Prayer rite to celebrate St Mary of the Cross MacKillop


27 Jul 2020

On 8 August we celebrate the feast day of Australia’s first saint – St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

Readings: First reading: Habakkuk 1:12-2:4  Psalm: 9:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Second reading: 2 Timothy 1:10  Gospel: Matthew 17:14-20

Hymns: Entrance: Entrance: Lord, I Give My Life to You (Mary McKillop Hymn) by Peter Rose and Anne Conlon or God’s Will for Me (Hymn of St. Mary of the Cross McKillop) by Christopher Hayman; Preparation of Gifts: Servant Song by Sr Donna Marie McGargill, OSM or Servant Song by David Haas; Communion: Only This I Want by David Schutte; Recessional: A Cross of Stars by Andrew Chinn


‘Whatever troubles may be before you, accept them cheerfully, remembering whom you are trying to follow. Do not be afraid. Love one another, bear with one another, and let charity guide you in all your life.’
– St Mary MacKillop

We all face troubles in life. Many difficulties are cracks in our path that trip us up; others are crater sized problems that are trickier to navigate. Life often challenges us with struggles we’re not always prepared to overcome. 

But for Mary MacKillop to ask us to bear our troubles cheerfully? That request seems a bit too much. To understand Mary MacKillop’s words, we can look to the Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast and his teachings on prayer and gratitude.

In an interview with the American Public Broadcasting Station (PBS), Br David says, ‘The root of joy is gratefulness. It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful. Count your blessings and you will find them to be countless, even in the midst of adversity and tragic circumstances.  

Br David explains that when we are grateful for every little thing such as our ability to see or hear, it’s then we can view life with the wonder of a child. If we are missing one of our five senses we can be grateful for the one’s we have left. Delighting in God’s creation and gifts transforms our worries and concerns into joy and allows us to bear all things cheerfully.

St Mary MacKillop knew what it meant to bear troubles joyfully. An industrious and educated young woman, she began teaching in her teenage years to support her family, even opening schools in her early 20s. She carried her love for teaching and serving the poor throughout her life. Co-founder of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), she almost lost her life’s work and her religious community, standing up against a sexual perpetrator. Even in excommunication, she didn’t give up her faith or joy. 

In 2010 at her canonisation Pope Benedict XVI described Mary MacKillop’s courage and joy in the face of troubles. He said, ‘Despite many challenges, her prayers to Saint Joseph and her unflagging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom she dedicated her new congregation, gave this holy woman the graces needed to remain faithful to God and to the Church.’ 

As we face struggles in our lives, may we remember
St Mary MacKillop’s unwavering courage and let charity
be our guide. 

Prayers of petition:

Father, we pray for children workers everywhere, who like St Mary MacKillop, have to work to support their families and themselves. We pray that one day children all over the worlds will be able to enjoy their childhoods. Lord hear us. 

We pray for those wounded by the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. May Catholic leaders be unafraid, as Mary MacKillop was courageous, when protecting our Catholic community, especially children. Lord hear us.

May we pray for the forgotten and uncared for in our society and those who remember and care for them. Lord hear us.

May our Catholic communities remember, like Mary MacKillop, that Catholic education should not only be available for the privileged but for all. Lord hear us.

May we bear our troubles cheerfully remembering that obstacles are an invitation to trust in you. Lord hear us. 

This article first appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of Madonna magazine.

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