Thursday 7 March 2024

Mary MacKillop - EJ Cuskelly, MSC - CTS Biographies

Mary MacKillop: A Model For All
CTS Biographies
E J (Eugene James) Cuskelly, MSC
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860826924
eISBN 9781784694944
CTS Booklet B733

Mary MacKillop - EJ Cuskelly, MSC - CTS Biographies

I discovered the books and booklets of the Catholic Truth Society in 2018. Since that time I have read 380 different titles, and many of them more than once. This is one that focuses on Mary MacKillop and her spirituality. This volume was originally published by the CTS as part of the CTS Biographies Series. However it was originally published by St Pauls Publications in 2010. But had previously been published as Walking the Way of Jesus: An Essay in Christian Spirituality in 1999. The eBook edition was released in 2017. It is currently only available in the eBook edition.

The descriptions of this volume is:

“Mary MacKillop was a great religious educator in 19th century Australia. Her love of Christ, children, and the poor made her the country’s first saint. In today’s world she stands as a lasting example of courage and compassion for the needy.

Canonised a saint by Pope Benedict in 2010, Mary MacKillop was born in Australia in 1842, of a modest family, and by her teenage years was intensely engaged in the religious education of children, a passion which consumed her life of Christian service. Her contribution to education in those formative years of modern Australia was profound: her love of Christ, children and the poor helped her overcome intense and misplaced opposition. In today's world she stands as a lasting example of courage and compassion for the needy. She died in 1909.”

This booklet is another excellent volume on this saint and it is part of a wonderful series and I can easily recommend it. The chapters in the booklet are:

A brief biography
A spiritual model for all
She lived in God’s presence
She brought the Good News to the poor
She walked the way of God’s will
She walked the way of God’s will
She walked the way of love and forgiveness
She loved her enemies

This is the second volume of Saint Mary MacKillop, that I have read and I have already picked up another to read later this year. I highlighted a few passages while reading this volume. I was surprised by how few. The ones I highlighted were:

“Mary MacKillop was born on 15 January 1842 in Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Her parents, Alexander MacKillop and Flora McDonald, had emigrated from Scotland and had met, and married, in Australia. At this time Melbourne was in its infancy. Many of its streets, which today are major thoroughfares, were little more than tracks.”

“Young women came to join Mary, and so the congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart was begun. In 1867, Mary was asked by Bishop Sheil to come to Adelaide to start a school. From there, the Sisters spread in groups to small outback settlements and large cities around Australia and New Zealand.”

“Throughout her life, Mary met with opposition from people outside the Church and even from some of those within it. For a brief period she was under an edict of excommunication for refusing to accept changes to the Sisters’ rule which, she believed, were contrary to its spirit. In the most difficult of times she consistently refused to attack those who wrongly accused her and undermined her work, but continued in the way she believed God was calling her and was always ready to forgive those who wronged her.”

“The ‘Brown Joeys’ may be seen in big city schools, on dusty bush tracks, in modern hospitals, in caravans, working with the ‘little ones’ of God–the homeless, the new migrants, indigenous people, the lonely and the unwanted, in direct care and in advocacy, in standing with and in speaking with. In their endeavours to reverence the human dignity of others and to change unjust structures, the Sisters and the many others who share Mary MacKillop’s spirit continue the work which she began.”

“Mother Mary’s life speaks eloquently because it was firmly anchored in something which every human heart longs for: inner peace, that peace that comes from knowing that one is loved by God and from the desire to respond to his love. She knew that God loved her and she did not doubt; freely and unassumingly she responded to this love with confidence and courage.”

“Each of us is called to enter into the paschal mystery of Jesus–passing through death to self to share in his risen life. This will mean that, in fact, at some stage of our lives (or at a number of stages) each of us will have to pass through an experience like that of Jesus in Gethsemane. Life will not go the way we expected or wanted. Then we must choose; either we rebel–or we pray: ‘Not my will, but thine be done’. And we must choose further how we pray.”

“Today many, many people think that life should be a ‘living happily ever after’ in this life. When that does not happen they blame God for not bringing it about. Mary did not think that way. She thought that suffering and trials were a normal to-be-expected part of human existence. She also thought that those trials and sufferings were used by a loving God for our own good and the good of others. Further, she saw that suffering and the Cross were part of the life of Jesus. Therefore, the Cross would be part of the life of the followers of Christ. Consequently, no cross could make her unhappy.”

“People will differ as to where they see true holiness in Mary MacKillop. It might be in her deep faith, her trust in God, her persevering courage, or her compassionate concern for the poor, especially the children. Certainly all of these things go to make up the total picture of the sanctity that was hers.”

“For me the most striking manifestation of true holiness is to be found in her beautiful and heroic response to unfair and unjust treatment that she received. I marvel at the serenity, the sweet charity, the total respect for priesthood and her belief in the goodness of the motives of those who treated her so unfairly.”

This is a short biography but it is still packed full of great information. There were a number of events in her life in this volume I had not previously encountered, including her excommunication. The extreme opposition of a specific priest to her order, and the lengths he would go to; to undermine her. And also her heroic forgiveness and prayer for those who opposed her. It is no wonder this booklet was original published under the titled Walking the Way of Jesus

It is a great read and I highly recommend it. I am trying to track down some of the out of print volumes by Bishop E.J. Cuskelly. And other books about Mary MacKillop. I am thankful the CTS received permission to reprint this and for this edition in the CTS Biographies series. A great little eBook I can easily recommend. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by E J (Eugene James ) Cuskelly, MSC:
No Cowards in the Kingdom
Walking the way of Jesus
God’s Gracious Design
Jules Chevalier: Man with a Mission, 1824-1907
A New Heart and a New Spirit
A Summa of the Spiritual Life
The Kindness of God
A Heart to Know Thee

Books about Mary MacKillop:

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