“Sometimes it takes an immigrant to really explain patriotism to natives.” (Scott Hahn, in his original conversion testimony delivered in 1989).
I was watching Holy Mass online the other day and that particular Mass that I was watching just happened to be a Mass where some children were receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. And so, as I participated in that Mass – in the limited way that online Mass allows – I started to think about the Holy Spirit – who I love with all my heart and all my mind and all my soul…
You see, I have been praying for several souls who are afraid. They are afraid that they will be blamed for the tragedies in their lives. They are afraid that their Cross shall be heavier than they are able to bear. They are afraid of being alone. And most of all, they are afraid of SUFFERING.
I am always moved to pray – without judgement – intently for souls such as these because they fill me with pity for their anguish and I understand such an anguish because I was once such a soul… For such scared souls are filled with fear... And the fear causes such souls as these to suffer terrible anguish!
Many years ago, when my little baby died before he was even born, I too was filled with fear. And that fear isolated me. I could not speak to God. I did not love Him. I did not trust Him. I did not believe in His goodness. All I could think to myself was that God was somehow a terrible thing who took joy in teasing me by promising me that precious soul to love and then ripping it away from me.
My soul was black with despair and my life was one of misery. My heart was filled with love for that particular soul, which in my ignorance I had felt was forever lost to me. I knew in my mind that my child had preceded me to Heaven, but I could not understand that in my heart. And I mourned the children I would never have. I cried an ocean of tears – not in ingratitude for the three beautiful children who God had so graciously sent to one as undeserving as me – but for the future children who I was prepared to love with all my heart and who were denied me.
And my life continued like that for years. For years I was scared and alone.
And then, one day – something terribly-wonderful happened… My baby sister discovered that her unborn child would have serious and life-threatening health problems. And then – some months later – my beautiful little niece was born. And she was very very sick and she needed many many surgeries…
And though I was scared and alone, suddenly that did not matter to me anymore! All that mattered was the health and recovery of that tiny child who I had not even met – because she was so sick…
And so, I began a campaign of prayer for that child. I asked everyone to pray with us. All my neighbours knew that little girl’s name. The parents in my children’s school, the parents in my own old school from where I had graduated over twenty years earlier, all my students knew her name. I spoke to the employees in Coles and those in Woolworths asking for prayers for that little girl. I asked the firefighters that came to put out the fire on my car, calling after them, “Don’t worry about the car. But my little niece is very very sick. Please pray for her…” I spoke to the man at the train station asking him to pray and to the man who drove the tow-truck, asking him to pray. I smothered that child in prayers and so did all the other souls to whom I reached out.
And somehow, in that process, I completely forgot about the mean and angry God who I had been fixating on in the years since my own little baby went to Heaven, and instead I appealed to the MERCIFUL One... And I had no shame. I had no embarrassment. I did not care who judged me or thought me mad. I thought only of asking God to help this child. And I prostrated myself at the Foot of His Holy Cross.
And then – suddenly through Grace and no merit of my own – the Holy Spirit came to me and lifted the burden from me. He did not even ask me to go to Him for I was “heavy burdened” – He knew I could not go, and so instead, He came to find me Himself. And IN AN INSTANT – I KNEW that God had NOT TAKEN my child from me. God had not TAKEN anything at all from me. No! God had GIVEN me a saint.
I am the mother of a Saint. And if it were not for that Saint, I would be lost…
Pope Francis said, “To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.”
And the mother of a saint cannot be scared – I cannot be filled with fear! The only fear that I have inside my soul is FEAR OF THE LORD.
And that is the FEAR that came into my soul in that instant through the action of the Holy Spirit. For in having Fear of the Lord, I am not scared of God – but I recognise God’s infinite wonderous POWER and GOODNESS, and because I understand that, I know that I truly have NOTHING to fear… Because what is good is allowed by the Goodness of God and what is bad is turned to the Good by the Goodness of God.
And so, as I pray for those souls who are scared, I appreciate the words of Scott Hahn in his original conversion testimony delivered in 1989… “Sometimes it takes an immigrant to really explain patriotism to natives.”
For I am an immigrant – a stranger in a strange land – brought to the bosom of my Lord and my God, through Grace. For through Grace my Lord and my God is carrying me HOME…
How I love my God, for He is carrying me HOME…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.