thirsty souls

Apr 21, 2024


A sabbatical is often taken as a complete break from usual daily demands and occupations. It didn’t take me long after the Easter beginning of my sabbatical leave to relax into new rhythms and routines of daily life and I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

It’s early spring in mid-west USA and I will spend April and May in this beautiful, rural and un-touristed part of the country. I have the use of a cottage by a lake and there is plenty of opportunity to read, reflect, walk and read some more. (Some great reading recommendations have come in from FFF readers. Thank you.)

A priest-friend in a nearby parish has been generous with invitations to celebrate Sunday Masses for him. Last week I was in his city parish and later today I will celebrate Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Easter in a rural community about 45 minutes drive from where I am staying.

Some months ago, in the early days of my sabbatical planning, I was invited to speak at a pub gathering a couple of hours drive from the lake. I was happy to say yes, imagining that the group would be small and informal. I was especially enthusiastic when those inviting me added that the beer and pizza would be good.

So on Thursday evening last week I arrived at a bar in Le Mars Iowa to find crowds gathering, good food and drink being served, and an enthusiastic group who were very welcoming to this foreigner with his strange down-under accent.

My reflection had been advertised with the topic: “Get on with it.” In short, my theme was maturity in relationship with Christ – with the starting point of getting on with life.

One of my favourite movies is the 1994 classic The Shawshank Redemption and perhaps the best-known line from the movie is from the mouth of the unjustly imprisoned protagonist Andy Dufresne: “Get busy livin or get busy dyin”

I began my reflection quoting this, adding that we have before us, in every circumstance and every encounter, a choice. With Christ every moment becomes an opportunity to get busy livin.

In short, my theme was maturity in relationship with Christ – in other words, getting on with livin.

I was moved by many conversations with those who had gathered. Some had turned up alone. Others had arrived with friends and family.

I’ll write more on this in the next couple of days, with an update on the Fifth Gospel project.

Right now I need to put the finishing touches to a weekend homily.



  1. Yes I think we spend too much time preparing for another life rather than living this one I wondered if we will be asked to account for how much we enjoyed living

  2. Thank you Fr John for sharing the experiences of your sabbatical with us and that all is going well with you. May God bless & protect you all the way. I’m just left wondering who was left with all those dishes..

  3. Thank you for helping me to live each day in the Spirit. God Bless you abundantly on your sabbatical. With that crowd hope you got a beer & some pizza.

  4. Thank you John for this opportunity to reflect on the Gospel and life.
    One man in my Alpha group purchased your book and is enjoying what he sees as a “real life” Gospel.
    Thank you also for the opportunity to meet with others at FFF coffee mornings at random cafes throughout NZ Aotearoa. One such morning, was recently on the Kapiti Coast that Catherine Gibbs so kindly organised. It was a real blessing to meet people for the first time, in some cases and catch up with people from many years back in others.


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