• Sarah Raad


Because God loves us so very much, we must always have confidence in Him…

Saint Peter Penitent (Gerrit van Honthorst)

Today, I prayed with confidence for so many different intentions. My mind filled up with prayers for the bereaved, for the sick, for those who live with addictions (and for their families), for those whose vocations have changed after many many decades and they try to cope, for those who are lost and confused and scared. And while I prayed for those souls, I prayed also for the Lost Souls in Purgatory. I prayed for their salvation and I begged them to enter Heaven and join with me in my prayers for all of you.

While I prayed today, I reflected on my own weakness and inferiority.

Perhaps my prayers are insufficient for God?

After all, I am a distracted shallow and sinful soul. I pray with one eye closed and the other opened... I am half in this world and half in the next. I beg God fervently for all the desires of my heart and at the same time, I am so weak that I am unable to even offer Him five complete minutes of uninterrupted prayer. I am so weak that I receive the Blessed Sacrament – the BODY AND BLOOD OF GOD into my soul and while He is there, I bat away the flies and watch the dust motes in the air.

While I watch these nothings – shamefully distracted – I am reminded of the beautiful lines of an English religious poem called “Aurora Leigh” by the 19th century Romantic poet, Elizabeth Barret Browning. In the poem, Barret-Browning says… “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

He who created the universe communes with me, and I “…sit round and pluck blackberries.”

And yet, still I put myself to prayer. When I cannot find the words or the words do not move me, I offer the actions of my day or the thoughts of a minute. Sometimes this is the best I can do.

In doing this I reflect on the great wisdom of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, who is a great saint and doctor of the Church because she followed her Little Way in making herself a simple child – an infant – for God.

And so, when the dust floats through the sunlight or the flies buzz near my face, I think of some slight or affront or abuse or brutality or humiliation meted out to my Beloved and I reflect on the sorrow of His Blessed Mother, who endured this affront to her Child… and I am moved to tears.

For God’s mercy is endless. It stretches throughout the world without end.

After all, was it not Simon Peter who was chosen as the Rock upon which the Church was built? Simon Peter, the man who attacked the guard who came to arrest Christ, but swore, denied and ran away from the mere servant girl who later questioned him. That same Simon Peter… The Simon Peter, who Christ called back to Him with a LOOK. A MERE LOOK. Three times Simon Peter denied Our Blessed Lord. Three Times. And only once did His Blessed Lord look at him. He did not reproach him, He did not berate him, He was not angry with him… He merely looked at Him.

And what must Simon Peter have seen in those SACRED EYES?

For in that moment, in that look, he fled and wept bitter tears.

There, in that moment, through a mere look, the rock upon which the Church was built was fortified into stone.

He was not the strongest saint, but Simon Peter was possibly the most repentant… For the Church is built is the Rock of Repentance.

Perhaps it will shock some people if I say that I believe that there is little difference between Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter. Though one holds the Keys to the Kingdom and for the other, “‘It would be better for him if he had not been born.’” (Matthew, 26:24).

But, both men betrayed their Friend, and not just their Friend – their GOD…

Though Judas’ betrayal was premediated and for personal gain, Simon Peter’s betrayal was no less ugly. Wasn’t it Simon Peter who was continually telling Christ that he would follow Him ANYWHERE – even unto death?

Both men LOVED Christ, just as even the Evil One LOVED God once too (before his fall) – of that I am certain.

God is LOVE. How could those men help but love Christ having known Him and lived with Him for years…?

Because the problem comes NOT from the LOVE OF GOD – for God is perfect infinite love – it is surely impossible not to love God, the problem comes from the LOVE OF SELF!

The problem comes when someone loves THEMSELVES MORE THAN GOD!

That is what happens when we sin. That was the temptation of Eve – eat of the fruit of the tree and… Do not rely on God for knowledge – rely on yourself. Do not rely on God to help you – help yourself. Do not love God and take pride in Him – love yourself and take pride in yourself. Make yourself strong, rely on your own pride… Reject God’s infinite love.

And yet, in the end, both men chose what they judged to be best for themselves at the time. And like all of us who sin, their human judgement – clouded by Original Sin – obscured the TRUTH…

Still, the outcomes were so different for these two men.

Judas hung himself in despair because his pride was too great to seek forgiveness – and so, instead of repenting and asking for forgiveness, he relied on his human judgement and his human pride – and thus, he damned himself to Hell. “‘It would be better for him if he had not been born.’” (Matthew, 26:24).

Simon Peter, on the other hand, died a martyr on an upside-down cross – crying tears of repentance to God – and now, he holds the Keys of the Kingdom.

Both betrayed their Friend – God – when He needed them and LOVED them the most.

One repented.

God does not damn us, we damn ourselves… No sinner was ever damned because their sin was too great. No sin is too great for God – we are only damned when our trust is too small.

Thank God! The TRUTH – through the Blessed Person of Christ – seeks us out, even when we sin… You see, I have lived with God my whole life – since He formed me in my mother’s womb, and though I love God, I reject Him not once, not twice, not even three times as these men did. Through sin, I reject my poor Beloved Lord a million billion times.

And though I weep to see my own weakness, I weep tears of repentance with Simon Peter – but not Judas’ tears of despair…

And so, it is with confidence that I can pray…

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

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