Welcome to Fr Dominic Adeiza

Our new parish priest writes:

I am Dominic Ozovehe Adeiza, born July 14th, 1969. Born into a big Muslim family of eight, of which I lost a brother, a sister and my father.

I trained in Nigeria and was ordained for the diocese of Lokoja. After my ordination I served in my diocese as the Chancellor / the Bishop’s Secretary and the co-editor of the diocesan newspaper.

After a few years, I went over to Rome to study communication at the Gregorian University while living at the English College (Sherwin House). As a student in Rome, I spent my holidays in parishes in Preston, Parbold, Wimbledon, Warwickshire and North London

After my studies I was asked to continue with a research. I came to England was gladly offered scholarship by the diocese of Portsmouth. I did my research in Sociology at Surrey University, Guildford. While doing my studies, I served as the parish priest of St Swithun’s Yateley. Mid-way, I took on the responsibility of St. Thomas More, Hartley Wintney.

At the completion of my studies, I returned to Nigeria to take on the appointment of a Training Director of Lux Terra Leadership Foundation. I served as the Coordinator and Director of the Psycho-Spiritual Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. I taught at the Albertine Institute, Fayit- Fadan Kagoma, Kaduna, Veritas University Abuja and at the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, Abuja.

At some point I served as Chaplain to the Knights, Catholic Lawyers, Prisons and Journalists.

I enjoy reading, teaching, traveling, cooking my own meals, walking and outdoor games. I love dogs and would love to engage in gardening.

I am excited with my move from Faringdon to Basingstoke (Amazingstoke).

Fr Dominic Adeiza

Deacon Tony reflects: a call to love

Thirty-nine years ago, almost to the day I started out on my working life. I started off as an apprentice, and on that first day I remember the foreman screaming abuse at one of the tradesmen, effectively telling him off in front of all the other workers. I turned to my tradesman and asked him if this was normal. I was informed that what should really happen is that the person should be taken to one side and spoken with quietly, as that is good management.

Today we hear about our responsibility as Christians not to walk by while someone else is getting things wrong. However, this is not calling us to become judges of those around us, this is a call to love.

The penalty for walking on by is outlined in our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, if we see someone following the wrong path, we are to advise them to change their ways, if we fail to challenge them to change then we may be liable to their punishment. If, however we do advise them to change and they still fail to change then the punishment is solely their own. We will have carried out our duty in the eyes of the Lord.

Our psalm is emphasising that we need to listen out for God’s voice, as we heard a few weeks ago, God can be found in the stillness of a gentle breeze. We are encouraged to go towards the Lord and kneel before our Creator, praising Him and having a heart which is open to love.

St Paul tells us in today’s second reading that all of the challenges we are called to make are to be done in love. He tells us that ‘Love is the only thing which cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.’

In St Matthew’s Gospel reading today, we hear Jesus telling us to challenge our brother when he does something wrong. Again, this is not to be done to make ourselves feel superior, like the foreman I mentioned earlier. No, this must be done with the right motivation and that is LOVE. Always remembering how Jesus described how we need to remove the log from our own eye first before helping our brother to remove the splinter in his (Mat 7:3).

All of the challenges described by Jesus in Matthew’s reading are to be carried out in love. The first challenge is to be carried out in private, this is the best opportunity to win back the brother. Next, we are encouraged to take along 2 or 3 witnesses. For me this isn’t only a challenge to the brother, but a challenge to the one who feels offended. If we have already challenged a close friend or relation and we believe we are in the right, wouldn’t we want to think carefully prior to involving anyone else? Am I confident that I am in the right? Surely when we start to involve others, we would want to be certain that we are standing on solid ground?

If we have made the decision to go ahead with the challenge, witnesses in tow, and there is still no resolution then we are encouraged to bring the matter to the attention of the whole community. Bearing in mind that the main purpose of this is to change the behaviour which led to the discord in the first place. If the offender rejects the decision of the community, they in effect excommunicate themselves from the community. Even after all of these rejections, we are still called to love, as that is the key message of Jesus.

The last two paragraphs from today’s Gospel are ’Amen, Amen’ sayings – whenever we hear Jesus use the words ‘I tell you solemnly’ or ‘I tell you most solemnly’ we know we are to listen and really take in what we are about to hear. These are solemn pronouncements.

Fr Robert Draper; a Parish Priest from Dorset explains –

The solemn action of the community in pronouncing on the behaviour of one of its members becomes the judgement of heaven. The saying about ‘two or three meet in my name’ is often used to express Christ’s presence when the faithful are gathered in prayer. The reality of that saying in its context is to express divine sanction for the action of the Church in disciplining its members. That is very significant and should be reflected on carefully by those who want to insist on making one’s Church membership something simply personal and private.1

We are called to love, even those who may be considered to be our enemy!

Is there anyone in my life that I need to reach out to in love to bring them back closer to me?

Am I aware of having offended anyone? If so, can I reach out to them and ask for forgiveness? Is there anyone who is causing stress in my life at the moment? Do I feel strong enough to challenge them on their behaviour? If so, then out of love, I need to challenge them. If I do not feel strong enough to challenge them, I need to pray for them.

As Christians we never want the ultimate sanction of people being excluded to happen, we are called to live in Community, a community of love. Jesus did not want the ultimate sanction to be used either, but he outlined the foundations of the process to his disciples and gave them authority to firm up the laws of the Church. Two thousand years later, the message remains the same for us. It is now our responsibility to reflect, pray and act, it is our actions which will determine whether there will still be a Christian Community here for those who will live here after we have gone.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those starting out on the Baptism Preparation Course this Sunday.
  • All the students and staff in our schools and colleges as they return after the summer break and the disruption of the lockdown.
  • As we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lady on Tuesday, we remember all who are pregnant at this time.
  • We also remember the anniversary of consecration of the Holy Ghost Church in Basingstoke (consecrated 9/9/1903), please pray for all those who have worked so hard to ensure that such a beautiful church is available for us in our Pastoral Area.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 4th September 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1 Robert Draper, Breaking the Word – Sundays, The Pastoral Review Vol 16 Issue 3, (The Table Publishing Company, Twickenham, London, 2020)82.

Deacon Tony reflects: living a disciple’s life

A few years ago, my eyes were opened to the fact that a prophet is someone who disturbs. In my research for today’s reflection I came across a saying “every prophet disturbs, but not everyone who disturbs is a prophet.”1 This I believe to be true, we can be disturbed by all sorts of people by what they do, what they say, how they treat others or how they treat themselves. Just because they can disturb us does not make them a prophet.

In the Catholic Dictionary the word prophet is explained as follows

The biblical term ‘nabi’ means ‘one who spoke, acted or wrote under the extraordinary influence of God to make known the divine counsels will.’ Yet commonly associated with this primary function to proclaim the word of God, a prophet also prophesied by foretelling future events. His role, then was to both proclaim and to make the proclamation credible.2

Based on this purpose, is it any wonder that they disturb?

In today’s readings we have Jeremiah, complaining to God about the burden of being a prophet and yet despite the derision [‘daily laughing stock, everybody’s butt.’] he suffers he continues to obey God and share the message with the people God wanted to hear it. Jeremiah tried to block God, he tried to not even think about God or mention his name, but he had this ‘ fire burning’ in his heart, compelling him to continue to deliver very difficult messages.

In our Gospel today Jesus foretells for the first time of His Passion. Peter, takes Jesus aside and protests, “this cannot happen to you Lord.” Peter is disturbed by the message, and I would guess he would have been even more disturbed by Jesus’ reaction to his protest, “Get behind me, Satan!” and is told that he is an obstacle to Jesus. What are we to make of this? Only last week, in the verses preceding this week’s versus, we hear Jesus tell Peter that he is the rock upon which the Church will be built and now Peter is being called Satan. The answer was immediate. Peter was thinking as men think and not as God thinks. As I mentioned last week God does things His way, and every day we say to God that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Within our Gospel there is further disturbing news for the disciples and for us; if we want to be followers of Christ then we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We are to follow Jesus unto the point of death and if we lose our life for the sake of Jesus we will be rewarded with eternal life. That is the promise made by Jesus. At the end of time, when Jesus comes to judge, each of us will be rewarded according to our behaviour. On that day there will be much rejoicing, but there will also be much weeping and grinding of teeth. St Katherine Drexel sums it up very well –

The question alone important, the solution of which depends upon how I have spent my life, is the state of my soul at the moment of death. Infinite misery or infinite happiness! There is no half and half, either one or the other. And this question for me is to be decided at most in seventy years, seventy short years compared with Eternity.3

This judgement is why St Paul is urging the Romans in our excerpt from his letter to them in today’s second reading to change their behaviours, model their behaviour on their new mind. St Paul tells them that this is the “only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.”

To change our current behaviours may not be easy; living the life of an intentional disciple was never going to be. Sacrifices will be needed with the rewards being priceless.

Advertisers spend vast amounts of money trying to influence and persuade us to live a certain lifestyle – doing what others do [buying fancy cars, holidays etc] – but what if we were to disturb in a way that encouraged and invited others to live a different way? How could our behaviour encourage or invite others to live?

This week we need to ask ourselves, what behaviour(s) do I need to change? What are the obstacles in my life? If God called me today would I be happy to be judged on the state of my soul today? What do my answers urge me to do?

For me, my obstacles include a fear of failure, which has held me back over the years. I can often take a long time to make decisions (procrastination), which frustrates me and those around me. I have a wife who loves to challenge, whereas I struggle with challenge (I see this as an obstacle, but Pam probably sees it as an area for growth). By nature, I am quite a private person, but my calling to the Diaconate has disturbed me out of my comfort zone to be a more public figure within the Church.

This week’s Scriptures pose us lots of questions, like everything with our faith, it is how we respond to those questions which will make the difference between infinite misery or infinite happiness.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All the pupils, teachers and staff of schools in England as they start the new school year; that the controls in place to protect against Covid 19 are successful, so that our schools can be a healthy place for all.
  • Those who struggle with addictive behaviours, that they may seek and find the help to change.
  • Those who struggle to change or who struggle to let others help them, that they can learn to trust people and that their trust is never betrayed.
  • All clergy who have been asked to move Parishes recently, especially Fr Chris as he prepares to move to Guernsey and Fr Dominic as he prepares to come to Holy Ghost Parish, may these moves enrich their Ministry and enrich the lives of the Parishes they serve.
  • The children Baptised in St Bede’s since the lockdown restrictions were lifted – Maria, Hannah, Leonardo, Zachary, Adrielle and Amelia, as well as Charlie and Florence who are due to be Baptised this weekend.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 26th August 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1Ronald Rolheiser, Prophets as Shock Absorbers, available from https://ronrolheiser.com/prophets-as-shock-absorbers/#.X0Uc7qeSmUk accessed 25th August 2020

2 John A Hardon S.J., Catholic Dictionary – An Abridged and Updated Edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary, (Image Books, New York, 2013)407-8.

3 St Katherine Drexel, Finding your Life – reproduced in The New Jerusalem Bible – Saints Devotional Edition, (Darton, Longman & Todd, London, 2002)1228.

Deacon Tony reflects: Who do you say that Jesus is?

We often hear that our way is not God’s way and when we examine the life of Jesus we can see a real example of this. The Jewish people were hopeful of a Messiah coming and rescuing them from the tyranny of Rome. They expected a powerful leader who would go into battle, much the same as Jesus’ ancestor David did centuries earlier. Someone who would pick up the invaders by the scruff of the neck, take them to the borders and throw them out of Israel.

But as we know Jesus was not like that, Jesus was born in a stable, was forced to flee his homeland by a tyrant king, grew up within a family who trusted God and ensured Jesus learned about God and his people. Jesus advocated love instead of violence. Jesus exercised power in a way that mankind finds difficult to understand.

This is part of what St Paul is emphasising in our second reading today; God makes decisions which we humans struggle to understand and at times we find unfathomable. A perfect example of this is found within our Gospel. If we as humans were to pick the perfect person to establish the Church, take it into new lands and to new cultures; how many of us would have chosen a fisherman, who would go on to deny Jesus three times at the very moment when we humans would have judged Jesus needed his closest friends to vouch for him more than at any other time in His life?

In our first reading we hear of an unsuitable palace official; who had abused the authority given to him by his master; being removed from his post and it being given to Eliakim. Eliakim is given all of the symbols of office including the key to the House of David. Jesus as the long awaited ‘Son of David’ appoints Peter as a new steward to look after His kingdom on earth. The keys being the symbol of authority; this authority has been passed down all the way to our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, he is Christ’s representative on earth; Pastor to the world with an authority which comes from Christ Himself.

Today, the successor of Peter is the son of poor Italian immigrants who went to Argentina seeking a new life. He is a man who asks our priests to be like shepherds who smell of their flock. He advocates for the poor and preaches love for all life from conception to natural death. As Baptised Catholics we are compelled not to keep our faith to ourselves. Christ’s love is big enough to be shared with everyone.

In these difficult times, we need to look for opportunities to help. As Christians we are called to live out our faith. We each need to ask ourselves – What can I do to love my neighbour? Within society at the moment we are being asked to contribute to the common good by obeying the latest guidance to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

I recently read that we may find it uncomfortable to wear a mask, but it is far more comfortable to wear a mask in a shop than it is to be connected to a respirator in a hospital. We are asked to curb our normal social activities and as Catholics we are well aware that we were unable to attend church for a significant part of this year.

But just because we are beginning to be permitted to go back to some of the activities we were previously accustomed to, doesn’t mean the virus has gone away. A second wave is expected, and we need to maintain our guard and continue to protect the most vulnerable in our Community.

Today Jesus asks us – Who do people say that He is? How relevant in our lives is Jesus? Would our neighbours recognise us as followers of Jesus, not just because we go to church (or take part online) but by the life we live?

As a deacon, I am called to serve. My service has to be for the benefit of those I serve and should never be self-serving. As Catholics, we have been baptised by water and the Holy Spirit, how do we allow the Spirit to work in us? Do we allow the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit to flourish in our lives for the benefit of others? When St Peter stated that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”, he made that statement for us to learn, for us to acknowledge and for us to share with those we encounter. How can we share what we acknowledge in our Creed this week?

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Pope Francis as he leads our Church during this pandemic, may he continue to be a voice for the underprivileged.
  • All those who struggle to understand the will of God.
  • All those who are at risk of unemployment or who have already lost their job.
  • For those tasked to make decisions about businesses, help them to realise that their decisions affect their fellow man and woman. Help them to make decisions which protect employees as much as they protect shareholders.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 21st August 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

Deacon Tony reflects: Mary, Queen of Heaven

Today the Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. This is one of the oldest feasts, celebrated by the faithful in ancient times. This year is seventy years since Pope Pius XII declared to the world*; in front of 600 bishops and 700,000 of the faithful; as divinely revealed dogma, that Our Lady’s body “was preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendour at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.”2

In the same Apostolic Letter (Munificentissimus Deus) Pope Pius XII also stated

Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare wilfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”

These are pretty strong words and we have a sense in today’s readings of how integral to our Catholic faith this day is. In the first reading from the book of the Apocalypse, St John uses images which would have been familiar to his readers; at least three pagan societies had mythical stories where a monster, which preyed on their society would be slayed by a saviour from within their community. John used elements of these three stories. The point John was making was that “the hope of salvation from evil and chaos, which such stories embodied has now become a reality; a reality known to the Church and shared through its witness to the whole world.” John is highlighting that “the hopes and aspirations of the world are not a threat to be avoided, but a dream which finds its waking reality in Christ.” 3

Likewise, in St Pauls’ first letter to the Corinthians we are reminded that if death came to man through the actions of one man: Adam, then man can be brought to life again through the resurrection of Christ. Jesus, the new Adam, will conquer all sovereignties, powers and dominions, and only then will he hand the kingdom of God back to his Father.

These two passages talk of heavenly conflict with victory for God, these are complimented by what initially seems like a very human story from St Luke’s Gospel. Mary having recently found out that she is pregnant, goes to help her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. This is something which has happened in human society for what seems like forever, and still goes on today. Women who are pregnant meet up and talk about their joy, their hopes and fears. However, when they meet, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt. This first human recognition of Jesus; by the prophet from within his mother’s womb, is followed by Elizabeth; the prophet’s mother; recognising the significance of Mary, as the ‘mother of my Lord’.

We then have the beautiful prayer The Magnificat, when Our Lady, no doubt prompted by the Spirit, praises God for the blessings bestowed upon her and declaring that God will turn the world upside down by overthrowing what man sees as significant and re-establishing what God holds to be significant.

St Luke then tells us that Mary stayed with Elizabeth until around the time that Elizabeth’s baby was due, before returning home.

These passages from scripture link heaven and earth, they link the beginning of time with the end of time and they link us as humans with God. As Jesus was approaching his final breath, he gave His Mother, to be our Mother too. He asked the disciple that he loved, to take His Mother into his home. We know that Jesus loves each and everyone of us, that message was not just for that one disciple, it was for all of us. Today we celebrate our Heavenly Mother’s entrance into her Heavenly home. She is sitting, waiting, beside our brother Jesus for the day when we can all be there together. Until that day let the world resound with many Ave’s as we acknowledge Mary the Queen of Heaven, as our mother and take her into our homes.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All pregnant women, may they be supported by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout their pregnancy, may they and their babies be kept safe during labour.
  • For those who do not have or did not have a good relationship with their mother, that they can be open to an intimate relationship with Mary the Queen of all Mothers.
  • All railway staff as they mourn the loss of their colleagues and passenger in the recent rail crash at Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.
  • Those who affected by Covid 19, especially those who have been unable to get treatment for other conditions as a result of hospitals being focused on the pandemic.
  • All medical, nursing, health and care workers who have worked tirelessly to help those suffering, as well as the other ‘Essential workers’ who have tried to keep supplies and public services as normal as possible.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 15th August 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

2 Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, available from http://www.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-xii_apc_19501101_munificentissimus-deus.html accessed 15th August 2020

3 Marcus Maxwell, Revelation – The People’s Bible Commentary, (The Bible Reading Fellowship, Oxford, 1997)112-3

Jesus, our lifeguard

This week’s Diocesan e-news had a reflection on this Sunday from Scott Hahn, with an illustration emblazoned with the tag line – “When you are drowning in FEAR, DOUBT or DISCOURAGEMENT Don’t forget your lifeguard walks on water.”1 How apt for us, our lifeguard, our Saviour walks on water and provides many other examples which are counter intuitive to the human mind. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives another example of how we can be like Him if we have faith in Him.

Our readings today remind us of the power of God, how mankind can do little against the forces of nature and when we answer God’s call, we can find ourselves doing things we never dreamed possible.

In the first reading, Elijah is fleeing from Queen Jezebel and has walked for 40 days to reach the holy mountain. He is instructed to “stand on the mountain before the Lord”, he obeys and becomes a witness to the power of God; a wind that can split mountains, an earthquake and fire, but it is in the gentle breeze that he recognises God and no doubt remembering Moses’ encounter with God on the same mountain, he covers his face out of fear and respect. He listens to the call of the Lord and goes back to speak the word of God to the same people who didn’t want to hear and whom he had fled a few weeks earlier.

In our Gospel we hear Peter say to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.” ‘If’, that small word that can change the meaning of a sentence and which signifies doubt. Peter steps out of the boat, answering the call of Jesus, but doubt sets in again and he starts to sink; calling out of fear to Jesus to save him. Notice that when Peter calls to Jesus to save him the doubt is gone. He does not say, ‘if you are Jesus save me’. It is a definite ‘Lord! Save me!’

How often do we allow our doubts to surface and our faith to sink? How often do we ignore the call of the Lord to step out of the boat? Do we have confidence that Jesus is our lifeguard and that he will not allow us to sink?

For me, I know that for a long time, I suppressed the call of the Diaconate, allowing my fears to drown out the call. I reasoned that God only calls good people; He would not be calling me. I reasoned that I was too busy, I was not clever enough to get through the studies. You name it I used that excuse. However, I was made aware of an expression that ‘God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.’ Meaning, that if this was meant to be then God would ensure I had the time, the talents and the resources to make it happen. I also heard during a Lenten study course that if you think you have a call from God, try ignoring it, if it goes away then it probably was not a call from God. But if it keeps coming back then you really need to listen and respond to the call.

How is God calling you this week? Which boat are you being asked to step out of in faith?

Are you content to allow the noise from the forces of life to surround you or are you like Elijah, waiting for the sound of the gentle breeze to announce God’s presence? Do you allow quiet spells in your day to hear God calling? If so, do you have the courage to respond?

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those discerning a vocation, may they have the courage to step out of the boat.
  • Our Grandson Leonardo, who joins our Church on Saturday 8th through Baptism at St Bede’s, we welcome him and our Italian family who are visiting.
  • Those who affected by Covid 19, especially those who have been unable to get treatment for other conditions as a result of hospitals being focussed on the pandemic.
  • All medical, nursing, health workers and care workers who have worked tirelessly to help those suffering, as well as the other ‘Essential workers’ who have tried to keep supplies and public services as normal as possible.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 7th August 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1 Portsmouth Diocese e-news Issue 286 available from https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/enews accessed 7th August 2020

Deacon Tony reflects: why spend your wages on what fails to satisfy?

Sometimes in the Gospel we are given a real insight into the humanity of Jesus. Jesus as man. It is easy to overlook in this passage the beginning of today’s Gospel, as we concentrate on the very well-known story of feeding the five thousand. But look carefully here and we see that Jesus withdrew, by boat to a lonely place. Jesus was upset and just wanted to be with his closest friends and remember his kinsman John whom he had just found out had been executed. Jesus as God will have been fully aware that John’s place in paradise was guaranteed, but as a man, he just wanted to ponder and remember the life of his friend.

However, he was not allowed to ponder, as when he reached the lonely place there were crowds there from neighbouring towns and villages. Crowds, which he “gathered together as a people before the sun went down, those who were sick he healed, those who were hungry he fed and satisfied.”1 Allowing him to carry out the work he was sent to do by his Father.

…you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting, a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.

Eucharistic Prayer III

St Matthew’s Gospel here has eucharistic overtones, ignoring the fish; which we know from other sources was also distributed to the people; Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the people to eat.2 This is something we come to Mass to take part in, we are not passive witnesses, we join the priest in prayer and we share the food from the Eucharistic Table. Having been deprived of this spiritual sustenance during the lockdown has given me a real appreciation of the spiritual energy given to the Apostles and handed down to us over the centuries. This is food which satisfies a different hunger; that deep desire in all of us to be closer to God.

As the Catechism says it is a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies (CCC 1000). The Catechism goes on to quote St Irenaeus

Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God’s blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.3

In today’s first reading God, through the prophet Isaiah, invites people to come to the water and tells them that even if they have no money they will be fed, (just as Jesus did in today’s Gospel). He then asks us all a question – why spend your wages on what fails to satisfy? The only thing which can truly satisfy us is the Word of God, man was created when God spoke, and we will come to the end of our natural life when God decrees it. We are deeply connected to our Creator, everything else, although also created by God, will fail to satisfy.

St Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us that nothing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus. God loves us no matter what we have done and no matter what we fail to do. God’s love is truly unconditional, and it is never too late for anyone to turn to God and ask for forgiveness.

God does not want to condemn us, if he did, as a species he would have let us perish centuries ago. God has given us so many chances to return to Him, his deepest desire is to have us with Him in His kingdom. It is the reason He sent His only Son into the world to save us from ourselves. He says come to me; all we need to do is respond.

When we look at today’s readings how do we respond? Ask ourselves, what do I spend my wages on? Do I pay attention and go towards the Lord? Do I call on the Lord from my heart? Do I allow things to come between me and God? Do I come to the Lord’s table and eat the bread He has given for me?

The people who gathered that day and sat and ate the bread and the fish would have had no concept that 2,000 years later we would be hearing part of their story. Their story has become part of our story. What are we doing today, to help build God’s kingdom that will still be spoken about in 2 years never mind 2000 years’ time? So, our response to God’s word is important. Do we hear it and let it fall by the wayside, like the seed on the path doomed to wither and die, or do we allow God’s word to bear fruit by our actions? Do we here the dismissal to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” as an instruction or is it just a phrase used to close the Mass?

Each week God’s Word speaks to us, listen anyone who has ears.

Please remember in your prayers

  • Those unable to come to church because of illness or because they are shielding under Government guidance.
  • Those who have been shielding because of medical conditions who are now being asked to return to work, pray that their employers can make the necessary arrangements to keep them safe.
  • Those who are concerned about employment at this time.
  • Those who are completing Baptism Preparation sessions this Sunday.

I wish you all a blessed week and pray that you can all find joy in the Peace of Christ.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 1st August 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1 Placid Murray OSB, 100 Liturgical Homilies, (The Columba Press, Dublin, 1988)76

2 Robert Draper, Pastoral Review Vol 16 Issue 3 – Breaking the Word, (The Tablet Publishing Company, Twickenham, 2020) 80

3 St Irenaeus quoted from Adv. Haeres Catechism of the Catholic Church – Popular and definitive Edition (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London, 2014) paragraph 1000

Deacon Tony reflects: where is your treasure?

Last week we were given three descriptions which Jesus used to describe the Kingdom of God. We heard it compared to a field of wheat infiltrated by weeds sown by the enemy, we heard it compared to a mustard seed; that smallest of seeds which grows into the largest of shrubs and we heard it compared to yeast which breathes life into flour allowing it to become dough and feed many people. These parables allowed us to hear about obstacles to entering the kingdom, describing it as infinite (growing from very small to very large) and how it gives life, in this case eternal life.

This week we hear that none of this comes without a cost. The man who found the treasure and sold everything he owned and bought the field, likewise the man who found the pearl sold everything to buy the one representing the kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus, of course, paid the ultimate price. The price Jesus paid was to lower himself from the position of Creator God and to become like us and then to allow us, the created, to kill him. As humans we are made in the image of God, but we are not God. We are made of dust and we return to dust when we die. In the Gospel readings these past few weeks we have been given a vision of what we can become and where we can live if we can only follow Jesus.

Our First reading gives an indication of God’s hopes for us. Solomon was given the option of what he would like to receive from God, he could have chosen riches or power, more land, more servants, more conquests or a longer life, instead Solomon chose the wisdom to discern between good and evil which could help him to govern the people. This is an example God wants us to follow, when we ask God for anything, God wants us to have thought about what we ask of him.

So what price are we willing to pay to reach God’s kingdom? How well are we looking after what God has already given us? Are we good stewards of what we already have? 1 How do I use the time I have? Do I pray, do I carry out works of mercy, helping those in need? Or do I look to satisfy myself, gorging on box sets, or just looking out for myself? Instead of giving time to help others do I replace the giving of time with a financial donation, buying off my conscience?

How do I allocate the treasure I have? Do I see it as mine or recognise that everything belongs to God and that I am only a custodian? Do I consider my faith to be treasure? If it is treasure, do I keep it to myself or am I willingly sharing it with others? As a new grandfather, I have a responsibility to pass on my faith to the next generation.

How do I use the many talents I have been given? Do I use them for my benefit or do I use them to build up God’s kingdom?

These are questions we must all ask ourselves, me as a husband, father, grandfather and deacon; our priests as they provide spiritual and pastural care and you as our brothers and sisters need to examine how we use our God given time, treasure and talents, and discern are we using them to serve ourselves or to serve God by using them to help our neighbours. What will the cost be to us if we don’t do this?

When I attended primary school as a little boy, we used to say a prayer called the Morning Offering every day. This practice lapsed in me until Bishop Philip asked me (and my fellow candidates) to say the prayer every day at the Mass celebrating our Candidacy for the Diaconate. (The version I use has been reproduced at the end of this reflection). In that prayer we are offering everything in our day to God.

O Jesus,
Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and suffering of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
in thanksgiving for your favours,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen

Within the same pages of the prayer book2 I use is a prayer attributed to St Josemaria Escriva, where we abandon to God our past, present and future, everything we value to get closer to God.

My Lord and my God:
into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future,
what is small and what is great, wha
t amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot,
things temporal and things eternal. Amen

The message in today’s Gospel is clear, to enter God’s kingdom we have to be fully invested, we need to use the time, talent and treasure which God has given us to full effect. That way when the dragnet comes at the end of time, we can hope to be among those chosen by the angels to avoid the fire in the furnace.

Please remember in your prayers

  • Those who are starting Baptism Preparation sessions this Sunday.
  • Hannah Fernandes, who will be Baptised this Sunday.

I wish you all a blessed week and pray that you can all find joy in the Peace of Christ.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 25th July 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1 Keith Chappell, Role of Christian Grandparents, available from https://www.ctsbooks.org/product/role-of-christian-grandparents-ebook/ accessed 25th July 2020

2 —————, Handbook of Prayers, (Catholic Truth Society, London, 2013))42-43

Deacon Tony reflects: Weeding out the darnel

Today, Jesus, through St Matthew’s Gospel gives a clear teaching on judgement and the end of time. The first lesson is that judgement will take place when God decides, not his servants. The second is that God will not risk uprooting the evil from around the good, for fear of damaging the good. Another lesson for us is that it is difficult to tell good from evil. As the illustration shows the nutritious wheat and the poisonous darnel have a similar appearance until harvest time. Therefore, we are not to judge, leave that to the appointed one.

Wheat (left), darnel (right)

Often we will find in our readings that the Old Testament extract tells us of a God who punishes and the New Testament has a loving God full of forgiveness. Today, the readings don’t quite match up with that, as today in the Book of Wisdom we hear of lenience, mild in judgement, never judging unjustly and how God by adopting these traits sets an example for the virtuous man. This reading from the Book of Wisdom, written in the century before Jesus was born, gives us elements of the Prayer which Jesus taught us; the ‘Our Father’.

The virtuous man heeding God’s example by being kindly to his fellow man and God giving the great hope of repentance to His sons; if we are sons then we can call Him Father, as Jesus taught us.

In St Paul’s letter to the Romans, we are reminded that the Spirit; which Jesus left for us to be our advocate; will help us in our weakness. This same Spirit will express our plea to God, who already knows what we want before we ask. The Spirit supported by the saints of God are battling on our behalf engaged in Spiritual warfare against the enemy.

Just as Jesus explained when he explained the parable of the darnel, He is the sower of the good seed, the world is the field, we are the good seed, the darnel are those who would lead us astray; agents of the enemy; the devil is the enemy, the harvest is the end of the world, the reapers are God’s angels. Our goal brothers and sisters is to avoid being caught up with the darnel, to ensure our children learn about Jesus, because if we don’t teach them then others will teach them who He is not.

So, as we listen this Sunday to our readings, we think about what the darnel represents in our lives. What is it that is stopping me from being close to Jesus today? What do I need to change to weed out the darnel from my life? Jesus is calling on us to change, to follow Him; what in my life makes this difficult? Whatever your answer is, that is the thing to change.

Please keep in your prayer this week those in our Parish who are sick, those worried about employment, those who grieve and those recently deceased.

Also please remember in your prayers those who are recommencing Baptism Preparation sessions this Sunday.

I wish you all a blessed week and pray that you can all find joy in the Peace of Christ.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 18th July 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

Deacon Tony reflects: Listen, anyone who has ears

How do we listen to the Word of God? Do we listen and not understand and just accept that we are not meant to understand? Do we listen and think that’s a good story and then just get on with our lives, not allowing the Word of God to touch our souls? Do we half listen, distracted by what is going on in our lives, concentrating on our worries or thinking about how we can be more successful in life? Or do we listen, think about what we have heard, reflect upon how it affects us and then respond to what we have heard by living out God’s Word in our lives?

Today, Jesus is asking us to put down the newspaper, turn off the TV or computer and listen to Him. When we can listen with our ears, discern the Word of God with our minds and respond with our hearts then we are living fertile soil. Jesus is calling us to active listening, He wants us to get to know the person behind the words, He wants us to establish a relationship with him. Every relationship requires work. Having fertile soil today is no guarantee that we will always have fertile soil. Relationships, like soil need to be nourished, if a farmer leaves fertile soil to its own devices then it will soon be over-run by weeds and thorns and the harvest will reduce.

Equally, if we do not feel that we have a relationship with Jesus today, or that our relationship is not as close as we would like it to be, then we have a chance to clean up our act, remove the things in our lives which hamper our relationship with Jesus; these are the weeds; make a decision to leave our worries or thoughts of financial success outside of our relationship with Jesus; these are the thorns which suffocate the Word, making it harder for us to discern the Word of God.

By going to Confession, we can remove the stones, the weeds and thorns from our soul and bring new life to our relationship with Jesus. Jesus wants us, He died for every one of us. He calls us now and says to each of us ‘Listen, anyone who has ears.’

As Isaiah says in the first reading God does not want to waste a single word. Every word made known to man by God has a purpose. Just like every one of us has been put on earth with a specific purpose. God does not want the words He speaks to us to return to him empty. God wants every word to bear fruit.

How can we bear fruit here in North Hampshire today? What is God asking us to do? God wants us to tend our hearts and our minds to make them fertile ground to receive the seed which is His word. He wants us to continue to tend this fertile land and build up His Kingdom here on earth. Sharing the Love of God and the Peace of God with those we meet. So that they as our brothers and sisters will prepare their own hearts and minds in readiness to receive the Word of God.

Listen, anyone who has ears.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 10th July 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.