A Note of Thanks

leaves-1363766_1920.jpg

Dear readers,

The time has come to farewell my contributions here, on Keeping Company. It has been an immense joy and privilege to share my thoughts, reflections and insight into the charism of the Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters. Thank you to each one of you, for your kind words of encouragement and support. If you wish to continue to follow me on my writing journey, you are welcome to do so.

For now, I hope that each one of you have gained something from this endeavour and that you yourselves do not stop reflecting, savouring and praying through the ins and outs of your life, on your journey with God, as I have learnt to do from this undertaking.

I leave you now, with an official statement from Sr Judith Routier fcJ, Province Leader:

The Faithful Companions of Jesus would like to thank Geralyn Anderson for initiating and maintaining this beautiful ‘Keeping Company’ blog for the past few years. The blog was a project on behalf of the fcJ sisters in Australia and through this use of social media Geralyn promoted the mission and identity of the fcJ Society to people with whom we would not otherwise be in contact.

Geralyn has posted many inspirational and creative items based on a variety of sources, not only things connected with the ministry of the fcJ sisters.  We have been moved by stories in the life of her young family, by her personal reflections, by theological and educational articles, and by insights into social justice issues. The arrival of a new Keeping Company post in my inbox was always something to which I looked forward.

The fcJ sisters wish to voice our gratitude to Geralyn and to her family, and to assure them of our prayer of blessing on their lives.

Judith Routier fcJ
Province Leader

 

Day 15 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

iggyday15

Today is also the Feast of St #Bonaventure; a personal patron and my inspiration for today’s post. His name literally means “good journey”. So to all, good journey to you. Travel with a friend where you can… invite God, our Faithful Companion to #walkwithyou.

St Ignatius saw himself as a #pilgrim; his autobiography affectionately entitled “A Pilgrim’s Testament”. Ven Marie Madeleine d’Houët saw herself as a faithful companion of Christ, to the cross and beyond. How are you a traveller today? Be attentive to how you go about your day.

May we all have good journeys, may we all walk with grace and gratitude. May we be blessings to one another on the way. May we lead each other to the love and peace of Christ. Amen.

#saint #feastday #catholic #church#journey #pilgrim #wyd #faith #fcj#FcjSisters #mmv#mariemadeleinevictoire #franciscan#ignatian #spirituality#31dayswithIgnatius #blessing #love#quote #qotd #friendship #traveller

 

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).

Mid-Lent Heart Check-up

The following extract is from a reflection from the Apostleship of Prayer. It provides a succinct and accessible way to check in with God as a cardiac review of sorts, midway through Lent. I encourage you to click through the link to read the entire exercise.

________________________

Heart Check-Up
A couple of weeks ago, I shared an excerpt from Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2015:

During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.

“Make our hearts like yours.”

How’s that going?

– Original source: Apostleship of Prayer

Source: Apostleship of Prayer

Reflection: In the Footsteps of Marie Madeleine Pilgrimage

The following reflection is a guest post submitted by one of the pilgrims who “walked with us” on the pilgrimage I made earlier this year.

Keeping-Company.com | Faithful Companions of Jesus

Image: G. Anderson, 2014.

In the footsteps of Marie Madeleine

Some time on, and I am still in awe of the fact that one woman, who lived 156 years ago is the reason that in 2014, 32 pilgrims, 5 FCJ sisters and one coach driver are gathered in Central France, visiting countless churches, houses, run down country estates, disused chapels, negotiating winding country roads, unsure of which turn to take, in order to find four generations of a family willing to welcome a group of strangers, who don’t speak their language, into their home and treat them like long lost friends.

Keeping-Company.com | Faithful Companions of Jesus

The generous spread provided by the de Bonnault-de Bengy families.
Image courtesy: A. Daw, 2014.

It is a fact that we are reminded of as we sit, (at the feet of the master, who is Sr. Mary Campion) in the garden of Rue Coursalon in Bourges, on a very sunny and hot afternoon in July. The group, representing four continents, is grappling with the question, “Am I a tourist or a pilgrim?” “What is the difference?” Someone in the group suggests that the pilgrim is someone who is searching for the meaning of things and I am reminded of the quote from The Little Prince,

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential remains invisible to the eye. | Antoine de Saint-Exupery

And so, our focus goes beyond the facts of the story which is unfolding before us… We begin to glimpse the young woman, mother and daughter who is struggling to do the right thing, against a backdrop of political unrest, social upheaval and is torn between her strong sense of family duty and her desire to seek only the will of God and accomplish it faithfully, as soon as it is made known to her. It is a struggle, not unlike the struggles of this group of pilgrims, nearly 200 years later. Conversations deepen and centre on questions of justice and dignity for individuals and groups in our 21st-Century world. We come to the conclusion that if Marie Madeleine were here today, it would be these same issues that she would want to tackle.

Our own journey has had its own (albeit trivial) problems, including some geographically challenged sheets and pillows while in Amiens, which means rising with the sun to ensure they can be safely returned or packed away, to travel south with us toward Paris.

There is also the wing mirror on the apparently new coach, which refuses to open and means a three hour wait for a mechanic in Bourges. What to do? Make sure that everyone is as comfortable as possible, with something to eat and drink – perhaps find somewhere to sit in the shade, try to fix the problem ourselves, or find a seat at the back of the bus and start praying – and we mustn’t forget our time of sharing, so some of us sit in the park to reflect on what has happened today…

Keeping-Company.com | Faithful Companions of Jesus

Pilgrim-companions behind the Cathedral in Bourges. Luckily there was a pub nearby. Image: G. Anderson, 2014.

But NO-ONE complains… Good example does much good. We have witnessed the sisters living out community in its truest sense. We have seen ‘the love and care they have for one another’ and what they have done and continue to do for us. Then, for me, another realisation – we are no longer strangers or friends – we are all companions and Marie Madeleine’s spirit is very much alive and living amongst us! Conversations go deeper again, and there is a dawning realisation that whatever work we ‘do’, if it is done for the ‘good of the other’, then it is God’s work and work that Marie Madeleine would have happily undertaken.

The ‘end’ of our journey lies in Paris, almost where we began, as we arrive at the parish church of St Dominique. Having travelled the labyrinth of roads around France and our lives, we finally arrive on the holiest of ground, to be welcomed with open arms by the church community, who are curious to know where we have come from and who might, like us, be in awe of the fact that one woman, who lived 156 years ago has brought this group of companions together to pray in their church.

And then we are gone…. As quickly as we came, back to our realities and daily lives, but richer for the experience. The ‘end’ of our journey is but the beginning and we are no longer alone in our daily struggle.

We are a community which transcends time and space. We are strengthened in our resolve to continue our work with the prayerful support of each other. The prayer, this week, has been powerful. We marvel at how, at each place, the prayer is ‘spot on’, speaks to us, moves us.

For me, it is yet more evidence of the beauty of God’s creation. We have worked together on it, across vast distances, with people we may not yet have known. It has helped shape our experience together and has allowed us to be a community of pilgrims rather than a group of tourists.

Through the skillful and dedicated work of our FCJ guides, Marie Madeleine has been given life and we have all returned home with a new understanding of who she is, the sacrifices she made, and the very real struggles she had in trying to do what she believed God wanted of her.

We give thanks for this very special opportunity and for the many blessings and graces received during our privileged time together.


This reflection was graciously offered by a fellow pilgrim-companion. 

*Do you have your own reflection or pilgrimage story to share? For contributions, and to discuss possible authorship, please contact Geralyn via email: missionandidentity@fcjasau.org.au.

On Pilgrimage: Peace Follows

I will not lie. It has not sunk in that I’m heading to the airport tomorrow. I haven’t even finished packing and there are still last-minute errands to run. I am nervous about it and by nature, prone to anxiety, but these are the realities of my experience.

However as I have slowly put things together, I have received messages of kindness and blessing from the FCJ sisters, who’ve gifted me with this opportunity to France. So to you sisters who have wished me well, thank you.

I would never have thought I’d be here right now. A few years ago I applied for a job that was advertised. It seemed to fit my requirements yet still accommodate my family-oriented lifestyle. I didn’t know then how long I would last in the role, whether I would like it or whether we’d get along (the job and I). I didn’t know what the future would bring. I had no knowledge of the FCJ charism, barely any formal work experience, no familiarity with the schools and no background link, except for my faith. All I knew was that an avenue of faith expression was important to me. I didn’t particularly seek to work in the Church or with religious sisters.

But trust in my gut I did, and I applied for the job. An outsider, an unknown into a brand new role that had no precedent or predecessor. I knew that whatever story I had to read, become acquainted with and eventually promote would not be an easy task. But on board the train I jumped, to Destination Unknown, and here we are now.

It’s funny how things have worked out. I’ve not ever really focussed on one goal or career path. I studied and grew up with girls who were driven from the time they were fifteen. Many have since become the doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals they set out to be. I left school, signed up for a degree with no definitive job prospect and here I am.

Looking back at the uncertainties and risks I have taken, with regards to a career or livelihood, it’s safe to say that I have lived rather ‘carelessly’ in the lack of planning I have actually done.

But what have I done? I have noticed in myself anyway, the propensity to, on arriving at a situation or life-stage, give it a go, with the little that I have and a whole lot of sincerity and best effort. I trust wholeheartedly in the guidance and protection of God who goes before always. I don’t always go where God calls me (I am human after all), but this same human can and does also attest to the fidelity of God.

No matter where you are in life, or where you want to go, peace follows where God leads. I suggest you go with God.

image

Thomas Merton: On Pilgrimage

The story of man’s pilgrimage and search has reached the end of a cycle and is starting on another. It is clear that there is no paradise on earth that is not defiled as well as limited, and yet the piligrimage must continue because it is an inescapable part of man’s stucture and program. The problem is, for his pilgrimage to make sense, it must represent a complete intergation of his inner and outer life, of his relation to himself and to other men. The Bible has always taken men in the concrete, never in the abstract. Our task now is to learn that if we can voyage to the ends of the earth and there find ourselves in the aborigine who most differs from ourselves, we will have made a fruitful pilgrimage. That is why pilgrimage is necessary, in some shape or other. Mere sitting at home and meditating on the divine presence is not enough for our time. We have to come to the end of a long journey and see that the stranger we meet there is no other than ourselves – which is the same as saying that we find Christ in him. | Thomas Merton

image Excerpt transcribed from Thomas Merton’s Mystics and Zen Masters, from the radio show, Paul Elie – Faith Fired by Literature, (20 February 2014). Click here to listen to the recording.

————–
In just over a week, I will begin a pilgrimage to France ‘In the Footsteps of Marie Madeleine’, with an international group of people associated with the Faithful Companions of Jesus, including Companions in Mission, staff from our schools and other associates. Kindly remember us all as we embark on this journey, and together we pray for all those travelling, on pilgrimages of some kind, and for those who are forced to move for their safety and welfare through no fault of their own, such as asylum seekers and nations displaced.

Poem: Going Back to Galilee

Dear Pope Francis preached at the Easter Vigil on Galilee. Curiously, I dabbled in writing a poem a few years ago on the same theme.

PS: I’m not a confident poet, so any helpful comments are appreciated! Happy Easter!

Sea of Galilee (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

Going Back to Galilee (2012)

Going back to Galilee,
to where it all began.
My heart was alive, inflamed with love,
It was there I met a man…

His eyes were hazel, amber-like
And his face had lines of life
He had a past with shadow self
But a lightness of hope in time

I met him there, along the way
Unbothered in my stride
I sought him not nor noticed much
Until he was by my side.

A gospel of love he longed to preach
A heart-space of truth and light
The setting sun and the morning moon
With his words, now coincide.

Miracles did happen and
His stories gave me to peace
They challenged me, I was alive
And freely I followed with feet.

These feet, sometimes patted
Sometimes shuffled, sometimes stride
But follow all the same I did
With wings I could not hide.

Where is this man now of whom I write?
This vision of inner peace
This beauty, this beloved companion of mine
Is he only in Galilee?

Not true, not so, it cannot be!
Galilee was only the start
So many places we’ve travelled since
In spirit, in word and in heart.

From the Archives: Mary came to Jesus in the dark

Originally published 1 April 2013. Reposted 20 April 2014 for your reflection.

Easter Moon Photo: Geralyn Anderson, “Easter Moon Through the Trees” on Easter Sunday Morning (2013)

The Rev David Lewicki has the following reflection to read on the reality of Easter. He makes the point that the women who went to the tomb did so in the dark.

Biblical scholar Raymond Brown is quoted:

In this [John’s] Gospel, where light and darkness play such a role, darkness lasts until someone believes in the risen Jesus.

Yet it is also true that faith travels in darkness. Many people will not experience the lightness of Easter or the hope it proclaims. Illness, disease and malady are in our faces. Death and destruction continues. But still we are challenged as people of the gospel, “to walk by faith and not by sight,” as the song goes. There is darkness around. It is still dark. But nonetheless, our beloved friend in Jesus still needs us, wants us and calls us out of ourselves to bring light and truth in the world.

And so I share some symbols of Christ’s light from a dawn service I attended over Easter.

image

image

image

image

Keeping Company

May the courage of Mary be ours, may she show us the ways of joy and peace. And may our goings-out be in the warmth and gentle glow of Christ’s light. Peace.

Reflection: Step by step (Palm Sunday 2014)

image

Today is Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, as we mark the entry into Holy Week, where we contemplate the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ in the lead up to Easter.

Today we also gather in prayer of solidarity for all, but specifically, for the refugees and asylum seekers -who thanks to our government, have been locked up indefinitely, with little-hope-to-none of entry and welcome into Australia.

Today we take to the streets in support of asylum seekers.

But today we also recount how Jesus, the one we’ve been following, enters into Jerusalem, a city where he will inevitably meet his passion and death.

Exercise for Contemplation

Imagine you’re with Jesus. Maybe you’re leading the donkey with a rope. Perhaps you’re the one beside the donkey,and you glance over at your friend and fellow disciple of Jesus, on the other side. Perhaps you’re one of the larger group, following behind, not really being able to see much past the bodies – your only marker is our Lord, elevated on the beast of burden.

Whichever character you assume, notice the crowd around you. Notice the sand and dust brought up from under the carpet of palms and cloth. Where are you walking to? Who are you walking with? Do you know what’s really going to happen?

Now look at Jesus. His glance meets with yours. Your eyes lock for a moment and you see something in his look that strikes you in the centre of your being.

What do you see in Jesus’ eyes? What is Jesus trying to share with you, reveal to you? Having insight into this, how do you keep walking?

Reblog: Your Feet

Thank you to Philip Chircop SJ for this wonderful insight:

image

YOUR FEET

Often taken for granted. Sometimes ignored. And yet feet take us places. Feet carry us to our loved ones. Feet walk us through the ups and downs, the twists and turns of our lives. In some ways feet know our intimate biography.

As you consider your feet today, here is one short paragraph for your contemplation by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda:

But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.

Here is the original in Spanish:

Pero no amo tus pies
sino porque anduvieron
sobre la tierra y sobre
el viento y sobre el agua, 
hasta que me encontraron.

Pablo Neruda, from “Your Feet” in The Captain’s Verses: The Love Poems (New Directions, 2009) pages 10-11.l