Today in Romania one of our FCJ sisters made her final vows. Gabi made her vows in front of family, friends and her FCJ companions. I have thought of her and prayed for her throughout the day. How lovely to think of any young person standing up in faith and making a permanent commitment to someone or something she or he believes in. The fact that Gabi has made her final commitment today strengthens me in mine and hopefully all other FCJs and people of faith too. No doubt a great celebration followed the religious ceremony. How great to have something good to celebrate. Indeed, Gabi’s act of love is a gift to each one of us as well as to the whole of God’s creation.
Archive for the ‘FCJ Life’ Category
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.”
As I sit and wait for the various tests associated with a routine medical check up it strikes me that hospitals are places to sit and wonder. I wonder what all the other people are waiting for. I scan their faces and try and imagine why they are sitting alongside me. Some are clearly not well and awaiting relief from their obvious suffering. Others, anxious and solicitous, are accompanying loved ones. There are those who leave the consulting room with faced gripped by tension. Others leave laughing and relieved by receiving good news. We represent a wide spectrum of age, ethnic group, religion and personality. I am especially struck by the children who are weary and listless and with little understanding of why they are in pain. I am also deeply touched by the elderly people who have come from their villages to seek help. Dressed beautifully in traditional clothes they wait patiently for the doctor, their faces, hands and feet telling of years of toil. I find myself praying for all of us. May this day bring us all a good diagnosis. I give thanks for the gift of life and the simple signs of health I take so much for granted. May God grant us all health and zest for life.
A few days ago our sisters in Australia said goodbye to one of our sisters in a beautiful funeral Mass. Margaret Mary was just a few months short of both her ninetieth birthday and of the seventieth anniversary of her first profession. She gave the whole of her life in service of God in many and diverse ways. She was a great educator, a creative thinker and an inspiring leader. In her mid-sixties Margaret Mary was missioned to Romania to begin a new mission there. She was deeply committed to Romania and after her return to Australia she continued to raise funds for the mission. She was involved in a fund raising event only a few days before her death. There are saints who are proclaimed from church lecterns and written about in dusty tomes – and there are those we have known and loved. Margaret Mary with her eyes asparkle with joy and life, her great sense of humour, her energy and her big heart was surely one of the latter. Walk with us and be our companion from your parallel dimension dear Margaret Mary. Pray for us and pray that we continue the mission in service of God and God’s people.
The other day I saw the face of a little girl on the news that has haunted me ever since. There was no name with the picture. The child is a refugee. She and her family had only just reached safety after their home in Iraq had been destroyed by ISIS. She looked to be aged about eight or nine. Her clothes were ill-kempt and her hair was bedraggled and coated in dust. Her face was streaked with dirt. She had the most striking brown eyes that seared into mine. Her eyes were clouded with confusion and tears. Two fat tears made their way down her right cheek. My own tears joined hers. I wanted to pick her up and hold her tight and tell her that everything would be alright. But will everything be alright – and when – and what can I do to make this happen? May we never rest in peace and comfort until this world is a safe and happy place for all of God’s children.
FCJ 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:
In the face of yet another act of wanton violence it is difficult to know how to respond. Words seem so inadequate. I am trying to take time to pray – and reflect on the ways I too contribute to the cycle of violence. My other response is do at least one act of random kindness each day– that to me is the best way to counter random acts of violence. By working together we can keep on investing more love in our world…
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.
The other day I misread the reference for the Gospel of the day and instead of praying with Matthew 23:1-12, I mistakenly used Matthew 25:1-12 (The parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids). I really enjoyed teasing out that Gospel story. I couldn’t help sympathizing with the unfortunate five whose oil supply couldn’t quite last the time spent waiting for that tardy bridegroom. I wondered to myself what happened that they had a less than full supply of oil. Obviously they were partly prepared – being suitably attired for their role as bridesmaids and they did have their lamps and a certain amount of the light-giving liquid. So what went wrong I wondered? Perhaps they were busy beforehand helping with the other preparations, or doing someone a good deed, or even taking care of the bride. They surely hoped they had enough oil till disaster in the form of delay plunged them into gloom and darkness. What a shame all their hopes were gone – and they missed the party! I don’t need to ask myself which of the bridesmaids I would be. I know already. Most likely I too would have been one of those knocking on the closed door. We each of us know what it is that we are lacking. It could be one or more of many things – time, for example, or prayer or rest or? I’m not so sure it is foolishness that causes the lack as much as the sheer pressure of trying to be a decent human being. For me that locked door is not the end of the story. I can’t help believing that the bridegroom is still waiting – for surely the wedding party is not complete without us – oil or no oil!
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