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  • Sarah Raad

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It is the Graces gained through the merits of the Holy Spirit that sustain us through this Earthly life…

Saint Justin Martyr

For those of you who follow this blog, you will realise that I have very recently begun to pray very fervently for the elderly. After all, I have only very recently realised that it is the elderly who are very much in need of our prayers, for though we are – all of us – dying, they are probably dying sooner and with less compassion than any other group in our society. For we so often envy them their long lives with little understanding of what they have had to say goodbye to on their journey.


I have always been what people would call an “old soul”. I was born a big sister to a large family, and being of a bossy sort of temperament, I was used – from a very early age – to taking responsibility for things. Perhaps it is my innate anxiety that causes me to volunteer for most of the hard work – or perhaps it is only my terrible pride that causes me to think that I can solve all things and if I have control of the situation then the situation will be well? But the reality of the matter is that this very often results in me feeling a lot older than my almost 40 years. I do not say this to imply that I feel wearied by my age, but rather, that I greatly enjoy the process of growing older, because I feel that my soul is growing into what it really should be and that I am literally flourishing into my vocation – into what I was meant to be.


These days, as I, myself, grow older, it occurs to me how very fragile this earthly life of ours is. After all, it does not take much for a human being to be harmed or to die. A few cells growing in the wrong spot will kill people – often painfully and too young. A tiny little virus that nobody could even see has killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world. A piece of food lodged in an airway or a fall in an awkward spot on the head or back and you are dead. A knock by a car or bike and you will die. A few missed beat of the heart or a clot of blood caught in a vein, and this earthly life is over in a flash…

If we get fixated on the brevity of this life, we shall surely be consumed with fear.

And I was reflecting on this over the last few days, as I reflect on this process of growing older. Saint Justin was a philosopher who converted to Christianity in the Second Century. Before he was martyred by the Romans, and during his trial, he was told to worship the Roman Gods if he wanted his captors to spare his life. His response was recorded in writing and can be read today. Saint Justin said… “That is our desire, to be tortured for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and so to be saved, for that will give us salvation and firm confidence at the more terrible universal tribunal of Our Lord and Saviour.” Saint Justin saw where his true vocation lay. He say the power of God and bowed before that – and no other… Saint Justin was martyred by scourging and beheading with many other Christians for his belief in God.


Saint Josemaría is a modern saint who was not martyred! But what interested me in him is that when he spoke of the glory of God that would be provided to any who sacrificed temporal comforts for the eternal ones, his words reminded me of Saint Just. Saint Josemaría said of the sacrifices required to reach Heaven… “It's worthwhile my children, it's worthwhile.”


Saint Thomas A Kempis in his book, “An Imitation of Christ” expressed the same idea when he said, “This is the highest wisdom: to despise the world and to aspire to the kingdom of Heaven.… It is vanity also to attend only to this present life, and not to look forward to those things which are to come.” And Saint Bernadette Soubirous agreed with him, though her learning difficulties prevented her from ever reading A Kempis’ work, when she said, “Jesus does not want us to be attached to possessions, to human honours, to creatures. He asks humility.”


I have been reflecting on all these similar messages from the saints. They are such teachers for us in what is expected of us in living on this earth. In my reflections I have asked myself, who should we look to to learn the lesson of humility?


The answer is obvious… Our Blessed Mother. Who else – other than her Beloved Son, Christ – sacrificed the entire glory that was rightfully theirs in this earthly life, for the rewards of the Kingdom of Heaven?


Our Blessed Mother, like Her Holy Son, and all the GREAT Saints did such a thing.


In fact, Our Blessed Mother was beautifully described by Saint Bonaventure when he said… “Mary is the stem of the beautiful flower on which the Holy Spirit rests with the fullness of His gifts. Hence, those who want to obtain the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit must seek the flower of the Holy Spirit on the stem (Mary)…. We go to Jesus through Mary and through Jesus we find the grace of the Holy Spirit.”


It is that grace which sustains me as I am living on this Earth. It is that Grace alone…


My Lord and My God. What glory you give to your most undeserving servant through your merciful Grace. How could I ever repay you in this life? How?


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

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