“Through this door is our world, inviting us into its beauty and diversity”*

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Our recent Chapter Decree* encourages us to step through the open door into our world – to be companions of people wherever we find them.  This means we are called to be companions in our places of ministry and it also means to be “neighbour – companions” – to be fully immersed in the areas in which we live.  For us here in Yogyakarta this means being fully involved in our neighbourhood.  Even though our area, “Soropadan”, now rests on the edge of the city it has kept its village character.   What happens in the village involves all of us, we share our joys and our sorrows, what happens to one family in our village happens to all of us.

We have just celebrated the beautiful wedding of a young woman we know well here in Soropadan.  For us it was a double joy as the family concerned is also Roman Catholic, not only are we very close neighbours but we are also in the same basic ecclesial community.  This family, like us, is deeply involved in the village and in “interfaith living”.  There was both a Muslim and a Roman Catholic element to the weekend festivities which were also deeply steeped in Javanese tradition.  At each point the bride and groom and principal family members were stunning in their traditional Javanese dress.

The celebration began at our neighbour’s house on Friday afternoon with a Muslim celebration known as “Kenduri”.  This is a time of prayer asking for God’s blessing on a significant event or moment in life; in this case the prayer was for the bride and groom.  The men came at 4pm for prayer followed by a celebration meal and the women followed some two hours later.  For the rest of the evening a steady stream of Muslim guests arrived at the house to offer their good wishes to the family.

On Saturday evening a celebration called “Midodareni” took place.  At this moment the two families formally bring the bride and groom together, it marks the beginning of the rite of passage into the married state.  This ritual took place within the context of a prayer service led by one of our Eucharistic Ministers.  We were invited to this service and to the meal that followed it.

The Nuptial Mass was celebrated on Sunday afternoon in the chapel of the university where the bride had been a student (and where I had taught her).  The choir was from our basic ecclesial community as were many other guests.  In fact, both the bride and groom are from our basic ecclesial community so it was as if the chapel was filled by members of one huge extended family.  I was moved to tears a number of times: as the bride and groom entered the chapel; as they knelt before their parents to receive their blessing; and as they stood in reverent prayer before the statue of Our Lady.  I was deeply touched by the faith and trust these two young people have – in God and in each other.       

This part of the wedding ended with a wonderful meal in a restaurant in the city.  There is still one more celebration to come in a week’s time: the “Boyongan” which marks the point at which the married couple move from the bride’s home to that of the groom.  This is a particularly moving moment for the bride’s family in particular.  We will gather once more at this very touching moment to offer our prayers and good wishes and to support these young people who are so much a part of our village and of our basic ecclesial community.

As our Chapter Decree says…companionship leads us at times to witness something of our world’s beauty and diversity.  I thank our God for the people of our village and for the members of our basic ecclesial community.

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2 Responses to ““Through this door is our world, inviting us into its beauty and diversity”*”

  1. Catherine fcj Says:

    Thank-you Claire. It was wonderful to hear the “interfaith” betwen the Muslims and the Catholics.
    I too had a touching moment recently which brought years to my eyes. It was at a very crowded Mass. Just before Mass began and man led in a lady who was obviousy quite confused and agitated. They quite close to me. During Mass the ghentleman calmed the lady by placing his hand on hers on her knee. She immediatelty put her other hand on top of his, and calmed down. The hands rested like that for many minutes. At Communion he led her gently out at the end of the queue. When the hymn singing started her face lit up and she started singing but not the correct words!! Tears were in my eayes at the wonderful, gentle care he was giving. At the end of Mas I had to say a word to him-he told me his wife had been sufering from alzeimers for seven years. What a witness of love he was to me.

  2. clarefcj Says:

    Thanks Catherine, I was touched by your sharing too…There are signs of God’s love in so many people, so many places aren’t there? I find for myself that I can get so taken up by the “bad news” I hear through the media that I forget how much good there is in our world. I don’t mean that there aren’t many things that we need to and must challenge…However, I sometimes forget that the “pool of good” is wide and deep…

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