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

 

EVENT: Taize Thursdays

You’re invited to join us for our first Taize Thursday session, commencing at 7.30pm in KEW, VICTORIA.

‘Taize Thursdays’ is a new initiative hosted by the FCJ Mission and Identity Team. Held on the LAST THURSDAY of every month, we welcome you to join us for prayer and quiet reflection. Come to one or come to all!

For more details, see our event link on Facebook:

11150671_700919936701346_5246946286204450775_nhttps://www.facebook.com/events/549107971898332/

Insight: Praying at the Computer

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down at the computer to work, knowing that someone else is spending their time doing the exact same thing. It reminds me of my university days where any number of my peers would be at their screens researching, procrastinating and sometimes writing their essays.

In quiet celebration of this awareness, I bring it into the present moment by a small ritual: I light a candle and play some reflective music. I offer my efforts in prayer and I feel the presence of the other, keeping me company in her own work day.

Keeping CompanyAs we sit down today and work at our computers, may God’s blessings and Spirit guide our hearts, minds and bodies to do what we have to do.

Amen.

Performing simple but sincere acts can often bring us to an awareness of the Divine Presence. Where have you been conscious of another’s company? Do you have a small ritual that you can use to remind yourself that you are at any given moment – in this present moment – and always in the holy presence of God?

Faithful to the End: In Memory of Sr Teresa Hennessy FCJ

Teresa Hennessy shakes hands with young Miles.

Sr Teresa Hennessy FCJ is greeted by a youngster at her Jubilee celebration, 2014.

Sr Mary Teresa Hennessy FCJ, formerly resident of the St Albans FCJ community passed away at Caritas Christi Hospice in Kew on 7 February 2015, after a long battle with cancer. She had recently celebrated 65 years of religious profession with the Faithful Companions of Jesus and this is my personal reflection of one aspect of Teresa’s life: her faithfulness.Letter from Teresa Hennessy FCJI was very touched last year in 2014, to receive a handwritten letter from Sr Teresa Hennessy FCJ. It was a welcome surprise since I hadn’t written or given her anything and thus she had ‘nothing’ to give in reply. When I opened it, it became clear, the intention of her note – it was in response to a general letter I had sent out to all the sisters for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations (full text available here). Teresa had written it in May, but it had only reached me in August. Nevertheless, I read with eager eyes, what she had to say:

Thank you for your encouragement to us in our efforts towards Vocation Promotion. Unfortunately you have caught me during a month spent mostly in hospital but Vocation Promotion has been dear to me during my 65 years as an FCJ but I was particularly impressed by the themes you proposed for us today viz. the manifestation of truthfulness in one’s living, our call to the ‘magis’ and our witness to God’s love in imitation of Pope Francis in his living his exalted office in simplicity, truth and justice.

What really made an impression on me was the next point in the letter:

…Prayer for Vocations and for Perseverance in Religious Life is the most important of my activities today… This intention seems to me of great importance particularly at this time in history when permanence is so important yet so feared by many. Yet our God is ever faithful – we know in He whom we believe and who loves us so.

It is not only life-giving and encouraging for a person in my position to receive support in the work of vocation promotion, but on a deeper level, a wonderful gift to be able to see the enduring faith and fidelity of one woman’s love for God through her vocation. In her humility and acceptance of the state of her physical life as one no longer spritely or even able-bodied as she once was, Sr Teresa still embodied and lived out faithfulness to her vocation, to God and to her sisters, to the end.

Before she moved to Caritas Christi Hospice, which was to be her final residence in this life, I had the honour and privilege of meeting and conversing with her. She took the condition of her illness with courage and even grateful acceptance for the life she had lived and for the people whom she had encountered.

I was very proud to be a messenger to her on one occasion, after having met Bishop Eugene Hurley of the Darwin Archdiocese. He had asked me to send Teresa his regards and to tell her to contact him. They had worked together years ago in the Philippines and Teresa began to tell me of their wonderful friendship in those days. A few days later when I checked on her, she had told me that she was just sitting down to finish her letter to him.

Despite her limited capacity to do very much toward the end of her life, she did what she could do, with the utmost care and sincerity of heart, echoing the words of another (Blessed) Teresa: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

I am sorry to have not known Sr Teresa for long or to have enjoyed a greater level of intimacy with her, but for what she has given me and for the small moments we’ve exchanged, I remain grateful and inspired to in my own way, be faithful to the end.

-Geralyn Anderson, February 2015.

Perhaps you have memories of Sr Teresa? You’re welcome to share them in the comments below.

Keeping Company Creates Community

I was delighted to receive something in the mail, and especially happy because it was Pope Francis’ new book, The Church of Mercy: A Vision for the Church (Loyola Press, 2014). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love my job!

image

Thank you, Loyola Press!

We all know what a fan I am of dear Francis and I am eager to get to know more about him from his thoughts and writing. But what’s touched me most is the thoughtfulness I have been shown in the simple gesture of a personalised greeting. It is my firm belief that sincere and honest sharing or dialogue between two parties is the work of the Spirit, and I also believe that through the other’s keeping company with me (and vice versa), a spirit of community is formed.

Email, instant messaging and “likes” are how we seem to communicate with one another these days,  so it feels extra special to receive something handwritten. It says, “I think of you in the choice of paper or card on which to write.” If it is a greeting card,  it says, “I take you into consideration as I choose the design or message within.” If not, then at the very least, written correspondence says, “I think of you as I form the words in my mind and place them on to the page.” Typing/swyping has its advantages in the ability to delete what you’ve written before you hit ‘send.’

Before I sink into this generous gift-of-a-book, let me leave you with the following to consider:
• When was the last time I received a personal letter or gift in the mail?
• When was the last time I sent something; either to surprise someone or for no reason at all, other than to keep in touch?
• Is there a card, message or letter for me to send, that has been put off?
• Are there people in my life who I can write to,  just to say, “hello”?

There’s a high chance you’ll feel good sending something, and more probable still, someone’s day will brighten. Who knows: you may receive something back in return! Try it out within the next few days.

Poem: Infect the World With Your Light

Here’s a poem I came across, thanks to a tweet from our connections at Catholic Religious Australia (@Cath_Religious). It is by Nigerian writer and poet, Ben Okri. To me, it is hope-filled and vivacious in its embrace of change,  conversion and transformation.

Will you be at the harvest, 
Among the gatherers of new fruits?
Then you must begin today to remake
Your mental and spiritual world,
And join the warriors and celebrants
Of freedom, realizers of great dreams. 
You can’t remake the world
Without remaking yourself.
Each new era begins within.
It is an inward event,
With unsuspected possibilities
For inner liberation.
We could use it to turn on
Our inward lights.
We could use it to use even the dark
And negative things positively.
We could use the new era
To clean our eyes,
To see the world differently,
To see ourselves more clearly.
Only free people can make a free world.
Infect the world with your light.
Help fulfill the golden prophecies.
Press forward the human genius.
Our future is greater than our past. | Ben Okri

Keeping Company

Notice to all email subscribers

Hello lovely people!

It has recently come to my attention that email subscribers to Keeping Company may only be receiving partial posts.  Yesterday’s post on St Patrick for example, contained two videos, as well as two images, the latter of these,  I believe show up in the email. It would be a shame to only receive part of the message,  so while I figure out how to rectify the situation so that everything on the site comes through in your email, I ask that you kindly view each post on the website, via the links provided.

Thank you to each one for your readership,  for your responses and for your patience as we navigate our way through cyberspace.

If you have any queries,  comments or feedback,  please reply by comment or email me at: fcjmap@gmail.com.

Thank you again.

Geralyn
Administrator,  Keeping-Company.com

The Shared Work of Friendship

It was Aristotle who observed that authentic friendship had to begin with shared work toward the good. | Tim Muldoon

What might this mean? Friendship, authentic friendship, indeed love, has to be founded on the basis of shared work toward the good. The emphasis on the nature of things shared is an important qualification, since sharing requires among other virtues, that of humility. In sharing, we say to the other, “I entrust to you, a part of what I have,” because to hold on and to keep for oneself is just that – for oneself only. How often we observe in children this dynamic at work when we encourage them to share! Some give happily, letting what they have go to another, trusting that the toy or object will return to them. Others more reluctantly cling on to the object, afraid that if they give up what they have, it’ll be lost from them forever. Learning to share is a lifelong task of refinement that also requires patience.

image

To share is to give a part of oneself to another. Image source: Mom 2 BB Reviews

How might shared work contribute to friendship? To have an aim, a cause, a goal, a desire, a dream or a vision for one’s life or worldview is worthwhile, but to let someone else in on that is to entrust another with a certain care and responsibility for a part of that which is near to you, and a part of you. This, I believe, is what Ignatius wrote, taught and practiced: that love ought to be shown more in deeds than in words. [Spiritual Exercises #230] To let another walk with you in this life, to share in the journey together is indeed an act of friendship and love, as much as is accompanying another. True love works mutually in the exchange of giving and receiving. It is breaking bread with one another.

image

Prayer:
Loving God, help me to see the good to which I’m called to work. Help me to share in this work, that with the grace of humility I may let go. Give me the courage to say ‘yes’ to you in accompanying another, and the humility to let them accompany me. Help me to enter ever more deeply into your invitation of friendship and love. Amen.

—–
Editor’s note: The rest of Timothy Muldoon’s insight may be found here.

Day for Peace – 7 September 2013

Pope Francis has called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in response to the crises in war torn Syria.

In light of that, I could not help but reflect on the uncanny resemblance between this and that of St Francis of Assisi, who wrote after his visit to the Middle East (c.1220), letters to leaders, wishing peace and calling for unity in prayer.

For reference is:
Letter to the Rulers of the Peoples (1220)

Join us and pray, fast or simply pause in petition, for peace in our world and in our hearts.

image

image

image

New Evangelization and Catholic Social Media

Tomorrow I will be joining the rest of the gang at CNMC (Catholic New Media Conference) Melbourne. I’m a little nervous (mostly, I don’t want to be late in peak hour traffic) but I’m very excited. I would have attended today’s session except that I had to take my children for their swimming lessons after school. However tomorrow, this little singular self will venture out into the big wide world of international public speakers, young professionals and what I suspect is almost a who’s-who of Catholic social media. At least in this part of the world.

Please follow us on Twitter. If you like, you can search the hash tag #CNMC to read what everyone’s talking about during the conference.

But please pray for this little traveller as she steps out on her own into unknown territory to learn things, meet new people and bring back all the wisdom her little smartphone can carry.

Stay tuned. Please refer to the Twitter feed (on the right hand side of the page) for real-time updates!