Holy Thursday 2017: Service and Love



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.



FCJ Mission and Identity Promoter

Day 23 of #31DaysWithIgnatius


#Day23of31WithIggy: Gratitude is countercultural.

The development of today’s post was particularly challenging because I have been confronted with very strong feelings of anger and disappointment at the actions of someone very close to me.
This occurrence has seen me read over a chapter in my class notes on “Ignatian Discernment and Decision-making,” (I know I’m such a nerd!) in search of the terminology to articulate this particular movement of the #Spirit.

Briefly put, the way of Christ is #countercultural. The devil seduces and tricks us into believing that we are entitled to x, y, z in a consumerist ideology and that we deserve things. Of course we have rights, but the distortion lies in the soleness of taking; without the awareness of where it comes from; that it is a gift in itself from God. (Think, Principle and Foundation, SpEx No. 23)

So although today has brought about its challenges, I am #grateful for them. Human emotions, especially the less-celebrated ones like anger, sadness and disappointment, have their place and purpose. For me, that place is with God; always with God, who is always with me. #ThankYou

#IgnatianSpirituality #31dayswithIgnatius #spex #spex23 #principleandfoundation #31dayswithIgnatius #emotion #anger #counterculture #Jesus #faith #discernment #bemagis #bemore #bemorehuman

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 13 of #31DaysWithIgnatius


Today’s insight comes from #discernment of spirits. St Ignatius taught that #consolation is an increase of grace, the good spirit “strengthens and encourages… establishes#peace” whereas the #badspirit “proposes all the problems and difficulties in living a good life”. [#spex315]

I am especially #grateful for this insight. And am so grateful for my #Ignatian#formation in unlocking this. (Quotes from#SpEx from “Draw Me Into Your Friendship” by David Fleming)

#31dayswithIgnatius #IgnatianSpirituality#LoyolaPress @loyolapress #qotd #quote

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 12 of #31DaysWithIgnatius


I still have a fever so it’s been a little more difficult to concentrate. What I am so #grateful for though, is the way #love is about giving and receiving. A loving relationship is a mutual one, in which there is a rhythm of life, much like deep calm breathing. 💓

#31dayswithIgnatius #gift #receive#gratitude #life #living #mindfulness#examen #marriage

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 5 of #31DaysWithIgnatius


When there’s so much to be done and so many voices to attend; whether I am inspired or exhausted, it is a gift to find myself #grateful for the One whose #Spirit lives in me.

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).

Reflection: 17 March, Feast of St Patrick – Gratitude, Humility and Prayer

KEEPING-COMPANY.COM | FCJ Spirituality, Mission and Identity

Stained glass image of St Patrick, Bishop.

The phenomenon that is the celebration of St Patrick’s Day is marked the world over, with emerald green, merriment and cultural pride. And every year, while confetti, festivities and parades fill the streets, bars and pubs, I find myself evading or avoiding the noise and following instead, the footsteps of ancient Celtic voices.

St Patrick is one of my favourite saints, not because he supposedly rid Ireland of snakes or survived capture by pirates in the rough northern waters. It’s not even because he won an ancient people and culture for Christ. While the legendary Apostle to Ireland and great bishop figure stands strong, in truth, I love St Patrick because of his gratitude, humility and prayer life. Not much is known about his life, except that he was an unlettered sheep-herder as a young lad, with no family or friend nearby except God, in whom he would find his soul friend, his calling and constant companion.  (I know this because I’ve read his letters: the Confession, written at a later stage in his life and the one To the Soldiers of Coroticus.)

In his Confession, he details his journey to Ireland, which was not the welcoming friendly place we associate the Irish with today. And in it, we meet a figure who despite all his trials, both physical and spiritual, remained wonderfully grateful as he “gave thanks unceasingly to God.” (Confession, n.46) Gratitude abounds in his writings.

St Patrick’s accomplishments in connecting with the pagans through peace and dialogue, and in converting among many, a princess of notability, were also retold with an immense humility. All he did, he claimed not for himself or by himself, but always by the grace of God:

“Therefore be amazed, you great and small who fear God, and you men of God, eloquent speakers, listen and contemplate. Who was it summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned in the law and powerful in rhetoric and in all things” (Confession, n.13)

I have an image of Patrick, surrounded by great flocks, but sitting as still as a rock in contemplation and prayer. He says himself that he prayed a hundred times a day and through the night as a sheepherder slave near the Slemish mountain in Antrim.

Keeping Company | County Antrim, Ireland

A view of the Slemish mountain and countryside where Patrick was a sheepherder. Co Antrim. Image credit: Douglas Craig, on TrekEarth.com

I like to believe that this foundation of prayer became the cornerstone on which he rested through the rest of his life. I believe that this was what enabled him to do great works, which have led to his appeal to this day.

However you choose to celebrate this feast, let me share with you one of my favourite Patrician resources, in honour of this admirable saint. It hasn’t been easy to track down since I first came across it years ago, but after going through many videos tagged “Confession St Patrick” (which brought up clips like “Drunken confessions on St Patrick’s Day”) here it is, thanks to Catholic Radio Dramas.

I wish all a Happy St Patrick’s Day: to those of Irish/Celtic descent and those who count themselves interiorly Celtic. A special mention goes to our sisters in Ireland and the UK, where the FCJ society has been present and instrumental since the early years. This post is dedicated you. Thank you for your commitment, dedication and service.

May God and Mary bless you. Dias muire dhuit.


Celtic spirituality at its expressive best in a composition by Maire (Moya) Brennan in The Light on the Hill.

Photos, Memory and Play in Prayer

It is now normal for me to take snapshots of my day with my camera-phone. I’ve been called one of this new generation, (which obviously I am) but moreover, in reference to the fact that we take pictures of everything with our phone. Remember the first ‘papal selfie’, where Francis posed for a picture with a group of GenYers, taken on a mobile phone?

Pope Francis and the first 'Papal selfie'

Source: AP via The Telegraph (2013)

While many may grumble that ‘kids these days’ are always on their phones, missing out on what’s around them, I personally wish to say that yes, while that is an easy trap to fall into, that is not the same for everyone. Taking photos with our phones is something – like everything – which has the potential to enhance life, beauty, joy and peace or to take away from the gift of the present moment.

I do take many pictures on my phone. So much so that on our walk yesterday evening, when I stopped to take a photo of a flower, my daughter remarked, “Mum, you’re craaaaaazy about photos…”

I thought about it. Yes, I am a bit. But I didn’t see anything wrong with that. I simply used the technology available on hand to capture what I captured my attention. When we got to the playground, the children played, while I watched them. Did I take photos? Yes, I did. Did I get to join in their playfulness as well? You bet! I climbed up the frame, looked out through the telescope and even went down the slide.

I've Got my Eye on You

Photo: “I’ve Got my Eye on You” | Geralyn Anderson, 2014.

Today’s scene however is different from last night. What seemed like a bit of fun at the time has now become something deeper, something more prayerful and even spiritual. Today, I’m able to look back at my photos and relive the joys of yesterday evening. Remembering is a gift, and in a way, is prayer in itself.

In my own personal prayer practice, taking photos – whether of a contemplative nature with my actual camera, or in the spur of the moment with my phone becomes part of the experience. The art of remembering, recollection and noticing the connections between one moment and another is something that aids my review of the day. In turn, regeneration and rejuvenation of the spirit takes place – especially when the subjects which I photograph are joyous, playful and blessed – and consolation is savoured, over and over, helping me to count my blessings and foster a spirit of gratitude.

The beautiful Ignatian prayer of the Awareness Examen uses memory and recollection to contemplate the presence of God in one’s life, and in every situation. An excellent resource on this kind of prayer may be found at Orientations for Spiritual Growth. So I invite you to look at the photos I took yesterday evening on my phone, and share in God’s graces with me.

Take Lord, receive, all my liberty,
My memory, understanding,
My entire will… – Prayer of St Ignatius

For additional reflection:

  • Have you been playful or experienced joy-at-play today?
  • Do you recall your own playfulness as a child?
  • Do you have photographs or souvenirs from childhood, or from times in the past, with friends, family or loved ones?

If you cannot review your day with photos or reminders, ask God for the grace of memory and remembrance to bring you to a time of joy, consolation and innocence. How did you feel then? How have you grown since?

Feel free to share some of your own photos, experiences and thoughts.


SINEAD’S ADVENT PRAYER Thank you, Lord, for the….

Thank you, Lord, for the rainbows and the sky.
Thank you for stuff both inside and outside.
And thank you for Jesus, the Word growing in Mary’s tummy.

Sinead Goroncy (five years old)
10 December 2011

This advent, compose your own advent prayer, or poem, psalm or drawing.

Picture source | Per Crucem ad Lucem

via SINEAD’S ADVENT PRAYER Thank you, Lord, for the….

Finding God in the Rain


Photo: Geralyn Anderson, Nov 2013

It’s unseasonably wet for this time of year in Melbourne. This week, the weather is mistakeable for winter, despite being in the middle of November.

I stayed overnight at the FCJs’ last week and walked down to Mass at the Redemptorist monastery. As I proceeded to leave, I saw a friend of mine who was surprised to see me. He greeted me with a smile, and after exchanging a few words, he noticed the rain and so went to get me an umbrella.

I didn’t really need it but I accepted his gift and head off.

The beautiful thing is the grace of kindness, compassion and now, memory. His one simple and seemingly unnecessary act of wholehearted warmth toward me, has given me a blessing that far outlasts the incident.

So to him, I thank you.

Perhaps you can reflect on the simple, unassuming ways of giving, of blessing and of generosity in your day today. Have I received or will I give?