To live with outrageous hope
Sr. MaryAnne is a member of an international congregation with the same spirituality as the Jesuits. The Faithful Companions of Jesus were founded in 1820. MaryAnne teaches at an FCJ school in Liverpool.
In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf says “All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.” Our world is a mess: climate change, war, violence, human trafficking, poverty, hunger, disease, loneliness... We see all this and often feel helpless. How can we respond? We can ignore the problems and the tragedies and make our lives as comfortable as we can, or we can decide to use our time on this Earth to make a difference. There are many options, many choices. I chose one ... and it has made all the difference. How did I know it was the right choice? Let me tell you something about my story:
I was born and spent my childhood in a little country called Malta. When I was sixteen I first encountered Ignatian Spirituality. It resonated with me. I found out more. The more I found out, the more I was drawn. I was inspired and challenged by the idea of sharing in Jesus’ life-giving mission in the world, of being contemplative in action, of living a faith that does justice. Ignatian Spirituality became an essential part of being me. I knew this is how I wanted to live. I longed to commit myself completely to this way of life and for me this meant becoming a religious. Since I could not be a Jesuit, I searched (on the Internet!) for Female Ignatian Congregations. This is where I encountered the FCJ sisters. I left my little country to begin an adventure into the unknown. The values, ministries and lifestyle of FCJ sisters resonated with me. I knew I was home.
That was more than ten years ago. Since then I have done things I never thought I would do. I have lived and worked in three different countries. I have taught in a school and in informal education programmes. I have worked with asylum seekers, orphaned children, the urban poor, the homeless, young adults. I have shared life with people of diverse cultures and beliefs. I have lived in community with FCJ sisters from every continent. My life has been interesting. Not always easy, but with many moments of real joy. How do I know that this is the right thing for me? I just do. I am at home in my skin, in my community, in the world.
A recent FCJ document challenges me by the question: “Dare we be women of outrageous hope?”2 I have just one life. I have chosen FCJ Religious life and I love it! It challenges me to face the world (as messy as it is) with compassion and hope, and to give of myself more generously each day.
Each one of us has to make a decision. If we are people of faith, we need to make sure that God has some say in it. I don’t believe that God has ‘a plan’. There is no plan written somewhere in some big book in God’s possession! There is no blue print. God and I walk together and discover the right thing to do at each turning point. This is discernment: to listen to what life experience is telling you, to trust the voice of God’s Spirit deep inside you, to accept with enthusiasm the challenges that life throws at you, to act according to your heart’s promptings, to have the courage to change your mind when it seems like you are going the wrong way. Above all it is to trust … and to always listen.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
- From the 2008 General Chapter Decree of the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ). www.fcjsisters.org