Sunday 25 October 2020

Approachable Ignatius


Time was when priests were more approachable and people felt more at ease discussing their problems with them and seeking guidance. But times change and with them habits and customs change too.

Nowadays people are more willing to spend their hard-earned cash consulting psychiatrists and counselors than asking the man of God for his wisdom and opinions.

Somehow, this distancing from one’s flock has been precipitated by busy modern lifestyles where people are working all hours at their disposal. And priests too are pre-occupied with Parish meetings, Ecumenical Councils, and various other tasks and targets set upon them by their clerical hierarchies.

Father Ignatius was well aware of this changing trend, and being an old-fashioned old-school type of priest he did his utmost to keep in touch with grass roots in his church. He knew most people personally by first name, he visited them at home often, or in hospital when they were ill, or at the police station or jail when they were in trouble. And in turn, they did not hesitate to trouble him with their worries and problems at all times of night and day.

Many times did he settle down of an evening to watch his favorite team play football on TV, or to listen to his favorite classical music when the phone rang and a parishioner needed help. Or the door bell rang, and they brought their problems to his doorstep or lounge even!

Mrs Frost was such an example when she turned up to the Parish house one evening in tears.

“My husband has just left home,” she sobbed as she sat down on the settee clutching a handkerchief tightly in her hand.

Father Ignatius listened attentively and sympathetically. There was very little he could practically do straight away. The newly married couple had a row about something or other and Mr Frost stormed out of the house in a temper.

The priest tried his best to console Mrs Frost and after saying a prayer together she calmed down enough to return home; which was within walking distance of the church. Father Ignatius promised to call on them the next day after morning Mass.

Thankfully Mr Frost was at home and with his usual patience and gentleness Father Ignatius succeeded in getting them to discuss their problem. Amongst the tears and prayers it soon became apparent that their troubles stemmed from lack of communication leading to misunderstandings and confusion.

“Praise the Lord …” said the priest gently, “you really do love each other deeply; yet you can’t hear each other because of the noise of your busy lifestyles.

“Let me tell you a story which perhaps may help you to focus on what is going on here …” continued Father Ignatius,

“There once was a married couple who'd been together for many years; longer than the two of you have been married.

“One day the wife was unwell with a heavy cold. Her loving husband stayed at home and helped around the house. After seeing the children to school he offered to make her something to eat.

“She asked for a salad sandwich made with a French baguette which they had just bought that morning.

“The husband went into the kitchen, cut the ends of the French baguette, and with the middle bit made the most delicious sandwich, with tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers - just as his wife likes it.

“She must have felt pretty bad that day, because when he presented the sandwich to her she snapped ‘Why do you always cut the end bits of the baguette for yourself? They're my favorite!’

“He smiled and said ‘My dear, I hate the end bits, they're crunchy and dry ... I've been having them for years because I thought you hated them too!’

“You see … all these years he was trying to please her, and little did he know that she preferred the end bits of the French bread … and all this time she thought he was selfish by taking her favorite bits of the bread to himself, but she said nothing because she loved him as much as he loved her … all because of lack of communication.

“How many problems can be avoided in life if we learn to communicate honestly and openly with each other?

“So as I leave you can I urge you please to find out how you like your sandwiches,” he concluded with a smile.


  1. ...perhaps the thinning of the ranks of priests is a factor?

    1. Yes that is true, Tom. There are fewer priests these days. The ones I know are always busy with attending committees and doing various administration work. They seem to have little time for home visits, and getting to know their parishioners. Some even have two churches to attend to. They travel backwards and forwards between the two churches to celebrate Mass and do weddings, baptisms, funerals and so on.

      God bless.

  2. A solution that worked out well for the couple. The example of what can happen with a lack of communication. Really not a serious problem but a problem that could be worked out with more talking between the couple. Yes, priests are busy these days doing more with less, it's a struggle for sure.

    1. It's an example of how many marital, (and other), problems are due to bad communication. And it's true that priests seem to be busier these days.

      God bless, Bill.

  3. Love Fr. Ignatius' wisdom! And as you've pointed out, it's not just newly-marrieds who sometimes experience difficulties communicating. Tom's increasing hearing challenges, for instance, have led to a 'spirited' conversation on more than one occasion.

    PS - Smiling, as your parable of the baguette reminds me of my dad. Whether it be that or an ordinary loaf of bread, his favorite part was what he called the 'heel.'

    1. Yes Mevely, often difficulties in marriage are down to lack of communication. My friend told me that his wife doesn't understand him. She is from Athens and it is all Greek to him. I told him he's lucky she's not from Amsterdam otherwise it would have been all double Dutch. He said he'd dated a girl from Amsterdam. Her father was a florist - Two Lips from Amsterdam!

      I don't like the end bits of the bread baguette, or even the end bits in sliced bread. Luckily our dog enjoys them.

      You know, Mevely, they say this is the best thing since sliced bread. What was the best thing before sliced bread was invented?

      God bless you.

  4. Wonderful story, Victor! Yes, communication is absolutely needed in marriage, and many other places, too. May we all learn to listen to one another.

    1. I got that story from a priest I once knew. Sadly now departed. He was very wise and a model for my character of Fr Ignatius. Both he, and other good priests I've known.

      God bless, Martha.

  5. It is amazing how much a relationship can improve with the proper communication. We get so busy with our busy-ness that we forget what our priorities should be. Thanks for the reminder. God Bless.

    1. You are so right, Nells. We are so busy these days that we forget to communicate properly, courteously, politely and with love.

      God bless you always.

  6. That's a great story. Reminds me of my parents.
    My mom knitted beautiful socks for my dad but he never wore them.
    Years later after my parents were divorced they both told me about these socks.
    My mom was mad because she spent all that time making them and he never wore the socks.
    My dad didn't wear them because he thought they were much to nice to wear.

    1. That is really sad, Happyone. Both your parents were being nice and kind to each other but did not communicate their love to each other.

      God bless you, Happyone.

  7. What a great story on the importance of communication.

  8. A lesson it is never too late to learn, your spouse cannot read your mind!

  9. Dearest Victor,
    Yes, it often is important for calming down and breaking down the problem to the core. Often it is so little that it almost is a shame for 'calling' it a problem...
    A wise Priest like Father Ignatius is a rare thing. Also due to the fact that the entire Church has been frowned upon and even pushed off the table completely. It seems to be 'cool' for NOT belonging to it and yet this balance between body/soul/mind is the most important thing throughout life. People think they can handle it all themselves; NOT. How many counselors did the 'modern' world create to replace the earlier soul-care? It does not fill that void. And for doing it off with a nasty excuse like look at all the skeletons in the Church, bad behavior etc. That is nonsens. You cannot measure an entire religion of over 2,000 years by the minuscule counterweight of a few problems. It would be far better if they did away with the celibacy like the Anglican Church. We do have a very famous Catholic Priest in Maryland, who was a cradle Catholic but studied and became an Anglican Priest. He's married, has children and grandchildren and now is a Catholic Priest. That is perfect; such a man knows the marital issues and the essence of life a lot better.
    Not all Popes are saints but for that you cannot push the entire religion off the table. Our Final Judge will take care of all that in the end.

  10. You raise some very interesting points here, Mariette.

    Father Ignatius is a character from my first fiction book "Visions". I have since written other books about him, including "To Love A Priest" which deals with the question as to whether Catholic priests should marry.

    Here is the whole list, in case you are interested:

    Thank you so much, Mariette. God bless you always my friend.

  11. Communication is key and part of it is listening, that helps too :)
    Hope you've had a peaceful Sunday.

    All the best Jan

    1. You are right, Jan. I listen always; but not when the football is on TV. Why do people insist on talking when the football is on?

      God bless always.



God bless you.