Traditional Latin Mass is recognized by world class cultural leaders as a pre-eminent creator of Western culture
The writer and convert to Catholicism, Julien Green, who succeeded François Mauriac at the prestigeous Académie Française, left no doubt in a 1982 edition of one of his books that it was the ancient rite of the Mass with its transparently clear presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary that had led him to a fiery love for the Holy Sacrifice. In no uncertain terms he protested the abandonment of the ancient rite:
“As a simple layman, I look on with horror as I see blotted out from the world the greatest poetry that has ever been and that is the reflection of God. After [this], there will be darkness.” (Julien Greene (1900-1998), in his essay, “Ce qu’il faut d’amour à l’homme » in Julien Greene, Pamphlet contre les catholiques de France [Paris: Gallimard, 1982], p. 176.)
The “Agatha Christie” Letter: British Intellectuals Stand for the Traditional Latin Mass
In a letter addressed to Pope Paul VI in 1971, outstanding leaders of culture petitioned that the traditional Latin Mass be allowed to continue in England and Wales.
“If some senseless decree were to order the total or partial destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated ‒ whatever their personal beliefs ‒ who would rise up in horror to oppose such a possibility.
Now the fact is that basilicas and cathedrals were built so as to celebrate a rite which, until a few months ago, constituted a living tradition. We are referring to the Roman Catholic Mass. Yet, according to the latest information in Rome, there is a plan to obliterate that Mass by the end of the current year.
One of the axioms of contemporary publicity, religious as well as secular, is that modern man in general, and intellectuals in particular, have become intolerant of all forms of tradition and are anxious to suppress them and put something else in their place.
But, like many other affirmations of our publicity machines, this axiom is false. Today, as in times gone by, educated people are in the vanguard where recognition of the value of tradition is concerned, and are the first to raise the alarm when it is threatened.
We are not at this moment considering the religious or spiritual experience of millions of individuals. The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts ‒ not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.
In the materialistic and technocratic civilisation that is increasingly threatening the life of mind and spirit in its original creative expression ‒ the word ‒ it seems particularly inhuman to deprive man of word-forms in one of their most grandiose manifestations.
The signatories of this appeal, which is entirely ecumenical and nonpolitical, have been drawn from every branch of modern culture in Europe and elsewhere. They wish to call to the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive, even though this survival took place side by side with other liturgical forms.”
24 Sir Harold Mario Mitchell Acton KBE (1904-94) Catholic historian, writer and poet.
25 Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937-) non-Catholic conductor and pianist.
26 Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903-89) Catholic convert, composer.
27 Sir Maurice Bowra (1898-1971) non-Catholic academic; President of British Academy.
28 Dame Agatha Christie DBE (1890-1976) non-Catholic writer.
29 Kenneth, Baron Clark, OM, CH, KCB, FBA (1903-83) Art Historian and broadcaster (a deathbed Catholic convert).
30 Nevill Coghill (1899-1980) literary scholar.
31 Cyril Connolly (1903-74) non-Catholic critic and writer.
32 Sir Colin Rex Davis, CH, CBE (1927-) non-Catholic conductor.
33 Hugh Delargy (1908-76) Catholic Member of Parliament (sitting for the Labour Party).
34 Robert Mortimer (1902-76) Anglican Bishop of Exeter.
35 Miles Francis Stapleton Fitzalan-Howard, Order of Pius IX, KG, GCVO, CB, CBE, MC, DL, GCPO, Earl Marshal, 17th Duke of Norfolk (1915-2002).
36 Constantine Fitzgibbon (1919-83) Catholic historian.
37 Sir William Frederick Glock, CBE (1908-2000) non-Catholic music critic (BBC Controller of Music, Controller of the Proms).
38 Magdalen Goﬃn (1923-) Catholic writer.
39 Robert von Ranke Graves (1895-1985) non-Catholic poet, scholar, and writer.
40 Graham Greene, OM, CH (1904-91) lapsed Catholic convert and author.
41 Major Ian Greenlees (1913-88) Catholic author and academic, Director of the British Institute, Florence.
42 Joseph, Baron Grimond, CH, CBE, TD, PC (1913-93) non-Catholic barrister, writer, politician (leader of the Liberal Party).
43 Harman Grisewood, CBE, Papal Chamberlain (1908-97) Catholic actor, author, radio and television executive (BBC Controller of Third Programme).
44 Colin Hardie (1906-98) non-Catholic academic (Classicist, Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford)
45 Sir Rupert Hart-Davis (1907-99) non-Catholic publisher and writer.
46 Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-75) non-Catholic sculptor.
47 John Jolliﬀe (1929-85) non-Catholic, academic and later Head of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
48 David Jones (1895-74) Catholic convert, artist and poet.
49 Sir Osbert Lancaster (1908-86) cartoonist.
50 Francis Raymond Leavis, CH, (1895-1978) non-Catholic literary critic and writer.
51 Cecil Day-Lewis CBE (1904-72) non-Catholic poet; British Poet Laureate.
52 Sir Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie, OBE (1883-1972) Catholic convert and writer.
53 George Malcolm, KSG, CBE (1917-97) Catholic musician and conductor; Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral.
54 Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan CBE (1908-78), Catholic, Professor of archaeology and Fellow of All
55 Alfred Marnau (1918-99) Catholic poet and author, the co-ordinator of the petition.
56 Yehudi Menuhin OM, KBE (1916-99) non-Catholic conductor and violinist.
57 Nancy Mitford, CBE (1904-73), non-Catholic writer.
58 Raymond Mortimer (1895-1980) lapsed Catholic convert, writer and editor of the New Statesman.
59 Thomas Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-90) Catholic convert, writer.
60 Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-99) non-Catholic philosopher and novelist.
61 John Murray (1898-1975) Anglican theologian.
62 Sean O’Faolain (1900-91) Catholic academic and writer.
63 Edward James Oliver (1911-92) Catholic convert and biographer.
64 Julian Edward George Asquith, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KCMG (1916-2011) Catholic colonial administrator.
65 William Plomer (1903-73) non-Catholic writer.
66 Kathleen Raine, CBE (1908-2003) non-Catholic poet and writer.
67 William, Baron Rees-Mogg (1928-) writer and journalist (editor of The Times).
68 Lt-Cdr Sir Ralph Richardson (1902-83) Catholic actor.
69 John Moorman (1905-89) Anglican Bishop of Ripon.
70 Charles Ritchie Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen (1908-86), Catholic, Lord Justice of Appeal, later Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.
71 Dame Joan Alston Sutherland, OM, DC, OBE (1925-2010) non-Catholic soprano.
72 Theodore Philip Toynbee (1916-81) non-Catholic journalist and writer.
73 Martin Turnell, scholar and writer.
74 Bernard Wall (1908-74) Catholic publisher and writer.
75 Major Sir Patrick Henry Bligh Wall, KBE, MC, VRD (also awarded the Legion of Merit by the USA) (1916-98) Catholic Member of Parliament, sitting for the Conservative Party.
76 Edward Ingram Watkin (1888-1991) Catholic convert and writer.
77 Robert Charles Zaehner (1913-74) Catholic convert, academic, and writer.
(Text and profile of signatories from “FIUV POSITION PAPER 11: EVANGELIZATION AND WESTERN CULTURE” https://lms.org.uk/sites/default/files/resource…/fiuv/fiuv_pp11_western_culture.pdf )
Why One British Intellectual, Evelyn Waugh, Author of Brideshead Revisited, Shouted for the Traditional Latin Mass
The following is an excerpt from an article by Philip Blosser, “Undone by the “Permanent Workshop”, June 2012, reviewing a re-publication of the book A Bitter Trial: Evelyn Waugh and John Carmel Cardinal Heenan on the Liturgical Changes (http://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?did=0612-blosser)
Waugh had come to regard the Mass as ‘what mattered most’ in life, as Fr. Philip Caraman, S.J., said in his panegyric at Waugh’s requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral. […]
Indeed, Waugh suffered immensely. In a 1965 letter to Archbishop Heenan, Waugh begged him, “Please pray for my perseverance.”
He declared further that “every attendance at Mass [the new form introduced in the 1960s] leaves me without comfort or edification. I shall never, pray God, apostatize but church-going is now a bitter trial.” […]
Several months later, he wrote to Msgr. Lawrence L. McReavy, asking, “What is the least I am obliged to do without grave sin? I find the new liturgy a temptation against Faith, Hope and Charity but I shall never, pray God, apostatize.”
A year later, a month before he died, Waugh wrote to Lady Diana Mosley, “The Vatican Council has knocked the guts out of me…. I have not yet soaked myself in petrol and gone up in flames, but I now cling to the Faith doggedly without joy. Church-going is pure duty parade.”
The Thursday after Waugh died, his daughter wrote to Lady Diana Cooper, “Don’t be too upset about Papa.…. You know how he longed to die….I am sure he had prayed for death at Mass.”
Why did Waugh suffer so? To understand his predicament, and that of a multitude of English Catholics like him, one must consider multiple facets of the distress: (1) the sheer fact of change itself, (2) practical changes in disciplines, and (3) confusions about doctrine. In a 1965 diary entry, Waugh says:
‘More than the aesthetic changes which rob the Church of poetry, mystery and dignity, there are suggested changes in Faith and morals which alarm me. A kind of anti-clericalism is abroad which seeks to reduce the priest’s unique sacramental position. The Mass is written of as a ‘social meal’ in which the ‘people of God’ perform the consecration.
Third, the perceived threat also involved questions of doctrine. Waugh wrote to The Tablet that ‘the dangers threatening the Church were to be resisted on graver grounds than the merely sentimental, aesthetic, or traditional’.
To The Catholic Herald, he wrote that he doubted that Pope John XXIII ‘had any conception of the true character of [liberal] Protestantism’, citing the demythologizing tendencies in Protestant theologians like Paul Van Buren, who strip Christianity of its supernatural elements.
Again in The Tablet, he declared, ‘I detect graver dangers to the Faith [than questions of aesthetics], chief among them a lowering of respect for the unique office of the priesthood and episcopate in the talk of ‘the people of God’ as consecrating the elements.’
To [Cardinal] Heenan, he wrote that the distress of Catholics ‘at finding our spiritual habits disordered’ must be a ‘minor concern’ compared to ‘the graver dangers to faith and morals openly propounded at the Council’.
Waugh’s clever criticisms are often balanced, however, by penetrating insights: “‘Participate’ — the cant word — does not mean to make a row as the Germans suppose.
One participates in a work of art when one studies it with reverence and understanding”; and “‘Participation’ in the Mass does not mean hearing our voices.
It means God hearing our voices.” In a letter to The Tablet, he asked the pundits to explain how “participation” is “furthered by today’s peremptory prohibition of kneeling at the incarnates in the creed.”
(Excerpts from article by Philip Blosser, “Undone by the “Permanent Workshop”, June 2012, reviewing a re-publication of the book A Bitter Trial: Evelyn Waugh and John Carmel Cardinal Heenan on the Liturgical Changes at:
French Cultural Leaders Energetically Support the Traditional Latin Mass
As reported by Rorate Caeli blog, a declaration of support for Pope Benedict XVI’s legislation, Summorum Pontificum ‒ which recognized that all priests may freely enact the ancient rite of the Mass ‒ appeared in the French newspaper, Le Figaro, on Decembe 16, 2006.
The signers were the following:
René Girard, of the French Academy; Michel Déon, of the French Academy; Bertrand Collomb, of the Institute of France; Jean Piat, actor; Claude Rich, actor; Jean-Laurent Cochet, actor and producer; François Ceyrac, former president of the CNPF (National Council of the French Corporate Directors); Charles Beigbeder, CEO (Selftrade and Poweo); Jean-François Hénin, CEO (Maurel et Prom Oil Company); Jean-Marie Schmitz, executive, president of the Free College of Law, Economics, and Administration (FACO); Raphaël Dubrulle, executive;
Jean François, honorary president of the Lafarge Corporation; Jean-Marie Le Méné, president of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation; Jean Raspail, writer; Jean des Cars, historian; Denis Tillinac, writer and editor; Robert Colonna d’Istria, writer; Isabelle Mourral, honorary president, Association of Catholic Writers; Jacques Heers, professor, historian, former director of Medieval Studies at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne; Alain Lanavère, lecturer, Catholic Institute of Paris; Jean-Christian Petitfils, historian and writer; Yvonne Flour, professor and vice-president of the Scientific Council, University of Paris-I – Panthéon-Sorbonne; Jacques Garello, professor emeritus, University of Aix-Marseille III- Paul-Cézanne; Jean-Didier Lecaillon, professor, University of Paris II –Panthéon-Assas;
Catherine Rouvier, lecturer at the University of Sceaux, lawyer; Patrick Louis, Member of the European Parliamen, professor at the University of Lyon-III; Jean-Yves Naudet, professor at the University of Aix-Marseille III- Paul-Cézanne, president of the Association of Catholic Economists; Bertrand Fazio, member of the Association of Catholic Economists; Roland Hureaux, writer;
Jean Sevillia, historian and writer; Henry de Lesquen, high government official; Yvan Blot, high government official; Jacques Trémolet de Villers, writer, court attorney; Alexandre Varaut, court attorney; Solange Doumic, court attorney; Frédéric Pichon, court attorney; Francis Jubert, president of the Foundation for Political Service ; Anne Coffinier, diplomat; Benoît Schmitz, History professor; Marie de Préville, professor of Classical Letters;
Alexis Nogier, surgeon, Clinical Head at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital; Philippe Darantière, consultant ; Thierry Boutet, writer and journalist; François Foucart, writer and journalist; Philippe Maxence, writer, editor-in-chief of L ‘Homme Nouveau; Jacques de Guillebon, writer; Falk van Gaver, writer; Mathieu Baumier, writer; Christophe Geffroy, director of the La Nef journal; Anne Bernet, writer; Louis Daufresne, journalist, Paris Archdiocesan Radio (Radio Notre-Dame); Fabrice Madouas, journalist; Hilaire de Crémiers, journalist.
Excerpts from Statement of the French Intellectuals
“We, laymen, Roman Catholics, wish, considering the media commotion provoked by a possible liberalization of the Gregorian Mass, to publicly witness our fidelity, our support, and our affection regarding the Holy Father, Benedict XVI.
“The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council, recalls: ‘In faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way’.
“We consider thus that the diversity of rites in the Catholic Church is a grace and that we shall see with joy the coming liberalization of that which was our ordinary, that of our parents and of our grandparents, and which nourished the spiritual life of so many saints.
“We wish to tell the Holy Father and our Bishops of our joy of seeing the appearance of more and more secular or religious communities attached to the beauty of the liturgy under its many forms. We share the observation of him who was then Cardinal Ratzinger: ‘I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy’. (Milestones)
“We are shocked by the idea that a Catholic may be distressed by the celebration of the Mass which was that which Padre Pio and Saint Maximilian Kolbe celebrated. That which nourished the piety of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of Pope Blessed John XXIII. […]
Italian Cultural Leaders Stand For Traditional Latin Mass
From the blog Rorate Caeli:
“The Italian daily Il Foglio publishes today a manifesto signed by great Italian intellectuals, including Antonio Socci and Franco Zeffirelli (and also René Girard, of the Académie Française, who published with other French intellectuals a manifesto published today at Le Figaro), in defense of the liberation of the Traditional Roman Mass, the Missa Piana, and remembering the Petition of 1966 and the great British Petition of 1971, of venerable memory.
Our English version of the “Socci Manifesto” (from the Italian original):
I wish to launch an appeal to the world of culture. In support of a decision of Benedict XVI.
The announcement was given by Cardinal Arturo Medina Estevez, a member of the Ecclesia Dei commission which met to discuss the liberalization of the Latin Mass. The prelate said, “The publication of the Motu Proprio by the Pope which will liberalize the celebration of the Latin Mass according to the Missal of Saint Pius V is close.”
It is an extraordinarily important event for the Church and even for the culture and history of our civilization.
Historically, lay intellectuals were actually those to realize more and better the disaster, the actual cultural destruction, represented by the “prohibition” of the liturgy of Saint Pius V and the disappearance of Latin as sacred language of the Catholic Church.
When, 40 years ago ‒ in contravention to the documents of the Council ‒ the prohibition of the ancient liturgy of the Church (that which had been celebrated even during the Council) was imposed, there was a great and meritorious protest by very important intellectuals who considered this decision as an attack on the roots of our Christian Civilization (the liturgy has always been a center and a fountain of the most sublime art).
Two appeals were published in defense of the Mass of Saint Pius V, in 1966 and 1971. […]
They are largely lay intellectuals because the cultural and spiritual value of the ancient Latin liturgy is a legacy of all, as is the Sistine Chapel, as is the Gregorian [chant], as the great cathedrals, Gothic sculpture, the Basilica of Saint Peter also are.
Even more so today, when our entire European Civilization risks to cut off and deny its own roots.
Curiously, even “progressive Catholics”, who made the dialogue with the world and with modern culture their banner, did not give any regard and fought for forty years to keep this incredible prohibition. An unprecedented arbitrariness.
In April 2005, at the eve of the election of Benedict XVI, it was a lay writer, Guido Ceronetti, who writes, in La Repubblica, an open letter to the new Pope, in which he asked “that the sinister suffocating gag on the Latin voice of the Mass be removed”.
When he was a cardinal, Ratzinger declared that the prohibition of the Mass of Saint Pius V was unprecedented: “throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the very spirit of the Church”.
In one of his books, he retold dramatically how he had viewed the publication of the missal of Paul VI: “I was dismayed by the prohibition of the old missal, since nothing of the sort had ever happened in the entire history of the liturgy. The impression was even given that what was happening was quite normal,” but, Ratzinger wrote, “the prohibition of the missal that was now decreed, a missal that had known continuous growth over the centuries, starting with the sacramentaries of the ancient Church, introduced a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic … the old building was demolished, and another was built.”
The effects were disastrous.
The road to incredible abuses in the liturgy was opened. Ratzinger writes,
“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence?”