• Sarah Raad


“The best way to economise time, is to lose half an hour each day attending Mass.” (Blessed Frederick Ozanam).

Ezekelian Pentecost and Hearts of Flesh Icon

A couple of my sisters have recently given birth to their babies, during this latest COVID-19 lockdown.

Any woman who has had a baby will tell you that the first and most important thing to ensure after childbirth is that the mother is the healthiest and most well-rested she can be under the circumstances.

I remember, back in the early days – when I had three very very young children – sometimes, the only person not crying in our home was my husband… And though he would never admit it, I secretly believe that he really did want to join in but was afraid of the dire consequences of not having a single stable person left in the family if he gave in to this desire!

And so, as I have been speaking to my sisters over the phone during these last few months – because there is really not much else that I can do under the current circumstances to support them – I have focused my advice on their self-care. In my opinion, it is very important to understand that mothers need to pay attention to their own needs and look after themselves first because if they do not, they will be no good to anyone – especially not their brand, new little baby…

It sounds a little counter intuitive at first – sort of like when you watch the in-air safety demonstration on an aeroplane – that tells you that if you are travelling with children, you must first fix the oxygen mask firmly to your face and then only afterwards attend to your children’s needs. At first you might think to yourself. How terrible! You are placing the children at risk, but after only a moment, you realise that if you are unconscious your children will have no chance at all anyway, and so it is essential that the adult looks after themselves before they attempt to help their children.

And so, I have been reflecting on this need for self-care and preservation over the last few months. And it occurs to me that there are so many ways to establish that.

Scott Hahn, in his book, “Lord, Have Mercy” argues that for a form of self-care, which he calls hope. It is hope that despite all our failings, despite the terrible burden of sin, we can always heal, because “God’s power to save, heal, and create anew is infinitely stronger than our power to sin and to destroy.” When we say that Christ is the Lamb of God who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), we mean that sin is destroyed by God. He does not just forgive sin – He REMOVES it. “He uproots it by removing our sinful heart. But then He goes one better still. He creates in you and me a new heart, a clean heart, as if we hadn’t soiled the first one He gave us.”

Because it says in Scripture, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26)…

And as I reflect on this action of self-care, which I guess I could call hope, I consider the advice of Blessed Frederick Ozanam who believed, “The best way to economise time, is to lose half an hour each day attending Mass.”

It is an interesting thought. After all, we would suggest to a new mother that she needs to “lose” half an hour each day in napping when her baby naps, it only makes sense that we invest some time each day into the spiritual – for it is in communing with God that we gain rest.

Saint Augustine said, “The love of worldly possessions is a sort of bird line, which entangles the soul, and prevents it from flying to God.”

And what I have realised over these last few months, is that the easiest way to untangle from that line, is to look straight up at God – for however long I can – because without that time, I could never look after myself.

And – for me – that look, is the greatest act of self-care that I could ever perform.

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

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