just do it

Feb 19, 2024

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In my final weeks at Holy Cross Seminary in Mosgiel, a couple of weeks before my ordination as a priest, I received a letter from the bishop of Christchurch (Denis Hanrahan) which began: Dear John, I am happy to inform you that your first appointment as a priest will be to the parish of Greymouth.

It wasn’t an appointment I was expecting. To be completely honest Greymouth wasn’t at the top of my little list of parishes I hoping to be sent to. Greymouth seemed a long way away, not the centre of diocesan life, and I didn’t know anyone who lived on the Coast.

So soon after my ordination I drove my Cortina across the Alps, arriving in Greymouth (with its reputation for rain) on a glorious blue-sky January afternoon.

Within days of arriving in St. Patrick’s parish I was delighted with the appointment. The people were welcoming, and the community was ready-built. All a new priest had to do was to immerse himself into local life and I loved doing this.

After a few months, with the post-ordination honeymoon period past, and especially on days heavy with winter, the afternoon hours after the busy routines of each morning could be long.

I soon found a perfect remedy for my afternoon ennui.

The names and addresses of parishioners was recorded in the parish office on a card-index system, both alphabetically by surname and by address from Albert, Alexander and Arney through to Threadneedle and Winnie streets.  So I made it a habit, especially when I was in danger of becoming a bit unhealthily introspective, to take a pile of street cards, drive to the corner, and begin to knock on doors.

This first part of the exercise wasn’t easy, leaving the house, driving to the street, walking up the path and knocking on the door. But once a parishioner opened a door and conversation began my day was transformed.

When we hear Jesus call us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the captives and comfort the mourners our task can seem like hard work. However if we simply act and (even without thinking about it) do exactly as Jesus is instructing us, we will immediately discover that our own personal joy is found in giving.

It is in giving that we receive.

If you don’t believe me, try it.

 

 

 

7 Comments

  1. Spot on, John
    How privileged we are to be welcomed into people’s homes

    Then the reverse (Lenten) Visitor: ‘I stand at the door and knock…’
    (Rev 3:20)

    Reply
  2. I can relate to this John, I was in Real Estate. Making the effort, rather than procrastinating paid off as it does spiritually. Good thought.
    Anne

    Reply
  3. Thanks, inspiring thought for today. I often think that this is all we can do, our bit, trusting God to manage the increase which will be the fruit of what you suggest.

    Reply
  4. Loved the reflection today. I had a nice busy week planned going to Chch for an education session and catching up on my grandchildren and a couple of friend I haven’t seen in a few years. But no had to cancel my whole week as tested positive for Covid. Stopped me in my tracks and need to evaluate what is important. My symptoms are just like a heavy cold but isolation from family is the hardest part. I am healthy. With no other illness that can be effect.
    Please remember me in your prayers and may this week be a time of reflection and faith restoring , a truly lenton week. God bless
    Christine

    Reply
  5. A good reflection to begin my Lenten week … thank you and blessings.

    Reply
  6. Fr John
    From memory, one activity of the late cardinal John Heenan in his early parishes was to go around knocking on the doors of parishioners! Maybe he set the standard for a lot of priests to follow!
    Fred

    Reply
  7. Lovely gift today will have to start doing I t More

    Reply

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