Called to Mercy          M ERCY     AS              E          SOCIA    T  Initial Formation           for Mercy Association
Welcome!                                                                           Contents   Welcome to Mercy Association...
The Call to Mercy                                                                                            Following t�e...
The Call to Mercy                                                                                                         ...
Cat�erine McAule�                                                                                                     and ...
Catherine McAuley and the Mercy Tradition                                                                                 ...
Prayer                                                                                              T�e Soul o� Mercy    T...
Prayer—The Soul of Mercy                                                                                                  ...
Community                                                                                                             T�e ...
Mercy Association Initial Formation
Mercy Association Initial Formation
Mercy Association Initial Formation
Mercy Association Initial Formation
Mercy Association Initial Formation
Mercy Association Initial Formation
Mercy Association Initial Formation
Mercy Association Initial Formation
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Initial Formation booklet for Mercy Associates.

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Mercy Association Initial Formation

  1. 1. Called to Mercy M ERCY AS E SOCIA T Initial Formation for Mercy Association
  2. 2. Welcome! Contents Welcome to Mercy Association! The purpose of this book is to introduce The Call to Mercy 1you to the foundational teachings and key understandings of Mercy Associa- Catherine McAuley and the Mercy Tradition 5tion—its purpose and meaning, its history, its work. In these pages you willlearn about the founding of the religious order of the Sisters of Mercy by Prayer—The Soul of Mercy 9Catherine McAuley in Ireland over 175 years ago. You will learn about howthe order spread all over the world in its mission to spread the Gospel mes- Community—The Heart of Mercy 13sage of love and forgiveness, especially in service to poor women and children. Ministry—The Work of Mercy 15The call to Mercy Association, not unlike the call to religious life itself, findsits source rooted in Scripture, most perfectly expressed in the life and teach- Mercy Critical Concerns 17ings of Jesus. You will learn about Mercy values, and how those values express History of Mercy Association 19themselves in the work that Mercy sisters and associates undertake. By im-mersing yourself in these pages, in the Gospel call of Jesus, by learning about Committing to Mercy 21Catherine McAuley and her legacy of generous service, by devoting yourself Mercy Association Basic Terms 23to prayer and to an attitude of contemplative listening within your MercyAssociation formation community, you will come to know if you are indeed Additional Resources 26called to Mercy Association. God bless you during this very special time!
  3. 3. The Call to Mercy Following t�e Pat� o� Jesus The Mercy of God The words of Isaiah perfectly describe how Jesus un- ethos. In this instance it is not just a case of fulfill- in the face of suffering and need, and to know that derstood his call to loving service. Throughout the ing a commandment or an obligation of an ethical attentive love is sometimes all one has to offer de- The mercy of God is a fundamental theme run- nature; it is also a case of satisfying a condition of mand courage, and, of course, Gods boundless grace. Gospels we see Jesus in action. We see how he minis-ning through the Hebrew scriptures. The foundation major importance for God to reveal Himself in His Nevertheless, following in the footsteps of Jesus, tered to others, especially those who were despised andof Gods relationship to Gods own people is mercy. mercy to man: “The merciful…shall obtain mercy.” Catherine called herself, her Sisters, and her associ- rejected by society:Perhaps this verse from the prophet Isaiah says it best: ✜✜John Paul II, Rich in Mercy (Dives in Misericordia) ates to follow the pathway of mercy. ✜✜ he healed the sick; ✜✜Praying with Catherine McAuley, pp. 36-37 Therefore, God waits to be gracious to you; The experience of Gods mercy impels Christians ✜✜ he touched lepers and cured them; Jesus calls each of us, his followers, to live our lives Therefore God will rise up to show mercy to you. to extend that same mercy to others. How do we ex- For God is a God of justice; ✜✜ he accepted women as disciples; tend Gods mercy to others? We extend mercy by en- actively engaged in spreading compassionate mercy blessed are all those who wait for God. ✜✜ he ate with sinners and forgave their sins. tering into the very real and concrete sufferings of oth- throughout the world. ✜✜Isaiah 30:18 (NRSV - Adapted) The Gospel is replete with ers, and doing what we can to alleviate that suffering. In The Works of Mercy: The Heart of Catholicism, James Charism of Mercy The God of the Hebrew examples of Jesus’ loving ser- vice to those in need. Jesus was Keenan writes: Essentially, a charism is a gift of God for the peo-scriptures is not distant and aloof; moved to compassionate action ple of God. Catholic religious orders/communities userather, the God of the Hebrews is Mercy is above all the experience we have of God.… the word “charism” to denote the special gift that themoved by human suffering­ ul- — Blessed are by the suffering he witnessed In response to that mercy, we become imitators of the God in whose image we are made. And so, in answer founder brought to the church in establishing the com-timately, Gods mercy triumphs around him.over the sin and infidelity of the merciful, In one of his earliest encycli- to Christs call to follow him, we practice mercy. The centrality of the practice of mercy in the life of the munity. A charism is a communitys special emphasis as it lives out its gospel call to holiness. The charisms ofGods people. cal letters entitled, Rich in Mercy, The Christian call to mer- for they Pope John Paul II writes: church cannot be overlooked. It ranks among the ac- tivities that best describe the moral life: the confess- contemplative orders such as Carmelites or Cistercians emphasize values such as prayer, solitude, and is rooted in the life of Jesus.Like his heavenly Father, Jesus is will be Especially through His lifestyle ing of ones sins, obeying the Ten Commandments, developing the virtues, and practicing the corporal Active orders such as Dominicans and Franciscans and through His actions, Jesus emphasize aspects of their ministerial lives. Domini-moved by human suffering. Jesus shown mercy. revealed that love is present in and spiritual works of mercy. cans place a great emphasis on preaching, and Fran-is moved to more than tears—he the world in which we live­ an — ✜✜The Works of Mercy: The Heart of Catholicism, p. 9 ✜ Matthew 5:7 ciscans emphasize poverty and simplicity. Each uniqueis moved to compassionate ac- effective love, a love that ad- It is not enough to simply receive the gift of Gods charism is a gift not only for the recipients of the gift—tion that relieves suffering. In the dresses itself to man and embrac- es everything that makes up his mercy—we must extend that mercy to others. each charism is a gift for the church as a whole.Gospel of Luke Jesus begins hisministry by recalling the words of humanity. This love makes itself Throughout her life, from her childhood to her The charism of the Sisters of Mercy is mercy (mi- particularly noticed in contact sericordia in Latin). In the original Rule and Constitu-the prophet Isaiah: death, Catherine McAuley experienced the mercy of with suffering, injustice and poverty—in contact tions of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, written by Cath- God, and in turn she offered mercy to others. with the whole historical “human condition,” which erine McAuley herself, the virtue of mercy is presented The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, in various ways manifests man’s limitation and The events of her own life helped her know Gods because he has anointed me very clearly as the fundamental manner in which the frailty, both physical and moral. It is precisely the loving care and providence. Remembering Gods to bring glad tidings to the poor. mode and sphere in which love manifests itself that followers of Jesus must conduct their lives: tender mercy for her in moments of pain, loss, and He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives in biblical language is called “mercy.” uncertainty, she committed herself and her resources Mercy, the principal path pointed out by Jesus and recovery of sight to the blind, At the same time, by becoming for people a model of to making Gods love tangible and practical in the Christ to those who are desirous of following him, to let the oppressed go free, merciful love for others, Christ proclaims by His ac- lives of Dublins poor.… Catherine knew mercy to has in all ages of the Church excited the faithful in and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. tions even more than by His words that call to mer- be a demanding virtue. To take into ones heart the a particular manner to instruct and comfort the sick ✜✜Luke 4:18-19 (NAB) cy which is one of the essential elements of the Gospel misery of another, to humbly accept ones limitations and dying poor, as in them they regarded the person 1 2
  4. 4. The Call to Mercy The Call to Mercy of our Divine Master, who has said, "Amen, I say ✜✜ Associates accept the Mercy mission and foster compassionate women and men by witnessing God’s Burns, Helen Marie, RSM and Sheila Carney, RSM. to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least it. mercy to the world. Praying with Catherine McAuley, Companions brethren, you did it to Me." for the Journey Series. Winona, MN: Saint ✜✜ Associates work for justice in collaboration ✜✜from the Original Rule of the Sisters of Mercy For Reflection Mary’s Press, 1996. with the Sisters of Mercy. The Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy, the cen- ✢✢ How have you experienced the Mercy of God in John Paul II. Encyclical Letter, The Mercy of God (Dives ✜✜ Associates actively embrace the Critical Con-tral document governing the life and mission of the your life? in Misericordia). Boston, MA: St. Paul Books cerns of the Sisters of Mercy:congregation, is very strong in its understanding of the ✢✢ Were there/are there people who inspire you by and Media, 1980. ◆◆ to deepen and assimilate more consciously the their acts of compassion?primacy of service to people who are poor. Keenan, James F. The Works of Mercy: The Heart of Ca- practice of nonviolence as an integral aspect ✢✢ Are there particular kinds of suffering that call to tholicism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Little- Recalling the words of Jesus of the charism of mercy; your merciful heart? field, 2005. that he is one with his suffering members, ◆◆ to deepen our response to the unrecognized McAuley, Catherine. “Rules and Constitutions of we respond to the cry of the poor. and unreconciled racism, past and present, Sources the Religious Sisters of Mercy.” In Catherine Through direct service within our community; Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Silver McAuley and the Tradition of Mercy, edited by and through our influence ◆◆ to reverence Earth and work more effectively Spring, MD: Institute of the Sisters of Mercy Mary C. Sullivan. Notre Dame, IN: University we seek to relieve misery, toward the sustainability of life and toward of the Americas, 1992. of Notre Dame Press, 1995. to address its causes universal recognition of the fundamental and to support all persons right to water; who struggle for full dignity. ✜✜Constitutions #3 ◆◆ to continue to embrace our particular concern for women;Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates experience ◆◆ to stand in solidarity with immigrants.God’s mercy in our own lives and in turn offer it toothers. Associates identify themselves as partners in ✜✜ Mercy. MERCY The Call to Association ✜✜ Associates draw support from and lend support A S S O C I AT E S A Mercy Associate is a person who has experi- to the Sisters of Mercy. are women and men who hearenced Gods mercy in her/his own particular life and ✜✜ Associates seek opportunities for spiritual en- and respond to a call from God,unique circumstances and who discerns the call to live an invitation to Gospel holiness richment, both individually and communallyout a commitment to Mercy in a formal relationship lived through sharing in the mission of Mercy. with Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates.with the Sisters of Mercy. Mercy Associates are called They desire to walk with and care for thoseto a life of prayer and service to the poor, sick, and ig- ✜✜ Associates commit to regular participation in who are poor, sick, and uneducated.norant. Associates live out their commitment within Mercy and associate gatherings and activities. Associates, while maintaining individualthe wider Mercy community. Unlike sisters who take ✜✜ Associates work to extend the charism of Mer- lifestyles, seek to embody the spirit of Mercy informal vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service cy into the future. partnership with the Community of the Sistersfor life, associates make a formal covenant and respond of Mercy through a mutual covenant. Association is more than a friendship with a sister As identified by Foundress, Catherineto their call to Mercy as they are able within the con- or associate. Associates and Sisters of Mercy support McAuley, the mission of Mercy is central fortext of their daily lives. one another in prayer and ministry as they grow in the Associates, who share in prayer, community, Associates live out their call to Mercy in the fol- Mercy charism. Some associates are employed by the ministry, and friendship.lowing ways: Sisters of Mercy in sponsored institutions; some do Mercy Associate Identity Statement (2010) ✜✜ Associates lead lives of prayer, both individu- volunteer work with the sisters; others bring Mercy to ally and communally with Sisters of Mercy and their families and work place or other volunteer set- Mercy Associates. tings. All are united in their desire to become more 3 4
  5. 5. Cat�erine McAule� and t�e Mercy Tradition Catherine McAuley to the Callaghans for over twenty-one years, serving As a very wealthy woman, Catherine could have and Mary Warde, was brutally interrupted by the sud- as a companion to Mrs. Callaghan who was often very enjoyed the various social activities available to a wom- den death of her mother. Despite this significant loss, 1778—1841 ill. During her spare time, Catherine served the poor. an of her station in life and contented herself with acts Frances at a very early age began to integrate her faith The time and place into which Catherine McAuley The Callaghans were Quakers, and they encouraged of charity. However, Catherine responded in faith to a with the whole experience of her younger years. At thewas born were not unlike our own. The rich were very and funded Catherine’s charitable activities. According deeper call from God. She took to heart the words of age of seventeen Frances moved to Dublin and soonrich and the poor were very poor. to Mary Vincent Harnett, one of Catherine’s earliest Jesus, “As you do to the least of these, you do unto me.” became a leader in her social group. Her fascinating companions in Mercy, Catherine was very diligent and Catherine McAuley did not structure a religious personality won her immediate favor among the youth Extreme wealth and extreme poverty marked the loving in her service to the poor. community until 1831 when of well-to-do society. Through social and economic reality of Ireland, straining the few welfare systems available. Modern progress She collected the poor children of the neighbourhood she was in her 50s and then her friendship with Mary Ma- eased life’s burdens for some, while civil war, politi- only because the Bishop told “ You never knew her. I knew caulay, Frances met the woman in the lodge, which was placed at her disposal, and cal unrest, and disease weakened the support systems devoted a great portion of her time to their instruc- her that for her works among her better than I have known whose influence was to change of many others, mainly women and children. Persons tion. Her solicitude for the interests of the poor soon poor people to continue, she anybody in my life. She was a the whole course of her life. of means often viewed poor people with condescen- drew around her many who hoped to derive from and her friends would have to woman of God, and God made Catherine McAuley, (aunt of sion and distaste. Unrest and suffering abounded in her advice, relief, and consolation. Everyone who become religious and take vows her a woman of vision. She Mary Macauley), though al- the streets and homes of the disadvantaged, while had distress to be relieved, or affliction to be miti- of poverty, chastity, and obedi- most fifty years of age, had no the wealthy enjoyed fashionable food, clothing, and gated, or troubles to be encountered came to seek con- ence. Catherine’s companions showed me what it meant to be entertainment. solation at her hands, and she gave to the utmost of more thought of founding a later added an additional vow a Sister of Mercy, to see the ✜✜Praying with Catherine McAuley, p. 14 her ability; her zeal made her a kind of missionary religious congregation than the in the small district around her. to “care for the poor, sick and world and its people in terms of youthful Frances. Together in Since the sixteenth century, the Penal Laws against ✜✜Catherine McAuley and the Tradition of Mercy, p. 144 ignorant.” God’s love; to love every one 1827, both entered the doors ofCatholics had deprived the majority of the population From 1831-1841 Cath- who needed love to care for the House of Mercy on Baggotof most basic civil and human rights. Although re- When Mr. Callaghan died in 1822, he left his en- tire estate to Catherine. erine established foundations every one who needed care. Street. Frances was to becomepealed by the time Catherine lived, Catholics still suf- in England and throughout one of Catherine’s dearest Now her vision is driving mefered residual prejudice from the onerous Penal Laws In 1827, Catherine used the fortune she inherited Ireland. Within fifteen years friends and closest confidantes.which had suppressed the Catholic Church and its to establish the House of Mercy on Baggot Street in the congregation spread to on. It is a glorious thing to be a When Catherine commencedpractices and had made it very difficult for Catholics to Dublin. In a letter to her cherished friend and mentor, Newfoundland, the United Sister of Mercy.” her novitiate at George’s Hillpractice their faith. Dr. Daniel Murray, she writes: States, Australia, New Zealand, Letter from Frances Warde to with the Presentation Sisters, it Sr. Mary Gonzaga O’Brien (1879) Catherine McAuley was born into a wealthy family I wish to mark strongly my zeal and good will for Scotland, and South America. was Frances she chose to leavein Dublin, Ireland, in 1778. Her father, who died when our new Institute in Baggot Street, where I hope the Catherine never wavered in her in charge, confident in her abil-she was five, taught her compassion for poor people and Glory of Almighty God will be promoted, and the devotion to Jesus or to the poor whom she served so ity to maintain and guide Baggot Street. Until Cath-a love for her Catholic faith. Her mother gave up her mental and corporal distress of the poor in a great erine’s death in 1841, they were to share joys and suf- well.Catholic faith but instilled in Catherine good manners degree alleviated. ferings with each other, more than with any others. In ✜✜Correspondence of Catherine McAuley, p. 39and self-discipline. Her mother died penniless when Frances Warde 1837 Frances became the founder and first superior ofCatherine was a teenager. Catherine spent the next few The House of Mercy became the center from the Sisters of Mercy in County Carlow. Frances’ foun- 1810—1884years living among various relatives. which Catherine and her associates gave shelter and dations from Carlow embraced Naas, Wexford, and In 1803, Catherine went to live with a rich Protes- education to poor women and children. It was from Unlike most Catholics during this period in Irish Westport. Her hope and confidence seemed limitless.tant couple, William and Catherine Callaghan, on their this house that the sisters went out to respond to hu- history, Frances had a privileged early life. The initial These gifts inspired Frances and her early sisters to re-estate outside Dublin. Catherine was a devoted friend man needs in hospitals, homes, and prisons. joy experienced by Frances, the youngest child of John main in many famine and typhoid infected areas. 5 6
  6. 6. Catherine McAuley and the Mercy Tradition Catherine McAuley and the Mercy Tradition Mercy Spreads Mercy Today learning, health care and social services—the range of Sources ministries is almost endless. The common thread in the In 1843, Frances led a group of six young Mercy From a humble beginning in Ireland, the commu- Healy, Kathleen. Frances Warde: American Founder of the ministerial presence of Mercy is a desire to act in soli-sisters from a convent in Carlow, Ireland, to Pittsburgh, nity of Mercy spread throughout the world and is to- Sisters of Mercy. New York: Seabury Press, 1973. darity with persons who are poor, women seeking thewhere they set up schools, a shelter for women, an or- day continuing to spread the Gospel. Sullivan, Mary C., RSM. Catherine McAuley and the fullness of life and equality, children, and multiculturalphanage and the first hospital in Western Pennsylva- It is this witness of Gospel values that draws lay Tradition of Mercy. Four Courts Press, Dublin, and international realities.nia. Before her death in Manchester, New Hampshire women and men into the Mercy community as associ- and the University of Notre Dame Press, 1995;in 1884, Frances established convents and institutions Wherever Mercy sisters, associates, and their co- ates who desire to join with others in a unique way to paperback edition, Chicago, Providence, Hartford, Philadelphia, and ministers may be, the heritage of service continues. share in the charism of Catherine McAuley. ———. The Correspondence of Catherine McAuley,Omaha. In turn, these foundations led to other com-munities in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Just as Catherine responded to emerging needs in For Reflection 1818-1841. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press the cities, towns, and rural areas of Ireland, Sisters of and The Catholic University of America Press,New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, Pennsylvania, ✢✢ Are there aspects of Catherine’s life that you recog- Mercy and Mercy associates are sensitive to the many 2004.and Vermont. More sisters followed Frances from Ire- nize in your own life? What strikes you most about faces of poverty:land and women in local areas joined the sisters. Soon Catherine?Mercy communities abounded across the continent. ✜✜ inadequate education and health care services; ✢✢ What appeals to you about Frances Warde?Before the end of the nineteenth century, Argentina, ✜✜ substandard housing; ✢✢ Do you know any Sisters of Mercy today? If so,Jamaica, and Guyana welcomed Sisters of Mercy. ✜✜ legal and social services needs; what attracts you as you think about becoming an The sisters worked tirelessly wherever they went, Associate? ✜✜ systemic restrictions that bar persons from re-educating children and adults, healing sick persons in ceiving the help they need.hospitals, homes, and even on the battlefield, maintain-ing the tradition of serving the needs of the commu- Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates can benity. found in Catholic schools and institutions of higher Mercy Prayer for Guidance Come, O life-giving Spirit, transform us. Stir up in us the flame of love which is your gift. Direction Statement of the Fourth Institute Chapter (2005) Give us wisdom to see as you see. Give us At their Chapter in 1991, when the Sisters of Mercy came together as the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, understanding to hear as you hear. Give us the Sisters articulated their foundational Direction Statement. Several additions since then produced the 2005 Direction Statement: courage and strength to walk the way of Animated by the Gospel and Catherine McAuley’s passion for the poor, we, the Sisters of Mercy of justice and integrity. Kindle in us wonder the Americas, are impelled to commit our lives and resources to act in solidarity with and awe, that we may have grateful spirits. The economically poor of the world, especially women and children; ✢✢ You who dwell within us, praying ✢✢ Women seeking fullness of life and equality in church and society; and ✢✢ One another as we embrace our multicultural and international reality. unceasingly, fill us with love and devotion. This commitment will impel us to Holy Wisdom, guide us in the choices we must ✢✢ Develop and act f rom a multicultural and international perspective; make. Give us discerning hearts that we may ✢✢ Speak with a corporate voice; choose what is good, in accord with your ✢✢ Work for systemic change; ✢✢ P ractice nonviolence; desire. Loving God of mercy, finish in us the ✢✢ Act in harmony and interdependence with all creation; and work you have begun. Amen. ✢✢ Call ourselves to continual conversion in our lifestyle and ministries. 7 8
  7. 7. Prayer T�e Soul o� Mercy The life of a Mercy Associate, like the life of a Sis- What Is Prayer? Why Pray? Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; forter of Mercy, is a life rooted and grounded in prayer. we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that In Christian life and practice, prayer is an act of For Mercy Associates and Sisters of Mercy, time very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.Women and men who are called to Mercy usually al- faith and of hope. In prayer, we express our faith in a spent cultivating a relationship with God is essential And God, who searches the heart, knows what is theready have a life-long experience of prayer and often loving and gracious God. Any time we consciously and to our vocation. While we know that God loves us and mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes forare seeking ways to deepen their relationship to God intentionally place ourselves in the presence of God, knows all of our needs, we believe that God also wants the saints according to the will of Mercy. Commitment to individual and communal we are praying. Prayer is communion with God, the to be in relationship with us, wants our love and at- ✜✜ Romans 8:26-27 (NRSV)prayer is an important dimension of association. Holy One, the One who creates, redeems, and sancti- tention. It is in prayer that we open ourselves to the Much more important than the type of prayer we fies us. Prayer can take many forms, for example, con- The Example of Jesus versation with God (which includes listening), peti- graces and call of the Holy One. As we place ourselves choose to pray is the attitude of gracious presence that at God’s disposal, we receive the strength and courage we bring to our prayer. The following are hallmarks of The prayer life of a Mercy Associate, like all other tions for ourselves or others, expressions of gratitude, quiet contemplation of some aspect of the God-life. to pursue virtue, to become more holy, more like the authentic prayer:aspects of associate life is modeled on the life of Je-sus. Jesus was a person of prayer. He Seeking forgiveness or healing are Holy One. Opening ourselves to the Holy One allows ✜✜ humilityprayed in the morning (Mark 1:35). also important aspects of prayer. us to recognize God’s mercy in our lives and God’s call ✜✜ opennessSometimes he prayed all night long Through prayer In the Hebrew tradition, prayer is to channel that mercy into compassionate action on ✜✜ gratitude(Luke 6:12). He withdrew to the thought of as three-dimensional: behalf of others. Every day women and men find com- praise we adore God ✜✜mountains and to the desert to be direct communion with God, study fort, joy, and greater compassion as they seek to know ✜✜ awarenessalone in prayer. Jesus told the par- as the Merciful One; of the scriptures, and service. We and receive the mercy of God. ✜✜ intentionalityable of the persistent widow to em- we seek to discover believe that God is both within and ✜✜ presencephasize the importance of praying God’s movement beyond us, always present to us; How Shall We Pray? Ultimately, it is the attitude with which we pray, notalways and never losing heart (Luke prayer is our effort to be present to in us and At a very basic level, prayer is turning one’s heart the type of prayers that we pray, that is the most impor-18:1-8). When his disciples asked God in all aspects of our lives. AndJesus to teach them how to pray, in our world; God responds in our knowings, be and mind to God. It is a choice to recognize God’s tant quality of our prayer. presence at a given moment and to respond to God’she gave them the simple and lovely we learn how they intellectual or emotional, of- Commitment to Prayer invitation. It may be a cry for help, a word of thanks,words of the Lords Prayer: to forgive fering us opportunities for personal an aspiration repeated from time to time, or “saying" a Recognizing that prayer is essential to our call to Father, hallowed be your name. and and spiritual growth. favorite prayer. Or it may be a quiet reflection on the mercy, we must commit ourselves to cultivating the Your kingdom come. we intercede For me, prayer is an upward leap scriptures or other readings, or contemplative silence, practice of prayer. This requires discipline, as does ev- Give us each day our daily bread. of the heart, an untroubled glance ery effort to transform ourselves into ever more loving, And forgive us our sins, for ourselves towards heaven, a cry of gratitude centering prayer. Or it could be a joint effort in com- holy persons. Prayer, like all virtues, needs to become a for we ourselves forgive and for others. and love which I utter from the munity to pray together silently, in prayer services, or in habit, a way of living our lives that is so much a part of everyone indebted to us. depths of sorrow as well as from the Eucharist. Prayer may also take the form of recogniz- • Constitutions, #10 us it comes automatically. Setting aside regular times And do not bring us to the time of heights of joy. It has a supernatural ing the face of Jesus in those we are serving or attend- for personal prayer, practicing frequent short silent trial. grandeur which expands the soul ing to the power of the Spirit in a meeting. God is with and unites it with God. I say an Our Father or a prayers, choosing to join associates, sisters or others ✜✜Luke 11:2-4 (NRSV) us during every moment of our lives—it is our task to Hail Mary when I feel so spiritually barren that I in times of prayer, participating in Eucharist—all help awaken to Gods presence within us and around us.The pattern of prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples cannot summon up a single worth while thought. cultivate our relationship with God. As prayer becomesemphasizes the worship of God, the Holy One. In These two prayers fill me with rapture and feed and In his letter to the Romans St. Paul reminds us that ever more constant in our lives, we may well recognizeprayer we praise God, and we ask God to make Gods satisfy my soul. God is the source of our prayer and God will always that we are becoming ever more loving, merciful, andreign of holiness, justice, and peace present among us. ✜✜St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul, p. 140 help us to pray even when we have no idea how to pray: compassionate toward others. 9 10
  8. 8. Prayer—The Soul of Mercy Prayer—The Soul of Mercy Mercy Prayer Book present to God. In that place of spiritual refreshment, unbounded confidence in the Blessed Virgin. We are Chittister, Joan. The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on God provides nourishment, consolation, challenge, and to fly to her in all our difficulties and spiritual needs…” Prayer. New London, CT: Twenty-third Pub- The Morning and Evening Prayer of the Sisters of courage for continuing the journey of life. (Retreat Instructions, p. 86). lications, 2009.Mercy was developed as the Sisters of Mercy of theAmericas came together to form a new Institute in You may have a particular devotion to the Clough, Joy. Intercessions of Mercy: Prayers Retreat Days Blessed Sacrament, to Jesus as the Sa-1991. Intended as a resource “to enhance our individual by Members of the Sisters of Mercy ofand communal prayer,” it offers the opportunity to pray Developing a rhythm of stepping away from the cred Heart, to the cross, the rosary, the Americas. Skokie: IL: ACTAthe cycles and seasons of the church using texts from usual activities of life can be an important component the holy angels, or to a particu- Publications, 2009. of our spiritual life. Retreat times can provide rest forthe Mercy tradition (Morning and Evening Prayer, p. body, mind and spirit, as well as opportunities for open- lar saint, perhaps even Cath- erine herself. Prayer for Busy Associates Deignan, Kathleen, The simple format is “that of the cathedral office,an ancient form of church prayer that predates the ing ourselves to God’s communication to us. Thomas Merton: A Book of All devotions aremonastic office” and was intended for use by the laity From time to time Association offers a retreat day Gracious and loving God, Hours. Notre Dame, IN: intended to provide as-(Morning and Evening Prayer, p. viii). or weekend for associates and sisters in one or more sistance along the way I am grateful for your call to Sorin Books, 2007. Individuals and communities of sisters and/or as- local areas. An effort is made to move these to vari- in our spiritual jour- Mercy. As I go about my busy McAuley, Catherine.sociates use this prayer book to enhance their personal ous local areas and to provide financial assistance for ney to becoming more life, help me always to remember Familiar Instructions ofand communal prayer. A selection of Mercy readings at travel so they can be available to everyone. Flowing holy, more in love with Rev. Mother McAuley,the end of the book provides rich from themes being developed in God. We understand you are with me. Give me the Foundress of the Insti- insight and strength to be yourresources for reflection and study Prayer is a plant the seed of Association, these praywonderful are ourselves to be among tute of the Religious Sis-of the Mercy charism. Though opportunities to together the communion of saints, merciful presence to each person ters of Mercy, Dublin, Ire-now in short supply, Morning and which is sown in every and to nurture your soul in Sab- the “great cloud of wit-Evening Prayer can sometimes bath rest. nesses” who together seek to and situation I meet today. land. New and revised found in Sisters of Mercy of- Christian, but its growth Amen! St. Louis, MO: Vincentian Annual retreats of five to sev- embrace the Holy One. Press, 1927.fices. The daily prayers can also entirely depends on the care en days, either preached or direct-be found online at www.mercy- we take to nourish it. If ed, are available in retreat centers For Reflection ———. Retreat Instructions of in various areas of the country. What commitment do you make to prayer? Mary Catherine McAuley. Comp. Mary Teresa neglected, it will die; if Such centers also offer weekend ✢✢ Frequent? Daily? Retreat? Are there particular re- Purcell, RSM. Ed. [Mary Bertrand Degnan, Sabbath Rest nourished by constant opportunities for retreat on vari- sources you find helpful in your prayer (e.g., Scrip- RSM]. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, As the Scriptures tell us, “God ous themes or topics appropriate ture, books, particular authors, CDs, etc.)? 1952.rested on the seventh day” (Gene- practice it will blossom and to the church year. Directed re- Do you have opportunities for communal prayer? Muller, Wayne. Learning to Pray: How We Find Heavensis 2:2). We, too, are called to rest, produce fruit in abundance. treats, in which one would usu- ✢✢ Are there aspects to communal prayer that you find on Earth. New York: Bantam Books, 2003.both physically and spiritually, in ally meet with a retreat director • Catherine McAuley, particularly helpful? ———. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delightorder to be healthy and attend to Retreat Instructions, p. 90 once a day, can focus on whateverthe spiritual life. The demands of is in the heart and soul of an indi- ✢✢ Do you have special devotions that you find helpful in Our Busy Lives. New York: Bantam Books,our work, family, and friends can be enormous; they vidual, for example, a decision you are trying to discern, in prayer? 2000.are the “stuff ” of our lives. Our ministries and our hu- a desire to grow in your prayer life, or an openness to Rupp, Joyce. The Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiri-man relationships are the avenues through which we whatever God is inviting you to next. Sources & Resources tual Growth. New ed. Notre Dame, IN: Sorinlive out God’s call to mercy. God also calls us to rest, to Morning and Evening Prayer of the Sisters of Mercy. In- Books, 2012.retreat, to quiet times when our souls can be refreshed Devotions stitute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas,in God’s presence. “Come to me and I will give you 1998. Spoto, Donald. In Silence: Why We Pray. New York: Vi- Many people find devotions to be a source of in-rest” (Matthew 11:28). Different from the relaxation king Compass, 2004. spiration for their prayer and daily lives. Catherine Burns, Helen Marie, RSM and Sheila Carney, RSM.we find in reading, hobbies, or watching TV, the rest McAuley placed her order under the protection of Our Praying with Catherine McAuley, Companions Thérèse of Lisieux. The Autobiography of St. Thérèse ofthat the Holy One offers is spiritual refreshment, the Lady of Mercy (whose feast we celebration on Septem- for the Journey Series. Winona, MN: Saint Lisieux: The Story of a Soul. New York: Imageopportunity to set everything else aside and just be ber 24th, Mercy Day). She reflected: “…we are to have Mary’s Press, 1996. Books, 2001. 11 12
  9. 9. Community T�e Heart o� Mercy Above all, Mercy communities are communities of “give living witness that the Spirit has not abandoned Mercy Community It is therefore by being united to Jesus Christ thatfaith—faith in the tender and loving mercy of Jesus the church and thus grace continues more powerful we will be united with each other. This spirit of Associates also join in community with the Sis- union is the greatest blessing Almighty God canand in the powerful and transformative power of the than evil in every age” (Friends of God and Prophets, p. ters of Mercy to support our individual and communal bestow on a community, since God looks upon theHoly Spirit to work through our own humble actions 228). Our chief task as Christians is to run together the efforts in Mercy. Since community life is essential to convent (home) where perfect charity reigns as a de-to bring about the reign of God. good race with Jesus, living lives of holiness and peace, religious life, the sisters have numerous opportunities lightful garden, a paradise where He loves to dwell. seeking justice, protecting the poor and the weak, cher- Christian Community throughout the year for building community—and of- Endeavor to contribute as far as in you lies to make ishing the earth in all its vulnerable splendor, so that ten invite associates to join them. It is important to that in which you reside such in His sight.” Christian community includes not only those we, too, may participate in the great cloud of witnesses, ✜✜Retreat Instructions, p. 61 take advantage of these opportunities, at least nowamong our immediate Mercy communities; rather, the communion of saints. and then as your schedule allows, so that you can buildChristian community comprises all Christians, allcompanions on the journey who live their lives cen- Catherine gathered around herself a community of relationships with sisters as well as other associates. Reflection Questions believers who shared in her mission to provide educa- Our partnerships in Mercy life and ministry are vital Where do I find my primary community? Do Itered in Christ and his work on earth. The writer of ✢✢ tion, housing, and loving care for the poor to the future of Catherine’s charism. As the sisters say, strive to be my best self with these people?the Letter to the Hebrews offers the deep always be in th women of Dublin. Like Catherine “Community strengthens us for mission when we lis-symbol of the "cloud of witnesses" can e sa Have I begun to develop relationships with other rts me ✢✢ and the community of believers ten openly to one another, seek the common good andto remind us that we are ever ea pla associates and sisters? What could assist me in this? urh ce she assembled about her, asso- promote mutual trust” (Constitutions, #19). For thosesupported by all the follow- As I strive to build community wherever I am, do I o working in Mercy-sponsored ministries, community ,c ✢✢ ciates are called to be a com- t: en U ANers of Jesus, living and dead, bou Y work toward union and charity in each group? ter may include your co-workers. It is up to each of us to IT M TI FA munity of believers who live ga N M RISwho run the good race: ed M work on building community in our daily settings. IL st this little trippin CO CH in the charism of Mercy in YTherefore, since we are sur- Sources God, for hom alone our everyday lives and inrounded by so great a cloud Family Community Johnson, Elizabeth A. Friends of God and Prophets: A the work we do to bringof witnesses, let us also lay For many associates, our spouses and children, per- Feminist Theological Reading of the Communion waside every weight and the about the reign of God haps parents or other relatives and friends are truly our of Saints. New York: Continuum, 1998.sin that clings so closely, and here on earth. TE Y CO M “base community” in life. It is in the family that many IA IT McAuley, Catherine. Retreat Instructions of Mother midlet us run with perseverance M E O UN Associate M RC are first introduced to their faith and it is in the fam- SS M Mary Catherine McAuley. Comp. Mary Teresa U Ythe race that is set before us, ta C A M N w Community IT CO ily that we most immediately live out our lives. Our eg forlooking to Jesus the pioneer Purcell, RSM. Ed. [Mary Bertrand Degnan, Y of mand perfecter of our faith, who rw The community of believ- compassionate service finds its expression daily in liv- co RSM]. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, o d ar oli dofor the sake of the joy that was set nes ers in Mercy Association are r st ing with others who need us; and it is in those close re- 1952. ve o ay bbefore him endured the cross, disre- We ha those persons who have conscious- ack. lationships that we are challenged to ever more loving •garding its shame, and has taken his seat ly committed to furthering the Mercy ways of living. Some of us may live alone or be distantat the right hand of the throne of God. from immediate family; nevertheless, we can probably charism, its tradition, and core values, both ✜✜(Hebrews 12: 1-2) identify those who are close to us, those who are truly communally and in our own unique everyday lives. As- our “family” on a day-to-day basis, those whose lives Authentic Christian community may also be re- sociates themselves form community as they come to- gether in local areas for regular prayer and discussion, shape ours and we theirs. We are challenged to be ourferred to as the communion of saints. The communion most merciful selves to those who are our closest “fam-of saints includes not only those whose lives have been as well as ministry projects. Relationships also develop ily.”recognized by the official church as exceeding in holi- in the wider associate retreats and conferences so thatness; rather, it extends far beyond these select few and a sense of associate community spreads throughout the Catherine McAuley’s greatest wish for her com-includes those ordinary and not so ordinary folk who Community. munity was that we live in union and charity: 13 14