21 September 2016: Celebrate Being Alive

 

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Pilgrims – celebrating friendship – in the footsteps of Marie Madeleine. 2014.

“A birthday,” said my daughter, “is to celebrate how long you’ve been alive.”

 

We worked out how old Marie Madeleine would be if she were still with us today: two hundred and thirty-five.

Though the years are numbered, one can say that her spirit lives on with each story told, each memory shared and every time we pause to reflect on her life. To celebrate Marie Madeleine’s birth and life, we need not ceremony or lavish feasts, but hearts that are open to meeting her, and in turn, God’s gifts to the Church.* We can read about her, as my daughter has done so tonight in curiosity and interest, or we can hold near to us, what knowledge or insight we’ve gained over the period we’ve known her. We can reflect on the physiological aspects of her life: her birthplace, the family to which she was born, the time period in France, and ponder their significance or effect; or we can look at her legacy in the lives of her direct descendants, or the order of nuns she founded, and in the lives of many whom she continues to inspire.

Today is also the International Day of Peace, and I draw from the words of the newly-canonised St Teresa of Calcutta: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Celebrate being alive, with those nearest to you, may they be your family, your community or whomever lives in your heart.

 

*We remember that Marie Madeleine has been declared Venerable by the Catholic Church, formally recognising her saintly virtues. Here is a Prayer for Healing, which you might like to say:

 

More details about the Cause for the Canonization of Marie Madeleine can be found on the Society’s web site.

 

 

A Prayer for Openness

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I don’t travel alone much, and when I do, I feel the whole process interiorly – from the planning of itinerary; to the packing, the transit and the journey.

I was reminded of one particular stay in Sydney two years ago when I was there for a conference. It was night, and many of the participants had either travelled in groups or were familiar with the locality. To add fun to the story, it was wet and quite cold that winter night, but because I was a Melbournian going to Sydney, I had decided on principle (and in stubbornness) that I wouldn’t need an umbrella with me. (Melbourne winters are not for suckers.) We had to organise our own meal and I was getting hungry and tired from the commute, and I was without the securities of shelter, familiarity and knowledge.

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Sydney in the rain, by night, 19 August 2014. Image credit: G. Anderson.

I mustered courage and ventured out nevertheless, with a borrowed umbrella, and walked around the precinct awhile. Businesses were closing and people were going about their regular routine, leaving work, etc. It was not a tourist district, so everyone looked as though they knew where they were going. I did my best to imitate them, and found a haven of authentic #Japanese fare open, as if just for me. The interior was cosy and intimately lit (dark!), and I was the only customer at the time, yet there was something warm about it (apart from the steaming hot #miso). The service staff spoke little English but we managed with smiles. どうもありがとう 🙇

This was not the #Sydney I had known before, it was something else altogether, and in part, I think it was because I let myself be vulnerable yet reliant on whatever strengths I had in me.

When was the last time you lived with openness of spirit? Are you being called to openness? How can you be a welcome for someone today?

 

 

Prayer for Openness

God of Love,

Your birth knew no welcome on a barnyard floor

Your childhood estranged from the land of your home.

As an adult you lived among outsiders and lepers,

the lost and the forgotten, on the edges of sociability.

Rejected and renounced, to be abandoned by your kin

You were left to die alone, save for a few.

Even in rising, you were found unrecognised

yet remained ever faithful to the truth that is Love.

God of Love,

In knowing this, and in all you’ve given me,

Make me a haven of welcome and warmth,

that I too, may be open, to your coming again.

#spiritual #insight #instafood #restaurant #door #doorway #opendoor #travel#memories #fcjasau #mission

Day 5 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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When there’s so much to be done and so many voices to attend; whether I am inspired or exhausted, it is a gift to find myself #grateful for the One whose #Spirit lives in me.

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).

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?

Video: All Souls

In remembering All Souls’ Day, we recall and give thanks for the lives of so many who’ve gone before us.

Vinita Hampton-Wright from Days of Deepening Friendship has this simple reflection you may find helpful in your prayer.