Since my work with the National Liturgy Office & Spiritual Direction is mostly Monday – Friday I have greater freedom at weekends to offer retreats and parish missions. In the last three weeks this field-work has taken me to Melbourne, Kapiti Coast, Winton in Central Southland, and I’m writing this post as I travel home from a three day retreat with 80 people from ten countries across South-East Asia gathered in Cebu, Philippines.
When I’m not leading these retreats / missions I jump at the chance to visit parishes in the Christchurch diocese, celebrating weekend Masses when one of their resident priests is unavailable.
In every place, whether local or offshore, in chats before and after Sunday Masses and in more intensive engagements over three or four days, I meet people who are struggling with some aspects of life.
Most often our prayer is that God will remove the difficult problem or person, or magically resolve the tension or the suffering. However we know from our experience that even if a problem person moves on and the difficult circumstances vanish, it’s not too long before there is another difficult person or problem situation. As someone commented to me this weekend: it sometimes seems like one impossible day after another.
I am most inspired when I get to listen to someone who is actively seeking Jesus within their circumstances rather than desperately hoping that he will given them new and easier circumstances.
Such wise people have reflected on their life experience enough to know that while a peaceful and perfect day is welcome, we are most connected with others and therefore with God (we could also say most connected with God and therefore with others), when we live a struggle together.
When we feel life is perfect we have no real need of others – and therefore no real need for God.
My journey home from Cebu has not been straightforward with a cancelled flight and hops from Philippines to Hong Kong then Taipei before making it to Auckland and Christchurch yesterday morning. I could have spent the journey irritated at the unwanted delays and diversions but decided instead, inspired by the people I was with for the weekend, to relax and enjoy the ride.
This attitude made all the difference.
WHERE TO GET FFF – the book:
Food For Faith – the book, available ($40.00) from Thursday 16 November in Christchurch: The Catholic Shop at the ProCathedral Manchester Street (Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm and Sat-Sun 10am-1pm) & St. Augustine’s Second Hand Catholic Bookshop (CTK church foyer 92 Greers Rd – open 11-2 Wed-Sat).