Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Newman House

Earlier this year a small group of students asked me to provide for Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, “in accord with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum”. In his motu proprio, the Holy Father granted permission for priests to celebrate the older form of the Roman Rite 1. in private, by any priest; 2. where a stable group of the faithful request it; 3. where a parish priest deems it pastorally appropriate.

None of those conditions exist at Newman House. 1. I have no desire to celebrate Mass privately, whether in the ordinary or extraordinary form; 2. Students are not a stable group, but are only here temporarily; 3. I am not a parish priest.

I therefore felt it necessary to refer this matter to the local bishop, the Cardinal, who is responsible for the liturgical life within his diocese. The Cardinal has agreed that there should be one such celebration at the Chaplaincy per Academic Year, and I am very happy to follow his suggestion.

There are several opportunities for students to attend Mass in the extraordinary form within very easy walking distance of Newman House. These include Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, St James, Spanish Place, and St Etheldreda, Ely Place. The Oratory in Brompton is also well known for offering Mass in the extraordinary form. The desire of those Catholics who wish to attend Mass in the extraordinary form is therefore well catered for.

Nevertheless, since the Roman Rite is the patrimony of the Catholic Church, and the extraordinary form is the expression of the Roman Rite that formerly obtained, I believe it would be a useful part of developing a fuller experience of the Catholic tradition for students to be exposed to this form of the Roman Rite.

I discussed this matter at length with the Area Dean, and with a representative of the Latin Mass Society. The LMS and Fr Phipps have kindly agreed to assist us by the provision of servers and other requisites for the celebration of the extraordinary form.

A Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will be celebrated in the Newman House Chapel on Saturday 10 May 2008 at 10.30am.

Fr Peter Wilson
Senior Chaplain


Vernon said...

Since the word 'stable' does not appear in the Motu Proprio, all that is required for the Extraordinary Form to be requested by the laity is that there is a 'group' requesting it. Three people most definitely make a 'group' and it is probable that two also do so.

Whilst the Catholic Chaplaincy to the University is not technically a 'parish' it has many of the features of such to the students and so the (senior) Chaplain ought to be regarded as the equivalent of a Parish Priest. In any case the M.P. refers to 'Pastor' rather than 'Parish Priest' and so a Chaplain most definitely ought to be able to arrange for the E.F. of his own accord.

It would appear extremely stingy of the Cardinal Archbishop to have limited E.F. Masses at Newman House to one per academic year. One would have expected no less than one per Term!

Let us hope that the Mass on 10th May will lead to many more students requesting it be said frequently. If that should be the case then I trust that you will oblige without further reference to the Cardinal who, under the M.P. no longer has the power to forbid, but only to encourage and arrange for, the E.F. to be said.

Fr Peter Wilson said...

Thank you for your reflection Vernon.

The precise provision, given by the Holy Father himself, is (in Latin) "In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium continenter exsistit". That is, "in A PARISH, where a group of the faithful, adhering to the older liturgical tradition, continuously exists". In this situation, the parish priest (not pastor: the latin is "parochus", a clearly defined canonical ecclesiastical office) is enjoined to accept their requests. A parish and a parish priest are very specific canonical entities.

Playing fast and loose with the Holy Father's legislative provisions through creative interpretations is not something I engage in. Neither do I have any inclination to treat the local ordinary as if he were an irrelevance.

A group may mean just two: but providing for their needs, according to Summorum Pontificum, needs to "harmonise with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish". It is not meant to set up a select group whose every demand is acceded to, as if they have a right above all other rights.

Fr Peter Wilson

Sadie Vacantist said...

"Playing fast and loose with the Holy Father's legislative provisions through creative interpretations is not something I engage in."

If you learnt and celebrated the EF you might be confirmed in this commendable position. You have passed up an excellent learning opportunity! You are the loser in all this, it seems to me, not the students. How sad, how very, very sad.

RBrown said...

Not being a parish priest is not a good reason for not regularly celebrating a Latin mass. Parishes are almost always erected geographically, and so it is important that a pastor not push out parishioners who want a Latin mass, forcing them to go to another church.

Public oratories, however, are by their very nature specialized, and so have more flexibility than a parish--it actually makes more sense to have a Latin mass in a public oratory than in a parish.

Fr Peter Wilson said...

Dear RBrown

That is an entirely admirable suggestion. However, it is not what Summorum Pontificum permits. Perhaps you should raise those issues with the Holy Father, who laid down the rules.

Sadie Vacantist said...

"Perhaps you should raise those issues with the Holy Father, who laid down the rules."

Perhaps you should lay off the sarcasm!

Paul, South Midlands said...

I would like to add a few comments.

It can only be entirely right and proper that a priest who receives a request and is for whatever reason not entirely sure how to respond or implement it should seek the advice of his Bishop on the matter, whether he is required to or not. And it is only right and proper that when asked for his advice the Bishop should give it.

It is something to be celebrated that TLM will be celebrated at London University Chaplaincy where there was none before.

This whole argument seems to me to be something of a storm in a teacup. As someone who attended a university Chaplaincy for three years I can appreciate Fr's comments on Fr Z's blog about the fluidity of the congregation.

Those of us who like to attend the ER must always be humble, charitable and accept that, for the moment, we are very much the minority. It may well be that we will be a growing minority over the years and perhaps eventually become the majority but this will not be assisted if we are a noisy minority who cry "not enough" when someone agrees to the TLM where there was no TLM before.

I'm sure that if things go smoothly and enough people are interested, it is not inconceivable that the provision may become more frequent in future years, but this is not the way to achieve it. Students have enough on their plate at this time of year!

I did feel that in this case Fr Z seems to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick and inadvertently done what he has so often warned us against doing (and would have said so to him on his blog but the combox is closed)

I would just add that the line on your letter to Fr Z about the international nature of the student congregations was a bit of an own goal ;-). I suspect that within a generation most masses with a multinational or multicultural congregation will be in Latin, whether ER or NO.

Anonymous said...

Father Wilson,
I was a student living at the Chaplaincy so I hope my small contribution to the debate will have some sway. Father I think you are making a lot more out of all of this than you need to. If students request you to offer the Mass according to 1962 Missal there is no need to explain anything. You just make allowance for it as an option and allow it on a regular basis if there are more than 3 who attend. I have read you are an ex Anglican and do not like private Masses. No one is anyones enemy! Just allow it please Do not get caught up in privtae likes and dislikes. Just allow those who want to attend to attend. Do not bring baggage or other subjectivisms into the matter. If you dont then you mkae it hard for students who like the Old Mass to turn to you as a priest.

Fr Peter Wilson said...

Dear Anon

Thanks for your thoughts.

I don't think I have made a big deal out of all of this. I have simply sought to follow absolutely correctly the norms laid out by the Holy Father. People asked, I responded, I believe properly. I am committed to transparency, so I have given reasons for my decisions. However, others (not connected with the Chaplaincy) have turned it into an issue.

My likes and dislikes, my history and baggage are not at issue. As I have pointed out, there is ample opportunity for people to attend Mass in the EF within easy WALKING distance of Newman House. I have gladly pointed people in the direction of those Masses. I do not have any desire for a personality cult and am fully aware that there are some people who do not find me helpful. But if people won't accept the ministrations of a priest simply because he does not celebrate the EF, that is a serious cause for concern - not about the priest but about them.

My sadness is that doing this Mass at all has resulted in cries of "not enough!!!" I am happy to facilitate anything (within reason) which helps people to pray. My suspicion is that short of making the extraordinary form the ordinary form, nothing will ever be enough! I am not willing to let the Chaplaincy turn into a battleground. This first Mass in the EF is by way of being ad experimentum for the Chaplaincy. If it helps the spiritual needs of students, it will have been a worthwhile occasion. If it turns into a focal point for outside groups to canvass and campaign, it will have been a failure.

Athanasius said...

God knows why the students want a traditional Mass in the chapel of Newman House. The place is a modernist hive. The tabernacle looks like it was designed by the set designers from the 1960s Star Trek series. There are no provisions for kneeling - modernists don't like to kneel. The piece of wood in the middle of the room can't in seriousness be called an "altar" - coffee table would be more accurate. The celebrant doesn't have the faith. And what's more the place has been home to countless novus ordo outrages including the sacrilege of communion particles being trampled into the carpet as they fall from sweaty unbelieving palms.

Copernicus said...

Congratulations on the measured and thoughtful steps you have taken, Fr Peter, and good wishes and prayers that the harassment you're now subject to will swiftly move elsewhere.

Kathryn said...


I am sorry to read your description of Newman House and think that you have had a very different experience of the place to what I myself have experienced there and what I think many others have experienced.

I lived in Newman House for a year a few years ago and since then have been going to Mass there every Sunday. I therefore feel I have quite a good perspective on the chaplaincy and would like to raise a number of objections to your comments.

Firstly, Newman House is not a 'modernist hive', in fact I think one of it's strengths is that there are a great mix of Catholics who come to celebrate Mass there regardless of their liberal or conservative leanings. I think the reason for this mixture is that people get so much out of the community experience that they find at Newman House and being among so many other young Catholics is a great encouragement. Additionally, surely the fact that students have requested an extraordinarly Mass points to the fact that we are not all 'modernist'?

I also object to your description of the chapel: the tabernacle and the altar look to me as exactly what they are there for and I personally find the chapel a spiritual place to be. OK so it is not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the big old churches, but I think given the space constraints, the chapel is a very fitting place of worship.

In terms of kneeling, there may not be any kneelers, but if you come to Mass there on a Sunday or a weekday you will see that the vast majority of people kneel anyway.

I don't exactly know what you mean by the 'celebrant doesn't have the faith' as I don't see how a priest celebrating Mass can be accused of not having the Faith. If you listen to any of the various priests that say Mass at Newman House I think you will find that they are not lacking in faith although they are humble enough to admit that, like the rest of us, they sometimes struggle on their faith journey but that is a whole part of the Christain experience.

I would like to end by saying that Newman House has meant a great deal to me and has provided me with a great number of spiritual and social experiences over the three years that I have been around the Chaplaincy. Without such a centre for young Catholics in the heart of London, I think that myself and perhaps many others (although I obviously can't speak for them) would have struggled a lot more with keeping to my faith than I have done.

I am sad that you have had such a different experience of the Chaplaincy and hope that you will be able to come to see the chapel and the community in a different light.

Anonymous said...

I've been going to Newman House for many years now (before Fr. Peter took over as Chaplain) and have seen how the Chaplaincy has changed throughout these years. Fr. Peter has introduced many activitites, both social and spiritual, in the House to strengthen the bond and friendship within the Community and to nurture our Sprituality. What he says is true - we want, want and want. There are many churches in that area, you are fortunate to be given such a large choice within walking distance unlike others like myself who have a grand total of one. So go and explore them. Being a Chaplain is not an easy job and I am sure there is an enormous workload - he can't please everyone so please be abit more understanding and patient.

Athanasius: Please don't mock our Chapel. I have spent many days and evenings praying in our Chapel. I felt the presence of God there and have been receiving the comfort and guidance I need. That is enough for me (and for many others too, I hope). I am not there to analyse whether or not our altar looks like an altar (!?).

Also, I don't think anyone has the right to accuse another of not having the Faith. That is an insensitive accusation. We are not perfect but we are all trying our best to serve God in our different ways. So please don't accuse others of not having the Faith because that will do no good to anyone.

In regards to the "sacrilege of communion particles", I have seen Fr. Peter pick up a host I had dropped by accident (not on purpose, there is a difference there) and put it into his own mouth. I felt ashamed to have dropped it and was horrified with embarrassment when he picked it up to put it in his own mouth. He was very understanding and kindly said to me after mass that if something of that sort happens, I should pick the host up and eat it. I have been extra careful ever since the incident. My palms might have been sweaty but they are not unbelieving. What I want to say is that accidents, unfortunately, do happen and that we don't go around throwing the host on the floor on purpose.

Please be more sensitive towards other people's feelings when writing down these comments.

Chizoba said...


Exactly what gives you the right to insult a place of worship that has brought comfort to so many students and Londoners for years?

Which tome can one go to to see what an altar looks like? I have been in St. Peter's in The Vatican and have celebrated Mass in a village where all we had was a table and a tent, and the presence of God was there in both sitautions. Do not look for a cathedral in the middle of Gower Street and realise the great work that was done with the little space that was afforded!

I lived in Newman House for two years and had no problem with kneeling down on a carpeted floor. A lack of cushioned support should not stop you from kneeling before Christ if you truly wanted to. Can you compare that small discomfort with what He went through for you?

I was a part of Newman House before Fr. Peter came and was there when he started. The support that he and Newman House gave the students is something that can never be replicated. The community and that Chapel got me through some of the roughest years I have ever experienced.

Worry about your faith and leave the faith journey of others to themselves and God. I will not stand by quietly while you insult an intergral part of the London Catholic community.

Paul, South Midlands said...

I'm very saddened by what I am reading. Some students have asked for an ER mass in their church because it is THEIR church and they want this as part of their spiritual life.

What goes on in the chapliancy is a matter for the students and their priest and is no one elses business [within reason]

I suspect that it is the case that a handful of students have asked for this Mass. In all likihood, most students are grateful that there is a Mass on the campus at all, whether ER or NO. To double Mass provision regularly because a small amount of students prefer one type or the other is absurd, especially given the local ER alternative. By this Autumn they might have left or moved out to the suburbs and be worshipping in their local parish church anyway.

Readers in USA may not appreciate that things are not nearly as polarised over here as in some parts of the USA and in the vast majority of parishes the N.O. is celebrated with reverence and holiness (and no dancing)

This is an issue that could do serious damage to the cause of the ER in this country (and beyond), so please think before you post.

VPG said...

I was one of the students who requested the EF mass at Newman House.

As I said on Fr Finigan's blog, everyone who asked for the mass is looking forward to it on the 10th May and are grateful that it is going ahead. Newman House is a very happy community and the Chaplain has been very accomodating - in no way do we feel victimised. Given the fluctuating nature of the student body, it seems fair that the mass happens once a year on an experimental basis, if more students would like to explore it next year, I am sure the situation can be reviewed.

I think Paul's posts on this thread have been a very accurate reflection of the state of affairs and I would like to support them.

Michael said...

It does seem a shame that some people seem so passionate in their feelings about the extraordinary/ordinary mass argument that they are distracted from the core reasons we go to Church in the first place. Perhaps we should channel some of that passion into concentrating on allowing Christ into our lives rather that worrying about what language the mass is said in. It also seems silly that the appearance of the alter and tabernacle could affect somebody to such an extent that they cannot feel God’s presence in the Chapel in Newman House.

I feel I must also point out my objection to the claims that “the celebrant doesn't have the faith” and that there are “sweaty unbelieving palms”. Statements like these have the potential to cause great offence, and I feel there is no place for such a judgments. It is not our place to judge the faith of others in any circumstances.

I also feel that I should point out that since I have been attending mass at Newman House, my faith has grown enormously. I am sure that this is in part due to Fr. Peter’s influence and due to the influence of living in such a fantastic community of young Catholics (both conservative and liberal!)

Ryan Hobson said...

Like others I am extremely saddened by what I have read above. The personal attacks on a faithful and loving minister of the Lord and on a place of worship are the only sacrileges that I see.

I have attended mass at Newman House for 4 years and lived there for 2. In Father Peter I find a man and priest with faults, just like any other, yet he serves the community of Newman House tirelessly and with great humility. Having had the privilege to get to know him well, I can testify that he strives to meet the spiritual needs of ALL at Newman House.

To attack the chapel is very grave. Whether one finds the chapel at Newman an inspiring place or not is incidental. It is the resting place of the Lord, the place where we meet him face to face. Those who would attack it demonstrate their ‘faith’ quite clearly. To those who attack the altar as a ‘mere coffee table’ I have one observation: The original altar of the Lord, the one he chose to be sacrificed on was nothing more than a piece of wood! The cross was made holy by the blood of our Lord likewise the altar at Newman is made holy by the sacrifice we offer on it.

In terms of the debate about the extraordinary form of the Mass, may I just remind those who criticise Father Peter's measures that the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass are the same. They are the same sacrifice, it is the same Lord who becomes present for us and it is the same Lord that we meet and receive. Both the extraordinary and ordinary rites serve our spiritual needs. The difference between the two is a matter of individual preference. If the Bishop of the diocese and the priest in charge decide one extraordinary form per academic term is sufficient then it is sufficient. Obedience is a difficult path but one which yields great spiritual fruits!!!

Lastly can I make a plea to all concerned: Can we all act as Christ would have wanted us to!! The mass is meant to unite not to divide.

Anonymous said...

Athanasious, Newman House is clearly not a Modernist Hive. Firstly, some of the central tenents of Modernism include disbelieve in, or questioning of: (i)Papal infallibility, (ii) the virgin birth, (iii) the classic Chalcedonian account of the incarnation, (iv) the Nicean account of the Trinity, (v)the real possibility of Hell, amongst others. None of the above have been officially endorsed by Newman House in any manner and most importantly neither have any of the above ever been taught during a Newman House sermon.

Secondly a hive is the home of bees. No bees live at Newman House.

There is nothing particularly Star Treky about the Tabernacle. It contains no lights, switches or displays. Rather it is a simple design which performs the function of representing the body of Jesus without fuss. Remember he modelled himself on the suffering servant and came to serve - not to be crowned with gold but with thorns.

I wonder why you should think it such a travesty that there is no provision for kneeling? Do you only kneel when you find it comfortable to do so or do you kneel when you are supposed to irrespective of provision and without fuss?

I refer you to Codes 1235-1239 of the Canon Law in regard to your comments on the Newman Houses Altar. I defy you to find anything in the Code which Newman House could have been said to have broken. The Altar is entirely within the stated requirements.

It is simply slanderous in the strict sense to suggest that the celebrant 'does not have the faith' without producing substantial evidence to that effect.

Finally there is nothing particularly 'new order' about the eucharist being accidentally dropped. This was as much a part of the old rite as the new. There are countless accounts of the various instruments which where experimented with to extract the Eucharist from the clevage of women who failed to recieve it perfectly on the tongue in the old rite.

Finally I can only speak from my own experience but I have never found the celebrant to have sweaty palms.

Angela Kitching (nee Cheyne) said...

I had a great year at Newman House - I found the community to be supportive, loving and spiritual and I hope that it may continue to be so for everyone who experiences it today. My faith and experience of love was strengthened by my time there and I believe that should be the final test of any successful chaplaincy, not the architecture.

I wouldn't like to see a Latin mass at Newman House. I think a community like Newman has a duty to be open and I think Latin masses can come across as exclusive. Whether that's intentional or not it is often the case.

I think that Catholic students, past and present, have gained a lot from Newman House and the open door it offers them. Current students should look to extend that welcome to everyone - look outside the doors of Newman and see who you can welcome in, and use the form of worship that best allows you to do that.

Fr Peter Wilson said...

Okay everyone, I am going to call time on the comments here, or this will descend into manic warfare!

Thank you, however, to those who have commented. I am quite impressed by the good theology and good sense displayed by so many. Ryan Hobson I am looking directly at you! We'll get you out of the doctor's coat and into the seminary yet! Angela Cheyne - you changed your surname?!?!?!!!!!! That's been the biggest surprise of the thread, LOL.

Are we done here? I think so. I'm off to dry my sweaty palms.

Comments closed.

Maria Chiara said...

I personally feel offended by your words because 1. you criticized the place where Jesus is present considering only the exteriority of the design of an altar or accidents that can happen in any church or liturgy, no considering how many students find His presence there to pray and feel confort and who don't think that somethink is necessary to keel in front of Him (I assume you never come to Mass in NH is your think that we don't kneel because there is nothing to help us to!).

But you also critisize the faith of another person, considering yourself so superior and more faithful to do so.
I've lived in this house for 2 years and here I find my home, my family, in the middle of the caotic London. I find people that share the same faith and help me to grow in it, and everyone is accepted with all his different spirituality and way of pray, the different spiritual journey and step reached in this way, personality, language, without addressing other with judgements and with "your have to do/pray/speak/ me".
This house, as it is, is an example and a guide for many young people that, sadly, have in mind only the idea of sad catholics that divide among themselves.

And if this community is such unite and family-like it is in particular for the people that are guiding us here, that I see all the time are doing everything they can to provide us with all that we need and that can unite us, without considering us neither as spoil children here by accident nor as numbers as it is so common in a big city, and especially to create an environment where everyone could be accepted and cared and helped in strenghening his/her faith.

Then, Athanasius, why didn't you write your name? its easy to say nonsense if you stay anonymous, Everything I wrote is my own idea, responsability and beliefs.

Ps. Fr. Peter.. I was writing my comment in the meantime you posted yours..:p

jerome said...

Hi all

To quote Krusty the Clown, "I've been in Reno for six weeks. Did I miss anything?"

First things first. Please don't knock Fr Peter - he is a delicate creature and I am not sure he can take this kind of punishment. Also, if you are going to have a go at him, please make it accurate and, if possible, funny. (I refer you to the one and only edition of the Newman House Whine.)

(On a side note, I loved the comment: "Secondly a hive is the home of bees. No bees live at Newman House." I was going to post something along the lines of "Oh, please, bee-hive all of you"; but this is so much better. I have a feeling I know who posted this; if you do not know me, please get in touch. Also, maybe the current students could organise a treasure hunt with the prize being a jar of honey.)

Secondly, on reading the charity expressed in many of these posts, a lot of my friends have decided to become Catholic. Congratulations on grasping the missionary 'bull' by the horns.

PS Fr Peter - I simply ignored your instruction because I wanted to congratulate the "no bees at Newman House" comment.

Anonymous said...

Why does this priest choose to alienate so many people in his care? Does he only do this to Traditionalists or does he alienate people equally - if a Charismatic was to live there, would he attack and humiliate them just as much as I feel he attacks and alienates the Traditionalists?

Fr Peter Wilson said...

Jerome, you old rogue! Thanks for alerting the world to my delicate nature! I hope your Archbishop doesn't read this - I'm sure he always suspected you had been holed up in a modernist hive!

I'm glad you know who posted about bees, as I don't. But I'm sure as heck afraid of whoever it is who is quoting the Code of Canon Law! The things students today know.

Anon, you need have no fear: "this priest" is an equal opportunities oppressor - the charismatics had their turn last year [Max, are you reading this?]

And now I have discovered the "turn comments off" button so no-one else can sneak comments in under my nose. Now would you all get back to your studies please, or none of those candles you light in the Star Trek Chapel will work.