Day 22 of #31DayswithIgnatius


#Day22of31WithIggy: The #Feast of St #MaryMagdalene. Today’s image started off as a prayer for #life; that we may see through the day with all things that bring life. (#Consolation, in Ignatian terms) It proceeded onto a meditation on Mary Magdalene and while at the tomb after Jesus’ death, she approached a man who she thought was a gardener. On hearing that Jesua was no longer there, she began to cry (#desolation); until this man to whom she went revealed himself to her by calling her by name.

I’m so thankful that @franciscus #PopeFrancis has elevated this day to a feast of the same level as the other apostles. Pray for us, Mary Magdalene. Apostle to the Apostles and exemplary woman of the Church.

#IgnatianSpirituality #31dayswithIgnatius #saints #discernment #art #christian #Jesus #fcj #patronsaint #women #woman #church #leadership #womenleaders #girlpower

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).

21 September: Birthday of Marie Madeleine d’Houët

It is with quiet endearment that I recall the events of my day today, Saturday 21 September 2013 – the anniversary of the birth of FCJ founder, the Venerable Marie Madeleine d’Houët.

Much like the post I wrote on her feast day, I had plans and desires to ‘make something’ of the day, if not physically by attending Mass with the Sisters in the Epping North community (after which was a short presentation given by Sr Maureen on the life of Marie Madeleine), then praying or reflecting more deeply on her life and legacy. It was a day of celebration for me, and also for the Sisters who have been such gracious companions to me in my role as Mission and Identity Promoter.

My husband and I made our way across town, (and then some!) to join the Sisters in thanksgiving. But when we got there, we received a phone call notifying us that my husband’s aunt was in hospital in a coma, “unlikely to last through the night.” So naturally, off we went again, this time to the hospital, sadly missing out on Mass and the presentation. Would this day come and go without anything ‘special’ to show for it?

Of course not! It was already beautiful in the way the setting sun dripped through the clouds. And as it grew dark, the lights from the highways and CBD enchanted me like the sighting of a circus tent. And although I missed out on meeting the Sisters, I knew I had to be present at the hospital, if nothing else then for moral support.

Somberly we arrived at the hospital, at the same time as my husband’s parents, unsure of what was going to happen but steady in our resolve to be there. We prayed the chaplet and called for a priest to give dear Kathy the anointing. My husband and I left soon after, but on the way to the car, we found the chapel and I saw this:

Alfred Hospital window,

A window panel from the original Alfred Hospital, Melbourne.

Although our aunt’s situation is critical and we suspect her last days are upon us, being there and at prayer was peaceful. I like to think that Marie Madeleine would be pleased – I imagine, with her gentle smile. Yet even so, there it is, portrayed so beautifully in the window panel – the charism of the Sisters and the Companions-in-Mission – in waiting, watching, praying and being with the other, whomever in need.

So I close now, with thanks for the life of Marie Madeleine d’Houet, with thanks to God who called her to all she did in her life, and with thanks to the Sisters of the Faithful Companions of Jesus who in their hearts, desire daily that they will walk with us.

Happy birthday, beautiful lady!

Written by Geralyn Tan.

There’s Something About Mary (15 August: Feast of the Assumption)

Keeping-Company.comCharles Healey SJ writes:

Since St Ignatius had such a strong commitment to and love of Jesus, it should come as no surprise that he also had a deep and abiding devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. A favorite prayerful request of his to Mary was: “Place me with your Son.” | Praying with the Jesuits (Paulist Press, 2011)

Time and time again, we seek the intercession of Mary. While venerated, she is not worshipped, but rather points us to her Son and our Lord in whom all things are fulfilled. In John’s gospel at the wedding in Cana where Jesus performs his first sign, it is Mary who issues the imperative, saying, “Do whatever he tells you.”

There is a lot to say about Mary and about the feast of the Assumption, but perhaps for now, let us look at this note, again from Fr Healey:

The feast of the Assumption (August 15) is still one of the traditional days on which Jesuits pronounce their vows…

Since it is only the beginning of the day this morning, pause for a moment and ask yourself prayerfully:

  • What are the vows I have made? How do I live them?
  • Where I fall short, I ask for the grace to stand up again.
  • Where I excel, I ask for the grace of gratitude and humility, always praising God.

Let the day unfold gently, remembering the vows we have made to the Lord. God knows all that is in our hearts, let Mary take them to Him.

Media Release Statement to Politicians

The following is a media release statement:

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.


22 July: Feast of St Mary Magdalene

Oil painting by Pietro Perugino, c. 1500

Today is 22 July, the feast of St Mary Magdalene. There is a lot that can be said about this person, and about what she contributes to the mission and identity of the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Here are a few images on offer, which may resonate with you in prayer:

1. A summary from the Daily Mass Book (2013):

A faithful disciple of Christ, Mary ministered to his needs after having seven devils cast out from her. Witnessed his crucifixion, was present at his burial, and was the first to see the risen Lord. Commissioned by Christ to proclaim the good news of his resurrection to the apostles (John 20:17-18).

Consider the verbs attached to her: to minister, to witness, to be present, first to see, commissioned, to proclaim. How might we minister to others’ needs? How do we witness to the suffering of another? Are we present? Are we hopeful toward what lies beyond our horizon? How have we been commissioned by Christ? What ‘good news’ do we proclaim?

2. As played by Yvonne Elliman in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar (1973):

Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to
Problems that upset you, oh.
Don’t you know
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine.
And we want you to sleep well tonight.
Let the world turn without you tonight.
If we try, we’ll get by, so forget all about us tonight

(Apostles’ Wives: Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s alright, yes.)

Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you, and anoint you.
Myrrh for your hot forehead, oh.
Then you’ll feel
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine.
And it’s cool, and the ointment’s sweet
For the fire in your head and feet.
Close your eyes, close your eyes
And relax, think of nothing tonight.

(Apostles’ Wives: Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s alright, yes.)

Consider the role of Mary Magdalene in this story as comforter in the midst of strife. Here, she manages to soothe and be a presence of gentleness while maintaining strength and resilience. What might that say about our own capacity for healing? What about our leadership?

3. As a characteristic of friendship:

Excerpt from The Friendship of Women (2006) by Joan Chittister OSB

Consider then, what kind of companionship we seek to offer. Are we able to follow another and accompany them in the deep?

It is not without significance that the founderess shares the saint’s name, Marie Madeleine. Articulated best are the words:

…My name is Magdalen; I will follow my patron saint who so loved Jesus, her good Master, as to accompany him in his journeys and his labours, ministering to him even to the foot of the Cross with the other holy women who did not…abandon him but proved to be faithful companions. | Marie Madeleine, as recorded in the Memoir of Fr Ferdinand Jeantier SJ (1860)

Tireless Mother


Here is something from a blog I stumbled upon, which looks at a passage in the Qu’ran, translated as:

“If you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you.” [Qur’an 19:25; M.A.S. Abdel Haleem translation, Oxford University Press: 2004]

Nathan Elmore, a collegiate minister in Virginia, USA, has taken the initiative to study Chapter 19 of the Qur’an, entitled Maryam, or for us Christians, Mary. Of the above-mentioned verse, he writes:

Mary is presumed to be at her absolute wit’s end: in labor, and in evident pain. She is seen grabbing the trunk of a palm tree and longing for no more of any of this. In this moment we are to believe that her life and legacy pale in comparison to death and forgotten-ness. These are the pangs wrought by that ancient creation, which has gone so terribly awry.

Then, a voice comes.

As a tourist reader in this Book, it is admittedly hard to ascertain who or what this voice is. Is it Gabriel? Is it the newborn Jesus? Is it God? Whatever or whoever, it reminds Mary that her Lord has a provision, and, as it turns out, the provided thing is right in front of her eyes. God will use the materials at hand to fashion for Mary a way through death and forgotten-ness.

“If you shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you.”

What I can appreciate about this narrative, albeit religiously foreign to me in many ways, is this: God seems intent on inciting faith in the person he desires to use for his highest purposes. Not to discount the ferocious labor pains, Mary’s best work is personified in the very faith that catalyzes this action: clinging to a palm tree because God said so.

Ultimately, on the other hand, God’s best work is in the providing—whether that is delicious dates for a woman in labor, or, a Messiah for a tired world indeed.

Source: Ode to Mary | Clinging | elmorelian

I am grateful for this insight, and especially because it is Mothers’ Day. The following prayer of this particular mother is as follows:


It is the end of the day, and I am tired.

Festivities and well wishes have worn me out!

Yet I thank you for them and for the constant reminder to keep going, as great women do.

Marie Madeleine was one of these women, faithful to her vocation of motherhood. We read about that in her letters to her daughter-in-law. Though they lived in another town, and at times, in a different country, still she continued to look after them as she could, she continued to send them gifts and blessings and affection.

Today we remember all mothers, and all the men and women in our lives who hold a motherly role in our lives. Thank you for them, for their faithfulness and devotion. We pray especially for mothers-to-be, and for those who have lost a child, or are unable to have children. May compassion for one another grow, and may love like yours be our shared nourishment.

In the name of Jesus and his most Blessed Mother, we pray.



April 5th: Feast Day of Marie Madeleine D’Houet

Dear Marie Madeleine,

Today is the 5th of April, what we recognise as your feast day. I’m a little late, I’m afraid – I had hoped that I would have written something by now in tribute to you. I’ve been mulling over things for hours, thinking of what best to write or how to express it, but the attempts seem to fall short, at least for my liking.

The Sisters with whom I work are now having their Province Chapter. If I am not mistaken, there have been other Chapters running throughout the different regions of the FCJ-family over the past few weeks. To me, that is a sign of renewal, energy and commitment to formally live out the charism that you have brought to the world. I did however, ask if there was going to be any sort of celebration today, being your feast day. I know we’ve just had the beautiful feasts of Holy Week and Easter just past a week or so ago, but in my mind, a feast day is a little like a birthday – cause for celebration! The Chapter however, is still running, which means that the Sisters are in their communities, doing the things religious sisters do (I’m not a Sister myself, so I don’t actually know what goes on, I’ll admit!), so I decided that I’ll throw you and your memory a party right here – online, just like this.

You’re a great woman, and wonderfully inspiring. I haven’t known you for very long at all, and I am very new to your way of life and story. I did not attend one of the establishments that your Sisters set up in their mission nor did I have any other claim to a real connection with you. To be honest, I didn’t even know you existed until I met these wonderful Sisters. But part of my relatively newly formed role is to do just that – to get to know you, to get to know your spirit and the stories that have been inspired by you.

But being your feast day, I will try not to talk about myself, but talk about you instead. I’ve met my share of saints, founders and religious figures through history. You all aren’t a bad lot – courageous, faithful, devoted, discerning and compassionate, etc. That’s why you’re all part of the communion of saints, officially recognised by the Church and in Church history as outstanding, so much so that we, centuries later, still remember your name. But there’s something about you, dear Marie Madeleine, something about you that I really, really like; something about you that makes me pay attention.

I think it has to do with the realness of your story. A lot of saints and religious types have their stories either embellished by hagiographers or fanatics, and some of them sound rather unworldly to me, but yours is proof to me (not that I need it) that God really works in mysterious ways, and so visibly in the world. Ours is a God who meets people where they are.

I too, am striving for my own bit of halo, not in the sense of angelic hosts, but the call to sanctity that we are all invited to by our baptism and birth right. I pray and delight in the intimacy therein that is built upon with Jesus, and I do try in my own way to live out what I see as gospel or good news. But while these things might – at least in today’s culture – see me off to a convent quick smart, my life isn’t as simple as that.

I might have the characteristics of a religious sister, the makings of one in my heart, but in this life, I am a wife and mother. My vocation is in married life. Here’s where the connections come in. I love that although you eventually came to found a religious Society of Sisters, and was Superior of them, you were also a wife and a mother. And even though your husband died at a very young age, and very early on in your marriage, the life of Eugene your son, and his children and so on, continue that part of life which is your motherhood – something which many saints I know cannot claim for themselves.

But all in all, how wonderful God is – how beautiful and how great to be God’s instrument! It does give me hope, you know. My growing adulthood has found me striving for deeper union with God who loves us so much, so loves me so much. Therein lies the search for sanctity, supported by faithfulness in prayer and devotion to everything that is Christ’s light in the world. And now I can say, with thanks to you and your example, I am reminded constantly of God’s protective embrace; that with God, nothing is impossible, that with God, all is well. Sometimes the load of marriage and motherhood is heavy and I can’t carry it alone, so having your example of faithfulness to both states of life is a blessing for me. Your very story gives me courage and confidence in my own life to keep at it on this journey, and to not lose heart.

It is night time now, as I finish this letter. I would have had it written earlier but I spent the entire day with my children. I took them to the movies and their excitement and energy wore me out by the time we got back home. But always present in my heart today has been the desire to write something about you, in your honour and your memory. It’s not exactly how I thought it would be, but I’m sure God knows that my intentions are in the right spirit.

So dear Madame, dear Marie Madeleine – I thank God for you, for your existence and for the difference you have made to the lives of so many. I pray for you and pray with you that God’s will be done on earth and in heaven. Kindly intercede for us, in Christ’s name, and watch over us as we endeavour to further your mission, which was so clearly not yours, but Christ’s.

Happy Feast Day!

Grosses bisoux,


FCJ Mission & Identity Promoter, FCJ Sisters Australia


Note: According to, April is National Writing Month (though I assume, in America, since I’ve not heard of it down under…). Nevertheless, we’re encouraged to write letters in the spirit of St Ignatius who was a prolific letter-writer in his time. But hey, guess what: Marie Madeleine penned a few herself, many of which have been preserved and translated, giving us insight into her personality and passions.

Mary came to Jesus in the dark


Photo | Geralyn Tan, “Moon Through Trees” on Easter Sunday Morning

The Rev David Lewicki has the following reflection to read on the reality of Easter. He makes the point that the women who went to the tomb did so in the dark.

Biblical scholar Raymond Brown is quoted:

“In this [John’s] Gospel, where light and darkness play such a role, darkness lasts until someone believes in the risen Jesus.”

Yet it is also true that faith travels in darkness. Many people will not experience the lightness of Easter or the hope it proclaims. Illness, disease and malady are in our faces. Death and destruction continues. But still we are challenged as people of the gospel, “to walk by faith and not by sight,” as the song goes. There is darkness around. It is still dark. But nonetheless, our beloved friend in Jesus still needs us, wants us and calls us out of ourselves to bring light and truth in the world.

And so I share some symbols of Christ’s light from a dawn service I attended over Easter.






May the courage of Mary be ours, may she show us the ways of joy and peace. And may our goings-out be in the warmth and gentle glow of Christ’s light. Peace.