Following our Mercy Day celebrations with their many reminders of the Mercy seed planted by Catherine in Dublin in 1827, our minds turn naturally to the growth and flourishing of that seed, and now to its maturity and aging.
The little Mercy seed, planted in 1827 did indeed fall into fertile ground. With much prayer, faith and effort it flourished and spread far, well beyond the confines of Dublin city. Catherine’s dream was realised, though she could not have known the full extent of this which continues down to our own day.
The seed has become a great tree whose branches shelter many. At one time Sisters of Mercy were to be found on all the continents, and in earth’s remotest places. It was the heyday of Mercy. Great good was achieved, and for this we praise and thank God.
And our present reality? Yes, indeed the Mercy family is still offering loving shelter to all who come but the tree is now bent, gnarled and its autumn of life leaves are falling gently to the ground. Frequent funerals, our grey hairs, our relatively few aspirants are daily reminders of this truth. But for all that, as the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins asserts, “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.”
Biologists believe that tree roots, as they burrow ever more deeply into the ground, become so identified with the soil that it is impossible to distinguish what is root and what is soil. The tree may be outwardly stricken by age and by all that wind and weather have thrown at it but, while it is rooted and grounded in the soil of God’s love, it will be like the tree that is planted by running water ‘which bears twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are for the cure of the nations.’(Revelations 22:2).
What a beautiful and encouraging image of us Mercy people at this time of depletion and fresh challenge. Deo Gratias.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, Root of Jesse, pray for us.
Beloved Catherine, pray for us.