Friday, 28 October 2011

Life is for Living

The Pro-Life Vigil began tonight and culminates next Friday with 7pm Mass and all night exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Between now and then there is prayer in the church every evening. Tonight the Youth Cafe joined us and read superbly. We used this prayer to Our Lady of Pope Blessed John  Paul II

Oh Mary, bright dawn of the new world, to you do we entrust the cause of life. Look down, O Mother, upon the vast number of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of Life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives, and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A feed of beans

Our childhood neighbour Arthur has died and today we celebrated his funeral. Arthur's church was the United Reformed Church in St Mary Cray known as the Temple.

As a boy I remember Arthur and the neighbours of his generation competing to produce the first feed of beans. He was a professional and a passionate gardener.

He also belonged to another age! A world of set in stone mealtimes, of thrift and homemade marmalade and endless talk about weather and cricket.

Arthur and his late wife Peggy (we always called Peggy Mrs Wise!) lived lives of simple decency and order. I felt that today we celebrated the passing of a generation. It was for that reason so very poignant.

Our nostalgia isn’t about wishing a past world back, but rather looking forward in hope.
In these moments we offer the all of us to God and we offer us all to God, especially our loved ones who have died.

Arthur had the best of laughs. Loud and confident and long. As a boy in the saddest of his family's circumstances I saw him cry and I have never forgotten it because it was, I think, my first experience of seeing a man cry.  

In our tears and laughter we remembered a rounded man, a man of the seasons, and we looked forward to the timelessness of heaven where everything is made good, where goodness is rewarded and death is crowned with eternal life.

May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


JB Morton's St Therese of Lisieux has been a beautiful read. For our recollection this evening we focused on Therese. The Mass was a votive of Therese and the talk....largely given by JBM. What a find!

'Men and women of all nations have realised, after reading the story of of St Therese, that her teaching, because it is the teaching of the Gospels, is more consonant with man as he is made than the newest of the philosophies. Her business is with our souls. We can read her words and ignore her advice. But we cannot deny that it is we who have abandoned religion.'

Last Night in RCIA

The New Testament
Those who take us to the Person of Jesus Christ
What’s in a name? When we think about the New Testament we want to know who did the writing and who were the witnesses. We think of those who accompanied Jesus and, amongst his disciples, the apostles and evangelists. Very often authorship is about a tradition of writing rather than simply one author.  We often hear St John referred to as the disciple Jesus loved, the beloved disciple.

But Mathew, Mark, Luke and...... There are many so-called gospels. We hear about this all the time, especially when our faith is being undermined. The scriptures of the Old and New Testament form the canon of scripture, the list of books which make up the Bible. It is the Church which establishes this canon of scripture. Inspiration is about both the authorship and also the list!

In my earlier work Theophilus.... The Acts of the Apostles give us an account of the lives of the followers of Jesus after the Resurrection and Ascension. The narrative begins with the birth of the Church at Pentecost.

Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me? Saul becomes Paul and is transformed as the outstanding teacher and preacher to the Gentiles. His conversion is detailed in Acts. The spread of the gospel and the important questions, especially between Jewish and Pagan followers of the Way, are resolved. The Acts of the Apostles tells us when followers of Jesus were first called Christians and prepares us for the supreme act of witness to Jesus, the martyrdom of Peter and Paul in Rome.

Peter & Mark in Rome?  ‘My son Mark sends you greetings...’ writes St Peter in his first letter. St Mark’s gospel -the oldest- concludes with the Lord sending the apostles, ‘Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.’ The words of the scriptures are not just the devotional reading of Christians but the proclamation of Christ, the key to human history and the answer to the existence of all things.

Blessed John Paul reminds us:
'The whole of Christ’s life was a continual teaching.......'

Friday, 21 October 2011

Altar of St Wenceslaus

I celebrated Holy Mass in St Peter's Basilca last Tuesday for the intentions of all Horsham parishioners. My father and Fr Jonathan Martin were present. The altar was that of St Wenceslaus, the good king (or duke), who looked out on the feast of Stephen. On Monday afternoon, after a robust walk to the Quirinale and then St Mary Major, my father bought the parish four new palls for use with the chalices at Mass in Horsham. More about Rome anon, especially after I learn to download my photos from my very sophisiticated phone/camera!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Roman Holiday

I'm off to Rome on Sunday evening. I return on Thursday. Holy Mass will be offered for the intentions of all Horsham parishioners in St Peter's on Tuesday morning at 7am.

I will go unto the altar of God

Some of our splendid altar servers with MCs Chris, Brian and Graham at Arundel Cathedral with Bishop Kieran and Fr Aaron. Thank you to all our servers for their service at the altar. May God bless you and St Stephen pray for you.


At Youth Cafe this evening we focused on the Pieta. This is the Michelangelo Pieta in St Peter's, Rome. Our St John's Pieta is quite beautiful and we are currently thinking of a worthy and permanant place for it. The Youth Cafe spent some time thinking about the sorrowful mysteries of the most holy rosary.  Last time we met we concentrated on the glorious mysteries; we used our fingers to pray the rosary. The rosary is an easy prayer (we can pray it with our fingers) but it is also a prayer which reflects all the complexities of life.
Jack Regan, lay chaplain at St Wilfrid's School, joined us and led the ice breakers. Great! Meat free pizza was the food.
At the Pieta we reflected that the Church's encouragement to abstain from meat is primarily devotional. We abstain from flesh and reflect on the Incarnation. Christ took our flesh (became Incarnate), He shared our humanity and our inevitable death. In a spirit of prayer, as we come to the Lord who shared our humanity that we might share His divinity, we find the grace to express our Friday abstinence in charity.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

1066 and all that....

Fr Gerard Hatton offered Mass last Saturday in honour of St Edward the Confessor at the Confessor's Shrine in the Collegiate and Abbey Church of St Peter at Westminster. As a Catholic priest he was delighted to be welcomed so warmly by the Abbey's staff and to be able to offer Holy Mass. I hope HM the Queen knew!
Today is St Edward's feast, remembered (to paraphrase Mgr Knox) because he gave a poor man his dinner. As we lead up to the Thirteenth Anniversary of the signing of a Covenant with the Poor in this parish, so we take inspiration from St Edward. May we use our power and privilege -however small- for the good of others.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

St Wilfrid

Wilfrid of York and Apostle of Sussex too! We marked the feast with Mass at 10am and 7.30pm. Our lovely carved wood image of Wilfrid was placed upon the sanctuary. I let the Venerable Bede preach the homily this evening. Wilfrid met the hungry of Sussex with practical help and taught them how to fish. Its a challenge! Jesus speaks in the gospel to the pharisees. He is hard hitting! The implication is that we take the burdens of people seriously and do what we can to lift them.
Our day finished with an excellent presentation on the vocation of a Catholic teacher given by our own Chris Franke. Chris is assistant head and head of RE at the splendid and impressive ST WILFIRD'S CATHOLIC SCHOOL CRAWLEY.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

We adore you O Christ and we bless you.

This is the sacristy press. The vestments are stored in the large horizontal drawers. The upright feature was removed when the Martyrs altar was relocated in the Martyrs chapel. It was then restored and now houses a crucifix and some relics. The crucifix is French, of carved wood. I used some of my leaving gift from Lewes to buy it. The relics are of St Emilie de Rodat and St Robert Southwell. As the priest vests for Mass it is traditional that he say vesting prayers of preparation. These prayers are in Ditchling script on the left. This feature is a focus for us in those few minutes before Mass. This prayer is often said quietly by the priest during this time.

My purpose is to celebrate Mass 
and to make present the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ 
according to the rite of the holy Roman Church, 
to the praise of almighty God 
and of the whole Church triumphant in heaven, 
for my own welfare and that of the whole Church militant on earth, 
for all who in general and in particular 
have commended themselves to my prayers, 
and for the well-being of the holy Roman Church.


May joy and peace, 
amendment of life, 
room for true penitence, 
the grace and comfort of the Holy Ghost, 
and steadfastness in good works be granted us 
by the almighty and merciful Lord.


The Parish Council

The Parish Council meet tonight. The existing Parish council, but with the new priests.
 Say a prayer for us.
At daily Mass we are listening to St Paul writing to the Romans.
'I am not ashamed of the Good News; it is the power of God saving all who have faith.....
The upright man finds life through faith.'
Tonight we shall reflect a little on these words as we begin our discussions.

Monday, 10 October 2011

St Paulinus

Today is the commemoration of St Paulinus. I was baptised in a church dedicted to Paulinus and my first school was St Paulinus. As a  boy I had visions of St Paulinus, bishop of Rochester, sailing up the river Cray to evangelise Orpington. Not vision visions, just nice thoughts and ideas. Where should we be sailing to speak the words of Jesus in the gospel?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Leaving Dos

This was mine last Sunday. We had Rosary & Benediction and a tea party.
Fr Aaron is in Guildford for his own leaving do this weekend.
The support we receive from our parishioners, past and present is vital.
Thank you again for your warm welcome to both of us.

That recipe for the sea bass

1. Acquire your sea bass fillets with skin! Fennel, onions, garlic and canned chopped tomatoes.
2. Chop the fennel bulb and gently fry in olive oil until soft and set aside.
3. Fry the chopped onion (gently does it) and a little garlic and add the chopped tomatoes and their juice; let them cook and let those flavours get acquainted.
4. Bake the seasoned sea bass fillets in a hot oven for about 10 minutes, skin side up.

Serve the fillet on the fennel and pour a little of the tomato sauce on top.

If you're hungry then mash up some potatoes.

Why not try it for Friday Fayre.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Crawley Circle Catenians

Many thanks to the catenians of the Crawley Circle for their hospitality at Ghyll Manor, Rusper this evening. We dined on excellent soup and sea bass. Mike Newman, the circle president and a Horsham parishioner welcomed the clergy and sisters. I was privileged to reply on behalf of the guests. We spent some time thinking about vocations. Happy priests inspire vocations to the priesthood and the happiness of priests is in no small part due to the care and concern and love of our parishioners. I think we were all inspired to pray hard for vocations. Mike gave Fr Terry Martin, vocations director for our diocese, a cheque to help towards his work. We were told that the dinner was a thank you to the clergy and sisters for their work. Since Fr Aaron and I have only just arrived we felt rather spoilt so early in our tenure.