A letter from Mary MacKillop to Monsignor Kirby – Rector of The Irish College, Rome, 1873
Reverend and dear Monsignor,
This is the feast of our dear Lord’s Ascension, a joyful day in Heaven, and joyful too to those who are of good faith on earth. I do not know why I feel so strongly urged to lay open to you the whole state of my mind, in so far as I can explain it, showing the wonderful care with which our dear Lord has watched over me, and how all my coldness and tepidity in His service have not caused Him to withdraw His graces.
I must go back a little. I must tell you that from early childhood, as far back as I can remember, He gave me such a sense of His watchful presence that I would feel myself reproved for my smallest faults. He gave me good Catholic parents, a mother that in patience, resignation and suffering seemed to me, and to many more, a second Monica. My father had been educated for the Church and had studied very deeply. From him I learnt so much of the teachings of our holy Faith. He had studied for seven years in Rome alone, and under the Jesuit Fathers, thus all I heard from him made me love the ways of our holy Faith as practised in Rome, and made me have a great affection for the Society of Jesus. But from the time I came to understand that he had been intended for the Church and had not persevered, I began to desire that I could leave all I loved, and live for God alone. My life as a child was one of sorrows, my home, when I had it, a most unhappy one. I tremble when I think of the natural pride of my disposition, but I would wish to sing forever the praises of our dear Lord who in His patience and goodness humbled it to the dust . . . in early childhood He began to humble me. He gave me a most keen sense of duty, and in the discharge of what appeared to be my duty, I felt it impossible to pause or to consider my own (feelings) no matter how much they had to be trampled upon. But all this He did without my seeking it, (without my even) asking for it in the most imperfect way, and when I was old enough, and had the opportunities of consulting my Directors on my difficulties, I rarely ever did so – not knowing in my ignorance how to speak of them. Yet for all that, my good God watched over me and guarded me when I did not try to guard myself.