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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Called by God: National Vocations Awareness Week 4-11 August 2013

The following is from a letter to the Sisters:

Called by God: National Vocations Awareness Week 4-11 August 2013 Keeping-Company

“Called by God” are the words that headline the week. These words evoke a tremendous authority and commission for each and every one of us as Christians. At our baptism, we are named and claimed for Christ in front of a community and throughout our lives, renew these graces in our profession of faith, especially through the Eucharist. Sometimes though, we can overlook the value our own individual calling, that is to say, who I am before God, and how I respond to the unique and personal gifts that God has given me. Being aware of our vocation, and cherishing our self-identity is an ongoing process that is integral to ministry. As FCJs and women of contemplation-and-action, I invite you then, to participate in the promotion of the NVAW within your communities, parishes and workplaces. This may take the forms of:

  • Displaying and/or distributing print and electronic material (enclosed);
  • Speaking at Masses or within your parish community about your own vocation story; or
  • Communal and individual prayer, with particular emphasis on vocations awareness, as well as vocations to the Society

A few key dates to note are:

  • Sunday 4 August 2013 – dedicated to fostering the general vocation of all Christians
  • Sunday 11 August – focussing on vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life.

…In addition to this are a few thoughts on ‘vocation’, which may prompt your own reflection and input.

What’s in a name?

Vocation comes from the verb vocare, meaning ‘to call.’ By what name am I called? What was I called as a child – by my parents, family or friends? Is that still the same name, or has it changed over time? Does the name by which I am called ‘fit’ with the person who goes by it?

Faithful Companions of Jesus

Marie Madeleine fought for the name ‘Faithful Companions of Jesus’. In this Year of Faith, perhaps I might like to ponder on what it means to be faithful and faith-filled. Is it a living faith?

Vocation and Identity

Intricately linked are one’s vocation and one’s identity. How am I, in the eyes of God? With what or whom do I identify? We remember the truth of the psalmist’s words:

Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me…

For it was you who formed my inward parts
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

(Psalm 139: 4-5, 13-14a)