When we learn about an inspiring figure, such as Mary Glowrey, it’s easy to focus on all the incredible things she did. But this does not give us the full picture of who she was, her inspiration, or her driving force. It is rather like looking at the effect, rather than the cause. For this next part of my speech,I want to look at this cause, focusing on why she did what she did, and not only on what she did.
The primary, most singular driving factor in Mary’s life was her desire
to do God’s will. This preoccupation had motivated her since she was about
six years old. She recounts that when she learnt about hell from a visitor,
she told them that she did not want to go there. The visitor replied that she
could go to Purgatory instead, which was not quite so bad. Mary wasn’t quite satisfied with this response. In her next catechesis lesson, Mary’s
mother taught her that she must always pray for the grace to do God’s will. Mary recounts what happened next:
I stood beside a rosebush in a little garden in front of Mother’s room
and pondered over these words. Suddenly there flashed into my mind
the thought, surely God-given, that if I could but succeed in doing
God’s Holy Will always, then not only would sin be impossible but I
should always do that which was well pleasing in His sight. This
petition became my constant prayer. (1)
In her teenage years, when Mary was boarding at Rosary Place Convent and attending South Melbourne College, she continued to pray to always do God’s will. During this time, she found a prayer written by Saint Claude de la Colombière, the spiritual director of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. This prayer contained the lines:
Do Thou accomplish Thy Holy Will in me, O Lord. I oppose it, I well
know, but I would fain not do so. It is for Thee, O Divine Heart, to do
A few years later, during the time she was discerning whether to study medicine, she said this prayer more frequently and intensely, “not only before the Blessed Sacrament, but also in the classrooms, on the busy streets” and “anywhere and everywhere.”
In 1919, she wrote the following to her mother about her vocation to India:
When I was not more than seven years old you told me to pray
always that I might do the Holy Will of God. That has been my
constant prayer, and when He has shown me unmistakably what is
His Will for me I cannot refuse to do it. (3)
On her deathbed, when she was dictating her autobiography under obedience to her Superior, she quoted the prayer of Saint Claude de la Colombière word for word.
Mary Glowrey’s concern to do God’s will touched not only the major, life-changing decisions of her life. She also sought to be guided by God in her daily tasks, claiming that she, of herself, would not know what to do nor how to do it. Her devotion to the Holy Spirit was well known by the Sisters
and Priests among whom she worked. Sister Peter Julian expresses this well in the following statement, which, though lengthy, is worth quoting in full:
Sr. Mary was a person who was always very wise, and this can be
accounted for by her special devotion to the Holy Ghost, and it is
doubtful if anybody else had more devotion to the Third Person of the
Blessed Trinity. Yes, the Holy Spirit is considered to be the forgotten
Paraclete, but not so for Sr. Mary. On all occasions, and continuously
Sister would ask each and every-one she met to pray to the Holy
Spirit for her that she may receive special light to know what to do.
How often one heard the remark: “I do need the Light of the Holy
Spirit very badly.” Our answer was – “The poor Holy Spirit must be
weary of you – you give Him no peace in solving your endless
problems.” – she would always smile and repeat the request. It is
almost certain that Sr. Mary never attempted anything and never
finished anything without seeking the aid and guidance of the Holy
Spirit – such was her devotion and union with Him in her daily work.
This proved again and showed her deep humility in her realization
that without the gift of the Holy Spirit she could do nothing – but with
Him she could attempt all things and she did attempt the impossible
at all times, and she tried to inspire others to attempt them also. (4)
~ By Helenka Pasztetnik
- Mary Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing: The Autobiography of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart – Dr.Mary Glowrey,” The Horizon (1 July 1987), 9.
- Mary Glowrey, “God’s Good For Nothing: The Autobiography of Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart – Dr.Mary Glowrey,” The Horizon (1 November 1987), 7.
- Mary Glowrey, Letter to “My dear Mama,” 20 July 1919.
- Sister Peter Julian, “Devotion to the Holy Spirit.” See also Father K. Peter (Sr. Mary’s Spiritual Director at Guntur), “The Testimony of the Very Rev. Father K. Peter.” For example, “It was the common opinion of her fellow sisters that she had a very special devotion to the Holy Spirit and allowed herself to be shaped by His celestial operations. She was no doubt well accomplished, very wise and an exemplary members of the Congregation but never cared to show off her talents, her knowledge or her wisdom.”