Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Father Ignatius visits the cellar

The basement under the church had been emptied of the junk which had accumulated over the years. Some young volunteers had painted the walls and ceiling of the three reclaimed rooms and corridor, and an electrician had connected the whole downstairs to the mains electricity.

The intention was to turn two rooms into meeting rooms and the third into a small kitchenette allowing people to make a cup of tea and prepare refreshments.

Father Ignatius ventured downstairs to check on progress.

Tom was alone busily tiling the floor. He had chosen pink and white tiles to match the colour of the rest of the room.

"Things are improving down here …” commented Father Ignatius as he stood by the doorway.

“They sure are …” replied Tom turning down the volume of his radio a little.

“Are these tiles already fixed?” asked the priest.

“Yes … some are already cemented in and they’re drying out nicely … these others over there I’ve yet to cement … why do you ask?”

“Well … pardon me for saying so Tom,” hesitated Father Ignatius, “those tiles over in that area by the wall are not very even … some are a few millimeters higher than the others … enough that you would notice them from here where I’m standing … and they seem to have been placed haphazardly, rather than full square side by side … eh … forgive me Tom, perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned it …”

“Oh don’t worry Father … no one will see them … I’ll be putting the kitchen cabinet here over them … so no one will know about my careless work …” chuckled Tom.

“Jesus will …” replied Father Ignatius quietly.

“Why … is He a works inspector now is He?” chuckled Tom again.

“Tom I’m very grateful to you for volunteering to do this work … this basement would not have been transformed so beautifully if it wasn’t for all you volunteers working together, clearing the old stuff that was here, painting the rooms and corridor and doing all this work … maybe I shouldn’t have said anything … please forgive me …”

“Oh don’t go away Father …” replied Tom as he got up from the floor to stretch his aching back, “if they’re that important to you I’ll fix those tiles again …”

“It’s not that Tom … I was just thinking … many people go through life enduring their job from day to day and treating it as a means to earn a living – and no more. I know you’re doing this for free … and I’m grateful to you and the other workers … but you know what I mean …

“And as time goes by, so does the pride people have in their work. They just do it as a job, and inevitably their standard of performance deteriorates.

“I feel that somehow this is an insult to God …”

“Hein?” mumbled Tom.

“Hear me out Tom … Whatever job we have to do in life, whether it is an influential position of power, a lawyer, doctor or a skilled worker using our hands to do something, like a factory worker for instance … surely our duty is to do the work properly … to the best of our ability. To give the task in hand all the attention and skill that we possess.

“As Jesus was growing up He worked with His father Joseph as a carpenter. Can you imagine Jesus making a table with a wobbly leg?”

Tom shook his head.

“Then why should we?” asked Father Ignatius, “Whatever task we have been given to do – let’s make sure it is not wobbly.”

Tom smiled silently.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do” continued Father Ignatius, “I’ll leave now and I will not return until you have permanently fixed the kitchen cabinet over that area there.

Only you will know whether those tiles have been fixed properly or not … only you will know whether the hidden tiles under the cabinet are uneven and haphazardly laid down … or not!”

“Jesus too will know …” said Tom jokingly as the priest walked up the stairs out of the basement.

“That’s true … but I promise not to ask Him!” chortled Father Ignatius.


  1. We are so often in a rush that we do many things with little or no effort, I am guilty of that too!

    You have made a good point Victor. Your story is very good!

    It's funny, I have been ill with the flu for a while and Sunday, while getting ready for mass my blouse needed ironing. I was to lethargic to iron it so I asked my husband if he would iron the front only. He looked at me quite odd and said," why only the front?" I replied that I would be wearing a sweater and no one would see the back of it. He replied that he could do such a thing, he would have to iron it all!

    Your story brought this to mind and gave the whole incident a clearer meaning.

    Thank you!

  2. It's nice to see you visiting again Daily Grace. Thank you.

    I hope and pray that you are now well and have recovered from the flu.

    You know, someone should invent a washing machine that washes, dries the clothes and irons them at the same time. So they are clean, pressed and ready to wear.

    God bless.

    1. Hey Victor:
      This a timely reflection indeed! Over the last couple of months I felt that God has been pressing this issue with me, and how we are to do what we do for His glory, and not simply because they pay us to do that. In fact there are many posts in my blog about it.

      Thing is, I've been slowing getting back to my old ways because I can get away with it at my job. It is embarrassing to confess but it's true!

      Thanks for this story and the gentle reminder.


    2. Hi Jose,

      I've seen it all too often that people treat the job just as a means to earn money. I know at times at work I too did not put my all into it. Then a priest said to me "Whatever job you do in life. Treat it as if you were working for God not for your boss. Now ... would your attitude to work change?"

      God bless.

  3. Hi Victor,
    Your story reminds me of the poor quality of many of our electronics and household furnishings
    today - things don't seem well made like they used to be. It seems that in this age of consumerism quality has been replaced by quantity.

    We have more "stuff" but it doesn't work as well.

  4. Mary, I think sometimes goods are deliberately made of poor quality so that consumers buy new ones. If a manufacturer made a product which lasts for ten years he'd soon be out of business.

    God bless.

    1. Exactly - they have built in self-destruction mechanisms!

    2. The other day I bought an item with a "lifetime guarantee". I asked the seller - Is it guaranteed if it goes wrong in MY lifetime? Or the lifetime of the item?

      And if the latter; what is the lifetime of the item?

      He did not know the answer. Neither did the shop manager. They're checking with HQ and will take a lifetime to get the answer.

      God bless you Mary.

  5. Hi Victor! I am enjoying reading your story! Thanks for taking a moment to post at my new blog as well--it was much appreciated! Keep up the good work--you are a gifted writer!

  6. Hello Kerry,

    How nice to see you visiting here. Thank you for taking the time to write in. You're so kind and your encouragement is much appreciated.

    We hope you return soon.

    God bless.

  7. Happy New Year Victor! I've been offline and doing some catch up reading. Loved this...such a convicting story! It reminds me of one I told my youngest daughter when I caught her lying...that Jesus knows and sees everything and you can't hide from Him.

    I hope you are well. God bless you and yours!

    1. It's great to see you visiting again Lisa Maria. Thank you and Happy New Year to you and your family.

      As you say ... Jesus sees everything.

      God bless.

  8. I love this story. A lot there. Pride in one's work. Doing all for God.
    God bless!

    1. Thank you so much Colleen for your encouragement. It is much appreciated.

      God bless you.

  9. So true! When we were children we were taught to write J.M.J. at the top of all our assignments to remind us that we were to dedicate our work to the Holy Family. Later on it was A.M.D.G. to remind us to do all for the glory of God. Imagine all the public school children, and probably Catholic school children that have never been taught to do everything for God. What a loss!

  10. Sadly Barbara, in the UK God has been kept out of our schools for a long time. It is very common to meet children and adults too who know very little about God and the Bible. Only recently on a quiz show on TV a contestant did not know who the three wise men had come to worship.

    God bless.



God bless you.

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