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Thank God always for the happiness and beauty of life - it is beautiful.
Venerable Mary Potter's Last Words.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy by Sister Elizabeth West
The opening sentence to the Papal Bull of Interdiction -Misericordiae Vultus announcing the Jubilee
Year of Mercy, sets the framework for the focus of the Holy Year ahead. It states quite simply that “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy”, and if we desire to enter into this Jubilee year of Mercy, we are called to come closer to Jesus, to learn from him the reality of what it means to experience for ourselves the Mercy of God and to be Mercy for others.
In one of her letters to Monsignor Virtue, the founder of the LCM, Venerable Mary Potter wrote: “I believed God said some weeks ago to me, as I was before the Crucifix, “I will show forth My Mercy in thee, I will show My Mercy by thee.” From that moment, it was to mercy, “that Divine Attribute of God” that she devoted her life.
For the founder, the sign of God’s absolute Mercy was to be found in the willing offering Jesus made of his life, for the life of the world. The members of the Little Company of Mary would actively seek to be ministers of that same Mercy to those whose hearts knew no mercy, and in particular to those who were dying outside of the knowledge of how much they were loved by God.
This Year of Mercy asks us to see beneath the outer reality, into the hurting heart of humanity. In the voices of the lost, the abandoned, the hurting and the suffering, we are asked to hear the longing of God’s own self for healing and hope, and act upon it under the power of the Spirit. With the Spirit we are asked to renew the face of the earth through the exercise of mercy and compassion. To live as Jesus lived, full of tenderness and compassion for all of God’s children without exception. This is central to our Little Company of Mary vocation to be Mercy to the world.
How are we to do this?
As LCM, we speak of our call to love humanity with a “mother’s love”. But what does that mean? God refers to God’s own love as a maternal love - a love that seeks to nurture, to grow, to free one’s children to become their own truest self. In God’s view, mothers are passionate about their children - passionate defenders of life and hope. Hosea says God is like a mother bear (Hosea 13:8), defending her young. In Deuteronomy 32:11-12, God described as a mother eagle. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus says his love (and thus God’s love), is like that of a mother hen.
The images we have of the ‘mother-love’ of God are plentiful: Pope Francis calls it a “visceral love” (MV#6), and this ‘visceral’ love Mary Potter would well understand. It was what she identified as the ‘mother-love’ of the Good Shepherd. It was the call she believed she - and the members of the congregation - had received. To love the world and its people with the same kind of passionate love that would offer everything for the life of one of the children of God. That is our gift and charism. To be mothers to a world in need: To be like a mother bear defending her young: To be like an eagle hovering over all of her nestlings. To be like a mother hen, clucking and carefully gathering in all her chicks and protecting them with her own self. That is the ‘mother-love of Jesus’ that we are about. And yes, we must do violence ‘for the sake of those who are threatened...”.
The measure of love we are called to bring to the world is that we “lay down our lives” for those who are in need, as Jesus laid down his life that others might have life. That is Mercy.
Writing her memorial letter on the death of Mother Xavier, Venerable Mary Potter stated the obvious reality of our vocation: “We know God has appointed us to be, as it were, his Mercy to others” she said, and in another letter, underscored it further by commenting it as “[our] duty of love”.
The Jubilee Year of Mercy calls us back to our origins in God, the founder’s vision and our mission.
Sister Elizabeth West LCM