• Sarah Raad


Our Lady is Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church, Mother of all the World…

Our Lady of Grace of The Gate of Dawn Icon of Lithuania

Today, during Mass on this, the Feast of the Annunciation – when the angel of the Lord declared the Immaculate Conception – I was reflecting on the joys and sorrows of parenthood.

When I speak of parenthood, I do not use the word with a secular understanding of it. Rather I use it in the spiritual sense, along the vein of Saint Padre Pio, who considered himself the spiritual parent of many souls. In fact, Saint Padre Pio said that he would wait at the gates of Heaven until all his spiritual children were admitted first and only after the last of his spiritual children entered Heaven, would he enter!

How beautiful this sacrifice of such a Saint! How much he must have pleased God! And though I firmly believe that Saint Padre Pio’s offer was genuine, I similarly believe that this great Saint entered Heaven amid glorious fanfare in the moment that his body and soul were separated.

How I long to speak with this great Saint one day in God’s eternal Kingdom! I imagine seeing Saint Padre Pio – and all the saints – and feeling their holiness, which is so much greater than anything that I could ever offer to God. Surely, the feeling that I would have in their presence would be like sitting with a beloved older brother or sister, whose entire focus is on ensuring that I am safe and loved and happy. Surely this would give God much joy – this love between his children – this love between siblings. How happy is my Father – my Dad, my Daddy – when I cooperate with my siblings and care for them as they care for me.

In reflecting on this wonderful Saint and his beautiful love for God, which he displayed through his love for souls, I reflect not only on my own biological children, but of my spiritual ones as well. For I have children given to me through Baptism. My beautiful baby niece, for whom many of you join me in praying for, is one of those children, but I have many others. I am the Godmother of children of siblings, cousins and friends – how lucky am I? And for those children – and yours – I pray.

But my spiritual children are not only the people who are younger than me.

My husband is my spiritual child too, though he is some years older than me – I take great pleasure in reminding him of this. His formation in faith is different from mine, and because of this he requires some spiritual guidance now, during his middle age. And though I find it much harder to speak of God with those I love the most than to speak of Him with strangers – I take great joy in sharing my Beloved with my husband… For though he may not really understand it now, MY Beloved is HIS Beloved too. And in eternity, the embrace that my Beloved prepares for his son – my husband – will bring me to tears of joy for all eternity.

And yet, my spiritual children are not only those who I know well, they are also those acquaintances who I have recently met and barely know at all because they are people drawn to me – and I to them – through God, by prayer. They are people I have spoken to briefly as we share our intentions at the Foot of the Cross. Together, we walk towards Calvary, though we barely know each other in this life – because our SOULS are companions on the road. We are kindred spirits though perhaps such terminology does little to describe the reality of our spiritual connections, because as children of God we are SIBLINGS on this journey from this life to the next – it is as though we share each other’s very blood!

Still more are my spiritual children who I have never met and never will meet in this life. These are the souls for whom I pray – the mothers with cancer who I have never met, the parents struggling to conceive, who I do not know, the families who grieve, the Lost Souls of Purgatory, for whom I offer all the intentions of my days… These strangers are my neighbours, and through my prayers for little Saint Baby Charbel last year, the Holy Spirit filled me with love for my neighbour – He condescended to teach me that, through Grace and no merit of my own. How lucky am I?

While praying for all these children of mine – spiritual and biological – during the Mass this morning, and reflecting upon the Feast of the Annunciation, and the Joy of the Blessed Virgin, at conceiving her Son, I turned my head and saw the almost life-sized statue of Our Lady in the church!

Due to some renovations, this lovely statue had been moved out of its alcove and rested instead on a pew at the back of the Church, and stood there silently, witnessing the sacrifice of the Mass, with her arms outstretched for all the world.

For a moment, seeing that beautiful statue in her unexpected location, I was struck dumb. For a moment, I could imagine finally meeting with my Blessed Mother in Heaven. What a beautiful sight it would be… I imagine her embrace, with all the sweet comfort of a mother – making everything all right and leading me ever close to her Beloved Son. She will hold my hand and take me to Him, knowing that I am unworthy of such proximity to my Lord!

How I long for that maternal embrace in eternity…

For when she conceived her One Blessed Child – the Immaculate Conception – she not only became Mother of the word Made Flesh… She became mother of the Church, and she became MOTHER of all the world!

Oh, how I love my Blessed Mother…

For through her, I can Adore her Holy Son…

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory!

For with prayer everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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