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.

 

 

21 September 2014: Happy Birthday, Marie Madeleine

We were driving through the French countryside as Sr Mary Campion told us about the caring quality of Madame d’Houët. This was not news to us since we know that as a landowner, mentor,  founderess and caregiver,  she was a woman who looked after and cared for  the many in her charge.

What did occur to me however was that in the midst of hard work and discipline, Marie Madeleine ensured and encouraged that those in her care took Sundays off to picnic, play games and simply enjoy each other’s company. Her love for dancing as well as playing with the many children in her domain taught me that life for this woman, was ultimately for living and for celebrating, echoing the gratuitous joy expressed in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my understanding, my memory and my will. You have given all to me, and I return them. Give me only your love and your grace, for that is enough for me.

How have you celebrated today?

I know that for two of our FCJs in Melbourne, they celebrated their own birthdays with their sisters gathered around them with cream sponge cake.

For other companions, glasses were raised in memory of Marie Madeleine.

As for me, although I had a very sombre and much-needed day of rest, I now have champagne to sip on as I wind down for the evening with my husband and children.

Thank you, chère Marie Madeleine, for reminding me that life is for living and for celebrating, no matter how unceremoniously. That we take time to to pause and reflect and ponder the gifts given to us in this world is grace enough,  don’t you think? What are your thoughts?

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