"There is that of God in everyone." This was part of George Fox's philosophy when he founded the Quaker Movement.
Whether we are aware of it or not, and besides and beyond any religious labels we might give ourselves, there exists a yearning at the core of our being, which expresses itself as a restlessness at the conscious level. St. Augustine describes it - "You have made us for yourself, 0 Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you".
Old Swan Liverpool – original Pugin Chapel
Through reflective living we become aware of this restlessness and in silence we are drawn into that sacred space where the God of stillness dwells. Here we are in the deepest communion with the source of our being - God and in harmony with creation. This is prayer. It is this relationship of union that underpins and informs our process of evaluating, decision making and acting. St. Paul sums it up - "In Him we live and move and have our being". (Acts 17:28)
Most of the disciplines and therapies try to meet the needs of those who search for inner peace and harmony. The World Religions point to prayer as the path which enables the integration of life experiences. Prayer features significantly in the Christian scheme of things. The chief function of the Church beyond all else is to be a praying Church. Since people make up the church, each is called to be a praying person. This does not mean to be merely involved in liturgical worship, but in personal prayer that fosters a companionable friendship with God. The primary effect of this relationship is outreach to the rest of creation.
Sr Lynda (flute), Sr Susan (guitar) leading singing at Christmas Day Mass
at hostel for homeless people
Within the Church those called to live the vowed life are given definite guidelines in Canon Law (i.e. the official body of ecclesiastical law) as to their role in the church. "Their first and principle duty is the contemplation of things divine and constant union with God in prayer" (663:1). Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy says - "Our whole life should be a continued act of prayer and praise to God."
Srs Norah and Sue at prayer in Leeds-Swarcliff
As Sisters of Mercy we live out our calling by making Mercy the business of our lives. Mercy - that gift of compassion (feeling with) - empowers us to reach out from the very core of our being to the needs of those around us who are vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised. The contemplative stance with which we gaze upon the world, as Christ did, enables us to discover the potential in every human being whatever their class, colour
or creed; and energises us to respond whenever there is a need. The work of the Sisters of Mercy takes many forms, but whatever the individual's ministry may be, through prayer each Sister is united to Christ, to the community and to the world at large, for the spirit of prayer breaks down all barriers and is not confined to any place or time; in fact it pervades the whole of our lives.
In liturgy we celebrate as a community this relationship with God and with creation. Daily the Sisters pray the Prayer of the Church. The Eucharist is the centre of our lives as Catholics and we celebrate it daily in union with the Church throughout the world. "The Christian Community can be built up only when it has its centre in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist" (Presbyterorum Ordinins). Catherine McAuley reminds us - "Of all our duties, that of celebrating Mass is of the greatest importance".
While every Sister of Mercy endeavours to live out this call to make Mercy the business of our lives, some Sisters are engaged in full time prayer ministry. This ministry finds its expression in spiritual accompaniment, retreat giving, leading meditation and Faithsharing groups. Praying with and for people, e.g. young people, the elderly and those who are sick and housebound is a further dimension of this ministry. As Sisters grow older and retire from active apostolates, through their prayer they are still contributing in a very deep way to the needs of the world.
The congregation is under the patronage of Our Lady of Mercy. Mary is a perfect role model for us as Sisters of Mercy - she "pondered in her heart" (Luke 2) her life experience and reached out in Mercy to give Christ to the world.