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  • Sarah Raad

Training

“It is necessary to understand that the whole of our lives must be an ‘advent’, a vigilant awaiting of the final coming of Christ.” (Pope Saint John Paul II).

Seeing Shepherds (Daniel Bonnell)

Last summer, my youngest child – my daughter – wished to prepare herself to compete in her school’s swimming carnival.


Usually – for reasons of safety – only children who can comfortably swim 25 metres in any stroke, unaided, are invited to swim in the school swimming carnival, though non-swimmers are allowed to attend the event.


And so it was, that last summer, my daughter started to practice her swimming. Now, my daughter is a confident floater and is able to splash around in the pool at home, but she has work to do on her strokes because she is so busy having fun in the pool that her execution is not great. Nevertheless, my daughter was determined! She wanted to enjoy the fun of the race and was determined that she would be ready to compete.


I have been thinking of the training that my daughter undertook in preparation for this event over these last few days of summer because that training strikes me as surprisingly similar to my “training” to become a saint.

Saint Josemaría once asked, “Do you really want to be a saint?” and he answered his own question… “Carry out the little duty of each moment: do what you ought and concentrate on what you are doing.”

Because our duties all lead us to our death in this life and our rebirth in the next one, and it is through that rebirth that we can become saints…


Just as my daughter was unafraid to train for her swimming carnival, so too should I be unafraid to “train” for my death because if you consider the lives of the Saints, there is one commonality among them all over the last almost two thousand years… And that similarity is that the Saints were always prepared for death!


Saint Charbel Makhlouf is considered one of the greatest saints of the Maronite Catholic Church. He died carrying the Hidden Christ in the Eucharist during the Consecration of the most Holy Mass… Talk about being prepared for death! Saint Charbel died – after a lifetime of fasting and abstinence – literally in the arms of Our Blessed Lord!


Once, Saint Charles Borromeo was playing chess with some other men when he was asked what he would do if an angel told him that he would die within an hour. The men around him spoke of stopping to pray or of going to confess their sins and of other ways that they would get ready for God... But Saint Charles calmly responded that he would continue playing that game of chess – you see, he was perfectly prepared!


And that preparation is something that we are called to during the season of Advent that has just passed. Pope Saint John Paul II said, “It is necessary to understand that the whole of our lives must be an ‘advent’, a vigilant awaiting of the final coming of Christ.” For Christ comes to us when we die – and He carries us – through His infinite mercy and love – to the Father.

And to be prepared in this way, we must actually BELIEVE the words we speak. Perhaps this is the most difficult part!

There was once a bishop of Geneva called Cardinal Mermillod who preached a love of the Most Blessed Eucharist. Each night he would prostrate himself before the Blessed Eucharist and pray. One night as he was performing his nightly adoration, he heard a noise and saw a woman come out from a place where she was hiding in the church. The woman told him, “I am a non-Catholic. I have been listening to your preaching over the last few months. I heard what you said about the real Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I was convinced by your arguments, but one doubt remained in my mind, and that is whether you really believed what you preach. So, I concealed myself in the Church to see whether, in private, you treated the Holy Eucharist as you said we should.”


That woman converted through that bishop’s witness of faith.


Oh God – please grant me the Grace of such a witness – Please grant me Your Grace!


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

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