July 18, 2012
The Australian Bishop's Conference has invited all Australian Catholics Communities to join them in a time of prayerful and spiritual renewal. Beginning on Pentecost Sunday 2012, the Year of Grace calls each person to reflect on the graced moments of his/her life.
At a meeting of Diocesan Co-ordinators in May 2012, Archbishop Mark Coleridge reflected in the homily at the Eucharist that the Year of Grace was entrusted to St Mary MacKillop's intercession. In the prayer for the Year of Grace we pray:
With the intercession of St Mary MacKillop,
who showed us new ways of living the Gospel,
we make our prayer
through Christ our Lord. Amen
As we prepare to celebrate her feast day on 8 August, it is timely to reflect on Mary MacKillop as a Woman of Grace in our land. Her canonisation was a graced moment in our history. She stands as one of ' the great cloud of witnesses' (Hebrews 12:1) who looked towards Jesus as her inspiration to live a gospel way of life.
Mary herself was very conscious of God's gracious gift of love and we find her encouraging her Sisters to 'Cling to God's Love and Grace' (Mary MacKillop:15.9.1890) in all that they do. From her earliest days she had a deep sense of being the beloved of God. In a letter to Monsignor Kirby in 1873, she writes 'God gave me such a sense of his watchful presence'. Mary is ever conscious of the gift of God's grace working in her life. In 1870, we find Mary writing from Brisbane:
It seems to me now that our good God gave me great graces for the position to which He called me … There is some strange, almost wonderful change in me for which I cannot account.
At the time of her excommunication, Mary writes to Father Woods again expressing the deep sense of inner peace and of being enfolded in the arms of her God,
I can only dimly remember the things that were said to me, but the sense of the calm beautiful presence of God I shall never forget. 16.11.1871
Her relationship with God was an intimate one. She speaks of a good God, a God who takes care of us all, a God who carries us through every struggle. We gain a small insight into her relationship with God, when she tells Monsignor Kirby how she prays,
Our dear Lord does all, I do nothing. His presence is before me almost in everything, and I love to come to him in prayer as to my dearest and only Friend. 1871
Let us pause and reflect with Mary MacKillop on the gracious gift of God freely given to each of us.
Monica Cavanagh rsj