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.

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.
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