Choosing happiness (When life gives you lemons…)

November 14, 2018 by

lemons

Life sometimes throws things at us that upset our equilibrium and leave us feeling upset, angry, sad, confused etc… If the situation remains unresolved, or if the hurt lingers, we can find these initial feelings and reactions deepening and solidifying into cynicism, negativity and resentment.

We have a choice in these times as we follow down the route of our feelings – we can allow the feelings of anger and hurt to harden into bitterness, or we can choose to deal with them. Does this mean ignoring the feelings? No! It is simply that we can learn from these feelings; acknowledging the pain caused; making choices from the new insights and learnings of the situation; letting go of some course of action, some dream or even some relationships. Then we can choose to be happy. 

I think Ignatius gives us some pointers for this in his rules for discernment. There is a difference between our emotions and spiritual desolation, but there is also a connection. Ignatius encourages us to notice where consolation not desolation lies, to understand its path and purpose and then to choose to follow the consolation rather than be entrapped by the desolation. We are encouraged to actively seek and choose what gives us life.

Of course, choosing to be happy is not straightforward, (or else we would all do it straight away!) it calls us to a deep awareness of the goodness that is around us, the beauty, the potential. It calls us to let go of the negative in practical ways. It is a choice for what gives us life.

‘I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.’  Deuteronomy 30:15-20

I came across this poem a while back which speaks to me of the time of resting with the difficult emotions and waiting until we can once again choose life.

Trough
There is a trough in waves,
A low spot
Where horizon disappears
And only sky
And water
Are our company.
And there we lose our way
Unless
We rest, knowing the wave will bring us
To its crest again.
There we may drown
If we let fear
Hold us within its grip and shake us
Side to side,
And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
But if we rest there
In the trough,
Are silent,
Being with
The low part of the wave,
Keeping
Our energy and
Noticing the shape of things,
The flow,
Then time alone
Will bring us to another
Place
Where we can see
Horizon, see the land again,
Regain our sense
Of where
We are,
And where we need to swim.
~ Judy Brown ~
(The Sea Accepts All Rivers)

A meeting of minds and hearts

November 6, 2018 by

wordcloud

Last week the FCJ sisters from across Europe gathered for our Assembly – a four day meeting to look at and reflect on our mission and ministry. Sisters gathered from the 9 different European countries in which we minister.

The purpose of this year’s meeting was to have an opportunity to reflect on how we have responded to the outcomes of our last General Chapter and to share our thoughts and reflections as we move forward.

We are a very diverse group working in a wide range of different ministries and contexts. This year we also welcomed some of the staff from our schools, as well as others who work alongside us and some of our Companions in Mission.

As we listened to reports and shared together it was evident that there is a great unity among us and a real desire to be together on mission. We delighted in all the different ways in which FCJ spirituality is being lived out, responding to the thirst of Jesus in the world of today.

We were challenged together to understand how best to respond to the continually changing calls of our times – to welcome the stranger; to respond to the environmental calls and challenges of our times;  to accompany young people. …

As we move forward we ask for the grace and courage to discern faithfully how to truly be Companions of Jesus in these times.

THE FRAGILITY OF LIFE…

November 5, 2018 by

In the last couple of weeks we have heard such sad news of sudden deaths. Five people were killed in a helicopter crash at Leicester City Football Club, including the owner of the Club. Eleven people at prayer were cruelly gunned down in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, USA. More than one hundred and eighty people died when a brand new plane was lost in Indonesia shortly after take off. Finally, just the other day we heard that a friend of one of our communities had drowned in a flash flood. All I can do is hold those who have died and their loved ones in my prayer. Time and time again we are reminded of how quickly life can pass. I ask myself what is important in life? For sure, one of the things is to take time to be with others, to give to others, as far as possible to leave nothing unfinished in a relationship. Life is most surely a passing, fragile gift – and so are those we love. Let’s appreciate life and each other.

A SIGN OF HOPE…

October 12, 2018 by

I am coming towards the end of a week’s course with a group of first year novices. There are forty three novices from eleven religious congregations, including one FCJ novice. The theme of the course is ‘Inner Growth’ and it is intended to enable all participants to grow in inner freedom. I often find myself pausing to look at the faces of those taking part. Their earnestness and their willingness to take part is touching. Who knows what will happen in the future but what I see now is forty three young people who want to serve God and others. This is not the first time I have seen this as a sign of hope. Yet again – I give thanks for these young people and for all those who are seeking and striving to make our world a better place.

 

THE HARVEST IS PLENTY…LET’S TAKE IT BIT BY BIT!

October 8, 2018 by

A few days ago we had a challenging Gospel reading during daily Mass. It was from the early part of Luke 10. The main point was that labourers are needed for the great harvest so we need to ask God to send labourers into the field to do the harvesting. This reading has stayed with me for several days.  Even as I heard the Gospel reading the other day I began to wonder if we could think about the harvesting in a different way. I thought to myself that perhaps God has already sent the harvesters and that those workers are all of us. We don’t need to harvest the whole huge field – we just need to take a few stalks, as much as we can. Over the course of the last few days I have noticed many signs of the harvesting: kind acts; a smile or two; people giving way to others…It seems to me that together we are bringing in the harvest, one grain at a time. I give thanks for the harvest, i give thanks for the harvesters, I give thanks for all of you…

A PARABLE OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

September 21, 2018 by

A few days ago I was tidying up the garden with my Dad, who is now almost ninety. We had a great time. It was the best kind of Autumn day – both warm and sharp. After cutting the grass I turned my attention to a bit of weeding. Sometimes I needed a bit of guidance when differentiating between flowers and weeds. However, there was no mistaking the prickly nettles! I was quite pleased at the reasonably thorough job I did of clearing the ground. Although some of the smaller weeds and grasses came out quite easily, the larger ones took a bit of tugging. It was clear at times that there was as much of the plant left in the ground as I had in my hand. Those roots were just too deep. I could almost hear the plant say with a smile “See you next year.” I was reminded of how hard it is sometimes to root out those small stubborn aspects of character that can be as sharp and stinging as a nettle. It almost seems easier to deal with the bigger issues. But those tiny deep roots can be so persistent. They too seem to grin and say to me “See you later!” It is just as well that the work of grace is slow and gentle and that the true gardener is infinitely patient.

 

SOFI’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT: THE END IS THE BEGINNING…

September 9, 2018 by

Sofi came out of retreat last Sunday. The retreat had been a time of great blessing for her. It was lovely to see her glowing with joy as she greeted her FCJ companions. Today, one week later, Sofi has just arrived in Ende. She will spend about three weeks on mission, helping wherever she can. She will go out into the local neighborhood to visit our neighbors and spend some time in far distant parishes. Sofi will also help to teach the children who come to the community twice a week. Thank you for your prayers, you really helped to carry us through. We continue to keep you in our prayer.

SOFI’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT: WEEKS III AND IV

August 27, 2018 by

Sofi has now moved into the joy of the Resurrection having spent some days walking with Jesus through his arrest, imprisonment, crucifixion and death. What a joy for Sofi to meet the Risen Christ and to experience the delight and consolation of Easter. The prayer space is beautifully decorated with flowers and cloths of bright and glowing colour. We keep you in our prayer, please keep us in yours.

Taking a break

August 17, 2018 by

This time of year in the northern hemisphere is holiday time for many. The evenings are lengthened and the weather is warm.

Taking holiday – taking a break from our normal routine, from the pressures and decisions that fill our life can be such a renewing and refreshing thing. Recently I have had my own holiday time in a beautiful spot where I was able to enjoy the simple things jesus took napsof life – the beauty of nature, good conversations and relaxed days. Returning now from that time I feel refreshed and excited about what lies ahead.

A holiday, no matter how simple, puts us into a space where we have an opportunity to just be ourselves, to enjoy what is around us, to live in the present moment and to cultivate gratitude.

 

 

SOFI’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT: WEEK II

August 12, 2018 by

Sofi has just begun moving into the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises. She has prayed on the call of Jesus to her, the call to follow him without reserve. As she begins to pray on the main events in the life of Jesus she is doing so with the desire “to know him more intimately, to love him more deeply and to follow him more closely”. Every evening we pray for you, please keep up your prayers for us too.