Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012.12.12 Mercy, Mercy, Mercy Me

In 1831  Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle and Mary Elizabeth Harley professed their vows as Sisters of Mercy. It has been 181 years since the Order’s official founding and I’ve been a Mercy Associate for 20 years. I’m not Roman Catholic; I’m Anglocatholic. We all count who serve with their gifts.

Catherine never isolated or insulated herself or her community from the miseries of Dublin’s poverty. She felt the Spirit of Godde-Goodness was calling her to serve, especially the poor and the broken.  She would be, as would the other women who joined her, a steward of the gifts God gave her of compassion, organized effort, and leadership. 

Her leadership style was one that balanced freedom with authority. The order, like most women’s religious orders, is based on, and held together by charism—spiritual gifts. Charism is a different kind of glue than the glue of obedience that binds us in institutional loyalty based on doctrine and dogma.

Theologian Roger Haight said, “Spiritual nourishment is of higher value than institutional loyalty. If you’re not fed, leave and go where you are nourished.” 

For all these years, the tradition of Mercy has carried on its mercy ministries in many healing ways: education, health, spiritual guidance, and works of mercy for justice and peace. Think nuns on the bus.  

Judy Collins wrote a song dedicated to the Mercies who saved her life and freed her to use her own charism in song.

“Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
 Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been traveling so long.”

Catherine McAuley hasn’t yet made it to sainthood. Godde knows why.   Maybe no direct miracles attributed to her.  Now I ask you!

Today is 12/12/12. It won’t come round to an even dozen like that again for 100 years.  Let’s hope it won’t take that long for us all to have mercy for real, and for Catherine to get beatified. 

Hooray for foundations—garments as well as loving acts, both quite merciful.