Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

Month: June 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

A tabernacle for the High Altar

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This morning I positioned a new tabernacle on the High Altar. It needs a jolly good polish in the coming days to bring it up to the colour of the candlesticks. It also requires, in the fullness of time and when we can afford it,veils in the appropriate liturgical colours. But for now it is enough that it is there. For having created permanent space for worship at Saint Anselm’s it was absolutely essential that -as soon as possible- we placed Jesus Christ at the heart of our church and in the most visible location.

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If you click on the images you will see greater detail. The tabernacle doors are adorned with the letters Alpha and Omega and on top of the tabernacle sits a fine little Pelican with her babes. The Pelican is an ancient symbol of the Eucharist given that Pelicans have been known to feed their young by drawing blood from their own breast.

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Situating the tabernacle on the High Altar necessitates a few small changes. Firstly to the current tabernacle in the side chapel. The sanctuary lamp will be taken down from there this week and a new one placed in the main body of the church. After that the old tabernacle will become an Ambry! Which is to say it will remain to house the holy oils for use throughout the year. A special notice explaining this new use -as well as what the oils are for- will be placed in the chapel tomorrow alongside the Ambry.

Secondly the location of a tabernacle on the High Altar means that all services from the high altar must now, by necessity, be celebrated Ad Orientem- that is with the priest facing East. This will bring a small change to the 11am Mass only. To retain balance weekday Mass in the side chapel will still be celebrated Westward facing according to the Benedictine arrangement.

Another step on the path to our development then as a functioning parish with use of both a church and a hall. It is going to take time for us to settle into the new space- and much needs doing. But bit by bit the transformation is occurring. My thanks for all the support and help from parishioners. It was so lovely to see so many smiles as people came to church last Sunday. These are exciting days!

The Summer BBQ

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Apologies for the broken service this week. The blog and website were down due to the server that hosts them crashing. A few recent photographs have been lost but it is back to normal service from today. And so to today’s news…

On Sunday 19th July we are holding our summer BBQ. The 9:15am Mass will be said that day and will be most suitable for those setting up and cooking. The 11am Mass will be a Sung Mass with baptisms and will be most suitable for those attending the BBQ. Tickets are now on sale at £7.50 per adult with children entitled to a free ticket. The ticket gains you entry, good quality meat and your first drink. We are asking for donations of salad dishes and deserts.

This year we are providing live musical entertainment courtesy of our local band “Sold Out”. There is also a silly hat competition with a prize for the best one. So be creative and make a glorious bonnet! All profit from the BBQ will be put towards our in house project of building new storage units in the new hall. These are desperately needed to enable us to function efficiently.

We are holding a special planning meeting for the BBQ this coming Wednesday after the 7pm Mass. Everyone and anyone is invited to come to this meeting and get involved. The more ideas the merrier and we certainly need some volunteer help to ensure the event goes smoothly.

We very much hope that as many of you as possible will support this event. Why not bring family and friends? And remember to buy your tickets early, not only to ensure you get one before they sell out but also to help us with catering.

Pray for priests

Praying for vocations to the priesthood should be a regular feature of every Catholic’s prayer life. In Southwark Archdiocese we are blessed to have an excellent director of vocations in Fr. Stephen Langridge. The Ordinariate also has seminarians who are a great blessing to us. We must pray for them.

Do you know somebody with a possible vocation to the priesthood? Encourage them to explore it further. Do you have a vocation? Then respond to it. After all studies have shown that priests top the tables when it comes to job satisfaction and happiness in life. Pray then that the Lord would continue to raise up men for the priesthood and that he will continue to bless them in the work that they do.

Catholics in space…

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This July St. Anselm’s will again be holding a summer holiday club for primary school aged children. In 2013 the theme was “Catholics on Safari” and in 2014 it was “Catholics under the Sea”. This year the theme is “Catholics in Space” and much work is already under way to ensure it will be just as enjoyable for the little ones as in previous years. This year, of course, the new hall offers even better facilities for the children to use.

And it isn’t only the building that is improved. This picture from last year shows the paddock with compacted dusty earth starved of water and light by over 70 overgrown leylandii. Those unsightly triffids have now gone thanks to a huge volunteer project and a beautiful grassy paddock will host the children this year.

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It is important that you book a place very soon as spaces are limited and this holiday club is always over subscribed. The club runs from July 27th – July 29th from 10am – 2pm. Children bring a packed lunch each day and old clothes suitable for painting and playing outdoors. Each day I deliver a short talk about the faith and there are lots of craft activities and games which will all follow the outer space theme.

As well as recruiting children we also need lots of adult help. The club is run by Hayley, my wife, and we need leaders to be present on the day to assist with craft and games as well as adults willing to do preparatory cutting at home during the run up to the club in order to lessen the burden on Hayley and myself! If you need information are able to volunteer or wish to book a place, then click on the image above to enlarge it and follow the instructions given there. Only ten spaces remain. The countdown has begun…5, 4, 3, 2, 1…..

A new chapter begins

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On Sunday the new hall was used as the venue for our Sunday school. After several years of witnessing the poor children jammed into insufficient space on a tiny sacristy floor it was a moment of genuine liberation. Now they have tables and chairs and space in which to move. This is great news!

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It was also the first time we could use the new entrance into church. The doors need a few finishing touches but are now operational. The glass is welcoming and provides lots of light for the new lobby. Which is also now finished affording all visitors to Saint Anselm’s a view of the high altar on which the sacrament will eventually be housed.

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So now it is time to sit back and reflect. Over the coming weeks and months we must adapt to fit our new surrounds. The pre-school will be experimenting on how best to set up the new hall to suit their needs. And in church we will be pausing before bringing in the new pews to ensure we make informed decisions.

The five year plan has come to a close then.. in four years not five!  For which we are hugely indebted to those who managed the build. The project has come in just £94 over budget which is quite an achievement and evidence of how well things were managed. The next five year plan will see a significant chunk of the debt paid off on the hall and plans put in place to further beautify the church. But for now the pause. Time for reflection on all that has happened thus far and time to give thanks to God for the development of our parish.

Laudato Si

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God has given to us a beautiful world and we need to care for it. Not only for our own sake but for the generations who are to come.

There is an advantage in having time off to recover after sickness, one can read carefully Papal documents on the day they are released. Yesterday afternoon I therefore tucked myself up with a lemsip and opened Laudao Si, the first ever papal encyclical not to be given a Latin title. And also the first to be addressed not to the clergy or even the whole lay faithful but to the entire population of the world. That is quite some scope but then this message is important and it affects all of us who share this home that we call planet earth.

Yesterday I stated that the Pope needed to walk a very fine line to navigate the political games that hamper environmental progress on all sides of the political spectrum. This document proves he can do that and what emerges is a very sensible and hard hitting challenge to the human species.  It is, unsurprisingly, robustly Catholic and therefore a most pro-human document.

Do try and read it all by following this link. The Catholic Herald has helpfully produced a page of the most important quotes if you are looking for a summary concerning some of the central themes.

Update: I am grateful to those who pointed out that this is not, as I was informed, the first encyclical without Latin title. That honour goes to an earlier work addressed to the people of Germany!

 

Ahead of the encyclical…

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How very tedious is the warring of left and of right in the modern world! It serves the devil not the living Lord. I find it boring beyond words. What interests me is truth and what God is calling us to do in this life.

Today the Vatican releases the papal encyclical on the environment and it is already causing much screaming and angst across predictable fault lines. I guess it is hardly surprising given that ‘environmentalism’ has become a political hot potato in recent years. From where I stand, and before I have read and reflected at depth on the encyclical, both left and right deserve a yellow card regarding how they have chosen to approach this all important subject.

The right deserve a warning because they have tended to dismiss the needs of the environment altogether at times. Ignoring the needs of the planet entirely in pursuit of wealth. This is to ignore a central tenet of God’s command to man. That we are to be wise stewards of the earth and rule it according to his plan. Wherever big business is found decimating forests, poisoning rivers and encouraging poverty and human misery on grand scale for profit- there we see a clear sin in God’s eyes.

But the left are also guilty of naughtiness. They have tinkered with the truth and doctored scientific reports to suggest the crisis is more pressing than it is. Worse than that- they have pursued a path of caring for the environment in a way that is disgustingly profligate. Billions, that could have served the poor, have been poured into vanity projects which made almost no difference in real terms. Many got rich themselves turning environmentalism into a political game, that foolishly excludes the right and is manifestly anti-life. It has a contraceptive agenda for starters. Returning to Genesis it ignores the intended order. The needs of the natural world are ever placed above the need of man. The planet is worshipped in place of God.

Into all this mess and confusion, with much wrong on every side, the Pope has courageously decided to step in. That is very brave of him. The path he must cut is fine and I hope he charts it successfully.  To do so he must ensure he brings a necessary balance to proceedings. And he must show to us the word of God.

If the report reads like a non religious document dreamt up in a UN think-tank it will have failed. If it buys into/is duped by the politics of either side it will have failed. It if fails to celebrate the human person and the role, dignity and purpose of the family and of God then it will have failed. So which way will it go?

Who can tell?! At his best this current Pope is a maverick voice capable of grabbing the imagination of the entire world and making us think. At his worst he can seem a loose canon, at times overly dismissive of those who seek to be faithful and too bound up in the political world. He remains an enigma. It is going to be interesting then to see which way this document falls.

Tolerance is not a Christian virtue

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One of the main things dragging Christianity down in the 21st Century, making it so weak in the fight against secularism, is a mistaken belief that “tolerance” is a shining Christian virtue. It is not and it never has been. The reason should be obvious; if we uphold “tolerance” as a major virtue soon all criticism and discernment is silenced in it’s name. All is to be tolerated….including that which is evil. An obvious affront to God for it leads to this fanciful notion that we can somehow preach mercy without justice or truth. Try telling that to victims of abuse.

The reality is that the Christian must learn how to hate. How to seriously detest the sins of this world, and their own sins too, that so mar and damage other people. They should abhor with passionate conviction false creeds too, those that lead to estrangement from God or worst to the enslavement of souls. And special hatred must be found for those false ideologies spreading violence and fear across the face of the earth. We must hate because it is linked to our love. We have to love the things of God and hate the things of the devil. But how does this work in reality?

Under such an understanding I would be justified hating the beliefs of an Isis terrorist, loathing the vile acts of murder he sanctions. But I must ever love him as a creature of God for through possession of an immortal soul he yet has the capacity to repent and embrace the life God desires of him. And should I meet a non-violent Muslim my anger subsides significantly- so much so that friendship can blossom. Not because we value tolerance understand- indeed we would probably remain intolerant of one another’s faith for we both have conviction in what we believe- no what brings us together in love would be the real virtue- the  desire for peaceful living.

Why is it then that so many of ‘that generation’ – who now occupy seats of power in the Western Church – delight in the fake virtue of tolerance over the true Christian virtues? Why is it when faced with moral issues they act as if toleration is more precious than chastity, say, or diversity more important than purity? It is as though they were government agents, employees of a secular think tank, not Apostles with zeal for Christ intent on delivering the Gospel.

Perhaps, as Chesterton suggests, the problem is loss of faith. They have lost the conviction necessary to represent Jesus Christ on earth?  It would certainly explain why so many are largely silent in the face of abortion, attacks on the family et al but positively engaged when speaking out about environment Sunday or anti-bullying Tuesday.

It is as though the Western Church has been duped. Fooled into thinking its goal is not not to save sinners and preach the faith of Christ but to teach good manners and produce right thinking citizens of state. A call to be nice and docile and keep on living comfortably not a call to faithful service which demands certain standards in service of God and in fidelity to his command.

And it is this mistaken crusade for tolerance and niceness that drained the testosterone and fight from the church. The real men have died or left long ago. (Our education system produces few to replace them- so deep is the cultural war on masculinity)  We have bred generations of nice people, clergy and laity alike, a generation scared of offending anyone and deeply resistant to conflict of any sort at all. What good is that when the church is under attack? We face the enemy with a million Larry Graysons!

And that is a major problem because kindly cowards never did build up the kingdom of God. They never were the ones  who risked all evangelising hostile nations, standing up to genuine evil and causing annoyance wherever their God was being ignored. The real men and women- the Saints- cared not a jot if the whole world hated them, just so long as Jesus loved them. On such heroic terms the martyrs went to their deaths. Men and women of God…where are you now? We need you!! Yet all I see is “roll over and tickle my tummy I want to be loved by the world”…

So to my conclusion. If I am a little cranky it is because I am ill but I really do believe that, if we are to overcome a century of decline, we must rip up the modernist copybook and start again. Its time to pull out the ancient manual that produced the saints of old. We need to form and raise a new generation of heroic men and women. We must call Christians to the lives of the Saints of old.

We need true Christian mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, teachers and priests and religious, doctors and government ministers. And when you have learnt to be real Christians with zeal and backbone- unafraid of the world and in love with your God- then please, for his sake, learn how to hate. Become a deeply intolerant people. Intolerant of all that is wicked and all that is wrong that we may build up again a Christian nation under God.

Wednesday night update

There will be no Mass tomorrow evening or video due to ongoing sickness.  The next service will take place on Saturday morning at 9am.

If you need a priest in an emergency then do phone the presbytery and I can offer the telephone number of those who can assist you.

Sorry. This virus is proving a bad one. I attempted to pop out for an hour this evening and returned home defeated.

 

Poorly priest

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This morning the Doctor informed me that a nasty virus has left me battling conjunctivitis with pharyjgoconjunctival fever as well as a secondary infection of the sinuses. For good measure my scrum pox has returned! For this reason I am cancelling most appointments this week.

I am aiming/hoping to be at Mass on Wednesday for the rescheduled Marriage DVD and talk- but check the blog before setting out in case that changes and I am being unrealistic. I will ensure the blog will notify you of cancellation by 3pm at the latest. All other services are cancelled until Saturday morning.

Sorry….now it is back to bed.

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