Wednesday, 31 March 2010



During this Holy Week keep your priests in your prayers

Please Pray for Priests

Dear Lord,

we pray that the Blessed Mother

wrap her mantle around your priests

and through her intercession

strengthen them for their ministry.

We pray that Mary will guide your priests

to follow her own words,

“Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).

May your priests have the heart of St. Joseph,

Mary’s most chaste spouse.

May the Blessed Mother’s own pierced heart

inspire them to embrace

all who suffer at the foot of the cross.

May your priests be holy,

filled with the fire of your love

seeking nothing but your greater glory

and the salvation of souls.


Saint John Vianney, pray for us.

Monday, 29 March 2010


Today the Chrism Mass was held in Chelmsford Cathedral with the Bishop of Richborough as Principal Celebrant. Just before 12 noon the clergy and altar party entered the Cathedral and the Mass started with the singing of The Angelus. There were over 40 priests in the procession of clergy from around the diocese and some neighbouring areas and a nearly full cathedral. There were also some priests in the congregation.

In his sermon Bishop Keith talked about the forthcoming visit to the UK of Pope Benedict and the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. He mentioned the difficulties with the consecration of woman to the Episcopate and the varying views amongst Anglican Catholic Clergy about the Ordinariate which the Holy Father has offered to those who are unable to accept this. He hoped that we would be able to adopt the same attitude towards each other as Cardinal Newman in his last sermon as an Anglican priest which he entitled “The Parting of Friends”.

This may be the last time that we are all together for a Chrism Mass and as such there was a certain poignancy about the service for me.

Sunday, 28 March 2010


I hope you will be sharing the sadness of Holy Week as it progresses from the acclamation of Jesus by the crowds on Palm Sunday through the celebration of the Triduum with the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday, the Washing of Feet, the Stripping of the Altars, the Watch before the Blessed Sacrament, the brutal treatment and awful crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday, the great service of the New Fire (The Easter Vigil), the lighting of the Paschal Candle the wonderful Exultat followed by the Readings and the first Mass of Easter at the Vigil on Saturday climaxing on Sunday in the overwhelming joy of Easter.

Present day Christians have a distinct advantage over the disciples of Jesus’ day because we know that the end of the sad Holy Week story culminates in the great joy of Easter. So when we come to church on Good Friday and try and put ourselves at the foot of the cross by hearing again the Passion of Our Lord we know that three days later we will be celebrating His Resurrection.

We can only truly celebrate and experience true Easter joy if we go through most or all of the preceding days.

Friday, 26 March 2010


Today as we celebrate the Memorial of St Joachim and St Anne let us pray for Grandparents, remembering that as well as being the parents of Our Lady, they were also the Grandparents of our Blessed Lord.

Lord Jesus,
you were born of the Virgin Mary,
the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne.
Look with love on grandparents the world over.
Protect them! They are a source of enrichment
for families, for the Church and for all of society.
Support them! As they grow older,
may they continue to be for their families
strong pillars of Gospel faith,
guardian of noble domestic ideals,
living treasuries of sound religious traditions.
Make them teachers of wisdom and courage,
that they may pass on to future generations the fruits
of their mature human and spiritual experience.

Lord Jesus,
help families and society
to value the presence and roles of grandparents.
May they never be ignored or excluded,
but always encounter respect and love.
Help them to live serenely and to feel welcomed
in all the years of life which you give them.
Mary, Mother of all the living,
keep grandparents constantly in your care,
accompany them on their earthly pilgrimage,
and by your prayers, grant that all families
may one day be reunited in our heavenly homeland,
where you await all humanity
for the great embrace of live without end. Amen

Pope Benedict XVI Prayer for Grandparents 2008

Saturday, 20 March 2010


I recently received a letter from The Church of England Pensions Board informing me that my church pension would remain at the same level for 2010 as it was for 2009. In other words there would be no increase...........well, what a surprise! The letter explained that inflation had fallen rather than risen according to the Retail Prices Index. I wonder on what the RPI basis its figures. My gas and electric bills have risen dramatically, the price of petrol in my area ranges from £1.15 to £1.20 per litre which is far more than a year ago, my insurance premiums have increased etc.etc. and I’ve not noticed any reduction in my other household bills.

The Pension Board seem to have many difficulties and future Clergy Pensions are going to be reduced so that clergy will have to work longer to earn them. Up until 1997 clergy pensions were paid by the Church Commissioners; after that date pensions have been funded via a Pension Fund set up for the purpose.

Way back, around 1985, I wrote to the then Pensions Board when I discovered that there was no Pension Fund and warned them of the danger of this situation. Before ordination I worked for a major British Insurance Company where, amongst other things, I was involved in Pension Planning so I did know a little about pensions and the funding of same. (With my colleagues I designed a pension for the staff of that company to replace a non-contributory pension with a contributory pension. Despite the fact that staff were going to have to make a small contribution each month they did so willingly to gain the additional benefits, including inflation proofing, which the new scheme provided.) I received back from the Church Commissioners a curt letter which told me, politely, to mind my own business. It came as no surprise to me when just a few years later a crisis in funding pensions had arisen.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Anglicanorum Coetibus


(The Pope’s Offer to Anglican Clergy and Laity)

When the Ordination of women to the Sacred Priesthood became a reality in 1993 many Anglican Priests and Laity were unable to accept this new innovation. They argued that there was no warranty in Scripture for this, that for 2,000 years it had not been considered possible and that General Synod had no right, on it’s own, to change the Ministry without agreement with the other churches claiming Catholic orders (The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church both said that the ordination of women was not possible and that those so ordained would not be priests in the Apostolic tradition). Some left to go to Rome or to the Orthodox Church or to one of the continuing churches

The Act of Synod which allowed parishes to decide not to allow a women to celebrate Holy Communion or to be appointed as the Vicar or Rector (Resolutions A & B) also allowed parishes to opt to have the Episcopal care of the “flying” bishops like the Bishop of Richborough (Bishop Keith). (Resolution C) This enabled many priests and laity to remain members of the Church of England who would, otherwise, opted to leave for Rome etc.

Now General Synod is about to decide that women can become bishops which I have to admit is the logical step if they can be priests. Regrettably, it is Synod’s intention to make no provision for those of us who are unable to accept that women can be bishops and the Act of Synod will, by default, be rescinded.

Around the world especially in the USA and Australia and to a lesser extend in the UK there have been what is known as Continuing Anglican Churches. One of the largest of these, the Traditional Anglican Communion, petitioned the Pope, some while ago, to make provision for Anglicans who wished to become Roman Catholics, to do so together as a group. Also close contact has been maintained by some of our Bishops as well, who have held talks with various Roman Catholic Departments at the Vatican with a view to finding a method by which groups of clergy and laity could become Roman Catholics together.

However it came as a complete surprise when, in the Autumn of last year, it was announced from the Vatican that the Pope was making it possible for Anglicans to become part of what would be known as The Ordinariate. Ordinariates would be established in the UK as well as in other parts of the world. An Ordinariate is similar to what we know as a Diocese. Anglicans will be able to take with them what is called their “patrimony” which is what makes Anglicans distinct. They could use either Anglican or Roman services and the Book of Common Prayer (slightly adapted) The Bishops of the Ordinariates cannot be married so Anglicans who are single would be appointed as Bishops. However those Bishops who are married will be able to be appointed as “the Ordinary”, the person who will be in charge of what is really a distinct Diocese. They will continue to dress like Bishops if they so wish but will not be able to ordain or undertake other Episcopal functions. Clergy would have some training before being re-ordained as Roman Catholic priests.

The full details of this innovation have not been worked out yet but the RC’s have appointed some of their Bishops in the UK to look at the details and, of course, various representations are being made by Anglicans and as soon details become known decisions will be able to be made so that together, priests and people, who wish will be able to join.

I must point out that this initiative on the part of the Pope represents a most generous offer- a father welcoming home his separated children - and is not, as some have said in the press, a drive to recruit more members. It has been pointed out that the Ordinariate can be small or large without any problem. Those priests who look to the Bishop of Richborough recently had a meeting with him when this was discussed and he was able to give us a briefing on the progress so far.

Whatever General Synod finally decide in July there is no doubt in my mind that no provision will be made for Catholic Anglicans which will, in conscience, be acceptable to most of us. Whether or not we take up the Pope’s offer will depend on the details we are still awaiting. In the meanwhile we should keep the Holy Father, the Bishops - Roman and Anglican, in our prayers as they make decisions which could see a reconciliation between Anglican Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church, something many of us have prayed for over many years.



by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: 1863

From ANACREONTIC HYMN, by St. John Damascene

From my lips in their defilement,

From my heart in its beguilement,

From my tongue which speaks not fair,

From my soul stained everywhere,

O my Jesus, take my prayer!

Spurn me not for all it says,

Not for words and not for ways,

Not for shamelessness endued!

Make me brave to speak my mood,

O my Jesus, as I would!

Or teach me, which I rather seek,

What to do and what to speak

Monday, 15 March 2010


Some years ago now, my wife and I were travelling back from a holiday just outside Paris and decided to stop on the way home at Ypres, in Belgium. We wanted to experience the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate. I had picked out an hotel on the edge of Ypres but when we arrived outside the look of the place, the overfilled bins, the flies and the smell put us of so we decided to drive into Ypres to find somewhere else. On the way into Ypres my wife spotted a British car and suggested that I follow it as it was possibly going to a hotel. It was: The Arianne and what a find.

The Arianne is a lovely hotel with superb food and pleasant staff. Since then we have returned many times and last year we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary there. It was on one of our visits that we found the prayer in the Cathedral I posted yesterday.

Ypres is a town well worth a visit with its connection with the First World War. From the town you can visit many of the battle site, visit the museum and experience the ceremony at the Menin Gate. There are many excellent restaurants in Ypres as well as the excellent food served at the Arianne

Sunday, 14 March 2010


My Lord,

join us on our way.

You are our joy and happiness,

our guidance and our help,

even in the darkest moments.

You are the end of all our journeys.

Help us, oh Lord,

to be aware of the others on our trip.

Help us to be careful,

moderate and helpful to everyone

we meet on our way.

Show us, oh Lord,

the good way,

Jesus’ way,

everyday of our Life

until we meet You,

when at the end,

we will be for ever,

close to You, my Lord!





from a leaflet in St. Martin’s Cathedral, Ypres, Belgium

Friday, 12 March 2010

Books Galore!

I’ve always been interested in books and as my wife will testify our home is full of them, even though when I retired I took several car loads of theological books to Oak Hill Theological College. When I was the Vicar of St. Francis of Assisi, Barkingside I started their twice a year Book Sales to raise funds and even though I have been retired nearly two years they are continuing to hold them in March and October. If you love books here is an opportunity to buy at very reasonable prices.

The next one is on Saturday 20th March in the St. Francis Community Hall, Fencepiece Road, Hainault IG6 2LA where any one interested will find books of all types: hardbacks, paperbacks, fiction and non fiction all at bargain prices including a “bargain table” with books at 10p each or 6 for 50p. The doors open at 9.30 a.m. until 12 noon. Admission is 30p and Tea and Coffee are available.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

A Favourite Hymn

Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.

A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy

All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, "for thy sake,"
will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.

The fourth verse was a considerable comfort to me when, in my younger days, I worked in Local Government and loathed it. The work was totally boring and monotonous.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Father Mervyn ruminates on Women Bishops

Way back in 1993, when promises were made about a “Period of Reception” following the legislation for the ordination of women I, stupidly, believed those who made them. Anglican Catholics were, we were told, valued members of the Church of England and the then proposed Act of Synod confirmed that provision would be made for those of us who were unable to accept the innovation of women priests. The Act of Synod became that provision and enshrined safe guards for those of us who wanted to have Bishops who had not ordained women.Traditionlist priests were told that they would still be able to be appointed to senior positions including Bishoprics.

It didn’t take long for me to realise that many of the promises that had been made were broken by our Fathers-in-God as one by one parishes who had opted for resolutions A, B and C were picked of usually during interregnums when Parochial Church Councils were pressured and told that the only way they would get a new incumbent was to rescind the resolutions. Freeholds have often been suspended with the same objectives. Few traditionlists have been appointed to any senior positions. When did the period of reception end?

So, when it became clear that General Synod was to consider elevating women to the Episcopate, I had no real hope that any provision would be made for those who cannot, and will not, accept women as Bishops. And although the decision has yet to be finalised at the July Synod I am now convinced that Catholics will be offered nothing that they can, in conscience, accept. It is very clear that Catholics are no longer wanted in the Church of England as it continues its liberal agenda and it slips ever more quickly down the slippery slope of becoming little more than a protestant sect.

The irony is that the Holy Father has generously offered us everything we asked the Church of England to provide and which it has failed to do.