AUSTRALIA'S FIRST OFFICIAL SAINT? ================================= We have just seen a significant spiritual event in Australia. Earlier this year the Catholic church proclaimed Australia's first official saint, Mother Mary McKillop. She was the co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Australia. Actually I think they're waiting for another miracle to make absolutely certain... I have a connection with the Catholic church as my parents are Catholics. My mother strengthened my faith in God because of her faith in Mary. She told me about times in her life where she turned to Mary and Mary looked after her. This left an impression in my mind. She also told me something which became a turning point in my life. I was distressed about some insignificant childish thing, I can't remember what it was but I wanted something and I couldn't get it. My mother said, "You shouldn't cry about this because God has a plan and this is according to God's plan, He doesn't want you to have this at the moment, His plan is there so in the future something better will happen." So I accepted this. Sure enough later on I could see that whatever I was distressed about was insignificant and God did arrange to have something better for me. From that day on I became a little detached from my desires in the material world, I always accepted God was there and He had some plan. When something went wrong in my life I accepted it as part of God's plan and knew He would have something better in store for me in the future. I was interested in finding out something about Mary McKillop so I went to the convent in North Sydney, which is the "Head Office" of the institution she established. They have converted the old convent into a Mary McKillop museum. It's a completely wonderfully designed project and the technology is very good. So many colour television monitors and buttons, you go through and press the buttons. They must have many perhaps videodisc players providing all the different video clips, it's very hi-tech. The exhibit is based mainly on video clips which are performed by professional actors. I went through and pushed the buttons. The exhibition is well done and it did touch my heart. Mary was an Australian girl who met the co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in outback Australia. She had a desire to teach the children about God so they started an outback school in a cowshed. Mary said a cowshed was good enough for her Lord so they could start the school there. She had intense energy and intense enthusiasm, she had faith that God would provide. She started the school, I don't know the details, I only saw very quickly for a few minutes, so many other people are more expert on this than me, but I could see her school was successful and she obviously attracted many followers. She was teaching and there was some challenge from the church authorities but she didn't taking them so seriously. As a result she was excommunicated from the Catholic church by the local bishop but she still had faith in God. She went on and went to Rome and saw the Pope and was absolved of her "sins". All these things are somewhat mundane in that teaching children in the outback is not such a great spiritual endeavour. We can teach them how to read and write, we can teach them so many things, but that wasn't actually Mary's contribution. Mary's contribution was she wanted to teach them about God. It wasn't so much that she wanted to establish schools in the outback, establish hospitals or do charitable work. She wanted to give others the love for God she felt in her heart. She wanted to make them God conscious. In the exhibition the emphasis was on her excommunication from the church, the inquisition and the politics. But actually Mary wasn't interested in politics, she was there and she had to go through it because it was part of her life, the plan of God, which was ultimately meant for glorifying Mary. But Mary's life is not about the inquisition, Mary's life is not about the politics, Mary's life is not even about opening outback schools or establishing an order of sisters. Mary's life is about telling people about God, teaching people about God and establishing a structure within which she could train other sisters who could in turn teach people about God. This is the idea, this is Mary's life. The greatest impact on me was when I saw Mary McKillop's tomb. There is a wonderful inscription on the side of her tomb, it says, "Just remember we are all travellers here." This struck me as being amazing because it is evidence of her great spiritual realisation. She must have understood this material world is not so important. We are travellers here, we are not meant to work here simply for mundane philanthropic activities to help the body, we're travellers here. A traveller comes and he sees but he doesn't make much endeavour to change his circumstances. My spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, sometimes described the analogy of a passenger, a traveller, in a train. We may be travelling in a train compartment but we know we are only in that train compartment for one, or two, or five, or ten hours so we are not very interested in making a very comfortable arrangement in the train compartment. We're not going to put wallpaper on the walls, we're not going to paint it, we're not going to put carpet on the floor because after all we are only in the train compartment for a few hours. We are only in this body for a few days therefore to make so many big arrangements to make a comfortable life for this body is not at all intelligent. Our business in this world is to come closer to God so at the time of death we will be thinking of God therefore we will go back to Him. I am convinced Mary McKillop is a saint and that she understood this philosophy and that her life and her teachings are not about establishing a religious order, they are not about fighting with the church, fighting with the bishop, fighting with the Pope and the internal politics of the Catholic church. They are not about any of these things, they are about how we can live our life for God. I met one elderly sister on the way out and she asked me, "Did you see the chapel," and I said, "Yes," and, "Did I pray to Mary," "Yes, I prayed to Mary." She said, "You know Mary can intercede for you, Mary is there at the right hand of the Father and whatever you want, you just ask Mary, anything at all, Mary will give it to you." I was stunned. This is the encapsulation of the whole Christian world at the moment. They are not seeing Mary as someone we should worship and glorify and follow in her footsteps, they are seeing Mary as an assistant to help us in getting what we want. When we want something in our life they think, "Let me pray to Mary and Mary will ask God for it then I will get it." There is a miracle they talk about in the exhibition which was used to prove Mary is a saint. A lady was diagnosed as having terminal leukaemia in 1961. She was told by the Sisters that only Mary could help her, if she prayed to Mary, and if they prayed to Mary, then Mary would help her. The doctors were convinced she was dying. So they prayed to Mary and she didn't die. Mary interceded, Mary, they say, "Tapped God on the shoulder, and said 'God, will you please spare this woman,' and God did spare this woman." So this is nice, undobutedly, Krishna says: catur-vidha bhajante mam janah sukrtion 'rjuna arto jijnasur artharthi jnani ca bharatarsabha "Four types of pious persons come to Me, the person in distress, the person desiring wealth, the inquisitive and the person in knowledge." He says, "Of all these the person in knowledge is best because the motivation is more or less pure, but the others are all great souls because when they want something they turn to Me." The Christian mood of turning to God when they are in distress or in need is pious. It is the sign of a great soul, but Mary wasn't like that. When there was difficult times in her life, she didn't pray to God, "Please God change this." Mary recalled her thoughts at the time of her excommunication from the church, she said, "It was the most amazing experience in my life, at that time I was feeling the power of the church and the power of the Bishop, but I was feeling so close to God, my heart was so joyful and it was one of the most blissful moments of my life." She wasn't disturbed that her whole life, her whole organization, everything she had put her faith in, everything was being destroyed, she was being excommunicated from the Catholic church. But she was felling great ecstasy of love of God within her heart. So Mary's mood and the elderly sister's mood I spoke to on the way out of the exhibition are quite different and I think Mary's mood has have been lost in the church. They have missed the point, the point is to develop love for God, the point is to situate ourselves in a position so we can always be feel close to God. I hear the original Mary is now appearing in many places in the world telling the Catholics they should say the rosary, but I don't think many of them are saying it. Mary is appearing and saying, "You should chant the rosary," but no one is taking it seriously. My request to the Catholic church is that they should seriously look into their hearts and follow the example of Mary McKillop and the instructions of the original Mary and pray to God and say the rosary. We know, as devotees of Krishna that the real spiritual process in this age is the chanting of the holy names of God. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the incarnation of Krishna who appeared specifically for this age, has instructed to us: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam kalau nasty eva nastya eva nastya eva gatir anyatha "In this age of Kali, in this very difficult time for spiritual life, the only way, the only way, the only way to make spiritual advancement is the chanting of the holy names of God." So we chant this Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, which means, "Please God, engage me in Your service." For the Christians Mary is appearing, even now Mary is appearing in so many places, and she is saying, "Please chant the rosary." The rosary is also glorifying God, the name of God is there. So surely if the Catholics follow the instructions of Mary they will be successful. This is my humble little effort at offering something to Sister Mary McKillop. I offer my respects to her and ask her to help me in my efforts to become Krishna consciousness. Thank you. Hare Krishna! Madhudvisa dasa (firstname.lastname@example.org) /sudarsana All glories to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada!