Anyone who delves into the study of materials by or about Mary Ward will not be able to resist the wonder and great respect for her personality. Her enemies felt the same way about her.
In the life of the founder of a religious congregation, we can see what the Lord wants to do with each of us. Let’s take a quick look at her life.
Mary Ward’s “starting line” was high: She could grow up among the witnesses to the faith – parents, grandmother Ursula Wright, relatives, all the families in whom virtues were highly appreciated. In these backgrounds, she could see and experience that God was an absolute value. Faith, beautifully passed from generation to generation, resulted in a desire for martyrdom as she grew up. Mary Ward’s faith was truly a personal relationship – a love of God. She lived this relationship and relatively soon – aged about 12 – was able to independently discern God’s will and carry it out.
She recognized God’s heart. Her great, loving effort to know and fulfil God’s will was firm, enduring, and even growing throughout her life. In Mary Ward, we see the powerful guidance of the Holy Spirit, that is given to those who are pure, free, uninterested in themselves.
Focusing on God – that’s where everything comes from! By co-operating with God’s grace, we can experience the safe guidance of the Holy Spirit as well, and become ever better instruments in God’s hand. It was very important to Mary Ward. Her life was deeply permeated with prayer and a strong connection with God, and this made her able to be so stable, firm, unshaken in all struggles. With an open heart for God’s will, rooted in it, she could wait and act. What radiated from her had the same effect on people as her actions.
Each one of us has gifts, in the same way as every family, community or Province/Region. We are a living organism, responding to the needs of the times. Just realize that the individual parts complement each other!