I’m often asked how I go about preparing these FFF reflections.
Some imagine me sitting at a computer for long periods of time writing, recording then collating the bits and pieces into a coherent post, but that’s not the way it works for me.
My FFF way of life is simply about me striving to live in conscious and vibrant relationship with Jesus in the midst of the ordinary stuff that fills my day, then grabbing a few moments to sit, write, record and post.
For me the FFF preparation process has become more a way of living than it is a method of writing.
I’ll try to explain.
Early each morning I read and pray with the scriptures of the following day. That puts me out of sync with the rest of the church and in this I experience something of a solidarity and companionship with those who in many more significant ways feel that they are out-of-step with the church.
Then I simply strive to immerse myself in the routines and demands, the encounters and experiences of the day, all the while accompanied by the scripture readings of tomorrow.
Because I know that I need to produce something for FFF readers before early the following morning, I find that I am living with a hypersensitivity to anything that speaks of life and relationship with Jesus Christ within my own circumstances, anything that might be worthy of sharing as food for the faith of others.
This sometimes means that those who I meet during the day may recognise themselves in what I write the following day. Today’s post is shared with gratitude to those who helped me to live yesterday more fully.
In short, on my good days I live with a desire to recognise and receive whatever is food for my own faith, and in my experience there is no more satisfying way to live.
So my FFF preparation isn’t about trying to come up with things to say that might be helpful for others. Instead all my energy is going into consciously living my own experience.
The fruit of this is that there is often something that has become so much a part of my experience that it also makes sense to others.
The writer of today’s first reading understands this:
“The Lord has given me
a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.”
By late morning or early afternoon, if I truly have been “listening like a disciple”, I have a few thoughts and sit at the computer to prepare an outline. On a good day I have too many ideas, and more prayer is needed which keeps me focussed on what is essential through the afternoon and evenings ups and downs.
Then later each evening I put the finishing touches on my offering, and pray a prayer for all who will turn to FFF the next morning for some food for faith.
By early yesterday evening today’s post was nearly complete, a reflection on listening. Then I had the strong sense that I needed to scrap what I had written and notice a different thought that was growing from today’s gospel after Judas had been contracted to betray Jesus. The scriptures note that “from that moment” Judas looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
“From that moment.”
Across the hours of a full day, any one moment seems like an insignificant period of time. But all things both good and bad begin in a single moment. It may be the glance across a crowded room, or the first ring of the phone call bringing news.
I was advised years ago that when a tempting thought enters my head, if I dwell on the thought for more than three seconds it becomes inevitable that I will fall victim. In the years since first hearing this I have come to know that for me, I have less than one second before I can’t get rid of the thought and helplessly follow that downhill road. It takes just one moment.
My preparation process: hypersensitivity to what is essential (that is, the presence and action of Jesus in whatever and whoever is happening in my day) “listening for the silence… standing within that space”.
While I have many ways of coping, surviving, existing, enduring and getting through, my FFF preparation (or perhaps I mean pre-prayering) method is the only way I have for truly living.
That’s why I’m happy to share with you each day.
Some encouragement from Thomas Merton:
The disciple is one who desires to follow Jesus and will listen for his voice.
Silence need not render us voiceless.
Isolation need not stir us to loneliness.
Time spent in retreat can be wielded as if a saber, parrying against the the ravages and blows absorbed with every step.
Sometimes, we can only move forward after we’ve first gotten lost in that stillness.
And sometimes, the space between the noise cries out to us the loudest.
Take some time this day to listen.
Listen for the silence.
Then stand within that space.
For often, it is only within that silence that we can truly hear.
- Join me in striving to live with hypersensitivity to the presence and action of Jesus with you in every moment, every experience, every encounter of the day ahead.
- Notice the fleeting moments (thoughts etc) in your day and practice letting go of the ones that are likely to lead to unhappiness, and savour and feed the moments that will lead you to more abundant living.
You have revealed how to have deep communion with Jesus as a way of being and living. Thank you! I treasure what you have shared and I want to bring this conscious listening into my daily life.
Thank you father John for sharing today your way of being and listening in the moments in each day, for the voice of God. I found this so clear and true – and encouraging – I’m looking forward to moving through today with an ear to hear and to notice God’s presence with us.
Thankyou and God Bless you. Your words are truly spirit inspired and nourishment for the soul. When I read your reflections I come away well nourished. I liken this nourishment to the way I feel after eating a lovely roast meal. True food for thought. Thankyou for sharing your process for compiling and sharing your reflections. What a fabulous gift to share with us all. A true disciple of Jesus. Have an awesome day.
The Merton quote supports the importance of stillness found through meditation – stilling the ongoing ‘monkey-chatter’ in the brain. Throughout the day we need to try to pause – to recognise God within us – as we go about our day-to day busyness. Thank you for sharing how you cope with your ‘busyness’ Fr John – take a deep breath and carry on.
in todays gospel i was asked to reflect on a word or phrase, and ‘how much’ stuck in my brain. Judas asked ‘how much will you give me” what if he said ‘No, 30 pieces is not enough’ and walked away.
Thank you Fr John for the daily reflections, they have challenged me at times.
Thank you Father John
My Lenten effort and prayer has been to try and be more focused and reflective on my actions and during my prayer time. Your sharing is very timely for me and I have found your method inspiring and read it over several times. Thank you for sharing this. Your practise of writing down your thoughts midday and evening seems to me would be the key to making some progress I intend to do that from now on.
Thanks again Father John. This reflection caused me to remember the holy Father David from New Norcia. When I bumped into him one day near the New Norcia pool, he was sitting with great patience (as it turned out, waiting patiently for someone else to come along so he had a swimming buddy). I asked him what he was doing. He said, “Listening.” The first word of the Benedictine Rule is “Listen”. A pretty good start. Thank you again and happy Easter to you and all at FFF.
Good afternoon Fr John
As my alarm has gone for my 3pm Lectio Divina I have read your reflection for today. ‘Take some time this day to listen, listen for the silence’. A beautiful reminder from Thomas Merton.
Thank you for giving me the strength, joy and compassion to love this silence through your FFF
Prayers in Christ. SKJ