Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

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Christ the King & Advent Carols

This coming Sunday is the feast of Christ the King. As ever the 8am will be a simple said Mass. But at the 9:15am Solemn Mass (divine worship) and 11am Sung Mass (nous ordo) we shall conclude our worship with benediction- falling to our knees in devotion before our King to  end the liturgical cycle of Sunday celebrations.

This Wednesday I meet with Aidan Lee, our cantor and director of music, to plan ahead for the Advent and Christmas services. First up is the Advent Carol service to be held at 6:30pm on Advent Sunday. Containing all the great Advent carols and readings it is a great way of focusing on this important liturgical season before it gets squeezed out early by all the premature Christmas festivity of the modern world!

2017 is unusual in that the final Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve. Whilst large city parishes have the luxury of being able to host multiple services that will be well supported, here in the village we need to be realistic. The plan is to hold a very simple Mass of Advent 4 at 9am on Christmas Eve morning- followed by the usual decorating of the church and time for confessions. We will then host our usual nativity service for small children and vigil Mass and Midnight Mass.

For full details of the Christmas programme – watch this space…


CCC at Walsingham

Early on Wednesday morning I travelled up to Walsingham to attend the annual colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. As ever it proved an uplifting and worthwhile use of my time. And the journey was wonderful too- the Norfolk countryside a blaze of deep oranges and burn yellows as leaves prepare to fall.

The colloquium began with an address delivered by Scottish prelate, Bishop Keenan. He gave an excellent summary of Pope St. John Paul II’s theology of the body- a timely reminder, in these days of confusion and controversy, of the Church’s historic and unchanging teaching on matters of faith and morality. After the address we recited the rosary and offered benediction before Mass and there was opportunity given, which I gladly took, for the sacrament of confession.

The evening proved a challenge to caterers due to a power cut which lasted from 8pm until 2am the following morning. The cooks did magnificently however and so we enjoyed a supper by candlelight followed by drinks and convivial conversation. The priests of the confraternity are always a jolly bunch.

The following morning we breakfasted after Lauds before gathering for the second lecture delivered by the Rector of the Shrine, Mgr. John Armitage. He was on superb form sharing his plans and vision for the restoration of the Shrine before charging us to continue upholding the faith for Christ with courage, zeal and determination. Drawing on the heroism of English martyrs he reminded us that the work of the church must continue, in good times and bad, through the faithful ministry of simple priests, missioners and evangelists on the ground. The message being to never give up or run away! God wins in the end.

We then gathered for Mass in the Shrine and that theme of fidelity, courage and commitment was taken up again by Bishop Keenan, on the feast of St. Margaret of Scotland, who encouraged us to support one another in fidelity to the faith. After Mass we lunched before Father John Saward delivered the final lecture on the Mother of God, the Beauty of Truth and Christ’s kingdom of love.

Sadly I had to slip away before this final address- so I very much hope it will be made public. I am told it was excellent. However my mother has had a knee replacement operation in recent weeks and I was determined to make the journey home to Sheringham to spend time with my parents before returning to Pembury this morning. The olds were on fine form and there was even time for a little father and son bonding at the local curry house in Sheringham! Carers deserve a little tlc…

A great fruitful week then and now it is back to the daily round and the parish. This weekend we are blessing graves after Mass on Saturday morning and have the usual schedule of services on Sunday. The final Ordinary Sunday before Christ the King ends one liturgical year and Advent is upon us. How can that be??!

Maureen Patterson RIP

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Maureen, faithful member of this congregation, who passed away yesterday. Our love and prayers are with Christine, Pat and the family at this time.

Jesu mercy, Mary pray.


This morning Father Nicholas celebrated 8am Mass in the parish before heading off to remembrance day obligations elsewhere. Being a former soldier he is always busy on armistice day. Meanwhile I remained in Pembury to celebrate 9:15am and 11am Mass. Deacon Robert represented the parish at the civic celebration at the village war memorial. As you can see, from this fabulous photograph, he went for an understated sartorial elegance!

One or two people asked me to post this morning’s sermon. Here it is:

The remembrance day of my childhood is fading. As a boy those two world wars were alien to me but I could sense they meant much to my grandfather’s generation. There was an air of true solemnity when veterans uttered the infamous words- we shall remember. For them those wars were real. It was their friends and family who paid the price for freedom. For my children those wars will seem different again. A history lesson for the last WW1 veteran died in 2012 and many who served in WW2 have also died. The WW2 generation is fading from living memory. Why then continue to celebrate remembrance Sunday?

First because the war to end all wars was no such thing; people continue to die and suffer because of man’s inhumanity. Second remembrance is a time for reflecting on past mistakes to avoid pitfalls in the future. An aspect occasionally neglected; many recognise the horror of two world wars- but few realise their legacy on Western society. And so the present danger is we might then repeat those mistakes.

What lesson to take from two world wars? My first reflection is to ask if either would have happened but for the reformation? Now that might seem an extraordinary claim- until you consider how disastrous the reformation was in terms of a loss of  cultural identity in Europe. It caused an erosion of the faith that had historically bound Europe in peace. After the bloodshed of reformation Europe was left fragmented and divided. We have never really recovered; truth be told.

And the reformation left Europe rudderless; a church now deeply divided in the West lost credibility clarity and the meta narrative. Confusion ensued when myriad denominations began popping up- each contradicting the other. Christianity no longer spoke with one voice. And this inevitably led, in time, to the abandonment of faith altogether- the process of secularisation in Europe had begun.

It sparked a questioning of fundamental Christian principles. Darwin challenging belief that humans are embodied souls; suggesting we are but brute animals, the fittest of whom survive. Descartes thinking led to refusal of the existence of the soul altogether – intellect makes man; I think – therefore I am. Such philosophers were hitting out against religion- the unintended consequence of which was to strip man of intrinsic dignity and worth. No longer accountable to God, such thinking was then put into practice.

Thus in the concentration camp dominant Nazia exterminated weaker Jews. In the gulag man treated as nothing more than meaningless cells competing for survival. And sadly this evil did not teach us many lessons today. Witness 8 million abortions since they became legal. Clearly babies are no longer believed to have intrinsic worth or value in the womb- but are rather written off, in the name of liberation, as inconvenient cells.

And those wars had another corrosive effect. They contributed to the other scourge of modern time- family breakdown. Lengthy global war meant children deprived of fathers and wives of husbands (and husbands of wives) on historic scale. Infidelity- amongst men fearing the next bullet, and women abandoned -caused fracture in many a home. So when the families came back together, in the 1950’s, an era of false happiness dawned. A traumatised world playing at happy families. But beneath the smiles and newfound rock music lay shame and wounds. A western world was processing the terrible guilt of concentration camps and gulags. Of the destruction that ensues when you strip man of his intended dignity.

The result: people opted to put history behind them. They raised a generation of children to feel both entitled and permissive. Entitled because they were to be the architects of a new dawn for mankind- the world of modernisation. The spirit of the 60’s and 70’s was born. A time of confidence and hope for a brave new world.  Out with the stuffy old Church in with enlightened Hollywood. Goodbye crusty grandad and hello groovy kids. The foundations were thus set in place for the sexual revolution which continues to inspire that generation today who grew up to be our  modern Western leadership. The children of revolution.

The desire was healthy- who could resist bringing peace and love to the world? But the methodology flawed. Confidence was being placed in man not God. And when grace is removed from the human equation it never ends well; thus, in 2017, the modernisation project is fast unravelling. The wheels are coming off amidst rising greed, corruption and a total loss of confidence in big business and government.

We see further fragmentation of our Judeo-Christian culture as it is reduced to a secular wilderness; Trump versus Clinton, Remain versus Brexit, Catalan versus Spain; all around us is a new sense of hostility and division. So little seems to unite us anymore. Certainly not our faith – long since abandoned- nor family and community – eroded and broken by the zeitgeist. We have lost those things which once held us together in cultural terms.

So we now live in a moral and spiritual vacuum. And a cultural war arises between those who would  fill this vacuum . Three camps emerge- those who would return us to historic Christianity, those who would further secular grip and those who would introduce a radicalised Islam to Europe. The battle of Britain is on us again.

The veterans of two world wars did not fight for a secular Europe with a love of pornography, vice and tawdry self indulgence. Nor for an extremist Islamic vision. They died to protect the Judeo-Christian culture that forged this land. To protect an England we are in danger of selling down the river without a fight today. Will you fight to protect the Christian heritage now under attack? Not with bullets but love. Not with weapons but prayer. Will you put on the armour of Christ? Will you shrug off complacency and burn with love for the Gospel?

We so desperately need people to take up this cause and live lives of authentic holiness and radical witness. To shine as Christ’s light amidst the darkness lest the darkness overthrow us and our historic legacy and culture is lost.To win the battle of Britain we must build up the one true faith- in our homes, in our workplace and in our daily lives. We must give our lives to Christ afresh.

Blessing of graves

Grave stones in the snow in balck and white

The annual blessing of graves will take place, a week today, on Saturday 18th November. Those wishing to attend can either meet at St. Anselm’s church at 10am or at the graveyard, to the rear of St. Peter’s Anglican church, at 10:15am.

November is always a month within the Catholic church when praying for the departed takes on a special significance. It is the month in which we keep All Souls Day and also Remembrance Sunday. The latter will be kept this coming Sunday. I am grateful to Deacon Robert who will represent the parish at the civic service, whilst I fulfil duties at St. Anselm’s, and lay a wreath on behalf of the Catholic community in Pembury.

November is also a good time to recall that official Catholic teaching stress the four last things. Death, judgement, heaven and hell. On death we face immediate judgment and those souls which chose to abandon God will go to hell. Those souls which achieved sanctification will be sent to be with the Saints in heaven. For those who died in a state of grace but who did not achieve sanctification on earth there is purgatory. A time when souls are purified prior to the last day and final judgement. These are the souls we pray for.

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord. And let light perpetual shine upon them.

If you want a more detailed explanation of Catholic belief in purgatory then this is a good place to start.

Otford calling

A reminder that the Sevenoaks Ordinariate group gathers this evening at the Catholic church in Otford. All are very welcome to join us at 7:30pm.

When the persecution comes…

One of my favourite Catholic writers is the American professor Antony Esolen. He is a man of deep faith and searing intellect whose grasp of the English language, and appreciation of literature, make him always worth listening to. He recently wrote an excellent article pondering the different responses people tend to have when the church is in crisis. Here is the beginning of the article and a link to it in full.

I know there are plenty of Catholics who are, in one way or another, looking forward to the relentless institutional persecution that is coming our way unless we surrender the One Thing Needful to the secular left, and that is the family-destroying and state-feeding beast called the Sexual Revolution, with its seven heads and ten horns and the harlot squatting atop it. As I see it, these Catholics belong to four groups.

Will you be a persecutor? A quisling? An avenger? Or a soldier? Find out by reading the rest of the article over on Crisis

Parish logo


It has taken a while but I have settled on a logo design for the parish. For this I am indebted to Renata Pantone, a parent at St. Augustine’s school, who located a little known but rather wonderful sketch of St. Anselm produced by Frederick Wilson in 1912. Doesn’t our patron just exude dignity in this image?

The original image is owned by the Met museum in New York but in the public domain. The sketch was produced to enable a stained glass window to be placed in St. John’s Chapel in the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The idea is to use the image in a variety of ways within our parish. It will form the header on our website and a smaller version, encased as above, will be placed on letterheads and service sheets, etc… A little tightening up may take place but this gives you the general idea, I think, of what we are trying to achieve.

Choosing the logo was not easy as we received several fantastic entries from parishioners and well wishers alike. Thank you to everyone who contributed. Many of these were artistically more interesting/ambitious than this but I just felt this made the best overall graphic image and elevated our parish patron.

The colours of brown and green will be adopted to accompany the logo-  reflecting the natural setting of our village parish with its beautiful grounds and church yard.

All Saints & All Souls

This week we celebrate two great feasts within the Catholic Church.

On Wednesday the white/gold vestments will be out to celebrate the feast of All Saints. A day of holy obligation meaning that all Catholics, save the gravely ill and very young children, should be present at Mass. In Pembury we shall hold a special Sung Mass at 7pm to which everyone is invited. In the morning I celebrate Mass for our local Catholic Secondary School and in the afternoon for Catholics in a local prison.

This will be followed, on Thursday, by the feast of All Souls when we shall be using the beautiful black vestments. A time when the church throughout the world prays for the holy souls in purgatory. A time to consider our own mortality and eternal destination.

It has become a custom in Pembury to offer a different from of intercessions than usual at this Mass; in place of spoken petitions, we make time for silent prayer, the lighting of candles and bringing forward of crosses, inscribed with the names of loved ones, to place before the altar as the choir sing the Kontakion- or vespers from the dead. Mass at 7pm.

There is something special about evening Mass. Let us come together and support these occasions in number to deepen our personal faith, to support one another and to show the centrality of the Christian feasts within our lives.

Cakes and raffles

A big thank you to all those who helped with the cake and craft sale that took place between the 9:15am and 11am Mass this morning. I am delighted to announce that all but ten of the cakes were sold – the 11am worshippers hoovering up what those at 9:15am did not purchase themselves. The contribution to the window and lighting fund will be totted up on Tuesday and announced next weekend.

Because a few raffle books are still outstanding- and we want to maximise profits- we delayed the raffle draw by one week until next Sunday. We have LOTS of wonderful prizes for people to win- including a carvery for two at the Black Horse public house and tickets to the current exhibition at the National Gallery. Purchasing more tickets becomes a sound investment then. Thank you to all who have already done so and to those who have donated prizes.

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