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  • Sarah Raad

Savage

I am the child of a God who will grant me peace, even if I am a bit of a SAVAGE!

The Conversion of Saint Augustine (Fra Angelico)

There are so many things that have been going on over the last few weeks, it seems that I cannot keep track. There are so many sick people who have featured in my prayers over the last few weeks. It is not only them, but their families also who I pray for, because I do not believe there is a greater grief than watching a loved one suffer.


Over the last few months, since my little niece was sick last year, quite by accident, I have started dragging my young children to Mass with me several times each week. At first, I heard lots of grumbles and complaints from them – after all Mass is at 6:45am and the children are still blinking sleep out of their eyes at that time of the morning. But these days – having realised that I am not planning to stop this precious habit any time soon – they are used to my antics and they grumble quite a lot less!


Initially, I thought that most of what was going on during Mass was going right over their heads. I thought that, until the other day – about a week ago…


Each morning during the Liturgy of the Word we have been listening to accounts from the Acts of the Apostles and various Gospels during the First Reading and Gospel during Mass.


Though I have not attended Mass so frequently since my children were born, I have been listening to the old familiar stories of persecution and conversion, for I have heard them many times in the past. For several days, during the First Reading in Mass, we heard about the persecution and martyrdom of Saint Stephen, who is the first martyr of the Catholic Church. He was martyred under the direction of Saul, who we later call Saint Paul.


My little nine-year old son was fidgeting away beside me during Mass each day, as he usually does and I simply assumed he was in his own little world.


Suddenly, one day, during the homily, he turned to me and said in a whisper, “Mum, isn’t Saul, Saint Paul?” I answered to the affirmative, and he replied, “Mum. That means one saint KILLED another saint.” Again, an affirmative answer from me, and again he responded, “Saint Paul was a SAVAGE Mum!”

This child’s perspective startled me. Of course, I understand RATIONALLY that God forgives ANY SIN, but my little boy’s shock at the reality of that fact was like a dash of cold water on my face… He was quite literally SHOCKED.

And his infant shock stirred something in my own soul… How did I not notice this before? How did this not startle me before?


This total SAVAGE, Saint Paul, who actively persecuted Christians, doing everything in his power to decimate God the Son Himself from the face of the earth – albeit under a misapprehension that he was honouring God the Father – through the Grace of the Holy Spirit became one of the greatest Christian voices of all time…


This causes me to think about the INFINTE GOODNESS OF GOD.


I was speaking to a beautiful priest the other day about a very young and very sick girl for whom we are praying.


During our conversation, it occurred to me that if something GOOD happens, it is GOOD, and if something BAD happens (even the most terrible most unimaginably BAD THING IN THE WORLD), it is GOOD.


That is the precious GIFT of our GOD – for we are the children of a God who is GOODNESS itself!


There is goodness in everything. When Saint Stephen was martyred, it must have appeared as a terribly BAD thing. And yet, that martyrdom, nearly two thousand years ago, spoke to the soul of a little nine year old boy who sat fidgeting in his own little world inside a small Australian church on a cool autumn morning the other day…

And only GOD knows what GOOD it worked in HIS precious soul that day – and by extension, in MINE!

Everything will be revealed in TIME – at the END of time…


Saint Augustine could also be considered a savage of sorts, because he was 31 years old when he finally converted to the faith after living a sinful and faithless life. He wrote in his book, “Confessions” that prior to his conversion he prayed… “Lord, give me chastity and continence, BUT NOT YET.” (emphasis added).


Afterwards, this was his beautiful prayer…


“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside. You were with me, but I was not with you. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.”


And now, as a bit of a savage myself, I too burn… “for Your peace…”


Thank God, I am the child of a God who will give it to me – whether I am a bit of a SAVAGE or not…


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

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