Life after Epiphany


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Celebrating the ANZAC spirit on the centenary of the Gallipoli landing

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 9.34.08 pmOur Prime Minister’s speech at the Gallipoli Dawn Service for ANZAC Day was hands down the best address I’ve heard him give under any circumstances ever. Very moving, a fitting tribute. Thank you, Mr Abbott.

“Today, all of us who have not been tested in war salute all of those who have… Because they rose to their challenges, we believe that it’s a little easier for us to rise to ours.” ~ Mr Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia (25/4/15)

As dawn broke behind the podium from which the speech was addressed, Mr Abbott’s pauses were punctuated by the chirping of morning birds… the stillness and the peace were in and of themselves a celebration of what our fallen have forged for us. 100 years ago today, at that very spot, people were slaughtering one another on that beach. Today, those who were once foes – now friends – offered us hospitality and stood with us in silent unity and respect for the sacrifices of those who lay down their lives for their friends and countrymen.

The shield in the picture is the shield of my former unit, from my time some years back in the RAAF Active Reserve. The motto of 22SQN is “Adsum”, which carries the notion of “I’m here, I’ve got your back” which is quite a good summary of the function of a reserve unit. I am no longer in service and will never be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice that our ANZACS made. I have never been tested in war – but I salute those of you who have. I thank you for the Australia that you made possible.

We will remember you.
Lest we forget.


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Meeting Place

I was condemned to death,
death well-deserved.
A shameful death, an execution.

I was given a cross
Assigned final toil:
to carry it to a place
of alienation
from all that is good
from Goodness Himself.
A place I had chosen
in which to spend eternity.

What’s this?
Your Grace?
That Cross became our meeting place!

– – – – –

(A dusty sketch from sometime back in my Novice year)


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If you have left religious life…

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.57.30 pm… do you feel a little lost, or a little alone?

Please allow me to share with you a little of my own baby steps in this area, and tell you about a wonderful service you might find helpful as you take the time and space you need to re-adjust.

When I returned to the world, even though there was a real peace in the knowledge that leaving was what He was asking of me, I still felt the weight of a very radical life change. I had moved half way around the world, had no income or means, and was completely dependent on the goodness of others for several months. I felt a little isolated, too; there just isn’t any kind of experience analogous to living and leaving religious life. It was something I need to explore and talk about in order to process it and adjust to the “new normal”, but with whom could I discuss it?

I tried to talk with family and friends. They wanted so badly to help, to comfort, to assist with the adjustment, and did what they could; yet I needed something they were not equipped to give. I needed to speak with someone who had lived something similar to what I had lived. I needed someone who on some level could understand the experience, because it was a shared experience.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .””

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Lewis knew what he was talking about!!!

Friendship is so important through life’s ups and downs, but often the type of friendship that helps most is the very type Lewis defines here. Re-connecting with a few very dear friends who had also entered and left was the very best thing that could happen to me. We lived in different timezones, but somehow we managed to organise times for Skype calls where we could enjoy each other’s company, reminisce a little and support each other through our respective adjustments. Shared experience, a great deal of gentleness with each other  and some quality time… and all of a sudden I was experiencing healing. The Lord was working through these wonderful women and drawing me closer to Himself all the while!

Then my need for this fellowship encountered an extraordinary blessing: the Leonie’s Longing ministry. Leonie’s Longing are a not-for-profit based in the United States, but with a global reach. As far as officially who they are, I’ll let their own “about” page do the talking on that. But I WILL tell you what I have experienced.

When I first contacted Leonie’s Longing I was tentative, afraid, even. I did not share particularly personal information – my heart was hurting and I needed badly to protect it. I gave only those essential facts, the bare minimum of what I needed to convey to be able to receive whatever assistance they could offer. A member of their team of volunteers responded so gently and simply. There was no pressure to respond again, but I did… after a little time had passed. I was still so afraid, so it took a little while before I was ready to reach out again and continue the conversation. Over a period of many months an occasional email went back and forth, but that was all because it was about as much as I could deal with. Each time what was offered was real support and a willing ear, accompanied by respect for my privacy and patience with my fear. Reading the various blog posts of many young women who had similar experiences to my own… but seeing it all through their eyes… was SO HELPFUL. Occasionally, even I now write the odd post here or there for their blog, in my own little effort to give back just a little bit, because I am so very grateful for the support and the sense of community I have found through them. I’d love to be able to help others in the same way… to “pay it forward”, so to speak.

So if you are looking for prayer support, for fellowship… even practical support in your area, you may find this ministry helpful like I did. May the Lord bless, comfort and provide for each of you as you adjust to life out in the world again.

Follow @LeoniesLonging on Twitter

Find Leonie’s Longing on Facebook

Leonie’s Longing Website


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Permit me to draw your attention…

… just for a moment, to God’s awesomeness🙂.

Remember that old cliche you’d encounter all the time in shows and cartoons when you were a kid? The whole “I could beat you with both arms tied behind my back!!” thing?

Well… as St Augustine and St Catherine of Siena both remind us, that’s precisely what Jesus Christ did. He had both arms pinned down… nailed… to a plank of wood so that He couldn’t move them. And even as He bled out – literally Love poured out – He defeated evil. He overcame the world.

Laudate Dominum!


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After Epiphany…? Baptism!!

Isn’t it funny how, as we keep unfolding our own lives through the normal course of the passage of time, we chance across considerations that – as obvious as they seem right now – never occurred to us before? I feel like a mighty great “DUH!!!!” is echoing down the ages!

Almost two years ago, I started this blog to be my outlet as I muddled through what life after epiphany should look like.

The answer was there all along, of course. Right there in the Liturgical Calendar!! The Sunday that follows Epiphany is the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, and this is RICH in significance… so much so that I daresay that I will continue to be unfolding this for many years to come. Some initial thoughts do occur to me now, though.

1. Mission
Our Lord’s Baptism was the beginning of His public ministry. It seems fitting that a ritual associated with conversion (even though we know Our Lord was sinless and had no personal need for conversion) leads into a life that takes on a new, higher purpose. We see the same most clearly in the conversion of St Paul and his subsequent life as a missionary. I can’t help but think that it is of crucial importance that I should be considering at this time, after my own special epiphany experience, the meaning of my own Baptism some 33 years ago, and the fact that I am called by virtue of that Baptism to be a worker in the Lord’s vineyard (c.f. Christifideles Laici). My experiences in my former religious community were fitting me for a special task in His service.

2. Suffering
In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI highlights that the premise of Baptism is the admission of sinfulness. In the Sinless One receiving Baptism, He “loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross” (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p18). My time in formation gave me a clearer insight into what some of my personal weaknesses and tendencies towards sinfulness are. I know specifically much of what it was that Our Lord bore particularly for me down into the Jordan riverbed of Rita Simmond’s poem (c.f. Magnificat, January edition 2015, p150). I also know that to be Baptised and to share in His Sonship is to share in all aspects of His life – including His suffering and His death. Has my time in religious life, my unique experience of His love, changed the way I can follow Him on that path? One thing is for sure – if this is the path that I’m walking, I want it to bear fruit, and abundantly! Fruit that I can offer back to Him as a gift of thanksgiving.

3. Fulfillment
Sharing in His death, we know, entails sharing then in His Resurrection afterward!! Pope Benedict reminds us that Luke, in his Gospel, located the Baptism of Our Lord at the conclusion of his presentation of the Genealogy of Christ (p 10). Christ is the anointed one, the Messiah, the fulfilment of all the great prophecies. Christ is likewise the fulfilment of my deepest desires. He gives me glimpses of the future from time to time, to help support me in my own weakness. Being weaker than most, I also needed a special, prolonged time of intimacy with Him in the cloister. But that is just the promise. Christ Himself is the fulfillment. And so I need to stop looking back over my shoulder at what has been, except to remember His goodness to me and give thanks. I need to keep forging on ahead, following Him every step of the way, to that ultimate fulfilment, that eternity with Him.

Deo gratias!!


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when eyes fail to meet…

Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you’re being served by a store assistant or a fast food attendant and they’re saying the words you’d typically expected to hear, but they’re not even LOOKING at you? They’re saying “have a nice day” but they’re already thinking of the next order they’ve got to fill and looking in the direction of their next task.

Have you ever walked into the Church, sat down, stared into space in the general direction of the Tabernacle, and… well… not even engaged with the Lord before you realise that you’re out of time and you need to get on with your day?

So much of my prayer over recent months has been like that. My new years resolution – my ONLY new years resolution – is all about prayer. I intend to be faithful to a daily time of prayer, and I intend to do whatever I can to be truly present to He who is omnipresent during that time.

Whatever happens then isn’t up to me… and I trust Him entirely!


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So it’s been a while…

A year, give or take.

What have I been doing? Well, once I decided to pursue a PhD, I realised that I’d somehow have to support myself in the meantime. My existing qualifications suit a fast-paced IT career, but you just can’t juggle an IT career and a PhD in theology and do a half-decent job at either! I decided that my skills were portable into the realms of librarianship, and decided to set about gaining a qualification to work in a library. I’m hoping that this will be an enjoyable interim career that is conducive to winding back to part-time shift work whilst I set about my studies. Thus, in the past year, I have gone and acquired another Masters degree… around a demanding, full-time job as a Business Systems Analyst for a Catholic agency. In a mere 22 days (or sooner, if I can pull it off!) I will submit my final research paper, marking the completion of this degree.  To say that the pace has been insane is an understatement – it has been hard! But sometimes we do what is hard. Thus, my radio silence.

It would appear time to break said radio silence… on the feast of one of the great Evangelists, St. Luke!

Rather than do that here, I chose to do that as a guest-writer for a not-for-profit organisation who are doing wonderful things at the service of those who have left religious life or the seminary. The Leonie’s Longing ministry have been around for about 18 months now, seeking to build community, support structures and provide other assistance for people adjusting back into life out in the world, assimilating the lessons learned in convent or seminary into their “new normal” and trying to figure out how to serve the God they love so much in ways other than what they had thought the plan would be.

Check out their website! You’ll find my guest-blog here, on their site: http://www.leonieslonging.org/he-delights-in-you/


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Sonnet of Self-Dedication

Otherwise entitled: “Prayer of a Postulant.” This was written during my Postulant year – but the themes hold true even out here in lay life. Perhaps even more than at the time of writing.

– – – – –

King of the deep, Lord of the storm
Command mine raging heart be still
To ponder Your Incarnate form
To contemplate Your holy will.

Now stir me up with zeal for souls
and send me out to push the plough
To run t’ward the Eternal Goal
Then live the Everlasting Now.

Yet in my weakness, Lord, I fall
Please help me humbly stand again
Would that for love of You, my all
Be in Your service wholly spent.

Saviour, King, Beloved, Friend:
Totus Tuus, till my life’s end.

– – – – –

(A dusty sketch from October 2011)


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Salvation: my first attempt at recording and sharing my own music

Back in April I blogged about a song I wrote some years ago during a difficult time in my life, a time where I was experiencing a crippling slavery to the things of this world and to certain behaviours that were quite simply destructive to my interior life.

I wrote the song on Easter Sunday of 2009, and it was my first glimmer of hope – grounded in the Resurrection – that the Lord could free me from this slavery and draw me more closely to Himself in love.

When I wrote about the song I posted the lyrics, but did not include an audio version. Since leaving my previous cloistered environment I’ve discovered Soundcloud and this is my first attempt at recording and sharing – so there are a lot of mistakes! In your generosity, please forgive/ignore the mistakes – I’ll clean them up later – but for now, here goes:


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Sometimes I think my most intense moments are lived in my car… (JGL 6)

Ever heard that song “Woke Up in America” by Matt Maher?

That song has been a little bit of a personal theme song, given my American convent adventure…  and the fact that Australia, as an island nation, is basically a rock in the middle of the ocean (even though technically it is NOT the rock to which Matt Maher was referring!).

So many of the lyrics just truly resonate with me! I really did wake up in America for the love of God, for something bigger than myself!

Tonight as I was driving along and rocking out to the song, though, I was struck by the fact that the preposition TO could also work there… instead of FOR. I woke up in America TO the love of God: my unique encounter with Him woke me up to the reality that His particular and personal love for me is deep beyond my comprehension… I woke up to this reality in such a way that it is far more than “head knowledge” now. Somehow this has become a lived reality for me, something that finally embarked upon that massive journey from my head to my heart, covered the distance and started to take root there.

I woke up in America TO something bigger than myself. I was confronted by the dreadful extent of my own selfishness. In my pride, I was scandalised by my own weakness. But living in community has a way of opening one’s heart to love others… slowly, almost against your will at first… until one sees that there is a world out there of people who need to be loved, people for whom I could be the instrument of God’s own love. Once again, what had been head knowledge started to penetrate my rocky heart.

I guess perhaps the impact of this is lost somewhat in the telling, but I was simply overwhelmed with gratitude for the incredible gift of my time there. Sometimes I get bogged down in the grief of the loss that came with leaving my Community, and the surprising extent to which the adjustment of resettling into lay life has been so very arduous. On this particular occasion, however, I was engulfed with an awareness of what an amazing blessing had been given me.

I think back upon that time, and I realise that it was about as far from “one size fits all” formation that you could get. There were particular experiences and lessons that my peers did not receive – experiences and lessons that were gifted only to me, custom-designed for my formation and salvation. I am sure that the reverse is also true. A gift… a delightfully personal gift… one that continues to form me.

As for Matt Maher – he makes FANTASTIC driving music. I sing, I dance at the traffic lights, I drum-beat the steering wheel… I must look like a lunatic! But the whole thing is a prayer🙂 Mostly, its just time enjoyed singing praise… but every now and then there is a moment of significance, a moment of discovery, a moment of gratitude.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! His love endures for ever!

– – – – – – –

NB: JGL = Journal of God’s Love
What IS the Journal of God’s Love?