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Audrey’s vows – in her own words…

December 10, 2017

Dear family & friends,

Today I celebrated my First Profession as a religious sister in the order of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. It is a surreal but joyful milestone for me. Here, I wish to explain a little about what this means for me, especially to those who are not familiar with Catholic religious life.

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When I look back on my journey, the words “Surprising Grace” come to mind. “Surprising” because life always brings the unexpected: it never occurred to me to become a nun until one December day four years ago when the idea suddenly popped into my head and I dismissed it at once as completely ridiculous. And yet here I am four years later! These years have been challenge-full but also full of unexpected blessings, among which were getting to live in colourful Manila with its jeepneys and contradictions, in beautiful Ende (Indonesia) with its stunning mountains and beaches, and in Yogyakarta (Indonesia) with its distinctive culture and blend of religions. And, in each place, discovering – in different guises – the same indomitable human spirit that gives glory to God its Creator.

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These external travels have also led me to undertake another – inner – journey, in which I discovered that – far from coming like a bolt out of the blue, as I thought – God’s voice has been calling me, softly but insistently, to this point all my life. And it is in response to this gentle invitation that I wish to offer my self-gift today.

But what are these vows that I will make? “Poverty”, “chastity” and “obedience” probably sound like outdated medieval practices to most people… as does the entire idea of religious life! In fact, religious life has always been evolving. Certain women and men of all religions have been called in different ways to the monastic enterprise – making of their lives an exclusive search for God – since the dawn of humanity’s search for the divine. In the Catholic tradition, this eventually took the shape of the three vows, which have been lived out in different ways over the centuries. In recent times, scientific discovery and theological advancements have offered us new perspectives on the vows. They can be seen as ways in which we try to live intentionally and with integrity out of a greater awareness of our place in the community of life in an ever-evolving universe. A community of life in which each of us finds our origins in the same stardust and the same desires of a loving Creator.

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For me, then, part of what “poverty” means is recognising my dependence on all that supports my life: plants, animals, the human community and all living systems. All of this is offered freely to me as gift, and I hold it lightly knowing that I can count nothing really as my “own”. In return I try to live simply and sustainably so that others can too.

“Chastity”, or “consecrated celibacy” as it is perhaps more accurately known today, is a phenomenon found across religions in which some people dedicate their lives to God, to the exclusion of any other primary commitment. In Christian terms we might say it is done out of love for Christ. But it doesn’t “exclude” loving. God is loved tangibly in others, and this way of life seeks to free us to “seek to be in transformative relationship with everyone and everything” (FCJ General Chapter Directions, 2013).13

As for “obedience”… anyone who knows me knows that I have an allergy to the term! But happily the days of blind obedience are now in the past. Our new cosmic perspective shows us that, in the community of life, we are all interdependent. It recognises both our need to respect each other’s independence and to collaborate. Obedience then becomes a deep listening to others and to the movements of God’s Spirit, so that we can each discover and help each other to live our unique roles in God’s plan… to more intentionally play our unique melodies in God’s cosmic symphony.

Making vows today isn’t some instant fix that will make me any holier – as my housemates will no doubt find out in short order, to their annoyance (if they haven’t already)! Rather, I should like to see it as “a commitment to the journey, to the process, as a trust-filled movement into possibilities” (Barbara Fiand, Refocusing the Vision), with the expectant hope that God will complete, in time, what God started. And so I would be glad of your continued prayers.IMG_6525

A big thank you again for all your prayer and support, both today and through the years. Each one of you has been a significant part of my life, and for that I cannot be grateful enough. I continue to hold you all in my heart, and wish you all the best in your own journeys.

With love and in companionship,

Audrey

Audrey’s First Vows

December 9, 2017

Audrey will make her first vows today. The Mass will take place in a small chapel in Manila. I will keep you all in my heart and prayer on this happy day. We give thanks at Audrey’s gift of her life to God.

LOOK BEYOND OURSELVES THIS ADVENT…

December 4, 2017

I went to church on Saturday evening in the hopes of a new beginning for Advent. As I tried to catch my breath at the insane pace of life I must admit I was hardly thinking of God. Suddenly I was drawn into alertness by a couple sitting in front of me. A woman with a most beautiful smile was gently trying to persuade the man with her to stay in the bench. The man was differently – aided in some way. Perhaps he had had a stroke. He walked haltingly and struggled to speak. He made it clear he did not want to be in church that evening. After giving me a smile the woman followed the man to the front of the church and helped him to walk back towards the door and out of the building. I was deeply touched by the woman’s gentle and tender manner. How much others have to deal with in the name of love and how little I sometimes notice . It was only the vigil Mass of the first day of Advent and already I had had an ‘epiphany’.  It seems that God is nudging me to look beyond myself. Hopefully we can all look ‘beyond’ and see those around us who have so much to deal with in life.

WORLD DAY OF THE POOR…

November 19, 2017

It is heartening that Pope Francis has called us to greater responsibility for the issue of world poverty and it is much needed.  In trying to work out my response to this urgent call to a more just world I have been influenced in recent years by the philosophy of the Pacamama Alliance.  We are invited to think about the following question: “What role you can play in bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet?”  In addition to taking action to work alongside those pushed into poverty by unjust systems I also need to ask myself what more I can do…It’s a question I need to ask myself and go on asking…

PRAYING FOR SUTHERLAND SPRINGS

November 6, 2017

I had some ideas on what to write on this blog – until I heard about the deaths in Southerland Springs yesterday – and suddenly there were no words. In a tragic shooting in the middle of a church service twenty six people died, their ages ranging from five to seventy two, and twenty others have been injured. Let’s stand together in prayer.  Let’s be peace-makers, peace-prayers…Praying for the people of Sutherland Springs, praying for peace, justice and understanding everywhere…

TAIZE PRAYER – A TOUCH OF HEAVEN!

November 1, 2017

We had our monthly Taize prayer in Baciro community this evening and it was simply beautiful. We are fortunate to have the help of some highly gifted musicians and the way they played and led us in song tonight was deeply prayerful. How blessed we are to be able to come together and pray as FCJs and friends. The prayer this evening was truly a taste of heaven. I brought you with us in my heart…

THE BAD AND GOOD ALIKE!

October 17, 2017

It never ceases to amaze me how some phrases from scripture are just so right for me! One such phrase is from last Sunday’s Gospel, the parable of the wedding feast, from Luke 22:1-14. My current favourite phrase is taken from the words of the host to his servants. He tells them to go out and search high and low and bring in to the feast all the people they can find “bad and good alike”. There it is! That “bad and good alike’ just thrills me because it means for sure that there is a place for me in the Reign of God – and indeed for all of us who wish to be included. I have shared that phrase and how I understand it four times already and it’s only Tuesday! Oh the wonder, the power, the joy of God’s love so tellingly captured in that one simple phrase.

TOUCHED BY GRACE…

September 30, 2017

Twice this week I have been deeply enriched by the sharing of others. Last Sunday we had our Monthly meeting for our Companions in Mission. In recent weeks we have been making a kind of ‘retreat in daily life’ using a booklet on the early experiences of Marie Madeleine “Remembering the Foundation Experience.” We began the meeting in small groups where we shared our experience in prayer during the past month. The sharing in my group moved me to tears – it was so beautiful. On Thursday I attended a group that meets each week to share on Scripture.  Yet again I was deeply touched by the depth of sharing. I am so grateful to have such groups in my life. I know for certain this week that I have been touched by grace…

INTERFAITH LIVING – THE VILLAGE WAY

September 6, 2017

We have had a lot of good experiences here in our village recently. About three weeks ago five of our community took part in a cooking competition to celebrate Indonesian Independence Day: Audrey, Cecilia, Inez, Maria and Sofi. They had to make something interesting with potatoes. They didn’t win but the fact that they took part delighted our neighbours. Shortly afterwards three of us joined with more than four hundred of the villagers as we took part in a walk that lasted about an hour: ‘Jalan Sehat.’ We donated some of the prizes for the party that followed the walk. Last Friday our neighbours celebrated Idul Adha one of the most important Muslim feasts. Like every other family that lives here we received a gift of meat. Being good neighbours, this is the best way we know to promote peace and understanding.

STANDING ON THE SIDE OF LOVE

August 20, 2017

It is tempting to despair as we repeatedly hear tragic news of wanton terrorist attacks in all parts of the world, as we hear stunning reports of children, young people and adults brutally mown down. Suddenly it is as if all we can see is evil and we are helpless in its face. Yet there is so much more to us and so much more to the vast, vast majority of human beings. Every day billions of people set out to do the best they can with the day that is given to them. At any given moment there are millions of people using their talents and intelligence for positive purposes and to do good to or for others. Most people, like us, are trying to live quietly good lives. There are people helping others, serving, saving lives, educating, cleaning and greening, filling our world with music, dance and drama and yet others performing the myriad vital tasks that taken together enable our Global Societies to run. There is so much essential goodness in children being children, in parents parenting, in families being families, in friends being friends, in being ‘down to earth’ nice people. Who is to say how much good comes from a smile, an opened door, a kind word, a thoughtful glance, a small act of generosity, a prayer? Perhaps it is that the love and goodness that surrounds us is so instinctive and natural to us that we almost take it for granted; it is so vast and bright that we are almost blind to it. We cannot help but weep and lament in the face of cruelty and violence and at the same time let us draw together and draw strength from one another other. Let us look around us – we are standing on the side of love.