13 November (Feast of St Stanislaus Kostka): Thank You for Saying ‘Yes’

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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.

 

A Golden Opportunity: Just Begin (31 July 2014: Feast of St Ignatius)

Please join me in a little cross-congregational companionship. Here’s the prayer for today from our friends at the Redemptorist order (CSsR) via their Bread4Today page, on 31 July. It’s also the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the Ignatian way of life that the Faithful Companions of Jesus embrace.

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One part of Ignatian prayer is to “ask God for the grace you’re seeking.” Sometimes in prayer, as in life, we don’t know what we are looking for, so coming to the awareness of such knowledge can be grace itself.

I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting what I see as a good ‘first step’ in beginning a prayer: Just show up. Just begin. Check in with God, make that time for God and for you,  even if it’s as little as two minutes of heartspace.

When your prayer isn’t flowing or when you struggle to begin, how do you find ways to make that transition?

You’re welcome to share these insights with us.

Have a blessed day, wherever you are, and however you’re praying.

St Ignatius of Loyola,  pray for us.
All saints named and unnamed, pray for us.

Insight: The Personification of Ignatian Identity: Fr Frans van der Lugt SJ, Jesuit Priest Killed for Staying with People

It was in the middle of the night when I found out that Dutch Jesuit priest, Fr Frans van der Lugt SJ was shot dead by a masked gunman in Syria. The news was like something out of an action movie. I had read about this priest a few months ago, when he made headlines for refusing to leave the besieged area of Homs, so long as there were still people there who were suffering. Having lived in Syria since 1966, van der Lugt was said to have been well respected by the community around him. Spokesperson for the Vatican, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ is reported to have said of Fr Frans’ death:

“This is the death of a man of peace, who showed great courage in remaining loyal to the Syrian people despite an extremely risky and difficult situation.”

I personally stand in sorrow at the death of such a man, but also with great admiration and encouragement. Though our brother-Jesuits have lost one of their own, though the people of Syria have lost an ally and a friend in Pater Frans, the Church and the world have gained in him, an examplar of faith, courage and fidelity to God.

As I thought about the loss – and it is indeed very much that – I remembered the words of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus to which Fr Frans belonged, and spiritual father of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. In his Principle and Foundation [SPEX #23] we have a teaching on indifference (better understood as non-attachment), application of which does not come so automatically to our human nature:

Frans van der Lugt: Keeping-Company.com Yet we have in Fr van der Lugt, an immediate and real-life example of this ideal, personified. In his life of service and ministry, we see how his actions came from a deep conviction of God’s call to love, and in his death, we see a man who devoted his whole life to the greater glory of God. Ad majorem Dei gloriam.

May we remember in our thoughts and prayer, the memory and repose of Fr Frans van der Lugt SJ; the people of Syria to whom he served and for all who are affected by war and civil unrest. We also pray for ourselves as members of the faithful, to be in the world, in like example of Fr Frans and St Ignatius before him, as lovers of peace, restorers of justice and people for God.

So, did you hear the one about the Jesuit from Myanmar?

Well there really isn’t a joke here, despite the opening line…But what we do have is cause for celebration – the ordination of the Fr Wilbert Mireh SJ, Myanmar’s first Jesuit priest. The ‘firsts’ of things are always exciting, uplifting and inspiring.

In the spirit of community therefore, I’d like to share with you, something about the Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters in Myanmar.

There is a community of FCJ Sisters in Yangon, Myanmar, the Province of Asia-Australia’s youngest mission. It is a vastly different context from that of Australia, with the majority of its population being Buddhist. Myanmar is also one of South-east Asia’s poorest countries, having seen political, social and economical upheaval. However through education, support groups and leadership formation, Srs Agnes, Sisca and Marion FCJ live and work with the people for a better world:

We also continue to support educational and development needs in poor areas in central Myanmar by providing educational resources, toilets, and wells to schools and villages.

Hospitality is an important part of our community ministry. We welcome many people to our community each year. Some come to join us for prayer and a meal, others for short stays of a few days and some for a month.

Our community is greatly enriched by all. | Sr Marion FCJ

To read more about the FCJ mission in Myanmar, you can visit the Society’s web site. Congratulations to Fr Mireh and continual gratitude to the FCJ community in Yangon for their lives of dedication, service and love, for God’s greater glory!