choosing life

 “If you wish to come after me, you must deny yourself
and take up your cross daily and follow me.”

Many of you will know that I have a new job this year, as Spiritual Director at our national seminary for Aotearoa New Zealand Holy Cross Seminary. The students arrived at the start of this month and are now well into their year of formation.

I well remember driving into the seminary for the first time as a new student. That was a few years ago and the seminary was then in the south of the country with a large marble statue of Jesus carrying his cross out the driveway. For twenty years now this statue has been in a prominent position at the new seminary in Ponsonby Auckland.

The statue was a significant personal touchstone for me when I was a student. I liked the way that Jesus was headed out into the world, perhaps knowing as I did that he was free to put down the cross if he chose. But he kept carrying the cross, even to the death that was the pathway to abundant life.

That’s the reason that I am still on this road a few decades later, not because I like suffering, but because I am more convinced than ever that any worthwhile goal is reached only by a journey that involves taking up a cross.

What we realise very quickly on this journey is that our greatest human desire is not to be free of suffering and pain, but to live whatever reality is present in the great company of those who understand that the cross is not an end but the method, and that the desire for this life transforms every fear.

An Invitation:

“I have put before you
life and death.
Choose life.”

18 Responses to "choosing life"
  1. To live whatever reality is present! A good reflection for me today. Thank you Fr John for making the time to be with us again, for we the laity need your spiritual care too.
    Blessings and good health.

  2. Good morning…from Parker, Colorado…a suburb of Denver…nestled against the Rocky Mountains. Up here in this hemisphere I am looking out my office window at a blazingly beautiful day…deep blue sky…few clouds…and it’s too cold outside to even begin to melt the new fallen snow.
    As we would say about you, ‘down under,’ I slightly envy the fact that your summer is in full swing. But our summer will be here before we know it.
    My “Kingdom role,” up here is as a leadership mentor. I’ve a degree from Denver Seminary in counseling…….but…not to be a pastor (…though ordained…), or a licensed counselor…but to be a “whole-person leadership mentor.”
    Deep, spiritual, and even therapeutic counseling is needed for the many who struggle with all kinds of issues. Sacred, remedial counseling care if of tremendous, needed value.
    But what I recognized in my theological and spiritual studies from Denver Seminary is that more was needed in helping to form a life ahead of traumatic issues that eventually show up in even the best of well-formed lives. How do we care for, counsel, nurture one’s soul to live a whole, forward-moving life ahead of life’s trauma’s, small or large…and ahead of the opportunities that may come one’s way that will use the gifts with which one has been sacredly endowed to reflect our Triune God’s love, grace and goodness…as we live our lives in God’s direction.
    The food for faith that you send out from New Zealand is something I encourage leaders to tap into, and sign up for. Thank you for your faithfulness!!! And may all of you there be comforted, nurtured and encouraged that what you are about is deeply welcomed way up here.
    If ever any of you plan a trip to the United States, it would be a deep joy to host you here in Colorado. And if you come during our summer, what a sacred delight it would be to take you up into one of our huge, major national parks here in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, to the “…four places where God lives…” But then…that’s a beautiful story for another time.
    Again………..thank you for all of your faith-filled food. Prayers go “up” from here for you all “down” there. May blessings abundant be daily showering all of you!!!

  3. Thankyou Fr John! I really needed that today.
    Thankyou too, for providing us with these Lenten reflections again. Really helps to keep me “on track”.
    God bless you.

  4. The cross, symbol of (Roman) power, oppression, and slavery… reflection on the cross… we are not in the power, oppression, or slavery in this world of sin. Taken up daily we embrace freedom.

  5. Good mrng Father, you have a gift with words and painting a very vivid picture, so fortunate you are taking the time once again to lead us in prayer, bless you.

  6. John
    Thank you for the new series – and the reminder that we are crossbearers in the midst of a supportive community of similar crossbearers!

  7. I came across a saying which I have transferred to my new diary every year for the last 10 or more years: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass – it is about learning to dance in the rain”

  8. Hi John

    Glad you are back – it had not thought enough before that Jesus was free to put the cross down if he chose to (not my will but thine be done?). In one literal sense that was not an option under Roman law once sentence had been passed – but he did deliberately choose a path that led inevitably to Golgotha. Freedom is a very interesting thread for me.

    God bless you and your readers John

  9. Thank you Father John for your reflections. You have a knack of striking a very good spiritual spot. You are indeed a great man to be part of the formation of our young men aspiring to be Priests in our Church. I love the quote of dancing in the rain, Barbara

  10. Jesus is role modelling – the constant choose life . A purpose and a way to make choices that continuing work through our own humanity and our purpose in life . Thank you Fr John . A great reflection in own personal journey.

  11. Thank you Father John for sharing your inspiring reflections. It is so helpful to have you gently guiding us through this Lenten season. Blessings Mary

  12. Fr John, thanks you! I love these sessions! So wonderful to be able to reflect on so many wise and thoughtful comments. Taking that step, choosing life – Barbara’s comments remind me also of ‘John Shedd’s words “Ships are safe in harbours – but that is not what they are built for’

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