• Sarah Raad


Updated: Dec 29, 2020

The love that Our Blessed Mother and God Himself bear for us is simply stunning.

Our Lady of Fatima

I have been praying for all sorts of intentions over the last few days. My prayers of thanksgiving for my dear friend Nancy’s health are as joyous as the sorrow that I feel for those mourning the passing of loved ones this year.

While I prayed during Mass on Sunday morning, various images came into my mind. Suddenly I saw the families of the Abdallah and Sarkis children killed this year in the Oatlands car tragedy, and the family of the drunk driver who killed them. For a brief instant I saw the mothers of those dead children kneeling over them, crying out in anguish at this terrible, tragic loss of life.

And then, through Grace, in a moment, this very human image of these mothers mourning, was replaced with something far more sorrowful. A new image came into my mind. Only this time the mother that I could in my mind’s eye mourned not one or two or three dead children, but a million billion damned souls.

Where I had imaged the human mothers of those children, I now could see Our Blessed Mother, kneeling in sorrow and grief at the gates of Heaven, reaching out her arms to the poor souls of the damned as they are cast into Hell. I could feel her sorrow and her grief and her deeply profound sadness.

In an instant, I could imagine in my very simple human way, the profound grief of our Immortal Mother, who is denied the joy of sharing her beautiful Son with souls through our rejection of Him through the action of sin.

And my heart trembled with sorrow for the perfect suffering of that Blessed Woman and the terrible grief caused be an eternity of separation from the love of God.

When Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917 she referred to those eternally damned to Hell as “poor sinners”. I have reflected on these words very much since I first heard them earlier this year. They are profoundly simply, perhaps designed for simple people like me to understand the attitude of the saved to those who are damned.

It seems to me that there are any number of words that Our Blessed Mother could have chosen to use to describe sinners – and yet she calls us “poor”. Our Blessed Mother, who, during her apparitions, showed those children her Immaculate Heart pierced with thorns, calls us “poor” and those in Hell, “poor sinners”.

Imagine the beautiful pity on her face.

I have long stopped believing in coincidences. God – the supreme Creator of the Universe – can surely do better than mere chance and fluke to bring about his Glory. This means, that the words that Our Blessed Mother used are important, carefully chosen to deliver her profound message for the Glory of God. The image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is so precious. God allowed his Mother and our Heavenly Mother to reveal her heart to us. This Immaculate Heart, which grieves for us and mourns the passing of each of her children, lost to Hell. How she must grieve!

This is the same mother, who was turned away over and over again from the inns and shelter in Bethlehem. Heavily pregnant, tired, afraid, this young girl and her husband were cast aside and yet onwards they went, pushing onwards in perfect surrender to God’s Holy Will.

During the COVID pandemic, I found myself and my family turned away from various Churches and heard the stories of others sadly turned away due to space constraints and the various rules and regulations that seemed designed to keep us from God. It broke my heart. I, like so many of us, found it an incredibly difficult year.

And yet, in recent days, this sorrow at being turned away, has cause me to reflect on the sorrow of Our Blessed Mother, who was herself turned away time and again. Yet, Our Lady, who was quite literally filled with the Holy Spirit, through the mystery of the Trinity, did not anger or despair as I did, but walked on in perfect surrender, trusting in God to provide for her.

And provide for her, God did… the Shepherds, the Magi, the Angels – they came to Her.

What courage the Holy Family must have felt in this connection with others. Perhaps this gathering of shepherds and Magi and angels was the first true gathering of two or three in Christ’s name, causing God to be among them, as the Gospel of Matthew tells us.

All my life I have prayed for people in the silence of my soul. It took the birth of my niece during a global pandemic, to cause me to pray out loud and share my prayers with others.

And how much more powerful is the gift of Grace, when we stand up straight and proclaim it, rather than whisper it in the corner?

For only when we are turned away to be alone because there is no room for us, can we truly understand how to gather together in prayer.

For with prayer and the grace provided by prayer, everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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