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?

 

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).

Day 26 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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I’ve been thinking about the #youth of the world; and of the Church. I love the presence of the #HolySpirit at work in the vivacity and exuberance youthfulness. 💪

But there is also the presence of the bad spirit; of evil and sin. I find myself devastated, but in honesty, horrifyingly not surprised that today’s #headlines were about #abuse of youth, while locked up in a #NT centre. It’s confronting and depressing but deliberately so, juxtaposed with the #hope of #Day25of31withIggy.

Where is the light? Where is #mercy? How can we be lights in the darkness; how can we be agents of mercy in our world?
#31dayswithIgnatius #news #abcnews #australia #beMagis #bemorehuman#compassion #honest

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).

Day 25 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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A #quote from @franciscus in a book (first published by @loyolapress) called “Dear Pope Francis”. In this #letter, he describes how he feels when he sees a #child: “I feel great #hope because every child is our hope for the future of humanity.” This is especially fitting to mark the World Youth Day festival in #Krakow. Considering all the #children, the #youth and the future of the #Church and faith.

#evangelise #evangelisation #wyd2016 #wyd #qotd #31dayswithIgnatius

 

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).

Day 22 of #31DayswithIgnatius

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#Day22of31WithIggy: The #Feast of St #MaryMagdalene. Today’s image started off as a prayer for #life; that we may see through the day with all things that bring life. (#Consolation, in Ignatian terms) It proceeded onto a meditation on Mary Magdalene and while at the tomb after Jesus’ death, she approached a man who she thought was a gardener. On hearing that Jesua was no longer there, she began to cry (#desolation); until this man to whom she went revealed himself to her by calling her by name.

I’m so thankful that @franciscus #PopeFrancis has elevated this day to a feast of the same level as the other apostles. Pray for us, Mary Magdalene. Apostle to the Apostles and exemplary woman of the Church.

#IgnatianSpirituality #31dayswithIgnatius #saints #discernment #art #christian #Jesus #fcj #patronsaint #women #woman #church #leadership #womenleaders #girlpower

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).

Video: A Very Special Easter

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It was my son who brought this video to my attention. He had watched it at school before the Easter break and it has stuck in his head all this while.

Watch this video and you’ll see why it has struck a chord with so many.

Which part moved you the most?

Madame Joseph on the Feast of St Joseph

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The patronage of St Joseph goes a long way, symbolic of fathers and workers, noble male figures and fidelity to the Church.

It lends me to notice the significance of the saint’s presence in the life of Venerable Marie Madeleine d’Houët. Apart from expressing her devotion to the Holy Family countlessly in her writings, she called herself and was known as Madame Joseph, the wife and widow of the Viscount Joseph de Bonnault d’Houët.

Not unlike the Mary and Joseph we know from tradition, Marie Madeleine and her young husband, Joseph, would faithfully lend their gifts to others’ service. It was through dutiful labour in tending to the sick that Monsieur de Bonnault caught illness and died early in their marriage.

Despite this, Marie Madeleine carried on in similar fashion, I am sure, with her husband never far from her thoughts.

On this day of St Joseph, let us recall not only the consecrated life of Marie Madeleine as a Faithful Companion of Jesus, but also as a wife.

May the example of steadfastness and loyalty of St Joseph continue to show through in our lives.

Insight: On Religious Vocation

Sr Deborah Borneman, a sister of Sts Cyril and Methodius (an organisation of just 81 sisters) has a wonderful attitude toward religious vocation promotion, which I think is worth sharing.

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Religious life is not about numbers, it’s about relationships. | Deborah Borneman

To read the interview, please click here.

And another thing, do your relationships reflect your call to life?

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

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Image: A crying woman in a refugee camp, from Ethicaltraveler.org

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, on which we recall the suffering and sorrow of Mary. She is venerated as a companion to those who suffer, and as an intercessor in times of our need.

Suffering and sorrow is part of being human. Yet no matter how dark things can seem, you are never alone in your pain. We always have Christ, our most Faithful Companion, and through him his Mother, Mary,  and ours too.