survive or thrive

Dec 3, 2020

“The only real sadness,
the only real failure,
the only great tragedy in life,
is not to become a saint.”
  Leon Bloy

I receive a few magazines each month, some via digital subscriptions online and others in hard-copy, some considered “religious” and others promoted as “secular”, but all providing food for faith since they tell of people like us who are striving to live abundantly.

Yesterday the December issue of Tui Motu arrived. I was immediately taken by every page vibrant with art both in image as well as in text. In the middle of a full week after a long year I needed that.

A number of the articles got me thinking about the journey that has been 2020 for me. You might like to share your own experience of Jesus in 2020 with FFF readers in the comments section below.

In this month’s Tui Motu I especially appreciated Neil’s thoughts, and Susan got me thinking about my own garden, all in pots beside the outdoor chair where I was reading the reflections.

Some of my plants have had a bit of a rough few months. However the  tomato is doing well and the lettuces will become salads in the next few days. The chives and parsley are living up to expectations but the rose stock and petunias are a bit disappointing.

I’m reminded of Angelo Roncalli’s words the night before he was elected pope (John XXIII): “We are not here to guard a museum, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life.”

This is the mission of the saint, not to lock up, but to cultivate and thrive knowing that s/he is powerless to achieve this abundance without Jesus..

The saint of the day, Francis Xavier, was one of the first Jesuits. He was a friend of Ignatius’ and one of the band of seven who with Ignatius took vows in Paris in 1534.

These first Jesuits were great adventurers who sought above all else to live in relationship with the ONE through whom earthly death became the pathway to abundant life. Saints understand that every suffering or anxiety is not a problem to be endured but an opportunity to turn to Jesus with renewed dependance and confident hope.

“It is not the actual physical exertion
that counts toward a person’s progress,
nor the nature of the task,
but the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.”
Francis Xavier  1506-1552

An Invitation

  • Take a moment to appreciate that while you can cultivate many aspects of your own life, it is Jesus who provides your growth.
  • The list of initials for prayer continues to grow. Take a moment to pray for those listed. I find it helpful to pray a specific prayer, perhaps an Our Father as I pray in response to a prayer request. And continue to send initials to add to the intentions list.


  1. Enjoy your salads Fr John

  2. Good morning Fr John
    Thank you so much for the ‘food’ which you provide each day. Thank you for taking us today to your garden and then to the garden of life where “suffering or anxiety is not a problem to be endured but an opportunity to turn to Jesus with renewed dependance and confident hope.” Thank you for offering the beautiful statements of Pope John Paul XXIII and St Francis Xavier. The Jesuits have a special place in my heart as I worked with them for many years in a small Himalayan town called Darjeeling.
    I wish you a happy day, Fr John and may your garden continue to grow and flourish!
    Warm regards

  3. I think we ‘thrive’ if we say ‘I am thriving’
    Sometimes when people ask ‘how are you’ I say ‘ I’m thriving, thank you’
    They seem taken aback!
    I think plants respond to such encouragement too
    Try it on your petunias.

    • you have made me laugh out loud with that last line – thank you !

  4. When Auckland had a water problem in the early 90’s, we were told, get a water tank, which we did, a 1800ltr , but soon found 1800ltr didn’t last long for garden use. Like our faith, we have to keep growing it. Sure like our garden at times, it gets neglected, weeds grow, forget to water it, ( prayer time) hence poor results. (Can’t think of the correct word to use. Suggestions please)

    Over time have increased water supply to just over 4000ltrs, but at times, especially this year with council water restrictions, run out. We have to rely on God to fill our tanks. In more ways than one.

    Sue calls my extra water barrels around the garden, a bit “Heath Robinson” It’s done very discreetly & works. Hopefully at times “my cup overflowth”

    • Hey love that.God fill my tanks..

  5. almost a year ago to this day I was in India, staying at Goa, the Portugese settlement on the west Coast. A tourist must is Old Goa, a complex of churches, museums, and the location of the tomb and shrine of St Francis Xavier. He looked impressive and would be bemused by the fuss around him.
    In Goa his Feast Day is celebreted like a National Holiday with great fervour, (Waitangi Day is an example), Old Goa was being prepared for an influx of worshippers, visitors etc. Front page of newspapers had Mass schedules, about 6 per day, who was celebreting, which parish was involved, bus details, travel guidelines, and parking arrangements for cars, and motorbikes.

    • Thanks for reminding me where St Francis Xavier’s tomb is Syd. Heard it’s a lovely part of India.


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