• Sarah Raad


My only real enemy is sin.

The Holy Family (Juan Simon Gutierrez)

My children love watching television and often they watch the sort of old-fashioned cartoons that deal with good and evil. As a result of this influence, lately, my children have taken to classifying people as either their “friends” or their “enemies”. It is a tiresome classification because we truly have no enemies in this world – save SIN…

The other day, I was speaking with a dear friend who I have been praying for and she laughingly told me that my writing irritated her because I speak often of my sinfulness and she could not work out if I was being humble or if I just had low self-worth. We had a little laugh about her comment and moved on to discuss other things. But in the days that have followed, my mind has circled back over and over and over to consider what the correct answer to her question actually is… Am I humble or is my self-worth low?

For she is correct in her observation that I do very often refer to my sinfulness in my writing. Perhaps it is because I read so much about Saint Jacinta of Fatima so recently. Saint Jacinta offered almost her whole short life – particularly the portion of it following her visions of Hell – to make reparation for sinners. Her sanctity and her desire to please God struck me as so profound that I could not help but compare myself unfavourably to such an example and it reminds me to stay alert to my sin…

But in returning to my friend’s question, am I humble? No. I am really quite proud. You have just to look at how often I change my nail polish or colour my hair and you will get the general gist of how highly I take pride myself. I am proud... I worried about this very much, especially with the writing, and mentioned it to a dear priest. He cleared things up. “Don’t worry about that Sarah. That’s God speaking through you! You don’t need to be proud of that.”

And I do not have low self-worth. Perhaps I did in my younger years, but I am all grown up now and I flatter myself that I have learned to see myself a little more clearly today than I was wont to do when I was younger. I see my strengths and take great pride in them – giving thanks to God for the gifts that He has provided to me without my merit. I see my weaknesses and treat them with respect…

For it is in the way that I handle my weaknesses that I will merit Heaven! For though sin is my real weakness and my enemy, it is through the glorious mercy and Grace of God that this too can be my strength...

There are a few old cliches about enemies… “Better the enemy you know than the enemy you don’t”, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”… The list goes on.

And so, I spend much time contemplating my enemy – SIN – and reflecting on ways that I can conquer it, one step at a time…

The enemy of pride is fought with the Grace of Humility. The enemy of envy with the Grace of Kindness. The enemy of Lust with the Grace of Chastity. The enemy of Anger with the Grace of Meekness. The enemy of Gluttony with the Grace of Temperance. The enemy of Greed with the Grace of Generosity. The enemy of Sloth with the Grace of Diligence.

For all of us live with the enemy. We sleep with the enemy – to allude to a blockbuster film from the early 1990s.

To name but a few, we are envious and we lust. We read newspapers and magazines scanning the pages for the thinnest and most gorgeous celebrities and compare our lives with theirs. We fail to see their humanity. Years ago, when James Packer announced that he needed to step back from his work due to his experience with clinical depression, I was shocked. Never had I seen this extremely wealthy and financially successful man as human enough to experience depression. It shocked me. He shocked me. The poor man. How terrible to feel so unhappy. No wealth could buy him the peace of Christ. Perhaps, my kind prayers will help to deliver it to him instead?

Or think of chastity… Historically, artwork often depicts Saint Joseph as an old man to emphasise his chaste relationship with the Blessed Virgin, because his age helps to create an image of a man incapable of physical intimacy and indeed in Lust. But this is absurd! Chasity is not the INABILITY to engage in LUST. Chasity is the CHOICE not to! Saint Joseph was chaste with His Blessed Spouse through his choice, not by force. God does not force us to do things… My chaste relationship with my husband does not occur because I CANNOT be with another man, but because I CHOOSE not to…

These virtues are my personal safety device. They are like a life raft tossed into the ocean. I can hold onto it to keep my head above the waves. Sometimes I will swallow a little water, as I dip below the waves, but I pray the prayer of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, “Jesus help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person.”

For when I am truly the person You would have me be, then and only then, can I vanquish the enemy, because then and only then, will I be standing at Your Holy Feet – and at Your Feet, all Grace will flow…

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

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