Latin Mass Society

Chairman's Blog

20/12/2020 - 09:09

That Natvity scene in the Vatican

I see that the Daily Mail ridicules the Vatican nativity scene this year as reminiscent of the Daleks from Dr Who. Has it come to this? The world's one artistic superpower, the Catholic Church, so utterly fails an annual chance to evangelise through beauty as to provoke insults. Is this how we bring people to Christ?

Me on LifeSite.

This year, the annual tradition of the large-scale Nativity scene in St Peter’s Square descended into farce when the figures were revealed as childish and hideous products of artistic modernism. The figures were produced over the course of about a decade starting in 1965 and are reminiscent of the mediocre art of that time. One of the figures visiting the crib is an astronaut; others are unrecognizable. There is an angel represented as a bizarre, tower-like object with meaningless rings round it.

There are a great many reasons why this collection of objects is unsuitable for display as the Vatican’s Nativity scene. I leave it to art historians to decide whether it has sufficient historical importance to gather dust in a provincial museum somewhere. If it were not the season of goodwill, I might suggest it be crushed and used for road-building. But the simple and overwhelming point to make about it is that while it might claim to be religious art — art inspired by religious themes or values, or representing a scene with religious significance — it cannot possibly be described as devotional art.

The failure to distinguish these two categories is to blame for a lot of en
tirely inappropriate art in our churches. Consider the images showing the Stations of the Cross. These are designed to assist the user (and, yes, devotional art is used), to enter imaginatively into the scenes of Christ’s sufferings. This assistance to the imagination is the role of all devotional depictions of scenes. To do this effectively, it needs at least to be representational, and not, for example, abstract.

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19/12/2020 - 18:00

Last chance before Christmas for LMS Wall Calendars!

There's no obligation to get your Latin Mass Society 2021 Wall Calendars before Christmas, but if you want to give them away, it makes sense, doesn't it? So don't be shy: this is more or less your last chance to get them and other things from our online shop in time for them to be posted on the last working days of the LMS Office before the holiday. Our unique design allows for multiple beautiful photographs for every month.

Also fresh for 2021 is of course our famous Ordo, giving you the feasts of every day of the year. Our long-standing custom is to give our priest-supporters get a copy for free every year.
We also have many seasonal and perennial items: Christmas cards, books about the liturgy, the Faith, the saints, mantillas, rosaries, scapulars and so on.
The shop is doing very well this year, but there's no harm in giving them a bit more custom! And don't forget to activate your 5% member's discount when online in the shop by logging in.

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19/12/2020 - 09:00

Child seats in cars and the disincentive to have children

Me on LifeSite.

There has been a bit of chatter recently about the idea of ‘car seats as contraception’: the direct and indirect cost of children’s car seats, which were unheard of in my own childhood (was it really so long ago?) and are now required for older and older children, and take up so much space that parents of a growing family quickly have to transition to a huge car or indeed a minibus. A couple of researchers have actually done a study of the effect this has had in the USA. From the abstract:

We estimate that these laws prevented only 57 car crash fatalities of children nationwide in 2017. Simultaneously, they led to a permanent reduction of approximately 8,000 births in the same year, and 145,000 fewer births since 1980, with 90% of this decline being since 2000.

That’s a pretty vivid result, but it is just one factor in the economic disincentives to have children today. It is difficult to find larger homes: many big old houses are divided into flats. Air travel is ruinously expensive with a large family. No preference for married men with children to support is allowed in hiring or promotion, as it was in the past. And so on.

Read the whole thing.

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17/12/2020 - 10:00

Gaudete Sunday in Holy Trinity Hethe

Last Sunday Fr Tim Finigan very kindly came to the Church of Holy Trinity, in the village of Hethe outside Oxford, to celebrate the Mass of Gaudete Sunday. I am very pleased that despite the Coronavirus this went ahead: it is one of a quarterly series of Masses in this important historic church, and we have not been able to have the last two of them.

IMG_0376
The church was at bursting point - in a manner of speaking. It's a small church and we were asked to keep the size of the congregation below 22. More by Providence than by any very clever planning, we had 21.
All being well, the next Sung EF Mass in this lovely church will be in the Spring, I hope its patronal feast, Trinity Sunday, 30th May. These Masses are at 11am and the church can be found here. I hope we'll have room for more people by then.
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17/12/2020 - 10:00

Gaudete Sunday in Holy Trinity Hethe

Last Sunday Fr Tim Finigan very kindly came to the Church of Holy Trinity, in the village of Hethe outside Oxford, to celebrate the Mass of Gaudete Sunday. I am very pleased that despite the Coronavirus this went ahead: it is one of a quarterly series of Masses in this important historic church, and we have not been able to have the last two of them.

IMG_0376
The church was at bursting point - in a manner of speaking. It's a small church and we were asked to keep the size of the congregation below 22. More by Providence than by any very clever planning, we had 21.
All being well, the next Sung EF Mass in this lovely church will be in the Spring, I hope its patronal feast, Trinity Sunday, 30th May. These Masses are at 11am and the church can be found here. I hope we'll have room for more people by then.
Support the Latin Mass Society
17/12/2020 - 10:00

Gaudete Sunday in Holy Trinity Hethe

Last Sunday Fr Tim Finigan very kindly came to the Church of Holy Trinity, in the village of Hethe outside Oxford, to celebrate the Mass of Gaudete Sunday. I am very pleased that despite the Coronavirus this went ahead: it is one of a quarterly series of Masses in this important historic church, and we have not been able to have the last two of them.

IMG_0376
The church was at bursting point - in a manner of speaking. It's a small church and we were asked to keep the size of the congregation below 22. More by Providence than by any very clever planning, we had 21.
All being well, the next Sung EF Mass in this lovely church will be in the Spring, I hope its patronal feast, Trinity Sunday, 30th May. These Masses are at 11am and the church can be found here. I hope we'll have room for more people by then.
Support the Latin Mass Society
17/12/2020 - 10:00

Gaudete Sunday in Holy Trinity Hethe

Last Sunday Fr Tim Finigan very kindly came to the Church of Holy Trinity, in the village of Hethe outside Oxford, to celebrate the Mass of Gaudete Sunday. I am very pleased that despite the Coronavirus this went ahead: it is one of a quarterly series of Masses in this important historic church, and we have not been able to have the last two of them.

IMG_0376
The church was at bursting point - in a manner of speaking. It's a small church and we were asked to keep the size of the congregation below 22. More by Providence than by any very clever planning, we had 21.
All being well, the next Sung EF Mass in this lovely church will be in the Spring, I hope its patronal feast, Trinity Sunday, 30th May. These Masses are at 11am and the church can be found here. I hope we'll have room for more people by then.
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16/12/2020 - 10:00

The Bell case and the trans project

My latest on LifeSite.

The debate about transgender persons has been transformed in the U.K. by a ruling of the High Court that children of 13 or less are very unlikely to be capable to giving consent to “puberty-blocker” drugs, and consent from older children is also fraught with difficulty. As the homosexual newspaper Pink News put it:

Puberty blockers are widely deemed safe, reversible and medically necessary, lawyers for the Tavistock [medical clinic] maintained. Lawyers for [plaintiffs] Bell and Mrs A argued that trans teens should have to go before a court before being able to access the medication.

Since the ruling, the consensus that puberty-blockers are “safe, reversible, and medically necessary” has vanished like snow on the desert. The U.K.’s National Health Service, and also the BBC, has systematically removed links to the radical transgender-affirming charity Mermaids, which represents the view condemned by the High Court. The two entities have also edited out the suggestion that the extremely powerful drugs used to prevent puberty taking place can be reversed; as a matter of fact, the scant research done on the subject suggests the opposite. Even more significantly, they have removed emotive references to suicide. It is the link to suicide that is the basis for the claim that interventions with the aim of gender transitioning can be “medically necessary.”

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15/12/2020 - 09:51

Schellhorn Prizewinner announced

** WINNER OF SCHELLHORN PRIZE FOR SACRED MUSIC COMPOSITION 2020 ANNOUNCED ** 

The winner of the Schellhorn Prize for Sacred Music Composition 2020 has been announced. 
Young composer Dominic Veal wins £400 and a World Premiere performance of his work in London’s St Joseph’s Convent Chapel, Canning Town, on Christmas Eve by ensemble Cantus Magnus. 
Dominic, 25, is a former student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance whose composition teachers have included Errollyn Wallen CBE and John Ashton Thomas. His piece, Dormi, Jesu, will be performed by vocal ensemble Cantus Magnus, whose Patron is Sir James MacMillan CBE. 
Three other composers received Honourable Mention for their entries: Paige Halliwell (b. 1998) for Ecce Novum Gaudium, Tom Duggan (b. 1998) for Resonet in Laudibus, and John Sturt (b. 1995) for O beatus ortus ille
Classical pianist Matthew Schellhorn founded the prize in 2014 to foster artistic endeavor and encourage excellence in the Sacred Liturgy. Matthew said:
Founder and Chairman Matthew Schellhorn writes: “Dominic Veall is a very worthy winner whose work Dormi, Jesu impressed the distinguished panel of judges. I am delighted he follows in the footsteps of Marco Galvani, our first winner, to provide a truly memorable piece, which the congregation will enjoy on Christmas Eve, and which expands the repertoire of Sacred Music in the best possible tradition. This year’s award is particularly poignant as the Covid-19 situation has seen a hugely detrimental effect on the arts sector, and musicians have been amongst the most adversely impacted. I hope this prize has provided an incentive to be creative. I want to thank all the composers who entered, the judges for their contributions, the Latin Mass Society and its Chairman Dr Joseph Shaw for its support, and all those who donated to support the Prize itself.”
Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, Dr Joseph Shaw, said: “The Latin Mass Society is delighted to be associated with the prize, to encourage young composers to think about devotional Latin texts and the tradition of devotional and liturgical music. Mr Veall's piece and the earlier winning entry demonstrate that this inexhaustible tradition continues to find expression in new musical idioms, with something fresh to say.”

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14/12/2020 - 13:57

The EF in Latin America: from the FIUV survey

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

Recently, the FoederatioInternationalis Una Voce (FIUV), of which I am Secretary, conducted a survey of its member associations and other contacts to supply information for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: to supplement the survey of bishops the Congregation had itself initiated. We received a large number of responses, including from almost every Spanish-speaking country.

The graph illustrates the availability of the EF in the dioceses for which we had responses, and the contrast between the USA and Canada, on the one hand, and Mexico and 16 countries in Central and South America on the other. In the former, nearly 60% have at least one centre where the EF is celebrted on a more than just Sunday and Holy Day basis, labelled for convenience as ‘Full’ provision. In Latin America, only 4 of the 97 dioceses for which we received reports is there a centre offering a ‘more than Sunday and Holyday’ provision, while in 51 of them no public celebrations are taking place at all.

There are many dioceses for which we had no reports, in Latin America, where there are almost certainly no EF Masses taking place; in Canada and the USA, on the other hand, we are more likely to have missed out on places where there are celebrations. This means the graph probably understates the contrast.

Of greater value than figures, I believe, are the personal testimonies of the people filling in the survey. I offer a selection here, anonymised to protect the individuals and groups concerned. I will let them speak for themselves, from a full range of experiences, both good and bad, in seeking the Church’s ancient liturgy.

These quotations are translations from the Spanish. The original Spanish can be seen in a Spanish-language version of this blogpost at the Adelante la fe blog here

If anyone would like to join the FIUV’s list of local contacts, please email me at secretary@fiuv.org


From Argentina

We were treated with contempt on the part of the bishop.

(another diocese)

We are segregated and labelled, by the clergy and laity with positions in the diocese, as execrable traditionalist recalcitrants, when we only wish to offer our Lord the honour he deserves…

The Ordinary is totally hostile. He has forbidden kneeling for Holy Communion. He has persecuted all who want to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

(another diocese)

To make clear the attitude of the bishop, and of many priests, they reject not only the celebration of the EF, but every public manifestation of religiosity and devotion, as Phariseeism.

(another diocese)

The Ordinary has rejected requests from separate stable small groups, claiming that ‘it would be a cause of division in the diocese.’

(another diocese)

I have been denied the possibility of baptizing my children according to the Extraordinary Form.

(another diocese)

Neither the current nor the former Bishop have shown any hostility towards the EF. The Motu Proprio has applied very calmly.

(another diocese)

The Ordinary respects the faithful who desire [the EF] but he does not promote it, probably out of fear of progressive priests, or through their influence.


From Chile

The Ordinary shows no opposition to Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. However, he does not exercise control or sanction over those parish priests, administrators, and ordinary lay people, who harass and/or hinder the faithful attached to the Extraordinary Form, when they refuse to comply with the standards of Summorum Pontificum, or when they exercise unfair discrimination against the faithful of the EF.

(another diocese)

We (the Coetus Fidelium) was asked to leave one parish by the parishioners, and we have since then asked successive bishops to establish a Personal Parish, Quasi-parish, or Private Association of the Faithful. We have never even had an acknowledgement of receipt of these requests … The current Ordinary assigned us a church that was disused and we have restored it to use with the contributions of the Faithful.


From Columbia

The Archbishop did not wish to satisfy the request of the faithful, and furthermore has forbidden a priest who celebrated [the EF] by threatening him. The Archbishop relentlessly pursues the anyone who celebrates the Traditional Mass.

(another diocese)

We have been disturbed by priests and local groups who say that this Mass should no longer be celebrated, that it is a forbidden Mass, and that the Pope has said nothing about it. Some priests have said that this Mass takes the people away from God.


From Costa Rica (a diocese where there are celebrations of the EF every Sunday)

The Ordinary has communicated with priests and faithful explaining the conditions which make the EF possible and how it can be accessed. He’s an excellent man who’s not afraid of the drastic decisions the Costa Rican government has made.


From the Dominican Republic

…we are ignored, we only learn from contacts with the clergy that we are not at all well regarded.

(another diocese)

He is a good Shepherd, very attentive and solicitous for his flock. But his attitude to the EF has been very neutral. 80% of the clergy frown at those of us who request Mass in the EF.


From Honduras

We have spoken to the Bishop but he does not agree very much with the traditional Mass and has even made mocking comments. He says whoever wants Tridentine Mass should go to France, with reference to the SSPX. He is totally against it, and has even instilled fear in diocesan priests who would like to celebrate it.

(another diocese)

We’re labelled as retrogrades. For lack of information and knowledge of the Church, the faithful who attend the Novus Ordo tend to condemn (for example) those who receive Holy Communion on their knees and on the tongue. …

When it was heard that several faithful asked for Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the Bishop threatened them with excommunication, and met with the clergy to threaten the faithful.


From Mexico

Since the creation of our Association, [the Ordinary] has been increasingly open and willing to collaborate. He has been generous in terms of the space and expansion of the movement in the Diocese.

(another diocese)

The Ordinary welcomed us with kindness and gave us the requested facilities.

(another diocese)

They have been trying to isolate us in obscure churches with small congregations, in order to limit Catholics’ exposure to the EF. However, the Bishop has assigned us a priest and a place. He’s allowed the EF, but he didn't want to broadcast it. He has discouraged the diocesan clergy from establishing regular EF celebrations.

(another diocese)

[the Holy See is requested:] To clarify through the Bishops’ Conference that they should not prohibit the celebration of Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form, nor frighten the faithful interested in it, who are often victims of harassment and false accusations.

(another diocese)

…despite having sought hearings with the Bishop, we have not been received and we are forced to go to places outside the Diocese

(another diocese)

Despite having made several requests for a meeting in order to be able to put our request in person, we have not received a response, only a verbal response was sent which placed unwarranted conditions on the application of Summorum Pontificum and asking us not to invite the parishioners to celebrations of the EF. The group of faithful has found a celebrant, place, ornaments; however, we don’t count on the authorisation of the Ordinary. …

[Request to Holy See:] the group of faithful is loyal to the service and support of the Holy See, and is fully committed to prevent [EF Masses] from becoming an additional burden on the diocese. However, if they continue to encounter obstructions some faithful might resort to places that are not in full communion with the Holy Catholic Church.

(another diocese)

[The Ordinary] is very overbearing and claims that he can ban that Mass. Adding that the Traditional Liturgy is something ‘extraordinary’ that is, once or twice a month and nothing more, and that it is not possible that in the 21st century there are people attached to this Rite that has already been superseded.

(another diocese)

The Auxiliary Bishop has always been very attentive and generous to community at our chapel. The previous Ordinary was very generous and always made us feel part of the Diocese.

(another diocese)

With the previous Ordinary we had a relationship where he let us celebrate and work. With the current one things have been very difficult. First of all, he forbade us to celebrate Mass, and already years later people of the diocese, during a programme of ‘Popular Devotions’, let us celebrate a Mass in the Basilica, which was at its maximum capacity. As a result of this Mass many people began to ask through social media about whether this Mass was held on a regular basis, to which the organisers responded that it was something extraordinary and that was only celebrated on that one day. …

[Request to the Holy See] Perhaps one way would be for the bishops themselves to be aware of Summorum Pontificum and its contents, as well as to respect it. In addition to promoting it among the faithful so that they know what it contains, and not just calling us ‘Lefebvrists’, or excluding us from the activities of the local church.

(another diocese)

From what we have observed, it will be difficult to get an interview with the Ordinary in the short term as his secretary has a negative perception of those who follow this form of Holy Mass, and does not pass our request to interview the Archbishop.

(another diocese)

[The Ordinary] told us that he had no interest in the EF because there were other pastoral priorities.

(another diocese)

We have been treated with great generosity and respect. We feel like a small active group that is part of the diocese.

(another diocese)

He has welcomed our requests with paternal generosity and respect. We’re very grateful to him.

(another diocese)

He is a very pastoral Bishop who receives and cares for the small flock attached to the Traditional Mass

(another diocese)

The Ordinary has been attentive to all our requests. He has been very generous, although his auxiliary bishop is not as favourable as he is to the EF. …

Although the Ordinary has supported EF, the Rector of the Seminary and some of the formators are often very hostile to seminarians interested in the EF. Whenever a seminarian expresses an interest in the EF he is invited to leave the seminary for an alleged absence of vocation.

(another diocese: one of several with no public celebrations)

A year ago seminarians of the FSSP were visiting and asked to be allowed to celebrate the EF in some parishes including the Cathedral, and at the last minute they were forbidden. The diocesan Chancellor issued a statement labelling the Traditional Mass as invalid, but some priests came out in defence of the Traditional Mass and offered the use of their churches.

From Paraguay

He’s been open to the possibility, but he’s never made a decision. So the celebration of the EF is never allowed to the faithful.

(another diocese)

The hostility of the ordinary is clear; he permits nothing prayed in Latin, he rejects modesty such as veils or the systematic wearing of skirts, he does not promote the divine office, and is against the liturgical celebration of any Sacrament according to the ancient rite.


Some small countries, grouped together to preserve their anonymity.

While the Ordinary has always been distant from us, and has delivered words of contempt to us, on the other hand I recognise that he has so far acceded to the requests we have made to him through the mediation of priests.

(another country)

The diocese has set out to ridicule and suppress any movement related to the Extraordinary Form.

(another country)

[The Ordinary] does not grant appointments and even less does he respond to formal letters requesting the Holy Tridentine Mass. Unofficially we have been informed that the Extraordinary Rite is forbidden in the diocese. Several priests have tried to approach the Ordinary and have receive only threats, or have been removed from their parishes.

(another country)

He rejects everything concerning Tradition.

(another country)

The times I’ve approached the Ordinary through the correct channels, he has made himself available. The current bishop is not reluctant to help us. But the clergy are either reluctant or indifferent.

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