Archive for the ‘FCJ Life’ Category

FOREVER: CELEBRATING MEITA AND HARTINI’S FINAL VOWS

May 24, 2018

On the weekend of 18th May we celebrated Hartini and Meita’s final vows. The theme of their vows was based on an ideal given to the FCJ Society through Marie Madeleine “…to be ever in [God’s} presence as an empty vessel, ready to receive all that God might put into it.” They had chosen readings and hymns that expressed their desire to be vessels bringing the ‘living water’ of Christ to others. Seventeen FCJs from various parts of Asia-Australia were present to celebrate this happy occasion.

We began with a prayer of thanksgiving on the evening of Friday 18th May.  During this prayer Meita and Hartini shared how they hoped to serve others in their future lives as FCJs. The following day dawned bright and clear. Family members, friends and colleagues and representatives of local church groups streamed into Sarasvita FCJ Centre, some two hundred guests in all. The choir began to sing beautifully and we were carried along by the joyful atmosphere. The Eucharist was celebrated by Fr. Andrianus Sulistiyono MSF, Meita’s nephew. He preached brilliantly. At several points in the homily we laughed out loud, yet the points made were clear: only God can give us the grace to live the commitments we make and because of this we must never let our prayer run dry. Hartini and Meita made their vows in the presence of Judith FCJ; their witnesses were FCJ Sisters Paola and Clare; and Irene and Yustin. After the Mass we enjoyed a delicious lunch of traditional food served from food stalls in the grounds of Sarasvita.

The FCJs had an informal gathering that evening to look back on the day and enjoy watching Meita and Hartini open their cards and gifts.  How lovely to celebrate the final vows in this way.

 

 

Welcome

May 22, 2018

I find it interesting that in today’s Gospel reading Jesus is speaking to his disciples about what it is to lead – to be a servant of all. Of all the different ways Jesus could choose to talk about service he chooses to illustrate what he is saying by speaking of welcome.

“If anyone wishes to be first,
they shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name, welcomes me;
and whoever welcomes me,
welcomes not me but the One who sent me.

Here we are reminded that to to serve is to welcome.

This makes me wonder about the challenge of being welcoming – we can all welcome those who fit easily into our way of thinking, perceiving and acting… but we also all have experience of personalities that we find challenging or even downright odd!

To serve is to welcome. And to lead is to step beyond ourselves, our own comfort and preconceptions and to be a welcome for everyone. The proof of our welcome is not in the number of like-minded friends we have, but in the diversity of those who feel included.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Einstein

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The truth is not an idea but a person

May 16, 2018

…for the truth is not an idea but a person, Jesus Christ, who is also charity, or love.

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Having read Austin Ivereigh’s article “Discernment in a time of tribulation” published in Thinking Faith recently, I was struck particularly by this phrase; ‘the truth is not an idea but a person’. The article presents a reflection on the Pope’s response to the abuse scandal in Chile, but I think the points made can speak into so many situations of desolation.

When we discover despair creeping into a situation, when the only way for us to answer is to produce more and more intellectual argument, leading not to clarity but to anger and division, perhaps then we are called to remember the wisdom of Ignatius and not to follow down a line which leads further into desolation. Instead we are invited to refocus on where the truth lies – not simply in a reasoned argument taken from an (morally good) intellectual standpoint but in the person of Jesus, who is also charity and love.

 

FAITH LEADERS RESPOND TO THE BOMBING IN SURABAYA

May 14, 2018

Sunday 13th May was a sad and disturbing day for all of us in Indonesia, regardless of religion.  Fourteen people died and forty one were injured when bombs ripped through three churches in Surabaya. I was deeply impressed by the response quickly given by Faith Leaders: stay calm, do not make rash judgments of others, stay at peace with your neighbours and pray for all those involved in these tragic events. We are all quietly alert, reflective and prayerful. Our Muslim neighbours begin their long fast on Wednesday and we will support them in prayer while giving thanks for their faith and commitment. These are times when all people of faith and good will are called to stand together in the name of peace.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary

May 4, 2018

Love shows itself more in deeds rather than words (Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius)

I was being served in a cafe today when suddenly the woman who was serving me added an extra tray and began to prepare cups and cutlery – I realised quickly that it was for an elderly couple who were coming in, who are obviously ‘regulars’. The woman then continued to serve me and I went to sit down. Just a few minutes later an elderly man with Downs syndrome came in, and again the staff in the cafe immediately gave attention to him, joking and chatting as he placed his order. The atmosphere was lovely – clearly this is a place where community is built and friendships are formed.

It made me reflect – sometimes we feel that the big important actions that we do are what is ‘saving the world’… but maybe in reality the world is being saved moment by moment by all the tiny actions of peace, unity and community building. The world is being saved one cup of tea at a time.

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THERE IS NO PRIEST FOR MY PARISH I WONDER WHY?

April 26, 2018

I had a lovely experience on Sunday in my small local parish here in England. I arrived early and was able to enjoy listening to the organ as I waited for Mass to begin. The choir led the congregation in enthusiastic singing. The Mass was beautiful, the priest preached well and made his point with a good smattering of humour. I really liked the sign of peace.  We turned to greet one another and strong northern handshakes accompanied the words “peace be with you”. After Mass there was a coffee morning and some of us spent a little more time with each other over cups of tea or coffee. Every Sunday this friendly little church welcomes some five hundred people: adults, children and young people.

Sadly, this church is now partly closed because the diocese cannot provide a parish priest. Yet on the weekdays when there is no Mass a group of people still gather in the church to pray the Rosary. Parishoners still come every week to clean the church and do the flowers. The people are committed, friendly and kind.  The church looks as if it is loved and cared for. It is bright and clean.

There is no priest to live and minister full time in this parish. I wonder why? I wonder why this vibrant parish and faithful people must face an uncertain future? I wonder why it is not possible to find new ways of understanding ordained priesthood in our Church? I live in hope of new answers to my wonderings and questions.

Small Gestures

April 25, 2018

“This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures.”

Gaudete et Exsultate

In everyone’s life there are some significant and defining moments. Times of great joy or real pain when our life is changed and we discover something new about ourselves which sets us on a new path.

Most of life, however, is lived in ordinary things, in  being with family or friends, working, shopping, cooking, eating… If we believe that God is to be found in all things and in all aspects of our day, then most frequently God is to be found in these tiny mundane activities. God is to be found in the people around us, in the little (and ususally insignificant) actions, in the small gestures.

daisy

In the recent Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis reminds us that holiness grows through these little moments, in the attitude we bring to these, in the kindnesses, forgiveness, mercy, tolerance we adopt.

POPE FRANCIS AND HOLINESS…

April 18, 2018

When I bought a copy of Pope Francis’s latest Apostolic Exhortation ‘Rejoice and be Glad’ it was so new it wasn’t even logged into the computer of the bookshop. As I read it I am filled with hope that Francis is recognising the holiness in each one of us. To me it is a new telling of Vatican II and a reminder of the innate holiness of all God’s people…If only we touch into it. I am rejoicing that we all are God’s holy people. Let’s fill our struggling world with hope!

Joy that orientates our life

April 16, 2018

sunrise

During these weeks of Easter we are invited to understand and experience resurrection, not as an historical moment or a exclusively divine event but as a presence and as joy. The risen Christ is utterly present with us, calls us by name (Jn 20:16), touches and is touched by us (Jn 20:27), walks along side us (Lk 24), heals, strengthens and encourages us (Jn 21). The Gospel stories of resurrection come into our daily lives and reality and we discover, within the ordinary events of our everyday lives, the presence of God.

It is this recognition of the indwelling of God, that now orientates our life.

It isn’t necessarily a bubbly happy joy, but a deep inner certainty that Christ is present and can be found in every encounter – nothing can ever be the same after this realisation – Christ is wholly present.

Michael Ivens in his book Understanding the Spiritual Exercises puts it this way:

..the grace … of the Fourth Week is joy. We are concerned with paschal joy, the joy proper to Easter, the joy which springs from a still more fundamental grace, that of the faith and love that make the risen Christ, though invisible, the very core of the believer’s existence. The prime object of paschal joy, then, is the here-and-now reality of the risen Christ.

Flowing from Christ, this joy has the typical effects of consolation. Consolation always moves a person to God’s service, towards apostolic mission, a source of strength, energy and courage to participate in the work of the Kingdom.

Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne

April 11, 2018

A group of FCJs and young adults are just back from a four day walking pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, a tidal island of the North East coast of England.

As we began our pilgrimage we were reminded of some elements of pilgrimage; prayerful preparation; silence and solitude. We prayed each day to remember that ‘although individuals, we travel with others…’ Our time together was full of joy, laughter, new friendships and lots of mud! Northumberland in spring is beautiful but it can be wet, and this year the snow has left the ground soaking and slippy! I don’t think our boots will ever be the same again!

 

Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, was a centre of Christianity from the 6th Century AD and the monks of Lindisfarne, including St Aidan and St Cuthbert brought Christianity to the north of England.

Durham Cathedral

Our pilgrimage took us along part of St Cuthbert’s Way, a national walking route, and across the ancient pilgrims causeway to Lindisfarne. At the end of the pilgrimage we travelled to Durham to visit the shrine of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral.