This past week I found myself in the presence of someone who literally made me feel as though I was standing in the Presence of God.
She was a Sister of Mercy nun and her face radiated a peace, a sense of well-being, a joy that could only have come from her spending many hours in the presence of God.
Obviously, His Presence had rubbed off on her because she was beautiful – a physical and inner beauty. When she looked at me, I felt that she really saw me – not just as a person but as a child of God.
The care home, a building belonging to the Missionaries of Charity, is in Khayelitsha, a partially informal township, in Cape Town, South Africa.
In 1988 Mother Teresa herself approved the Khayelitsha site with these words:
“We have come to give tender loving care to the poor, to the people who have nothing, the forgotten ones…”
We had gone to visit an elderly friend who has fallen on hard times and is basically bedridden. The Sisters of Mercy have welcomed him into their care home and are looking after him.
A Sister of Mercy must abide by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and wholehearted free service to the poor. They “love and serve God in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, both materially and spiritually, recognizing in them and restoring to them the image and likeness of God by nursing the sick, the dying and destitute.”1
“A sister’s few possessions include: three saris (one to wear, one to wash, one to mend), two or three cotton habits, a girdle, a pair of sandals, a crucifix, and a rosary. They also have a plate, a set of cutlery, a cloth napkin, a canvas bag, and a prayer book.”2
The Sister we met was from Spain, she must be in her late twenties and I felt humbled at the thought of how she has physically, emotionally and spiritually dedicated her whole life to the Lord, the destitute, the outcast, the sick, the forgotten…
One of the qualification requirements to be a sister is that you have to be of cheerful disposition.
Our Sister from Spain definitely met that qualification in abundance.
She touched me deeply when she asked me what our friend and we believed. What was the bedrock of our faith? What brought us comfort in our faith?
She asked this because she wanted to know what would comfort our friend.
She explained that it was not the Sister of Mercy’s job to convert anyone to their faith. Their only job was to serve all they met as Jesus served and to trust that in this way the person being served would see God and come to know Him.
References: 1 & 2 http://www.motherteresa.org/active-sisters.html
Photos of Imizamo Yethu Township