When God calls a woman to the Society...
In every call from God, in God’s own in-breathing of the Holy Spirit, God draws a human being into his own divine self, his own life; and for that human being a star bursts, illumining the sky and filling the one called with light and life and a desire to serve.
These words describe every call from God, a creative act in which the Holy Spirit, or Holy Breath of God, hovers over the waters of chaos, and God, breathing in and breathing out, communicates his own divine life to a human being and brings forth in that person light and life, order and purpose. Vocation is the breathing-in and mission is the breathing-out.
Mission is the out-breath of God, God breathing out the Holy Spirit on the world in the sending of the Son, and sharing the mission of the Son with the one called, so that through the Son in union with the Father the one called breathes forth the Holy Spirit upon the human race and the rest of God’s universe. (Joseph Conwell SJ)
The end of this Society, Faithful Companions of Jesus, is to devote itself with God’s grace not only to the salvation and perfection of its members, but also with that same grace to labour strenuously in giving aid towards the salvation and perfection of their neighbour. To achieve this end more effectively the three vows of religious chastity, poverty and obedience are taken in the Society. (FCJ Constitutions)
The essence of our mission as Faithful Companions of Jesus is to be with Jesus in his mission. The Father calls us to follow his Son in faithfulness… Jesus was limited in his human experience but he entered fully into that experience and sought to do only what pleased the God who sent him. For us too, our very humanness makes limits and creates the space in which we are called to respond.
Like Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, and like the holy women, messengers of the Good News, we are sent to proclaim the Truth, Jesus who is alive and lives among us, who is Son of God and Saviour of the world.
Our desire is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, being one with him in his saving mission. Whatever ministry we do, we share one mission; we are faithful companions of Jesus.
Mission is the whole of our lives given in service: it is not only what we do but more importantly who we are as we do it. Wherever we are and whatever our work, we are sent and our mission is to be faithful companions of Jesus. Our Constitutions say:
According to place and circumstance
we may engage in whatever work
contributes to the salvation of souls
and in the manner which appears most conducive
to the service and glory of God
and the good of the neighbour.
We particularly devote ourselves
to certain ministries confided to us by our foundress,
‘the education of youth, especially the poor,
the work of retreats and missions’.
Above all we are Companions of Jesus
whose lives must reveal him to the world.
Today, the idea of women’s congregations with Ignatian Constitutions appears to cause very little threat or difficulty to anyone. But the founders of such Institutes, women like Marie Madeleine d’Houët and Mary Ward, were, in themselves, paradigms for radicality; as such they became the object of fierce opposition. They responded to the star within, the God-given desire to have part in Jesus’ mission through apostolic availability; they insisted on the spiritual freedom to support such a vocation and they knew the challenge in this.
A star has risen in us too; like Mary, like the holy women, like Marie Madeleine, we offer the gift of our whole selves. Like them, we offer our whole hearts and all our energy, embracing a lifetime of desiring to be one with Christ in his saving mission.
As women sent by God, we are witnesses to the light, to the Word who is in the world, through whom the world was made. We continually seek to be placed with Jesus in his mission of revealing God’s saving love. With Mary and the holy women, we stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus, as that cross is experienced in the world of today. We pray to the Father with Jesus, I have made your name known … and will continue to make it known.