One day he was visited by Tony, a young man in his early twenties who spent his spare time looking after the gardens at the back of Parish House. Father Ignatius sat on the bench by the statue of the Virgin Mary, whilst Tony was potting some new seedlings to be planted in the vegetable plot nearby.
"Father," he said, "when I pray, how can I be sure that God is really bothered with me and my problems. How can I really trust Him?"
"Just like me!" was the priest's quick response.
It had the desired effect because Tony stopped working and looked puzzled.
The priest smiled and beckoned Tony to sit on the bench. He then said, "you can't buy trust in the supermarket. It is not a commodity one can have. Trust is based on experience."
"Do you trust your parents love you?" asked the priest.
Tony nodded again.
"You base that trust on their behaviour towards you. On what they say and do for you. On the way they care and how they brought you up," continued the old priest.
"Yes ..." mumbled Tony.
"You are young," Father Ignatius said, "and you may not have had much experience of God. I am more than three times your age, and believe me, over the years I have had many occasions to experience God in my life. I have been through several difficult situations over the years, and although at the time I may not have realised it, God was there by my side, and He saw me through my difficulties and trials. I have experienced God's presence; that's why I trust Him."
Tony nodded pensively and said nothing.
"Trust between two people," Father Ignatius continued, "is built over time. It's the same with trusting God. Right now, you are building that trust by believing in God, in pure faith, by praying, and by hoping that He will look after you. These are your first steps into building trust in Him. Over time you will look back at various periods in your life and you will realise that what happened then, what decisions you made, were helped and guided by God through the Holy Spirit."
"Is that how you trust God?" asked Tony.
"Yes," said Father Ignatius, "God has never let me down. He may have answered my prayers not as I expected, but He never let me down. I see no reason why He should do so in future!"
There were a few moments of awkward silence, then the priest continued, "when we pray, more often than not we ask for favours. We pray because we want something from God. Rarely do we remember the simple prayers of thanks. Being grateful for another day that has passed safely. Thankful when we wake up for another day that beckons.
"We seem to expect God to go around distributing miracles as if they were candies.
"But God is not like that. He is a loving Father who deserves our trust just as He trusts us to do the right thing. That's why He gave us the freedom to choose our path in life.
"He trusts us. Do we trust Him enough when we pray in thanksgiving or in times of need?"