Yesterday we arrived in Girisonta a Jesuit Retreat House in Central Java. Lina and Audrey (our novices) are about to make their Thirty Day Retreat. I will direct them and Agnes Dini is here to support the whole process in any way she can. The actual retreat will begin tomorrow evening. Please keep Audrey and Lina especially in your prayer at this special time for them. May the Holy Spirit be with them and us throughout this time. We will be praying for all of you…
Archive for the ‘FCJ Formation’ Category
We had a lovely celebration of St Stanislaus’ feast today. You might like to use the prayer that we had this evening. Please know that we prayed for all of you!
FEAST OF ST STANISLAUS
Opening Hymn: God Has Chosen Me, Bernadette Farrell (As One Voice 1)
1. God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to bring good news to the poor.
God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to bring new sight to those searching for light:
God has chosen me, chosen me:
Refrain: And to tell the world that God’s kingdom is near,
to remove oppression and break down fear,
yes, God’s time is near, God’s time is near,
God’s time is near, God’s time is near.
2. God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to set alight a new fire.
God has chosen me, God has chosen me
to bring to birth a new kingdom on earth:
God has chosen me, chosen me:
3. God is calling me, God is calling me
in all whose cry is unheard.
God is calling me, God is calling me
to raise up the voice with no power or choice:
God is calling me, calling me:
God who calls us into being, we praise and thank you for calling our sisters………..to follow Jesus more closely in our little Society of Faithful Companions of Jesus. May they be strengthened in their vocation through the prayers of St Stanislaus whose heart was on fire with love for Jesus and Mary. May the example and prayers of their FCJ sisters throughout the world inspire and support them. We make our prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Reading: Luke 14: 25 – 27
Many crowds were journeying with him, and he turned and said to them, “If someone comes to me and fails to hate their father and their mother and their wife and their children and their brothers and their sisters – yes, and even their own life – they cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry their own cross and come after me can’t be my disciple.”
(Text taken from The New Testament by Nicholas King)
Prayer Response in Song: The Grail Prayer (Margaret Rizza, Fire of Love)
Lord Jesus, I give you my hands to do your work;
I give you my feet to go your way;
I give you my eyes to see as you do;
I give you my tongue to speak your words;
I give you my mind, Lord, that you may think in me;
I give you my spirit that you may pray in me,
that you may pray in me.
Above all, Lord, I give you my heart,
that you may love in me your Father and all humankind;
I give you my whole self that you may grow in me,
So that it is you, Lord Jesus,
who live and work and pray in me;
I give you my whole self,
that you may live and work and pray in me.
Lord Jesus, I give you my spirit
that you may pray in me,
I give you my heart, Lord,
that you may love in me,
that you may love in me,
pray in me, love in me,
pray in me, love in me.
An extract from the St Stanislaus Letter (Sr Claire Sykes FCJ, General Superior)
That simple phrase ‘became more virtuous’ is rather misleading. It makes it sound as though ‘becoming more virtuous’ happens at the press of a button, but we know it is not like that. Being virtuous means developing the capacity to make the choice that will bring goodness into a context. When this choice for goodness becomes a graced habit it is virtue. Stanislaus consistently chose to bring goodness into his relationship with his brother and this must have taken tremendous self-control. We are told that this young man was able to control aggressive responses to his brother and in the face of extreme hostility to retain a harmony within himself. Stanislaus was surely modelling the virtue of ‘douceur’ or gentleness.
Prayers of Intercession based on the St Stanislaus Letter
Response: O Lord in you we trust, O Christ in you we pray
Prayer for Claire
Our Lady’s Blessing
God of compassion and humility, we thank you that Jesus came to draw us all into the Reign of God and we thank you that you have called us to be his Faithful Companions. We especially ask you to bless………..and all those in early stages of formation. May they be inspired by the example of St Stanislaus to give themselves totally to you every day of their lives. May we all continue to run joyfully in the path of Christ. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord and in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Closing Hymn: Dancing with God (Briege O’Hare, Woman’s Song of God
I cannot dance, O Lord, unless you lead me
And if you want me to leap for joy,
Then you must be the first to dance and to sing
And I will follow you; in their echo I will ring.
Then, only then,
Then, only then,
Then, only then, will I leap for joy!
I cannot sing, O Lord, unless you lead me
And if you want me to sing for joy,
Then you must be the first to sing out your song
And I will follow you and sing right along.
Then, only then,
Then, only then,
Then, only then, will I sing for joy!
Lead me Lord in your joyful dancing.
I will follow in your dance of life.
Then all my living will be true to you,
My loving God.
(Repeat Verse 1)
Leap for joy!
Will I leap for joy!
This time of novitiate formation is going so quickly. To my surprise I’m already in the second year of my novitiate! So far I have experienced and learned many things as a novice. Some of the things I have learned are as follows: I have learned about transition which helped me to adapt to my new situation; day by day I am learning to know and to love Jesus through prayer and through the people surrounding me; I am also learning to know and to accept myself. I have received a great deal of input from so many sources. I am increasingly aware that the more I learn, the more I feel I knew nothing before!
In fact as a woman who was used to determining my own life, I have repeatedly found that our life can be very challenging. Yet I am grateful because the sisters always support and encourage me. Slowly but surely I can deal with the situation. I believe things happen as God lends His hand to me
Every day I have something to do. I feel that the days pass like an arrow. I make an effort to balance my activities with prayer. I always start and close my days with God. Even though I am not always in an ideal situation I am trying to serve God faithfully. As a result, I have a sense of knowing how God always goes along with me and of how God loves me.
REFLECTIONS ON NOVITIATE BY ROWENA JAMBARO NOV FCJNovitiate 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.
Taking the first step of articulating an interest in religious life can be exciting, challenging, bewildering … we may feel we are not ‘up to the task’ or that people will think we are crazy. Perhaps it is a long held dream and we know people will support us. Whatever our initial feeling, taking that first step is a pretty significant time!
Another thing that can be difficult is to know where to look – there are literally hundreds of different communities and so it can seem overwhelming, and yet in my experience taking the first step is what is important – God seems to be already there helping you to discern what is right as soon as you make a step.
Audrey is an FCJ postulant from Singapore, she currently lives in Manila . She writes about taking that first step in finding which congregation she felt called to:
There is a joke that goes, “What are 3 things that the Pope doesn’t know? First, how much money the Franciscans have; second, what the Jesuits will do next; and third, how many women’s congregations there are in the world.”
When I first starting thinking about religious life, the sheer number of possibilities was bewildering. If I were a man, I thought, it would be so much easier – I would go to the Jesuits! But looking around on the internet, I discovered that there were also women’s congregations practising Ignatian spirituality. The FCJs were the first to reply my email enquiry, and invited me to visit them in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. After three days with them, I knew I had found what I was looking for. The sisters completely upended my stereotype of nuns – they were smart and talented and loving and funny, and they rode motorbikes!
Over the next year, I kept in touch by email, discerned further with a spiritual director, visited Yogya for another week, and then applied for postulancy. Now I am in Manila, learning to love a culture completely different from my own! God surely delights in surprises.
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!
Ignatian 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;
1) FREEDOM, TRUTH, GRACE
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.
By 10.55am we were lined up in the entrance procession and enjoying the choir as they sang a few hymns to set the atmosphere. To our relief nearly all of our guests were in their seats. Our main room was looking nicely filled with a few empty seats wisely placed for latecomers. Tyas’ family and friends were seated in the front left rows and FCJs to the right with FCJ Companions in Mission, friends and colleagues taking up most of the other available seating. As the choir sang out the first words of the Entrance Hymn we began to process in and we were drawn into the ceremony moment by beautiful moment. Tyas looked lovely. She was so composed and sure of herself. As Tyas pronounced her vows her voice resounded loud and clear. There was a glow of joy about her – which is still with her! The ceremony was followed by a delicious lunch. The food was just right, it tasted good and there was plenty of it without it being too luxurious. At 6pm the FCJs gathered together for Tyas’ missioning. We had a simple meal together as we shared our memories of the day. It was lovely to be FCJs together at the end of such a special day for all of us – and especially for Tyas. Thank you for keeping us in your prayer…I assure you of ours…
At 5am this morning I walked around our house enjoying the cool air and the silence that pervaded everything. The main room of our house looked lovely – like a chapel – all set up for the vows. Gradually other FCJs appeared and continued their part of the final preparations. At this stage no further instructions are needed – we work as one body with one heart and one mind – helping each other in a true experience of companionship. Tyas meanwhile – is radiant – she’s ready…This is a happy day for all – for FCJs, for Tyas’ family and friends, for our Church and World…You all are included in our prayers of intercession…Thank you for your prayers…
This evening – the “eve” of her first vows – Tyas was welcomed into the FCJ Society. We had a a beautiful prayer service during which we all blessed Tyas and her future life as a professed FCJ. The prayer was followed by a lovely meal together. We then all changed into “work clothes” and finished preparing our house for the actual vows. The vows take place at 11am tomorrow…Please keep on praying…We pray for you too…