The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals: The Petitions to Save the Ancient Mass from 1966 to 2007

The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals: The Petitions to Save the Ancient Mass from 1966 to 2007

  • by Joseph Shaw, ed. | Foreword by Martin Mosebach

  • Product Code: tlmti
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Publication date: October 27

With contributions from Fr Gabriel-Díaz, Erik Tonning, Sebastian Morello, Philip Maxence, Leo Darroch, Matthew Schellhorn and Joseph Shaw.

What do Evelyn Waugh, Lanzo Del Vasto, Nancy Mitford, F.R. Leavis, Agatha Christie, Yehudi Menuhin, René Girard, Franco Zefferelli, Stephen Hough, and Prof Jonathan Riley-Smith have in common? Along with scores of others—artists, musicians, scholars, writers, actors, politicians, business people, and others—they signed public petitions to save the Catholic Church’s ancient Latin liturgy, between 1966 and 2007.

This is the story of how so many men and women of culture, some Catholic, many not, came to the defence of the world’s greatest monument to the human spirit—the immemorial Latin Mass—and of the music, art, and spiritual tradition which it comprises and inspires.

As the 1971 petition stated, “Educated people are in the vanguard where recognition of the value of tradition in concerned, and are the first to raise the alarm when it is threatened.…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.” Numerous petition signers were not Catholics, “which only makes their testimony more impressive,” as Martin Mosebach notes in the foreword. “For their participation in this great action proved how deeply the ritual of the Mass of the Roman Church had become rooted in the general consciousness.”

Drawing on rarely seen historical documents and new research, this book weaves together not only a record of the petitions, but a compelling account of their intellectual and cultural genesis, and the formation of the movement to preserve the Traditional Mass. Ultimately, the question at hand is one of spiritual sensitivity. As Vladimir Ashkenazy, an  acclaimed pianist and conductor, put it: “The ancient liturgies, be they Catholic or Orthodox…are, by default, bound to represent a much purer spiritual relationship with Christ in particular, and with the world in general.”

Size: 6 x 9

410 pages

Joseph Shaw's talk to the Pax Liturgia Conference in Rome for the launch of The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals.  

The Latin Mass and the Intellectuals is, first of all, a groundbreaking history of the petitions from 1966 onward in support of the Latin Mass—which of course attracted so many eminent non-Catholic signatories. But it is so much more. We read biographies of the men and women behind the petitions. We read the words of the “intellectuals” themselves—offering trenchant, prescient insights on the liturgy and what they witnessed happening in the Church in those times.  And we come away with a new understanding of the interaction of art, beauty and the liturgy.  Highly recommended!” —Stuart Chessman, author of Faith of Our Fathers: A Brief History of Catholic Traditionalism in the United States, from Triumph to Traditionis Custodes

“Although it is true that the battle is not in our hands but God’s (2 Chronicles, 20:15), he who serves the Lord must nevertheless prepare himself for trials (Sirach, 2, 1). Given this fact, it certainly does not hurt to be armed with all of the weapons—theological, philosophical, historical, aesthetic, and broadly psychological—that supernatural and natural wisdom can provide the warrior in the trenches. I can think of nothing better that the militant defender of the Roman Rite can do on the human level to train himself for the complex fray against enemies now hostile not only to the Catholic Tradition but also to every last bit of rational thought and evidence from nature than to mobilize the manifold arguments found in this book in favor of the Mass of all Ages; our unsurpassable aid for the transformation of individual souls and all of Creation in Christ; our supreme earthly introduction to the eternal Music of the Spheres.” —Dr. John Rao, emeritus of St John's University, New York, Director of the Roman Forum, former chairman of Una Voce America, author of Black Legends and the Light of the World

“When famous convert Arnold Lunn once wrote: ‘If it is so that the Latin Mass is only for the educated few, surely Mother Church, in all her charity, can find a place even for the educated few?,’ he was voicing a frustration felt by intellectuals, artists, indeed cultural figures of every sort (both Catholic and non-Catholic) who looked on with mounting dismay as a centuries-old patrimony of liturgy—and the transcendent art that accompanied it—were flung out of the window opened by Vatican II. But in reality, it was never just ‘the few’ for whom they spoke when they signed one eloquent petition after another to ‘save the Mass’; they spoke on behalf of all who value what is beautiful and sublime, what is permanent and perennial. The colorful gallery of figures discussed in this fascinating book used their talents and influence to advocate for the monuments of our Western Christian civilization. Joseph Shaw’s remarkable research allows us to appreciate what a debt of gratitude we owe to this ad hoc cultural coalition for defending that which churchmen had disgracefully abandoned.” —Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski, author of The Once and Future Roman Rite

“Once again, Joseph Shaw brings his immense erudition and common sense (two qualities often not found together) to bear on the liturgical issues of our time. In this collection of appeals to the Holy See and commentary thereon he brings to bear the opinions—not of experts, real or otherwise, but of public intellectuals, Catholic and particularly non-Catholic—who were or are aware of the importance of the Traditional Latin Mass to Western Civilisation. Lost as it may be on many professional Catholics to-day, the argument from literacy ought not to be dismissed.” —Charles A. Coulombe, author of The Pope's Legion: The Multinational Fighting Force that Defended the Vatican

Joseph Shaw

Dr Joseph Shaw has a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University, where he also gained a first degree in Politics and Philosophy and a graduate Diploma in Theology. He is the editor of The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Position Papers on the Extraordinary Form (Angelico Press), and the author of ‘The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity’ (Os Justi). He is the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and President of Una Voce International. He was a member of the Philosophy Faculty in Oxford University for 18 years and is now an independent scholar and freelance writer. He lives outside Oxford with his wife and nine children.

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