Day 1 of #31DayswithIgnatius

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’. Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia):

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#day1of31withiggy: One of the first things I learnt about Ignatian spirituality was the gift of #noticing. Yesterday I noticed this tiny #leaf on the ground, dotted with #raindrops. I lost some trying to pick up said leaf, but was still able to delight in its wonder.

An Easter Greeting

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Chapel Interior, FCJ Convent Moonbria | Photo courtesy of Sr M. Merlo fcJ

I was sent this photo on Easter morn of the sacred space in one of our community houses. Thank you to Sr Joan Cartlidge for the beautiful display. On behalf of the FCJ Mission and Identity Team for the Province of Asia-Australia, we wish all a blessed holy and Eastertime. May the life and light of the Risen Christ fill our hearts with joy! Alleluia!

Photos from #LighttheDark Vigil for Asylum Seekers (Melbourne)

My family and I made it to Federation Square in Melbourne city to help shine light on the darkness that is the tragedy of detention centres like the one on Manus Island, which allowed 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, Reza Berati to suffer unjustly and die. Regardless of political leaning, every life is sacred and every human being deserves to be humanely treated and cared for.

Here are some photos from our night out. I was especially delighted to have met up with Sr Margaret Claver fcJ who joined us. I wish to express grateful thanks as well, to all who supported this night, through prayers, messages and thoughts, to help express an Australian culture that we can be proud of.

An individual flame is small, but together, we can shine a light so bright, for hope, for peace, for humanity, for all.

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Melburnians stand tall even before it gets dark.

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Sr Margaret Claver fcJ meets us at the vigil after a long day. Thank you.

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Laying down of lights, messages and tributes in memory of Reza Berati and all asylum seekers.

Photo: Pope Francis’ Ordinary Moments

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Before you read the story behind this candid photo of Pope Francis, I invite you to notice your immediate responses. What are you thinking? How does it make you feel? Note your own facial expression: are the muscles in your face relaxed? Are you furrowed at the brow in a questioning way? Do you have a smile on your face?

And now, are you aware that while doing this little exercise, God is in every moment, every muscle, every cell, every receptor, every brain signal, every fibre of your DNA? And that God loves and blesses everything about you?

Breathe slowly, mindfully, for a few breaths. Give thanks.

Now you may read the story here, from the photographer himself, at Vatican City.

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.