Monday, October 18, 2010

A Saint For All

I have been on holidays for several weeks, so I apologise now for not posting.

Last night Mary MacKillop was sanctified by Pope Benedict. Some have already pooh-poohed the idea, questioning why people would believe in miracles. But faith is a difficult thing to explain. Self-belief is important to our psyche; it is the basis of our self-confidence. Self-confidence increases the chances of success in the things we do. But self-belief and self-confidence are not measurable, in the same way that a length of timber can be measured. Nevertheless, the personal and social effects on a person lacking in self-belief and self-confidence can be clearly observed.

As an abstract concept faith is also difficult to measure. It stems from the confidence in the truth, or trustworthiness, of a another person; a thing; or a concept, such as "God", or the tenets of a religion. Yet the works of people who truly live according to a philosophy of goodness, whether secular or religious are tangible evidence of their faith.

Mary MacKillop was a strong Catholic woman. She set about improving the lives of individuals who were poor, disadvantaged and outcast. Along the way, she upset some people, predominantly me of power in a patriarchal church in a patriarchal society. Yet her faith sustained her, and with the help of others, and her own strength of character and faith, she prevailed.

Her life, her work, and the work of her nuns did make significant material difference to the lives of others. In that respect alone, she is worthy of recognition. Her elevation to sainthood in the Catholic Church is one way that it recognises her work, her life, her faith as a beacon of Catholicism. The work and life of St Mary MacKillop should also help us to focus on how we can help others; and how our society, our politicians treat others.

As an aside, I believe (there's that word again) that everyone in society should do work for society, other than their paid employment and family commitments. As for me, I have been a member of a service organisation, I donate blood or plasma regularly (it's an unpaid donation in Australia), and I help with tasks at my local church.