Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Evelyn Waugh and the State of the TLM in England & Wales

Regina Magazine, an online periodical dedicated to cultural topics surrounding the beauty of the Catholic faith and traditions, recently featured an interview with Dr. Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview, which is thought-provoking and certainly not without moments of pointedness:
Q. Tell us about the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. When was it founded, and by whom?

Three people are principally responsible for the founding of the Society, in 1965: Evelyn Waugh, the foremost Catholic writer of his day (“Brideshead Revisited”), Sir Arnold Lunn, controversialist and skiing pioneer, and Hugh Ross Williamson, media personality and historian.

Evelyn Waugh’s concerns about Vatican II and the liturgical reform are recorded in his diaries and letters, and in a famous Spectator article at the onset of the Council. Much of this material, and responses to his letters from Cardinal Heenan, has been turned into a book, ‘A Most Bitter Trial’ (ed Scott Reid). Waugh didn’t live to see the 1970 Missal, but he was deeply concerned about the 1955 Holy Week Reform, the Dialogue Mass, and Mass in English. He wrote in the Spectator article:

‘Participation’ in the Mass does not mean hearing our own voices. It means God hearing our voices. Only He knows who is ‘participating’ at Mass. I believe, to compare small things with great, that I ‘participate’ in a work of art when I study it and love it silently. No need to shout. …If the Germans want to be noisy, let them. But why should they disturb our devotions?’


Q. You have publicly discussed the inclusivity of the TLM; what did you mean?

I’ve certainly noticed that in a big parish with different Masses the congregations tend to separate into different groups according to liturgical preference; this also happens between parishes. This separation can very easily gain a class character – in England, where class is never very far away!

The universal appeal of the TLM is very evident from talking to members of the congregation. You really do have all sorts of people. Some engage with the liturgy primarily in an intellectual way. Others engage primarily in an aesthetic or emotional way. The intellectual and the other aspects of the TLM are not in competition with each other — you can take out of it whatever you need.


The current issue of the magazine is dedicated to Catholic England and contains a lot of fantastic articles of interest to NLM readers; the entire issue can be downloaded for free from their website. 

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