Te tapu o te tangata – a fiery respect for all
Nga mihi atawhai – greetings to all in Mercy! The theme suggested for our reflection in the ninth month of this Year of Consecrated Life is respect. In what is known widely in our own circles as Mercy Month, September also marks the anniversary of the opening, 188 years ago, of Catherine McAuley’s first House of Mercy in Baggot Street, Dublin.
What dominates our recollections of that time was her “tender love” for the poor, whom she identified so closely with the Christ she followed. Respect is possibly not a word she would have often used, but our present commitment to “respect the dignity of every human person and culture” comes close to what Catherine urged her sisters to have. The same kind of reverence is contained in the Maori words we use to translate this core value – ‘te tapu o te tangata’ – the sacredness of every human being and of all humanity.