hidden things

Mar 27, 2020

Earlier this week I suggested that the arrival of the COVID-19 precautions gives us opportunity and reason to re-think and renew our Lenten practices and penances.

I’m reminded of a wise man who told me some time ago that every day he would prepare for dinner by pouring a G&T at 5.00pm. His Lenten penance was to delay the pour until 5.15!  Thanks Owen for your refreshing example of creativity in sacrifice.

When Lent began we felt free to chose what to do and what not do for Lent. But things have changed a lot in the past five weeks. Our unexpected penance has been imposed from outside. To say that things have changed is an understatement to say the least.

Then for the past couple of days I have been suggesting that this lockdown provides an opportunity for growth.

The plan I have is not for a rigidly programmed lockdown with every moment filled with activity. That would also be missing the opportunity.

I found a good direction for my daily lockdown programme in today’s first reading:

The Godless … are misled,
their malice makes them blind.
They do not know the hidden things of God,

I’m writing this reflection at the end of the first NZ lockdown day and I can already see that without my usual work routines and recreational opportunities my life will be very different and could easily become dangerously undisciplined making me vulnerable to Godlessness.

Thats a risk for me since it means I could easily slip into apathy and sin missing the opportunity these weeks are offering, failing to notice the hidden things of God.

You have heard it said that the devil makes work for idle hands. Without revealing the details of my own personal experience of this I know this old saying to be true for me. I need some healthy order and discipline to support my desire for growth, keeping me focussed and leading me to greater maturity in faith.

At very least I have decided to increase the time I give to prayer, not a huge amount, but as a gentle retreat, taking five minutes here and there through the day on top of my usual prayer time.

I’m also planning to pray the Prayer of the Church (the Liturgy of the Hours) with greater passion, given that the psalms which are the heart of this prayer are especially suited to the difficult situation we find ourselves in for these weeks.

The Rosary is another prayer I’m enjoying as I walk as well as in other quiet moments.

So my new Lenten project in my “lockdown retreat” is to avoid the trap of the Godless and instead let go of all that blinds me so that I can become hypersensitive to “the hidden things of God”

An Invitation:

  • Make a decision to notice the presence and action of God every thought, every feeling, every memory, and every person who comes to mind. This decision, renewed whenever you think of it during the day, will become an habitual discipline and you will be surprised at how many encouraging examples you notice.
  • Thanks Ellie for the LEGO artwork: Moses and some Israelites arriving at the Red Sea.


  1. Thanks.You are helping me to keep myself grounded Blessings

  2. Thank you Fr. John real food for thought. Your comments give meaning to the empty gaps during my day.

  3. Conscious prayer (Hail Mary) with every handwash and gratitude for these daily guidelines and ph & online contact with friends and family

    • I have also decided to pray a Hail Mary while hand washing.

  4. Fr John, as you walk lift your head, look around like a meercat, you will see some wonderful hidden things of God and nature. A prayer of praise will help your intention to pray more often. Keep well and thank you for your continued reflections.

  5. Good morning Father. I’m actually thanking God for this time at home as there’s so much to get done around the house including the gardens!! In my time in the garden is where I can gather my thoughts and again feel so thankful for all God’s creations! I’m so hoping this feeling lasts throughout this time of lockdown!! God bless you,

  6. Fr John, given your obvious commitment to preparing and getting these reflections out to us at 5am each morning I hardlybthink lack of discipline is an issue for you! Thank you for your inspiration and dedication that is obviously such a blessing to all who access your reflections as a springboard to their own times with God in stillness and prayer. The comments left each day bear testimony that your efforts bear fruit to the glory of our Lord. Blessings to all.

  7. Thanks Fr John..A good message to be more closer to God,Mother Mary on this second day of the
    lockdown.True,these free times sometimes tries to pull us away from God, instead we can be more closer.This is another good time to help someone who is in nkeed and you couldn’t help due to your busy life.

  8. I have challenged my family to share 1 blessing each day that they are grateful for on our Whatsapp group, as I sit here my phone is pinging away with today’s blessings!
    I love the Hail Mary idea Mary!
    Blessings are around us all the time and we notice them better with a grateful heart.

  9. Thank you for your message today. I thank God for my husband who is in this bubble with me, for our family we can call on and my wonderful garden – wonderful in the fact I can quietly work there mindful of God’s bounty and presence. I pray for those who are finding it a difficult time, especially the sick and lonely.

    • Thank you Helena. You have put into words so well, exactly what I was thinking. “You are nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth” Blessings one and all as we enjoy nature,especially at this time. Thank you Jesus.

  10. Amen look forward to the reflection every day such encouraging words and teachings Amen

  11. Wet and cold in Christchurch. A good time to make a list of 3/4 people living on their own and give them a ring
    Our parish is in the process of getting 60 volunteers to give everyone who is on our books a phone call. Everyone at home and good way to update Parish records.

  12. My boys have been reciting a decade of the rosary at bedtime whilst dialling in their isolated grandmother by phone. I am hoping when they look back at this time they will remember we at least prayed.

    Not sure they will remember their fathers attempt at mathematic tutoring with such favour.

  13. None of us yet are in Heaven, but we are connected, and watched.
    While we are not in Heaven, Singing Praise Constantly, we have work to do on earth. This work is required of us by God.
    The Saints have given us a large variety of working ceaselessly, by the Grace of God. Unselfishly committed to what God wants of us.
    To respond to God, the ‘lock down’ can be used prayerfully for the good of humanity, for peace and justice.
    In many places guns are laid down because of the world pandemic. May the aggressors be enlightened during the lull in fighting. Be creative.
    We could become house bound missionaries, each having prayerful projects for the needs of others. Loving spiritual acts of mercy for corporal needs.
    Have a family campaign for God, for good.
    Then, any worries of slipping discipline will abate.

  14. Dear Father John,
    Thank you so much for your reflections. I look forward to them each day. I also very much appreciate the comments section which has created an online faith community. Thank you everyone and may God bless you all abundantly. Anne-Marie, Qld. Australia

  15. Thank you Fr John for your continuing inspirational thoughts at this testing period in our lives. Stay well and know you are supported in prayer. Thank you also to Ellie for the LEGO artwork – it was a delight to see. Blesssings

  16. Thank you Fr John for guiding us spiritually to make these lock down days to move deeply into another level of relationship with Jesus and constantly be conscious of Divine mystery work in the midst of the reality and to recognise Him more in the ordinariness of what surrounds us with new insights .


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