Today (13 November) is the feast of St Stanislaus Kostka SJ, patron saint of novices. I admit that I am not familiar with this saint, apart from hearing his name in passing, and upon some research, discovered that he died at the young age of seventeen. Despite his short life, and even shorter time still, within the Society of Jesus (he entered as a novice in October 1567, and died August 1568), we can still see in him, values and virtues to be admired and imitated. As such, we pause to remember and pray for all who have said ‘yes’ to God’s calling, as religious, and especially our novices within the Society of Sisters, FCJ. We thank you for being open to the Spirit of God at work within your lives, and thank you for choosing to say yes and accept the gifts and challenges that life holds.
Surrender does not come easy to most of us, yet in all of us, we are called to do just this. It is not just for those discerning a vocation, or for the youth, because we are all called to surrender to the greater dream God has for us. It takes humility and trust to be empty vessels in which to carry living water. And it takes courage and strength to be open to the workings of love within us and for us.
We continue to pray and work for the building of God’s kingdom through the formation of people. We continue to say ‘yes’ and to say, ‘thank you,’ especially to our novices and those in training.
The patronage of St Joseph goes a long way, symbolic of fathers and workers, noble male figures and fidelity to the Church.
It lends me to notice the significance of the saint’s presence in the life of Venerable Marie Madeleine d’Houët. Apart from expressing her devotion to the Holy Family countlessly in her writings, she called herself and was known as Madame Joseph, the wife and widow of the Viscount Joseph de Bonnault d’Houët.
Not unlike the Mary and Joseph we know from tradition, Marie Madeleine and her young husband, Joseph, would faithfully lend their gifts to others’ service. It was through dutiful labour in tending to the sick that Monsieur de Bonnault caught illness and died early in their marriage.
Despite this, Marie Madeleine carried on in similar fashion, I am sure, with her husband never far from her thoughts.
On this day of St Joseph, let us recall not only the consecrated life of Marie Madeleine as a Faithful Companion of Jesus, but also as a wife.
May the example of steadfastness and loyalty of St Joseph continue to show through in our lives.
My personal favourite version of the Litany of the Saints is by John Becker.
The Litany is a prayer invoking the intercession or help of the saints. Traditionally when it is prayed or sung as part of the Mass, the congregation prostrates or kneels in reverence. When this happens, I like to imagine that what we are all doing is praying with the saints, and for those seven or eight minutes of music, we all fit right into that communion as peers. That unity is, in my opinion, another form of companionship, of the Spirit of God with us and for us, in many different and creative ways.
Calling politicians and voters to work together for justice
Today we celebrate the Feast of Mary MacKillop. “Can the politicians who celebrated with us when Mary was named as Australia’s first Saint now see her as a model and mentor”, asks CRA President, Sr Annette Cunliffe rsc.
“Can our politicians rise to being worthy of our vote rather than descending into vote seeking, no matter the moral and ethical cost? Can Australians heed the advice of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to look beyond their own individual needs and vote for the common good?”
Sr Annette Cunliffe speaks of Mary MacKillop as a woman of great humanity and justice. “She lived a life of heroic goodness and responded totally to the needs around her. Her life was motivated by compassion for those most in need. Mary epitomises responding to the Gospel call”.
“The Gospel call challenges us to help create a just society. We all need to identify where the injustices are, really listen to the people affected, and then work together to influence change.”
“Politicians and the people of Australia need to work in harmony to promote and protect human dignity, seeking to identify and assist the poor, the marginalised, the sick and the forgotten in our community.
“Can we all heed Mary’s watchword: Never see a need without doing something about it? Mary’s feast is an opportunity for all of us to engage in reflection and prayer for the wisdom and courage to make our vote count and for our politicians to be accountable.”
“Australians need to cast a vote that is responsible and principled and our politicians need to be responsible and principled,” said Sr Annette.
8 August 2013
Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) is the peak body for leaders of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life resident in Australia. Our membership comprises more than 180 congregations of over 8,000 Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests living and working in all states and territories.) The Faithful Companions of Jesus belong to Catholic Religious Australia.
Today is the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola. Of particular interest is the role of women in the saint’s life:
Women were part of his world as he was part of theirs, and history records women exerting significant influence on his physical, psychological, spiritual and apostolic life…They also practiced in their daily lives the principles of his Spiritual Exercises. | Dyckman, K. et. al, The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women (2001)
Here is one of the many letters he wrote to women.
In fact, Ignatius is said to have included women of all types and classes in his spiritual conversations, believing that they too, could hear and receive the Word of God and themselves led holy lives.
In special acknowledgment to the women of the Society of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, whose very lives show a deeply embedded Ignatian spirituality, may we not exclude anyone from our reach, but in them and in all things, find and embrace God.