Faith and JOY

July 4, 2018 by

Last weekend I was at the Brightlights Festival in Alton Castle, UK. It is a Catholic Youth Festival held each year. Here are some highlights to give you a flavour! Maybe you would like to come along next year?!

SHARING THE JOY OF A LOVELY FEAST

June 18, 2018 by

Recent days here in Yogyakarta have been so lovely. We have all been blessed by the celebration of Idul Fitri, the day that marks the end of Ramadan. The day before Idul Fitri we gave out parcels to our neighbours. That evening prayers rang out from the mosque turning all of our thoughts to God. It was touching to hear the voices of children from time to time. We spent Friday morning walking round the village wishing our neighbours a happy Idul Fitri and making mutual apologies for any mistakes made in the last year. A beautiful atmosphere of peace and calm has pervaded the village for the last four days.  How lovely to celebrate this special feast with our Muslim neighbours.

THE JOY OF REUNION…

June 13, 2018 by

Several days ago I travelled back to Yogyakarta by plane. Most of the travellers were women who worked abroad and were coming home to celebrate Idul Fitri with their families. It was touching to hear some of their stories. Some of the women hadn’t been home for several years and were longing to see their loved ones again. Many tears were shed as the women met their families. It was so good to be there and to witness the beauty of family love so vividly expressed in the excitement and joy of families newly reunited.

Rejoice and be Glad: Where do you find security?

June 8, 2018 by

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In reflecting on this beatitude in Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be glad) Pope Francis asks the question “where do we find our security?”

Building security for ourselves, making our own ground stable gives us the freedom to stop focussing on ourselves and to focus outwards to others, but as with most things it has a flip side – the security itself can become our idol – so that we become so fearful of anyone or anything disturbing our security that we are no longer open to others.

Pope Francis likens the spirit of this beatitude to the Ignatian understanding of Inner Freedom – to become free and not enslaved by wealth, possessions, securities etc so as to be open to the presence of God in our everyday life and experience.

 

PRAYING THE ROSARY WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS

June 3, 2018 by

Recently in our Basic Ecclesial Community we closed the month of May in great style. It was the last of the nightly rosaries that had taken place in a different family each evening. There were forty of us, including seven children. The children led us through the rosary. One of them led the prayers and the others took turns to read an introduction to each mystery. Following the prayer we had a delicious supper together. It was simply beautiful – a lovely way of being part of the Universal Church.

Preparing for the Synod – Youth Faith and Vocational Discernment

May 31, 2018 by

popeYesterday I attended a meeting with Bishop Ralph Heskett, one of the Bishops who will attend the Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment which takes place this October. The meeting was an opportunity for people involved in youth ministry to reflect together on ways in which the Church can more fully respond to the needs of young people.

There was opportunity to hear something of the research being done by Camino House in collaboration with CYMFED on the attitudes of young Catholics in the UK, as well as hearing from one of the participants in the International Pre-Synodal meeting of young people which took place in March.

This Synod gives us a wonderful opportunity to listen to the experience of young people in our Church, and to formulate with them new ways of being Church.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Synod, or reading the preparatory document from the pre-Synodal meeting of young people, follow the links below:

Webpage for the Synod

Preparatory Document

FOREVER: CELEBRATING MEITA AND HARTINI’S FINAL VOWS

May 24, 2018 by

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 by

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 by

…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 by

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.