behind closed doors

Mar 30, 2020

In these days of lockdown we are all too aware of what has been taken from us. We are not able to leave our homes for regular work, study, recreational and social occupations and pastimes. That’s a lot to lose.

Then we are confined, living perhaps alone or with family or a friend or two. That’s pretty intense living.

We have also lost many of our usual sacramental and spiritual life-lines. For most of us a Sunday without Mass and other forms of worship is no Sunday at all.

During a regular week many of us make a point of meeting with others as a support for our healthy lifestyles and good commitments. Now we can only do this using phone and social media. It’s ok, but it’s not the same and as a result we feel a bit insecure.

Throughout my ministry as a priest it is the people who have sustained me. Somedays I have gone to the church to celebrate Mass feeling unsure about the present and the future, and a parishioner has been an instrument of God to say the right word to me at the right time. I admit a real vulnerability without this support.

But already people are sharing new-found and hope-filled positives. The New Zealand bishops wrote in a pastoral letter published this weekend that they are inspired by the generous response of parishioners to this unexpected Lenten penance. They reflect that they are excited by the evidence that people are encountering Christ within their own homes as they pray together, looking forward to the time when they can participate in the sacraments. Many follow the live-streaming of Mass and other communal times of prayer, reading the scriptures alone or with families, and praying the Rosary and other devotional prayers.

One family (pictured above) joined with other parishioners to pray using technology with one household providing music, another the prayers of intercession, and the parish priest giving the homily. The parishioner was happy for their pic and this comment to be shared:

While it may seem as though our faith and mission is restricted and even confined in these weeks, we know that we are united with people of faith in every nation on earth who are also deprived of the sacramental life-blood of the church.

But we know too that the Church was born in closed rooms where the first disciples gathered. It was in these confines that the risen Jesus broke through locked doors and fearful hearts to form and now to re-form the church.

An Invitation:

  • Join with Christians across two thousand years who in every nation have formed their families in faith by teaching prayers and reading bible stories in your home. Read the scriptures aloud as bed-time stories, or use online clips to watch animations of these scriptures with your children or send the links to your grandchildren. Simply type the name of the bible story into a Google search.
  • Today’s first reading is a great account of a lone voice bringing justice. The passage is a long one, and probably not intended for children, but you will get the message clearly – and today’s gospel reading continues the theme.
  • Take some time to savour some of these comments below contributed by FFF readers in recent days. There is a wealth of life-experience and divine inspiration here. Then remember that your own reflection added in “comment” box below will encourage others.



  1. Fr John, thank you for your encouragement and thank you fellow readers, for your comments, they are helpful. We are all in the boat and rowing together and Jesus is with us.

  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for these fantastic reflections. I look forward to receiving them every morning and using them for my prayer. They are always to the point and beautifully crafted – a taonga indeed for the Church, especially in these days.

  3. ………..and all the way from Denver, Colorado, in the United States, thank you!!! How good to know that though we be time zones away from each other, our Triune God is with us all. I welcome all that is sent to us, waaaaaaay over here, Father John, and am passing it on to others whom I mentor.

  4. The glowing candle stands on tip-toe on my front window-sill sharing the light and a smile to passersby.
    Early morning meditation and contemplation creates an ambience of stillness and silence behind closed doors.
    Being in nature and sowing hardy seeds in the vegetable garden and self-sowing annual flowers to create a corner-stone in my garden patch.
    Being available as a virtual counsellor in my home for those in need continues to weave a link in the daisy-chain of life and love.
    Thank you, Father John, for your daily Food for Faith, and setting alight our inner strength and peacefulness at this time of uncertainty. +


  5. Our parish has emailed in photos of all our families which Monsignor printed and put in the pews. He ‘sees’ us as he says daily mass which is streamed out. We are so blessed to have the technology, the parish App and a dedicated man.

  6. I was watching a livestream Sunday Mass and while priests received communion they put this up. It touched my heart and I felt tears in my eyes:
    I believe that you are present in the most holy sacrament.
    I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul.
    Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally , come at least spiritually into my heart.
    I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you.
    Never permit be to be separated from you.

    • Me too.

  7. The wonderful thing about Faith is that as Christians we KNOW we are never alone.

    Thank you Father John, you are a gift from God!


  8. Alrhough painfully aware of the absence of the Sacraments, this has been a time of spiritual formation for my young family. My mother-in-law is isolating with us, since we are expecting our second child during the lockdown and the plan is for her to look after our 15-month-old. We taught her how to access the livestreamed Mass from the Palmerston North cathedral and we watched that and prayed from afar on Sunday. We have been saying the rosary together, saying grace at meals, and had a Sunday roast together – things I’m ashamed to say we have been in a long-term habit of neglecting. We are rediscovering something beautiful.

  9. Mass online with Bishop Paul was beautiful. I hope the Rest Homes are allowing their residents to view.
    Must admit too the seat I had was more comfortable than the normal pew. There are blessings everywhere.

  10. Worldly chaos, brought to a global pandemic, stirring God’s world family.
    ” – in all things, always giving thanks to God.” St Paul.

  11. 2 of my children, age 15 and 21, amazed me yesterday by agreeing to put aside their phones and celebrate an online Sunday Mass with me. We lit a candle and followed the mass together. That’s real blessing for Lent

  12. Personally I have no fears of what may lie ahead. I just pray for my children and grandchildren and maybe those who have forgotten God , will suddenly remember Him.

  13. Reading Fr John’s words and then all the comments this afternoon has filled my heart and mind with the love of God and my fellow human beings. We will get through this horrible time because God is with us at all time and everywhere and this knowledge gives me the confidence to beleive.

  14. Reading Food for Faith in this time of difficulty is like a glimpse of how Christianity may be in the future


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