Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

Month: July 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Evangelium 2016

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It is good to be back at the Reading Oratory School for the Evangelium Conference. An annual event for young adults that seeks to better educate people about the Catholic faith. This year the numbers are reduced; partly because of a limit imposed by the school due to a building project, and secondly because world youth day is happening at the same time. But the smaller crowd has not diminished proceedings in any way. One might even argue a positive in that the sense of intimacy in enhanced. Thus far talks have been engaging and worthwhile, worship inspiring and the food and conversation most agreeable.

My duties at the conference include giving a lecture, preaching at Mass, sitting on an apologetics panel and offering Mass according to Divine Worship. Countless others are also giving lectures and seminars which makes for a full but interesting and varied programme. The hope is that people return home better informed about their faith and equipped to give a good account of it to others.

Many of the speakers will be well known to parishioners at St. Anselm’s in Pembury for the simple fact that our Year of Faith and Year of Mercy lecture series have been something of an Evangelium roadshow. Fr. Jerome Betram, Fr. Marcus Holden, Fr. Andrew Pinsent, Deacon Stephen Morgan and Dame Joanna Bogle all having visited our parish in the last few years.

Will the West wake up?

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Another hideous murder by a Muslim fanatic, this time in France where a brother priest was martyred at the altar, and still the voice of elites refuse to confront the issue honestly. You know how the drill goes; we are told  Islam is not the problem, that the actions of the few are not representative, that all religions have bigots and lunatics, etc. In other words, whatever conclusion we reach about the violence, we must not single out Islam for criticism.

This is bizarre given that Islam is the connecting theme behind all recent attacks. Why the fear to admit this? Why do our leaders prefer to ban an episode of Fireman Sam- because it showed a page from the Koran and might offend the Muslim world- than ask hard questions of a religion which, whilst claiming to be peaceful, wreaks havoc across the globe?

It is time those in authority stopped swapping the uncomfortable truth for the comfortable lie. What is needed is sensible but honest rhetoric that can help us move forward. How can the problem of Islamic violence be sorted?

In defence of Islam it must be said, and loudly, that terrorism is not Islam and Islam is not terrorism. To equate the two is prejudiced on millions of decent, law abiding Muslims who deserve freedom to worship and places of honour within our community. Wherever Muslims live peacefully and with respect for people of other faiths they need to be applauded and encouraged.

More needs to be done  to highlight the voice of these sane Muslims, pointing to their example and helping them to speak out against the fanatics. When I found a story about Muslims in Syria helping Christians rebuild a church, I was quick to spread this fantastic story on social media. Wonderful! Well done those Muslims- what a credit to Islam they are! But why didn’t the mainstream media cover it? It doesn’t help when we do not get to hear about the positive contribution of Islam.

But acknowledging many Muslims are not violent does not mean Islam doesn’t have a unique problem with violence. It does. So let us stop the frequent moronic claim that equates Islam with all other faiths. That voice that loves to tell us the violence has nothing to do with Islam. It does. For whilst it is true that every religion (and the atheist world too) has a minority of violent lunatics; in terms of frequency and intensity the Muslim world is out there on its own. In just one month – June 2016- there were 238 Muslim attacks causing 2055 deaths and 2006 injuries. There were 43 suicide blasts and the attacks took place in some 33 different countries. The crimes of all other creeds pale into statistical insignificance next to these facts.

Clearly Islam alone is inspiring violence on a scale that causes 2055 deaths across 33 nations in one month. And it is this that needs addressing and acknowledging. So that hard questions get asked of Muslim clerics across the world; they are clearly  not doing enough to inspire heroic Muslims or to discourage blood thirsty tyrants. And hard questions need to be asked of Muslims who remain silent in the wake of the violence- for silence is support. Then we might isolate the monstrous that they can be dealt with and crushed- with military intervention if necessary.

Having highlighted tough questions for the Islamic world there are, of course, tough questions for the West. What part did we play in creating the monsters and why? Why did we help in the creation of Isis and arm them? How can we apologise for our part in what was billed anArab spring but turned into violent disaster? How can the Muslim world help in the essential and pressing task of ending the terror attacks? How can we better work together?

And whilst we seek the answer to that vital question can we end the fallacy, so common in the West, that Islam and Christianity are somehow the same? It might be an uncomfortable truth, but Islam is the only major religion that seems to inspire more violence in its followers the more seriously they follow their faith. The same is not true for Christianity; where the New Testament followed to the letter creates Saints, like Mother Theresa, the Koran followed to the letter seems to breed terrorists at present. It is a uniquely Muslim question then and not a multi-faith one; how can the Koran be better interpreted to ensure an end to the terrorism?

Ultimately Christianity and Islam, people of all faiths and none, must learn to live  alongside one another, with mutual tolerance and respect. That is if the world is to have peace. How do we achieve this? How do we appeal to the Muslim world for greater mutual flourishing in the face of so much Islamic violence at present?

And if the answer is that a significant group of people have zero interest in such mutual flourishing…what then? What if there is a large group who seek global domination via acts of wickedness and have no desire to change? Is it not then time for a more robust defence of the Christian world and of our Christian values? A time to consider how to thwart those whose hearts are fixed on darkness that we might protect those whose hearts are set on God. Both Christian and Muslim alike….

Kyrie Eleison.

Children’s holiday club: day 3

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Yesterday saw this years children’s holiday club- Catholics brave the elements- draw to a close. In the morning the children enjoyed making wind-chimes which they are holding in the photograph above. Do click on the images to enlarge. The chimes were constructed with bits of drift wood and beads. The pottery items made by the only professional potter in our congregation- Liz Blande- thank you Liz!

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Construction of the chimes was time time consuming and rather fiddly. Whilst the tiny fingers of the little ones seemed suited to the task, my own sausage fingers proved totally inept. I was therefore only good for a bit of encouragement and joke telling. The children having asked me to stop trying!!

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Then it was time to finish off the umbrellas. These were made using coffee percolator papers and felt tip pens. The result was brilliant and they are now taking pride of place against the windows in the hall.

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The rainbow was also the theme for the main collage which the children designed using cuttings from magazines. They hunted down specific colours.

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The day ended with a lovely Mass in church. The children read the first lesson and led the intercessions. And the first hymn, sung unaccompanied and to a plainsong setting, was the Benedicite also known as the Song of the three holy children. More often used during Evensong its words seemed so perfect for our weather theme this week. ‘O frost and cold bless the Lord, O rain and dew bless the Lord’ etc etc

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Then it was time for collapse, rarely do I feel as exhausted as I did last night! Today I am taking a day off to recover….with the children ?!!…This morning I pop into church to meet the builders and begin the process of installing new altar rails (exciting!). Tomorrow we have the funeral of Doris Smith at 11am (all welcome) and then I travel to Reading Oratory School where I am speaking at the excellent Evangelium Conference for young Catholic adults. Summer is in full swing!

Catholics brave the elements: Day 2

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Here is Hayley doing her best Blue Peter impression, showing the children ‘one she made earlier’ during a talk on the artist, Turner. Hayley explained how Turner was a romanticist- a passionate painter of the weather. He loved to paint dramatic ocean swells and terrifying natural disasters.  The children were amazed to discover that there is also an early work by Turner, not at all typical of his usual style, entitled Water mill at Pembury!  Yes one of Britain’s favourite artists was a regular visitor to our parish due to his friendship with a local farmer.

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Inspired by the talk the children took to the hall to make their own Turneresque masterpieces! The theme for today was the rain and they used a technique involving blowing paint to create the effect of sea spray. As you can see the results were great!

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The theme of the devotional talk was the account of the calming of the storm in the Gospels. We noted how the disciples gave into fear when they should have remembered that Jesus was with them. We too can be like that when/if we let this world get us down. We must remember that he really is with us until the end of time. And we must learn to trust him no matter the cost. All the saints paid a price for following Jesus but all produced great fruit in his kingdom.

It was a very good lead into praying for the poor priest martyred in France this morning by people full of hate who have totally warped the purpose of faith. I hammered home how superior is the Christian belief that all people are children of God, beloved by him, and deserving of love and protection. We prayed that all people full of hate will come to repentance, conversion and change of heart.

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It was then time for some exercise in the paddock and the children enjoyed making rain gauges. These required the use of plastic bottles- donating by the congregation in recent weeks. And the end result was really pleasing. Well done children!

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The other craft activity today saw the children making weather clocks. The plates sectioned to show different weather conditions and an arrow to point to the current climate.

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The other joy today was handing out the dried sunshine produced by the children yesterday. If these do not put a smile on your face then you need some help! Aren’t they charming?

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Another wonderful day then. Tomorrow we end the three day holiday club – and we finish with a special Mass in Church at 1:30pm. All parents, carers, friends, family and parishioners are most welcome to join us. The more the merrier. The children having prepared readings and intercessions today.

And if I can make it work then here is a wonderful video of feeding time at the zoo!

Catholics brave the elements: day 1

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Yesterday morning our doors opened for the annual children’s summer holiday club, this year entitled ‘Catholics brave the elements’. Some 30 primary school aged children gathering together for games, craft and daily devotion. Each day we are focusing on a different aspect of the weather- a very British thing to do- and Monday was the sunshine.

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During devotions in church the children watched a short video about Moses leading the children of Israel across the wilderness. It helped us realise that the sunshine is not always welcome- in desert regions of the world it can lead to danger and difficulty- and much grumbling by those sweltering in its heat. We then considered how in our own journey of faith we must learn to trust God, like Moses, and not complain too much, like the people of Israel. We must learn to be a joyful nor complaining people…

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Being Christian isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card in life, God does not remove difficulty or suffering from our path!  But if we remain close to him then he can and does work in us and will provide for our needs. He will give the strength to overcome life’s obstacles and produce fruit in our lives.

The craft activity saw the children making their own sunglasses, pictures of the sun, clay models of the sun and large sheets depicting different weather. There was much industry in our lovely new hall.

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For the creation of the large sheet art the children broke into small groups. One group painted a brilliant orange sun.

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Another group took on storm clouds and lightening.

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There was a sheet set aside for rain

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Another for snow and ice. Which produced a handsome snowman.

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The wind had worried me, but fortunately the children are more mature than the priests within this parish and produced a tree with falling leaves.

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And finally we had some fluffy clouds produced with cotton wool.

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Lunch was well deserved and watching the children play on the grass and enjoy the church grounds made every hour of our hauling down 72 trees seem worthwhile.

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I end with the finished weather sheets which are hanging out to dry in the hall. Didn’t the children do well!

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Tomorrow we return from 10am- 2pm for a day centred on rain. Let us hope the actual weather remains firmly fixed on glorious sunshine!

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The parish pilgrimage to Rome

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Yesterday morning the liturgy booklets, produced for our parish pilgrimage to Rome in October, arrived in the post. I am delighted with them. This document, which runs to 72 pages, contains the texts for Mass and morning and evening prayer, it contains all the psalms and readings we will require and also the hymns. It took me a while to compile but was well worth the effort. It means that each pilgrim need only carry one booklet and it also makes a lovely memento. How exciting to be offering the Ordinariate’s Divine Worship in some of Rome’s most beautiful and significant buildings!

Thus far our schedule looks like this:

Day 1: Monday 10 October

We set off in the early hours of the morning to arrive by midday at the Casa Santa Francesca Romana a Ponte Rotto, on the Via di Vascellari in Trastevere. There we freshen up before enjoying lunch at a nearby restaurant.

In the early afternoon we visit the oldest church in Europe. The Papal Arch-basilica of St. John Lateran, Cathedral Church of Rome and official seat of the Roman pontiff; the principal church of Catholicism. During the visit we have the opportunity to climb the famous Sancta Scala (holy staircase) brought to Rome having originally formed the staircase to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem. They were therefore sanctified by the feet of Christ himself during his passion. Look out for the baldacchino containing the skulls of Ss. Peter and Paul!

On leaving St. John Lateran we walk a short distance to the beautiful church of St. Clemente. Here we discover over 2000 years of history as we visit, not only the current church which is a gem, but also the remains of a 4th Century Basilica as well as a 1st Century Temple of Mithras, both of which are well preserved within the foundations.

We return to the hotel for worship in the hotel chapel, after which there will be free time.  Come dine at a nearby restaurant alongside the clergy or make your own arrangements. Rome by night is charming. The Campo de Fiori is always buzzing and comes highly recommended for its eateries and bars.

Day 2: Tuesday 11 October

After morning prayer in the chapel we head to the little church of St. Giorgio in Velabro. This 7th Century house of worship is of special significance for the Ordinariate because it was Cardinal Newman’s Titular Church in Rome. Mass will be offered here according to Divine Worship and we will pray for St. Anselm’s in Pembury.

After Mass there will be free time to allow people to explore Trasteveri, known locally as ‘Rome’s favourite neighbourhood’; it is crammed with little shops and interesting places. Don’t forget to sample the Romanesque Ice-cream!

At 1:30pm a coach will transport us to the Via Appia; an ancient Roman road which weaves through the city. Here we visit the infamous catacombs where many Christian martyrs are buried. A guide will lead this tour. After this we walk along the via appia for evensong in the charming church of Quo Vadis, situated on the site where St. Peter encountered the risen Lord when fleeing Rome.

Day 3: Wednesday 12 October

Wednesday begins with a tour of the English College. This famous seminary has trained some of the finest priests within England and Wales over many centuries and was of great importance in helping recusants uphold the faith during the trials of the English reformation. Many men who trained here during that time went back to England almost certain of death. Of particular interest are the gruesome frescoes which depict, in detail, the deaths they encountered!

Keeping with the English theme, we leave the college to take in the splendour of the nearby basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, titular seat of Cardinal Murphy O’Connor. This stunningly beautiful church will be the venue for today’s mass as, recalling our tour of the English college, we thank God for the English martyrs.

In the afternoon a coach takes us out of Rome’s city centre for a welcome break at the Palazzola in the hills. The more adventurous will be dropped off to hike the last miles around lakeside cliffs. The others travel direct by coach. We luncheon at the Palazola, summer residence of the English College overlooking Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence. A swimming pool is available for those who fancy a dip, and a bar is open to serve drinks. Evening prayer will be said in the chapel during the late afternoon.

In the evening the coach takes pilgrims back to our hotel in Rome. The more adventurous can opt to walk instead into the nearby villages for supper before another train journey and hearty walk back to the hotel. Bring walking shoes and proper socks if you fancy the strenuous option. Father Nicholas does not tolerate slackers!!

 Day 4: Thursday 13 October

In the morning we head for St. Peter’s and the Vatican. Those who wish to view the Sistine Chapel must arrive very early before huge queues form. The morning will be spent exploring St. Peter’s and its museums and there will be an optional trip to climb St. Peter’s roof to take in the view. At noon we celebrate Mass, over the tomb of Pope St. John Paul II, within St. Peters.

As we are visiting Rome during the Year of Mercy the special door will be opened at the major basilicas. Those who walk through them are granted an indulgence. An indulgence is remission before God of temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven.

In the afternoon there will be free time for shopping and site seeing. This would be a great opportunity to take in the colloseum, the basilica of St Paul without the walls (where the images of every pope from St. Peter to St. Francis can be viewed) or any of Rome’s many other historical venues. The clergy will almost certainly be found in one of the better clerical outfitters buying more tat for our sacristy. Make sure you go and visit the Pantheon if you haven’t done so.

We re-group for Evening prayer in the church of Ss. Cosmas and Damian, named in the Roman Canon, before retiring to the hotel and a final supper together in the city centre.

Day 5: Friday 14th October

This day is not yet confirmed, and therefore cannot be advertised. But details will emerge. We fly back in the evening after a most worthwhile break.

Putting that slap-down in context

Let us put into context the slap-down handed to Cardinal Sarah by high ranking prelates in the Western church. What they object to, for no logical reason I can fathom, is Mass celebrated ad orientem- as in the video above.

Cardinal Sarah’s mere suggestion that the Novus Ordo might be offered with the same dignified ceremonial and ancient music from within the church’s own treasure stores, had bishops in America and England horrified and reaching for their pens to make it abundantly clear to priests that this was not to be done!

Yet those same prelates never bother to do anything about the Novus Ordo being treated with contempt by modernists. We might consider the use of banal and undignified music, usually from secular sources. If you can bear it, I only managed a few seconds, witness the awful video below. Ugh!!!! Whoever thought this an appropriate choice of music for sincere devotion must have been lobotomised!

When we place the videos  alongside one another the scale of scandal becomes clear. To quote Hamlet there is something ‘rotten in the State of Denmark’ -when those charged with guarding the faith seem unbothered by irreverent and man centred worship yet enraged by that which is holy and clearly oriented towards the divine.

WHY is ad orientem celebration treated with such disdain whilst monstrosities like that below are tolerated and even endorsed?

In the Lord of the Rings there is a powerful moment when Gandalf exorcises King Theodin. His majesty is under a spell which renders him unable to see things as they really are; and this blindness is so deep set that the man and his kingdom have been diminished by stagnation. Turned in on himself the King has grown hostile even to reason.

It reminds me of certain sections in the church today. Those places where people seem to have fallen under the spell of the modernist heresy. Clinging to a failed revolution, an outdated notion of what is trendy, they have turned in on themselves to the point that they are now hostile to reason; unbothered by the loss of vocations and closures of parishes such modernism has caused. Just so long as the ancient ways are held back then they are happy. For they are more in vogue with the thinking of the world and its favoured causes than the wisdom of our faith.

Come Holy Ghost and open the eyes of all to the need for reverent worship (and music) in Mass – regardless of the orientation of the priest. That our praise might lift hearts and souls to God, soften stubborn hearts and help us to find the path within our liturgy that leads away from self and closer to to you.

Why does ad orientem scare them?

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The photograph above was taken (as ever click to enlarge) when I was Anglican vicar of St. Barnabas parish in Tunbridge Wells. A truly beautiful shrine church, built during the height of Anglo-Catholic revival, in which I spent some happy years before joining the Ordinariate with 72 of my parishioners. What the photograph shows is that Ad Orientem worship was very much the norm in this parish, a custom which is now strongly encouraged within the Ordinariate.

When we left St. Barnabas, to join the first wave of the newly erected Ordinariate, we were sent to a dual use hall in Pembury with a small chapel attached. As is the case in a great many modern Catholic parishes the layout of the sanctuary was functional rather than elaborate. There was an altar and two candles and not much more. Certainly no altar frontals or altar rails. The congregation were sat on plastic hall chairs and used a strip of rubber linoleum to kneel on.

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Once settled into the new parish, and once we were functioning well as one family, we immediately set about beautifying the space we worship in to the glory of God. In keeping with the Ordinariate vision we wanted it to reflect that ancient English patrimony, much of which was lost at the reformation. It has taken five years but here are the things we have acquired, besides building a hall, despite having almost no budget: 2 altars, altar candles, pews, lectern, pulpit, stations of the cross, altar rails, vestments, chalices, burse and veils, servers robes, icons, reredos, organ, confessional and stalls.

The beautification project also saw the sacrament moved from a side chapel to pride of place at the heart of our new sanctuary. A move encouraging us to offer all Masses at the main altar ad orientem– as we do now- that is with the priest facing the Lord during the prayer of consecration. A change of orientation which was met with barely a ripple of discontent by those who worship here at present. Indeed most everyone has been very encouraging of the changes we have made. And we do well to ponder how the average age of worshipper went down and the level of giving has gone up. These things suggest the changes have been very good news indeed.

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Why am I telling this story again? Because what we have done these last five years is precisely what Cardinal Sarah suggested priests do during the recent conference on the liturgy in London. We turned to face East -during those parts of the Mass when God is being addressed -and tried to value beauty, culture and tradition. In short we listened to what Pope Benedict XVI was saying during his pontificate; that the church need look afresh at what the second Vatican Council actually asked for and resist what, in the worst instance, transpired.

“I am convinced that the damage that we have incurred in these twenty years is due, not to the ‘true’ Council, but to the unleashing within the Church of latent polemical and centrifugal forces” – Benedict XVI

Understand that Cardinal Sarah did not demand this be done. There is no formal change in the rubrics planned. He simply urged those priests interested in good liturgy to consider use of ad orientem worship when celebrating Novus Ordo. A custom neither shocking nor innovative given that it is legal and reflects the practice of all Catholics throughout the ages.

Why then were his words met with such an explosion of rage from modernist quarters? Why were certain bishops, the sort who lose their tongue when doctrine needs clarifying or dissent quelled, so quick to pour cold water on what Cardinal Sarah was teaching? Flimsy arguments were quickly rolled out to tell priests -in no uncertain terms- that such practice was neither desired nor encouraged. The arguments of those hungering for a reform of the reform must be stronger than we think; why else would they be so visibly rattled?

That modernist prelates of a certain vintage resent where Cardinal Sarah points should not surprise us. These are the people who spent lifetimes as revolutionaries inspiring the very changes Pope Benedict attacks. But the strength of emotion in the backlash was surprising. It left me asking but one question…

Why does Ad orientem orientation scare them so?

What is so awful about worship in which the priest faces the Lord at times? For me it is normal and efficacious to church growth. What possible objections can these men have that they would slap down not only the Vatican’s liturgy expert but also the former Holy Father?

“The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself. The common turning toward the East was not a “celebration toward the wall”; it did not mean that the priest “had his back to the people”: the priest himself was not regarded as so important. For just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian Liturgy the congregation looked together “toward the Lord”. (Pope Benedict XVI, Spirit of Liturgy, ch. 3)

So again. Why does ad orientem scare them so? Here are some possible answers

  1. They have an agenda to change church teaching and know that more reverent celebration of the Mass will lead to greater hunger and demand for orthodoxy.
  2. They have become inspired by politics and protestant theology and no longer understand or delight in ancient Catholic practice.
  3. They are terrified ideologues who know that such practice will bring about revival. And that revival will not reflect at all well on those who encouraged the ripping out of altar rails, naff choruses, guitars in the sanctuary et al…

Can you think of any others?

NB: Please note that I have no issue at all with Westward celebration of the Mass. We do it here at times. It can be done with reverence and beauty where care is shown. But what has become clear is that many who prefer the modern way have a serious issue with people like me…. Why?

First communions 2016

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Monsignor Keith Newton was celebrant today at the 9:15am Mass when five children were admitted to receive holy communion for the very first time. And what a very happy occasion it was. It is just as well many of our regulars are away on holiday at present or we would never have got everyone in!

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Monsignor Newton spoke to the children about believing, belonging and behaving – three key themes to approaching the sacrament worthily. The first lesson and intercessions were led by the children and Mass was offered according to Divine Worship, the liturgy of the Ordinariate which I pray will one day be open to all. It is such a reverent liturgy- ad orientem and in the vernacular- so in keeping with the intentions of the Second Vatican Council, as Cardinal Sarah made clear at the Sacra Liturgica conference earlier this month.

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After Mass we took some photographs before heading into the hall. There a very special cake awaited us, baked by a local parishioner, Sue. It depicts the Holy Spirit bursting forth from the cross of Christ. The candidates names included.

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Then it was time for toast the children. The adults being treated with something bubbly and the children making do with squash. On a very hot day these drinks were very welcome. Not least to those of us in layers of vestments!

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One of our candidates, Jesnia, made her promise before the Ordinary, and received gifts with the other children, but did not actually take communion. She is holding back until she travels to India later this year to take part in a ceremony there, in the presence of her wider family. But having been instructed in the faith with the other candidates here at St. Anselm’s it was only fitting that she took as full a part as possible being a regular member of our congregation.

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Then there were a few minutes left to natter with both outgoing and incoming people before the next Mass began. Mgr. Newton giving personal blessings in the garden and father Nicholas doing a little weeding. It was all very convivial and another wonderful day in the life of our church.

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And the new item of ecclesial furniture? Two magnificent clergy stalls erected in the sanctuary to the glory of God!

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They arrived on Friday on the back of a lorry. Just as Father Nicholas and I had smashed down an internal cupboard door and made ready the space for the old cupboard doors to be blocked by them.

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No longer will we enter the sanctuary for light bulbs et al! Now the only reason to enter the sanctuary, aside from necessary cleaning, is to serve at the altar. That is as it should be in all and every church. That the sanctuary may be set aside as sacred space to remind us into whose presence we come whenever we enter church.

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The stalls add even more dignity to our evolving sanctuary and represent the first phase of a summer/autumn project. Later the back wall of the church will be plastered and the altar raised. And new brass altar rails put into place. We will also be building a gradine to house the sacrament and moving the altar closer to the East wall to facilitate better use of space. Finally the sacred heart chapel will have its new reredos mounted and the walls plastered. So lots to look forward to. And that is before operation kitchen kicks in!!

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Congratulations to all our candidates and hearty thanks to our supporters. The first communions now over we look ahead to the summer holiday club in just over a week’s time. Some 30 children descending on us for craft, games, catechesis and fun….the summer is proving hectic but enormously worthwhile here in Pembury.

Six special gifts this Sunday…

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On Sunday morning, during the 9:15am Mass, five children will be admitted to Holy Communion. The Celebrant at this special Mass will be Monsignor Keith Newton. After Mass we will toast the occasion in the Hine Room with fizz and a celebration cake baked by one of our parishioners. It promises to be a happy day.

The gift of admission to holy communion is, of course, the most precious one that any Catholic receives in life after baptism. The children have been prepared over several months to ensure they view this celebration as the beginning of an entire lifetime choosing Jesus Christ. Please hold Jesnia, Melanie, Olivia, Bethany and Daniel in your prayers.

The sixth gift, counting the sacramental gift given to the children as the first five, is some new ecclesial furniture installed in the sanctuary yesterday afternoon!! It is the first part of a planned beautification project within the sanctuary, which will eventually see new altar rails installed, a gradine built, a wall plastered and the altar raised. It has been made possible because of the inspiring generosity of an avid reader of this blog. Thank you.

What is the new item? All will be revealed tomorrow! For now we want to leave it as a nice surprise for worshippers on Sunday. But here is a sneak peek…

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