Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

Study Missal Divine Worship

The Catholic Truth Society are producing a new Ordinariate study Missal containing all the content of the larger Missal. All the texts for use in Ordinariate worship have been approved and promulgated by the Holy See under the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and are made available here, for the first time, in a hand held book perfect for personal study at home, for travel and for those in the pews who like to follow the texts visually.

There is only going to be a limited run on these books, which will cost £65. To pre-order your own copy visit the CTS website using this link.  

We need to re-think charitable endeavour

In the wake of a monstrous scandal at Oxfam I again urge people to watch Poverty Inc. it is time to re-think our attitude to donating to large corporate charitable organisations. Far too many are run for profit first and have become part of the problem not the cure.  When your own eye watering salaries and investments rely on poverty it hardly motivates you to eradicating it and, instead, you tend towards an approach of ever sticking plasters on the problem instead of rooting out the real causes. When charity turns into a profitable business it is bad news for the poor.

What we need do is lobby and fight hard at governmental level to create fair and level playing fields in the third world. We need to encourage entrepreneurs to establish themselves o the ground and create long term jobs and prospects within those communities to provide salaries, tax revenue and hope for the future. We need to abolish restrictive legislation that makes it impossible for the little man to compete with corporations. We need to admit that the rich nations wilfully keep the poor nations down. We need to direct almsgiving to small charities on the ground that can show they are tackling the problem of poverty and not contributing to it.

Last month there was an outcry, rightly so, when seedy businessmen held a charitable event at which young ladies, often willingly it must be said, were employed and used as little more than objects for titillation. There has also been scandal in hollywood where young people have been subjected to abuse. Why has there not been a huge outcry at the news that Oxfam workers used the people they were meant to care for as prostitutes? I think it is far more monstrous- for those poor women were hungry, frightened and in desperate need whilst the men who used them were holding all the aces. It is time we stopped backing unethical charitable businesses in which the benefit to the poor is hard to discern.

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. At St. Anselm’s Sung Mass is at 7pm during which the imposition of ashes takes place. Although Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation it is an important day in the liturgical calendar and all Christians who take their faith seriously should make every effort to attend church on this day.

Then begins the Lenten observance as we prepare ourselves spiritually for Eastertide. During Lent Catholics are encouraged to go to confession and do penance, give alms to the needy fast that we might build up self discipline and learn the value of mortification and take on additional devotional reading and prayers.

To help parishioners at St. Anselm’s make full use of this penitential season we will be offering Stations of the Cross on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm. Each week we will use a different set of meditations. We shall also hold adoration after the 9am Mass on Saturdays. Confession is, as ever, from 6pm-7pm each Wednesday and by appointment. Do not let this vital season pass you by…


Art conservation talk

This evening (Tuesday 13th February) my wife, Hayley, is giving a talk to the Pembury Trefoil guild about her work as a painting restorer at the National Gallery in London. The guild have kindly said non-members are free to attend the talk- which is about the conservation and restoration of easel paintings.

The talk begins at 7:30pm at St. Anselm’s. Why not come along and swell the number? I know it will be worth your time.

Weekend in Sheringham

This weekend, it being the start of half term, the family travelled to Sheringham to spend time with my parents. As you see from the photograph above, we also spent time with Charlie who is a little large for a lap dog. It doesn’t seem to stop him! 

An afternoon beach walk, in nearby Mundesley, proved too much temptation for the boys…despite a temperature of barely two degrees. Brrr!! Soon it was not only shoes but trousers which were sodden. The fools even sitting in the sea at one point. Still it proved a lesson in ‘actions have consequences’ and, before long, they were travelling home giggling and adorned in various bits of dirty PE kit which, fortunately, we found abandoned in the boot from the previous day.

The girls were more sensible.

On Sunday morning, knowing Father Nicholas and Deacon Robert were competently covering services in Pembury, we ventured to Our Lady and St. Joseph in Sheringham; a two minute walk from my parent’s home. As you see it has a wonderful interior filled with ecclesiastical treasures.

The liturgy was also pleasing. This did not surprise me as the priest, Fr. Denys Lloyd, a one time vice principal of Mirfield in Anglican days, was already known to me via the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. Unfortunately he was ill on the day so his assistant stepped in. And again this was no stranger but a brother priest from the Ordinariate, Fr. Tim Bugby. It was good to catch up before and after Mass.

The church is not all that attractive externally but inside the architecture and fittings are first rate. Fr. Bugby informed me that many of the best furnishings were commissioned by the Stuflesser workshop in Italy. Meanwhile the altarpiece in the Lady chapel, seen below, depicts Our Lady of Walsingham flanked by Ss Thomas More and John Fisher. It is, in short, a fabulous church and certainly one of the most attractive Catholic churches of this period that I have encountered.

And it is not only the altar pieces that are beautiful. The Stations are magnificent too and come with a fascinating story. They were ordered in 1914 but never arrived because of the outbreak of war. And so they sat, impounded, for many years in the hold of a freight ship docked in Genoa. Fortunately, after the war, they were eventually tracked down and now serve as a memorial to the departed. They also serve as a timely reminder to us all that Lent is just around the corner…

Making use of pre-Lent

Within the liturgical life of the Ordinariate the green of Ordinary time has already given way to purple. Not because we entered Lent early but because we keep the traditional season of “Pre-Lent” with the count down Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. A season which, sadly, got lost within the Novus Ordo.

Sad because Pre-Lent serves as an annual reminder of the need to prepare- not only for Easter via Lent- but for Lent itself. If the penitential season is to be fruitful we need consider where to direct almsgiving, when to confess, what luxury we will forgo to develop self-discipline and we need to order the book for our extra devotional reading.

People sometimes ask me for ideas for Lent reading. This year I am happy to suggest the following books. I have tried to include easy reads and slightly more demanding ones but nothing too demanding. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section.

1. Leila Miller: Primal Loss (Easy read)

Seventy now-adult children of divorce give their candid and often heart-wrenching answers to eight questions about how divorce affected them. Their simple and poignant responses are difficult to read yet not without hope. Most of the contributors have never spoken until now. Despite vastly different circumstances and details, the similarities in their testimonies are striking; as the reader will discover, the death of a child’s family impacts the human heart in universal ways. Link here.

2. Thomas a Kempis: The imitation of Christ (easy read)

The Imitation of Christ, dating from 1418-1427, is surprisingly easy to read. It is also, perhaps, the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible. Many will have therefore read it before… yet I still meet Christians who have not heard of it. So if it bypassed you – read it this Lent! Apart from the Bible, no book has been translated into more languages. Link here.

3.  Dante: Inferno (tran. Antony Esolen) (a little more demanding)

Inferno is the first part of Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, revealing the eternal punishment reserved for such sins as greed, self-deception, political double-dealing and treachery. Antony Esolen is amongst my favourite Catholic writers and I heartily commend his translation. Link here.

4. Esolen: Defending Marriage: 12 arguments for sanity (medium read)

A compelling defense of traditional, natural marriage. Anthony Esolen-professor at Providence College and a prolific writer uses moral, theological, and cultural arguments to defend this holy and ancient institution, bedrock of society. He offers a stirring defense of true marriage, the family, culture, and love-and provides the compelling arguments that will return us to sanity, and out of our current morass. Link here.

5. Samuel Gregg: For God and profit (medium read)

One for the budding economist. From Christianity’s beginning, it has had a difficult relationship with money. Samuel Gregg underscores the different ways Christians have helped develop the financial and banking systems that have helped millions escape poverty for hundreds of years. But he also provides a critical lens through which to assess the workings-and failures-of modern finance and banking. Far from being doomed to producing economic instability and periodic financial crises, Gregg illustrates how Christian faith and reason can shape financial practices and banking institutions in ways that restore integrity to our troubled financial systems. Link here

St. Anselm’s Lent Appeal 2018

The Catholic church upholds the dignity of every person from conception to the grave and is opposed to unnecessary violence in all forms. Meaning that whilst there is sometimes virtue in using force to defend ourselves and others from evil, there is never good reason for cruelty. A worthy reflection as we approach Good Friday when Jesus himself was subjected to violence at the hands of wicked men.

Freedom from Torture provides support to adults, young people and children who have survived torture, rape and organised violence. The organisation was established in 1985, and since then over 57,000 individuals have been referred for help. Many people are tortured globally each year and are targeted for a variety of reasons including ethnic origin, gender, religious, cultural or political beliefs. Many are tortured during conflicts around the world each year, where torture is used to instil a climate of fear and force people to flee.

Freedom from Torture seeks to help survivors of torture, and their children who have often witnessed violence, to heal and overcome the trauma they experienced.   A donation box will be situated in the narthex throughout Lent.

Return to Otford

This coming Thursday we return to Otford, near Sevenoaks, to offer Mass according to Divine Worship.

Mass will be at 7:30pm and everyone is very welcome to attend. After Mass we will visit the Bull for a quick drink and a catch up. Why not come and join us?

Father Fireman

Jenny, a member of our congregation, recently took possession of an old ecclesial almanac which contains hundreds of cuttings from British magazines and newspapers at the dawn of the 20th Century. And there, nestled within this mighty tome, was news from Pembury circa 1902! It concerns the then Anglican vicar of the village, one Revd. H Sinclair Brooke, pictured in the cutting as seen above. Here is what the accompanying text says..

A REVEREND FIREMAN A Vicar who Captains a Fire Brigade.

Versatile clergymen have filled all sorts of offices in the pressure of circumstances, but the Rev. H Sinclair Brooke, Vicar of Pembury, holds an absolutely unique position as captain of the local fire-brigade, a post which was offered to him by the parish council. 

Of course, the brigade at Pembury, which is a small town in Kent, is composed of volunteer firemen. In great centres of population a large, permanent always-ready brigade is needed, and is provided by the municipal authorities at considerable expenditure. 

A few volunteer fire-brigades have clergymen amongst their members, but only one brigade – namely that of Pembury- has a minister for its captain. Our photograph shows Mr. Brooke in his official uniform – the “Vestments” he wears at fires and drill practice. Mr. Brooke’s ten firemen are a smart body of fellows, who are on the best of terms with their captain, and possess the full confidence of the inhabitants of Pembury. 

It is in many ways quite appropriate that a gentlemen who has the care of the souls of the parish should also be at the head of a body of men whose business is to save the lives and property of the inhabitants in case of fire. 

We are not casting the least aspersion on Mr. Brooke’s brigade when we express the hope that fires will be few and far between in Pembury.

What a lovely item from the annals of history. Hurrah for Revd. Brooke!

Losing our religion


A grumble follows intended as constructive criticism not attack. I seek to speak with humility as I value our local clergy and parishes and know most contain far more impressive Christians than me. So in that spirit let me share my beef…

I had a scour of the internet earlier and my suspicion was confirmed. We are the only parish in the locality, Catholic or Anglican, advertising evening worship to celebrate Candlemas. How can this be? What does it say?

Now to be fair on the other Catholic parishes, they all celebrated mass earlier and were free to take this option; this is not a day of holy obligation. And undoubtedly one benefit of my serving a smaller parish is being able to go the extra mile where busier colleagues may be too overstretched. So I am all for cutting a little slack nevertheless doesn’t the total lack of evening worship on what is a major feast not feel just  a little impoverished? After all the majority of the faithful must have been working or at school during the day.

Meanwhile all Anglican parishes are closed tonight- one presumes the celebration was moved to Sunday? At least it does get remembered that way but, again, it seems to me a lesser option than observing the feast on its appropriate day. It hardly teaches us the importance of Christian feasts in our daily lives when they all get shoved over to a Sunday. Don’t you think?

Perhaps I am being unreasonable? The sort of outdated ‘rigid’ old fashioned Christian whom the liberalising hierarchy in both communions frowns on these days. Nevertheless it does seem sad that when I stand before the altar tonight, celebrating a feast of light, all other local sanctuaries will be in darkness. Sad, not only because Candlemas is a wonderful feast containing unique liturgical elements, but because it is further evidence of the creeping erosion of faith in the West. You can bet your bottom dollar this was not the scenario fifty years ago!

Are Western Christians forgetting how to keep feasts on their appropriate day or else neglecting them altogether? There seems to have developed a habit of encouraging people to go to church on Sunday not be the Church on Monday, Tuesday, etc…by immersing ourselves in the culture including its rhythm and feasts. And when officialdom itself forever shifts feasts to the nearest weekend- it speaks volumes to those who are watching. The wrong example is set.

It saddens me finally because there is a dreadful irony at play. A central theme of Candlemas is liturgical obedience!! Mary and Joseph fulfilling their religious duty in presenting the Christ child before the altar. Yet it seems the fulfilling of our own Christian duty today leaves us lacking. Gathering as the family of God to mark the a major occasion in the life of Christ is seemingly not important enough to justify sacrifice of sofa and television.

I suspect it is in little ways like this that our nation gradually loses her religion. The slide into secularism continues. The devil wins not by great victory then but simply by boring inertia. An ancient liturgical cycle abandoned not taken away.For those still interested Mass is at 8pm. Our choir have kindly prepared an anthem. Candles will be blessed and distributed for use throughout Mass.

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