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  • Sarah Raad

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“Too late have I loved You!” (Saint Augustine).

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica (Luca Giordano)

Most of my work as a tutor, running a tutoring school, involves building up a strong and capable team of tutors. I have been doing this work for a very very long time now and so I have learned through long experience, that having a strong working team really is the most important part of this job.


It might sound a little strange to make such a claim. After all, individual tuition – by its very nature – surely seems a very individual affair. Tutors meet with their students and work through the relevant material with those students and they sit together one-to-one working through their work. So, my younger-self could easily be forgiven for failing to understand the significance of a team in such an individual task, and yet… the team is the most important part!


Why? You might ask…


Well, the answer is very simple really. A team is important because with a strong team, an individual tutor is stronger because they have other people to rely on for help. This means that if they see a difficult question or read some unusual feedback from a schoolteacher or if their student is simply failing to grasp a certain concept, the tutor can ask another member of the team for support. And so, the stronger the team, the stronger the tutor – for the tutor is supported by the team…


I have been reflecting on the importance of a strong team over the last few weeks. You see, I have been reading a little about Saint Augustine and the interesting thing about his conversion is not only the extent of his conversion – for he went from being an immoral playboy tomcat to being a Holy Doctor of the Church – but the endurance of the team who prayed for his conversion!

And Saint Augustine had a very strong team behind him…

There was his mother – Saint Monica – who was sanctified by her prayers for her son, because she prayed for his conversion for DECADES. She was unrelenting.


And Saint Ambrose was also instrumental in Saint Augustine’s conversion through his brilliant preaching. It was as a result of such preaching that Saint Augustine knew that Christ was God, but despite that knowledge he would famously pray, “Lord, make me chaste—but not yet.” And then, one day upon seeing a couple of other men converting to Christianity, Saint Augustine cried out to his friend, “What are we doing?... Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!”


But these living Saints were not the only people on Saint Augustine’s team – the long-dead Saint Paul was there as well – because at the moment of his conversion, Saint Augustine heard the voice of a child sing out, “Take up and read!” And so, he picked up the First Letter of Saint Paul and read words that had been written over a thousand years before, which told him to put away all impurity and to live in imitation of Christ.


And, with the combined encouragement of his team, Saint Augustine was able to say at last… “Too late have I loved You!” to God…


And so, as I say my prayers for those who I love who have forgotten about God, I remember the Communion of Saints and the Forgiveness of Sins that I profess in the Creed, and I know that though it may seem as though nothing is happening, I am one of a team.


And one day – in God’s good time – miracles can be done. And then, perhaps, those precious souls too will be able to say, “Too late have I loved You!” to God…


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

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