also completely untrue: the New York Times has reported on those cases in a perfectly normal way.

But Michael Davis and whoever else is responsible at the Catholic Herald let this go through. Why? It is presumably because they have taken on the attitude which has protected Taki, now in his eighties, during decades of outrageous remarks in columns and, no doubt, private conversation, in establishment right-wing circles. The cartoon decorating this column appeared in Private Eye in 2003: this isn't exactly new news.

What is the attraction? Taki's columns have been floating past my ken for about a quarter of a century, mostly in The Spectator. They are consistently and intensely boring. Never once, I think, have I read anything which could be described as perceptive, or even particularly well-expressed. What he offers readers, instead, is a glimpse into his 'High' life (the name of his long-standing Spectator column is, of course, a pun). Taki moves in a circle with other rich, famous, and outrageous people. Political ideas or personalities are condemned if Taki and his chums make boorish jokes about them, because they don't fit in to their glittering life-style. If you, the reader, laugh along, you may have a fleeting sense that you can be part of the star-dusted gang. All you need, it would seem, is to adopt their amusing prejudices and you can pretend you drink champagne out of high-heel shoes and snort coke with rolled-up hundred dollar bills: just like the beautiful people.

I have always found this kind of political and social 'conservatism' nauseating. It is completely lacking not only in spirituality, but in even the pretence of intellectual seriousness. It seeks to adopt classical culture and religion as a thin disguise of its venality and selfishness, and leaves them tarnished by the association. It lurks at the heart of politically conservative groups and publications like the rotten centre of an apple. No one who wants to showcase Taki, who thinks 'oh but he's terribly amusing and glamorous', has the remotest idea of what conservatism really means. Conservatism, if it has any place at the table of debate, is not about the attempt to preserve the privileges of the decadent by defensive snootiness, but the restoration of the living springs of society--the family, spirituality, culture of all kinds--which cannot function effectively when morally corrupted.

Does it come as any kind of surprise to find that Taki is a casual anti-semite? Not at all: no one who has been paying attention for any part of the last thirty years has any right to be surprised. What is surprising is that the editors of the Catholic Herald, so self-confidently accusing others, who cannot respond, of anti-semitism, cannot recognise the phenomenon when they see it in the pages of their own magazine.

But then it was never serious, after all, was it? Accusing people of anti-semitism, for Michael Davis, wasn't about getting to the bottom of a serious problem. It's about flinging around a nice long word, feeling the warm glow of a borrowed virtue, and getting on the right side of one of the neuralgic issues of the day.

Michael Davis never apologised for accusing 'older traditionalists' of anti-semitism. I wonder if he will apologise for publishing anti-semitic rants in his own magazine. I suspect he will prefer to sit the issue out without comment. After all, how serious is it?

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01/01/2019 - 14:26

Newman Colloquium: John Smeaton on Dementia

Dementia: My Father's Story

Dr Adrian Treloar (Old Age Psychiatrist and Dementia Specialist, and author of 'Dementia - Hope on a Difficult Journey') talks with Mr John Smeaton (Chief Executive of SPUC) about the very emotive topic of dementia. In the late 1990s John's father, Jack Smeaton, was diagnosed with dementia. As Jack's physician, Adrian helped John's father and the entire Smeaton family through this difficult journey. 
John's father, Jack Smeaton, died in 2003 fortified by the last rites.

When?  12/01/19 15:45 (for a prompt 16:00 start) - 17:30
Where? Parish hall at Catholic Church of Ss Gregory and Augustine, Oxford, OX2 7NS (limited parking available)
Cost: Free, a retiring collection will be taken at the end for the speakers
For more details and to register please visit:
Registration essential as places limited

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22/12/2018 - 20:21

A new edition of Adeste Fideles from Matthew Schellhorn

Matthew Schellhorn writes:

For several years, I have had the honour of directing the music on Christmas Eve in St Mary Moorfields in the City of London, at the First Mass of Christmas organised by the Latin Mass Society. 

It is the custom to follow the Last Blessing with a congregational rendition of the hymn “Adeste, fideles” (most frequently sung elsewhere in its English form, “O Come, all ye Faithful”).). 

One might adapt the well known version in Carols for Choirs, but in fact the genesis of the hymn is so complex, and the melodic and harmonic incarnations so multiplicitous that all the musical options deserve to be under the tree and on offer. 

As a result, I have compared and drawn together the many different versions, freely adapting from the chant versions in the Liber usualis (1932 and 1961) and Mass and Vespers (1957), and also from the organ harmonisation of chant Nova organi harmonia, the De La Salle Hymnal for Catholic Schools and Choirs (1913), the Thomas Helmore’s harmonisation of the Hymnal Noted (1852), editions by Martin Shaw (1875–1958) and the choral motet by François-Clément Théodore Dubois (1837–1924). 

I trust that Sir David Willcocks (1919–2015), under whose baton I had the honour of working in Worcester, would be content. 

The new, hybrid version plays on expectations and – in the best tradition of last-verse descants – confounds musical etiquette in a whimsical way. 

The result is similar to the sensation of meeting up with relations at Christmas festivities – some one knows well, and some one has not seen for a long time. 

Please note: I must be getting old, because I have lost the will to fight against the infamous passing note before the refrain, which in any case I find in several honourable sources. 

My arrangement is dedicated to my God-daughter, Miss Barbara Shaw, daughter of the Latin Mass Society’s Chairman, Joseph Shaw, on the occasion of her First Holy Communion in Oxford. Although owing to my professional commitments I am unable to be present on this auspicious occasion, I hope this offering will display my being united to her in prayer.

You can see the music here.

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18/12/2018 - 11:26

New Chant Schola launching in London for the Traditional Mass

A new all-male schola is being launched by the Latin Mass Society in January. It will rehearse one Friday evening a month, and sing at the following Monday evening Maiden Lane Mass.

It is named after St John Houghton, proto-martyr of the English Reformation, Prior of the London Charterhouse.

Announcement: The Latin Mass Society wishes to establish an all-male chant schola able to accompany sung Traditional liturgies (Mass and the Office) in the London area to the highest possible standard, and with due regard for the spirituality of the Chant. Members will be amateurs, led by a professional.

As well as grouping together competent singers, the schola’s regular rehearsals will make it possible for those with no previous experience of singing Gregorian Chant to learn how to do so. The rehearsals will conclude with a singing of Compline.

The Schola will rehearse one Friday a month to sing at Mass on the following Monday: the regular, public 6:30pm Sung Mass at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane.

Full details here.
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17/12/2018 - 12:53

Be careful what charities you support this Christmas

My latest on LifeSiteNews begins:

There’s a little ritual in my street in the run-up to Christmas. A man dressed up as Father Christmas (as we call him in England) in a mock-up sleigh complete with model reindeer, the whole thing on a kind of trailer pulled by a car, arrives. Fr. Christmas’s assistants ring my doorbell and ask for a donation. And I tell them that I don’t donate to their charity, the Rotary Club.
It’s a bit sad, as I’m sure they are all good people, but Rotary International has long been involved in population control campaigns. Why would I donate to them and not to someone else?
Oxford, near where I live, has a well-known charitable hospice for the dying, Douglas House, for many years a beacon of good practice in an ethically difficult area of medicine. I was brought up short, back in 2007, when I read that they had arranged, and paid for, a prostitute to service one of their patients. As if that was not enough, they show-cased this patient for a national TV program.

Read the whole thing here.

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13/12/2018 - 10:00

Juventutem London: dates for 2019

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12/12/2018 - 15:41

Fr David Goddard RIP

We were very sad to hear of the death of Fr David Goddard, long term supporter of the Traditional Mass and Priest Guardian of the Shrine of our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead.

Fr David Goddard, centre, with Fr Matthew, left,
and Fr Andrew Southwell, right, during the
St Catherine's Trust Summer School
visit to West Grinstead in 2007.
Fr Goddard's body will be received into the Shrine Church at 4pm on Tuesday 18th December, and later there will be a Old Rite Requiem Mass at 7.30pm – celebrated by Fr David’s son, Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP.
On the following day, Wednesday 19th December, the Funeral Mass in the ordinary form will be celebrated in Arundel Cathedral at 11am by Bishop Richard Moth, with priests of the diocese. This will be followed by a Funeral Reception in the Cathedral Centre.

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

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07/12/2018 - 10:00

LMS in London: new email list

The Latin Mass Society is planning some new initiatives in the London area, and there is already quite a lot happening in the capital, so we are launching an electronic newsletter just for London.

We already have one for the whole of England and Wales: you can sign up to that one here.

You don't have to be a member to join our email lists, and you don't have to live in London for this one: you may be an occasional visitor or simply interested to know what's going on. (Joining the London list won't automatically add you to the national list, so do consider signing up for both.)

We won't bombard you with emails: our plan is for a monthly email newsletter, though we may send the occasional urgent update when necessary.

LMS members in the London area who have agreed to be contacted by email are on the list. If you're not sure if this includes you, add your email address: duplicate entries are automatically merged.

Your information will only be accessible to our staff and Local and Assistant Representatives, in order for them to carry out their role in line with our Privacy Policy. We will never sell your personal information, or let other organisations use it for their own purposes.

After entering your email below and clicking subscribe, you will be sent a message to confirm your subscription. You may unsubscribe at any time by following the unsubscribe link in your newsletter.

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06/12/2018 - 10:07

Today's sexual culture is failing our young people

My latest on LifeSite News. It begins:

The headmaster of a smart London school once warned me about being too forthright when giving a talk there. “Young people today feel under tremendous pressure,” he said. I understood what he meant. They feel under pressure to do things they do not feel comfortable doing, such as engaging in premature sexual activity, or in particular sexual acts. They also feel pressure not to agree to do them. Were someone to put more pressure on them not to do such a thing, whether the pressure was emotional or intellectual, it would feel unbearable, because it makes it harder for them, it raises the emotional cost for them, to give in to the strongest pressure.

There is a cost to saying yes, and a cost to saying no. Raising the cost of saying yes may, possibly, succeed in tipping the balance. But in itself it does nothing to lower the cost of saying no, which must be paid in full: in bullying, marginalization, ostracism, and even physical violence.

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