I recently had the great good fortune to visit our FCJ sisters in Australia and a group of RSCJ sisters in New Zealand. I saw some amazing scenes of natural beauty and enjoyed the warmth of summer. But by far the most impressive and touching part of the whole experience was the welcome and the hospitality I received in each community. I enjoyed great companionship and hour upon hour of deep conversation. What a sheer gift!
One of our sisters died on Saturday 4th February. She was 93 years old and had been an FCJ for more than 70 years. She was still active and her death was sudden and unexpected despite her great age. The Gospel for Sunday that week was taken from Matthew 5: 13-16. “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” How well it captures the life of this solid, well grounded and totally dedicated woman who was well able to laugh at life and herself. Even though we now gaze at God from different angles I hope she continues to be our companion, friend and inspiration as we continue the mission God has given us…
This video clip really moved me it is worth taking the time to watch it and to wonder:
How am I called to stand in compassionate solidarity with people?
What does my faith dictate?”
I recently made a train journey lasting almost three hours. I was sitting with three other people. Even though at first we were silent and busy with our own thoughts it wasn’t too long before we started to talk. How amazing as the three strangers I began my journey with turned into kind, thoughtful and amazing people. By the end of the journey we knew enough about one another to have had a real encounter. What lovely people I met that day. Each one of them was bringing so much goodness into our world. I left the train feeling blessed and enriched. God was truly with us -the people on the train…
To help with my prayer I am currently using a book called ‘Christ in a grain of sand’by Neil Vaney SM. Vaney describes this as ‘An Ecological Journey With The Spiritual Exercises.’One question that has challenged me is the following “With what sort of eyes do I view the world around me: as pragmatist, farmer, scientist, poet?” (Vaney, p 40) I realise that I am too much of a pragmatist for my own liking. I am hoping that little by little I can learn to view the world more as a poet and less as a pragmatist…
I enjoy New Year. Mainly because I enjoy new starts. I don’t usually make a load of ‘resolutions’ but I do usually settle slowly on one or two actions or choices that I think will have a positive impact on my life. Generally sometime mid-January I have worked out what they are going to be.
This year my dad gave me an idea – he was talking about #walk1000miles – advertised in a magazine he enjoys. The idea is simple -try to walk 100 miles in the course of the year. Initially I thought it was ridiculous, but then when I looked into it I realised it was actually quite possible and I decided to do it!
We are only on 11th January… but here are some positives already (apart from the obvious health benefits):
- In order to walk 2.75 miles per day I need to go for a walk even when working from home. So I am meeting my neighbours a lot more.
- Others have joined me and been inspired by the challenge.
- A group of students I know are joining me to raise money for charity.
- Walking clears my head and gives me reflective space.
So watch this space – or join me and #walk1000miles!
Ten days ago we began our Province Assembly in Melbourne. On the afternoon of 26th December we boarded the plane for Melbourne and the Province Assembly. The Assembly (lasting from 28th December to January 2nd) was an amazing experience. We were exploring one of our Chapter Directions: ‘We commit ourselves to the pilgrimage of discovery into God revealed in the cosmos and we actively integrate this new consciousness into every aspect of our living.’ It was so good to have Katherine Mary O’Flynn FCJ and Margarita Bryon FCJ as our facilitator and keynote speaker respectively. We grew in companionship and in love for our God. It was great simply to meet and talk with sisters we had not met for some years. We had many opportunities to engage with each other – in sessions and over tea and coffee. As the meeting ended we blessed each other and left for our various missions. The last of us returned home on January 7th – ready to live our FCJ call even more fully. How blessed we are to have the opportunity for such meetings.
Teresa, one of our FCJ novices is just beginning her 30 day retreat alongside the Jesuit novices at St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre in Wales. Sr Rita will accompany her.
The ’30 Day retreat’ or Spiritual Exercises are a foundational part of formation in our FCJ Society and in the Ignatian tradition. Through them we come to understand in a profound way the particular call of Christ in our life and to respond to that call with ever growing freedom. Following on from the retreat there is an apostolic experience which gives time to deepen and live out of the graces of the retreat in daily life.
Join us in keeping Teresa, Rita and the others making the Exercises in prayer throughout the coming month.
These days between New Year and Epiphany have a strange quality of quiet celebration – work has started again after the holiday, schools are open, and yet the lights and decorations of Christmas are still with us.
To me it is a reminder of the real joy of Christmas – that amidst the ordinary and simple everyday tasks something extraordinary is true: God is incarnate, has taken on the everyday substance of our humanity. Even in the most difficult of moments we find Emmanuel, God-With-Us.
Almost every day there seems to be something in the news which shocks me and challenges me to hold on to faith and hope and not give way to despair. The only thing that makes sense to me is my deep down belief that that God is really with us and somehow transforming our world through love. I am longing for this Christmas more than I have ever longed for it. This is not the longing I had as a child waiting for Father Christmas. I want to be reminded that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). I want to witness to that light, to share that light and to do my part to fill our world with the light of God’s love. God IS with us and God’s love will one day transform the whole of creation. God be with us all this Christmas…