Eve’s Wishes for Christmas


It is early morning on Christmas eve, and for me as I am sure, for many, there is still so much to do. Let us not forget the reason for all our activity.


Merry Christmas to you all. Thank you for your support over this past year. May the New Year that awaits us be another of divine unfolding as we walk together, as faithful companions.

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).

Holy Feast: Holy Thursday 2016

Holy Thursday. The feast of the Lord’s Supper.


“Did you know that Holy Thursday is a special feast for the FCJs?” I commented.

My daughter replied, “That’s clever!”

“Why is that clever?”

“Because the FCJs were founded on a holy day.”

I probed a little further for her to tell me what Holy Thursday is about. The body and blood of Christ. Jesus’ gift.

I asked if she could explain it to me as if I hadn’t heard of this person called Jesus. “What words could we use to describe it that were universal?” We thought about it together and we both agreed on:

Love and friendship
Communion and community.

It’s about fellowship and companionship and relationship.

As we enter this holy space of the Triduum, perhaps you too, might ask yourselves how you would explain Holy Thursday to someone who hasn’t even heard of Jesus.

Happy Feast to all, and especially to the FCJ family.


Jesus in daily life with this painting on an urban wall.

Another Side of Romance


In light of upcoming Valentine’s Day, Vinita Hampton Wright reflects on:

…What happens to a person willing to be swept up in love.

Romance requires an open heart. Whether you are lifted out of yourself by a kiss or by a prayer of deep contemplation, neither can happen before you say yes to the possibility. Yes sets in motion new relationships, new conversations, and new avenues for showing others care. You don’t get to the kiss before you allow your eyes to meet another’s. You don’t get to the gifts of friendship until you say yes to the talk over coffee. You don’t get to that sense of the Divine until you say, in some part of yourself, yes, even though you have no idea what you’re saying yes to.

Romance is risk. It’s difficult to experience romance of any kind while you are fearful and self-protecting. So, whether or not February 14 signals to you the celebration of a significant other, I believe that God wants to see real romance in your life. Divine Love wants you brave and joyful. If you don’t feel particularly brave or joyful, be willing to get there. That’s a start.

For me, what’s important is our openness and ability to make space on our hearts for love. Sometimes we might say out loud that we love one another, but perhaps more often, talk about having love for another (“Do unto others…”) in our regard for the other. Yet children express it so freely, even though it is known to the adult: “I love you to the moon, around the sun and around the world 500 times and back.” Why might that be?

Perhaps it has to do with a child’s innocence; not naiveté but innocence. Love is so important to them. Expressing it is so important. And therein lies the fort of being,  waiting to be unlocked with the key of courage.

You don’t get to that sense of the Divine until you say, in some part of yourself, yes, even though you have no idea what you’re saying yes to.

Romance is risk. It’s difficult to experience romance of any kind while you are fearful and self-protecting.


• In prayer, do you allow for romance with God’s love?
• “Only by loving and being loved does one become truly human.” -William Johnston SJ

God is our Faithful Companion

From Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI:

Faith promises no magic pass-cards.

What it does promise is that God will be with us so that we do not have to walk through loneliness, sickness, violence, anxiety, fear, and death alone. We have a hand to grasp, a love to embrace, a truth to cling to, and a power to sustain us (even through death itself). We walk in the same world as everyone else, but, like a young child holding on to her mother’s hand as she walks into school for the first time, we are not alone, a trusted, sustaining, guiding love walks with us. God doesn’t remove us from what can hurt us, but walks with us amidst it all.

Perhaps it is because tonight I needed to hear these words in my heart that I feel it, but God really is our Faithful Companion.

When family and friends and plain old ‘good fortune’ seem to fall away, faith is knowing that no matter the storm, God is always with us, Emmanuel.


Hey, how are you going?

Hey, how are you going? Are you tired? Have you felt swamped under the weight of the various tasks you have to get done? Maybe you’ve been feeling a bit under the weather? Me too.

Let’s pause for a moment to hear God’s word:


“Abide in me,” says the Lord. “Come to me with all your troubles, worries and sighs. Come to me however you are, as you are, and come and rest in me. You’ve had a tiring day at work. You’re exhausted from running errands. You don’t sleep well at night, and your baby keeps crying. Your loved one is ill and your bills are piling high, stressing you out. Whatever it is, come. Rest in me. Abide in me. Take refuge in my warm embrace and know that I love you and am with you. For in me, you are home. In me and with me, my strength is your strength, my peace, your peace. Beloved one, I bless you and embrace you.”

Insight: The Pope’s Tweet on Teaching Children to Pray & A Young Mum’s Response

Many people find great comfort in prayer, especially those who seek to deepen their spiritual life. Pope Francis in a recent tweet, exhorted all parents to teach their children to pray, which I, as a mother, took to heart.

Keeping-Company.com |@Pontifex Pope Francis Twitter

Immediately I thought of my own parenting and how my children have been exposed to the faith tradition and to prayer itself. I thought of the prayers my children say and of how they behave during Mass. I thought of their eagerness to help out where they can, as welcomers, collection ‘taker-uppers’, ministers of the Word, offertory processors and altar servers. I thought about their openness to prayer, and how my husband and I, in our own ways, foster this environment. And I gave thanks.

But I am all too aware how rare this is in families, especially in the young families of today’s more secular age. It can be a challenge for parents to teach their children to pray, period. (What’s this pope guy talking about?) But if I may offer something from my own reflection on what Pope Francis means in his tweet, perhaps the task of praying with our children might not be as daunting or dare I say it, boring.

As a matter of practicality, simple tradition and ritual aid this task, as many childhood prayers involve the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be, beginning most fastidiously with the Sign of the Cross and ending with a dragged out “Aaaaahhh-men”. Encouraging communal prayer out loud at routine times is also helpful, such as before meals or before bed. That seems to take care of the first bit: “Teach your children to pray.” Yet Pope Francis goes further by encouraging parents to do as they say, namely, to actively pray with their children. Simple right? Easy peasy…


Just your everyday to-do list…

Yes, and no.

Enter stage right, slight reluctance to attempt the pope’s latest challenge, because the adult can’t remember the last time they prayed. Add in a list of obstacles and maybe some guilt too, with thoughts like, “I’m not good enough, who am I to teach them to pray?” The adults are not kids anymore and the day is too busy to stop and pause before lunch (often in public) to give thanks for food. They know that asking Jesus to give them sweet dreams before bed won’t stop the nightmares. They even missed Mass, twice in a row already. Yikes.

So to my fellow parents who’ve found themselves in a similar situation, how then, does one get around this?

On deeper thinking, I looked more closely at the pope’s words. I offer here, my version:

Keeping Company | Pope Francis on Prayer, Children

Dear parents – teachers, leaders, carers, guardians and every member of the faithful – teach your children or friends, students, neighbours and those in your care how to pray. Pray with them.

In other words, we can teach each other not only to pray, but also how to pray. By talking about experiences of prayer, be they graces or doubts, and opening up the topic for conversation is a good place to start. But it is also as much as in the doing that our lessons are passed on. In our daily actions and attitudes of kindness, compassion and peacemaking, by speaking politely to one another and by cursing less and blessing more, we can also be teachers of prayer by example.

And in our roles as parents, teachers, faith leaders, mentors and caregivers, we give our children the priceless gift of living prayer. By ourselves being open to God and open to encounters with God, we inevitably give by example, accompaniment in faith and support to the faithful. As has been said before, “when you pray, you are never alone.”

Let us all, regardless of whether we have children or work with children, teach one another to pray (by being open to prayer), how to pray (by our living example) and in doing so, be companions to one another in our praying with.

Reblog: Your Feet

Thank you to Philip Chircop SJ for this wonderful insight:



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

Insight: Religious Life as A Response of Love – Encounters with Those in Consecrated Life

I am in a privileged position where the secular and religious intersect. I’m a married woman, but many of my peers, due to the nature of my tertiary studies and interests, are in consecrated religious life. While there are occasions of tension where schedules and lifestyles clash, especially now that I’m no longer at college, I nevertheless accept and embrace the challenges of such relationship,  because let’s face it: whether you’re single,  in a de facto relationship, married, professed in the consecrated life, in ordained ministry or undecided (still searching!), you’re a person created and loved into being by God, and by that virtue,  we’re all the same.

Image source: TheWhirlingBlog.com

Today a group of young men I’ve known for a few years formally committed themselves to the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and to the Church in their Profession of Final Vows. This means that they promise before God and the rest of the community, to live according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, in accordance with the constitutions of the Order and of course, the gospel.

I’ve been to quite a few of these ceremonies and not uncommon in the homily or reflection is the reference made to the courage in which these people stand, by accepting the call to consecrated life. Yes, I agree with this, especially in an age where the lure of fortune and certain material freedoms that come with that are incredibly attractive. Depending on which part of the world you are in, these might even be reasonably easy to attain. But it’s nevertheless true that a profession of faith and lifelong commitment to a particular way proves to be counter-cultural, even if it is widely accepted.

Or is it, really? Is it inherently so contrary to everyday life? The answers to these questions will vary. Of course there are vast differences between one state of life and another, yet having said that, I’m also of the belief that much is shared in common between my ‘secular’ self and my ‘religious’ brothers and sisters. One of these is the call to love, and to devote one’s life in a response of love.

I was originally going to quote a romantic song by Andrea Bocelli called Il Mistero dell’Amore (The Mystery of Love), but instead here’s one better – a song written by one of the professed candidates, which they all preformed during Mass:

Late I’ve found you, beauty ever ancient
Late I’ve found you, beauty ever new
Here I am now
Burning for your love.*

Are these not words of a person in love? Yet how fitting it is, how natural that those who are called to celibacy express such feelings we normally equate with that stirring of desire called eros! And from listening to the stories of my friends, their call to religious life was much like a falling-in-love experience. I believe the reason for this lies somewhere in the generous and generative nature of God’s love, which is always an invitation into intimacy and deepening friendship. In this fundamental starting point, we all are one.

Living a religious life is a vocation. Marriage too, is a vocation. But one need not be subject or subservient to the other. Rather than a hierarchy of states, I prefer to see things as a complement of vocations, all from a resolve and response to love.

Today was another encounter with the graces of religious life. Today three more young people pledged their lives to God. Today hundreds in attendance witnessed and celebrated this. How fitting and timely it is that in marking the first anniversary of his papacy, Pope Francis tweeted such simple words: Please pray for me.**

*The song (Alive in You) is an adaptation of the prayer from St Augustine, “Late Have I Found You”. Music by Bernadinus Tertius Asmon SVD.

** In juxtaposition are the words of my grandmother, whose experience of those in consecrated life and the priesthood reflect the culture of her time. She once told me about how she refused to pray for those in religious life even though the Church called for it. Her logic was that these group of people did not need her prayers as a lay woman, seeing that they’re already “holy”, as if a class above. A smile formed across my face, in part horror and amusement, as she burst into laughter, “Now I know better! How stupid your Mama was!”

G. Anderson. 15 March 2014.