Without entreaty you took me into your care

Prayer of Mary Ward

O parent of parents, and friend of all friends, without entreaty you took me into your care and by degrees led me from all else that at length I might see and settle my love in You. What had I ever done to please you? Or what was there in me wherewith to serve You? Much less could I ever deserve to be chosen by You. O happy begun freedom, the beginning of all my good, and more worth to me than the whole world besides. Had I never hindered Your will and working in me, what degrees of grace should I now have. Yet where as yet am I? My Jesus, forgive me, remembering what You have done for me and whither You have brought me, and for this excess of goodness and love let me no more hinder Your will in me.

Mary Ward (1585–1645) was an English nun and founder of a women’s religious order, the Sisters of Loreto — divided into two branches, the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary — based on the principles espoused by the Society of Jesus through their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola. Beginning her religious life as a cloistered nun with the Poor Clares, Ward heeded the call of the Council of Trent for active “unenclosed” female religious orders, although she was met with opposition from both those opposed to Jesuits and from Jesuits, opposed to a female counterpart to their order. The order and Ward’s works were eventually suppressed by Rome and later resuscitated, and they received canonical approval in 1877. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is the order’s most famous member (before forming her own order, the Missionaries of Charity, in 1950). Ward was declared venerable in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

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