Author Archive

GATHERINGS OF PEOPLE

August 21, 2019

In recent weeks different members of our community have attended various gatherings of people. Four of us took part in the womens’ competitions to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day. We had great fun. To our huge surprise we won the cooking competition with our ‘Crispy Lotus Banana’. The ‘Tug of War’ was a different story, we came last, we were pulled across the line like a bag of feathers! On 11th August, a group of us celebrated the Feast of St Clare with our Basic Ecclesial Community. It was a delight to see the children and young people dancing and singing. Different groups of us attended Independence Day celebrations in our villages on 16th and 17th August, respectively. This was a wonderful celebration of interfaith neighbourliness. Our neighbours were delighted that we came to join in the prayer and celebration. On Sunday 18th August, five of us made the journey to East Java for the wedding of one of our former students. It was deeply touching to be present at a traditional village wedding. How lovely to be part of such a joy-filled ceremony.

LIFE IS PRECIOUS AND FRAGILE

July 14, 2019

A few days ago we attended the funeral of a man who died in his early fifties. His death was sudden and totally unexpected given that he showed no signs of illness. Despite the sadness of the occasion there was also a note of celebration as people marked his kindness and generosity. His was a life lived well and lived for others. Some weeks ago we were present at a memorial Mass for a girl who died at thirteen. Her courage and optimism were an example to many. She had managed to touch many people in the course of her short life. How often are we reminded that life is beautiful and precious. We need to live it to the full.

FRIDAY NIGHT GAMES

July 5, 2019

There is nothing nicer on a Friday night than enjoying time together in community. This evening, for example, five of us are playing a game of Rummikub. It is pure fun, simply enjoying time together. Companionship takes many forms and laughing together while playing a game is certainly one of them. Hoping you enjoy some form of frienship/companionship today.

PRAYING WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS FOR IDUL FITRI

June 19, 2019

Last Saturday we joined with the members of our village in a special prayer and celebration in honour of Idul Fitri, the feast day that marked the end of Ramadan. The main road into the village was blocked off. Mats covered the floor turning it into a vast prayer space. The prayer was opened with beautiful singing, this was led by a group of women. A young man then read from the Quran before a preacher gave a sermon. The sermon was mostly in Javanese, however, I understood the main themes contained in it: greet one another; be generous when you give alms; pray well and make peace. The prayer ended with a blessing and we greeted each other before returning home. It was a graced privilege to be invited to take part in this prayer.

CELEBRATING WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS AT IDUL FITRI

June 7, 2019

These days are really special ones in our village as everyone is celebrating Idul Fitri, the feast that marks the end of Ramadan. Over the weekend we delivered over fifty parcels of food to local families. Wednesday marked the first day of Idul Fitri and that was the day on which we visited our neighbours to wish them a happy feast. It was deeply touching to be welcomed so graciously into people’s home. In keeping with the custom here we wished everyone a happy Idul Fitri and apologised for any hurt we may have caused during the year. We then spent time talking and eating together. It was a day to grow in peace and good will. What a lovely way to give praise to God.

A MILLION SPECIES UNDER THREAT OF EXTINCTION

May 11, 2019

It is hard to envision the million species of life forms currently threatened by extinction. However, the reality facing us is, sadly, too real to be ignored. Imagine so much beauty and diversity lost to us and that’s before trying to comprehend the damage done to the delicate web of life that sustains all existence. Even though experts are not able to establish exactly how many species exist it seems there are about nine million in total. I was thinking of this in relation to the Biblical notion of giving a tenth of everything to God. It seems that we humans have reversed that idea by the way we live. We take too much without giving back enough for nature to sustain itself. Let’s hope and pray that this is a warning and a wake up call. Let’s hope we all hear the clear message: “It’s time to change the way we live. It’s time to take less and give more…” There’s still hope. There’s still time. Let’s hear the call to transform ourselves and do all we can to heal our world.

PRAYING FOR SRI LANKA

April 21, 2019

What heartbreaking scenes we see as we watch the shocking news of the bombings in Sri Lanka. We are surely all grieving such terrible loss of life and that so many people are injured. It is hard to make sense of such brutal acts and yet we must hold on to our belief in the innate goodness of people. Already so many people have responded with such generosity, kindness and courage. Love and goodness is ultimately greater than hatred and violence. Wherever we are let us pray for all those affected by the attacks in Sri Lanka and let us work that bit harder to spread more love in our world…

Notre Dame de Paris

April 17, 2019

I am sure that the terrible sight of parts of Notre Dame de Paris engulfed in flames was shocking and heartbreaking to billions of people. I wept as I watched the tragic story unfold. Notre Dame is surely one of the world’s most beautiful and treasued places of prayer. For over eight centuries it has stood out majestically against the Paris skyline, a symbol of God’s constant, gentle presence in our world,  a channel of love and a place of peace, consolation and sanctuary for all. We have only to think of Notre Dame to know that Paris; France; the whole world is placed under Mary’s care and protection. As awful as it was to see so much of the building damaged there is a sense of relief and wonder that it was saved in time thanks to the courage and heroism of the firefighters. Suddenly people of good will from all over the world pledge themselves to the mission of restoration. This disaster has also given birth to a miracle. It has shown that love of beauty and love of the sacred can bring us all together. Notre Dame continues to catch our hearts and attract our love. We all want to see her rise again in renewed beauty and dignity. It is like we are embarking on a pilgrimage carved out step by step in stone and wood. I am grateful that I can witness the restoration. This slow and careful work in the hands of the world’s best craftsmen and women will show how many forms love can take. Notre Dame de Paris…Pray for us.

INSPIRED BY A GROUP OF NOVICES

April 10, 2019

This week Sofi and I are in taking part in a course on the vows. This course is especially for novices. There are forty two novices from ten religious congregations here. We will live together in community for a full week. Everyone has a part to play. All participants take part in giving presentations, performing role plays, leading prayers and in moderating sessions.  Fr Paul Suparno SJ will give input in the second part of the course. As I watch presentations and engage in lively question and answer sessions I find myself greatly inspired by the enthusiasm and earnestness of the novices. It gives me hope to think that they will all be making vows at some point of this year and moving out to be of service to others. Let us pray for them and indeed for all young people setting out in life in the hope of doing good. May the love of God sustain them and may they spread love and goodness far and wide.

 

 

 

SAINTS COME IN MANY FORMS

March 27, 2019

If we are alert to it we become aware that saints are constantly coming into our lives and making a difference to us. Three of those kinds of people died recently. This very day in England it is the funeral and burial of Sr Victoire Finlay FCJ. Victoire was in her nineties. She was one of those larger than life characters who had a heart of gold. In her younger days she was a primary teacher and at one time she was the head of a school in a very poor area. Victoire had a great sense of humour and she had the capacity to make life so much better for others. We will all miss her. Last week some of us went to the funeral of Fr Wiyono, a priest in our diocese. He was also the uncle of one of our sisters. The Mass was celebrated by the bishop and more than fifty priests. The congregation was formed of hundreds of people from all walks of life, a sign of how deeply loved and respected he was. Fr Wiyono really was a man of the people and had served as a priest for more than fifty years. He was an inspiration to all those who met him. Earlier this month Norman Evans was buried in the North East of England. Norman had lived with multiple sclerosis from a young age; however he had never let it diminish his zest for life. A musician, Norman spent much of his life raising funds for charity. Norman collected money by playing the accordion on a street in Redcar. When he was no longer well enough to stay outside he was welcomed into a local supermarket where he continued his playing and fund raising. I got to know Norman in my local parish church. We had some great conversations when I walked beside his motorized wheelchair on the way home from Mass each morning. I remember once wishing him a good day. He replied “Every day is a good day for me.” I was so struck by his answer. I have tried to live by it. Norman was known and loved by thousands of people. He had a tune for everyone. Mine was ‘Amazing Grace’. He played it every time he saw me. Norman was one of life’s genuinely good people. It was a privilege to know him. These three contemporary saints were greatly loved and are greatly missed. I am certain that there are saints all around us and in all of our lives. We just need to stop and look…