Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pilgrimage reflection - In the New Year

My passion is writing icons. I have painted on and off over many years but have not found satisfaction in portraits, flowers or landscapes.
As I look back on the canonisation pilgrimage, I now see I have a purpose to write the story of my faith through the medium of icons.
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?
·      How can I keep hold of that?
Pilgrimage was time out to see the face of God and find out how Mary of the Cross achieved that and how to apply it in my life.
How does someone make the best olive oil from Cootamundra with the trees they have?
How do they be the best doctor they can be in Tathra with the God-given gift they have?
How do they become the best teacher in Goulburn?
So, I seek to be what God has created me to be and to be the best I can.
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.
One of the personal outcomes of the pilgrimage was finding a new cousin and so discovering more about my family history.
Jan from Kincumber rang after reading my article in the Broken Bay diocesan magazine. She is also a great-granddaughter of Mary and John Woodward. Her great-grand father is my great-grand father’s brother.
Her family legend is that he rowed Mother Mary of the Cross from Woy Woy to the orphanage at Kincumber. She has another cousin (recently discovered) whose forebears gave Mother Mary bed and lodging on her trip from Eden to Bombala. She was originally going to stay only one night but a storm forced her to remain with them for two.
People remembered and treasured encounters they had with Mother Mary of the Cross. What was so special about her?

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?

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