Author Archive

SOME LOVELY MOMENTS THIS CHRISTMAS…

December 31, 2018

There were many heart warming moments this Christmas and many times I paused to give thanks for the sheer goodness of people around the world. Amongst some of my favourites were the story of the policewoman in South Wales who spent her own money to buy gifts for a family of three who didn’t have any. Others heard of her kindness and joined in the giving. I was deeply touched by a group of Muslims in a nearby town who prepared a delicious Christmas lunch for their Christian neighbours and I had tears in my eyes watching a video of a little Muslim girl playing ‘Silent Night’ on a violin in Church on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, I read of people who were busy offering meals  other forms of help for the homeless in many places around the world. These are only a few examples of  many forms of sheer kindness I heard of. No doubt others have many similar examples.  ‘Joy to the World!’ I give thanks for countless acts of kindness…

‘EVERYONE IS SPECIAL’ – A WONDERFUL DAY

December 17, 2018

The other day Sofi and I took part in an amazing celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation in ‘Kota Baru’, Jesuit Church, Yogyakarta. This was a ceremony especially for children, young people and adults with special needs, two hundred and forty eight in all. The Sacraments were administered to each person individually by Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko. It was a beautiful and deeply touching ceremony as well as an extremely joyful one. This was one of those times when I felt so proud of the Church and so sure that it is alive and well! We had the added joy of seeing the youngest child of our good friends make his First Communion.

 

DAYS OF JOY – FIRST PROFESSION IN YANGON

December 10, 2018

CecMar2-525.jpgThe weekend of 7th and 8th of December found the FCJs in Yangon in celebration mode as Cecilia and Maria made their first vows. They are the first two Myanmarese sisters. On the evening of the 7th December the sisters and guests gathered in the community chapel for a prayer of welcome. During this prayer Maria and Cecilia returned the crosses they had worn as novices and Afra, our Area Leader, welcomed them into the FCJ Society as professed members.

The vow ceremony took place in St Augustine’s Church, Yangon. The excitement of the celebration began to build from early morning. There was a buzz of happy conversation in the church as Cecilia and Maria welcomed the guests. Just before 10am the people for the entry procession gathered at the back of the church. It was an impressive group: altar servers; lectors; Maria and her family; Cecilia and her family; Agnes, Barbara and Clare, the FCJ witnesses; Afra, Area Leader, who would receive the vows and Fr Victor Nyan Myint, Parish Priest, the celebrant. Moments before the Mass was due to begin the priest invited the five Jesuit priests who were present to concelebrate. They quickly donned albs and stoles and took their place in the entry procession.

The Mass flowed throughout to a joyful rhythm. It was especially wonderful when Cecilia and Maria made their vows. The FCJs stood and sang the Magnificat, the sound of which resounded throughout the church. A soloist sang beautifully whilst Maria and Cecilia signed the Vows Register. Photos were taken to the rousing tones of Michael Herry’s ‘Light a Fire on the Earth’.  All those present were invited to a delicious lunch in the church hall.

Later that evening the FCJs gathered for the Missioning Ceremony and we blessed our two newest FCJs as they were sent out on mission. During a relaxed meal we enjoyed watching Cecilia and Maria opening cards and gifts and reading greetings sent from FCJs around the world.  It was a day of joy for everyone.

 

ADVENT: WAITING AND PRAYING…

December 4, 2018

Whilst I love Advent and find it a time of such hope and expectation, I am aware that for some of us at this moment it might be hard to hold on to hope in the midst of uncertainty and crises of various kinds. This year I want to pray in a special way for anyone who is finding life hard. Please know you are in my prayer. May there be some consolation for all those who really need to see the light of hope at this time.

NOVEMBER’S BURST OF CONSUMERISM…

November 25, 2018

This month I have been shocked by recent news of spending patterns around the world. On the 11th of November, Singles Day in China, more than 55 billion dollars were spent in ‘on-line’ shopping. It is said that many of the purchases were beauty products, health supplements and fashion items. Towards the end of the month Black Friday and Cyber Monday have also encouraged vast amounts of money to change hands in exchange for a wide range of consumer goods. Given that discounted goods have been on offer for the whole of November the total amount of money spent is almost beyond imagining. Imagine, Christmas is on its way and another spending boom…I think of how many people are hungry, I think of how many limited resources have been used in the production of so many luxury goods, I think of the waste generated…And I somehow want to live more simply, more generously, more carefully. I hope that enough of us will be part of the flow of change, I hope that compassion will turn back the tide of consumerism.

THE FRAGILITY OF LIFE…

November 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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.