in the field

Nov 15, 2023


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).



  1. I always enjoy your short reflections. Especially on podcasts. I wear a pair of blue tooth hearing aids and l hear every single word clearly. That’s something I have never done before. So @ almost 84 years , l relish every moment of the day that l listen to my Spotify. Keep up your good reflections. God blessings . Margaret

  2. Thanks Father, I was at the seminar in St Joseph Chelsea Melbourne was very enriching. I am still puzzle about”Repettion is the clue to success” If I am right in saying that Christianity started the revolutionary vord and has achieved success to some extent ? Ex. The Rosary has and still is keeping the faith to some extent among the die hard Catholics but not to the new generation. Some of the famous institution who have benefited the concept are The Muslim “Islam” . The Jews ” Judaism ” If The Vatican is attacked would we Cathoc front Chelsea leav everything behind and go to defend The Vatican? Not sure! May be we can think of the two multi national ” Coca-Cola, Macdonald” daily non stop repetive advertising are very well known through the world? Not bad result for using the concept “Repetion” started or inve ter by our ancestors The CTholic Faith. MY be The Catholic Church should some souls sheathing ! Have a good day

  3. What a wonderful moment with you Fr. John. Life is not easy but as you said live life intensely. In the midst of suffering there is joy if there is Christ within.
    Thank you and looking forward for our next SOC with you thru zoom.

  4. How much I value your words of wisdom and encouragement!
    Accept what is now and make the most of the moment!
    Reminds me to see the goodness in my friends and associations.
    Prayers for you and for your valued Mission.

  5. What a blessing to have a ministry like yours to provoke and encourage reflection and thought. Yes the narrative that you operate from is vital to peace in your spirit


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