Archive for the ‘vocation’ Category
On November 13th we will celebrate St Stanislaus’ Day. This is a lovely feast for us because we especially give thanks for our novices and, of course, spoil them a bit too! It’s special to us also because it is a feast that all FCJs have celebrated at some point in their lives – given that we’ve all been novices! For the novices themselves one big highlight of the day is reading the letter that the General Superior sends to them. This is always inspiring and encouraging and fills them with great enthusiasm. Here in our formation community in Indonesia one of the ways we prepare for this feast is to say a novena in the days leading up to it. This helps to keep us focused on the meaning of St Stanislaus’ Day for today and also ensures that we gradually harvest the “spiritual fruit” that is being offered to us.
If you want to join us in praying in preparation for the feast of St Stanislaus we have posted an adapted version of our novena below…You can adapt it further and use it in any way that suits you.
The Life of St Stanislaus
Stanislaus was born in Poland in the year 1550 the second of six children. When he was fifteen Stanislaus and his elder brother Paul were sent by their parents to study in a Jesuit college in Vienna. Stanislaus was a studious youth who was also cheerful, innocent and gentle. He was deeply religious. attended Mass every day and had great love for Our Lady. Stanislaus’ character was in total contrast to that of his elder brother. Paul was often frustrated and angry with Stanislaus and he sometimes gave his younger brother a severe beating. Stanislaus bore his suffering with patience and humility. At one time he said “Ad maiora natus sum” “I was born for greater things.” These words became his motto and he lived his life by them.
Stanislaus became critically ill and he asked for a priest. The family who owned the house would not allow a priest to enter it. As Stanislaus was praying to God through the intercession of St Barbara she appeared to him accompanied by two angels and gave him Holy Communion. Several days later he saw a vision of Our Lady holding the child Jesus and Stanislaus was healed.
In thanksgiving for his miraculous healing Stanislaus decided to enter the Society of Jesus. In August 1567 Stanislaus crept out of the house in tattered clothes and began his long walk to Rome. His brother and tutor gave chase but were unable to find him. Stanislaus’ family was shamed by his behavior and disowned him. He arrived in Augsburg, Germany, having covered 600 kilometers in fifteen days. He went to meet Peter Canisius, the Provincial of the German Jesuits. With a letter of recommendation written by Peter Canisius he walked a further 1,200 kilometres within a month and finally arrived in Rome. He was received into the novitiate on 28th October, 1567.
During the ten remaining months of his life, according the testimony of the master of novices, Father Giulio Fazio, “he was a model and mirror of religious perfection. Notwithstanding his very delicate constitution he did not spare himself the slightest penance”.
In August 1568 Stanislaus fell critically ill with a high fever, and he knew he was dying. He hoped to die on the Feast of the Assumption so he could celebrate this feast with Mary in heaven. His desire was granted and he died on 15 August, towards four in the morning. The entire city proclaimed him a saint and people came from all parts to venerate his remains and to obtain, if possible, some relics. He was beatified in 1605 and canonized in 1726. St. Stanislaus is a much loved Polish saint. He is especially loved because he is the patron saint of novices.
St Stanislaus…pray for us.
In thanksgiving for our vocations…
From a young age St Stanislaus left everything to follow his call. He lived his vocation with deep joy. We too give you thanks that we have been called to leave everything and follow you.
We pray in gratitude with and through Jesus.
For a great desire to serve God
You loved St Stanislaus because he wholeheartedly consecrated his young life to you.
Renew us with your Spirit and strengthen our desire to live fully for you.
May we always run in the path of your Gospel.
We make this prayer in the name of Jesus your Son.
For the awareness that we are born for greater things…
God of mercy, God of love, you form us to send us out on mission.
Renew in our hearts, O God, the awareness that we, like Stanislaus, are born for greater things.
May all that we do proclaim the Good News that you are God with us.
In Jesus’ name.
That we always seek to live fully for God…
Most gracious God, we long to love you with all our heart and mind and soul.
Strengthen us and keep our ideals strong for the whole of our lives.
Grant this in Jesus’ name.
For our older sisters…
Gentle God, our older sisters have served you faithfully for many years as FCJs.
We ask you to bless them with health and joy and many more years of peace and contentment.
May they continue to serve you through their ministry of prayer.
We ask this mindful of your love and care.
For the gift of Companionship…
True Christian community is never free from the tensions of daily life and because of this deep companionship is needed to preserve union of minds and hearts.
We pray that we may value and nurture the companionship we enjoy in our various communities.
We ask this through Jesus who showed us the way to build community in the Reign of God.
For young people who haven’t yet discerned their way in life…
God our creator,
We pray through the intercession of St Stanislaus that today’s young people will have the courage to offer themselves to you for your glory and service. We especially ask that you send many young women to serve you and your people as Faithful Companions of Jesus.
We ask this in union with Jesus our Companion.
Rejoicing in St Stanislaus
All holy, ever present God, we rejoice in the glory of your saints and all holy women and men.
At this time we give thanks for St Stanislaus, the patron saint of novices.
May his good example inspire us and his prayers strengthen us.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord,
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 recently celebrated my 25th anniversary as an FCJ. As the day drew close I found myself getting excited and it felt as if there was a secret joy in my heart that bubbled up and out now and then. In my community we had a prayer service on the actual day – 26th August and on Saturday6th September I had a celebration Mass with our two FCJ communities in Yogyakarta plus four young women who know us well. I was surprised to find my eyes fillling with tears on several occasions – at the sheer joy and beauty of God’s love. It was so good to celebrate with the group here – we have lived so much FCJ life together. I was asked what gift I wanted…What gift do I want??? I should be asking the FCJ Society and God “What gift do YOU want from me?” To be an FCJ – what a gift and a blessing. Thank you God. Thank you to all FCJs. Thank you to my family and friends and to all who have ever touched my life in any way.
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…
In just a week Tyas will be making first vows. She has already made her pre-vow retreat and is now having a few days of quiet before her special day dawns…This is such a big moment for Tyas and for all of us – when a new FCJ makes her vows it a joy and a blessing for all of us. Please keep Tyas in your thoughts and prayers…as we keep you in ours.