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Saturday 11th November 2023 – Saturday 18th November 2023


Thirty- Second Week of Ordinary Time

Dear parishioners,


The Day of Wrath, that awful day,

Shall reduce the earth to ashes,

As David and the Sybil prophesied.

How great will be the terror,

When the Judge shall come

To examine all things rigorously.

This Saturday is Armistice Day followed by Remembrance Sunday in which we pray for the dead of two world wars. It has become common practice among Christians in this country, that as we pray for the dead of the two world wars, we also remember the dead of the many wars which Britain has been involved in or supported since. Armistice Day commemorates the ceasefire of 1918 and indeed, Armistice means to ceasefire. Therefore, no more fitting day could there be than this to call for a ceasefire in the attack on thousands of defenceless people in Gaza: the total revenge for the terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and some foreign workers on October 7th. Some estimate that already 30,000 people have been slaughtered, with bombs raining down from the sky hour after hour for four weeks upon peoples’ homes, hospitals, mosques, a church, schools: a complete desolation of all that makes a city. The terrorists are accused of hiding among the people and so the helpless victims are blamed by one of the most powerful armed forces in the world for its continued attacks on them. Let us remember, that by their very nature, insurgent movements never remain in the open with barracks and headquarters with a postal address. Catholics in England, including priests, had to hide among the people, three centuries ago. The French resistance, of course hid among the French people during German occupation. I am sure the Israeli terrorists in Palestine of the forties did the same during the British mandate and the IRA hid in the ordinary homes of Northern Ireland. Following the many terrible attacks on this country by the IRA, it is quite unimaginable that the British government, for all its errors in the Troubles, would ever have ordered a revenge carpet- bombing for weeks on end of Derry city because IRA members lived among the people there. If the British Government had done so, rightly would we have been a pariah among nations, and no longer called civilized. It would have been incomprehensible that the British had to kill four hundred Derry residents in order to kill one IRA leader. Can you imagine such an injustice even graver than the crime? But we are witnessing this now in Palestine. Why is our government and opposition supporting a country that is doing this?

People are finding it hard to speak against the atrocity taking place because it is supported by our government and opposition leaders and those who are speaking against the continual bombing are being called ‘hateful’ and ‘anti-semitic’. We British citizens like to imagine ourselves being on the side of decency and to be told it is hateful to march and speak against the mechanised massacre of the people in Gaza is disorientating. It is Orwell’s 1984 in which good is bad and bad is good, black is white and war is peace. But please be assured, that the majority of the hundreds and thousands who are marching for justice for Palestinians are ordinary Remembrance Day poppy wearing Christians - catholics, orthodox and protestants, Muslims - shia and sunni , atheists, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, young and old, man and woman, white British - English, Scottish, Irish, Northern Irish, British - Asian, African, European and every ethnic background of British, ex-service people, students, every class and job and profession and significantly, British Jews. These marches are an expression of frustration that no longer do we see ourselves represented by our government in its complicity in the continued bombardment of poor, stateless people whose homeland was forcibly taken from them and who have no safe place to lay their heads. What else can ordinary people do to help stop this killing? Protesting is the cry to the powerful to hear the voice of the powerless, and the hundreds and thousands of people have taken to the streets across the world to be that voice for those who have no power in this world and are being silenced to death by the Israeli killing machine.

Many people feel mentally blocked and tongue-tied, not knowing how to speak about what is going on for fear of causing offence to someone, but that is the intention. It is absurd that we are now indulging ourselves in the discussion about ‘causing offence’ by calling for a ceasefire and an end to the occupation and oppression of a people rather than the gross offence to God and humanity of a whole people being slaughtered, made homeless and forcibly evicted from their land. If this newsletter causes offence, then so be it, but I hope anything offensive is my own failure in the relative security of my homeland to fully comprehend the horror unleashed upon the Palestinian people and the shame we should feel in our own political establishment. However, before being accused of ‘supporting terrorists’, being ‘political’, ‘racist’ ‘antisemitic’ or ‘hateful’ in speaking against Israel’s actions and our government and the opposition leadership’s support for it, I would ask you to look again at the teaching of the Catholic Church on what is a Just War and ask whether what you see now is just. Is our political establishment, both government and opposition on the side of justice or complicit in the brutal horror of a mass killing and injuring of thousands of people?

In the utter tragedy taking place in the Land of Our Lord’s birth, humanity needs to hear the Lord’s words of life in the Gospel more than ever. All humanity needs to hear the Church’s teaching on what is just in war, because God will judge all who engage in it and no person or country should think it is an exception and above God’s laws. We sing in the Dies Irae at the Requiem Mass:

‘the trumpet, with astounding blast, echoing over the sepulchres of the whole world, shall compel all before the throne.

Death and nature will stand aghast, when the creature shall rise again, to answer before his Judge.

The written book shall be brought forth, containing all for which the world must be judged.

When, therefore, the Judge shall be seated, whatsoever is hidden shall be brought to light, naught shall remain unpunished’

The Catholic Church teaches that people have a right to defend themselves when attacked. This is called a just war. The Catholic Church also categorically teaches in the Catechism that the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders even graver than the evils to be eliminated. Civilians must be respected and treated humanely. Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its principles are crimes and the extermination of a people, nation or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin and all Catholics are mortally bound to resist any orders that command genocide.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church goes on to say ‘Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits unequivocal condemnation’. This is the evil we now see inflicted on the poor people of Gaza by a powerful country supported by our government.

International Law is in line with the teaching of the Catholic Church, because it comes from it. In a letter to churches from the Christian charity ‘Embrace the Middle East’, we are told no country has the right - on this international law is very clear - to act indiscriminately, without due regard for the safety of innocent civilians. It cannot for example erase whole neighbourhoods, starve or move an entire population from their homes. Before God, no catholic should uphold responding to evil with even greater evil. The second Vatican Council tells us ‘Concerning this task of working for unity in the love and practice of justice, we will answer to God who will judge every single human being on the last day’

This Remembrance weekend, let us pray for a ceasefire now, the return of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and an end to the unjust mass killing and enforced movement of ordinary, very poor, stateless and powerless people. May God have mercy on them! And we will not forget that thanks to the sacrifice made by the men and women of this country in two world wars we still - for now -have the freedom to speak out against injustice and protest in the streets on behalf of those whose cry of agony is dismissed by earthly powers. It is this freedom they died for, to quote Sir Nicholas Soames on Radio Four ‘Today’, as he joined the call to ceasefire now.

How you can keep the Month of Holy Souls at St Thomas More:

1. Attend The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on All Soul’s Day or any November Requiem, including the Solemn Requiem Mass at 11 o’clock on Remembrance Sunday, 12th November (with the Dies Irae quoted above).

2. Visit the Graves in your own time or for the Blessing of Graves or at the following times:

Sunday 12th November - Bexleyheath Cemetery at 12:30 p.m.

Sunday 12th November – Sidcup Cemetery at 1.00 p.m.

Sunday 12th November - Brook Street at 3.00 p.m.

3. Come to our annual Service of Commemoration of the Faithful Departed with Benediction on Sunday 26th November, Feast of Christ the King at 3.00 p.m. followed by tea and cakes.

4. Say the Novena for Holy Souls – our November prayer below.

November Indulgences

As always, a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the Holy Souls, may be gained once in any church either on All Soul’s Day, on the preceding or following Sunday or on the Feast of All Saints, on the usual conditions, viz a visit to a church, where the Creed and Our Father are recited, sacramental confession made, Holy Communion received and a prayer for the pope’s intentions. Those who visit a cemetery between 1st and 8th November and pray for the faithful departed, may obtain a plenary indulgence, applicable to the holy souls ( and at other times a partial indulgence)

Furthermore, a plenary indulgence is granted to all those present, subject to the usual conditions to those who attend our Service at St Thomas More on Sunday 26th November, the Feast of Christ the King at 3.00 p.m. or any church on that day where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, the consecration of the human race to Christ the King made and the Litany of the Sacred Heart said.

God bless and peace be with you as we pray for Holy Souls,

Fr Jonathon






St Thomas More Parish Club Presents our BINGO EVENING. Cash Prizes! Friday 17th November 2023, 8.00 pm till 11.00 pm, Eyes down at 9.00pm. Your Bingo book is £5 each, available at the door. For more information call Jenny on 07710 527692 or Mary on 07369 252072








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