Holy Thursday 2017: Service and Love

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Image: “The Washing of the Feet” by Ghislaine Howard (2004)

Service and love – two key themes for reflection on the feast of the Lord’s Supper, that we celebrate today, this Holy Thursday.

To love without service is not really love, because love calls us out of ourselves and into the other. To serve without love might work for a little while, but it inevitably brings difficulties, because the mere doing of tasks that do not come from a place of love eventually bears nothing.

It is my personal prayer for each one of you, and in holding the memory of Marie Madeleine whose feast was 5th April, that love and service be part of your daily activity. My own heart is filled with love and gratitude at being able to serve in my own way, through these blog posts. With blessings for you, this Triduum, and toward Easter.

Sincerely

Geralyn

FCJ Mission and Identity Promoter

Eve’s Wishes for Christmas

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It is early morning on Christmas eve, and for me as I am sure, for many, there is still so much to do. Let us not forget the reason for all our activity.

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Merry Christmas to you all. Thank you for your support over this past year. May the New Year that awaits us be another of divine unfolding as we walk together, as faithful companions.

A Note of Thanks

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Dear readers,

The time has come to farewell my contributions here, on Keeping Company. It has been an immense joy and privilege to share my thoughts, reflections and insight into the charism of the Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters. Thank you to each one of you, for your kind words of encouragement and support. If you wish to continue to follow me on my writing journey, you are welcome to do so.

For now, I hope that each one of you have gained something from this endeavour and that you yourselves do not stop reflecting, savouring and praying through the ins and outs of your life, on your journey with God, as I have learnt to do from this undertaking.

I leave you now, with an official statement from Sr Judith Routier fcJ, Province Leader:

The Faithful Companions of Jesus would like to thank Geralyn Anderson for initiating and maintaining this beautiful ‘Keeping Company’ blog for the past few years. The blog was a project on behalf of the fcJ sisters in Australia and through this use of social media Geralyn promoted the mission and identity of the fcJ Society to people with whom we would not otherwise be in contact.

Geralyn has posted many inspirational and creative items based on a variety of sources, not only things connected with the ministry of the fcJ sisters.  We have been moved by stories in the life of her young family, by her personal reflections, by theological and educational articles, and by insights into social justice issues. The arrival of a new Keeping Company post in my inbox was always something to which I looked forward.

The fcJ sisters wish to voice our gratitude to Geralyn and to her family, and to assure them of our prayer of blessing on their lives.

Judith Routier fcJ
Province Leader

 

Vale Sr Margaret Mary (Peter) Wilson fcJ

peterwilsonfcj.jpgToday, 20 December 2016, the FCJ Sisters in Australia, together with all the Sisters of the Society linked through prayer, and their friends, farewelled Sr Peter Wilson fcJ at the Genazzano College Chapel.

Sr Peter was most recently a resident at St. Catherine’s Aged Care Facility, where she continued, despite the frailty of age, to bring joy and companionship to those around her. True to her profession and calling, Sr Peter remarked: “What brings me joy as an FCJ Sister is when we gather as a community or at larger FCJ occasions, there exists beautiful bonding which is our companionship with Jesus and with others.” I learned at the Vigil held yesterday on 19 November for Peter, a few outstanding things about her. One was that putting others’ needs ahead of her own was something she did so naturally right til the end. Another was her beautiful sense of joie-de-vivre and fun, which her family and fellow-FCJs so readily recounted with fondness.

It is always a sad time when a life ends, and I express my sympathies to the family of Peter, as well as to the FCJ Sisters, but as we remember during this Advent time in the lead up to Christmas, God is with us, and it is for that I am so thankful and certain of Peter’s peace and delight.

Sr Peter Wilson fcJ was born, Margaret Mary Wilson in June 1932. She made her First Profession on 4 September 1953. In her long life, she was missioned to the Indigenous people in Broome, WA; Norwood in Adelaide, SA; Frankston, VIC and Shepparton, VIC. She was reunited with God on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

 

Dear Sayed: 1st Sunday of Advent (2016)

The Church has now moved into the Season of Advent. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus, often a time in which we prepare our homes for the receiving of guests, as a tradition of Christmas hospitality. Spiritually, we prepare ourselves to welcome Jesus into our hearts.

It was a great privilege to begin this advent season in the way we did today. My daughter and I attended a card-making workshop, hosted by our dear friend, Fiona, whose contacts will send them on to various places, including the MITA in Parkville, Vic. It was a treasured time of creativity, friendship and for me, personal prayer. Here is the day, in my daughter’s words:

Today Mum, Fiona and I made Christmas cards for people in detention centres. We made about 20 handmade cards with all sorts of Christmassy decorations. There were cards with Christmas trees, candles, stars, buttons and many other things. There were many people we wrote to, but I wrote to Sayed, a young 6-year-old and Azizullah, a 13-year-old. It’s quite upsetting to hear that many people, especially young children, are put into detention centres. Around Christmas time, in the detention centres, they don’t even get a mention about Christmas. In the cards we put our names, what city we live in, and that we are thinking about them. I hope that you too can take the time this Advent and Christmas, to pray for the people who are in detention centres around Christmas. –Pia, 11 years

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With our handmade cards for our asylum seeker friends in detention.

Children never cease to amaze me. I am so grateful that I get to witness this daily. On the car ride home, Pia and I were talking about what we did in the afternoon. The conversation went on to the plight of these people who are locked up and given no presents, no decoration and no joy. It was then that she exclaimed, “How can a 6-year-old cope!”, fighting back tears, her voice breaking with emotion. A little while later, she said to me in a voice still shaken, “This music explains the situation.” The song that was playing was “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?” from the soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen (a highly recommended film, if you haven’t seen it!), sung by the optimistic and bubbly Anna, wherein she tries to connect with her estranged sister Elsa, who has a tendency to isolate herself. The song starts out incredibly playful and carefree, but the point at which my daughter commented, is an instrumental interlude to mark the tragic death of the characters’ parents, at sea.

I listened some more, to my daughter, and to the music. Then I heard these lyrics:

Please, I know you’re in there,
People are asking where you’ve been
They say “have courage”, and I’m trying to
I’m right out here for you, just let me in
We only have each other
It’s just you and me
What are we gonna do?

Dear Sayed, dear little one. Dear Azizullah. Dear Adam, dear Leila, dear Ali, and to all of you whose names we do not know. Please, I know you’re in there. People are asking where you’ve been. They say “have courage”, and I’m trying to, I’m right out here for you… we are right out here for you. And praying with and for you. We send you love and open hearts, especially in this advent time.
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This Advent, how will you open your hearts? How will you prepare a home and make space for Jesus and his family? May this time be a mindful journey of contemplation and compassion. It will be busy, but here we are at the beginning of it: how will you stop for a moment, to listen to the Spirit of God?

 

13 November (Feast of St Stanislaus Kostka): Thank You for Saying ‘Yes’

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Today (13 November) is the feast of St Stanislaus Kostka SJ, patron saint of novices. I admit that I am not familiar with this saint, apart from hearing his name in passing, and upon some research, discovered that he died at the young age of seventeen. Despite his short life, and even shorter time still, within the Society of Jesus (he entered as a novice in October 1567, and died August 1568), we can still see in him, values and virtues to be admired and imitated. As such, we pause to remember and pray for all who have said ‘yes’ to God’s calling, as religious, and especially our novices within the Society of Sisters, FCJ. We thank you for being open to the Spirit of God at work within your lives, and thank you for choosing to say yes and accept the gifts and challenges that life holds.

Surrender does not come easy to most of us, yet in all of us, we are called to do just this. It is not just for those discerning a vocation, or for the youth, because we are all called to surrender to the greater dream God has for us. It takes humility and trust to be empty vessels in which to carry living water. And it takes courage and strength to be open to the workings of love within us and for us.

We continue to pray and work for the building of God’s kingdom through the formation of people. We continue to say ‘yes’ and to say, ‘thank you,’ especially to our novices and those in training.

 

Companions in Mission: Caitlin Hardy & Wanty Widjaja

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It is with great joy that we welcome two newest Companions in Mission (CIM), Caitlin Hardy and Wanty Widjaja, who made their First Commitment on Saturday 5 November 2016 in the Genazzano FCJ College Chapel.

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L-R: Wanty Widjaja & Caitlin Hardy, CIM. November 2016.

For a period of eighteen months, Caitlin and Wanty have journeyed together in prayer and formation alongside the companionship and warmth of Pat Fitzgerald and Maureen Merlo, as group leaders. Both Caitlin and Wanty have been associated with the FCJs for a number of years, though in different ways. Caitlin is an alumna of Genazzano (2013), while Wanty first met the FCJ Sisters in her native Indonesia, having since strengthened bonds with the FCJs in Australia.

The intimate ceremony was prepared by Caitlin and Wanty, and attended by family members, friends and a faithful cohort of Sisters. Their public commitment to live inspired by the spirit of Marie Madeleine d’Houët and the charism of the FCJ Society, as Companions in Mission, was formally received by Sr Catherine Flynn fcJ.

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Especially moving was Wanty expressing that she now has even more family here in Australia!

Congratulations to Caitlin and Wanty and thank you, for saying yes to living as FCJ Companions in Mission. May your witness continue to grow and inspire those around you. May our God, our Faithful Companion, bless you.

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L-R: CIM Province Co-ordinator, Pat Fitzgerald; Wanty Widjaja; Sr Catherine Flynn fcJ; Caitlin Hardy and Sr Maureen Merlo fcJ

21 September 2016: Celebrate Being Alive

 

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Pilgrims – celebrating friendship – in the footsteps of Marie Madeleine. 2014.

“A birthday,” said my daughter, “is to celebrate how long you’ve been alive.”

 

We worked out how old Marie Madeleine would be if she were still with us today: two hundred and thirty-five.

Though the years are numbered, one can say that her spirit lives on with each story told, each memory shared and every time we pause to reflect on her life. To celebrate Marie Madeleine’s birth and life, we need not ceremony or lavish feasts, but hearts that are open to meeting her, and in turn, God’s gifts to the Church.* We can read about her, as my daughter has done so tonight in curiosity and interest, or we can hold near to us, what knowledge or insight we’ve gained over the period we’ve known her. We can reflect on the physiological aspects of her life: her birthplace, the family to which she was born, the time period in France, and ponder their significance or effect; or we can look at her legacy in the lives of her direct descendants, or the order of nuns she founded, and in the lives of many whom she continues to inspire.

Today is also the International Day of Peace, and I draw from the words of the newly-canonised St Teresa of Calcutta: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Celebrate being alive, with those nearest to you, may they be your family, your community or whomever lives in your heart.

 

*We remember that Marie Madeleine has been declared Venerable by the Catholic Church, formally recognising her saintly virtues. Here is a Prayer for Healing, which you might like to say:

 

More details about the Cause for the Canonization of Marie Madeleine can be found on the Society’s web site.

 

 

A Prayer for Openness

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I don’t travel alone much, and when I do, I feel the whole process interiorly – from the planning of itinerary; to the packing, the transit and the journey.

I was reminded of one particular stay in Sydney two years ago when I was there for a conference. It was night, and many of the participants had either travelled in groups or were familiar with the locality. To add fun to the story, it was wet and quite cold that winter night, but because I was a Melbournian going to Sydney, I had decided on principle (and in stubbornness) that I wouldn’t need an umbrella with me. (Melbourne winters are not for suckers.) We had to organise our own meal and I was getting hungry and tired from the commute, and I was without the securities of shelter, familiarity and knowledge.

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Sydney in the rain, by night, 19 August 2014. Image credit: G. Anderson.

I mustered courage and ventured out nevertheless, with a borrowed umbrella, and walked around the precinct awhile. Businesses were closing and people were going about their regular routine, leaving work, etc. It was not a tourist district, so everyone looked as though they knew where they were going. I did my best to imitate them, and found a haven of authentic #Japanese fare open, as if just for me. The interior was cosy and intimately lit (dark!), and I was the only customer at the time, yet there was something warm about it (apart from the steaming hot #miso). The service staff spoke little English but we managed with smiles. どうもありがとう 🙇

This was not the #Sydney I had known before, it was something else altogether, and in part, I think it was because I let myself be vulnerable yet reliant on whatever strengths I had in me.

When was the last time you lived with openness of spirit? Are you being called to openness? How can you be a welcome for someone today?

 

 

Prayer for Openness

God of Love,

Your birth knew no welcome on a barnyard floor

Your childhood estranged from the land of your home.

As an adult you lived among outsiders and lepers,

the lost and the forgotten, on the edges of sociability.

Rejected and renounced, to be abandoned by your kin

You were left to die alone, save for a few.

Even in rising, you were found unrecognised

yet remained ever faithful to the truth that is Love.

God of Love,

In knowing this, and in all you’ve given me,

Make me a haven of welcome and warmth,

that I too, may be open, to your coming again.

#spiritual #insight #instafood #restaurant #door #doorway #opendoor #travel#memories #fcjasau #mission

Day 31 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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A friend sent me this picture a few years ago on the feast of St Ignatius, with the note: ‘When too much St Ignatius Loyola is not enough!’ 😁

Today, dear people, is the feast of St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the #Jesuits and father of #IgnatianSpirituality. He is a gift to the Church and to humanity, over the ages. To the #FcjSisters he is a patron and fellow #companion. To me, he is a guide whom I can follow, and a friend whose counsel I can seek. I believe in the community of #Saints and so celebrate them.

Who is St Ignatius for you? What have you learnt about the love of #God for you, through his intercession or example?
#31dayswithIgnatius #godinallthings #fgiat #LoyolaPress #gratitude #foundiggy#catholic #saints

In celebration of Ignatian Spirituality, and to mark the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (31 July), I have taken on the challenge of posting a picture a day that speaks to me of the lessons learned from all things ‘Ignatian’; including ‘finding God in all things.’ Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia).