• Sarah Raad


“I Thirst…” (John 19:28).

Immaculate Conception (Inmaculada Concepción) (Tiepolo)

Hindsight is a wonderful luxury and I have been reflecting on that reality on this - the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception!

A little over a year ago, my little niece was born very very sick and my family and I began what I believed to be – at the time – a very short and intensive campaign of prayer for her health and recovery. Little did I know at the time how long my prayers for this child would continue. They continue today as she does more tests to determine whether she requires further surgery on her beautiful little heart...

I have been reflecting on that time of my life and hers. You see, all rational thought suggests that that time of life should have been the worst of times for me and my family. After all, that precious tiny infant was terribly ill, she endured several very very serious operations and later she endured a very long, complicated and risky recovery.

But while I prayed for that child, the focus of my prayers was on the miracle of the paralytic man as explained in the Gospel of Saint Mark (2:3-11).

“…Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’… ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.” (Mark 2:3-11).

When we were praying so fervently for my little niece, our intention was to use our prayers to lower my little niece into that room with Christ just as his friends had lowered the paralytic man thousands of years ago…

At the time, someone who is dear to me told me that God was using this experience with this innocent little child to test our faith. But I disagreed then as I disagree now...

You see, I learned something more of God during that time… I learned of His Holy Love…

God is not mean or cruel. He did not use that child’s illness to try us or test us. Instead of trying us, God used that experience to LOVE us MORE and to ENJOY our faith…

In the earliest posts on this blog, I wrote often about my darling beautiful little niece and my love of her and the process of my conversion of faith, which resulted - through Grace and no merit of my own - from the prayers that I prayed for this precious soul.

I have been reflecting on this experience for some time now!

Years ago, I lost my fourth child before he was even born. It was truly the most traumatic and terribly sad experience of my entire life. If God had given me a choice at that time to die and be with that child eternally rather than endure the temporal grief that followed – I would have chosen the easier path of death… But – thank God for His infinite mercy – I was not given that choice.

At the time that child went to Heaven I prayed one prayer as they were wheeling me into surgery twice – for it was a complicated procedure and my doctor made several mistakes in my treatment afterwards... And my prayer was – “Dear God, please do not let them give me a hysterectomy. I want more children one day – not to replace this precious soul – but to help me to heal. So, please do not let them take away my chance of another child.”

And that was my ONLY prayer… You see, I have had a strong strong calling to the vocation of Motherhood my entire life. And the prospect of being unable to further this vocation was so devistating, I could not image my life moving forward - even with the gift of three beautiful children I had already been given!

Well… I did not have a hysterectomy when I miscarried all those years ago. But unbeknownst to me, a combination of factors – which actually included some surgical errors by my doctor during the operations that I had at the time – had made it impossible for me to ever have another biological child.

And so – after many many years of misdiagnosis and searching for answers for a wide range of symptoms – I recently underwent some very serious and complicated surgery, the LEAST COMPLICATED PART OF WHICH was a hysterectomy.

Now it is official. I shall never bear another child with my own body. And my greatest FEAR has been realised… The prayer I prayed all those years ago was NOT answered - and I am BARREN... But – God has been very kind to me.

You see, I have a natural – and VERY STRONG – vocation for motherhood. Yes, this naturally includes a vocation to marriage – but though I love my husband with all my heart – it is for the role of mother that I was born (being a wife is the bonus allowed to me by God for fulfilling His will in that other matter)…

And so, being unable to have more than three living children has previously caused me great pain. This pain is not caused because I do not love or value or appreciate my living children – it is caused by the quantity of love inside my heart waiting to be dispensed to other children.

This is because for every vocation, God prepares the soul for the rigours of that vocation, which means that He prepares mothers to have a motherly soul filled with motherly love…

And for years – prior to my conversion – in failing to understand the magnitude of this vocation, I suffered GREAT PAIN, which was caused by the engorged love inside my heart for the children who would never be born to me.

In some ways – without understanding it at the time – I lived Christ’s passion on the Cross, when He said, “I Thirst…” (John 19:28). For in that moment – as He described to Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, which she recorded in her Diary – Christ’s Holy Heart was CONSUMED with love for us, we who reject Him…

“During Holy Mass, I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His Heart. After some time, He said, I thirst. I thirst for salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners.” (Diary 1032).

I felt something of Christ’s love for souls. And it hurt. It hurt very badly to have love to give and nobody to give it to. I could not give that love to my living children – they already had ALL my love for them and I still had plenty to spare. For God is Love and Love is infinite… And so, the love I had for other souls remained inside my own heart – burning it in a ecstasy of torment.

At the time, this burning love – unfulfilled and unrequited in my soul – was so overwhelming it was frightening.

And yet, with hindsight I can see that God simply answered my prayer “Dear God, please do not let them give me a hysterectomy. I want more children one day – not to replace this precious soul – but to help me to heal. So, please do not let them take away my chance of another child.”

For now, since my conversion, I have more children now then there are stars in the heavens. I am Abraham reborn. For though Abraham's children were the children of his body, I do not have any more children born of my body – for my body is weak, but my God is an awesome God, and so, He has given me children born of my soul...

He has given me spiritual children.

For I have spent the year since my conversion adopting souls as my spiritual children. And though I can never have children born of my body – those children of my soul, who are the children of my heart – are as numberless as the stars!

And so, with great humility and knowing very well my weakness and my sin, I see myself as the Mother of a great nation – just as Abraham was its father and the Blessed Virgin the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION is our Mother…

And my Lord and my God has granted me descendants who are as numberless as the stars, if only I have the will to submit to His Holy Will...

And now – for the first time in my life – I am filled with peace and joy, for my heart is now complete, and my vocation can be fulfilled.

How awesome is my Lord and God, King of Endless Wonder, for He came to me to prepare me for my fiat because He knew that unlike the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION I was not ready to say YES when He wanted to ask me...

How awesome is my Lord and God, King of Endless Wonder!

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

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