Archive for the ‘FCJ Life’ Category

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

LIVING ALONGSIDE PEOPLE OF FAITH

August 12, 2017

Both within and beyond my FCJ community I have the opportunity, day in and day out, to live alongside, socialise and interact with people of deep faith. Some are Muslim, others belong to various Christian denominations. Of course, I have many an occasion to be deeply inspired by those FCJs I live with. In community I see so many good examples of praying women, deeply apostolic women, generous women. We have a close relationship with our Muslim neighbours. I am deeply touched by their commitment to prayer. Five times a day I am reminded to turn my heart to God. Last Sunday one of our neighbours died. He was a leader within the Muslim community and was much loved and respected. We went to pay our respects and spent some time in prayerful solidarity with neighbours of various faiths. At times like this everyone tries to help the family financially and in other ways. In general there is great kindness in our village. For example another of our neighbours has a small shop and every time we shop there she gives us a discount and it is always with a smile! Two days ago some of us had a Bible sharing with some members of our Basic Ecclesial Community. We had a deep and honest sharing that strengthened us all. In recent weeks I have had the great good fortune to work with a Christian Minister who is tireless in her desire to be of service to others. What a witness of Christian service. In light of the good things I see and experience all around me I have much to give thanks for when I make my Examen at the end of each day.

 

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!

THE TREASURE IN THE FIELD – TREASURED BY GOD!

August 4, 2017

I have always loved the parable of the treasure in the field from Matthew 13:44 and so it was with great eagerness that I went to Mass last Sunday hoping to hear something encouraging on that little favourite of mine. The priest totally surprised me. He greeted us after the opening hymn and then suggested we stop and take some time to think in what way each one of us was a treasure to God. What a lovely thought! My heart and imagination were immediately captured as I allowed the thought that I was God’s treasure to sink deep into my being and fill me with a quiet and tender joy. That one thought has kept me spiritually nourished all week and has touched others too as I have shared it. I hope we can all find joy in the knowledge that we are so deeply loved by God. Imagine, each one of us is a treasure to God!

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.

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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.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU DEAR YUSTIN…

July 22, 2017

Sixteen of us gathered in Baciro chapel for a prayer to bless Yustin as she takes up her role as local leader of Ende community. There were fifteen FCJs and one woman who is spending time getting to know us. The prayer included readings from the Constitutions as well as from scripture. Yustin received a candle which symbolized her spiritual leadership of the group.  She stood as we sang ‘May Yahweh bless you and keep you’. Lina and Tyas will also be in Ende for the coming year. As they both happened to be in Yogyakarta they were able to be present for the prayer and we gave them a blessing also. The prayer was followed by a delicious supper. There was even a delicious homemade cake for Tyas who had just celebrated her birthday.

 

 

DO NOT JUDGE – TAKE THE LOVING OPTION

June 26, 2017

Today’s Gospel (Mathew 7:1-5) spoke to me about so much more than not being judgmental. It was a call to me to continue to promote peace with justice and to go on doing so – especially in the light of recent violent and tragic events. In my understanding this does not mean that we have to suspend intelligent thought or spirit led discernment. I am reminded of the importance of thinking reflectively and of seeking to understand others even though we hear many divisive voices calling us to stand apart with hostility and enmity. May we seek to respond to others with love and understanding. May the measure we use be that of love, the measure of the Gospel.

 

LINA’S VOWS ON MAY 27TH THE GREAT DAY!

May 30, 2017

It began with the great exodus. Over a series of several days the FCJs in Yogyakarta left for Ende. The joy of the whole experience was enhanced by the fact the fact that Beta had just returned from tertianship, Meita from Manila, Judith, our Province Leader, joined us and Riska, our ever faithful Muslim friend, came too! Next came the great arrival in Ende as each day saw more people arriving. Even though we used all the beds and most of the floor space in the community house it was still necessary to accommodate some FCJs in a nearby convent. There was so much joy and excitement in the air it was possible to feel it. The days before the vows were filled with activity as we worked together to make sure that everything was ready. At 11am on Friday 26th May we gathered in the chapel for a special ceremony which was both a Welcoming and Missioning Ceremony. One important feature of this ceremony was the specially woven Selendang (stole/scarf) that Lina received. When Judith gave Lina her new mission she pinned her letter to the Selendang. We all pinned a blessing to it later in the prayer. The prayer was followed by lunch. The Vows Ceremony took place on the morning of the 27th May, when the day was still fresh. It was delightful to welcome Lina’s family to the house. Lina is one of the younger members of her family and so a good number of her nieces and nephews attended the ceremony also. Other guests included our neighbours and friends and also religious from other congregations. Lina looked radiantly happy throughout the ceremony. She was calm and composed and spoke with great confidence. Lina’s vows were received by Judith and witnessed by Dewi and Clare. The celebrant, Fr Hermann Sina SVD, is the person who first introduced Lina to the FCJs. In his homily Fr Hermann spoke of the way God was weaving Lina’s life with a thread of love. After the ceremony we enjoyed a delicious meal of home cooked food. Meanwhile the choir exchanged their repertoire of religious music for songs of a lighter nature. Some of the guests even enjoyed a bit of dancing. Before the guests left we joined together in two big groups for the ‘Gawi’, a traditional dance here in Ende. Our guests and neighbors were delighted to join us in this ultimate sign of rejoicing. In the cool of the evening we gathered once more to celebrate together and to help Lina enjoy opening her cards and gifts. It was particularly touching to hear the greetings from FCJs all around the Society. We had much to thank God for at the end of the day. Lina’s vows’ day was indeed a great day!