• Sarah Raad


What a wonderful burden is suffering that can yield great fruit…

Our Lady of Lourdes

When I married my husband, I moved into the home that he was living in and we started our life together.

The house was about 30 or 40 years old and my husband – who is a very handy guy – was in the process of renovating it – one small space at a time.

Because of the age of the home and our very limited budget for the renovation, and because we were only at the beginning of our relationship, I did not have a lot of input into the decor of that house. For the most part, colours, finishes and appliances had been chosen before my husband met me, and where they had not been, things were chosen from a budget that was so small that it meant that there was little that I could contribute to the general look of the house.

I am not complaining though. It was a lovely little home for our family as a first home, and we had many fond memories during our time in that house.

Though the house was not perfect, one thing that I did love about that house was the rose garden! Because of the age of the house, popular plants at the time included rose bushes. And so, the garden of the house was littered with the most beautiful, sweet smelling roses that I have ever seen. Not only did the roses look gorgeous, but they smelt heavenly as well. We had red roses and pink roses, white roses and yellow and orange roses, we had large roses and miniature roses – and all of them smelled as wonderful as they looked.

Those rose bushes that we had were established plants. They were 30 or 40 years old – about the same age as the house. They were large, and with careful pruning, could produce a crop of such beautiful bouquets that it would be impossible to prove that they were not commercially grown.

But the thing about roses is that though they are very beautiful, they grow on rose bushes, and a rose bush is not a beautiful plant. I believe this is one reason why rose bushes have declined somewhat in popularity in recent times. These days, many homeowners want gardens requiring little maintenance and a good aesthetic in the garden bed itself, with plants that look great all year round…

That brings be back to roses… The reason I am thinking about roses, was because the other day as my family and I were praying the Rosary in the car while driving to a rugby game for one of my boys, we drove right past a very beautiful Rose Garden in Baulkham Hills. It is a council-run space, with literally scores of rose bushes, and as we passed by in our car, the splashes of colour were so beautiful, that they almost took my breath away.

But the colours were only splashes. The rest of the garden was a tangle of barbed wire rose branches and thorns. The rest of the garden was grey and dismal. In fact, as I watched the garden swing past my window that day, it occurred to me that the roses appeared to be held prisoner in the thorny branches, floating inside them like butterflies caught in a spider’s web, or finches caught in a cage.

It made me think of another time I have seen beautiful roses…

In the visions of Our Blessed Mother at Lourdes Our Lady had a rose in her girdle. Later, when she appeared at Fatima the children smelled roses when she came near. In many other visions, she is depicted with roses at her girdle or under her feet. Roses are the flowers she brings with her from Heaven – not lilies or daisies, not daffodils or carnations – but roses. Roses, which are flower that come from their bush, which is covered with thorns…


I have been reflecting on those roses for some time now. Obviously, roses are beautiful, which goes without saying… But I cannot help but feel that the Blessed Virgin is trying to tell us something by bringing this particular flower with her from Heaven.

For when I see those beautiful roses, I think of suffering…

For suffering is all the thorns. It is grey, and dismal and distressing. When we suffer, we feel trapped and oppressed and restricted. In my mind, when I suffer, it feels as though I am caught in the brambles and the tangles of those rose-branches, trapped or caught between the thorns.

At times it can feel so hopeless. And yet… above the tangle of branches and thorns, reaching ever-upward, are the roses. The fruit of those thorny branches is the rose – wonderfully, gorgeously sweet smelling and beautiful – the rose.

So, now when I see roses, I shall look beyond the flower – beyond the fruit of the branch – and consider the branch instead, for what is a branch other than a thick sort of vine…

For Christ said… “‘I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.’” (John 15:1-5).

And it is because, apart from Him I can do nothing, that I submit to the thorny tangle of my earthly life. For imagine, if I can be the branch to bear a fruit so sweet, that it would be a rose worthy of being placed beneath the foot of the Queen of Heaven.

Imagine if my Heavenly Father – my Dad, my Daddy – could see it there.

Imagine my tears of joy... for all eternity…

Just imagine…

What a wonderful burden that would be…

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

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