Deacon Tony reflects: Seventh Sunday of Easter

In a recent RCIA class we were speaking about prayer. In the class we listed and explained the principal activities of prayer. The first one being Adoration, which in the text we use[1] is described as ‘An act offered to God, such as a psalm of praise or a sacrifice which acknowledges his supreme perfection and our dependence.’ The next principal is Thanksgiving, which is defined ‘an expression of gratitude to God for his bounty in satisfying our general or particular needs and especially for his gift of grace.’ The third principal is Repentance, with the definition being ‘A recognition of the wrong we have done to God by sin, a detestation of the evil effects of sin and a desire to turn away from evil and do good.’ The final principal listed is Petition and Intercession the definition listed as ‘The asking of proper gifts or graces from God, such as material, moral and spiritual goods and protection or rescue from evils. Petition is for oneself and Intercession is for others.’

The reason I have listed these is that in today’s Gospel we see two of these principals in the way Jesus prays for his apostles. The first words used ‘Holy Father’; Jesus is acknowledging that God is supreme, and the final part used from the prayer in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus consecrating or in other translations sanctifying himself, so that the apostles can also be consecrated; these two parts show adoration for the Father by Jesus. Most of the rest of the prayer used is spent in intercession as Jesus prays for the Apostles and especially asks for them to be protected from evil. Jesus knows they have a mission to fulfil, and He knows they will encounter opposition. Jesus asks the Father to protect them.

Now I’d like to remind us that we have been given to Jesus through our Baptism and then invite us to consider the words used by Jesus in prayer again. Jesus said, ‘Holy Father, keep those you have given to me true to your name, so that they might be one like us.Jesus is also praying for us here. We have been given to Jesus, we are his brothers and sisters, and he is praying for us to be one like him.

Jesus continues ‘while I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name.’ As Catholics, we know that Jesus is still with us, Jesus is with us in the Eucharist and He has sent his Holy Spirit to guide us and protect us, this means that Jesus is still working to keep us true to His name. Jesus also asks for us to be protected from the evil one. I would like to encourage us all to take time later to go through this prayer from Jesus and remind ourselves that we have been called to be his disciples and that Jesus makes this prayer for us just as much as He made this prayer for the Apostles nearly two-thousand years ago. Jesus is asking us all to be consecrated in the truth and we can only be consecrated in the truth if we establish and maintain an authentic and intimate relationship with Jesus. We can do this through prayer, reading Scriptures, taking part in the Sacraments of the Church and by reflecting Christ’s love to those we meet. I try to do this in the encounters I have when I volunteer at the Foodbank and when I support people in my ministry, trying to meet them where they are; being with them and showing them Christ’s love without any expectation of anything in return.

In the second Reading we hear a continuation [from last week’s second Reading] of the first letter of St John, which again reminds us that God is love and that if we live in love then God lives in us. We can live in God’s love if we love God and love our neighbour. Our ability to live in God’s love comes from the Holy Spirit. Last Thursday, in a mysterious way, we accompanied the Disciples as they watched Jesus ascend into Heaven; in that same mystery we accompany the disciples again as we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

These nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday are the original Novena. I am using the Novena from the Pray More Novenas website.[2] But I know there are others available. I encourage everyone, even if you have missed the first couple of days, to join a Novena because right now the whole world needs an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to help restore peace to the world and bring people from every nation to Jesus.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Seventh Sunday of Easter

CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 2614, 2741: Jesus prays for us
CCC 611, 2812, 2821: Jesus’ prayer sanctifies us, especially in the Eucharist

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The sick and housebound, those who are lonely, those who are dying and those who are grieving.
  • Those affected by war, those affected by crime and those trying to help these people.
  • The people of Sudan and the neighbouring countries who are trying to help alleviate the effects of famine.
  • The 29 boys and girls who made their First Holy Communion at St Bede’s this weekend and all those preparing to make their First Holy Communion in the next few weeks at all of the Churches in our Pastoral Area.
  • Those affected by poor mental health or addictions.
  • The families starting the Baptism Preparation Programme at St Bede’s this Sunday.

Deacon Tony 11th May 2024


[1] Evangelium- Sharing the riches of the Catholic Faith, [Catholic Truth Society, London, 2006]41.

[2] Novena to the Holy Spirit – Pentecost Novena PRAYERS – Pray More Novenas – Novena Prayers & Catholic Devotion

Deacon Tony reflects: Sixth Sunday of Easter

The Gospel today, taken from the final discourse Jesus had with his disciples on Holy Thursday; is centred on love. Here we have Jesus repeating his command to love, but this love is not from some romantic novel. This is a love where one gives of oneself, completely and without counting.

Jesus tells the disciples where this love comes from. This love comes from the Father. Jesus gives an example of how we can demonstrate our love; quite simply he says that if we wish to remain in Christ’s love then we will keep his commandments. Jesus cites his own example of how He has remained in the Father’s love, he kept the father’s commandments, therefore we must follow this example. We are also to follow the example Jesus had given before he started speaking. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, another sign of that pure love, a love with service at the heart of it. Jesus the master, got down on his hands and knees and washed the feet of his disciples. When I see our priest do this on Holy Thursday, I find this to be such a moving Liturgy. Remembering that Jesus was aware of what was going to happen to him; yet He carried on teaching and setting examples for us; loving us.

In our first reading today, it is a pity that we could not have had the full version. I would encourage everyone to read all of chapter 10 of the Acts of the Apostles. In there we hear how God ensured that the Gentiles would be called and accepted as people of God. In the abridged version used in our Mass this weekend we get just a glimpse of this; and are made aware that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit and were baptised in the presence of Peter. This is when Peter realised that all people are open to the call of God. We have been chosen by God.

This is emphasised in the Gospel as we hear Jesus say that we did not choose him, He chose us; just as He chose to die on the cross for us. Thus demonstrating [and again, giving us the example] the greatest love of all, is where a man or a woman lays down their life for another person.

When we read Scriptures, or listen to them during our Liturgy, we are not doing so blindly or in a vacuum. Scriptures are meant to be digested in order to  change us. This Gospel, being about love, calls us to love. So, what does that mean for us as individuals and as Parish Communities when we look out at the wider community we live in? For me, as a deacon, it prompts and drives me to look out for the unloved, the lonely, the poor in our society. Those on the peripheries; they may have addictions; they may have poor mental health. I am called to love them without judgement. As a deacon I am called to serve them and take Jesus to them.

Today, we are all challenged to ask ourselves, what does God want me to do?

How does He want me to share his love with my neighbour?

We also need to be aware that love is not a feeling, to love is a decision. Every time we see someone in need, we have a choice to make. Do I go and help them, or do I walk on by, on the other side of the road? This can be as simple as do I sit and watch TV while Pam is folding the washing, or do I go and help her so that we can watch TV together? Or the times when I am tired and realise I have made a commitment to meet someone, do I go or make excuses?

In the second reading we hear that God is love and we are encouraged to love one another. We already know that we are made in the image and likeness of God, so therefore we are made in the image and likeness of Love. We are created to love and to reflect that love to everyone we meet. As Christians we are called to love until it hurts; and again, Jesus gave us the perfect example of this on the Cross.

Today we can choose to ask ourselves when was the last time I loved someone so much that it hurt? Or we can simply choose to just get on with our day, walking along on the other side of the road.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Sixth Sunday of Easter

CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 214, 218-221, 231, 257, 733, 2331, 2577: God is love
CCC 1789, 1822-1829, 2067, 2069: love of God and neighbour fulfils the Commandments
CCC 2347, 2709: friendship with Christ

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The sick and housebound, those who are lonely, those who are dying and those who are grieving.
  • Those affected by war, those affected by crime and those trying to help these people.
  • The people of Sudan and the neighbouring countries who are trying to help alleviate the effects of famine.
  • Our young people who were Confirmed by Bishop Philip last week and our young people who will be celebrating their First Holy Communion in the next few weeks. May we as their Church family and their families and loved ones be good examples for all of them.
  • Those who find it difficult to love because the decision is too painful for them.

Deacon Tony 4th May 2024

Deacon Tony reflects: Fifth Sunday of Easter

In the excerpt from the first letter of St John, which is used today, we hear St John tell his readers that “our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.” This is how our faith is meant to be. We are called to be people who put our faith into action; we are called to love and to keep loving even when it is difficult.

When I take Holy Communion to people in hospital or to those who are sick or housebound, I sometimes use the Gospel which speak of the vine. By taking Holy Communion to those unable to come to Mass we are helping them to stay attached to the Vine, the one true Vine from where all of the love we have comes.

When we do anything because we are Christians, we need to be mindful that we are doing this for God. This is not for our own self-esteem or to get brownie points or to help us to look good in front of other people. We are doing it for God, so we need to do it; whatever it is; to the absolute best of our ability. When we do things properly for God, we are helping to build His Kingdom and through His grace then we will bear fruit. We cannot, no matter how much effort we put in by ourselves, bear fruit without the grace of God. True fruit can only come from the true Vine.

Throughout the Bible, it is pretty clear that faith in God has to be accompanied, we cannot be a lone ranger. This is evident in the first reading today. Saul, who had once persecuted the followers of Jesus, had now become a disciple; but the other disciples were afraid of him. He needed to be accompanied by Barnabas, and the others had to build their trust in him that he really had encountered Jesus, been baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit. But some of the Greek Christians [The Hellenists] disagreed with him and meant to do him harm. This enabled Saul to follow God’s plan and move away from Jerusalem to take the Good News to other lands and so spread faith in Jesus throughout the known world at the time.

We, who live far away in distance and time from the Jerusalem of those Biblical days, are beneficiaries of Saul, or as he became known, Paul’s ministry. Barnabas ensured that Paul remained part of the Vine and the letters from Paul to and from the various lands he preached in, are testimony to his work; just as we are. Now we, in 2024 are called to follow our calling and spread our faith by the love we put into action. So maybe today is a good day to ask ourselves –

How have I put my love for God into action in the past week?

What does my answer prompt me to do differently next week?

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Fifth Sunday of Easter

CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper CCC 736, 737, 755, 787, 1108, 1988, 2074: Christ is the vine, we are the branches CCC 953, 1822-1829: charity

Please keep in your prayers this week

· Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.

· Those who feel separated from the true vine and are perhaps looking for a way to come home.

· The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

· Those who have suffered from abuse, those who struggle to see themselves as being of value and those who care for them.

Deacon Tony Darroch 20th April 2024.

Deacon Tony reflects: Fourth Sunday of Easter

“For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only name by which we can be saved.” These words used by St Peter to the Rulers and the people and the elders in Jerusalem are an extraordinary expression of faith. These words spoken with confidence because he was filled with the Holy Spirit, are a perfect preamble for the Gospel we hear today.

In the Gospel of St John, where Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd, and which we hear every year on this 4th Sunday of Easter, is a declaration of absolute and unconditional love. Jesus states that he is being prepared to give up his life for his followers and uses the profession of a shepherd as an example. For us, it is inconceivable that a shepherd would sacrifice their own life to protect their sheep. But Jesus is no ordinary Shepherd, He is the Good Shepherd.

Jesus, being prepared to sacrifice himself for us is the greatest act of love which has ever happened; or which will ever happen. Jesus Christ true God and true Man, lowering himself to become one of his own creations and allowing himself to be killed by his own creations so that He could demonstrate that death has no power over Him and that if we follow Him; then death has no lasting power over us.

That is why the second reading used today is also a perfect fit. The Gospel speaks of the greatest love and in the 2nd reading we hear St John tell us about the love bestowed upon us by the Father by allowing us to be called children of God. But that is not the best bit. Through our baptism we are children of God, but what we are to become has still to be revealed, because “we shall be like him” and “see him as he really is.” By trusting in Jesus, by following him, having faith in him and by loving him, only then we can achieve all that the Good Shepherd calls us to. That eternal pasture where there will be no more mourning or tears; a place filled with love, a place of perfection.

This Sunday we are asked to pray for our brothers and sisters who the Good Shepherd has called to a life of service. That calling or vocation could be to serve the Lord as a priest, a deacon, a religious sister or brother. It could be a calling to be a nurse or a doctor, it could be to be a teacher or maybe even a scientist who finds a medical cure or the key to solving the climate crisis.

A vocation can be a mighty calling, or it can be a calling to do one simple thing. Whatever that calling is, if it is from God, it has to be answered. We know that Jesus called the disciples and they followed Him. Today in 2024, we are his disciples, we are followers of Jesus.  Everyone of us, whether we are young or old, we need to listen for what we are being called to do and more importantly, to respond. We also need to pray that we and our brothers and sisters can have the courage to answer that call and by doing so, help to build the kingdom of God.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Fourth Sunday of Easter

CCC 754, 764, 2665: Christ the Shepherd and Gate
CCC 553, 857, 861, 881, 896, 1558, 1561, 1568, 1574: Pope and bishops as shepherds
CCC 874, 1120, 1465, 1536, 1548-1551, 1564, 2179, 2686: priests as shepherds
CCC 756: Christ the cornerstone
CCC 1, 104, 239, 1692, 1709, 2009, 2736: we are God’s children now

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn. 
  • Those contemplating a vocation.
  • Those in formation for the Diaconate or the Priesthood or for the consecrated life.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq.
  • Those who have suffered from abuse, those who struggle to see themselves as being of value and those who care for them.
  • Josephine, Onu & Sofiri who will be baptised this weekend at St Bede’s.

Deacon Tony Darroch   19th April 2024.

Deacon Tony reflects: Third Sunday of Easter

It is difficult for us to comprehend just what the disciples went through that first Easter. They had witnessed their teacher being taken away and brutally executed. For some this was undoubtably too much and some may have drifted away. In fact, at the beginning of the Gospel today, we hear two of the disciples who had left Jerusalem telling their story of how they had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Were these disciples headed back to their original life and only saved by encountering Jesus, as they recognised him by the breaking of the bread?

We hear in the Gospel that as they were still speaking Jesus stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ We also hear that they were dumbfounded and some thought that they were seeing a ghost. Jesus then goes on to tell them that it is really Him, He has risen.

When I hear the word dumbfounded and try to think about when I ever felt like that, I think of events like 9/11, when the world sat dumbfounded as to what was unfolding before our eyes through the mediums of television and the internet. That was a day when the world stood still and struggled to comprehend the magnitude of what was happening. In short, the world would never be the same again. The resurrection is also like that. Following the resurrection the world can never be the same as it was before that day. Now we have hope because our Saviour has conquered death.

In the first reading we hear how the apostles started their work of sharing the Good News. First of all, they took the Good News to the original Chosen People, those chosen by God to have an integral role in the salvation of mankind. It was through these people that the prophets came; those who foretold the coming of the Christ. It was these same people who were chosen by God to be involved in the Crucifixion of Christ. In this passage from the Acts of the Apostles we hear St Peter tell them that they, nor their leaders, had any idea what they were doing; he says that in fact they were carrying out what had been foretold. He now encouraged them to repent so that their sins could be wiped out.

In the 1st letter of St John, we hear the evangelist pleading with us to stop sinning, but that if we struggle to resist temptation then we need to take those sins to Jesus; the advocate whose sacrifice takes away our sins. This message is supported by the words found in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus is explaining how He had predicted his own death and resurrection and that in His name repentance for sins would be preached to the whole world.

During Lent, like many of you, I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I found it an uplifting experience. To repent of our sins is a freeing experience, it takes away the enemy’s ability to accuse us; because we have accused ourselves in front of God and sought the forgiveness of our sins. When I attended the Sacrament there was a very long queue. The Pastoral Area Reconciliation Service in Basingstoke was also very well attended, with four priests hearing confessions late into the evening. The following day; after morning Mass at St Bede’s; Fr John was busy hearing Confessions for over an hour. It seems that people are wakening up to the true value of this wonderful Sacrament again. The number of people attending Mass over Easter seemed to be higher than in recent years. It feels like people are responding to God’s call. We for our part, must ensure that when they respond they feel welcome and help them to feel at home. In our everyday life we need to ensure that those we meet know we are Christian; by our actions.

It was very obvious in this last week that organisations were falling over themselves to wish Muslims a happy Eid or Eid Mubarak. How many of these organisations put out similar messages for Easter? Christianity is the largest faith in the world and yet the media would have us to think that we are irrelevant. But if we look at what Christian organisations do around the world in providing aid, education programmes, building of hospitals, schools and communities. Those of us who put our faith into action are the hands and feet of Christ today. Those same hands and feet which were nailed to the cross now help to feed millions around the world and educate others. Those same hands and feet care for the sick and the dying or help to bring new life into the world. Those same hands and feet bring people to the well which flowed from His pierced side; where blood and water flowed washing away our sins, taking us down into the grave with Him and through our Baptism allowing us to rise with Him, so that we humans can become like God.

Last week, the Vatican issued a document on the dignity of man, called Dignitas Infinita,[1] or Infinite Dignity. The Church has used the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, made by the United Nations in 1948, to “proclaim anew its conviction that all human beings—created by God and redeemed by Christ—must be recognized and treated with respect and love due to their inalienable dignity. The anniversary also provides an occasion for the Church to clarify some frequent misconceptions concerning human dignity and to address some serious and urgent related issues.” If we look around the world now, we can see evil at work. We see the death and destruction in Gaza and in Israel. We can see similar acts of terror in the Ukraine. There are wars in the continent of Africa, which go unreported because the war in Ukraine and in the Holy Land have a greater potential to affect our own nation. In our own country we have people advocating for abortion up until birth and others looking for a change in the law to allow for euthanasia. Abortion and euthanasia, two words which conceal or try to soften the intent, which is to kill.

As Christians we are called to speak up for those without a voice, to feed those without food; to care for those who are shunned by society. Sometimes the problems in the world seem so big that we don’t know where to start or think that what we do can never be enough, but As St Teresa of Calcutta said, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Third Sunday of Easter

CCC 1346-1347: the Eucharist and the experience of the disciples at Emmaus
CCC 642-644, 857, 995-996: the apostles and disciples as witnesses of the Resurrection
CCC 102, 601, 426-429, 2763: Christ the key to interpreting all Scripture
CCC 519, 662, 1137: Christ, our Advocate in heaven

Declaration “Dignitas Infinita” on Human Dignity (2 April 2024) (vatican.va)

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn. 
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • Those who have suffered from abuse, those who struggle to see themselves as being of value and those who care for them.

Deacon Tony Darroch   13th April 2024.


[1] Declaration “Dignitas Infinita” on Human Dignity (2 April 2024) (vatican.va)

Deacon Tony reflects: Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday [2nd Sunday of Easter] 2024

[Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 117; 1 John 5:1-69; John20: 19-31]

Thomas, like many of his contemporary Jews, looked for signs. His faith was based on what he could see and what he could read into the signs which he saw. I like to think that Thomas’ initial insistence on seeing evidence was not based on a lack of belief instead, I prefer to think that this was part of the grief he still had in his heart for Jesus. At that time, the only thing he knew for certain was that Jesus had died. As an apostle, he had a great hope and maybe a little less faith that Jesus would do as he had declared; and rise from the dead. While he has been dubbed doubting Thomas, I think his ‘doubt’ was more a reluctance to accept something; which after all; had never been done before, the Resurrection.

When he actually saw the Risen Christ, his declaration; without touching Jesus was an emphatic “My Lord and my God”. This great confession of faith, laid out for us by St John in his Gospel, tell us there were many other signs which also took place, but that he did not feel the need to put them into writing. Those which he did commit to writing; are the ones he thought [guided by the Holy Spirit] would help others to believe.

In the first reading St Luke tells us how the early church combined all of their belongings and used them for the benefit of the community. Today, the church is far larger in size and has many more people in community to look after. We all need to remember this when there are appeals to help others. Everything we can give can be shared out to those in more need than ourselves; and those of us unable to give; need to commit our offering; in prayer.

In the second reading St John explains how Jesus, who came in flesh and blood, and filled with the Holy Spirit, to rescue all those who commit to believing in Him. By believing, we too can be filled with the Spirit; a Spirit who is filled with the truth and bountiful gifts, These gifts help us to stay close to Jesus and can help us to resist temptation as we receive wisdom and discernment, allowing us to know right from wrong and by doing so; keeping Jesus’ commandments.

Some people may ask why today is designated as Divine Mercy Sunday? ‘In a series of revelations to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, our Lord called for a special feast day to be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.  Today, we know that feast as Divine Mercy Sunday, named by Pope St. John Paul II at the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000. 

The Lord expressed His will with regard to this feast in His very first revelation to St. Faustina. The most comprehensive revelation can be found in her Diary entry 699:

“My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My mercy.”

In all, St. Faustina recorded 14 revelations from Jesus concerning His desire for this feast. 

Nevertheless, Divine Mercy Sunday is NOT a feast based solely on St. Faustina’s revelations. Indeed, it is not primarily about St. Faustina — nor is it altogether a new feast. The Second Sunday of Easter was already a solemnity as the Octave Day of Easter[1]. The title “Divine Mercy Sunday” does, however, highlight the meaning of the day.[1]This is taken from the Divine Mercy website which can be accessed at What is Divine Mercy Sunday? | The Divine Mercy and has more information related to Divine Mercy.

Right now, the world seems to be a place without mercy. When we think of how world leaders can make decisions to attack those who are trying to provide food to fellow humans who are starving because of a genocide being unleashed against them. While only one world leader may have been involved in the actual decision to fire missiles at the convoy three times, the other world leaders who have made decisions to supply weapons to either the Israelis or to the terrorists must share some of the blame for this continued assault on a largely civilian population. Those leaders who continue to supply weapons, which are being used indiscriminately, must have a change of heart. Those leaders who fail to bring mercy to the people of Gaza must know that history will not judge them well. They must also realise that on their final day when they have to face their final judgement, how can they ask for mercy when they have denied it to others?

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Second Sunday of Easter

CCC 448, 641-646: appearances of the risen Christ
CCC 1084-1089: sanctifying presence of the risen Christ in the liturgy
CCC 2177-2178, 1342: the Sunday Eucharist
CCC 654-655, 1988: our new birth in the Resurrection of Christ
CCC 976-983, 1441-1442: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”
CCC 949-953, 1329, 1342, 2624, 2790: communion in spiritual goods

What is Divine Mercy Sunday? | The Divine Mercy

 Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn. 
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • That all of our school children and staff have a good break and that they remain safe.

Deacon Tony Darroch   5th April 2024.


[1] What is Divine Mercy Sunday? | The Divine Mercy

Deacon Tony reflects: Good Friday

Jesus is raised up on the cross as a vehicle for his descent into the darkness of death. The cross, being the weapon of humiliation and shame is transformed into a sign of salvation. Jesus, clearly mirroring the old Covenant becomes the Paschal Lamb for all generations. Now there is no need for other sacrifices; Jesus, the Lamb of God creates a new Covenant.

Today, we venerate the Cross. On Sunday we will celebrate the Resurrection. Those initial disciples did not have the certainty that we have; even though they saw Jesus in the flesh and heard him preach first hand. On that first Good Friday, they must have been horrified at what happened to their beloved teacher, and we know that some of them scattered. But we also know, that in a few short days they would see him again; risen from the dead.

This time of year, gives us the opportunity to think about what Jesus did for us. The liturgy is so rich in detail; the story of how Jesus was tried, beaten and executed is etched firmly on our minds. We have all probably watched film versions of the life and death of Jesus, but I would guess that very few of these films comes remotely close to what Our Lord went through for us.

Last night we had the chance to stay with the Lord, watching and waiting for this day to come. Today we have the opportunity to recall the events of that first Good Friday and tomorrow at the Vigil we can be present as the darkness formed on Good Friday is illuminated by the Easter fire, and the Easter Candle burns; lighting up the area around where the Word of God is read. But today is a time to ponder; to think about the sacrifice Jesus made for us and to marvel that if we were the only person in the world, Jesus would still have died to save us and that applies to everyone. If that isn’t a great reason to reflect and be thankful, I’m not sure what is.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Friday of the Passion of the Lord

CCC 602-618, 1992: the Passion of Christ
CCC 612, 2606, 2741: the prayer of Jesus
CCC 467, 540, 1137: Christ the High Priest
CCC 2825: Christ’s obedience and ours

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • Those preparing for Sacraments this Easter.
  • For all travelling at this time; may they remain safe and return refreshed.
  • That all of our school children and staff have a good break and that they remain safe.

Deacon Tony Darroch 29th March 2024.

Deacon Tony reflects: Palm Sunday

Growing up, I was sometimes involved in school productions; this usually meant weeks, if not months of preparation and as we got closer to the actual events a great sense of anticipation and excitement. More often than not, however, once the production happened there was I felt a sense of anti-climax; almost as if the event itself never quite reached the levels of my expectations. I found there always seemed to be a contrast between my expectations and hopes, and how things actually turned out.

I see some of that contrast in the readings used during Palm Sunday. At the beginning of our Liturgy, we have the triumphant entry into Jerusalem of Jesus, hailed as the one coming from the Lord; the one the Jews had waited so long for. The thoughts and feelings of his disciples at that time must have been so exhilarating. They were all together with their teacher as he entered the Holy city. The crowds were with them crying out Hosannah, they were on an upward trajectory; this was their moment. The moment they and the Jewish people had looked forward to for so long.

Contrast that, however, with the Passion narrative, where the crowds have turned against Jesus and the disciples have scattered, instead of Hosannah the crowd now cry out ‘Crucify him!’ The disciples must have had serious doubts as their dreams and hopes seemed to be shattered by the blows Jesus took on [their and] our behalf. The king of Israel; on whom they had hoped so much; given a crown of thorns and mocked by the Romans and the Jewish people; and finally nailed on a cross and killed before being hastily put into a tomb. At that time, they must have thought it was all over. At that time, they must surely have wondered what Jesus was preparing them for.

Their feelings of anti-climax must have been so deep and painful, and yet as we know this was not the end. Three days later they would experience a far greater exhilaration than that entry into Jerusalem. But for now, as our Lenten journey approaches the end, we share in their highs and lows, and we anticipate the Easter celebrations.

For Easter to have any meaning for us we need to experience the sadness and pain of that first Holy Week. We need to witness the Last Supper where the Son of God got down on his hands and knees to wash the feet of his followers as well as ask us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. We need to remember the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and ask ourselves how many times we have betrayed Jesus? We will sit and pray, watching on Thursday night, hoping for the energy to stay awake as we pray. We will remember the three denials of Peter and ask ourselves how many times we have denied Jesus before the cock crows for us? We have to watch as Jesus is taken away to be tried and scourged and ridiculed knowing that our sins added weight to the cross He carried. We, as Christians will venerate the Cross, the weapon used to kill our Saviour and remember that he did all of this for us.

This week, we will experience contrast, and while there will be lows, we know that there will be highs. For me those highs are enhanced by our experiences of the lows. I wish you all a good Holy Week.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

CCC 557-560: Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
CCC 602-618: the Passion of Christ
CCC 2816: Christ’s kingship gained through his death and Resurrection
CCC 654, 1067-1068, 1085, 1362: the Paschal Mystery and the liturgy.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • Those preparing for Sacraments this Easter.
  • Those families who will complete the Baptism preparation programme this weekend at St Bede’s.

Deacon Tony Darroch 23rd March 2024.

Deacon Tony reflects: Seeing with fresh eyes

This reflection is for the readings for Year A, which are used in places where the Scrutinies are taking place this Sunday.

Today we are asked to look at the Scriptures with fresh eyes. In the first reading we are reminded that God does not see as man sees; in our Psalm we are reminded that God will guide us along the right path and that we should not fear the evil associated with darkness; in the second reading St Paul reminds us that once we lived in darkness, but that now we live in the light – the effects of this light can be seen in ‘complete goodness, right living and truth’; and in our Gospel passage today we have a tale of two types of blindness.

The blind man in the Gospel was an outcast, at the beginning of the Gospel we hear some of the superstitions associated with disabilities which were prevalent around the time Jesus walked the earth. People associated disabilities or disfigurements with sin; assuming someone must have sinned for God to allow the disability to exist. Jesus refutes this view, stating that the blind man was ‘born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him’.

The story of the curing of the blind man is presented in detail. We have the man who was blind and can now see and we have the Pharisees, who have an obvious miracle in front of them and refuse to see it for what it is, the work of God. They interrogate the man and his parents looking for a thread to rip apart their story, but there is no weakness in their story, it has to be true and yet the Pharisees’ prejudices and self-interest don’t allow them to see God’s graces, which have been bestowed upon this man.

The Pharisees are not alone with this blindness, there are things in our life where we have blurred vision; for example, my upbringing, my initial formation as a cradle Catholic I was taught that only Catholics could get to heaven. This gave me an extremely blinkered view. For the first 23 years of my life, I stepped into a non-Catholic Church twice. The first was as a child when I attended a Sunday school, where they were giving out sweets. The second was when an aunt got married. I never told my mother that I had gone to the Sunday school out of fear; we were to have as little to do with protestants as possible, which I really struggled to understand, because my grandmother was a protestant. My eyes were opened to the merits of other Christian denominations when I attended an Alpha Course led by a couple from the Community Church; there I encountered really good people who love Jesus and put their faith into action.

The reminder that God sees things differently from man when he chose the youngest, least mature shepherd boy to be anointed as King of the Jewish people instead of the elder stronger brothers, reminds me that God does not call the able He enables the called; something we need to remember if we are ever asked to do anything for the Church and do not feel able to do it.

Today we will celebrate the second scrutinies for our Catechumens and the second reading used today reminds me of the Easter Vigil Mass; which we will celebrate in a few short weeks; where we all start out in darkness. At that time the whole Church is in darkness following the events commemorated on Good Friday; when the whole world was flung into darkness. The light which shoots out from the Easter fire, and which is spread from the Easter Candle throughout the church building, dazzling our senses as the flames dance filling the void with light, reminding us that the Light of the World conquers darkness and calls us to live good holy lives.

The building and all attendees at the Vigil Mass, especially those celebrating Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion, are those being awakened – allowing Christ to shine on us and shine through us. This is not a passive Service, this is a Liturgy full of rich meaning, this is a Liturgy when we celebrate the Light of the World and are asked to take His Light out into His World.

We are part way through our Lenten journey, and each Sunday reminds us of what we are journeying towards. Sunday the day of Resurrection, where we gather together to celebrate the Eucharist of Christ. Each Sunday reminds us of the hope we have as Christians, each Sunday reminds us that we do not journey alone, this Sunday we are asked to use our eyes, look around us, to see if there anyone who is struggling, who is alone, who needs help to open their eyes to see the Light?

We need to look and listen to our Scripture readings and ask ourselves, what does God want me to do today, with what I have seen and heard? Then all we need to do is respond.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Fourth Sunday of Lent

CCC 280, 529, 748, 1165, 2466, 2715: Christ the light of the nations
CCC 439, 496, 559, 2616: Jesus is the Son of David
CCC 1216: baptism is illumination
CCC 782, 1243, 2105: Christians are to be light of the world

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • Those preparing for Sacraments this Easter.
  • The families starting the Baptism Preparation sessions at St Bede’s this weekend.

Deacon Tony reflects: Standing up for injustice

This reflection is for the readings for Year B, which are used in places where no Scrutinies are taking place this Sunday.

Last week we heard that at his Transfiguration, Jesus met Moses [representing the law] and Elijah [representing the prophets] and we know from another Gospel [Luke 9:31] account of the Transfiguration, that Jesus discussed with them what was going to take place in Jerusalem.

This week in our first reading we hear how God told Moses about the laws the people were to live by; these laws still apply for us today. The ten Commandments set out how we are to love God and love our neighbour and they are the foundation stone for many of the laws of many countries; as they also set out reasonable and practical ways for people to live in community. History has shown that when communities or civilizations move away from these laws; the days of those communities are numbered as discord breaks out and anarchy reigns.

The psalm used today, is an indication and an instruction for us ‘You, Lord, have the message of eternal life’. The verses of the psalm encourage us to trust in God, because the laws of the Lord will give us true happiness, they light up our life, they are worth more than gold and taste sweeter than the sweetest of honey.

St Paul tells us that Christ’s resurrection defies human logic; but that this is okay because God’s foolishness is wiser than the wisest of human minds.

In today’s Gospel we hear how Jesus reacted to the misuse of the Temple. It had been turned into a marketplace, with money changers and sellers of birds and livestock. No doubt the temple officials were receiving an income from those based there. They asked him for a justification of his actions and what sign he would give. Jesus said that he would destroy the temple and raise it up again in three days.

As Christians we know the temple he was speaking about was his own body. We know that the whip He made out of cords would be replaced by the sound of the soldiers whips as they scourged Jesus. We know that the animals originally meant for sacrifice and now set free would no longer be needed as a sacrifice; as the innocent Lamb of God would take their place and become the Paschal Sacrifice for the New Covenant. We are told that at the hour when Jesus died, the curtain of the temple would be torn, lightning would flash across the sky and thunder ring out throughout the land as God sees what mankind; his creations; could do to his beloved Son.

During Lent we are given these readings to ponder, we are reminded of the laws, and asked to look at our conscience, when we think about the laws handed down to us from God, via Moses, we are asked to repent the sins we have committed and to turn away from them. Instead turn back towards the Lord. When we think about St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we are to ask ourselves, are we like the Jews who demand to see miracles, or the Greeks who look for wisdom, or are we like St Paul? Do we preach the crucified Christ by what we do and what we say?

When we think about the Gospel, how do we react when we see something which is not right? Are we passive about it or do we react? Jesus was not passive, Jesus stood up for what is right and obeyed his Father.

What do we need to do today, to obey our Father in heaven? When I visited Fr Patrick during this week to plan with him the Liturgy in Tadley and Burghfield Common this weekend, he gave me a couple of cards to sign. These were both related to protecting unborn children from abortion. There are moves within this country to make abortion up until birth legal. This cannot be right. When we look at today’s Gospel and see how Jesus reacted to the misuse of the Temple, we realise that we are called to be people who put our faith into action. We have a voice, the children in their mother’s wombs do not. We need to use our voices to speak for those children. Abortion breaks one of God’s laws. God said we are not to kill.

Finally, I’d like to remember the people who are taking part in the Scrutinies throughout the world today. I’m told that at the recent Rite of Election Portsmouth Cathedral was full of people looking to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. These are new people coming into the Church. The world will tell us that we are irrelevant, however, as a Church we are still growing. I have noticed this in the churches where I serve. The number of people attending seems to be growing. God is still calling people to Him; our part is to help with the call by living out the message of the Gospel and ensuring that when we see someone new that we help them to feel welcome.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Third Sunday of Lent

CCC 459, 577-582: Jesus and the Law
CCC 593, 583-586: Temple prefigures Christ; he is the Temple
CCC 1967-1968: the New Law completes the Old
CCC 272, 550, 853: Christ’s power revealed in the Cross

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Syria and Iraq.
  • Those preparing for Sacraments this Easter.