Archive for the ‘Apostolic Religious Women’ Category


November 21, 2015

And as he drew near, when he saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If [only] you also had known on this day the things that lead to peace; but now it’s hidden from your eyes.’ Luke 19:41-42 (The New Testament, Nicholas King)

The first two verses of a recent Gospel reading are a powerful reminder to me of the vital need to seek those things that lead to peace.  Those words couldn’t be more relevant in the light of recent news of horrendous acts of violence in several parts of our world.  It is more important than ever to find ways of promoting peace and justice wherever it is lacking – including in my own heart.  Recently, the concluding prayer for my morning prayer  included these words: ‘Help us to look lovingly upon all people and events that come into our lives today.’ (People’s Companion to the Breviary, Vol II, p 31)

Perhaps, if we can look lovingly on everything that is happening these days, including terrible act of violence, we might begin to understand why they are happening and we might also begin to glimpse solutions that bring the peace we all long for.

FCJ Pilgrimage – Issoudun

July 29, 2015
The Hospice of St Roch

The Hospice of St Roch

Marie Madeleine lived in Issoudun as a teenager and among the stories that we are familiar with from this period of her life is one about how she used to visit the sick in the hospice of St Roch. Visiting there you see an image of the women at the foot of the cross carved into the wall outside, and inside is a striking statue of Mary Magdalene clinging to the foot of the cross. Seeing these images I couldn’t but be led to consider the impact they would have had on Marie Madeleine’s spirituality and understanding of herself.

Mary Magdalen

Mary Magdalen

‘The cross will be our rallying point’

‘My name is Magdalene. I will follow my patron saint who so loved Jesus, … as to accompany him in his journeys and labours, ministering to him even to the foot of the cross with the other holy women who did not like the apostles, abandon him, but proved to be his faithful companions…’

Equally as striking is the large modern statue of Mary at the foot of the cross which is in the sanctuary and frames the altar at the Church of the Sacred Heart in the MSC centre where we stayed.

This image shows Mary holding one hand up towards the pierced side of her Son, whilst her other hand faces outwards. Mary is depicted as a strong and still, she doesn’t shy away from the suffering. Instead she appears to be receiving from Jesus, and giving. To me it is as though His life is flowing out through her to others.

Perhaps this is a helpful image for each of us as disciples… that of placing ourselves in such a way that Christs life can flow out though us to the world. 


Laudato Si – Addressing the throw-away culture

June 24, 2015

pc-dumpIn the next few weeks I invite us to have a look as some parts of Laudato Si to consider areas of personal conversion that each one of us is called to. Pope Francis reminds us that awareness enables us to discover what can be done.

Following a period of irrational confidence in progress and human abilities, some sectors of society are now adopting a more critical approach. We see increasing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. LS19

Pope Francis invites us to reflect on our current situation so as to allow the suffering of the world to become our own suffering.

One area that is addressed in the encyclical Laudato Si, is that of our throw-away society.

We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard. LS22

Change is certainly needed on a macro level, with industry and governments playing a key role. However we are reminded that the individual cannot abdicate responsibility and there are small lifestyle choices that each of us can make.

Perhaps as a practical step each one of us might consider the waste produced in our households each week. Are there choices that we can make with regard to food, clothing, transport etc that might reduce our personal consumption of the earths resources? Here’s are just a few simple questions that might provoke reflection:

  • Do we buy food with a lot of packaging?
  • Do we repair or dispose of damaged goods?
  • Do we compost or send to landfill?
  • Is all recyclable waste separated in our house?
  • Are we overly influenced by fashions – clothing, technology, etc?

The video addresses the question of manufacturing in a way that has less environmental impact.

Life as a Novice – FCJ Formation

September 29, 2014
Novitiate is a fairly intense time of formation. It comes after postulancy and is a formal step into the Society. During novitiate we live in community and are accompanied by a named sister (novice director). We do study of the FCJ Constitutions, learn more about our spirituality, have an opportunity to deepen our prayer life and live reflectively. We also do apostolic work in situations which are different to our normal ministry or job. As an Ignatian congregation we also do the Spiritual Exercises – a 30 day silent retreat. Here are some reflections from Rowena, one of our current novices. Rowena is from the Philippines but is doing her novitiate in Indonesia. rowena
Novitiate is a great invitation and it is the most challenging phase of the journey of my life so far.  For me it is a precious time in which I am so much closer to God.  It’s a school of new beginnings made up of many elements: welcoming; learning; growing; exercising; living; deepening and letting go.
I am learning so many things during this special time: how to grow the love of Jesus in my heart; how to live with Jesus as the centre of my life; how to know myself better; how to stretch myself more in love for others; how to be a woman at the foot of the cross and go beyond it; how to be a contemplative in action, particularly in my daily living.
I have valued and enjoyed my apostolic ministries: visiting and accompanying the sick; teaching children and working with youth.  I have been inspired and helped by all those I have worked with and for.
Lots of questions come into my mind to ponder???  How to give myself fully to Jesus? How to love him faithfully, to follow him tenderly and serve him lovingly?  It is not always easy but bit by bit and through prayer I am aware of how to respond and I go on learning day by day.  Throughout this pilgrimage of my life Jesus is indeed my faithful companion. It is his everlasting love that strengthens my faith, hope and love.
I have been helped by the unconditional love and endless support of our novice director throughout this journey.  She has helped me and directed me as I have been moulded and shaped through God’s love.  I am grateful too to the many companions who have loved and supported me in so many ways.  God’s grace is always there for me.  Thanks be to God for love always in all things.  United in mind, heart and prayer with all those who read this.  God bless each one of you.

How do you become a nun? An insight into FCJ Formation

September 6, 2014

I work in a non-church based environment and often when people realise I am a nun they are quite fascinated. One of their first questions is “How do you become a nun?”
Over the next couple of weeks we are going to look at some different aspects of FCJ Formation – how people go about making the decision to become a ‘nun’, what the steps are in joining a community, and what sort of training or formation they go through both before and after their final vows.

First of all you might want to have a bit of an overview. You will notice this is NOT a quick process – it takes a long time!

Initial discernment – usually when a woman begins to consider religious life she is accompanied by an FCJ Sister for a period of about a year. 

Postulancy  – this often involves living with the community for between 6 months and 2 years

Novitiate – a two year period of study, prayer and reflection spent in community 

First Profession – First vows are made for a period of three years.

Renewal of Vows – for between three and six years.

Final Profession – Final vows are made for life – usually somewhere between nine and twelve years after the person first moved into community.

Tertianship – About ten years after final vows, with significant experience of living a vowed life, sisters are invited to another year of formation!

The big decisions in life

June 28, 2014

pathIgnatian discernment is about a way of living that is attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Living out of an Ignatian spirituality invites us to reflection each day on the signs and glimpses of Gods action.
But discernment is also about the big decisions of our lives, and whilst we may in theory accept this, in my experience of working with young adults, it can be extremely difficult to entrust these big life changing decisions to scrutiny from our spiritual selves. We are happier trusting rational thought… and yet our lives are far from purely rational!

So how might we bring these two aspects of our lives together in order to be open to hear where God may be calling us?

There are many good resources available on this subject so I don’t intend saying anything lengthy, but I offer just a few points that may be of use;

Consider ‘do I honestly want to do what God desires for me, or have I a long list of preconditions?’
Now consider that again. Notice where my inclination lies. Acknowledge it. Ask God for light and grace to become more free.

Think about the external pressures there are on me. (the opinions of others, career pressure, expectations of self etc). Speak with God about these. Which ones are revealing truth and goodness to me? Which are false prophets?

Talk with someone outside the situation. Share with them what your heart, as well as your head, is saying.

Choose. Don’t miss your life by waiting for certainty.

Look for confirmation. Maybe a feeling of peace, or an opening of opportunity that comes when the decision is made…

Don’t be afraid to be wrong! You are held in God’s love no matter what.

Monopoly and a lesson about Social Justice

May 30, 2014

monopoly-board-webLast weekend I spent a good length of time playing Monopoly. My luck was poor from the start and each time I threw the dice I either only moved a couple of spaces or landed on a ‘CHANCE’ or ‘COMMUNITY CHEST’ in which I had to pay a fine. Before I had completed a full circuit I was sent to ‘Jail’ and watched whilst my friends continued to hop around the board successfully buying up all the go to jailproperty and leaving nothing available to me when I finally got out of ‘Jail’.

The next round was no better – now I had little money and kept landing on their property incurring a fine. The only complete property I could afford was Old Kent Road and Whitechapel – which brought in the grand sum of £4 should someone happen to fall on it (having just passed Go and collected £200!). Apart from that I owned single properties which only enabled a minimum rent and no buying power.

chance Nevertheless it took a long time to completely bankrupt me – the other players gave me high interest loans or eventually bought up my assets for ridiculous prices, claiming that they were ‘doing me a favour’.

When the game was finally over we played a rematch, but this time brought some equality into the board – the properties were shared out and those with the more lucrative streets didn’t place hotels so that the fines were more equal. The game went on for ages with all of us happily claiming rent, and paying fnes without difficulty. It was only when we re-introduced inequality, with a few additional hotels, that clear winners and losers emerged, along with a sense of ‘that’s not fair’.

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium has much to say on this matter… here is an extract, but  you can access the full text by clicking the link.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

How can I make sense of this piece of scripture?

March 7, 2014

(All comments and insights gratefully received)

One of my favourite passages of scripture is the first reading of today’s liturgy: Isaiah 58:1-9

feeding-people“Shout for all you are worth, do not hold back, raise your voice like a trumpet. To my people proclaim their rebellious acts, to the House of Jacob, their sins.They seek for me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that has acted uprightly and not forsaken the law of its God. They ask me for laws that are upright, they long to be near God:’Why have we fasted, if you do not see, why mortify ourselves if you never notice?’ Look, you seek your own pleasure on your fastdays and you exploit all your workmen;look, the only purpose of your fasting is to quarrel and squabble and strike viciously with your fist. Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high.Is that the sort of fast that pleases me, a day when a person inflicts pain on himself? Hanging your head like a reed, spreading out sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to Yahweh?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me: to break unjust fetters, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break all yokes?.Is it not sharing your food with the hungry, and sheltering the homeless poor; if you see someone lacking clothes, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own kin?.Then your light will blaze out like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. Saving justice will go ahead of you and Yahweh’s glory come behind you.Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he will say, ‘I am here.'”

My ministry is vocations accompaniment and university chaplaincy (as well as basement digging as previously explained!). I find myself wondering how I am actually involved in ‘breaking unjust fetters’ or ‘sharing my bread’, ‘sheltering the homeless poor’. There is a big part of me that feels pulled in this – I would love to be in a more ‘hands on’ ministry and yet I also believe that where I am missioned is where I am called to be at this point in time. So how do I make sense of it all? How best to live with the tension between the desire to somehow be MORE involved and the demands of my current ministry?

Reflections on the Camino…

September 15, 2013

P1020395One thing that the Camino taught me was that I need very little, and with less my life becomes more simple and more filled with gratitude.

Walking with only 5kgs in our backpacks our group learned the value of both generous giving and humble receiving – we had to share what we had in order to help each other move along the journey. And we often met little acts of kindness and generosity from others as we traveled along too.

It leaves me with this question: Now that I am home, how can I live these values more fully in my everyday life?

Finding meaning – our Camino journey

August 25, 2013


Having just completed our Camino journey and arrived in Santiago there is a sense of achievement and joy in the group. The pains and aches have not necessarily gone, but the feeling of arrival puts them into perspective.
It seems true too that memories of struggle along the journey have been replaced by gratitude for the support received, the friendships developed and the companionship experienced.
Has the journey ended, no! It is only now that we can begin to really live the learnings from our journey.