• Sarah Raad


“Let’s work for Heaven. All the rest is nothing.” (Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes).

Adoration of the Magi (Botticelli, Zanobi Altar)

About a month ago, my young children participated in their school athletics carnival.

Due to the various restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few years, it has been a couple of years since my children have enjoyed a sports carnival. And this year they were determined to enjoy every moment of the day!

During their sports lessons prior to the carnival, my younger children were taught to participate in various athletics sports, like shot put, hurdles, sprints and long jump. This was the first time that they had decent exposure to these sorts of events, and my children thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In fact, my second son was so impressed with these sports lesson that he fell in love with long jump. The day he learned about it, my second son came home from school telling me that he thought that long jump was simply the most wonderful sport ever invented. And he spent the weeks leading up to the carnival telling us all how much he loved long jump and how he was planning to win the event!

Then – the night before the carnival – for about 5 or 10 minutes prior to his evening shower, my little boy did a few run-offs and some jumps down the hallway outside my office door, while I worked that evening, in training and preparation for his big event the next day…

Finally, the day of the carnival arrived, and I rushed off to watch my son (and daughter) compete in the events. There my son stood in the line with his classmates, waiting to compete, and diligently pretending that he had no clue at all who I was (because a loving mother is the most embarrassing thing that a ten-year old child could have to deal with in his day). I waited, I watched, and I cheered – and my son came last. I mean, my second son came last by a long shot in the long jump.

He dusted himself off, shrugged his shoulders, and moved on to other events that day, but I have been reflecting on that experience of my son, because it reminds me of my preparations for eternal life…

You see, just as my son was excited to participate in the long jump event at the athletics carnival, so too am I excited to participate in eternal life. And yet – sadly for me – in preparing for eternal life, I am more like my son in his preparations for long jump than I care to admit…

You see, just as my son spent only a few short minutes preparing himself – training himself – for the long jump event the day before the carnival, so too do I only spend a fraction of the time required on preparing myself for the ONLY thing of importance – eternal life…

Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes said, “Let’s work for Heaven. All the rest is nothing.”

And this saint is right! Because a few prayers offered on a Saturday night or Sunday during Mass, and a glory be or Our Father muttered half-heartedly as I go about my day, are not nearly enough training required for my soul to be worthy and prepared to enter Paradise.

After all, if it takes more than a few minutes to be physically prepared for a sporting event like long jump, which takes a few short seconds to complete, how could I possibly imagine that pitiful amount of time that I spend with God is enough preparation for eternity?

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

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