In Rome I found what wonderful roots we have as Catholics, followers of Jesus Christ.
As pilgrims for the week we walked together the steps of Mary of the Cross. We made new friends. We were in awe of the architecture, art, culture and beauty of Rome.
We were in awe of the lives of the saints whom we encountered along the route – Ignatius, Francis of Assisi, Padre Pio, Peter, Paul, Cecilia, those of the catacombs, awesome people who paved the way of faith for me. They held tight to their faith, and loved the Lord with passion, as did our own Mary MacKillop.
I, too, now believe I can put a few stepping stones of faith on this path for future generations. With conviction and passion I can go for what I know I can do; I have confidence to paint/write. What I do, what we all do, is important.
In 1874, Mary MacKillop told Monsignor Kirby in Rome:
“To me, the will of God is a dear book which I am never tired of reading, which has always some new charm for me. Nothing is too little to be noticed there, but yet my littleness and nothingness has often dared to oppose it, and I am painfully conscious that in many ways I still in my tepidity offend against it without perceiving what I am doing. But such dear lessons as you gave me the other evening then come to my aid and encourage me, for the love of my sweet Jesus is too strong, too beautiful, and His merits too great, for me not to cling to Him.”
At the churches where she prayed I found the crucifix and prayed before the cross of Christ – and wondered if Mary also knelt right there and prayed and worshipped.
The final church of my pilgrimage to Rome was the “Church of the Cross of Jerusalem”. Visiting there was a great gift from the Lord and St Mary. To kneel before the fragments of the Cross, crown of thorns, nail and inscription of Christ’s passion was an experience to cherish.
Back home in Canberra I revert to the “normal’ ways of everyday life – the beauty of the family, the place of work, the supermarket, the traffic and friends. But I have questions.
· How long does the buzz last – what is it that is changed in me?
To be His hands and feet in my small part of the world the three-feet square that I affect each moment of each day.
It is an ideal I know I fall short of constantly but through the memories and experience of the canonisation I can be refreshed and reminded of the goal. Looking into the eyes of Mary of the Cross I can keep walking the Way.
I remember the story of the young Polish priest who walked from Poland to Rome – then became ill and died. His most remarkable thing in life was to walk. What is my most remarkable thing?
Two Aboriginal seminarians many years ago were taken to Rome to further their studies but became ill and died. But, they had an extraordinary effect on people in the short time.
Over the past few months we as a nation and many of us personally have learnt our own answers to this question.
It is good to stop and take a drink of Living Water.
How has this Woman of God - St Mary MacKillop of the Cross - changed your life?