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

Advent at Twilight: Taking God into our Home (4th Week of Advent)

Advent at Twilight: Keeping-Company.com

4th Sunday of Advent: Taking God into our Home

Written by Geralyn Tan for Keeping Company. 2013.

The coming of Christ invites a response of hospitality and welcome, something that is present in every journey. We have come to the fourth and final installment in our Advent retreat. This week’s reflection, to use the journeying motif again, looks at the stage of homecoming. In any journey out, we rely on the hospitality of others to give us food, accommodation or company. But when we return, hospitality and homecoming to ourselves are just as important.

Consider for a moment, your identity as a person of faith in God, in light of the following verses from the Second Reading (Romans 1:1-7):

Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.

Keeping this in mind and heart, listen to O Come, Emmanuel as performed by The Piano Guys.

In the First Reading, Isaiah prophesies the coming of the one named Emmanuel. We are told the meaning of the name in Matthew’s gospel – God-with-us. Through the birth of the baby Jesus, God enters physically and bodily into our world.

God wants to be part of our world. God wants to be part of us. How do we welcome God into our homes, into our hearts?

The Christmas rush is upon us but there is still time to throw off the cloak of darkness and put on the light, which is to live according to the gospel of love. There is still time to bring about the peaceable kingdom where justice and peace reigns. In this Sunday’s gospel, we hear that Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly (because she was pregnant by another), that is, in private and out of the public eye, sparing both of them too much humiliation. Are we courteous with one another, especially our next of kin? What about the people we welcome into our homes over the Christmas season? And what about those we include even after the festivities have wound down?

Recall the apprehension of Mary in the reflection for the First Sunday. Though unnerving, Mary and Joseph set out on the journey, modelling for us to do the same, while with the assurance of following in the light of God. Now in the Fourth Week, the name and nature of God is proclaimed. God is with us, God is for us and God wants to remain with us for eternity.

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As we end this retreat, we do so with gratitude for our time together in prayer and sharing. We continue to ask for God’s graces throughout the coming days as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord.

Advent at Twilight: The Coming of the Lord is at Hand (3rd Week of Advent)

Coming of the Lord is at Hand | Keeping-Company.com3rd Sunday of Advent: The Coming of the Lord is at Hand

Written by Geralyn Tan for Keeping Company. 2013.

We’ve been on the journey for some time now. We began our Advent journey by walking in the light of the Lord. We looked at what that means in restoring right relationship in the example from Isaiah, yet the readings from the Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday – remind us that although our journey is well underway (and we cannot turn back), there is much more to come in the promises of joy and light! This is the dynamic of light and shade, of in-between time, where we live in hope for what is to come.

Listen to David Arkenstone’s rendition of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring:

Time has been an underlying theme. The coming of the Lord is at hand, but we are not passive players. The waiting that we do involves that we wait patiently, as in the exhortation of the Second Reading:

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

We are given some indication of how to wait patiently and productively by reflecting on the ways in which God deals with his people. In both the psalm and the gospel passages, we hear that God is merciful, just and compassionate. The God of the Old Testament and the coming Christ we read about in the Matthew’s gospel is one and the same, whose presence in our lives is not impartial. In other words, the action of God is very much at work in our lives.

And so too are we are called to care for one another.

We ought to remember that Mary and Joseph, for all their holiness, were also like us in their waiting. It’s not as though the baby was fully formed inside of Mary and she waited till she got to Bethlehem to give birth. Jesus, fully human as we are, but divine, would have gone through the same process of development all humans go through. And this period of gestation has particular elements of selfless giving and relating, one to another.

Before Jesus is born, a hidden world of interactions takes place inside his mother’s body. Whatever she eats, he takes in. Whatever she hears, he will also hear. And whatever she experiences, he is able to respond, in a kick or stretch here and there. Imagine the role of Mary as nourisher, protector and carer of the unborn child.

Note again, what the scripture says about God looking after us. His people are uplifted, the hungry are fed and justice is secured for the oppressed. And so too are we called to do for others in their favour, to look after them.

Mary and Joseph are also messengers of God. Inside her body, Mary carries the Word Incarnate.

How are we messengers for God? And in what ways do we carry this good news, this message in our lives?

Advent at Twilight: Justice will reign (2nd Week of Advent)

New Zealand by air. Justice will reign. Keeping-Company.com

2nd Sunday of Advent: Justice will reign

Written by Geralyn Tan for Keeping Company. 2013.

The coming of God’s reign will bring peace. It will bring harmony, and restore a balance where all will be put into right relationship.

Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Justice will show itself as deep peace, profound tenderness and overwhelming compassion.

There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD.

Listen to On That Holy Mountain by Joe Mattingly, which expresses so hopefully not only the ideals of peace and justice, but the promises of them too, provided we are faithful.

In the Gospel passage, we hear of John the Baptist, who lived and preached in the wilderness, outside of towns and villages, far from the comforts the people of Jerusalem, as an example, might have known in the city. One can imagine the coarseness of his appearance. He did not choose fine silk for his clothes or fattened calf and extra-virgin olive oil with pita bread for his diet. He was a stand-out sort of character and he did not fit the norm.

Yet people went to him. They went in droves, outside of their comforts to listen to his preaching and to be baptised by him. Why? Perhaps he was charismatic and could tell a good story. Or perhaps he challenged the people to ‘walk the talk’.

We have seen in the beautiful examples of Pope Francis, the work he does in restoring right relationship, in bringing about the kingdom of God. His embrace of the poor, the excluded and the little ones offers and gives to them, a profound sense of love. Vinicio Riva, the disfigured man whom Francis embraced has spoken out saying that he only felt love. In describing the encounter, he said that it felt like eternity.

In our daily encounters then, we are invited to seek out the poor and the needy, so that we may be bearers of Christ’s light to them through mercy, compassion, tenderness and welcome. In producing good fruit as evidence of our repentance, in walking the words of the good news, we help to bring about this peace.

In what ways might we be as an experience of heavenly peace and harmony for others? In what ways have you experienced this deep sense of unity?

Advent at Twilight: Let Us Walk in the Light of the Lord (1st Week of Advent)

Marking the first week of Advent, we are to throw off the cloak of darkness and walk in the light of the Lord.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord

Advent Reflections at Keeping-Company.com

1st Sunday of Advent: Let us walk in the light of the Lord

Written by Geralyn Tan for Keeping Company. 2013.

The journey we make in Advent is like any other journey: a time of waiting, uncertainty and even trials. In the Second Reading, St Paul urges us, “…to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11) We are to put on the armour of light and to throw off the works of darkness, as if a cloak that covers us. To walk in the light of the Lord is our desire this week, and our aim is to remain faithful to this decision in preparation for the coming of the Son of Man.

Consider the experience of Mary, young and pregnant (in today’s context, a teenager mum-to-be) and on this journey with Joseph into parenthood.

Listen to the song Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant.

Consider the real presence of light in the lives of Mary and Joseph, but also the shadows of uncertainty.

Mary and Joseph make their way to Bethlehem. Obvious trials await them: difficult travel terrain, exposure to the desert elements and vulnerability to any number of potential threats. Their journey, although we know as the way of God, was for them, a gutsy act of faith and trust. They didn’t have our comforts and conveniences – no trains, no cars, and not even a cart to ride in. Wherever they went, they went on foot. I don’t know if there were signs showing them the way (certainly not the street signs we know), but imagine the vast openness of the land that is the desert, where the only certain way was forward.

But even that in itself was debatable: how would they really know they were heading in the right direction until they came across a landmark? Suppose that Joseph had a sketchy memory of the route back to his hometown? We can also note the interior journey of this couple. Impending motherhood and fatherhood has its own mystery. Sometimes there is strong faith, assurance and confidence; but there is also doubt, uncertainty and difficulties.

Our lives are very much represented in their story. We journey through life, it is ongoing, and sometimes we know what we’re on about or where we’re heading, and at other times we are not so sure. Only one thing remains constant: that the presence and love of God that always calls out to us, is always trustworthy and ever-faithful. We simply have to make the decision within us to put on the armour of light; to stay with God or not. To follow the way of the Lord is to walk in the light. May we keep our whole selves on the journey toward the light of Christ.