• Sarah Raad


It can be the greatest honour of our lives to walk a spiritual journey beside a suffering soul, taking courage and strength from them.

Saint Rose of Lima

Today as we step into the new year it feels to me, as the start of something wonderful.

This morning, during Mass, all the prayers of the last year came flooding into my mind.

There were prayers for people sick, who became well. Prayers for people well, who became sick. Prayers for those who lived. Prayers for those who died. Prayers for babies born to Earthly life, and babies born to Eternal life. Prayers for the Lost Souls of Purgatory, and our families, and special intentions and a million other things.

There was a cleansing flood of prayers – an avalanche, a tsunami of them!

And as these prayers flittered through my mind, it occurred to me that this unceasing parade of prayers that marched a path over my soul this year, was a pilgrim-journey.

As the pilgrims do, this parade of prayers formed a blessed procession to give Glory to God! And like all processions, it changed the landscape through which it passed.

Where once the world was quiet and the landscape was still, now it teams with life.

Grass that once grew straight has been trampled – bowing down – to the greater Glory of God. Trees that once reached their branches across the path, blocking the way, have been pushed aside and grow around as the Blessed Sacrament – the Hidden Christ – is carried within our hearts as the New Ark of the Covenant. The air which was empty of sound is now filled with joyful prayer.

As pilgrims on this journey, there is great joy.

For where one of more gather in His name – He is there! And what greater joy could there be in being reunited with our greatest love – God – who loves us more than it is humanly possible to know?

Prayer, as Saint Therese of Lisieux explains, “is a cry of recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy.”

So, when we gather in community – as we have done in the year gone past – to call on God and ask for His infinite mercy and love, He gives us the strength for the joy and the trial. For He uses ALL things for the GOOD. There is nothing that is beyond the power of the Creator. There is no problem He cannot solve. We are the beloved creatures of an infinitely merciful God, who gladly condescends to spend His eternity tending to the needs of His beloved.

So, as we pilgrims journey onwards into the new year, we must remember that we are merely bits of clay in the hands of God. And like clay, we are a worthless and malleable substance. It is only in the hands of an artist, that clay has any chance of beauty or value.

As the clay, it is our job – our prayer in fact – to simply surrender to the loving, gentle caresses of the Infinite Artist who will work such wonders despite our freedom of will, if only we will permit it.

It is He, who will work great beauty out of this piece of dirt, shaping it to His purpose.

And when He is done, and we step through the final veil, from this life to the next – then, and only then, will we understand the words of Saint Rose of Lima that, “Apart from the Cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven.”

If we reflect on that, perhaps we will have the strength to continue on this pilgrimage of life, moving ever up the ladder – one rung at a time – until we reach the end of our journey and can rest, safely and forever – at the Holy Feet of God.

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

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