As part of a congregation (sosj.org.au) I was recently asked to write a short reflection on how I see “Our Josephite Mission Today” and within that context to share my thoughts on 'how your particular ministry gives expression of the mission of God.'
I hope you enjoy my two cents worth,,,,
Desmond Tutu once said, “We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders.” This simple yet powerful notion illuminates the mission of God, and how I experience it in my current ministry (Pastoral Care and Digital Communication in a High School).
How do we tell the world there are no outsiders?
Listening is first, enabling relationship, dignity and dialogue - what I believe is at the core of Jesus’ message of radical inclusion. Relevant questions help this process. How would you like to be connected digitally? What would it mean for you? Actions follow, they are based upon how our community has requested to be connected. For example, forms of social media, types of images, videos, messages and their frequency.
“By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us.
We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin certainly understood there are no outsiders. Digital communication is a powerful force with burning layers. It is easy to be afraid of change, scared of something new and progressive. But holding sacred the mission of God I feel called to let go of fear (John 14:27).
In a changing world my ministry gifts me an opportunity to continually listen, using digital media to help relinquishing separation. A parent recently said to me, “Seeing photos of the girls on Instagram makes me feel so connected. I don’t feel separate, I feel part of the community.” Surely we are as our hearts truly know not separate but one.
Late last year I created a modern interpretation of Joseph and Jesus dancing. I have been really surprised how popular it has become. Now that it is school holidays I have been really fortunate to have a bit of hibernation time to create some new artwork. More and more i'm feeling drawn to re-imagine Gospel stories in a contemporary context.
After chatting with two women who were both pregnant about two weeks ago the story of the visitation seems to have stuck with me like a child to an ice-cream truck. This curiosity inspired me to create an interpretation of the visitation (LK 1:39-45). In the artwork I have shown Elizabeth and Mary embracing each other. Elizabeth very pregnant with John the Baptist and young Mary coming to terms with her pregnancy. The thing that strikes me the most about this story is the relationship and kinship between these two very real women. I wanted to show how they supported each other through their unimaginable circumstances. I believe that God is found in community and kinship; this leads us to joy, life and opens us to new experiences. And as we know with community and family there is most certainly always laughter and calamity involved!
The second sketch I created was an interpretation of the Magnificat.
After thinking about the visitation I was really inspired to create a visual interpretation and a more inclusive text version. I will say that I do love Bach's Magnificat; the original is sacred. But, for many the original fails to create connection and relationship, I know I certainly struggle to identify with some of the language. I hope they don't call me blasphemous for this but I really believe that Mary experienced joy (among other emotions in her relationship with our creator). And that her trust in God let her 'soul to burst with joy'. As St Irenaeus said: "The glory of God is a human being fully alive."
I have used colours and symbols in both pieces to accentuate meanings behind the relationship. For example Mary has blue Jeans + yellow/gold top to symbolise glory revealed, joy, light & divinity. Purple is also a royalty & nobility colour for John the Baptist. If you look closely you'll spot 'Luke 1:39-45' on a clothing tag and you may find a Marian symbol too?
I hope these bring you life, perhaps inspiring you to re-imagine the Gospel and your relationship with our God today.
My spirit bursts with joyful gratitude in our God who loves us all.
With my simplicity God shows us there is no hierarchy.
From now on, all generations will know God’s infinite love.
With awe we experience God’s almighty presence.
God’s eternal mercy wraps around all those who love.
God’s strength and tenderness shine through me, shattering all our fears.
God fills the hungry, the rich are shown a new path.
Our prayers throughout history are heard.
We now see all creation forever blessed with life.
My soul bursts, as we now dance with divine mystery...
Sometimes there are moments in life when it seems that someone has randomly blurted out 'Plot twist!' I had one of those moments this week...
I received an email from the editor of Tui Motu and it turns out that I won an award for a piece I wrote earlier in the year. I'm humbled, grateful and delighted for @tuiMotuMag (highly recommend taking a look). To learn more about the award click HERE
Considering that I almost failed English in High School it's pretty amazing how Gods grace, hard work & encouraging support can change your possibilities. I've learned (and am still learning) to expand my way of learning, i've learned to adapt the old academic approach; taking my visual creativity and transforming it into words. It's a work in progress...
It seems that nothing is impossible to our God of surprises. Much love and a huge thank you to all those who have believed in me and continue to encourage me.
To read the full article that won, click HERE
Peace and gratitude
Back in about 2012 I had a ‘bonkers’ idea. I felt strongly that I wanted to try out a few products, a wee experiment of sorts using characters and illustrations as a way to communicate positive messages. I called this experiment Gozo Bonkers.
I tried different characters, stickers, buttons, various merchandise and eventually had an idea for saint cards. They were very successful and have gone around the globe. I learned alot from trial and error!
I was blown away by the support and encouragement and got a real sense of community from Gozo Bonkers. While I loved it, learned alot and feel a deep sense of gratitude I also now feel that it has served it’s purpose, after 6-7 years it's time to move on. Living life as a Sister of St Joseph I also have a new focus. With much discernment, prayer and support from our Sisters I have decided to wrap up Gozo Bonkers. Instead I will offer the artwork as free resources on this website, you can also still order the saint cards too. Please view the resources at: designjane.com/resources
I’m hoping that these resources can be a source of joy and generosity for schools, parishes and organisations. If you are a teacher or anyone from any organisation and have an idea feel free to get in touch.
So, what I have learned?
- People are drawn to joy: We are hungry for connection to God in ways that are not fearful or pius. Reverence/respect is important, but joy helps us grow with others in community and in relationship with our unconditionally loving God.
- Just do it: If you have an idea start small and see where it goes. By doing little things, we learn. Embrace failure. Don't expect to sell millions, be open to where it takes you.
- Little bits count: Like drops in the ocean we do make ripples. I am amazed how supportive people were and how the Saint cards went around the world (see pictures at the bottom of the Saint Cards page). We can all do our little bit to spread joy through generosity.
I take heart in what in what Mother Teresa said:
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
I hope my little drops continue to spread joy and generosity…
With much love
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.
Recently I was asked to explore and write a reflection on Youth and Technology. You can view the full article HERE or read below. I hope you will join me on the curiosity train...
Teenagers may seem like foreign beings that speak an unknown language, but rest assured they, like all other age groups, seek the same thing – relationship and belonging. They are searching, open, enthusiastic and are often as confused as the rest of us.
Currently I am working full time as pastoral support plus design and communication in a Sydney high school. Recently I have found myself reflecting on how technology is woven into relationship and belonging for our youth?
Many of us remember our teenage years with the blissful absence of cell phones, Aunty Google or anything App related. If as a teenager I had said to a friend “Hey, I’ve ordered shoes on Wiggle, tagged the Pope, Lago filtered on Insta…” I would likely be sent for a mental health check! (#LostThePlot). These were simpler times; we navigated the murky swamp of adolescence by founding our relationships and sense of belonging through note-passing, limited landline calls, face to face conversations and when we left school property our interaction mostly ceased.
Today our youth navigate the same murky swamp that is filled with confusion, hormones, friendship loss, searching (where do I fit?), but they have the added element of technology. For many, Social Media (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook etc.) is a beacon of light helping them to navigate through the swamp haze; it is a vehicle creating connection, inspiring, helping them find where they belong. But for some, Social Media (if used incorrectly) can fuel the fire of bullying, isolating instead of connecting, leaving them stuck in sinking mud.
Our teenagers either love Social Media or loathe it; opinions are strong and clearly divided. I recently surveyed 200 high school students: ‘Love’ was born of a desire to chat and connect with friends instantly, sharing, journeying, learning with each other. ‘Loathe’ is founded in a preference for more tangible face to face relationships and is also often rooted in soil tainted by previous bullying or misuse of social media by themselves or others. This often creates fear of Social Media either through what has happened to the person, or what has happened to their friend (“I don’t want that to happen to me”). No wonder opinions are intensely divided as they navigate the murky swamp.
To LOVE or to LOATHE that is the question…
My spirituality and faith is based primarily around relationship and communication. I believe Jesus was communicating a message, a presence and he used the communication methods available in his time. Now in our time I find myself wondering… If Jesus were here would he would have a Social Media account? How would he use it? Would he have a gmail account?
Like it or loathe it, it is here to stay; Social Media and technology are part of our lives. Future employment will be based in technology, creativity and innovation. I feel passionately that in our emerging global society Social Media and technology can be used for good, it can create connection and relationship. But we must also be aware of bullying and malicious use, and continue to be open to technology’s development.
It seems to me that we as adults have a choice to make: Do we say “Oh, it’s too hard, I just don’t know how it works…” And with this option I find myself imagining a freight train carrying connection to our youth getting further and further away from the Relationship Station…
But if I choose love and curiosity perhaps as an adult I can learn with our youth. When I ask curious questions not only do they self-identify but I also learn; finding solidarity in curiosity. Not only can technology connect our youth but it can also be a train line to connect generations.
As an example I recently created an Instagram account for ministry (@msj_light) and have achieved amazing results in a matter of weeks. There is a new buzz among students, teachers and parents, the spirit of connection and belonging is alive. This is a powerful tool.
How it would be if we openly ask pastoral questions as our youth search and experiment?
- What's your favourite App?
- How is it for you when you use Snapchat?
- What does it feel like when you use that App?
- Can you show me something you learned online this week?
- What’s the best photo filter for me to use, and why?
And how can we help our youth with guidelines regarding appropriate use of Social Media? Visual aids? A check list of simple question/s they need to ask themselves before posting anything online? Can we model this ourselves and in our organisations?
Pope Francis has addressed Social Media and it’s use many times, most notably in his 2015 papal encyclical Laudato Si. “Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences.” (1)
Papa Francesco seems to be saying that we need balance, and I think he’s onto something. Social Media and technology are wonderful, yet perhaps we need to ensure that our youth can learn to use technology in moderation through appropriate education in our schools and churches?
“From the certainty that God’s grace is with us comes the strength to take courage in the present moment: the courage to carry forward what God asks of us here and now, and in every area of our lives.” (2)
Love or Loathe, in this year of youth what will you choose?
I hope you will join me on this curiosity train to relationship station…
Jane Maisey rsj
More recent news from Pope Francis + Year of Youth Resources:
Jane Maisey rsj