Ten Years Ago – Oh, What a Night!

Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

October 20, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 85. But I need to tell you the truth. My mind will go only one place this morning, so that’s where my prayer needs to go too. Happily, parts of Psalm 85 will go there with me!


On a mid-October Monday ten years ago, I had the biggest night of my life! It was a night bursting with joy, gratitude, wonder, delight, amazement, hope and love. 

On that night, October 18, 2010, the Sisters of Mercy, and our Mercy Family, celebrated the 150th Anniversary of our Philadelphia Foundation. And we did it in grand fashion with an unforgettable concert at the Kimmel Center!

Musicians, dancers, and artists from our many Mercy ministries pooled their talents in a festival of song. Creative gifts from sewing to carpentry helped weave the story into beautiful unity.

The magnificent Kimmel organ gladly responded to the artistry of Sister Marie Ann Ellmer. And that polished Steinway sang out “Mi Mancherai” under the virtuoso touch of Ms. Karen Benedetti.

Ms. Karen Benedetti

(I have no recording of Ms. Benedetti’s performance, but here is the composer playing his beautiful piece. She did it even more beautifully!)


The amazing directorial talents of two Mercy Associates shaped the energy into a perfect whole.

Ms. Kimberly Baxter and Ms. Patricia Brown

And nine graced and gifted Sisters spoke the sacred story with the fullness of their beautiful Mercy hearts.

I know many of my readers were in attendance and have their own echoing remembrances of that glorious night.

I can share only a few tidbits of memory here. But you may enjoy praying with some of these thoughts where, for me this morning:

Mercy and truth meet;
justice and peace kiss.
Beauty springs out of the earth,
and Love gazes from heaven.

Psalm 85: 11-12

In a creative effort, the following are inspirations we thought the original founders might offer the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Family, if they were speaking to us today:


We clearly knew and trusted 
that the dream in us
was God’s dream
for wounded world.

Mother Patricia Waldron
Played by Mimi Connor, RSM


We heard God’s Voice
and held God’s hand
and we stepped out in faith
to do the work of love.

Sister Marie Madeleine Matthey-Doret
Played by Suzanne Neisser, RSM


The care of the sick
was a ministry I loved.
I dispensed it with every tenderness
knowing that I tended
the wounds of Christ.

Sister Mary Philomena Hughes
Played by Mary Hentz, RSM


You have shaped the Word of Mercy
so that it can be heard
by the rainbow of God’s People
throughout the earth.
And it has returned to you
twice blessed
by their humble, loving welcome.

Sister Mary Francis de Sales Geraghty
Played by Mary Klock, RSM


Our hope is just to know
that someone speaks your Name
in Mercy and justice,
and will return to speak it once again.

Sister Mary Ann Coveney
played by Diane Guerin, RSM


It was our joy
to find the waiting face of Christ
among the poor.

Sister Mary Rose Davies
Played by Marie Carolyn Levand, RSM


It is through prayer
that we grow eternally young
even as we age.
It is through prayer
that we can transcend our burdens
and are enfolded in the
Providence of God.
In prayer, we become free.
In prayer, we become whole.

Sister Mary Angela Curtin
Played by Connie Haughton, RSM


Through the years,
I have seen you embrace
the misunderstood and the vulnerable.
I know that in the mysterious way of God,
you have found great joy in that embrace.

Sister Mary Veronica O’Reilly
Played by Eileen Sizer, RSM


My soul was deep like the midnight sky.
But stars blazed from my depths
to lead others to holiness.

Mother Mary Gertrude Dowling
Played by Kathleen Mary Long, RSM


Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeanette Goglia, RSM
(the Maestro is visible above conducting from the central platform.)

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, is a day of loving celebration.

First, we commemorate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

OL Guadalupe
Virgen de Guadalupe con las cuatro apariciones by Juan de Sáenz (Virgin of Guadalupe with the four apparitions by Juan de Saenz)

Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Catholic title of Mary associated with an apparition and a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  Catholic tradition asserts that the Virgin Mary appeared to a native Mexican peasant Saint Juan Diego, asking that a Church be built at the site.

The shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. Over the Friday and Saturday of December 11 to 12, 2009, a record number of 6.1 million pilgrims visited the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of the apparition.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is considered the Patroness of Mexico and the Continental Americas; she is also venerated by Native Americans, on the account of the devotion calling for the conversion of the Americas.
(Information from Wikipedia)


Not everyone is comfortable with the concept of religious apparitions. But whatever our personal feelings regarding them, there is no doubt that they have animated the faith of millions over the centuries. For me, their factual reality is less important than the devotion they inspire. If such devotions help us love God and our sisters and brothers, they are a source of blessing.

What images, devotions and understandings of Mary help you to exercise a more vigorous faith and generous charity?

Today is a good day to spend time with these inspirations.


 

Mercy word

The Sisters of Mercy celebrate a second blessing on this date.

On December 12, 1831, exactly 300 years after the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in Mexico, three women – Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle and Elizabeth Harley – took vows to become the first Sisters of Mercy, beginning a religious community dedicated to serving those who are poor, sick and uneducated.

( Information from Mercy Education System of the Americas. See their website for excellent materials on celebrating these special days.)

Click here to go to Mercy Education System of the Americas


To view an inspiring summary of Catherine McAuley’s life, click below. (You’ll love the beautiful Irish accent)

Click here to learn about Catherine McAuley


Music: Buenos Dias, Paloma Blanca (Traditional Mexican song for Our Lady of Guadalupe) English lyrics below.

Good morning, White Dove,
today I come to greet you,
greeting your beauty
in your celestial kingdom!

You are mother of the Creator
that enchants my heart,
thanks I give you with love.
Good morning, white dove!

Beautiful girl, holy girl,
your sweet name praised,
because you are so blessed
that I come to greet you.

Resplendent like the dawn,
pure and sensitive and without stain,
what pleasure my soul receives.
Good morning, white dove!

 

Mercy Day – 2019

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

September 24, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Sisters of Mercy throughout the world will commemorate the date on which, in 1827, Catherine McAuley opened the House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. We count this day as our Founding Day, the day thousands and thousands of souls – for that time and for the future – would be anchored to God in a special way – the way of Mercy.

Lk8_21 Mercy

The experiences of Catherine’s life led her to touch the heart of God in a unique and transformative manner. She imagined, with God, a resurgence of mercy in a harsh, painful and selfish world. She believed that God could effect change through the generous service of her life.

Her holy imagination was so infectious that others caught her fire. Together they began to believe new possibilities into the lives of those who were poor, sick, uneducated and abandoned.

Over these nearly two centuries, Catherine’s invitation to Mercy has caught the hearts of tens of thousands of women, all over the world, who call her their Sister. It has impelled the spirits of millions more women and men who live and are changed by her mission.

Catherine has shown us a particular pathway into the Lavish Mercy of God. She heard the word of God and acted on it with the fullness of her being. By grace, she became Mercy for the world.

That Divine Word, spoken to her in the faces of her poor and suffering sisters and brothers, speaks to us still. As we give thanks for her witness today, may we open our hearts to hear and act on the call of Mercy for our time.

Happy Mercy Day to all our Sisters, Associates, Companions, Co-ministers and Family of Mercy throughout the World!
We praise and thank God together
for the gift of Mercy in our lives!

Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeanette Goglia, RSM

Hmmm. The Other Cheek?

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

June 17, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our reading from Matthew again shows us how revolutionary Jesus really was!

Yield

For the Jews who listened to Jesus, and for us still listening, today’s instructions might be some of the hardest to swallow! These readings encompass a phrase classically known as the lex talionis or the law of talion.

We may not be familiar with the phrase but we probably are quite familiar with the practice. Most of us begin it very early in life, at least in my young neighborhood we did. It went like this: Harry bites you, you bite him back. Janey pushes you, you push her harder. Margie takes your pickle, you take her peach. Right? Isn’t that the way it should be?

Well, Jesus says not, although his listeners had lived by variations of this law from the time of:

Exodus 21:23-25
But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

and Leviticus 24:19-21
Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.

Believe it or not, these harsh injunctions were actually intended to placate situations by preventing a backlash disproportionate to the original crime.

But Jesus says that is not enough. He says not to resist the evildoer. Scholars have considered for centuries exactly what this means. 

Does it mean to ignore evil, not calling it out for what it is? Obviously not, because Jesus Himself was quick to name the evils of his times.

Does it mean to be a doormat for evil-hearted people to walk all over? Definitely not. Jesus stood up to his persecutors and clearly named their wrong-doing.

What it means is not to return evil for evil, not to respond in-kind, as Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:15

See that no one repays another with evil for evil,
but always seek after that which is good
for one another and for all people.

One of the key Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy is non-violence. I find it one of the most challenging.

Mercy

This article, written by Rosemarie Tresp, RSM proved very helpful to me. You might find it so as well.

Click here for article

Music: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace – written by Sebastian Temple, sung by Susan Boyle

More? A Resounding “Yes” for These Five!

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter 

June 7, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Jesus asks the quintessential question of Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”

Jn21_15_19

The setting is by the morning-dappled sea. Jesus has just cooked his disciples breakfast. Ordinary enough, right?

What is extraordinary is that Jesus has already died, risen from the dead, and is sitting with his buddies once again by their old fishing boats!

In other words, these disciples now know clearly what the love of God means. They have seen, firsthand, what that kind of love does to a life! Mercy, Passion, Death and Resurrection lived out in everyday human experiences.

So Jesus’s question to Peter might really be asking:

After all you’ve seen,
after all is said and done,
do you have the “more”
that it will take to follow me?

Our spiritual life is all about growing to the “more” that will let us live and love in God.

This Saturday, in our Merion chapel, four young women make their perpetual profession of vows as Sisters of Mercy. On July 13th, a fifth woman will make her final profession in the Mid-West Community.

2019 profession

We rejoice that these women have chosen to find their “more” as Sisters of Mercy. Will you join us in prayers of thanksgiving and benediction for them as they take this sacred step?

Let us too have the courage, as we pray today, to listen to Jesus ask us about our love. Let us answer sincerely, and ask for all we need to give the “more” in whatever way God asks of us.

Music: Love Like Jesus – Pawn Shop Kings (This one will wake you up!😀)

Every Broken Branch

( I wrote this reflection for the Sisters of Mercy. It will be available on that blog as well. You may be interested in some of the other excellent articles to be found there.
Click here for Sisters of Mercy blog.)

Today, in Mercy, we enter the sacred embrace of Holy Week.

Palm Sunday is a feast with two faces.

Jesus rides in triumph into Jerusalem, but his deep heart realizes that the road ultimately leads to his death. Jesus, who once called himself the Vine, knows that the bright green branches waved in adulation will soon be trampled to the ground.

Phil2_palm sunday

In these final days of Lent, we are faced with the question, “What turns green hope to crumbled brown in us – and how can it be green again?”

Many years ago, I sat in a marbled, flowered funeral home with a bereaved father.

“There are things worse than death,” he said.  After several absent years, his drug-addicted son had been found dead in an alley, under the cardboard box where he lived.  “At least I know where he is now.  Finally, we can all be at peace.”

Jack’s son had been lost to him.  In the stranglehold of heroin, the great hope of his young life had degenerated into profound suffering.  The vigor of his early dreams had withered, like broken tendrils on the once hopeful vine. It was, in every sense, a human tragedy.

Jesus understood such withering.  He prayed for his disciples that they would not suffer it.  He knew what would face him and them in the week following the lifted palms. He knows what will face us as we try to discern the honest path to joy, peace and fulfillment.

The enticements of evil are deceptive.  Greed comes clothed as entitlement. Lust masquerades as passion, addiction as pleasure. They entwine and choke us in a false embrace that whispers, “This is for you.”  Fed by the fear of never having or being enough, we resort to these very catalysts that will destroy us.  Even the voice of love struggles to reach someone locked in this cycle of self-absorption.  Like every barren branch, they wilt and sever themselves from all that could enliven them.

Jesus acknowledges that the choice for life is not always easy.  He tells the disciples that, indeed, they will be pruned.  No life escapes the incisions of hard experience. Like his followers, we too will face loss, pain, frustration and diminishment.  But if our hearts have been fed by his word, we will hold to grace and we will thrive.

Much of the Palm Sunday crowd shifted gears by Friday, becoming a rabble of accusers.  They could not follow Jesus through Calvary to his Resurrection.

But there is no true life apart from God.  There is no path to perfection and joy but through God’s Will.  The Passion and Death of Jesus have already set our roots in this blessed soil.  May we cling by grace to that treasured Vine.

Music: J.S. Bach – Cantata; Himmelskönig, sei willkommen / King of Heaven, be Thou welcome – BWV 182

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Readings: Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, commemorating the apparitions of Mary to the Mexican peasant Juan Diego in 1531. 

OLofGuadalupeJPG

It is also on this date, 300 years later, that Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. 

Both Mary and Catherine found their joy in total commitment to God’s will and presence in their lives. May they inspire and help  to make God the center of our lives. May that discovery fill us with joy.

Perhaps  by increasing our spiritual simplicity, trust and humility like Juan Diego, we can grow closer to Mary and to her Son.

Today’s beautiful readings can lead us closer into Mary’s arms.  Zecharia, even without knowing her, named Mary the Holy Dwelling from whom Christ would come forth.

Revelation captures multiple images from the Hebrew scriptures, fashioning a glorious picture of Mary’s significance in salvation history.

And our treasured passage from Luke — can we not read it like a beloved family story that gives us roots and wings?

Mary is not so far away from us.  She chose to enter Juan Diego’s life, looking like a queen he would recognize in his own culture. She has chosen to do the same thing in many other struggling cultures. 

How is Mary present to us today? How was she present to Catherine McAuley? A homeless woman? An immigrant mother? An incarcerated young woman/? A sickly neighbor? An annoying, lonely grandmother?

What language is Mary speaking to us?

Music: Tota Pulchra Es Maria – Latin words and translation below. This lovely hymn reflects our responsorial psalm for today.

Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.
Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol.
Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.
Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Tota pulchra es, Maria.

 

You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in you.
Your clothing is white as snow, and your face is like the sun.
You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in you.
You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you give honour to our people.
You are all beautiful, Mary.