Welcome to the site for News, Events and up-to-date Information on Traditional Catholicism in the West Midlands (UK). I am one of the Diocesan Representatives for the Latin Mass Society of England & Wales for the Promotion of the Traditional Roman Rite.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

St Thomas of Canterbury

Yesterday's High Mass was celebrated by Fr Anton Guziel of the Oratory, I think his first High Mass according to the 1962 books since moving to Birmingham. In this respect it was quite novel; a novice celebrant with the Provost as Deacon.The Subdeacon was diocesan Priest Fr George Grynowski, who also celebrates the Traditional Mass in his Parish of West Heath. Fr Guy Nichols led a small schola with plainchant setting accompanied by organ. There were about five Priests in choir, as well as the new Oratorian novice. It was expertly MC'd by Andrew Wagstaff better known for his services down south, and a Brother of the Little Oratory in London.

Unfortunately the turn-out in the nave was very poor, and communion was over in no time. I'm sorry I was not able to advertise it a bit more widely than just this blog. People seem to travel a long way for a High Mass, even from neighbouring counties, and especially during such a holiday season.

However, for another chance to participate in a High Mass as said prior to the reformed Missal, please come along to celebrate Epiphany on its traditional feast day of January 6th at 8pm.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Report

The Night Mass of Christmas (which was the Midnight Mass but at 4pm on Christmas Eve) was a great success. Nearly 180 people turned up to the Oratory for the first Mass of Christmas, well in excess of the expected number. It was a Missa Cantata, which was possible thanks to Mr Oliver Hayes; he organised music, lead a small schola of three men, and even provided organ accompaniment for the first time after months of painstaking practice, for the Latin hymns Veni Redemptor Gentium, Quem Pastores and Adeste Fideles.

I am very grateful to the Oratory Fathers (in particular Fr Philip Cleevely who sung the Mass) for indulging our desire to make a really special celebration of this feast day, which has been a Low Mass in previous years. It included High Mass ceremonial (two acolytes, a thurifer, MC Colin Tunnicliffe, and even four torch bearers: left), showing just what is possible with no budget but lots of willing volunteers bringing their gifts to the service of the Lord.

The Low Mass on Christmas morning (right) also took place in St Philip's Chapel at 9.30am, with thirty people filling it nicely. It has been noted that since Summorum Pontificum, the Extraordinary Form of Mass has become more of a natural part of the Oratory Parish, with new faces attending all the time, numbers increasing, and the Mass sheets really helping people participate in the Proper Prayers for each feast.

This latter aspect is only a small investment to help the success of the Latin Mass in Parishes, with a free downloadable accompaniment to the infamous 'red booklet' available for each major feast from Una Voce. At the Oratory we use our own purpose written ordinary booklets to make it easier to follow; one for Low Mass and one for High Mass. I simply adapt the Mass sheets to suit these. Here is the one I used for Christmas Eve, which was unusually two sheets of A4 to fit both the Latin Hymns and also the Gregorian notation for Missa de Angelis, which allowed the congregation to participate in both:
Nativity Night

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmastide Masses

First Mass of Christmas
Thursday, December 24th at 4pm (Sung Mass in the Main Church)

Mass at Dawn
Friday, December 25th at 9.30am (Low Mass in St Philip's Chapel)

St Stephen Protomartyr
Saturday, December 26th at 9.30am (Low Mass in St Philip's Chapel)

Sunday within the Octave Commemoration of St John Apostle & Evangelist
December 27th at 9.30am (Low Mass in the Main Church)

St Thomas Becket (of Canterbury) Bishop, Martyr (Patron of English Pastoral Clergy)
Tuesday, December 29th at 11am (Solemn High Mass in the Main Church)

Octave Day of the Nativity
Friday, 1st January 2010 at 9.30am (Low Mass in the Main Church)

Octave Day of the Nativity
Low Mass: Friday, 1st January 2010 at 7pm (Preceded by Benediction at 6.30pm TBC)

EPIPHANY at the Birmingham Oratory
N.B. Solemn High Mass at 8pm (Wednesday January 6th 2010)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

St Thomas Becket High Mass

I didn't originally think it was going ahead, but due to the success of previous years the Birmingham Oratory Fathers will once again hold a Solemn High Mass for the feast of St Thomas of Canterbury.

Tuesday, December 29th at 11am

It is a popular Mass for Priests in the Diocese to come and visit the Birmingham Oratory. This year it will hopefully be a chance for Fr Richard Duffield, the soon-to-be Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, to meet everyone as well.

St Thomas Becket was the Archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred in his Cathedral in 1170 due to his conflict with King Henry II over the rights and privileges of the Church in England. To me it is almost a savage precursor of the havoc wrought against Catholicism 400 years later by his namesake King Henry VIII.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Archbishop Bernard Longley

Today I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the installation of the new Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley. I was in attendence in my capacity as Representative for the Latin Mass Society, and it was a wonderful opportunity. I have not time or the space on this blog to write a full report, but I shall do so in due course on Lacrimarum Valle.

"With faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the love of God in my heart, I accept the pastoral care of the People of God in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. I promise to serve faithfully the Church in this Archdiocese, preach the Gospel, and celebrate the Eucharist."
- Archbishop Bernard Longley accepting the Apostolic Letter at today's Installation

Tota Pulchra Es María!

This morning we had a beautiful Low Mass at the Lady Altar of the Birmingham Oratory, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated by Fr Anton Guziel.

It is not very often we are fortunate enough to have such an intimate affair at this beautiful side altar, and as the Patronal Feast of both the Oratory and the Archdiocese, it was a fitting occasion to pray for the benefits of both. A second Collect was said, I assume for the newly installed Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley.

Alleluia, alleluia. Tota pulcha es, María: es mácula originális non est in te. Alleluia.

Thou art all fair, O Mary, and there is in thee no stain of original sin. Alleluia.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Immaculate Conception

Tuesday, December 8th 2009

Low Mass (Birmingham Oratory) 11am

Solemn High Mass in Evesham at 7pm
(Our Lady & St Egwin, High Street, Evesham)

Please also remember to pray for our new Archbishop, Bernard Longley, who will be enthroned (or 'installed', like a new version of Windows) on this feast day at 12noon in St Chad's Cathedral. I am lucky enough to be able to watch it over at the Sally Ann live on a big screen! I hope they have Popcorn!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Regional Poster

Here is an A4 poster I produced for various reasons. If you want to support and publicise the Masses we arrange in the West Midlands, and if you have a decent colour printer with A4 glossy paper, perhaps you would consider printing it and displaying in your Parish (with your pastor's permission of course)? It shows all the various activities the LMS have done in the West Midlands, as well as Masses at the Oratory, and even a pilgrimage to Walsingham. There is also a sneaky picture of our new Archbishop at one of the LMS events in London. Enjoy!

Birmingham LMS Poster

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Westminster Pontifical Requiem


21 November 2009

Westminster Bishop celebrates Traditional Mass for the First Time as the Latin Mass Society Celebrates Its Annual Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral

The Rt Rev. Alan Hopes, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, celebrated a High Mass of Requiem in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 14 November for the repose of the souls of all deceased members and supporters of the LMS. Father Andrew Southwell was Assistant Priest, Fr Michael Cullinan was Deacon and the Sub-deacon was Fr Michael Dunne of the cathedral staff. Gordon Dimon of the LMS was MC. Bishop Hopes also preached on the theme of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a bridge between the saving events of Our Lord’s Passion and the men and women of our own time with all their hopes and fears.

A congregation of some hundreds heard the men of the Cathedral Choir sing the plainsong Requiem Mass together with the plainsong Adore Te Devote at Communion.

The Mass was followed by the traditional ceremonies of Absolutions at the Catafalque and before Mass, a wreath was laid by Mr Kingsley Lewis, Deputy Chairman of the LMS, and other LMS members on the grave of Cardinal Heenan in the cathedral nave in thanksgiving for the Cardinal’s efforts to preserve the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Father Andrew Southwell read prayers for the occasion.

John Medlin, General Manager of the LMS, said afterwards: “This was the first time that Bishop Hopes had celebrated the Traditional Mass and the LMS is most grateful to him for the great care he took in learning the Rite. We also thank Canon Christopher Tuckwell, the Cathedral Administrator, and his staff for the friendly welcome we always receive in the cathedral”.

Note: The Extraordinary Form has now returned to many of our cathedrals throughout England and Wales and the LMS is actively seeking to introduce further Masses.

. . . . ENDS . . . .

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Traditional Confirmations


12 November 2009

Westminster bishop confers Traditional Rite confirmations

Bishop George Stack, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, administered Confirmations in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Rite) at St James’ Church, Spanish Place, London W1 on Saturday 7 November. 32 candidates received the sacrament – 27 children and 5 adults. This was the sixth year of the annual ceremony organised by the Latin Mass Society.

As usual, permission for the Old Rite Confirmations had been given by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, now Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster.

The candidates’ day began with a catechetical meeting in the Lady Chapel with Bishop Stack. The Confirmation ceremony followed and the liturgical ceremonies were concluded with Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The choir and organist of Spanish Place provided the music, and a large congregation of over 400 family and friends joined them in singing the Veni Creator Spiritus and other traditional hymns. During the anointing, the choir sang polyphony and plain chant.

After the ceremonies, a reception for the bishop and congregation was held in the crypt. Bishop Stack met and chatted with the newly-confirmed and their families and cut the celebratory cake.

Doctor Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, thanked Bishop Stack for his pastoral concern for those attached to the Extraordinary Form and led the families and children in a rousing round of applause.

. . . . ENDS . . . .

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Solemn High Requiem

It was a bold undertaking. A Solemn High Requiem in the simple parish church of West Bromwich with a considerably reordered sanctuary, including no footpace around the freestanding Altar. A short complement of servers meant the MC had to double as the thurifer! He did a great job in the circumstances.

But with all this, over 150 were present on the rainy evening to see the sanctuary transformed with an array of unbleached candles (four on the altar itself and a further two shelved next to the newly-veiled tabernacle). A brand-new set of black-framed Requiem Altar cards had pride of place on the Altar. The choir ensemble 1685 sang a beautiful rendition of Richafort's Requiem. The Dies Irae was sung with the congregation for alternate verses. A Newman hymn ("Help Lord the souls which Thou hast made") was sung after the Last Gospel with great gusto.

Overall it was an exceedingly successful occasion. Prayers were offered up for all the deceased parishioners of the church, including its founding pastor Hon Fr George Spencer, ancestor of Lady Diana. My thanks go out to everyone involved.

Photos are up on the LMS photostream (embeded below) and hopefully a DVD recording of the occasion will be available in due course. If you are interested in obtaining a copy please get in touch.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Mass of Ages Report: November 2009

News from the Dioceses
(Birmingham & Black Country)
Mass of Ages Magazine
November 2009

Once again we had a successful Solemn High Mass at West Heath, this time for the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fr George Grynowski, after attending the London Colney priests training conference, was celebrant. He will also offer Low Masses in his parish church of St John Fisher on the first Friday of every month at 7pm, starting in November.

We have an exciting event coming for November 4th: a Solemn High Requiem in West Bromwich with an outside choir singing Jean Richafort’s Requiem in memoriam Josquin Des Prez from 1532. This will be the first such occasion in the UK, and marks the return of the Latin Mass to the Black Country! We pray that it will be well received by the parish.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Birmingham Oratory Schedule

The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory have kindly confirmed the following dates for the next quarter:

  • Mon, 2nd November 11am (Low Mass, All Souls)
  • Tuesday, 8th December 11am (Low Mass, Immaculate Conception)
  • Thursday, 24th December 4pm (Low 'Midnight' Mass for Nativity)
  • Friday, 25th December 9.30 (Low Mass, Nativity, upstairs cloister chapel)
  • Wednesday, 6th January 8pm (High Mass for Epiphany)

This is in addition to the regular Low Masses every Saturday and Sunday morning at 9:30am.

Low Mass at West Heath

On Wednesday Fr George offered a Low Mass for the feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. It was a special occasion being the first Low Mass Fr George has offered for his parish of St John Fisher in West Heath. Twenty-three people were present before the side altar of the Sacred Heart.

Fr George preached on the historical significance of this feast, connected with Pope St Pius V (who also codified the Tridentine Missal which made the Roman Rite available for all churches throughout Western Christendom). Wikipedia says:

In 1571 Pope Pius V instituted "Our Lady of Victory" as an annual feast to commemorate the victory of Lepanto. The victory was attributed to Our Lady, as a rosary procession was offered on that day in St. Peter's Square in Rome for the success of the mission of the Holy League to hold back Muslim forces from overrunning Western Europe. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of this feast-day to "Feast of the Holy Rosary". This feast was extended by Pope Clement XII to the whole of the Latin Rite, inserting it into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1716, and assigning it to the first Sunday in October. Pope Pius X changed the date to 7 October in 1913. In 1969, Pope Paul VI changed the name of the feast to "Our Lady of the Rosary",[1] and it is celebrated as a memorial in the ordinary form.

Fr George spoke of the significance of praying the rosary in Pope St Pius' time, in winning this victory, but also related it to the other title given to Our Lady at this time: Help of Christians. This is all ever relevant to our day, in all our needs, with Our Lady offering our fervent prayers to her Divine Son.

Fr George is one of two Birmingham parish priests to attend the recent priest's training conference organised by the Latin Mass Society in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Westminster. This is a very practical way that the LMS are trying to help implement the Holy Father's wishes in Summorum Pontificum of making this form of Mass available to subsequent generations. We look forward to seeing the fruit of this form of worship amongst the Catholic laity in Birmingham.

Fr George will offer further Low Masses every first Friday of each month at 7pm, beginning with a Requiem for November 6th 2009.

Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary

Low Mass
St John Fisher, West Heath
Wednesday, October 7th at 7pm

(at Sacred Heart Altar)

1 Cofton Road,
West Heath
West Midlands
B31 3QT

Celebrant: Parish Priest Rev Fr George Grynowski

Upcoming Missa Solemnis

Solemn High Requiem
St Michael & the Holy Angels, West Bromwich

Wednesday, November 4th at 7:30pm
Followed by refreshments

Featuring Requiem by Jean Richafort (1480-1547) - a very rare performance of a High Renaissance masterpiece by ensemble 1685 conducted by Mr Richard Jeffcoat

260 High Street
West Bromwich B70 8AQ

ensemble 1685
Formed by Richard Jeffcoat from singers he worked with at Coventry Cathedral, this enterprising group is now in its fifth year, and has notched up more than 300 performances. 1685 was the year both Bach and Handel were born, but, in addition to performances of Bach Passions and Handel's Messiah, the ensemble sings in all styles, and in every kind of performance context. A special interest lies in seeking out the correct context for performances of sacred music, and this rare performance of the Requiem Mass by a Franco-Flemish composer from the 16th century will be greatly enhanced by its context within a Latin Mass.

Jean Richafort (1480-1547)
This polyphonic setting of the Ordinary of the Requiem Mass was composed in honour of the composer's teacher, Josquin Desprez, following Josquin's death in 1521. Richafort held several posts in the Low Countries but also appears to have been attached to the French Court. The Requiem uses fragments of the older composer's work hidden in the rich texture of 6-part writing. This is a very rare performance of a High Renaissance masterpiece, and perhaps it will be performed liturgically for the first time in this country. As far as I know, this will also be the first Traditional Latin Mass in the Black Country in 40 years! Please give it your support!

With thanks to Fr Louis Hong Le (Parish Priest) and Mr Patrick Fahey for helping to organise it.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

R.I.P. Grant Roberts

- Grant Victor Roberts -
Passed from this world September 23rd 2009

Subveníte Sancti Dei, occúrrite Angeli Dómine, Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altísimi. Suscípiat te Christus, qui vocávit te, et in sinum Abrahæ Angeli dedúcant te. Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altíssimi.

Come to his assistance, all ye Saints of God: meet him, all ye Angels of God: receiving his soul, offering it in the sight of the Most high. May Christ receive thee, who hath called thee, and may the Angels conduct thee to Abraham’s bosom. Receiving his soul and offering it in the sight of the Most High.

Grant was a member of the Latin Mass Society since 1974 (exactly thirty five years tomorrow), and it is with great honour that I can say I assisted at many Masses with him. He died fortified with the Rites of the Holy Catholic Church. May he rest in peace.

N.B. Funeral will be a Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form on
Monday, October 5th at 11am
in the Birmingham Oratory. Followed by burial in Quinton Cemetery.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Stabat Mater Dolorósa

On Tuesday evening we had a High Mass at St John Fisher in West Heath. Mr Oliver Hayes, who sung in the choir for this Mass, kindly wrote a report of it on his blog along with some photos which I shall borrow. It was the second High Mass arranged at West Heath, with the first being in July this year.

Dolorósa et lacrimábilis es, Virgo María, stans juxta crucem Dómini Jesu Fílii tui Redemptóris. V. Virgo Dei Génitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, hoc crucis fert supplícium auctor vitae factus homo.
Thou art sorrowful and tearful, O Virgin Mary, standing at the cross of the Lord Jesus, thy Son, our Redeemer. V. O Virgin Mother of God, He whom the whole world doth not contain, beareth this punishment of the cross; He the author of life made man.

The feast of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now known as "Our Lady of Sorrows" in the Ordinary Form, was first held in the 17th century by the Servites. Later, in 1817, it was extended to the whole Church by Pope Pius VII to mark his own deliverance from exile and captivity, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. It is therefore as much a feast about our own sufferings, and how these can be united to the Cross of our Lord, in emulation of our Lady's cooperation with humanity's redemption. Redemptive suffering is, therefore, a great thing for us. Without it, suffering can seem empty and pointless, and will almost certainly lead to complete despair.

On watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, my own mother struggled to comprehend how our Lady could be present for our Lord's final trials and sufferings. The raw intensity of it all, the complete all encompassing grief. My mother has been through the grief of losing a son, and so she knows how intense the loss can be, let alone the extended agony of such a painful death. Imagine also, the seven sorrows set alongside our Lady's whole life: not just the four sorrows of watching our Lord's Passion, but also the sorrows during His infancy: the Prophecy of Simeon predicting the sword that would pierce her heart; the flight into Egypt to escape mass child genocide; and the loss of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem for three days. We can see in all these things shadows of both the Old Testament, like the slavery of the Israelites and their eventual liberation, and the future with our Lady's pain and anguish at both the crucifixion, and the three day disappearance of our Lord following His death. Suffering in all these contexts are not meaningless: They purify, perfect and give way to a resurrected life.

So back to the Feast! You'd think with all this talk of suffering there would be black vestments?! Well, no: white vestments show the glory of our Lady's suffering and the rejoice we have in her intercession and sharing in our grief. Truly we have a wonderful advocate who shares in the sufferings of Christ's spouse, His Church. This feast is just a day after the second anniversary of Summorum Pontificum: Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio which by his own initiative freed the ancient Roman liturgy from restricted use. We have certainly come a long way in a short time. A High Mass in a parish church was unusual at any time, even before the Second Vatican Council. What a treat to therefore have everyone come together to make it possible.

Rev Fr George Grynowski, the Parish Priest at St John Fisher, has recently returned from the LMS priest's Training Conference at London, Colney. Before this he had filled the ministry of Deacon and Sub-deacon at a High Mass (in fact, he was a 'permanent deacon' up until a few years ago!). This Mass was not only his first High Mass as celebrant, but was also his first public Extraordinary Form Mass celebrated altogether. He had good help with Rev Fr Anton Guziel as Deacon, Rev Fr Christopher Miller as Sub-Deacon, and an excellent MC.

We had so many servers willing to assist, including six from the parish itself, that we had a full complement. This meant we had six torch-bearers and a cross-bearer (who was the grandfather of one of the lads, and remembers the Latin Mass well)! These 'home-grown' servers can be seen in their red cassocks. It is an important function of the LMS, especially since Summorum Pontificum, to not merely keep the old Mass going, but to train up a new generation of faithful who get involved. I am grateful for this traditio, and am happy to now do my part to carry it on.

The choir did remarkably well, only consisting of four male voices who filled the whole church with great gusto. St John Fisher, although a modern 60s contruction, was built with the old liturgy firmly in mind, and has excellent acoustics as well. Perhaps this is also due to the lack of carpeting, which in the sanctuary was particularly hard on the torch-bearer's knees! Gregorian Chant is something which also needs to be passed on and preserved, and therefore I would be excited to hear from anyone who would be interested in learning it, or anyone willing to sing for us.

With all this said, there were probably half the number of faithful present compared with our first High Mass here. Still, sixty was a good number by any measure. Perhaps this is due to the nights drawing in, or perhaps the initial interest has given way to indifference. Things will settle down now in West Heath. Fr George will have the opportunity to see how his parish has reacted to the ancient liturgy, and will begin also saying Low Masses. The first of these will be Wednesday October 7th at 7pm for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Walsingham Pilgrimage

Walsingham is quite a long way from Birmingham, taking about three hours to drive east. But for us it is always a journey towards Christ, and this weekend was no exception.

We were fortunate enough to be able to take Fr Philip Cleevely, our chaplain, who said his own Mass in the slipper chapel at 9am on Saturday morning. It was his first Mass in the little chapel, and was a real treat for us having never seen this altar used in its original intended way, so to speak. Please note that the shrine staff and sacristans have all the necessary stock for a Low Mass such as this, and are only too happy to accommodate priests wanting to say a Mass using the 1962 missal. Our many thanks to them.

In pre-reformation England this was the last chapel en route to the great shrine in Walsingham; before the last 'Holy Mile' which pilgrims would often walk barefoot, hence the name. In this last century, as devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham has returned, the Slipper Chapel is the centre of Catholic devotion to our Lady in this country. Even near the old demolished abbey in Walsingham, the Anglicans have built their own shrine to honour our Lady. In the last couple of years the RC church in Walsingham has been rebuilt, but is very modern in specification, and it would be impossible to say Mass ad orientem there. It is a small church more intended for the Catholic parish, but has a large parish centre to accomodate pilgrims. Pilgrims tend to congregate around the RC shrine, at the Slipper Chapel in Houghton St Giles.

Because of the sheer volume of pilgrims, there is a large chapel of Reconciliation beside the shrine which is modelled after a Norfolk barn. The wall behind the altar can even be opened up to allow a congregation outside to participate in the Mass. The LMS national pilgrimage Mass took place here yesterday at 3.30pm after a procession up from Walsingham (a reverse holy mile!) The celebrant was the Rt Rev Mgr Gordon Read, who sang a missa cantata. He preached on this feast, the Holy Name of Mary, particularly about a devotion to the humanity of Jesus, which is typified by the original vision to built a replica model of the house of Nazareth in Walsingham. It was nice singing the communion motet 'Adore te devote' and the final hymns 'Salve regina' and 'Faith of our Fathers' (which is perhaps an LMS favourite written by Fr F Faber RIP)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Our Lady of Sorrows Solemn High Mass

St John Fisher RC Church
West Heath, Birmingham
Tuesday, 15th September 2009 at 7pm

(followed by Refreshments in church hall)

Fr George Grynowski would like to welcome everyone to a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite at his Parish Church in West Heath, South Birmingham, for the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the 17th century the Servites celebrated a solemn feast of the Seven Sorrows of our Lady, which in 1817 was extended to the whole Church by Pius VII as a memorial of his sufferings in exile and captivity and of his deliverance through the Blessed Virgin’s intercession.

Pope St Pius X transferred this feast from the third Sunday of September to this octave-day of our Lady’s Nativity (September 8th), in 1912. The commemoration of her Sorrows in Passiontide (Friday before Palm Sunday) recalls our Lady’s share in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary; this second and greater feast recalls also the other events when she suffered with Jesus:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon (St Luke 2:25-35)
2. The Flight into Egypt (St Matthew 2:13-15)
3. The Child Jesus Lost in the Temple (St Luke 2:41-50)
4. Mary meets Jesus carrying the Cross (St Luke 23:27-29)
5. Mary at the Foot of the Cross (Introit St John 19:25-30)
6. Mary receives the Body of Jesus (Psalm 130)
7. Mary Witnesses the Burial of Jesus (St Luke 23:50-56)

Moreover, she also shares in the sufferings of the Church, His Spouse, who is crucified in her turn, and in this time of suffering renews her devotion to His Mother’s sorrows.
Here is a picture of St John Fisher church from Google Maps, which as well as aerial photo views, now has the revolutionary "Street View" whereby you can literally drive around, look 360 degrees, and admire Birmingham. I can even virtually drive down my own road and see the crucifix in our window. Amazing!
1 Cofton Road,
West Heath
West Midlands
B31 3QT

Here is the booklet I have prepared, which I hope to be able to print more copies of this time!! (best viewed full-screen by clicking on the toolbar below)
Seven Sorrows of the BVM

Monday, 31 August 2009

London Colney Training Conference

The latest LMS priest's training conference in the Archdiocese of Westminster sounds like a great success. Have a look at Joseph Shaw's blog for full coverage.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

My Patch??

The Latin Mass Society has been served by diocesan representatives who have always represented the lay faithful as best they can in their aspirations for the Traditional Latin Mass. When it was suggested that I take up the vacant post in Birmingham, there were already several diocesan reps serving in different parts of the Archdiocese (Oxford, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, etc). I knew that I wanted to be based in Birmingham city, and the original title was "Birmingham City and Environs" which I thought sounded a little vague. In actual fact, there are no clear cut boundaries to the work I do, but to give a better idea of my mailing list (sent from head office), I help represent people from all over the West Midlands. To date, the metropolitan county of the West Midlands includes:

Sandwell (West Bromwich, Warley)
Sutton Coldfield

So its a big area, encompassing three cities (Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton) and is the most heavily populated conurbation in the UK outside London.

Now, I live in Smethwick, which is basically the centre of the "Birmingham & Black Country" and where I thought I would have the best presence. However, I would not exclude any part of the West Midlands in my remit. I just thought "LMS West Midlands" sounds less precise, and doesn't acknowledge the fact that our diocese is centred on Birmingham, where the Cathedral is, and indeed the Birmingham Oratory with the highest activity of Extraordinary Masses in the region. Besides, other LMS reps in the future might consider themselves better placed to represent Coventry, for example, which seems rather distant for me!

It was brought to my attention that Wolverhampton does not like to consider itself part of the Black Country. I appreciate this, having worked there and learnt a lot of its history connected with the large church of St Peter's. Having gained city status in 2000, St Peter's is almost like their (Anglican) Cathedral, whose benefactor Lady Wulfrana helped build the original monastery there in 994. However, modern usage seems to place the whole of the western part of the West Midlands under the umbrella of the Black Country, a term thought to be derived from the black smog of the industrial revolution, and the numerous coalfields in the region (some of which fall under Wolverhampton).

It is a great challenge to me to get to know this area, having only lived here for eight years. I have yet to fully understand, let alone master, the ancient English dialect spoken here (probably the last such example of early Chaucer's English)! But I am certainly enjoying it so far and welcome any further suggestions of where to have masses. So far the extra masses outside the Oratory are being requested by either clergy or other parishioners, and therefore I do not see my role as leading a 'pressure group,' but rather helping network like-minded Catholics who can work together to glorify God.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Assumption High Mass

Above: Entrance Processional taken by Oliver Hayes of the Oratory Choir

The High Mass this morning for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was very well attended. There were probably about 100 people in the congregation, which is a similar number to the High Mass on a Sunday (Ordinary Form). Palestina's Assumpta Est Maria was sung by the Oratory Choir to great effect. Everyone joined in with Credo III. I served as second Acolyte, but we seemed to be a bit short on servers and so sadly we had no torch bearers. Fr Guy Nichols was Celebrant and Preacher, Fr Anton Guziel was Deacon, and Fr Paul Chavasse was Subdeacon. There was another Oratorian and visiting Deacon in choir.

The fixed date of this feast on August 15th follows an ancient tradition which is also followed in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches - the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Dormition means 'falling asleep' and Tradition tells us that Our Lady fell asleep and was then taken, body and soul, into heaven. Orthodox Christians believe this in a different sense to Catholics, in that they hold to the legend that Our Lady died a natural death, although she was made aware of this by the Archangel Gabriel three days in advance. Then the Apostles, who were scattered throughout the world, were miraculously all together to be present for her death. She was then buried in Gethsemane, and Thomas, appearing three days late, asked to see the tomb. Upon arriving, her body was gone with only a sweet fragrance in its place. Then an apparition informed them that Christ had taken her body into heaven, but not to be united to her soul (presumably until judgement day).

Catholics have slightly different beliefs, along similar lines to the Prophet Elijah, and perhaps even Moses. We believe that our Lady did not die in the proper sense, and was taken body and soul into heaven. This is why in the Christian Church there are no relics or tomb or burial place marked for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption to be Catholic Dogma in 1950, but left open the question as to whether she had died an earthly death beforehand.

The Feast gives us a special vision of how our own lives are transformed by God's Grace, and the promise of resurrection of the Last Day:
No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day... I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.

John 6:44, 51-52

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


Solemn High Mass for the
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday August 15th at 11am

The Traditional, non-transferred feast of the Assumption will be celebrated this Saturday at the Birmingham Oratory with full solemnity, despite not being a Holy Day of Obligation. Please come and share this wonderful Marian feast!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Mass of Ages Report: August 2009

News from the Dioceses
(Birmingham & Black Country)

Mass of Ages Magazine
August 2009

There is now a regular Low Mass on Saturday mornings at 9.30am in the Birmingham Oratory (Chapel of St Philip Neri). The Oratory fathers have kindly printed a booklet for use at the Low Mass along with Mass sheets for each Sunday.

I was pleased to organise a High Mass for St John Fisher Church in West Heath, Birmingham of July 9th. This church was built for the liturgy of 1962, having been erected in 1962-64. The parish Priest, Fr George Grynowski was Deacon and was excited to be introducing his parishioners to the riches of the Extraordinary Form on the patronal festival of Ss John Fisher & Thomas More. Fr Philip Cleeveley, was celebrant, and Fr Anton Guziel was Subdeacon.

I am grateful to the Neri Singers who provided Gregorian Chant, and to all the servers. I hope this is the start of more such events across the region.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

St Mary of the Snows

Today in the old calender is the feast of the Dedication of St Mary Major. I particularly enjoyed visiting this basilica, which is the oldest basilica dedicated to our Lady. It has a shrine where St Jerome is buried, and contains a relic of the nativity crib.
According to tradition, the outline of the church was physically laid out on the ground of the noble's property by Liberius himself under a miraculous but predicted snowfall that took place on the night August 4-5 352. The legendary Miracle of the Snow was depicted by Masaccio and Masolino about 1423 in a triptych commissioned by a member of the Colonna family for the Basilica, now conserved in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. In it the miracle is witnessed by a crowd of holy men and women and observed from above by Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Snows, local Roman Catholics commemorate the miracle on each anniversary by dropping white rose petals from the dome during the feast mass.
(from wikipedia!) What a beautiful legend. The photos I took in November 2007 on our trip to Rome.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Regrettably I am going to have to cancel the High Mass originally scheduled for Wednesday October 7th at West Heath parish. I had not realised it, but this date coincides with the 40 hours devotion at the Oratory, which would make things too difficult. I will endeavour to find an alternative day for a suitable High Mass feast very soon...

Instead there will be a Low Mass at 7pm on this feast of the Most Holy Rosary at a side altar of St John Fisher, West Heath - celebrated by Fr George Grynowski (parish priest)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

LMS Chairman visits Newman's Rooms

It was my pleasure to accompany Dr Joseph Shaw for a guided tour around the Oratory House yesterday. We even found a Latin altar card to display on Newman's private altar. I have enjoyed exploring these rooms in recent weeks, which are real treasure troves, as I helped with the photography for the Newman Cause site. Please do visit, as well as the 3-part feature on the New Liturgical Movement.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Pilgrimage to Harvington Hall

Sunday August 2nd
with St Michael & the Holy Angel's Parish,
West Bromwich

11:30 Meet in Parish Hall departing before noon by coach
12:45 Packed lunch on arrival (bring your own)
13:30 Tour of the hall
15:00 Low Mass (EF) at St. Mary’s Church
17:00 Departing back to West Bromwich.

Cost is adults £14:00 includes coach, entrance and tour of the Hall. Children £11.50 except those on parents lap free. Contact Patrick Fahey for more information and to reserve a place: 07941 129065.Directions to St Michaels

Friday, 10 July 2009

West Heath High Mass

The Mass last night at the parish church of St John Fisher was a great success. There were well in excess of 100 people in the congregation, and we all received a warm welcome from the many parishioners who celebrated the occasion.

West Heath Mass

The intention was for Joe Brookstone, who celebrated his birthday this day (I cannot say how old he is, but needless to say he would recall the splendour of the Tridentine Liturgy in his youth!)

Fr George advertised the Mass to his parishioners in their newletter last Sunday with the following:
Thursday, 9 July, is the feast day of Ss John Fisher and Thomas More in the Extraordinary Form or Traditional Rite calendar. Pope Benedict authorized more extensive use of the old rite of Latin Mass a couple of years ago, according to the Missal published in 1962. This was the missal first used in our church when it opened in 1964 and for which it was designed. Some parishioners have asked for a celebration of the Extraordinary Form Mass, and the Latin Mass Society has helped plan a Solemn High Mass for Thursday evening. Please come along for what promises to be wonderfully inspiring music and liturgy. If you have never attended such a Mass, now is the time to experience it. Please remember that Holy Communion is received under the form of bread alone, on the tongue and, if physically capable, kneeling at the altar rails. There are likely to be number of visitors from round Birmingham, so it would be good to show hospitality with a light buffet. Volunteers please sign up at the Piety Stall.

I only printed 30 mass booklets in the short time I had! These were well received nonetheless. The occasion was a great sign of how unified the Church can be, with a friendly parish who were pleased to welcome fellow Catholics from around the diocese. Our thanks go especially to Fr George who came up with the idea, the Neri Singers for their rendition of Missa de Angelis, MC Karl Dearn, and all the servers and parishioners who took part and fed us afterwards! We look forward to the next opportunity to share such a lovely evening with the West Heath crowd!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Ss John Fisher & Thomas More

For use this Thursday!
(best viewed full screen - click square button on right side of bar)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

High Mass This Thursday!

Don't forget about the High Mass this Thursday, 9th July, at St John Fisher Church in West Heath at 7pm. The Church is located on Cofton Rd / Alvechurch Road, just off the A441 Redditch Road before it meets junction 2 of the M42, in the south of Birmingham. Map here.

For a post about this church, see my other blog.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

National Events

Here is a reminder of two important upcoming events:

1) LMS Training Conference for Priests at London Colney, Herts (Monday 24 - Friday 29 August 2009)
The conference is being organised with the encouragement of the Archdiocese of Westminster. There will be groups for beginners as well as ones specialising in Missa Cantata and High Mass. See my previous post for more details.

2) Confirmations in the Traditional Latin Rite at St James's Church, Spanish Place, London W1 on Saturday 7th November at 11am
Enrolments are currently being taken. Bishop George Stack (left), auxiliary bishop in Westminster, will administer the Confirmations. This is the sixth consecutive year the LMS has organised the ceremony. Parents who require Traditional Confirmation for their children in November should contact the LMS office for full details of how to register (020 7404 7284 thelatinmasssociety@snmail.co.uk)

Sunday, 21 June 2009

AGM and Pontifical High Mass

Yesterday we had the important occasion of the Annual General Meeting for all members of the Latin Mass Society of England & Wales. It was lovely to see so many friendly faces, and to be introduced to some of the other Reps from around the country.

Fr Martin Edwards (right) gave an inspiring talk at the AGM. He has been a member from the early days, and first attended an AGM in 1982 (the year I was born!!). His talk which was essentially about the theological virtue of Hope in the context of the Holy Father's recent encyclical Spe Salvi facti sumus: "In Hope we are saved". (Romans 8:24)
The present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.
Spe Salvi Paragraph 1 (Pope Benedict XVI)
He reflected on the many years of patient perseverance on the part of traditionalists in this country, where the Latin Mass Society had an important effect internationally. From the early days in the late 60s and early 70s, with the support of Cardinal Heenan; to more recent difficulties securing the annual Mass at Westminster Cathedral; to last year's triumphant Pontifical Mass with Cardinal Castrillon de Hoyos! The culmination of staunch fidelity to the hierarchy amidst certain ridicule has led to a situation now of vindication for those "holy, stubborn and sidelined Catholic laity and priests" following Summorum Pontificum. What a relief! But there is clearly still much work to do.

Dr Joseph Shaw, the new Chairman, assured members that the great things we have seen in the last two years will continue in earnest. There are now two Priests Training Conferences per year, in Catholic institutions, with the latest in London Colney having the full support and encouragement of the Archdiocese of Westminster.

Furthermore, Dr Shaw has acknowledged that formation and catechesis are at the forefront of a Catholic renewal which the LMS should contribute towards. From my point of view, a rigerous and wholly orthodox Catholic education is the best thing I could want for my children, especially in the context of the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite which we choose to nourish them with. We believe, as traditionalists, that this is the best and safest way to instil in them the faith of our fathers. The crisis which we see in our Church has unfolded to be one of poor catechesis, and so what must have started as a visible change in worship has been exposed to have it's roots in deficient modernist philosophy corrupting Catholic thought. I, for my part, am thrilled by Dr Shaw's emphasis of this aspect, which includes the encouragement of Gregorian Chant and serving workshops and other initiatives to further what has been preserved all these years.

What many people were most interested in was the recent controversial resignation of members of the LMS committee including the Chairman Julian Chadwick. A full statement was read out which I would be happy to forward to anyone. It was agreed at the AGM to publically record our thanks for all their hard work over the years, and the fruitful ways in which they have promoted traditional Catholicism in these important times (despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their departure). The secretary assured us that it was a dispute of internal management, which is about to be thoroughly reformed, rather than any disagreement in the policies or direction of the LMS.

The Pontifical High Mass from the faldstool (above left) was celebrated by Bishop John Arnold, auxiliary of Westminster. This was an important touch since it indicates a direct involvement and approval on the part of the Archdiocese, rather than the LMS having to rope in a Bishop from elsewhere! The Mass was sober and peaceful, with the sounds of the Westminster Choir filling the vast expanse of the beautiful Byzantine building. I couldn't help but notice a small group of tourists wander in and become absolutely transfixed by what was happening during the Canon of the Mass. A powerful sight indeed! The belltower was ringing out during the consecration to awesome effect! Bishop Arnold gave a thoughtful sermon on the Sacred Heart of Jesus (above right), and that through His mercy everything He asks us to do for His glory, will be empowered by His grace.

If anyone else felt like me, I dareday we left stengthened, enlivened and encouraged to continue with renewed vigour and purpose! We are not fighting to ghettoise some sort of elitist remnant, but rather share a pearl of great price with all we meet. This is a Mass for enrichment; for parishes, for priests, for men, women and children: to experience a piece of our Catholic heritage, and deepen our knowledge and understanding of the mystery of Faith.
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