• Sarah Raad


Updated: Dec 30, 2020

We must brace ourselves to do what is necessary that it may please God and work towards the salvation of souls.

St Charbel Makhlouf
St Charbel Makhlouf

On Saturday 10 October 2020, thirty pilgrims walked for three and a half hours from the home of my baby niece’s paternal grandparents in Western Sydney to St Charbel’s Maronite Catholic Church in Punchbowl in thanksgiving for the miracle of my beautiful niece.

While we walked, we prayed. Rosary after rosary after rosary. Divine mercy after divine mercy. Reflections of faith. Meditations.

We collected Grace through these prayers as the children walking with us collected flowers from the side of the road.

It was a difficult journey. The grandmothers felt the pain of those steps. The children felt the aches of those steps. The mothers felt the suffering of those steps.

And it was glorious!

We joined our prayers of thanksgiving with those of petition for Nancy’s health, for baby Charbel, and for all of you, for we felt that our prayers would be more strongly received if we prayed with gratitude for the miracles we had been afforded.

While praying, it occurred to me that I should deliver Saint Charbel and Saint Antonius Badweeni’s relics, with Nancy’s permission, to Charbel’s family.

When we finally arrived at the Church, weary and emotional, we entered the small side chapel to pray the rosary. It was beautiful. All those weary souls praying together for my niece, and Nancy, and Charbel, and you, while my sister sat at the foot of the altar – the literal foot of the Cross – and fed baby her baby – our own little miracle.

Our prayers drew others. First came a priest who asked my mother why we prayed and asked her to pray for baby Charbel. Then, a woman who walked in with her own little group, crying and praying. She was drawn to my sister like a wave to the sand, approaching and drawing back and approaching again.

She was baby Charbel’s grandmother, who had completed her own pilgrimage for baby Charbel from Ashfield to the same church that day. There are no coincidences!

I pushed my way into the conversation (as I usually do), and assured of God’s purpose, without asking the most generous Nancy first, I passed the relics onto her to give to Christ’s next little saint, Charbel, and asked that they remember Nancy in their prayers for their child as we did for ours. God found a way!

Later Nancy told me this giving of her gift gave her great joy! When Nancy had given the relics to me, she told me to return them when we were finished with them or pass them on to the next person in need. At the time I thought, I would never pass them on as they are not mine to give and of course I would return them to Nancy. How silly I was! How much my faith has grown in a few short weeks! I am reborn!

During this most terrible time, when the doctors have given up on this tiny child, Charbel, and expect him to go to God, I am corresponding with his grandmother. I have prayed and prayed and prayed that God would guide my words to do His work and bring these people to see His Grace in all this suffering and fear – theirs is a truly heavy Cross. I pray that I become a tiny pencil in God’s hand as Saint Mother Teresa was a large pencil. Perhaps my small, God-given talent with words could yet do some good before I die?

Afterwards, someone told me that I had been very brave in speaking so openly with this woman, in embracing her pain and turning her sorrows towards God. They thought I had been brave in saying that her child, Charbel, was God’s chosen son, most fearfully made for His purpose and that Charbel’s suffering and that of his family, though terrible, would be used for God’s most Holy Will. They thought I was brave for saying that if Charbel did not live – as unspeakable as that would be – there would be another Saint Charbel in Heaven (I had heard that from one of the beautiful priests praying with us for my niece and now Charbel). They thought I was brave for saying that just as we venerate the Infant Jesus of Prague, we would forever pray to the innocent infant Saint Charbel (pure and baptised), if it was God’s will to save him the temptations of this Earthly life by taking him directly to Heaven because our prayers for him and his family would lead us to Heaven too.

Yet, I was not BRAVE. What I did was NECESSARY. When people suffer and feel alone or feel that their suffering is in vain, they often lose faith in God. How can I let this be, when I have just come out of that wasteland of despair? I cannot give anyone my faith – faith is a gift from God – but perhaps I can live my faith completely, not because it is brave, but because it is necessary – and perhaps if that pleases God, He can send my Graces to those who need them more than me?

For a life without faith is no life at all – and I would save the whole world from the sorrows of lonely despair if I could. For this purpose, I will pray and speak and do what is necessary – because we all must reach Heaven. It is so close to us, surrounding us. We simply must get there.

Heaven is the whole point of our life here on Earth. Heaven. God. Eternal Salvation.

One thing I have learned through my prayers for my niece, is that if we have no faith, we have nothing. It is not courage that prompts me to speak – it is necessity – and as the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention… which is why I write.

It is a necessary invention of my newfound faith and determination to waste no time in pleasing God, because with my niece everything is clear. Here, at the Foot of the Cross.

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