frontiers of hope

Mar 27, 2024


I’ve had a couple of days of being deeply inspired by the lives and teaching of others.

In yesterday’s post I reflected on my Monday with the person I saw at the hospital as they near the end of their life, the new mother struggling with mental health who helped me to see the beauty of brokenness and dependance on Jesus, the gathering of priests at our retreat afternoon, my good dinner company and the witness of the people of our Christchurch Diocese at the Chrism Mass.

Yesterday I spent the day at a conference entitled Frontiers of Hope, organised by Michael Hempseed and team and presented by Bessel Van der Kolk, Neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School.

The Christchurch Town Hall Frontiers of Hope conference attracted well over 1000 people from across the country representing the spectrum of health and helping professions.

I found the gathering a profound and powerful way to deepen my own Holy Week journey and throughout the day I remembered that good psychology never contradicts good religion, and good religion does not contradict good psychology.

Let me explain.

The Holy Week journey from Palm Sunday through days of impending doom for Jesus, experiencing denial and betrayal, abandonment by closest friends and unjust torture and execution, is a macrocosm of the worst of human existence.

While we know that Jesus’ fidelity to his Father and his mission led him not simply TO but THROUGH the cross, we forget that those who (by their direct action or by their passive inaction) caused and allowed these events were (after the resurrection) the very ones who became the intimate friends of Jesus and the leaders of eternal mission of hope.

Frontiers of Hope. Yes!

Frontiers of hope – especially for those who feel most hope-less.

It doesn’t take much for every one of us to recall a traumatic event from days, years or decades ago. Tragically most of us do not have the opportunity to experience healing at the time of the trauma, and too often our fears and compulsions are determined by the painful events themselves, the abuse, the abortion, the betrayal, the loss of life or reputation for which we carry guilt, the sexual history about which we carry shame… you will be able to name other experiences.

For us as humans, whether we are the victim, the survivor, or the perpetrator, we can feel stuck. But it is the events we recall and experience this Holy Week which give us hope.

Yes the trauma in our own lives is a problem for us, but no problem at all for God who is waiting for an invitation to enter our lives.

If anything I have written here touches a traumatic memory of shame, guilt, or hurt for you, turn directly to Jesus right now. Ask for his healing, his mercy, his strength, his hope, and ask him to give you an experience of this TODAY.

Our annual remembering of Holy Week and Easter for Jesus, enables us to imagine resurrection life for ourselves TODAY.

I’ll give the last word to Bessel Van der Kolk – a couple of quotations from his book The Body Keeps the Score:

“Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities—it is an essential launchpad for making our hopes come true. It fires our creativity, relieves our boredom, alleviates our pain, enhances our pleasure, and enriches our most intimate relationships.”
“We can hardly bear to look. The shadow may carry the best of the life we have not lived. Go into the basement, the attic, the refuse bin. Find gold there. Find an animal who has not been fed or watered. It is you!! This neglected, exiled animal, hungry for attention, is a part of your self.”


Take an initiative and initiate a cafe gathering, or join these gatherings:

Thursday 28 March 2024 10.00am  Faith & Co, 213 Jackson St, Petone.  Kath

Monday 1 April 2024 10.00am (& every Monday). Moku Cafe. Bush Inn Centre, Waimairi Road,  Christchurch. Trish

Thursday 11 April 2024 10.00am  Stumble Inn, 200 Mangorei Road, New Plymouth. Joan

Email me to add another:



1 Comment

  1. Grateful thanks for these thoughts to guide us through lent Fr John. Always a positive start to my day! This one really hit the right spot! Easter blessings to you & safe enjoyable travels & experiences in the coming months


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts



With her encounter with the angel, Mary’s life became an adult adventure of mature faith.

growing up

growing up

Thomas was not doubting as much as seeking; he was expressing the desire of one who truly yearns for adult faith.

blessed assurance

blessed assurance

The point of this Easter Season is that we personally experience the 2024 reality of God in Jesus Christ present with us.

so much colour

so much colour

Jesus is present, alive, active, with us and filling our existences with the cosmic and eternal colour of abundant life.

let’s get physical

let’s get physical

Turn to Jesus today begging him to reveal himself personally, intimately and physically