Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

Month: June 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Evicted at short notice!

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Alas the presbytery failed its electrical inspection so spectacularly that a total re-wiring of the house is being undertaken immediately. The lighting was especially dangerous with no earth to be seen and all switches and fittings made out of metal!! Furthermore the main board is a such a tangle of wires that it needs to be ripped out. All of which means that our family has been ordered out of the property for the foreseeable future…

This clearly brings disruption to the family at rather short notice. So we are hugely grateful to Fr. Nicholas who has offered us lodgings at his place. Family had, of course, also offered respite but being further afield this option posed problems with regard to school runs, access to the parish, et al. So by 9am tomorrow morning we must vacate and bags are being packed later this evening. What a palaver!

During the exile- which could take a couple of weeks, parishioners can still leave messages on the telephone ansa-machine. For the most part it will be operational and I will daily to collect any messages. There may however be a delay in answering.  I will do my best to be resident in the village for at least a portion of each day and will be contactable by email also. What an adventure! What a pain in the…..

The Ordinariate’s global appeal

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Something happened at the Acton Conference that really lifted my spirits. I was attending extraordinary form Mass, celebrated by the wonderful Father Z, when I spied, under the chair of the worshipper in front, a little blue book. Could it be? Yes, yes it most definitely was! How wonderful!

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It was a copy of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham; office book of the Ordinariate. A sublime work steeped in English spirituality with wonderful readings from the lives of the English and Celtic saints. A spiritual resource I highly commend to anyone for the recitation of daily offices, but not a spiritual resource which I had imaged finding thousands of miles away from home. How wonderful to discover it is proving valuable not only to members of the Ordinariate but also to those interested in our mission.

Obviously, once Mass ended, I had to introduce myself to the owner. He turned out to be, perhaps unsurprisingly, an Englishman; a genial chap by the name of David Clayton who is expert in liturgy now living in America and a passionate supporter of the Ordinariate vision to boot. He too has blogged about our chance meeting on the excellent New Liturgical Movement blog. I shall be adding it to the blog roll. There he very kindly promotes the booklet I wrote for CTS concerning the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. If you haven’y yet ordered your copy then you can do so via this link.

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He wasn’t the only Ordinariate enthusiast I encountered amongst the many delegates. I met another actual member as well as many supportive friends. People who were fascinated to hear about the central vision to implement a robustly English spirituality on these shores; to enable us to preserve the Anglican (English) patrimony forged in the heart of a once proud Catholic nation but lost, in part, at the reformation.

The Ethiopians understood it better than most. Having experience of their own rite they quite get the need for having a liturgy that speaks in local dialect and cherishes a nation’s cultural heritage. Others were supportive because they discern that our valuing of tradition reflects what is important about the reform of the reform. Not for the first time I heard the lament that it couldn’t be celebrated by clergy outside of the Ordinariate itself. It is my hope and prayer that, one day, that restriction will be lifted. It is everything the Novus Ordo mass was meant to be. Reflective of the ceremonial and theology and deep Catholic spirituality of the traditional Rite but in the vernacular and accessible to the modern world.

Inspiring generosity

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Two weeks ago we launched an appeal to help with the refurbishment of our parish kitchen, a project to ensure our new hall is lettable; we set next Sunday- the day of our parish BBQ- aside as a gift day. Throughout the day the sacrament will be exposed in the church for adoration and gifts can be left.

Yet, praise God, we have already received donations totalling, as of yesterday, £2000. This includes a significant gift from a couple outside the parish who, having enjoyed our parish talks and inspired by the restoration of our church, wanted to help! Thank you so much to everyone who has already given to kickstart the vision- and thank you to those planning to give in the coming weeks. Next Sunday I shall myself be donating a significant amount (for a priest!) and ensuring I sign the gift aid form. There is still a way to go….

Even more inspiring was news, announced yesterday, that an anonymous donor has gifted us £10,000. Not for the kitchen project – this is for the congregation to deliver- but specifically for further beautification within the church. The donor is not a parish member but a house bound Christian living alone in the North of England. An ex-Anglican who, having turned Catholic long before the Ordinariate, has watched every step of our journey, via this blog, with keen interest and joy. He wants to help the Ordinariate and shares my view that enabling our parishes to function effectively is a very important way of doing this. What an absolute super-star! Some within the congregation were moved to tears when I announced this; it inspires them in their own dedication and giving and ensures that -together- we make the vision work in this place.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited England- to establish the Ordinariate and beatify John Henry Newman- he called for generosity to be shown in establishing the Ordinariate. Sadly that generosity has not always been especially obvious where the hierarchy is concerned- not a single building has been actually given to us- but at grass roots the generosity has been extraordinary.

I cannot thank God enough for all that he is doing in this place. It is a remarkable and humbling story. Little miracle follows little miracle. I am now in no doubt whatsoever that the Holy Spirit smiles on the Ordinariate project; doubtless fuelled by the prayers of a saintly German octogenarian now living a monastic life of prayer deep within the Vatican. The one whose genius saw the need in the first place for a restoration of English spirituality within the reforms of the liturgy.

NB: Oh and it is the little gifts that count too. Thank you to those who rose to Fr. Nicholas’ challenge and have donated tins of creosote. He is now duty bound to keep his end of the bargain and paint the church garden fence! I will come along to stand over his shoulder and tell him which bits he has missed and what needs improving.

After the EU: restoring order

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Enough with the division, hatred and anger. The fallout from the EU debate is turning ugly and threatening the stability of our nation. We now need peacemakers, on both sides of the debate, to be heard; that we might reconcile differences and be brought back together in love. For who doesn’t have friends and family with whom we disagree on this matter? People we know to be principled and decent whose friendship we would miss should politics divide us long term.

Whatever our personal views- we must look forward not back; it is our duty, I sincerely believe, to accept the vote in the interest of democracy- whether thorough gritted teeth or a smile- and then commit ourselves one to another afresh. What might we learn from this episode of history? How might we bring the very best of each other’s views to the table? Because- when people are not slinging mud -they tend to accept there was something to be said on either side. Seeking compromise and therefore common ground would be wise now. The alternative being too bleak to even consider. Let us be brave enough to seek the path of love not hatred.

For the reality is that both sides of this debate have something sensible to say.  At least the better part of each side of the debate does!  The most noble voices in the remain camp reminding us to be open to strangers, to work in collaboration with our neighbours and be inclusive in our attitude to life. The noble in the out camp reminding us that we cannot work towards this goal of loving neighbour as a nation if our leadership is not committed to the same! The enterprise fails, and so does democracy, when elites become self serving, greedy and detached from grass roots. Brussels and Westminster failed to speak with moral force because both have been found guilty, in recent years, of corruption and the rise of big business over the interests of all. Free markets giving way to self serving quangos.

Before you splutter outrage let us admit to the worst of both camps too. It is sadly true that the worst Brexiteers seem to be motivated by fear and hate. There are xenophobes amongst them who would show disdain to the stranger, whose small minded vision would lead to a vile and resentful little England. But it is equally true that the worst  Remainers demonstrate an awful bourgeois arrogance, snobbishly discounting the voice of all others in a cast iron belief of their own moral superiority; yes, to the point of suggesting betrayal of the democratic process!

A curse on both those houses! We do not need haughty voices or fearful ones at the table of our common future. It is the best of the arguments, the best of the people, that we need to locate that they might be heard. Let us hunt down those who can work together and help us build a future in which all feel represented.

How then might a compromised future look? Well it might require our nation to go back to basics. To reflect with maturity on how we might encourage principled leadership to lead us back to the table with renewed confidence.

Perhaps this last week will spark a revolution and a brighter future? The old crusty order dying that something better might emerge? Who knows? Nobody at present for the dust has not yet settled. But what I do know is this;  the future is only going to be as good as we ourselves behave. Together we stand and divided we fall. It is time then to silence the bigots and raise up the wise and loving. Those able to listen to those they profoundly disagree and find common ground. That together we might forge a better future.

Church Summer BBQ

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Next Sunday, 3rd July, is the Church Summer BBQ. Tickets are on sale from tomorrow at £5 per adult and £3 per child, with under 5’s free. As ever we ask for people to sign up to provide either a salad or pudding. The form is on the table in the church lobby.

Do feel welcome to bring family and friends and make this a great social event for the parish. It will begin once the 11am Mass ends- and those who attend at 9:15am are welcome to remain behind and help with the setting up!

The forecast is for clement sunny weather…

Waking up to a new era

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A Brexit vote has triumphed over a remain campaign. There is a great deal of media noise at present with people inevitably pondering the seismic shift in the political landscape, but wisdom suggests we should perhaps pause for reflection instead; we need to wait for the dust to settle before making any bold predictions or sounding the alarm of Armageddon! Change is never easy, though it is inevitable in life, and often the future is neither as bleak as we fear nor as wonderful as we hope- but something in between! And for the dismayed- remember the wise quip that disaster is another word for opportunity!

To my mind this vote is a reflection of several things. Firstly of a people disillusioned from the political process. Democracy is in crisis at present. Why? Because of the collapse of free markets and capitalism in favour of elite driven quangos and corporationalism; of which the eu was part of the problem not the cure. This has left people feeling marginalised and disenfranchised and they took the opportunity to hit out. In that regard democracy triumphed today and a reminder sent to politicians regarding the power and importance of voters.

Another aspect, few will recognise and fewer will admit, is the rise of nationalism throughout the West that is caused by declining birth rates. When birth rates drop below a sustainable level, for any nation, history teaches that confidence departs and fracture and disintegration follow. Our anti-family culture is beginning to reap what it sows. A fear and uncertainty about the future which is enflamed by the rise in immigration. I heartily recommend Mark Steyn’s ‘After America’ or ‘How civilisations die’ by Mark Goldman for a better explanation of this phenomenon. If you prefer to watch rather than read then this film covers the basics. 

And finally I think the referendum was a wake up call to Britain regarding manners and decency. Both sides resorted to appalling deceits and demonisation of other; resulting in a loss of honest debate that might have pulled people together. A situation made worse by the arrogant and snide remarks of the EU leadership itself. Not only did they refuse renegotiation prior to the vote but they threatened and bullied throughout recent weeks. The tone has been wrong then and the debate rushed. I certainly felt ill equipped at the ballot box. Recognising the problems but uncertain of the solutions.

Ultimately I stand by my belief that for nations to flourish they need faith. Without God we cannot flourish or be free. What is really needed is a sustaining vision beyond the material realm around which people can unite.

There isn’t a clear Catholic position on Europe

It is almost crunch time. And many people, I know, are still grappling with the question of Europe. Others have decided one way or another. It is worth spelling out that there is no clear Catholic vote. And so it comes down to a question of personal conscience. And to help you come to your decision I am posting today the four speeches given at the EU debate held by Catholic Voices. The first (above) was given by Tim Stanley of the Daily Telegraph supporting the decision to leave.

The second contribution is from Tom Tugendhat who supports remain.

The third contribution comes from a female voice, that of Gisela Stuart, who was the other supporter of Brexit.

Then we have Baroness Smith giving the second defence of the Remain position. That should give something to get your teeth into. Happy voting.

Re Europe: I vote for Gaugin!

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Perhaps it never existed? Perhaps I was just young and naive? But it does strike me that there has been a terrible deterioration of first principles across the political spectrum of late. Virtues such as integrity and honesty and altruism seem rare. Spin and lies and manipulation seem common. Perhaps it is the effect of a general moving away from our Judeo-Christian inspired values? Perhaps it is the triumph of relativistic belief over a philosophy based on any objective notion of truth?

I don’t know. But what I do know is that whatever powers our political landscape is not just flawed at present but so obviously broken. I have said it before and it is worth stating again; democracy is in a deep crisis. Something I link with a shift away from healthy capitalism and free markets, that which inspires growth and prosperity, to controlled markets via elite driven giant corporationalism. Which both Britain and the EU aspire to at present!

The debate over Europe has not been energising and it has not been much fun. Rather it places a cloud over our nation. So many lies, so many fanciful predictions, so few tangible facts and so much blatant manipulation. How are we meant to know what we vote for, let alone vote, when so few are prepared to admit gaps in knowledge or merit the other side with some respect? Instead of creating space for mature reflection our purile media fosters bitter divide at every turn.

The truth is that nobody, in or out, can predict the future. Not least when the West is in terminal decline and the world so very unstable. And the solution to these larger problems will not be found in economic forecasts or demonisation of those we disagree with. What is so manifestly needed- it strikes this man of faith- is a bigger consideration of who we actually are as a nation and where we want to go.

It is time to put surface politics to one side and consider our Judeo-Christian roots asking how they fit with the modern world view? Who were we, who are we at present and why? And what do we wish to become? What governing principles guide us? What, beyond mere acquisition of wealth, drives and sustains us? What is our anthropological outlook? What is our vision and understanding of self? What is our faith- that ancient belief which many still hold t0, however loosely, or that new secular elitism proscribed from above by the tiny but over powerful minority?

The reality is that no nation without faith has ever thrived in the history of the world. Man needs more than self to drive forward. He needs that which is worth sacrificing for. He needs that which is beyond the material to sustain him. He is a spiritual creature. He needs a guiding vision! And what is missing within the present debate are these deeper philosophical and theological considerations. Ever the foundation of all that follows.

However trendy the desire to foster neutrality to faith might be- it doesn’t succeed because that very desire is based on fallacy- for it stems from a system of belief itself. One imposed not chosen. The attempt to govern on economics alone is therefore hackneyed and failing. Founding principles matter and so the West declines because she has lost sight of what she is and what she stands for.

Hence the confusion. Who cares what makes money? The real question to confront is what will lead to the greatest human flourishing- but nobody is tackling this at present.  Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? The words of Guagin’s famous painting need to be before us….but alas they are not. And until they are- brexit or remain- we are in trouble.

We apply the sticking plaster and avoid the major surgery. We discuss what does not matter and do not confront the one issue which does. Britain’s people may believe in many different things- they always will- but what does Britain herself believe in? Until this is answered then we grope about in the dark. Faith matters.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

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This coming Wednesday is our next Year of Mercy Lecture. The speaker is the ever inspiring Joanna Bogle who will speak on the beatitude ‘blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’. 

A couple of years ago I heard Joanna deliver a truly memorable talk on the courageous early life of Pope St. John Paul II. At my behest she has promised to incorporate some of this into Wednesday’s talk; so I am supremely confident in stating that this lecture is not to be missed. As ever Low Mass 7:30pm followed by refreshments and, at 8pm, the lecture itself.

Unfortunately, having only just arrived back in England, I have not had the opportunity to advertise this talk as much as I would have liked. So do please email and telephone friends and drum up the support. It will be worth it!

Acton course begins 

Yesterday afternoon was busy with registration and welcome and meeting lots of interesting new people. There are nearly 1000 delegates here from 55 different countries. Dinner at my table was spent with three Americans, one Spaniard, an Irishman who works in Angola, an Argentine, a Lithuanian, a Ghanaian (yes he knows fr Jo!) and a priest from Brunai! 

After dinner the first main lecture was delivered by a most impressive woman by the name of Magatta Wade. A Senagalese Muslim business leader she is spending her life on an inspirational crusade. To challenge the system whereby Africa is dependent on aid by bringing about economic growth through the establishment of local thriving businesses. This work is, of course, hampered by how very difficult wealthy nations, Western corporations and the International Monetary Fund make it for businesses in the third world at present. Red tape exists to ensure the playing field is never fair and the wealthy will always grow richer as the poor are made to depend on them. Much of her work at present involves raising awareness and pressurising nations to do better. Do watch the film she has been involved in, which is called Povert inc; you will never view charitable work the same again!  I plan to show it in the parish on my return. 

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