• Sarah Raad

Special Needs

God takes care of everything. We truly have nothing to fear!

Holy Family with Saint John (Raphael)

I have been praying very much for parents of children who have special needs. It occurs to me that such mothers and fathers are given special Graces to care for their children and that such Graces sustain them with strength in a manner that is difficult for other parents to ever really understand.

In speaking with someone dear to me the other day, it occurred to me that there is great fear in accepting the brokenness of our lives. Each human being, every single one – even the Queen of England herself – carries the weight of loss and loneliness and worry and fear.

I have been following with mild curiosity the story of the Duke of Sussex in the media over recent weeks, and it occurs to me to feel great pity for these people and this family. In hearing the words and observing the actions of these people, I see so much hurt and anger and sadness and grief, that I am moved to pray for them – yes, even them, with their jewels and money and private jets and royal life – for they are human too, and they too suffer.

Our Lady was perfectly obedient to God. She worried not about the past or about the future. She lived only in the present. When Our Blessed Mother asked the Angel Gabriel how she was to conceive, being a virgin, she was not doubting God or trying to plan ahead, she was trying to UNDERSTAND God’s plan for her, so that she could better fulfil it!

That is why she is our mother. She has such wisdom and perfect obedience that if we could but mimic a fraction of her goodness – of her intelligent obedience, in seeking clarity from God – we would be saved.

Our Blessed Mother was the Mother of a Child who had special needs.

Christ though born without sin was certainly a handful for His Blessed Parents.

When Our Blessed Mother said “YES” to the Angel, she was saying “YES” to everything that involved – all the special needs and care that her SPECIAL SON required.

I have only to reflect on the four dreams of Saint Joseph to realise how extensive Christ’s special needs really were. His life was in danger from the moment He first drew breath. His family moved their entire lives from one place to another several times – in service of their beloved Son and His special needs. From Bethlehem to Egypt, from Egypt to Nazareth…

Later, His Blessed Mother accompanied Him on his travels through Galilee. She cared for Him even then.

True, there were no speech therapists, or physiotherapists, or doctors’ appointments for Christ’s special needs, but there were other things instead.

There was the prophesy of Simeon…

“Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, ‘This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.’” (Luke 2:34-35).

The realisation that this Child – so beloved of His family would suffer and through His suffering, that His Blessed Mother would suffer – when the Child was a mere baby, was surely like the delivery of a diagnosis about a child with special needs.

And still, the Holy Family, like so many of the holy families who have children with special needs, went on and smiled and lived their lives and enjoyed their time with their beloved Son, looking neither backwards nor forwards, looking only at the moment at hand, and being grateful for that!

But the Prophesy was not the only sorrow during Christ’s youth. There was also the time when the He was lost for three days…

“After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46).

For three whole days His frantic parents and family searched for Him. There were no telephones, no internet, no printer to publish something in the newspaper, no organised and state-funded search parties. There was only the hope and faith of a family who loved their Child more than their own lives. With hindsight, three days seems like no time at all.

But I remember losing one of my children at the City 2 Surf finish line one year. I could not find him for about 15 minutes.

When I finally did find him, standing right next to a policeman at the finish line and I ran to him, he drew back from me. Later when I asked him why he did that, he replied, “Mum, I’ve never seen you looking like that before. You were crying and screaming and you looked so sad. I wasn’t really sure it was you. I didn’t recognise you. I didn’t know you’d be that sad if you couldn’t find me…”

During that 15 minutes, my life stopped. I could not find the person for whom God had made me responsible. What was I going to do?

Shouting, screaming, crying, begging. Nothing was too embarrassing. I did not care who saw or who judged or who commented. I only cared to be reunited with my child, who I love more dearly than myself.

Imagine Our Blessed Mother – for THREE WHOLE DAYS – having no idea if her only Child was alive or dead. Having no idea if He was hurt. Having no idea if she would ever see Him again. Imagine the anguish! And that anguish was a mere foreshadowing of her later anguish as she waited for His resurrection after His Passion and Death.

Now, imagine God’s anguish… He is our Father, and we turn away from Him – we are lost - ETERNALLY.

Imagine His tears and anguish at loosing even one of His children. If being so sinful and imperfect I lost sight of one of my three living children for less than 15 minutes and went quite mad with fear and grief, how can the almighty and perfect God – who loves PERFECTLY – bear eternal loss?

All those millions of lost souls!

No wonder He entered into Time and Space to save us… He loves us too much to let us go without first seeking us out and trying to convince us to stay!

So, for all those parents of children with special needs, I feel no sadness, no grief and no worry. Because I can see Our Blessed Mother, who raised a child with the MOST SPECIAL NEEDS of all…

And through her example of intelligent obedience, I can see the face of God.

For children such as these are the Treasures of God’s own house, and for them – and for us – God will take care of everything!

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

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