October 2015 Reflection

 “There are three things which the poor prize more highly than gold, tho’ they cost the donor nothing; among these are the kind word, the gentle, compassionate look, and the patient hearing of their sorrows” (Familiar Instructions p 138).

In Mercy today, we are challenged to re-interpret many of our founding ideals in keeping with our own circumstances and with changing national social and economic provisions befitting a modern democracy. As I reflect on these words of Catherine that have really gripped me, I wonder if “the poor” might not sometimes be reinterpreted to include ourselves meaning the vulnerable in community. We know that old age brings a myriad of social, emotional, spiritual and physical needs with it. We are blest in that we have wonderful care homes where every need is met and every concern addressed.

However, we, like our semi-active family members, have a basic desire to remain in harness for as long as possible. This means we are increasingly dependent on one another. The challenge in Mercy to both those of us who are currently vulnerable and those who are yet to embark on that stage of life’s journey, is in Catherine’s words, to offer- the kind word, the gentle, compassionate look, and the patient hearing, not so much of life’s sorrows, as of life’s stories.

None of us can see into the heart or know the physical feebleness or pain of another. However, we can each recognise the joy that the kind word, the compassionate look and the positive hearing of another’s aspirations or life story brings to an empty, struggling or pained face whether in one of our care homes or active communities.

• Jesus first care was for those close to him as in Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt 8:15). Making      breakfast for his disciples (Jn 21:12).

• Catherine’s first priority was the care of her Sisters – “Will you tell the Sisters to get a good     cup of tea…when I am gone and to comfort one another.”

In one of the Cork manuscripts we read her warm and challenging words:

• “Our charity is to be cordial. Now cordial signifies something that renews, invigorates and        warms. Such should be the effect of our love for each other.”

• Merciful God, may we never be afraid to let our hearts rule our heads. Amen.

Sister Kathleen Murphy rsm

 

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