lest we forget

Apr 25, 2022


A few years ago I was on Rēkohu Chatham Islands for what has become one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most sacred days, the ANZAC day of remembrance in gratitude for those who gave their lives, their health, their youth, their service that we may live in peace.

The art above was produced by one of the students at the local Te One school.

For the 600 people for whom the small island of Rēkohu is home, ANZAC day is a moment when heaven meets earth in the silence, the remembering, the prayer and the hope. This is the atmosphere across New Zealand and Australia on this holy day.

Such days of remembrance provide a bridge between our world and eternity, between earth and heaven, between God and humanity. We sense this in the gathering in silence, the communal presence and the solemn ritual.

At the rising of the sun, as on Easter day, we remember that earthly life does not end in death.

Today Aotearoa and Australia take pause, a national day of remembrance, a break from work and study routines to remember.

Perhaps all our problems in life come from our forgetting to remember, from neglecting to take pause to ponder the essential.

Today we conclude this Lenten / Easter-week daily series and tomorrow there will be a final housekeeping email.

My invitation to readers to send a sentence reflecting on their experience of Jesus over these weeks received overwhelming response. Your contributions are shared below.

Many of you added a word of thanks which I appreciate, but edited out to keep the focus on the power, the presence and the action of Jesus Christ in our lives over these weeks.  There is some real inspiration in these sharings. Jesus Christ is clearly present and active among us.

Lest we forget.

In Christ

Signature of Fr John O'Connor

Share one way in which you have become more aware of the presence and action of Jesus in your life during this Lent – Easter journey.

S.  I have been aware of God’s response to me during Lent through the loving actions and response of friends to different situations.

RR.   I see Jesus in everyone I meet, His presence in every situation, in our relationships with ourselves, each other and our communities, church or non church.

CJS.  Often to get out of locked rooms/beliefs, I have to touch some painful wounds.

MK.  For me this  FFF Lenten journey has been one of short conversations and  long periods of silence, in the moment, on any given day, walking with Jesus.

R.  When our family car broke down, written off with no insurance payout, having only recently paid the debt off: we scraped together a deposit to get another, but gained a lot of humility and a recognition of the struggles of those for whom such an event is even more financially devastating. Jesus has taught us to be more generous going forward on the way.

SF.  God’s courage has been a blessing at a difficult time. He has given me
a strength I could never have found alone.

B.  I have been given the grace to see how my extra large ego is affecting my relationship with the Lord and my relationship with others. My challenge – how to deal with it.

JC.  One way that I have become more aware of the presence and action of Jesus this Lent – Easter journey is by listening to and reflecting on the experience of a young couple who live in Lviv of the Ukraine when war entered their lives how it seemed like everything around them was dying – but through keeping up the practise of Christian meditation twice daily in that context, seeking the treasure in the field of every day which is war for them now – they find in themselves what cannot die.

B.  I am miles away of where I need to be in my faith journey but these reflections give me focus at that time

HS.  Keeping the focus on developing the relationship and being with Jesus. Jesus constant message of Peace, my Peace I give you, rest in this- stop striving.

DF.  I am loved.

TP.  I really liked the A.S K. reflection and we used it at our monthly Prayer Group gathering.

JS.  It’s taken almost 75 years of being a practising Catholic for me to really come to KNOW this Easter season, that Jesus washed away my sins by his blood, and every day is a whole new beginning.

AS.  I have found the presence of Jesus in my Life this Lent through daily encouragement to ‘be positive thinking’ rather than doubt. Jesus is my Saviour!

KW.  I have become more aware of my need for Jesus during this Lenten Journey through the experience of being ‘ungrounded’ in many areas of my life.  In the past, feeling unstable or insecure in my earthly circumstances has prompted me to turn to unhealthy behaviours/coping mechanisms but during this season I’ve become more comfortable in the ‘ungrounded’ feeling and found a growing sense of peace and reliance on Jesus and God in amongst my circumstances.

JC.  I have observed the quiet leadership of parishioners who have instructed guided and sponsored about 30 new Catholics both adults and children into our parish last Saturday night I was part of the programme in 1981 and continue to feel blessed daily Having read your daily reflections during lent I have been more aware of Christ’s passion and suffering and rising There is a rainbow just formed out of my window and that reminds me oh Gods promise to be with me always The ecumenical sunrise service at st heliers beach last Sunday was a wonderful gathering of lots of Christian traditions all worshipping together and learning from each other Praise god from whom all blessings flow

LS.  The most memorable thing for me this lent was realising how we are no different from those people who gathered on Palm Sunday to praise Jesus and the next week condemn him.   I have become very aware of this and am trying to remember Jesus is in everyone and I have no right to pass judgment.

US.  It was good to have companions on the road. A great sense of unity. A much better understanding what it means  to be Easter people.

SK.  A welcome start to every day

AK.  In the messiness of my life during this lenten period I have only to stop and be still for a moment to realise the love of Christ a reality ever with me.

JH.  Among many!!

WM.    Jesus left the disciples, not out of abandonment, but out of encouragement, that they too could boldly step forward, from Christendom to Missiondom, go now, you are sent forth. Go we must and go we shall . Jesus returned to the disciples several times following his death and resurrection, as he has done to me over the years and I am so eternally grateful.  I’ve even taken up that habit, of returning to him, as often as I can, as often as I need and as often as he needs me to. To be renewed, to be healed and to be made whole. This doesn’t always mean finding him just in the mass, but more and more often in the highways and byways of daily life.  It helps that I spend far more time walking and talking to strangers than I’ve ever done🙂 as they bless me in so many ways.

CG    One way I have become more aware is by taking time out to be attentive to God’s overflowing graciousness, I know I can ask, trust, wait, hope, and be surprised by the constancy of God’s loving presence.

TT.  I have become more aware of the presence of Jesus through taking time to read through and reflect on your posts sent over the past month.

CMD. I have become more aware of the presence and action of Jesus in my life through His bringing a long standing, very dear friend back alongside me to walk the Lenten/Easter journey with; as we have shared our responses and reactions to the daily reflections I have seen God very clearly in the overarching trajectories of our respective life journeys, who we are as people, how God has provided for and guided us, and how God has worked in every aspect of our lives – the good, the bad, the devastatingly sad and difficult as well as the joyful – we are indeed Easter people and Alleluia/God be praised is our song! 

NJM. My wife and I are overwhelmed by the Fantastic support from our Family, Friends, and Neighbours during this time when we are both incapacitated by health issues. Gd’s compassion is expressed through the goodness of his people

KB.  I found Jesus this Lent in the least “Catholic” setting of a civil union where 2 people declared their sincere and sensitive care and commitment to each other: His love was reflected in theirs and the love of those who were present to support them.

MW.  My personal Emmaus road (see my comment on April 20) suddenly became a bit rocky with an unexpected diagnosis of a serious heart condition.  Now more than ever I need to rely on the One who is always at my side.

MLB.  Just the regular time to sit with your posting each day and stop to be present with Jesus.

VW.  I’ve been taking time in my day to notice Jesus’ presence and to thank Him for walking with me each day. Our parish priest once suggested setting time aside in our day to have a cup of tea with Jesus and I’ve been doing this regularly during Lent. It’s a really lovely time of reflection during the busy day, and helps me re-set and shift my mind towards Jesus when I’m feeling a bit overloaded at work.

LVB.  On Tuesday I enjoyed a shared midday meal with two seminarians. Despite no coffee because of a working electrician nearby and a point of disagreement on one conversation topic, I’d do that again

BH.  “So many of the odd worriers and puzzles of my life that I  am concerned about are sorted out when I talk to Jesus about them!  His problem-solving is astonishing – it is usually a solution that hasn’t even entered my head!  Praise our Risen Lord!”

PR.  Being constantly surprised by his care, concern – presence in my everyday life.

RB.  By the way you relate Jesus’s teachings to our everyday lives.

CDF.  I heard a repetitive call from Jesus with ‘different ears’ on Palm Sunday”

CBG.  Reading the emails every morning over breakfast we have been reminded of Jesus and his love for us during Lent

ML.  I fall so many times on this journey but I know my Lord is with me & helping me

SM.  I’m an 86 year old widow I see God’s hand in family and friends who look out for me.

MG.  Although the emails are often too deep for me, they takes my mind off the hustle and bustle of everyday life and focuses on what’s important.

MH.  By Not getting Covid too badly and good recovery by invalid husband . Also seeing how Jesus provides often daily , solutions to what I thought was a problem . Thank you Jesus that we know you , but increase our Faith . We believe please help our ‘unbelief’

KVL   As my sister in law was dying I was able to forward some of your emails to her; she said she had too much shame to talk to Jesus, from your reflection it was simple either He had come with love for her, to judge her or was a fraud and she had to decide with her own free will – Thanks

SB.  During Lent I participated in a weekly Lenten reflection group and during Easter I attended the Holy Thursday and Good Friday afternoon liturgies in our parish. Travel requirements meant that I was unable to attend an Easter Sunday liturgy. The activities I participated in again strongly reminded me of the sufferings of Jesus Christ and in turn helped me to deal better with a disappointing and really unnecessary family issue that my wife and I have been faced with since late February.

LS.  My response to your question is,I have become more deeply aware of the abiding presence of Christ in all everywhere.

PM.  The presence of Jesus has become more real to me this Easter journey _ rather than an historical event that happened 2000 years ago.

MM.  The warmth and power of new-found, boisterous laughter, the spontaneous explosions of joy and delight that erupt from my depths, ousting old habits of old judgement and anxiety.

FC.  During Lent, I noticed I became much more “chill”, forgiving and tolerant of others – including in tense relationships at work. Now trying to stay that way during Easter!

CP.  More prayer (both formal and informal); more reading (scripture, and about scripture); more listening (in church/online) and seriously looking for and finding Jesus in all those I have encountered, especially those I’m not especially fond of.  Apologies for a rather long sentence (gotta love parentheses and semi-colons).

OR.  At some milestone of age in our lives we spend too much time anticipating what illness might strike our bodies, overthinking each ache and pain, something children and young adults never do.  Interrupting our thoughts so, that we forget to LIVE in today. Easter and Covid +, have been a time for serious reflection, isolating from family, a quiet time to detox of sorts. Pray, enlightenment, new hope and confidence, to doubt, worry and diagnosis.  So I say indeed Eat, drink, laugh, share, cry and then laugh again. And as you have done, put that in your calendar!

MP.  I have experienced Jesus being aware of my personal frailities and blessing me with unexpected moments of love.

JS.  In the presence of family gathered together in love and remembrance…in the random meeting and goodness of strangers met while traveling

PM.  Finding peace of mind by allowing Jesus to lead me

SA.  I thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend time each day making me more aware of the gospel readings and taking time to reflect. Without FFF I would not have spent the time each day

MS.  The series of Food for Faith each time make me more aware that my journey of life can. &  is a closer walk with Our Lord Jesus in every instant. So comforting & reassuring.

CB.    I’ve become aware that i’m not really aware, but i want to become aware of Jesus.

RL.  I am more at peace in my prayer time understanding that it’s ok to have thoughts distractions worries entering my mind when in prayer. What is important is that I am giving Jesus my time and he is there in the daily messy-ness

FK.  For me, it is taking that tiny amount of time each day, at the same(ish) time, to be fully present and open to being with Jesus.

EB.  I was tramping in the Sth Is of NZ and I encountered Jesus in the beauty around, the God incidences of the people I met that I met up with unexpectantly and the close bond that was formed with the people who were in our group on an organised tramp we went on.Our guides spoke of the interconnectedness of creation in the bush we walked through and I felt that interconnectedness with all of creation including the people who before the tramp had been strangers to me. We returned to our home town for Easter and what a joyous occasion each of the services was. I truly encountered the risen Christ.

MB.  But what I cant forget from this experience is when my team leader said to me that i am an inspiration as i took the matter very well because I trust our Lord God. Hearing this from someone outside my family …made me very happy as I know that some how it reflects in my action what i have learnt from learning God’s words!

KM.  I have become more aware of the presence of Jesus in the increased joy and peace within me. I know it too in the Love actions that I have more trustingly stepped into and seen Grace flow.

TD.  These FFF Lenten reflections have helped me drown out the noise and focus on Jesus. Each morning instead of stressing about all the stuff I have to do, I reframe the day to be open to see Jesus among all that stuff – some days I do and some days I rely on other people seeing him and their faith gets me through

MNC  My Easter journey  began with me just believing Jesus was that wise Lord, and gradually recognizing that I am the doubting believer and needed to see the journey ‘through’ Christ’s death to the resurrection which has given me renewed  belief and hope.

MT.  I pray for peace for my restless soul, and now offer my concern to God, my family also belong to him. … One more way I’m aware of is dream – in which I recognised the Father and Son together; and  they know me and have recognised my present among those who gathered – like the scene of the barbecue fish by the sea.

SME.  I only answer to your question how I became more aware of the Presence of Jesus during this time: Taking care of the sick sister in the Community, experiencing resistance to what I was required to do, but also accepting to be forgiven and to start again.

CJM  I have felt the presence of the Lord in carrying me through the tiredness of helping my family in all their struggles.

RG.  I often felt panicked and unsettled during Lent but the moment I remembered Jesus, I would feel His peace and presence.

TB.  This Easter I have united my own walk of the cross with that of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Especially dwelling on his words from the cross “forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” this I truly have had to live out in my own life and those words of Christ have really helped me.

PC.  By the privilege of sharing in the grief and life celebration of Māori Ma Te Atua koe e manaaki.

CR.  By taking time out, being still, and patiently knowing He is with me.

MSF.  e going and giving me a deeper understanding of my faith and so many ideas to think about. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into making these reflections so meaningful. My one sentence would be the reflection I am. This really changed my perspective of how I see Jesus, really present here and now and in my life.

GJ.  I just feel closer to Jesús, I feel I am learning and there is so much for me to learn to keep my faith, that failed in the past, I  feel more alert, more aware of God’s power and presence

ERK.  One way I have been aware of the presence of Jesus this Lent is in the face of every person I come across, this has helped me to become more charitable.

MT. My pleasure! Daily meditation helps me to ground myself daily before I get busy with each day’s plan. I’m so grateful to have found this programme online throu

JW.  Knowing I am like listening and joining with others like the disciples of Jesus did to hear Him

SS.  I have been encouraged to spend the first 10-15 mins of each day seeking out the reflection for the day and to begin the day with prayer – sometimes quite brief but time all the same. More conscious of reminding myself that God is with me in each moment of the day if I seek him.

MJ.  I read a little booklet called The Awesome Power of Blessing by Richard Brunton, it gave me a boldness to lay hands on and  pray a blessing over my adult son who is struggling with mental health issues.

FL.  I felt that during this Easter season, I became more trusting in the risen Lord. Rather than worrying about the little things, I asked Jesus to steady me in my anxious state each day.

RA.  These emails have really helped me see the presence of Christ in my life. I have begun contemplative prayer which has helped me see the light of ‘the way’ in my life.

PF. Being with a family as they make decisions about the care and placing into residential care of their 96 year old mother,  and their pain and hers as she is moved from independent living.  I saw their faith and struggle, but also their love and hope for their mother’s quality of life and care. It is like preparing for their mother’s death. It is a small death.

KW. One way i have become aware of Jesus Christ this Lent and Easter was receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Father suggested a daily commitment to reading Scripture and this i have been doing using the Daily Readings app. I am finding the reflection of the gospel ‘speaks’ to me every day and has deepened my understanding of the Gospels and renewed and strengthened my faith. Together with your FFF daily lectio divina i have found this practice which i always do first thing in the morning lingers with me all day long – the presence, goodness and tender mercy of Our Lord. Jesus i trust in you.

JE.  By living every day in the Lord’s will to the very best of my ability

PR.  I have  become more aware of Jesus in my life during my day not just at morning or night prayers especially when I go for my walks.

RS.  This year I did the Exodus 90 programme. By the end of lent my daily Holy Hour of prayer was easily stretching to an hour and a half or 2 hours because The Lord was spending time with me as much as I was spending with Him.

PJ.  The unwavering love of mokopunas

VS.  My experience if the presence of Jesus this Easter has been steady, the highlight being aware of the privilege I have had of being able to share my faith, sufferings, prayers and experiences with 2 people who came into my life in the past year and were connected to my work in the state sector.




  1. The daily reflections – lectio divina has sowed the seeds of faith and inner prayer life. Praying with my family members has deepened our faith spiritually and helps us to discern the spurt and coping with our personal problems during difficult times.

    Thank you for everything!

  2. Thank you Fr John & everyone for sharing these reflections. They are inspiring in their honesty & diversity. Some voices I could identify with & some I had to open myself to — that’s the point I guess, and why we’re a body of Christ!

  3. M.T. I have been recovering from an operation over Lent. Some days more a stuggle but it gave me time to open myself to the uncondional love that God has for me and the gifts of love, food and special things that people did for me. I felt blessed by my Easter Journey this year. It has refreshed me spiritually and physically.

  4. Thank you Fr John for all the beautiful and inspiring reflections which I look forward to each day. I have been made so sure that HE listens to me especially during my quiet times with him. I experienced this strongly at the service on Good Friday. Blessings to you.

  5. thank you Fr John, and the FFF team for the daily inspirations, the odd kick in the butt, even some affirmation, but always a step along the learning curve of our spiritual lfe. It is a long time between the Lent and Advent messages.

  6. Thank you Father John for these Lenten reflections. I particularly love the lectio divina
    made very much easier by having you read the passage. It gives a focus to my day when I do it.

  7. It has brought me much comfort knowing that other people are praying for my petition. Everytime I face a setback it seems I get an alert that someone has just prayed for me which reminds me to realise that God will always have a bigger, better plan for my issues.
    It is also a timely reminder to pray for all those others that have their own trials.
    Thank you.

  8. Thank you for your beautiful Anzac reflection. I remember being surprised when I first attended a dawn service. The atmosphere in which the dead were truly present in that waiting silence of dawn – and the presence of Christ too in the silence. A true reverence in the gathering experienced.


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