Deacon Tony reflects: The call to love

I have a niece; who lives in a place called Caesarea, Ontario in Canada; she became a mother last year, this seems to have sparked an interest in genealogy, with a strong desire to find out where she has come from. This is not just for her own interest, but so that she is able to inform her daughter. The latest development in this is that she has undergone a DNA test and has started to make contact online with others she is related to. Some of us may share this desire to find out where we come from; to learn the history of our development as a family or a Community.

In our first reading today, we can clearly see one of the pivotal moments of the development of our Christian Community. Peter visits Cornelius in Caesarea, Palestine shunning the honour reserved for Lords, reminding his host that he is just a man and that God does not have favourites. As he says this, the Holy Spirit came down on all present, regardless of their origin. This was a clear indication to the early Church from God, that the New Covenant was not reserved just for the Jewish people, but for everyone. Peter then baptised the first Gentiles, opening up the possibility that we could all become children of God through our Baptism. It would be very useful to read the full chapter of the Acts of the Apostles from this week, it will help fill in some of the detail of the reading to gain a better understanding of how God used Cornelius to inform Peter of God’s desire for the Word to be taken out to the whole world.

In our second reading we hear the call to love. St John reminds us that love comes from God, and states that the very fact that we have the ability to love is a sign that we come from God. He also states that anyone who fails to love can never have known God; because God is love. God made us because He loves us. And because He loves us, He sent Jesus to save us. God loves us so much that He sacrificed His own Son for us.

The emphasis continues to be about love in the Gospel reading today. The reading continues on from last week’s reading and Jesus’ words to the disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus is reminding the disciples to keep His commandments to remain in His love and to love one another as He loves. He tells them that a man can show no greater love than to lay down their life for his friends, immediately telling them; and us; that they are His friends. He no longer views the disciples as servants, but as friends.

Jesus also states that the disciples did not choose Jesus, Jesus chose them; just as He has chosen us. Jesus calls us to go out and bear fruit and speaks about the joy He has when we obey the commandments and that by loving one another our joy will be complete.

How do we express that love today? How will we express that love tomorrow? Love is putting others before ourselves. Last week at the RCIA course we discussed the seven Capital (or deadly) sins; Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth; these are all about self, these relate to us thinking and acting only to please ourselves, all other sins come from these. God calls us to greater things. God wants us to think about and do things which positively affect other people. The call to love is for me to think not about me, but about you.

We also discussed the virtues, the virtues which oppose these sins, which are Humility, Liberality, Chastity, Meekness, Temperance, Brotherly love and Diligence. Taking just one of them as an example, Covetousness, what do I covet? For me it is probably time, if I get the chance to spend time doing a puzzle, the few minutes I plan can easily become twenty or thirty minutes. If that time is interrupted, I can become sullen and start to do things grudgingly, instead of lovingly. When we put others needs first, we are more likely to be living a virtuous life in line with God’s commandments.

When was the last time we considered the vices and virtues? Do we consider them when we reflect on our day before going to sleep? Do we ask God to help us overcome our faults? I know that I ask for God’s help in the morning before I start my day, sometimes I forget to thank God for the help He has given me. Sometimes I forget to examine my conscience at the end of the day, not only to make peace with God, but in an effort to improve the next day.

On Friday night, I attended the virtual meeting for the Candidates who will receive Confirmation at St Bede’s Church over Pentecost Weekend. I found it to be a most positive experience. I think it is sometimes difficult for us to see the effect we have on other people. I was really struck by the enthusiasm of the Catechists and the questions the young people were asking. Thank God for them all.

Our readings today, tell us where our Church has come from, these young people will help to develop where our Church is going in the future. All of this is done in love. A love we receive from Our Father, God the Creator, a love we were told about and given the greatest example of by Jesus His Son and a love which is guided, nurtured and comes to fruition through His Holy Spirit. Amen.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • Those who are organising and attending the Let it Be course on Monday.
  • All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this Pentecost, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Those who will start the Novena for Pentecost this Friday (14th May)
  • The repose of the soul of Friday Ogbuka, who died on Easter Monday and the comfort and welfare of his family.
  • Prayer Marathon to end the Pandemic. (see below)
  • Those who continue to attend the RCIA Course on Wednesdays.
  • The families starting the Baptism Preparation Course this Sunday.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 8th May 2021.

Worldwide Prayer Marathon for an end to Coronavirus

SHRINE LIST AND DAILY PRAYER INTENTIONS

Basilica Vaticana (Madonna del Soccorso) The Vatican Europe. For the entire world wounded by this pandemic

9 Holy House of Loreto, Italy. For all seniors.

10 Our Lady of Knock, Ireland. For all people with disabilities.

11 The Virgin of the Poor (Banneux), Belgium. For all the poor, the homeless, and the economically distressed.

12 Our Lady of Africa (Algiers) Algeria. For all people who live alone and those who have lost hope.

13 Our Lady of the Rosary, (Fatima), Portugal. For all prisoners

14 Our Lady of Health (Vailankanni) India. For all scientists and medical research institutions.

15 Our Lady Queen of Peace (Medjugorje) Bosnia. For all migrants.

16 Saint Mary’s Cathedral (Sydney), Australia. For all victims of violence and human trafficking.

17 Immaculate Conception, (Washington, D.C.) USA. For all world leaders and for all heads of international organisations.

18 Our Lady of Lourdes, France. For all doctors and nurses.

19 Mother Mary’s House – Meryem Ana Evi (Ephesus) Turkey. For all people at war and for world peace.

20 Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, Cuba. For all pharmacists and health care personnel.

21 Our Lady of Nagasaki, Japan. For all social workers.

22 Nuestra Señora de Montserrat, Spain. For all volunteers.

23 Notre Dame du Cap (Trois Rivières), Canada. For all law enforcement and military personnel and for all firefighters.

24 To be confirmed To be confirmed. For all those who provide essential services.

25 Basilica of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu, Malta. For all teachers, students and educators.

26 Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Mexico. For all workers and entrepreneurs.

27 Mother of God (Zarvanytsia), Ukraine. For all the unemployed.

28 Black Madonna of Altötting, Germany . For the Holy Father, bishops, priests, and deacons.

29 Our Lady of Lebanon (Harissa), Lebanon. For all consecrated men and women.

30 Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, Italy. For the Church.

31 Vatican Gardens, The Vatican. For the end of the pandemic and the resumption of our social and economic life.

Deacon Tony reflects: Connected to Christ

Last week I spoke and wrote about the plight of India at the moment, due to the Pandemic. Watching the News things seem to be continuing to deteriorate there while we in the UK seem to be coming out of the other side of the latest Lockdown. We thank God that our country is recovering but need to remember our brothers and sisters elsewhere. As I also mentioned last week, a month-long marathon of prayer has been called by Pope Francis, with a special Liturgy to be used at the 30 Marian shrines around the world. We are encouraged to join in I have put a link for the Liturgy in the footnotes of this reflection.1 The first Marian Shrine to be used will be in Walsingham in Norfolk; it will be broadcast live on EWTN on 1st May at 6pm. If you do not have access to the internet or to satellite TV to take part in this, please set aside some time every day during May to say the Rosary and pray for an end to this Pandemic.

This call to action is very much in the Spirit of our readings today. Today we are called to be in union with Christ by serving each other. We are reminded that we cannot do things under our own power, because we need to stay attached to Christ the true Vine.

In St John’s Gospel, Jesus, speaking at The Last Supper, tells us to stay connected to Him, the true Vine. He says that unless we stay connected to Him then we will be unable to bear fruit. This is a reminder for me to ensure that before I make a decision on any new venture or request; or before I think of who to invite to assist me with anything which I hope will bear fruit; that I need to spend some time in prayer, ensuring that I allow God into my decision-making process. This does not have to be a lengthy process; but it does have to be a time of checking that I am still connected to the Vine.

In our first reading we hear that there was still some distrust of Paul from elements of the fledgling Christian Community. It was Barnabas; a name which means ‘Son of encouragement’; who looked out for Paul and encouraged the others to trust him. Barnabas told the others how Paul had changed since he met Jesus and how he had moved from persecuting them to actively preaching the name of Jesus. How do we encourage those around us to live in our Community? Would others recognise that we are still a Community despite the Pandemic?

In our second reading, we are told by St John that “our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are the children of the truth and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence.” In relation to the Pandemic, how can we quieten our conscience about the suffering if we do not join in the request from our Pope to pray for those in peril?

By staying connected to Jesus we live in union with Him and the Church. By sharing in His Holy Eucharist, we become a Community through our act of Communion. Jesus wants us to be one body in union with Him, it is only by staying in union with Jesus that we will bear fruit.

Life can be very busy at the moment, sometimes it feels like we are trying to cram more things in because technology allows us to. The essence from today’s readings is that unless we remain in union with Christ and allow that union to influence how we put our faith into action then we risk being cut off from the vine. This means making time for Jesus, maintaining our relationship through whatever way we feel called to do so. Make time for the Sacraments, make time for prayer. Remembering the words of Jesus from today’s Gospel “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it. It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you shall be my disciples.”

How will we respond when we hear the call at the end of Mass to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”?

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • Those who are organising and attending the Let it Be course on Monday.
  • All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this Pentecost, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • The repose of the soul of Friday Ogbuka, who died on Easter Monday and the comfort and welfare of his family.
  • Prayer Marathon to end the Pandemic.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 1st May 2021.

SHRINE LIST AND DAILY PRAYER INTENTIONS

Basilica Vaticana (Madonna del Soccorso) The Vatican Europe. For the entire world wounded by this pandemic

1 Our Lady of Walsingham, England. For all the deceased.

2 Jesus the Saviour and Mother Mary (Elele) Nigeria. For all those who have not been able to say goodbye to their deceased loved ones.

3 Our Lady of Częstochowa, Poland. For all those infected with the corona virus and all the sick.

4 Basilica of the Annunciation (in Nazareth) Israel. For all expectant women and their unborn babies.

5 Blessed Virgin of the Rosary (in Namyang), South Korea. For all children and adolescents.

6 Our Lady Aparecida (San Paolo), Brazil. For all young people.

7 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Antipolo) Philippines. For all families.

8 Our Lady of Luján, Argentina. For all communication workers.

9 Holy House of Loreto, Italy. For all seniors.

10 Our Lady of Knock, Ireland. For all people with disabilities.

11 The Virgin of the Poor (Banneux), Belgium. For all the poor, the homeless, and the economically distressed.

12 Our Lady of Africa (Algiers) Algeria. For all people who live alone and those who have lost hope.

13 Our Lady of the Rosary, (Fatima), Portugal. For all prisoners

14 Our Lady of Health (Vailankanni) India. For all scientists and medical research institutions.

15 Our Lady Queen of Peace (Medjugorje) Bosnia. For all migrants.

16 Saint Mary’s Cathedral (Sydney), Australia. For all victims of violence and human trafficking.

17 Immaculate Conception, (Washington, D.C.) USA. For all world leaders and for all heads of international organisations.

18 Our Lady of Lourdes, France. For all doctors and nurses.

19 Mother Mary’s House – Meryem Ana Evi (Ephesus) Turkey. For all people at war and for world peace.

20 Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, Cuba. For all pharmacists and health care personnel.

21 Our Lady of Nagasaki, Japan. For all social workers.

22 Nuestra Señora de Montserrat, Spain. For all volunteers.

23 Notre Dame du Cap (Trois Rivières), Canada. For all law enforcement and military personnel and for all firefighters.

24 To be confirmed To be confirmed. For all those who provide essential services.

25 Basilica of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu, Malta. For all teachers, students and educators.

26 Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Mexico. For all workers and entrepreneurs.

27 Mother of God (Zarvanytsia), Ukraine. For all the unemployed.

28 Black Madonna of Altötting, Germany . For the Holy Father, bishops, priests, and deacons.

29 Our Lady of Lebanon (Harissa), Lebanon. For all consecrated men and women.

30 Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii, Italy. For the Church.

31 Vatican Gardens, The Vatican. For the end of the pandemic and the resumption of our social and economic life.

1 Liturgy for Month of prayer for the Pandemic available from. – Sussidio Rosario 2021 Inglese.pdf (pcpne.va) – accessed 1st May 2021.

Deacon Tony reflects: God is calling me

Today is a day when we pray to the Good Shepherd to provide more good shepherds to tend His flock. But while today is dedicated to that prayer, I believe that we should be praying for vocations to the Priesthood, Diaconate and Religious Life everyday. Priests don’t just appear, they come from families, like your family and mine. They come from parishes like our Parishes. At the moment in Holy Ghost Parish I am aware of two young men who are responding to a vocation; we have Tom (now known as Brother Aidan) who has joined the Benedictines at Douai and Ryan who is currently studying for the priesthood in Rome. We should remember them and their families in our prayers. We thank God for them.

God calls us all to an individual mission. He has it mapped out for us and He calls us to follow it. Not everyone answers straight away, some never get around to answering. For me, my call to the Diaconate stretched out over several years, probably as many as ten years before I decided to test the call to see if it was God calling me or if it was some notion in my head. I wrestled with the call for so long as I thought there was no way God would want me, I know my faults and failings! Time and time again God calls people from all walks of life to change their direction and asks them to serve Him. I know priests who were teachers or accountants or shop managers prior to answering the call. Likewise I studied for the Diaconate with Project Managers, Mission workers, teachers, doctors, policemen, former Religious Brothers, scientists and engineers. Each of us however, had one thing in common; we all believe that God called us and asked us to serve Him.

If you have an inkling that God is calling you towards a life of service, please don’t dismiss it. Please pray about it and talk to someone about it. The Diocesan Vocations Team (see links in footnote123) have enquiry sessions for men who believe they are being called towards the priesthood. Many religious orders have open days or weekends for people to explore if God is calling them to a specific way of service.

We are very blessed in our Diocese to have priests from other countries to come and help us. It clearly demonstrates our Universal Church, and is a true sign that God is still guiding our Church. Many years ago when vocations were plentiful in Europe, Priests and Religious went out to places like Nigeria, Cameroon and India; sowing seeds and spreading the Gospel. These were known as Missionary territories; these Missions are now sending men here to help keep the flames of faith alive in our country. Through these men, we see the generosity of God in providing shepherds to tend our flock. We are grateful to God and these servants of God for the sacrifices they make to leave their families and their countries to come and serve us.

Of course, each and every Christian has a vocation, God is calling everyone of us to some sort of service. It could be to the Married Life, Single Life, Priesthood or the Religious Life. Some like myself have an additional calling to the Permanent Diaconate. Within these areas of life there are additional vocations, for example as parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, etc. these are callings which God has given people specific talents to enable them to carry out these vocations for the benefit of others.

Today the focus is on Priests as we recognise the calling to be our shepherds. At his first Chrism Mass as Pope, Pope Francis said he wants his priests to be involved in all aspects of their flock’s lives. He wants the shepherds to smell of the sheep. The call of priesthood is not one of living in isolation, it is a call to be with people at their most joyous times, their saddest times, when they worry, when they need support or guidance, helping people to live out their faith and build a truly intimate relationship with Jesus.

While we pray for vocations there is also a need to pay for those who are in training, it costs the Diocese approximately £27,000 per year for each of our 12 students for the priesthood, if you can, please support this vital work which will help to supply our next generation of priests, donations can be made through the link in the Newsletter which is reproduced here …. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocese are fundraising for Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust | Give as you Live Donate

In the past week Pope Francis, as our Chief Shepherd, has called for the month of May to be a marathon month of prayer for an end to the global pandemic4. He is asking all of us to join in by praying the Rosary, he will broadcast the opening and closing of the month long marathon on Vatican news outlets. At least 30 shrines around the world are joining in this initiative. While we in the UK are seeing improvements in our Covid situation there are many parts of the world which are in dire straits. India in particular is seeing its Health Care system on the brink of collapse. There are severe problems in other parts of Asia and in South America. We need to maintain our prayers for these areas and encourage our Government to lobby other World Leaders to initiate a Global Response to a Global pandemic, unless everyone is safe then no-one is safe. We cannot afford to be parochial on this matter. Our brothers and sisters in India and other places are depending on us.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • All those discerning a vocation, may God help them in their discernment.
  • All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this Pentecost, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Ryan, Aidan-Keene, Wojciech and Rory who are being baptised in Holy Ghost Parish this weekend.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 24th April 2021.

1 Priest vocations – https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/priestly-vocations

2 Religious Life vocations – https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/religious-vocations

3 Permanent Diaconate vocations – https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/permanent-diaconate

4 Global Prayer Marathon – available from Pope urges Catholics to pray in May for end to Covid-19 pandemic – Vatican News accessed 24th April 2021.

Deacon Tony reflects: Explain the scriptures to us

I may have shared before that I am trying to read the whole Bible this year using guided material from the team behind the Alpha Evangelisation programme. I receive an email everyday and follow the prescribed sections and read the commentary. Up until Easter I was bang on target with this, but currently I am a few days behind, which I hope to catch up on this weekend. If I am honest, I have to admit, that I really struggle with some of the Old Testament readings, especially the very prescriptive and repetitive texts where Moses is relaying the instructions from God about how the Jewish people are to worship, offer sacrifices and build the tabernacle.

In my struggles I need to remember the text from today’s Gospel reading, where Jesus says, “This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, has to be fulfilled.” Jesus then taught the disciples, helping them to understand the meaning behind the scriptural texts and highlighting to them the parts of scripture which they were living through and witnesses to. Today’s Gospel calls us to an intimate relationship with Jesus. He calls us to that relationship and tells us that we can learn more about Him by reading the Scriptures; reflecting on the words and meditate on them allowing Jesus to speak to us.

The words of the Gospel Acclamation today could be used as a daily prayer – “Lord Jesus, explain the scriptures to us. Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.” The scriptural texts used today are a strong link to the Hebrew texts, St Luke; the author of the Acts of the Apostles, as well as his Gospel; is primarily writing to a Hebrew community, urging them to follow Jesus, the Jesus some of them had rejected. Quoting the words of Peter, he highlights that they may have rejected Jesus out of ignorance of the truth and emphasising that this was the way God had promised it would be done and that everything which had happened could be linked to the words of Moses, the prophets and found within the psalms.

When we enter into a relationship, we want to know everything we can about the person we are getting involved with. When it is an intimate relationship, we find that we have a deepening desire to find out even more and we invest time and effort into this. Often you will hear couples say that they stayed up all night just talking, getting to know each other. If we want an intimate relationship with Jesus, it is exactly the same. As God, He already knows everything about us, He has already invested the time in us from way before we were born. We need to invest time in Jesus; read the scriptures, reading commentaries which explain the scriptures; spend time with Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament, join prayer groups, sign up for courses, the choice is endless.

A quick look at this week’s Newsletter for Holy Ghost Parish has information about spending time getting to know Jesus through Mary with the Let it Be Course, which starts a week on Monday (26th), there is also a Scripture and Spirituality Course advertised for July and a day getting to know more about being Baptised in the Holy Spirit which will be held next Saturday (24th). We have plenty of opportunities to deepen our faith, to enter fully into the relationship Jesus is calling us to. Do we want to be like the people who knocked on the door at the banquet only to be told to go away as the Bridegroom does not know us?

As Christians we have a faith which demands action; we are called to tend to the needy and not to walk on by when we see someone in need. As a Community in North West Hampshire, we see more and more people who come from countries other than the UK, as a Church we are all the richer for these people. Last year we were approached at the back of the Church by a young woman and her daughter who did not speak English, she was Spanish and needed some help, we struggled to find someone who was able to help her, and it took us a couple of weeks before we were content that we were giving her the support she needed. This prompted a thought that this lady would not be the only person to find herself in this position.

We have therefore started an initiative to compile a list of volunteers with language skills to help us to help anyone else in this position. We already have the volunteers to compile the list, now we need people who will be able to help. So, I am asking YOU who speak other languages to come forward and be prepared to help. This is a Ministry; it is God’s work. How wonderful would it be if by the time we reach Pentecost in a few weeks’ time; when we hear of how the Disciples were able to communicate with people of so many different languages; if we in our Parish could have a list of people who are able to help us as a Community to communicate with those who need our help? If you are able to help, please contact languageministry@stbedesbasingstoke.org.uk

In our second reading today, we are reminded that as followers of Jesus we need to demonstrate we are followers by keeping His commandments. Jesus summed up the Commandments by telling us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. If one of your strengths is to speak other languages then why not use that strength; which is after all a gift from God; to help us as a Community to love our neighbour?

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • Those who do not believe in God, that this Eastertide will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this Pentecost, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Liam, who is being baptised in St Bede’s on Sunday 18th April and the five families who will complete the Baptism Preparation Course on the same day.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 16th April 2021.

Deacon Tony reflects: Are you a doubter?

Are you a doubter? I know I am, and I do it regularly. This can happen in my work and my home life. The most recent time happened the other day whilst trying to decide what we should have for dinner; I took something out of the freezer assuming I could cook it from frozen. Pam said that she had already checked and that it needed to be defrosted first. But I had to check it and picked up my magnifying glass to read the miniscule instructions. I could sense Pam’s frustration in the background, that I had doubted her. Doubt questions trust and sows division, it can disturb the peace in relationships.

In today’s Gospel we often concentrate on the disbelief of Thomas; of how the testimony of his brother Apostles was not enough for him, how he wanted proof and how Thomas made the wonderful profession of faith when he finally saw the Risen Lord – “My Lord and my God”. But if we concentrate on this, we can miss the initiation of one of the Sacraments.

Imagine what was going on with the Disciples. They are in hiding, afraid of the Jews, what would have they been thinking? They had followed Jesus and been with him for three long years, travelling from town to town, certain that Jesus was the Messiah; the one to free them from the Romans; to elevate the people of Israel back to their rightful place as the Chosen Race. They had been with Jesus, with the certainty that He was the One. All of that certainty must have crumbled as they saw their Master being taken prisoner, as they ran away; deserting Him. Now they were in fear for their own lives, despite some of them declaring to Jesus that they were prepared to die for Him.

They had heard the women say that Jesus was alive, and some may have believed it, but that little voice at the back of their mind must have been thinking, ‘if He is alive, if He has risen from the dead, and He is God, what will He do to us who deserted Him?’ They were not just in fear of the Jews in that upper room, they must have been afraid of Jesus too. But notice the first words Jesus says, “Peace be with you”. Instead of condemning them Jesus was there offering them His peace. The Apostles were overjoyed, and he again gives them His peace. Alongside peace He gives them the Holy Spirit and initiates the Sacrament of Reconciliation, telling them that in His name they can forgive sins.

Jesus did not just tell them to forgive sins using words, He did it by His actions. In giving them His peace, He was reconciling himself with the Apostles (who had abandoned Him) and reconciling the Apostles with each other. Before Jesus stood among them, the apostles would not just have been afraid, they would have been looking at each other, looking at themselves and wondering ‘could I have done more to save Jesus? Could the others have done more? Peter denied Him! We all ran away!’ However, when Jesus stood among them and gave them His peace, all of those thoughts were wiped away. Jesus reconciled the community with his Peace. This was a true sign of Christ’s Mercy.

This is what led to what we read about in the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles. The first line says “the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul.” This unity comes from being totally reconciled with God and each other. St Luke; the author of the Acts of the Apostles; goes on to describe how everyone looked out for one another, sharing all they had looking out for those in need.

The psalm picks up the theme “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love has no end.” The love of God and the mercy He shares with us has no end, God loves forever, He forgives forever, His Peace is never ending. As Christians we are asked to share that peace, that love and that mercy with everyone we meet. Every day we say the Our Father and ask God to forgive us our trespasses in the same way that we forgive those who have trespassed against us. We are called to forgive; if we bear grudges and withhold our forgiveness it is like allowing someone else to ‘live for free’ in your head. We suffer as we mull over the offences of others and hold back from forgiving them. God as the creator knows this and encourages us for our own well being and for the wellbeing of the Community to forgive; forgiveness restores peace.

In our second reading today St John’s first letter reminds us that by loving God’s other creations we are loving God. God created us to love. God is love and we are made in God’s image. We are called to reflect love. My mind was drawn to the closing words of today’s second reading and how it is linked to the trial of Jesus. St John tells us “the Spirit is another witness – since the Spirit is truth.” When we read this and then reflect on John’s Gospel from today when Jesus breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit…” This was the Spirit coming into the world. So, when Pilate asked Jesus during His trial “Truth? What is that?” (John 18:38) Pilate was speaking from a position of ignorance because the truth Jesus was speaking of, is the true witness of the truth, that we are created by God and called to love like God, to forgive like God and when we die to rise in Glory with Jesus and to live with God forever.

As we contemplate the Divine Mercy of Jesus, we may choose to ask ourselves – am I holding on to something which I really should be forgiving? Have I failed to confess any of my sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do I accept the forgiveness I have been granted or do I allow past sins to dominate my thoughts?

Forgiveness is freeing, I am always struck by the words of the song ‘Forgiveness’ by Matthew West1 – “It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free, there is no end to what it’s power can do. So, let it go and be amazed, by what you see through eyes of grace, the prisoner that it really frees is you.” So today on Divine Mercy Sunday and every day we are called to forgive and to seek forgiveness, restore peace in our mind, restore peace in our household, restore peace in our Community and by our witness we will restore peace in our world, because today and every day Jesus says to us “Peace be with you”.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The Divine Mercy service on Sunday at 2:30 pm at Holy Ghost Church/ streamed live.
  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • Those who have been putting off going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • Those who do not believe in God, that this Eastertide will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • All of those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this Pentecost, that they will prepare themselves diligently to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • Maria, who is being baptised in St Bede’s on Sunday 11th April and the six families who start the Baptism Preparation Course on the same day.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 10th April 2021.

Forgiveness

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying “Set It Free”

Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness
Forgiveness

Songwriters: West Matthew Joseph

1 Matthew West, Forgiveness, available from (7) Matthew West – Forgiveness (Lyrics) – YouTube accessed 10th April 2021

Deacon Tony reflects: From darkness to light

This is the night of which it is written
the night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me,
and full of gladness.

These words from the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation) remind me of my first experience of the Easter Vigil. Pam and I were teenagers and had gone to Confession on Holy Saturday morning. The priest gave us absolution and then for our penance he said we were to come to the Easter Vigil; which neither of us had heard about before. So that evening we went not knowing what to expect. The service was amazing. Something touched us both very deeply; we were filled with the Holy Spirit. it was just awesome.

After the service, Pam and I skipped on the way home to my parents’ house. It must have been about midnight; but the night had lit up for us, it was as if the night really did ‘dazzle’ for us; we were carried by the joy we felt inside of us.

The Easter Vigil is full of symbolism: fire, new light, new candle, new Holy Water, newly blessed oils, new Christians, new life. In our Baptism we die with Christ and through the mystery of our Baptism we rise with Him too. The darkness of sin and death from Good Friday is replaced by a resplendent light which shines for everyone. We are called to walk in that dazzling light and express our gladness. On that first Easter Vigil for my wife and I, we experienced that joy, that gladness. I don’t think our knees would appreciate us skipping nowadays, but we can hope to express our joy in other ways this year.

That was our first experience of the Easter Vigil. This year I will experience another few ‘firsts’, it will be my first Easter Vigil serving as a Deacon, it will also be the first time I have been present for an adult Baptism, as at St Bede’s we welcome Joe into our Church. We first met Joe on one of the Baptism Preparation sessions which we run, and we have accompanied him on his journey. We have joined in the RCIA Programme for the first time this year and are delighted that Joe is coming into the Church with all three Sacraments of Initiation alongside Oliwia who is going to be Confirmed at the same service. We are also delighted for Mo who is attending the RCIA, who will become a full member of the Church at St Michael’s in Tadley at the same time.

The last year has been a time of darkness, the whole world has felt the pain of the Pandemic, and many places continue to struggle. Here in the United Kingdom we are seeing the signs of Spring as blossom is on the trees and Spring flowers have appeared. The roll out of the vaccine programme gives us hope of better times. I would like to suggest that Joe, Oliwia and Mo receiving the Sacraments this Easter are also a sign of new life. This is new life for them and as well as for our Church. They are a sign of hope, of belief, of our Parishes continuing to grow and they are a result of the witness which we the people of out Parishes have given to the world. We need to continue to witness on behalf of Jesus, Our Risen Lord. He asks us to sow the seeds, which He will water and help us to bring to fruition.

The other evening at RCIA, it was emphasised to all three, that these Sacraments are not the end of the journey; they mark the beginning of a new life journey, where they will also witness to Our Risen Lord.

Our Sacraments are Gifts. Gifts freely given to us, which are there to sustain us until we return to God at the hour of our death. When we are Baptised, the candle used is lit from the Paschal candle [the first light of Easter] the wonderful thing about the Paschal candle is that it is not wrapped up again and put in a cupboard, it is left out for all to see and is used at various services throughout the year. This serves as another sign for us; that we are to be mindful of that gift; that gift which brings us into God’s family as his adopted children. As Christ died and is resurrected to life everlasting, our Baptism means that we have an invitation to eternal life. While it may not feel like it at times, our suffering on this earth is short lived in comparison to the life that awaits us as Baptised Christians in our Eternal Home.

Through the Sacrament of Penance we can be absolved from our sins reconciling us with God and our Community; enabling us to share in the Eucharist at Mass Through the Eucharist we share in Christ’s victory over death and we become the Body of Christ as we become what we eat; sustaining us for the battle against temptation and sin. Our Confirmation gives us an outpouring of the gifts and Charisms of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to see the world as God sees it; being guided by the Holy Spirit. The Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony teach us about sacrifice; the complete giving of ourselves to others, just as Jesus did. The Sacrament of anointing allows us to be absolved from our sins at a time of serious ill health, giving us Spiritual strength at a crucial time in our life; helping us to be ready to meet the Lord if He has chosen that time to call us to Him.

As I reflect back on my first experience of the Ester Vigil it occurs to me that if the joy I felt was as a result of my ‘penance’ I can only begin to wonder about the joy I pray I might experience, should I be blessed enough to get to heaven when I die!

I wish you all a Happy and Holy Easter; that you would bask in God’s love at this time and be renewed with his special graces.

Deacon Tony

3rd April 2021

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • All those who took part in the Walk for Water campaign to raise money for Cafod
  • Those who do not believe in God, that this Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • Joe, Oliwia and Mo, that through the Sacraments they have received this Easter they will spread the joy of Christ to those they meet.
  • All those who would love to be back at Church, but are having to shield to protect their health or the health of their loved ones.
  • All those who contribute to the Sacred Liturgy which enhances our experience and helps to bring us closer to God.

Once again, I thank those who have sponsored me on my Walk for Water Challenge in aid of Cafod. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD I have now completed more than 500,000 steps since Ash Wednesday and with your help I have raised overt £1600 for Cafod. As an aside I have also achieved a weight loss of almost one stone, it is not too late to sponsor me.

All donations are greatly appreciated and as always if you are unable to financially support me or the others taking part, your prayers are very welcome.

Deacon Tony reflects: Not a time to run away

Today’s readings are very familiar. As Christians we have heard and contemplated the Passion of Jesus Christ from our earliest days as a Christian and we hear the expression, ‘to fulfil the Scriptures’ or ‘in accordance with the Scriptures’ and in the 21st Century we accept that these things happened in Biblical times, a very long time ago. But to give this a little bit of context, today’s psalm was written a thousand years before Jesus was born, it is on a par with William the Conqueror writing about Queen Elizabeth II and getting all the facts right.

The Passion account we have this year is from the Gospel of Mark, like all of the Gospels, it has an account of when Jesus was taken into custody. When reflecting on this Gospel, I was reminded that there is a description of a young man fleeing naked from the scene, leaving behind his clothing. This has two parallels first of all the clothing he leaves behind is a linen cloth. Next Sunday, as we celebrate the resurrection, we will hear that the tomb was empty except for the linen cloth, which had been used to wrap the Body of the Crucified Christ. The second parallel is that when Jesus first called the disciples, they left everything to follow him, and at His arrest they left everything – including the clothes they wore- to get away from him.1

I don’t think anyone would blame the disciples from fleeing, firstly it was to fulfil the Scriptures, secondly it is human instinct to save oneself at a time of danger. Our Gospel reading shows Jesus at his most human and at his most divine. He displays all of the human traits of fear, concern for his friends, understanding that they were tired and excusing it as a good friend would do. His divinity was highlighted by the fact He knew He would be betrayed; He knew who would betray Him, He knew He was going to be tortured and killed and He was prepared to do all of that for us.

If you have struggled to keep to your Lenten sacrifices, please take heart this week and redouble your efforts. Read the Scriptures, fast, give to the poor. Our token effort is minimal compared to what Jesus has done for us. If you have been successful with your Lenten sacrifices, don’t rest on your laurels; the message is the same – redouble your efforts, read the Scriptures, fast and give to the poor. This is not a time to run away, we already know that following the sadness of Good Friday there will be joy on Easter Sunday. The disciples who fled on that first Holy Thursday did not have that knowledge, they had not yet received the Holy Spirit, they had not yet encountered the Risen Christ.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • For all those taking part in the Walk for Water campaign, that we all have the strength to overcome any physical ailments and reach their targets before the end of Lent.
  • For those who have been putting off going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • For those who do not believe in God, that this Lent and Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • For all those taking part in the online Alpha course, as they look at how we can share God’s message.
  • For all those receiving Sacraments at our Easter Vigil Services, especially for Joe and Oliwia at St Bede’s and Mo at St Michael’s, we wish them all a blessed week and a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Once again, I thank those who have sponsored me on my Walk for Water Challenge in aid of Cafod. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD I have now completed the 500,000 steps since Ash Wednesday and with your help I have raised overt £1600 for Cafod. I intend to keep going with the steps up until Easter Sunday, it is not too late to sponsor me.

All donations are greatly appreciated and as always if you are unable to financially support me or the others taking part your prayers are very welcome.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 27th March 2021.

Some thoughts and links to help us as we approach the Easter Triduum and Easter Sunday next week.

Sunday – St. Teresa of Avila and beginning again during Holy Week – Catholic World Report

Monday – “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” ― Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Tuesday – 10 Quotes For Holy Week – Diocesan

Wednesday – “Mount Calvary is the academy of love” St Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church

Thursday – “We adore you and we bless you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all the churches which are in the whole world, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” St. Francis of Assisi, Deacon

Friday – “After you say your morning offering today, Good Friday, we should all keep this in Mind about Jesus: It was not necessary for Him to undergo so much torment. He could have avoided those trials, those humiliations, that ill-usage, that iniquitous judgement, and the shame of the gallows, and the nails and the lance… But He wanted to suffer all this for you and for me. And we, are we not going to respond? Very likely there will be times, when alone in front of a crucifix, you find tears coming to your eyes. Don ‘t try to hold them back… But try to ensure that those tears give rise to a resolution. “
-St. Jose Maria Escriva’s Way of the Cross

Saturday – “If you can talk with the Lord in prayer, talk to Him, offer Him your praise; if, due to great weariness, you cannot speak, do not find displeasure in the ways of the Lord. Stay in the room like servants of the court do and make a gesture of reverence. He will see you, and your presence will be pleasing to Him. He will bless your silence and at another time you will find consolation when He takes you by the hand.” St Pio of Pietrelcina

1 Robert Draper, Pastoral Review Vol 17 Issue 1 (Tablet Publishing, Twickenham, 2021)

Deacon Tony reflects: A pure heart

Today in our first reading, we hear the prophet Jeremiah proclaiming the words of God, that He will make a new covenant, this covenant will be written on the hearts of mankind. As we know the previous covenant was written on tablets of stone and brought to the people by Moses. This new covenant, will be written on our hearts. We have heard elsewhere in Scriptures that our hearts of stone will become hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19 & 36:26). This heart of flesh will enable us to love God and love our neighbour. This heart of flesh will allow us to forgive those who trespass against us and lead us to the forgiveness of God who “will forgive their iniquity and never call their sin to mind”.

Our psalm continues the theme as we ask God to create in all of us a pure heart; we ask God for mercy; we ask God to take away our sins. This psalm is very familiar to those who pray the Office of the Church, most Friday mornings this psalm is used helping those who pray, to focus on the things we need forgiveness for. This is not, however focussed on the sins, if that were the case, we would still have hearts of stone. The focus is on the joy of receiving God’s forgiveness, recognising that we cannot succeed without God’s help and that God is only too happy to help us, to forgive us and to sustain us.

Our second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, reminds us that Jesus prayed often and earnestly; Jesus always found time for prayer; there were times when He would take himself off to a quiet place to pray, maintaining His relationship with His Father. It was only through his perfect obedience to the Father that we could be saved. Jesus provided the perfect example for us, complete obedience to God, but this was done not because it was written on tablets of stone, but because it was written on His heart. Jesus is the New Covenant, Jesus gives us a focus to love, Jesus is God made flesh, Jesus is love.

In our Gospel reading today, we have Jesus again telling us that He will be lifted up. This is not Jesus as a victim, this is Jesus’ glorious victory. Jesus is fulfilling his mission; he compares himself to a grain of wheat, which must die and be buried to yield a rich harvest. He tells us to follow Him.

This passage of dialogue from Jesus was prompted by a request from some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. Jesus did not answer the request directly with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, but He finished this prophecy of His Passion with the words “when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself.” Jesus was saying that He was not here just to save the Israelites; He was here to save everyone, the Greeks would have to wait until the resurrection.

Jesus said, “wherever I am, my servant will be there too.” How have we served Jesus this week? I could ask in a different way, who have we taken Jesus to this week? For me, I had an encounter with a colleague from work, I don’t know if he is a believer or not, but a few months ago he told me that his wife was expecting a baby and that they had suffered miscarriages during previous pregnancies. I said I would pray for them. I met up with him this week and he was delighted to tell me that he was now the proud father to a little boy called Luke. He thanked me for my prayers. Our prayers make a difference; they give hope, they take Jesus to people who may have lost hope or are struggling with what life throws at them. Our new covenant, to love God and to love our neighbour, a covenant written by God on every person’s heart. Remember when God spoke through Jeremiah, he said “There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour, or brother to say to brother, ‘Learn to know the Lord!’ No, they will all know me, the least no greater than greatest – it is the Lord who speaks.” This means that we all have the love of God in us, written on our hearts. It should be natural for us all to follow, by following Jesus we can bring this covenant to life in those who do not believe.

Jesus calls us to action, He wants us to light up the world with His light, to love our neighbour with His love, to restore peace with His peace. As we approach the time when we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we can ask ourselves, what sacrifice am I prepared to make for Jesus? He who gave everything for us, asks us to follow Him; to pick up our cross and follow Him. How do we respond?

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • The three families completing the Baptism Preparation Course this weekend via Zoom.
  • For all those taking part in the Walk for Water campaign, that we all have the strength to overcome any physical ailments.
  • For those who have been putting off going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • For those who do not believe in God, that this Lent and Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • For all those taking part in the online Alpha course, as they look at how to resist evil.
  • For the success of the RCIA course next Wednesday, that all those attending will gain an understanding and develop a love for the Sacraments of the Church.

Once again, I thank those who have sponsored me on my Walk for Water Challenge in aid of Cafod. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD I have now completed the 400,000 steps since Ash Wednesday and with your help I have raised just £1542 for Cafod. I now plan to try and reach 500,000 steps before Easter Sunday.

All donations are greatly appreciated and as always if you are unable to financially support me or the others taking part your prayers are very welcome.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 20th March 2021.

Some links to help us as we approach Palm Sunday next week.

Sunday – Library : We hail you, O Cross of Christ! | Catholic Culture

Monday – “The Humility of a Little Donkey” — Heartlight®

Tuesday – On Palm Sunday, 2019: A Reflection from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen | Papal Artifacts

Wednesday – TOP 17 PALM SUNDAY QUOTES | A-Z Quotes

Thursday – 5 Quotes for Palm Sunday | The Stream

Friday – The 7 Effects of Confession (piercedhearts.org)

Saturday – – A Palm Sunday message from Pope Francis: Do not be afraid; you are not alone | America Magazine

Deacon Tony reflects: shining a light

“Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast” (Isaiah 66:10-11). These are the words of the Entrance Antiphon this Sunday. The Latin for Rejoice is Laetare, today is Laetare Sunday. It is a day when priests and deacons are given an option to replace their purple vestments with Rose coloured vestments to recognise that we are halfway through Lent. This gives us a glimpse of the joy awaiting us at Easter, just before we enter the sombre time of Passiontide. 1

Our first reading, which comes from the end of the 2nd Book of Chronicles, tells us of the rebellious people who defiled the Temple of the Lord. God sent prophets to warn them about their behaviours, who they ignored. Eventually the Lord lost patience with the people and allowed them to be conquered, the Temple was destroyed; and the surviving people led off to Babylon to a life of servitude. They remained there for seventy years until God prompted Cyrus, King of Persia, to rebuild a Temple in Jerusalem. This is a sign for us that God will always look to bring people back to Him, He never gives up on people.

This theme is continued in St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians; he reminds us that God loves us so much that although we were dead through our sins we have been brought to life with Christ and have been raised up with Christ to a place reserved for us in heaven. This is not something which we can earn or buy; this is a gift freely given by the grace of God to those who believe in Him. There is a beautiful little section at the end of St Paul’s letter, it says “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus…” Have you ever thought of yourself as God’s work of art? But not only that, there is a little gem at the end of that sentence, which tells us that through Jesus the original sins of Adam and Eve have been wiped away; by becoming Christians through our Baptism we can “live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.”

Our Gospel from John gives an account of one of the times Jesus foretold His Passion. There is , however, a distinct difference in style between John’s Gospel and the other three Evangelists. Matthew, Mark and Luke describe Jesus suffering at the hands of the chief priests and the elders and being killed by them. St John tells of the Glory of the Passion. “Jesus is lifted up, so that whoever believes may have eternal life in him.”

This lifting up is continued in the Resurrection and the Ascension.2 John in recalling the words of Jesus to Nicodemus, recalls the contrast between darkness and light; in a similar way to the contrast used at the beginning of John’s Gospel when he describes a “life that was the light of men; and light shines in the darkness, and darkness could not overpower it” (John 1:4-5). Today’s passage says that “though light has come into the world men have shown that they prefer darkness to light”. This season of Lent gives us all the opportunity to turn back towards the light. It is a good time to examine our behaviours and habits and to break any cycle which leads us to eternal ruin.

In my reflection last week, I suggested using the essence of the ten commandments to examine our consciences. All of us are sinners and we all need to find a way to be more like Jesus. Another way of looking at our behaviours is when we read or listen to the News. For example, many employers will be looking at themselves following the news earlier this week about a culture of bullying in a major Company in the North-west of England.3 But it should not only be employers; all of us need to examine how we treat other people. I had reason to do this myself earlier in the week, when I fired off an email to someone who I mistakenly thought had made an error which affected me. They soon pointed out my error to me and I had to hastily send back an apology, acknowledging that I had been wrong. As I have said previously, I can get angry very quickly, this time I reacted without finding out the facts first; hopefully I will learn from this and check the facts first if anything similar happens again.

How do we treat the people we meet at work? How do we treat the people we interact with at Church? How do we treat the people we live with? Do we love them as we love ourselves? Do we have favourites? Are there people we avoid? If we do, why do we avoid them?

When we shine the light on our behaviours, habits and choices how do we feel? What are we prompted to do?

Lent gives us all the opportunity to look at ourselves and really examine ourselves, to try to see ourselves as Jesus sees us. He sees us as we really are, and he still loves us in our sinfulness; our brokenness and in our darkest times. Jesus never stops loving us. Jesus is love and He wants His love to shine on us and through us and to be shared with everyone we meet. We are not just to share it with the people we like, we are to share it with everyone, including the people we might not be too fond of. Jesus wants us to step out of the darkness into the light and then to remain in the light. By doing this we will be allowing the light of Jesus to shine on God’s works of art, us, so that everyone can appreciate the full beauty of God’s creation.

This Sunday in the UK we celebrate Mothering Sunday. This was originally a day when apprentices or those ‘in service’ would return to their Mother Church during Lent; taking a small gift like hand picked flowers to their mother. Today we thank God for our Mother, we pray for all Mothers; may they receive God’s blessing for all that they do and may we be always grateful for our mother. But we also remember the origin of this day; Our Mother Church. Some of us are far away from our Mother Church; the Church we grew up in, but we are grateful that in our one Holy and Apostolic Church we can find a home in the Church Community where we live. Mary, Queen of Mothers, Pray for us. Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All Mothers in our Parishes, especially those who cannot be with their children at this time.
  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • Elias de Sousa and his family as Elias joins the Christian family through Baptism this weekend at St Bede’s.
  • For all those taking part in the Walk for Water campaign, that we all have the strength to overcome any physical ailments.
  • For those who have been putting off going to Reconciliation, that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • For those who do not believe in God, that this Lent and Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • For all those taking part in the online Alpha course, that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • For the success of the RCIA course next Wednesday, that all those attending will gain an understanding and develop a love for the Sacraments of the Church.
  • For Pope Francis, as he celebrates the eighth anniversary of his election as Pope.

Once again, I thank those who have sponsored me on my Walk for Water Challenge in aid of Cafod. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD I have now walked over 300,000 steps since Ash Wednesday and with your help I have raised just under £1500 pounds for Cafod.

All donations are greatly appreciated and as always if you are unable to financially support me or the others taking part your prayers are very welcome.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 13th March 2021.

Some links to help us with Lent this week.

Sunday – POPE FRANCIS LAETARE SUNDAY 2018: REJOICE BECAUSE GOD IS WITH US! – Catholics Striving for Holiness

Monday – TOP 25 QUOTES BY POPE JOHN XXIII (of 57) | A-Z Quotes

Tuesday – The Liberating Power of Fasting : Ancient Practice for a Catholic Lent (catholicexchange.com)

Wednesday – TOP 25 QUOTES BY SAINT PATRICK | A-Z Quotes

Thursday – Cyril of Jerusalem Quotes (Author of On the Christian Sacraments) (goodreads.com)

Friday – Quotes – Year of St. Joseph

Saturday – Saints quotes on the Blessed Virgin Mary (whitelilyoftrinity.com)

1 Michael R Heinlein, Laetare Sunday, available from Laetare Sunday | Simply Catholic accessed 11th March 2021.

2 Robert Draper, Breaking the Word Sundays, (Pastoral Review Vol 17 Issue 1, Twickenham, 2021)82.

3 Sellafield nuclear site a ‘toxic mix of bullying and harassment’ – BBC News accessed 12th March 2021