Where, O death is your Victory? Where, O death is your sting?
By Sister Carolyn Mary
When I was a child I remember the number one fear for me was death. I remember anytime the word or topic was mentioned I use to think if they don’t stop talking about it I am going to run away or get sick. I suppose for most of my life that was still true. Then, like everyone I grew up and came to understand that it is a part of the journey and none of us can escape it but only with Faith could we navigate the seas and storms that would bring us to the end of our journey.
Today, one of my sisters came home to Marion Center to die and I went by to say my good bye and to let her know how grateful I was for her witness, her years of leadership and most of all her friendship and support over the years. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I entered her room but to my surprise she was the same person I had met some 43 years ago when I came to college (just a little older). Her smile that drew so many to her was still as warm and accepting as it had been when I came to Sacred Heart in Belmont, North Carolina.
After I entered the community, I came to appreciate even more her presence and interest in all we were about as well as her witness to mercy. It was these same qualities that later as President and leader of our community she brought to each and every sister who came to her. Her ever present smile, Irish wit, and most of all her deep love and appreciation for the call her Father in heaven had sent her as a young woman of 17. Now she was preparing to make the final journey and had come home to say goodbye to her Mercy family. Her countenance glowing, her faith strong she embraced any and all who came setting aside her need to rest or pain. She wanted to be present as much and as long as she could.
We don’t know how soon before Our Heavenly Father comes to take His faithful daughter home to her heavenly reward. We only know she is ready. Her job is done and now it is time to be enfolded into the arms of her loving God. The rest is up to us to continue. Yet while our hearts are heavy we rejoice for our sister, Pauline, for she like many before her is coming to the end of her earthly journey.
I can imagine our beloved founder, Catherine McAuley, greeting her and saying well done good and faithful daughter of Mercy and inviting her to a simple cup of tea as she had done so many times in her life. What scared me when I was young no longer does for I have had the privilege to live and walk with many great women who like Pauline have shown the way for those of us who follow.
What is it to be a Sister of Mercy? It is to walk in faith placing ourselves at the service of others while drawing strength from our prayer and support of our sisters . Bringing God’s mercy and love to the disenfranchised, to those who are lonely, to the sick, and woman and children who are in many ways the voiceless.
As we begin each day we place our trust in our God, drawing strength from one another and like Catherine we pray:
“…Take from my heart all painful anxiety; suffer nothing to sadden me but sin, nothing to delight me but the hope of coming to the possession of you, My God and My all, in your everlasting kingdom.”
(Taken from the Suscipe by Catherine McAuley)