Author Archive

Holiday time

August 14, 2017

Much gets written these days about looking after yourself, taking care of your health, living a balanced life… and yet day to day it can be really difficult to find balance. Sometimes we are working to a tight deadline, other times we are caring for someone who is sick, often there are external things which militate against balance.

I have come to realise that balance every day is impossible! In fact trying to achieve it can also be a source of stress and guilt when we cant reach our own demanding goals.

This is where holiday comes in! I think there is something very restorative about the ability to ‘switch off’. It doesnt really matter where you go, or even who with, as long as you get an opportunity to put aside the daily routine for a bit, lay down some of the responsibilities, and be yourself.

I am really looking forward to my holiday!

holiday

The gift of living from a suitcase

August 8, 2017

I spend a lot of my time travelling, and over the last few years I have had what I now consider to be a real gift of living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time.

suitcase

With practice my suitcase has got lighter each time I pack, as I hone what I need to the real essentials. No more lugging heavy suitcases around!

The gift in all of this (apart from saving my back from strain!) is that I have realised how little we can happily live with. It is always lovely to come home and have some added extras, but there is something very freeing about living with less!

Retreat

August 2, 2017

One of the great privileges of religious life is that we have an annual retreat built in to our way of life. This is a time to get away from it all and to focus on what is important – to take stock and to once again deepen our relationship with God.

Often our retreats are individually guided – where  you spend the 6 – 8 days in silence just simply praying and reflecting and with an opportunity to meet with a spiritual guide each day. This year however, in our Province, we are having an opportunity for a group retreat. It is 200 years ago since the start of the profound spiritual experiences of our foundress which eventually led to her founding our FCJ Society, and the retreat will be an opportunity to reflect on her spiritual journey and our own. There will be time for some input, sharing and silent prayer, leading us to a deeper appreciation of this wonderful story of Marie Madeleine, d’Houet, and a re-membering of our connection with her.

I have included some photos from the area where the retreat is taking place. If you haven’t already ever had an opportunity for a week of retreat you should think about it!

What a blessing!

Grumbling

July 25, 2017

complainingA short while ago Pope Francis was in the news again because of a note on his office door about complainers. Today in the readings we hear Moses contending with the Israelite’s as they grumble that Moses has brought them out from Egypt to die in the wilderness. Their fear allows them to loose sight of all that is good, of their freedom, of the hope and possibility they have, and to instead grumble against the one who has helped them.

Grumbling can be a bit of a pastime – complaining and moaning about how bad our situation is can seem easier than finding the good in the situation or actively working to change it. And so we all engage in a bit of grumbling from time to time. The problem with grumbling is that it leads us nowhere, and (as could have easily been the case with the Israelite’s had God not stepped in and intervened!) it may even enable the negative aspects of the situation to overtake and overwhelm us.

How often do you find yourself grumbling about a situation instead of seeking positive ways to bring change?

How do you feel when you are with someone who complains frequently?

Maybe we could all try to be a little less grumbly (if that is even a word!) and take the lovely advice from today’s scripture reading:

“Fear not, stand your ground…. the Lord himself will fight for you, you have only to keep still”  (Ex 14)

 

Beyond Distraction

July 23, 2017

Sometimes the popular story is in fact a distraction from the far deeper truth.

In these days of fake news and false truth we are slowly learning the need to go beyond the external story or image to search for the depth and truth of the situation.

st-mary-magdalene-icon-728

Yesterday, the Feast of Mary Magdalene, the homily at Mass gave us the opportunity to reflect on how surface stories can often hide the important truth: in the case of Mary Magdalene, many of us grew up believing that her dedication to Jesus was because of her sinful past; that she was so overwhelmed by the love and mercy of Jesus that she followed him in loving service. A bad life turned good. In naming Mary Magdalene as Apostle to the Apostles, and acknowledging the 22nd July as a feast rather than a memorial, the Church recognises that there is far more to the story. In fact, that much of  what we ‘knew’ about Mary Magdalene has no scriptural basis at all! What is certainly significant is that Mary was first witness to the resurrection.

In the last month I have had the opportunity to do some study in Chicago. The study is interesting and I am enjoying the reading, but one of the greatest benefits is the opportunity to move beyond the distraction of everyday life, to have time that is completely dedicated to reading, reflection and just being.

It could be someone I know

April 17, 2017

Yesterday I met a young man begging on the London tube. Not very remarkable really – there are often young men begging I guess. The difference was that yesterday I happened to have a small amount of money that someone had given to me ‘for someone in need’. I said to the man that I would give it to him when we got off the train, and so I had an opportunity to have a bit of a conversation with him.

A young man, on the streets for the last 12 weeks after having been made redundant. Clearly suffering, clearly losing weight. He wasn’t so different to my brothers (younger I guess). Caught in a vicious circle – he needs to beg to get money for the immediate (food and overnight accommodation) so how can he plan or save to get ID, security, apply for a job?

This encounter left me deeply disturbed – what happened to his friends? family? Do they even know where or how he is? What is the back story to this that I don’t know? Most of all I am disturbed because this young man is clearly not so different from many people I know. Anyone of them could be in his position.

How can I stand alongside him and be a channel of hope?

“As women of the Church, standing at the foot of contemporary crosses, we are channels of hope, love and mercy in our villages towns and cities.”

FCJ GC2013

Earth Hour

March 27, 2017

FCJ Earth HourFCJ Sisters from around the world joined in with EARTH HOUR, the global action of solidarity. Here are some messages from sisters in different parts of the world. They are simple messages shared between friends who delighted in the unity of this global gesture:

We had a lovely hour of prayer, song and sharing by candlelight

No need to turn off lights in this land as most people don’t have electricity so I just sat and prayed the rosary.

We’ve also just finished a happy candlelight hour together of sharing, praying and some refreshments! It’s good to have a sense of so many of us joined together in this gesture!

We had just finished our evening  snack and simply lit candles and stayed at the table chatting and enjoying each other’s company. A lovely hour flew past!

Dear Friends, we shared this year’s Earth Hour by candle light in our little chapel. We were conscious of being in solidarity with all our FCJ sisters and with all those who have the ‘care of our common home’ at heart.

We had a lovely hour with a prayer  – it was a lovely moment of reflection and thanks-giving which ended up with a little celebration. A most enjoyable evening.

… there was a deep sense of union and peace between the group gathered in chapel, in candlelight, a few sisters in their own rooms enjoying the peace of the evening and the light gradually fading, and the whole Society. Thanks to all.

Dear Companions, we had a lovely Holy Hour with Exposition with candle light… several people from the village joined us. Some of our elderly people in the Home told us, that they joined us in our prayer with our Holy Hour which can be transmitted over the television in their rooms. We were very united with all our sisters and all people in the world.

We joined in and prayed in candlelight during that hour at our Retreat for young people.

If you would like to see more about Earth Hour:

take a look at the video clips on Facebook.

BBC Coverage

Video Message for ”Earth Hour” by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres

 

Earth Hour infographic.jpg

 

To incarnate contemplative presence

March 22, 2017

As part of my ministry I work as a chaplain to a university. It’s a ministry that has taught me a lot about the importance of contemplative presence and fidelity.

Taking on the chaplaincy in a secular institution has its challenges – there was little faith based activity and no ‘ready made’ chaplaincy community – instead we have had to build it from scratch. Week by week we have turned up, been present, offered opportunities – lunch, prayer, gardening, Mass, charity work and volunteering etc -and slowly a community has formed around us.

It’s a community of students who appreciate the space, who enjoy the calm atmosphere and friendly welcome, who want to be listened to without feeling they must be saying something of life-changing importance, students and staff who need to be able to explore the spiritual side of life without judgement.

This has all been as a result of our simply being faithful and present, witnessing quietly and consistently to our own deep faith and to gospel values.

 

Rice and Beans

March 14, 2017

lent

This year I am trying the TearFund Mean Bean Challenge.

It is a simple idea – eat only rice and beans for a week. As much rice and beans as you want. But ONLY rice and beans (oh and porridge for breakfast!) In our community we had decided to do a rice and bean night once per week, but having tried that for two weeks and read some reflections from others who took up the challenge we have decided to give it a go!

Of course for much of the world it would not seem unusual – many people live every day with an impoverished diet – but for us, surrounded by variety and choice, unused to hunger, it will be difficult!

I will write some updates as I go along, so watch this space!

We are planning to make it a time to:

FAST – obviously, although it’s more about abstaining really

PREPARE – we will be reflecting on the experience, how it affects us and hopefully growing in gratitude for all that we have.

PRAY – for generosity and compassion towards those who live with less

GIVE – the money we save will go to charity

 

 

Companionship renews us

March 13, 2017

One of our Companions in Mission groups in the UK met together yesterday for a day of walking. It is a group who live in different parts of the UK and so we met in the middle of the country and found a nice route for a walk and a picnic. It was a time to laugh together, to relax, to enjoy nature and to talk about the things that matter to us. We aren’t a group that is able to meet frequently due to distance, ministry and other commitments, but when we do meet we give quality time and presence to each other.

I always come away from our meeting feeling renewed, challenged and inspired!