Given the depth of her mystical experiences Mary felt she needed guidance. At first she spoke to Monsignor Virtue, the Military Chaplain at Portsmouth. He encouraged her to write down and describe the thoughts, feelings and revelations she was experiencing. However it was in the sanctuary of her room where she spent time in prayer and contemplation that she felt her direction emerge as God guided her through Mystical Experiences.
In 1874 in November, she was praying in her room and the words "I have chosen you to go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain" were rising within her. This gave her great joy and peace, but also frightened her as she struggled to understand their meaning. After praying the rosary, she felt the presence of God and that he was calling her to do a special work for him and she asked "why me" and the echo replied "the weak things of this earth I have chosen". Her answer was "As thou has said to your servant, let it be done". Mary came to be affirmed in the direction of her vocation by what she called 4 Great Graces of the The Holy Spirit and these graces became the characteristic marks of the Little Company of Mary.
Characteristics of the congregation:
- To pray for the sick and dying
- In union with Our Lady on Calvary
- Imploring the mercy and compassion of God for the sick and dying
- As a Bride of Christ
The first great grace Mary was given was on the First Friday of November 1874. Having prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary she felt drawn to pray for the dying. The next morning while praying the Magnificat after receiving Holy Communion, she felt Our Lady supporting her in this “I have chosen you to do this work”.
The second great grace was given to her just a month later on the 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. She called it “the greatest day of my life.” She felt Our Lord say to her “Honour the Heart of My Mother.” She felt drawn to have a maternal love for others and creation.
The third great grace came in December 1874. As she prayed before the blessed sacrament, she heard the words “Honour My Precious Blood.”. She understood this to pray for the compassion and mercy of God for the suffering in the world.
The fourth great grace Mary received was acceptance that to fulfil her vocation she must live as a Bride of Christ in close union with Him, “He found a home in her heart, Jesus and I work together.”
“It seems to me that I have had to walk in the way He wishes me to make known to others.”
These graces which inspired Mary Potter shaped her vocation and the formation of our congregation.
Mary was faced with opposition but she had peace and confidence which she trusted, her own discernment and prayer. She was drawn to a particular spirituality and vocation to found a Religious Congregation.
In 1876 Mary Potter wrote a letter to His Holiness Pope Pius IX outlining the work she was about to begin and asked him to consecrate the Church to the Maternal Heart of Mary. In 1896 she met with Pope Leo XIII, he asked her to pray for the Church. In November 1964 Pope Paul VI declared Mary Mother of the Church at the closing of Vatican II.