• Sarah Raad


“Hail Mary FULL of Grace” (Luke 1:28, emphasis added).

Annunciation (Leonardo Da Vinci)

During the latest COVID-19 lockdown, I was looking for ways to keep my children and me entertained. One of the easiest ways is to make some jam. After all, it is a pretty simple recipe requiring only fruit, sugar and pectin – and there was always a little bit of those things lying about the house…

The thing about homemade jam is that it is in fact the easiest thing in the world to make and at the same time – because the recipe is so easy – it is also a very difficult thing to make.

A few things can go wrong when you cook jam at home. The first thing that can go wrong is that you could use the wrong sized pot when you are boiling the jam. This is a huge problem. You see, when you are getting all the fruit into the pot it is very important that you only fill the pot to one-third of its total capacity, because if you fill it any higher, the boiling jam will boil over the edge of the pot and cover your stove, bench and even your floor with a sticky bubbling mess that is almost impossible to clean up. And when jam boils over – because it is made up of so much sugar – it is very dangerous indeed because sugar has a much higher boiling point than water and sugar can cause much more serious burns that water ever could.

This reminds me a little bit of suffering. You see God – in His infinite wisdom and compassion – allows only as much suffering as we can handle. Though at times we can feel overwhelmed by suffering, it is NEVER too much for us, because as Saint Padre Pio said… “Stay in the boat that God placed you in…” God knows why we are there and what can be accomplished at that time and in that way by His Holy Will… Unlike the jam that we sometimes made when I was a little girl – my “spiritual” pot will not boil over.

I will have ONLY the RIGHT amount of suffering to do me GOOD. God will never send me one ounce more or less than will HELP me to reach HIM.

Another thing that can go wrong with jam is that you might be tempted to add less sugar than required. This is a serious problem because with insufficient sugar the fruit in the jam will rot – as the sugar in the jam is what preserves it – but even more than that, the fruit will not cook well enough to actually become jam if there is not enough sugar in the mix. Instead you would have made a nice cordial perhaps – but not a jam…

This reminds me of what happens when people fail to see the beauty and goodness of this world. At one stage there was a heresy – which was called Gnosticism – that was popular in the days of the Early Church, which argued that ALL things of this world are evil and should be shunned. Pope Saint John XXIII said something quite different… He said, wear your best perfume, dress in your best clothes, be happy and smile because these are all ways that we can give glory to God, for God made this world – for US – and He saw that it was GOOD (Genesis 1)…

But there is yet another thing that can go wrong in a simple jam recipe, and that is if there is not enough pectin in the recipe. Pectin is the chemical that is contained in some fruits, especially in the peel of citrus fruits. The only problem is, there is not enough pectin that occurs naturally in most fruits to turn the fruit into jam without adding the pectin separately. Pectin is responsible for making the jam gummy and jelly-like and without pectin, you could boil the fruit all day and you would not be able to achieve the appropriate consistency of jam. In my opinion, it is the pectin that is the MOST important part of the jam-making process…

And this is how I feel about GRACE too. You see, even with all the suffering and sacrifice and all of my very best intentions, without the GIFT of GRACE, nothing will work properly. Without the gift of Grace, I cannot strive to be a better person or grow in virtue or be a true daughter of God. Without Grace I cannot resist temptation of please my Lord. After all, the angel Gabriel said to the soul who MOST pleased God – Our Blessed Mother – “Hail Mary FULL of Grace” (Luke 1:28, emphasis added).

And so – as I taste my latest batch of jam – I have come to pray in a different way…

Now I pray for the most important thing… God, grant me the GRACE to do your Will. For without Your GRACE, I am nothing…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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