Compassion, action and a daily conversation with God

by Sr Anne Mc Nally

As a Religious, I undertake to pray daily, using the Breviary which contains the Biblical Psalms, and reading from both Testaments of Jewish and Christian faith.

Whilst I pray alone, I join so many others around the world who are doing a similar exercise. Relating to the Spirit, however defined, accepts there is a mystery about our lives. The Breviary, which I read daily, has the Psalms and a selection of readings from the collected experiences of those Patriarchs, Kings, Peoples, who have lived in our world. My time of prayer is an intimate conversation with God, however defined, to whom I have, by vows, dedicated my life. I share concerns, joys, sadness, hopes, just life in general. Usually this takes about an hour.

Relating to the Spirit accepts there is a mystery about our lives

The congregation I joined, Sisters of Sion, were principally working in education. Before entering, I was very involved in Catholic Action in the Young Christian Workers; we professed proudly “A New World through a New Youth”. We took it for granted that God could work through us and our actions would bring about a better world. I still have the same sense of being a partner for the exercise of good over many things that are unjust. If the activity does not produce the results I hope for, I accept there may be a time lag. Oftentimes we only see the value of our activities long after they have taken place, if ever. Perhaps knowledge of success does not matter; what matters is that we took some action, however small.

The aim of our Congregation in society is to work for greater understanding between Christians and Jews. Vatican II expressed our debt as Roman Catholics to the Jewish Faith in the document Nostra Aetate.

Knowledge of success does not matter

I live in part of a large industrial city that has two famous football teams: Manchester United and Manchester City. Manchester United is my favourite. Watching the crowds gather for a match, there is no doubt that Manchester is multi-cultural, there is one world. Atrocities against any group results in all groups gathering together to express their mutual sadness at the losses suffered, as seen at Manchester Arena in 2017, when twenty-two young people were killed. The sense of shock and prayer was obvious, the crowd was totally united in grief. Prayer was silent, but palpable.

Compassion seems a good way of allowing the Spirit to work through us

In Let us Dream, Pope Francis is realistic that there is much in our world that needs to be addressed: climate change, concern for the poorer nations. Karen Armstrong, in her history of religions The Great Transformation, says in the Axial Age 1600-900 BCE, people discovered the value of compassion rather than warfare. What mattered was not what you believed, but how you behaved.

Originally, as an international congregation we have had schools in various countries. Nowadays the work we do is dependent upon the special skills of sisters and responding to a need as it arises. Appreciating our Jewish roots in Christianity is enriching in appreciation of the work of the Spirit in our world. Our vision is wide, it’s difficult to see results but compassion seems a good way of allowing the Spirit to work through us.