“Give me only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing.” more. St Ignatius of Loyola. Mentor and friend to St Francis Xavier
In the last few weeks, Sunday Gospel readings from Luke’s Gospel have challenged us to consider our needs, wants and values and question whether we put our faith first or our needs and wants first. Over the last two weeks, we have celebrated five great feasts– The Transfiguration, St Ignatius Loyola, Mary MacKillop, St Clare of Assisi, and the Feast of the Assumption. Ignatius, Mary MacKillop, St Clare and Our Lady had the wisdom to know what treasure was.
These role models of faith lived impeccable lives of service in Christ. They knew where their treasure was. They knew how to ‘gird their loins’ and face up to the challenges of faith and ministry, as well as prepare for eternal life in Christ. The beautiful icon of St Clare washing the feet of her sisters is a great example of girding her loins – pulling up her robe, so she can complete her ministry with readiness and dignity. Mary MacKillop faced many challenges, including excommunication but kept her faith.
St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and spiritual director to St Francis Xavier wrote a prayer that expresses his complete surrender to God.
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess, thou hast given me: I surrender it all to Thee to be disposed of according to Thy will. Give me only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more. Amen.
Ignatius understood that our identity and being is truly grounded in our relationship with a loving God, not in our material possessions.
Ignatius’ prayer complements the teaching of the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes, which Year 10s have been currently exploring. In our journey of discipleship, we are invited and confronted as baptised Christians with the basic question: what are we living for? What brings us real lasting happiness? What do we consider most important in life? Are there more important things for me, for us than material goods, wealth (money) and position or power? Do we believe that the love of God and neighbour, friendship and affection, service, sharing of our God-given gifts/blessings/talents and concern for others are greater and lasting and worth living for? We are all going to die one day. What is it we really want to be remembered for? Our expensive tastes or the generosity of spirit. love, compassion and mercy we showed in our relationships with others?
Affirmation for Year 12
Finally, I would like to conclude with an affirmation I wrote for our current Year 12’s to reflect on during their retreat. I believe it captures the spirit and intention of the Gospel readings and reminds us that a life well lived is one that cultivated and nurtured right relationships.
My advice and hope for you is simple. Don’t seek material possessions. Don’t worry about qualifications. Don’t even worry about your employment status. Value your faith, family, friends, and yourself. Value love. Value whatever it is you believe, that gives you faith in that belief. Be resilient. We believe in a God of mercy, love and compassion. I pray that you find the riches that mercy, love, compassion can bring you.
Find someone to love, who will believe in your love for them, who believes that you could live a life together, supported by family and friends, who will love you despite your challenges, despite few material assets, a limited bank account. Someone who will bring you deep joy and nurture your creative talents. Someone who will encourage you and support you to be you best self. Someone whose profound love is so transformational, you will see beyond your challenges and meet opportunities, perhaps undreamt of.
If life is challenging, and it will be, find meaning in community – whether real or digital. My son, Bernie, who as you know, passed away recently had many challenges. Bernie never complained about his situation, however and never ever gave up on believing that employment, educational opportunity, improved health was around the corner. He had profound friendships both in person and online – his comedy communities, his film discussion groups and his gaming communities. People spoke of him as being kind and caring, a close friend.
Bernie died with little money, few assets, unemployed, in ill health but he had what really matters, he loved and was loved by family and friends and he found meaning in his life through those deep connections and relationships. To those of you who are waiting to have the right amount of money in the bank, the security of assets, the best job, before you wait to ask the one you love to marry them, just ask them when you know they are one. Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Live in love.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you, for your love and support in my family’s recent loss. There is comfort in belonging to a Christian community which is compassionate, merciful and loving and which expresses the love of God and the commandments of Jesus in a practical and spiritual way. The communities of St Francis Xavier, St John the Apostle School and St John’s Kippax have supported us in ways we could not have imagined. My family and I have really appreciated your prayers, concern, presence and your journeying with us at this difficult time. I would particularly like to acknowledge Paul Carroll, Jarek Ferenc and Joanne Dougherty for their practical and spiritual support. I have been truly carried on Eagle’s Wings,
Religious Curriculum Coordinator