‘BE GOOD TODAY BUT BETTER TOMORROW’
5 December 2016
Next week we celebrate Foundation Day on December 12. This day is significant for ISMAPNG for two interrelated reasons. On December 12, 1831, Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle, and Elizabeth Harley professed vows as the first Religious Sisters of Mercy, marking the beginning of our Order. Fittingly, five years ago on December 12, 2011, the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea officially came into being.
In reflecting on both milestones, we all have much for which we can be proud and can rightly acknowledge the tremendous work of so many Sisters and our partners in Mercy in building what we have become today. In true Mercy fashion while we rightly honour all of those who have gone before us and indeed our own efforts in the past, our primary focus is on looking forward rather than back. We of course should draw on the wisdom of the past, yet seek to remain attentive to the needs of our time and continually ask the question about how we can best bear witness to the Gospel today.
While the world in which we seek to bring about God’s mercy may look vastly different to that of 1831 and, may I add, different in some ways from 2011, unfortunately we still are in a world in which there are grave injustices, an irrational fear of difference and diversity, a scandalous inequality in the distribution of basic resources and the continual promotion of individual gain and attainment over what might be good for the whole community and planet.
At times we may feel that our efforts to bring about Mercy in our world are futile, with the challenges that we face seeming to be getting bigger and more complex.
So what advice do we think Catherine would give to us if she had been professed on December 12 2016, rather than 1831? The following quote from a letter she wrote in 1841 provides some guidance and wisdom for us –
The simplest and most practical lesson I know…is to resolve to be good today, but better tomorrow. Let us take one day only in hands, at a time, merely making a resolve for tomorrow, thus we may hope to get on taking short, careful steps, not great strides. Letter to de Sales White February 28, 1841.
As we celebrate Foundation Day next week and begin our sixth year as ISMAPNG, let us pray that we continue to take the right steps, wherever we are and whatever we are able to do, so that through our collective action our world is a better place tomorrow than it is today.
I would like to wish all readers of Just Mercy a very happy Christmas and hope that it is a time of joy for you and your families.
Berneice Loch rsm – Institute Leader