Retreat

August 2, 2017 by

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 by

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 by

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 by

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 by

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 by

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!

FCJ SCHOOLS – FULL OF LIFE!

May 11, 2017 by

Yesterday a group of FCJs and I had the good fortune to pay a visit to one of our FCJ schools in Australia. We had the great pleasure of being escorted around the school bya number of very friendly students. The school was bustling with life and energy. Everywhere we went we met bright young people who said a cheery “Good morning.” We were so inspired being present in the school for even a few hours. We were reminded of the amazing mission those who minister in schools have. Thanks to all those who minister in FCJ schools – in any capacity. Thanks to the students and their families. You are an inspiration to us!

GABI’S FINAL VOWS

April 22, 2017 by

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.

It could be someone I know

April 17, 2017 by

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.”

FCJ GC2013

THOUGHTS IN THE HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM

April 9, 2017 by

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.