The Blessed Virgin Mary Reveals The Meaning Of LUKE 2:7 To St. Gertrude

(Taken from the excellent, ‘Christ the Life of the Soul’ by Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, and ‘The Glories of Mary’ by St. Alphonsus, respectively)

St. Gertrude recounts that, hearing one day in the singing of the Divine Office these words in the Gospel: “First-born Son of the Virgin Mary” referring to Christ, she said to herself: “The title ‘Only Son’ would seem to fit Jesus much better than the title ‘first-born.’” While she was dwelling on this thought, the Virgin Mary appeared to her. “No”, she said to the great nun, “it is not at all ‘Only Son,’ it is ‘first-born Son’ which fits best; for, after Jesus, my very dear Son- or, more exactly, in Him and through Him- I have become mother of all of you in the womb of my charity, and you have become my children, the brethren of Jesus.”

St. Alphonsus: “… And this explains what is said of Mary in the holy Canticles: “Thy belly is as a heap of wheat, set about with lilies.”** St. Ambrose explains this and says: Although in the pure womb of Mary there was only one grain of wheat, which was Jesus Christ, yet it is called a heap of grain, because in that one grain were contained all the elect, of whom Mary was to be the mother. Hence, William the Abbot wrote: Mary, in bringing forth Jesus, who is our Saviour and our life, brought forth all of us to life and salvation.

 “My mother Mary, on account of her compassion and charity, was made mother of all in heaven and on earth.”

– Jesus to St. Bridget

** Passages such as these are often incomprehensible to most, including myself. ‘The Glories of Mary’ is a good introduction to some of the references to Mary in Scripture, as understood by the Church Fathers, the Saints etc.

How Great Is Mary’s Love For Her Children?

+ St. John of God, at death, expected a visit from Mary, to whom he was greatly
devoted; but finding she did not come, he was afflicted, and perhaps complained
a little. But at length the holy mother appeared to him, and as if reproaching
him for his want of confidence, said to him these tender words, which should
encourage all the servants of Mary:

“John, it is not in my heart, at this hour, to desert my children.”

+ The venerable Alphonso Rodriguez, of the Society of Jesus, was once standing before an image of Mary; and there burning with love for the most holy Virgin, broke forth into these words: “My most amiable mother, I know that thou lovest me, but thou dost not love me so much as I love thee.” Then Mary, as if wounded in her love, spoke to him from that image and said:

“What dost thou say, what dost thou say, oh Alphonso? Oh, how much greater is the love I bear thee than the love thou bearest me! Know that the distance from heaven to earth is not so great as from my love to thine.”

+ Dear Blessed Mother, please reveal your maternal love to those who do not know your sweetness, your gentleness, your love, and the power of your intercession! + 

Spiritual Wisdom From A Saintly Priest: Words On Suffering, Heaven, Prayer, The Infinite Love Of God.

Very few have heard of Fr. Paul of Moll (1824- 1896). What a sad fact. This Benedictine “wonder-worker” was known for his remarkable holiness, wisdom, spiritual gifts, and most importantly- his profound love of God, which becomes apparent when one reads his letters, for example.

Fr. Paul possessed many spiritual gifts, which he used to edify, instruct, and inspire others. These gifts include prophecy, healing, the reading of souls, bilocation, visions, and other remarkable gifts, similar to St. Padre Pio and many other great Saints of the Catholic Church.

Words of Fr. Paul of Moll

Here are some words of this holy priest; they cannot fail to have a profound impact on our lives if we take the time to reflect on them:

“Imagine all the love of one hundred thousand mothers for their children. It is nothing in comparison with the infinite love of God.”

“Life is a struggle, and the best remedy for it is to do everything for the love of God, and to endure everything for the love of Jesus.”

“Before eating, sleeping, opening or closing a door or any other action, always have the intention of doing all for the love of Jesus. In this way you will continually reap a rich harvest for heaven.” (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31)

“The perfections of God are infinite. In Heaven the saints will see the divine perfections succeed each other without ceasing: every moment a new perfection will be revealed to them, and so it will be through all eternity.”

“It is by love that one can overcome Almighty God; He is so sensitive to love that He can refuse us nothing.”

“When I distribute Holy Communion,” Father Paul said, “it is the Infant Jesus in person that I see in the Host.”

“If you wish to have an idea of the love with which He loves man, see with what love God loves Mary.” (This quote should console anyone who suffers at the foot of the Cross)

“God is infinitely good and wise. He shows His goodness towards you by sending you crosses. The more bitter your pains, the more meritorious they are. Every cross is a blessing from Heaven, a blessing which surpasses all the suffering of the world. If one were able to understand the full value of crosses, it would be a terrible torment to be deprived of them.”

A young girl inquired if the misfortunes that befell her family were divine punishments. “No,” replied Father Paul, “they are trials which the good God sends in order to make you a little more like Him.” Thereupon the girl asked what would come of her. “An angel in Heaven,” he said.

“Every sigh of love, every desire of love is a new opening of your heart, allowing the love of God to penetrate.”

“What can there be more agreeable to the Heart of the infinite love of God than to pray for the conversion of those who are in a state of mortal sin? To be a child of love, is to sacrifice oneself to the love of God for the conversion of sinners.”

“If one could understand the value of an act of love for God in suffering, one would experience the greatest grief at being obliged to pass a single moment without being able to make this meritorious act. Happy is he who, in suffering, makes acts of love!”

And one of my all-time favourite quotes:

 “If it were permitted to one of the elect to live again in this world, he would submit with joy to all the sufferings that men have ever endured here below, in order to add to his merits that which he would acquire by the recital of one Ave Maria.”

Fr. Paul of Moll, pray for us!

 

SUFFERING: How to Make the Greatest Evil in Our Lives Our Greatest Happiness

“Embrace the cross lovingly, whenever it comes, as the most precious token of love I can give you in this life.”

– Jesus to St. Margaret Mary

(By Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P.)

Suffering is the great problem of human life. We all have to suffer. Sometimes small sorrows, sometimes greater ones fall to our share. We shall now tell our readers how to avoid much of this suffering, how to lessen all suffering and how to derive great benefits from every suffering we may have to bear. The reason why suffering appears so hard is that, first of all, we are not taught what suffering is. Secondly, we are not taught how to bear it. Thirdly, we are not taught the priceless value of suffering. This is due to the incomprehensible neglect on the part of our teachers. It is surprising how easily some people bear great sufferings; whereas, others get excited even at the smallest trouble. The simple reason is that some have been taught all about suffering; others have not.

SUFFERING IS NOT THE EVIL WE THINK IT IS

First of all, then, suffering is not simply an evil, for no one suffered more than the Son of God Himself, more than His Blessed Mother or more than the Saints. Every suffering comes from God. It may appear to come to us by chance or accident or from someone else, but in reality, every suffering comes to us from God. Nothing happens to us without His wish or permission. Not even a hair falls from our heads without His consent. Why does God allow us to suffer? Simply because He is asking us to take a little share in His Passion. What appears to come by chance or from someone else always comes because God allows it. Every act in Our Lord’s Life was a lesson for us. The greatest act in His life was His Passion. This, then, is the greatest lesson for us. It teaches us that we too must suffer. God suffered all the dreadful pains of His Passion for each one of us. How can we refuse to suffer a little for love of Him?

SUFFERING IS THE GOLD IN OUR LIVES

Secondly, if we accept the suffering He sends us and offer them in union with His sufferings, we receive the greatest rewards. Five minutes’ suffering borne for love of Jesus is of greater value to us than years and years of pleasure and joy. The Saints tell us that if we patiently bear our sufferings, we merit the crown of martyrdom. Moreover, suffering borne patiently brings out all that is good in us. Those who have suffered are usually the most charming people. If we bear these facts clearly in mind, it certainly becomes much easier to suffer. GOD ALWAYS GIVES STRENGTH TO BEAR OUR SUFFERINGS.

Thirdly, when God gives us any suffering, He always gives us strength to bear it, if we only ask Him. Many, instead of asking for His help, get excited and revolt. It is this excitement and impatience that really make suffering hard to bear. Consider that we are now speaking of all suffering, even the most trifling ones. All of us have little troubles, pains, disappointments, every day of our lives. All these, if borne for love of God, obtain for us, as we have said, the greatest rewards.

HOW TO BEAR SUFFERING

Even the greater sufferings that may fall to our share from time to time become easy to bear if we accept them with serenity and patience. What really makes suffering difficult to bear is our own impatience,our revolt, our refusal to accept it. This irritation increases our sufferings a hundred fold and, besides, robs us of all the merit we could have gained thereby. We see some people pass through a tempest of suffering with the greatest calm and serenity; whereas, others get irritated at the slightest annoyance or disappointment. We can all learn this calm and patience. It is the secret of happiness. An eminent physician, in a conference which he gave to distinguished scientists and fellow doctors, told them that he owed all his great success in life to the simple fact that he had corrected his habit of impatience and annoyance, which had been destroying all his energy and activity. Everyone, we repeat, without exception, can learn this calm and serenity.

PENANCE

We must all do penance for our sins. If we do not, we shall have long years of suffering in the awful fires of Purgatory. This fire is just the same as the fire of Hell. Now, if we offer our sufferings the very little ones as well as the greater ones-in union with the sufferings of Jesus Christ, we are doing the easiest and best penance we can perform. We may thus deliver ourselves entirely from Purgatory, While at the same time gaining the greatest graces and blessings. Let us remember clearly that: 1) Sufferings come from God for our benefit. 2) When we are in the state of grace, we derive immense merit from every suffering borne patiently, even the little sufferings of our daily lives. 3) God will give us abundant strength to bear our sufferings if we only ask Him. 4) If we bear our sufferings patiently, they lose their sting and bitterness. 5) Above all, every suffering is a share in the Passion of Our Lord. 6) By our sufferings, we can free ourselves in great part, or entirely, from the pains of Purgatory. 7) By bearing our sufferings patiently, we win the glorious crown of martyrdom. Of course, we may do all in our power to avoid or lessen our sufferings, but we cannot avoid all suffering. Therefore, it is clearly necessary for us to learn how to bear them. In a word, we must understand clearly that if we remain calm, serene and patient, suffering loses all its sting, but the moment we get excited, the smallest suffering increases a hundred fold. It is just as if we had a sore arm or leg and rubbed it violently; it would become irritated and painful; whereas, if we touch it gently, we soothe the irritation. We suffer from ill-health, from pains, headaches, rheumatism, arthritis, from accidents, from enemies. We may have financial difficulties. Some suffer for weeks in their homes, some in hospitals or nursing homes. In a word, we are in a vale of tears. Almighty God could have saved us from all suffering, but He did not do so because He knows in His infinite goodness that suffering is good for us.

PRAYER

We have a great, great remedy in our hands, that is, prayer. We should pray earnestly and constantly asking God to help us to suffer, to console us. or if it pleases Him. to deliver us from suffering. This is all, all important. A very eminent doctor, in an able article he recently published in the secular press, says that “Prayer is the greatest power in the world.” He says, “I and my colleagues frequently see that many of our patients, whom we have failed to cure or whose pains we have failed to alleviate, have cured themselves by prayer. I speak now not of the prayers of holy people, but the prayers of ordinary Christians.” We should above all pray to Our Lady of Sorrows in all our troubles. We should ask her, by the oceans of sorrow she felt during the Passion of Our Lord, to help us. God gave her all the immense graces necessary to make her the perfect Mother of God, but He also gave her all the graces, the tenderness, the love necessary to be our most perfect and loving Mother. No mother on earth ever loved a child as Our Blessed Lady loves us. Therefore, in all our troubles and sorrows, let us go to Our Blessed Lady with unbounded confidence.

“UNDERSTAND THAT THE MERCY OF THE SAVIOUR IS SO MEASURELESS THAT IT ACCEPTS THE LEAST ILL, THE SMALLEST TROUBLE, IN PAYMENT FOR THE MOST DISQUIETING OF YOUR DEBTS.

Nothing, not even a headache, is lost. If God did not afflict you, you would persist in being insolvent till the hour of your death; acquit yourself then whilst you are able, and do not grudge that pain which alone is able to restrain your instincts of self-indulgence, to break your pride, to soften the hardness of your hearts. The proverb, ‘happiness leads to egoism,’ is only too true; you do not begin to experience compassion for others till you have been yourself in want; well-being and strength sterilize you, and you only perform acts which are vaguely correct, till you are lamed or reduced to poverty.”

– St. Lydwine of Schiedam

Visions Of Heaven: The Perfect Joy Of The Blessed

St. Gertrude asked our Saviour: “My Lord, was not St. Bernard as devoted to Thee as St. Augustine, whose glory shines so resplendently? and yet it seems to me that he does not enjoy the same delights.” He responded:

“Bernard, My chosen one, has received an immense recompense; but your mind is not capable of discerning the glory of even the least of My Saints: how, then, can it discern that of the greatest?”

Before speaking of Heaven… an exhortation: 

Meditate on the joys of Heaven. Practice virtue. Bear sufferings patiently and with humility, considering that God has delivered us from the Hell that we justly deserved for our sins. Live among the few, not among the many. Seek to give God the love He desires; His thirst for love is infinite. Shun all deliberate sins, and all occasions of serious sin, such as gossip and impurity. After turning to God with a contrite heart, do acts of penance- however small- to show our loving Saviour that your love for Him is sincere. By doing so you will heal the wounds that you have inflicted on the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; you will taste of a joy hitherto unknown; and your hour of death will be sweet, as it was for the Saints.

“No sin of yours that is punished by penance in your lifetime will come before My judgement.”

– Jesus to St. Bridget

St. Peter of Alcantara appeared to St. Teresa of Avila and said: “O blessed penance which has earned for me such great glory!”

“Penance… receives in heaven a most sublime recompense… Penance helps the soul rise above things of the earth. Penance cooperates with the Redemption of the world. Penance humbles man; it penetrates him with an inner feeling of his baseness and his wretchedness. Penance brings light to the soul. It consumes and causes to disappear all in it that is purely material. It raises him higher and higher above the earth, making him taste of delights hitherto unknown and pure.”

– Jesus to Conchita (Diary, Sept. 24, 1895)

To profit from the many truths necessary for our salvation- most of which are relatively unknown- make the commitment to engage in frequent prayer and spiritual reading, of which St. Alphonsus says: “St. Bernard says reading instructs us at once in prayer, and in the practice of virtue. Hence he concluded that spiritual reading and prayer are the arms by which hell is conquered and Paradise won… spiritual reading serves to make us see the stains that infect the soul, and helps us to remove them… The Apostle prescribed spiritual reading to Timothy. Attend unto reading (1 Tim. 4:13).” – St. Alphonsus (** See the bottom of this post for some book recommendations**)

“We must be alert on the road to salvation. Only the fervent succeed in reaching it, never the tepid or those who sleep.” – St. Padre Pio

But “do not be afraid”, says Jesus. Give yourself to Him completely, every day…

“… now that you have resolved to love Him and please Him with all your strength, your only fear should be to fear God too much and to place too little confidence in Him.” – St. Alphonsus

“My dove, that place [Hell] is made for those only who refuse to adhere to My will, and who will neither love nor obey.”

– Jesus to Jeanne Benigna Gojos

May we recognise God’s call to holiness, and respond while we can, because “… After death, free will can never return, for the will is fixed as it was at the moment of death.” (St. Catherine of Genoa)

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What is Heaven like?

Many Saints had visions of Heaven. Although we must remember that a vision of Heaven cannot possibly compare to Heaven itself, we will profit from considering the joys that await those who do God’s perfect, adorable will, which “is love and mercy itself” (Jesus to St. Faustina).

Among those who have had visions of Heaven, we may include: St. John the Apostle, St. Bridget, St. Monica, St. Hildegard, St. Padre Pio, St. Faustina, St. Bridget, St. Catherine, St. Gertrude, St. Mechtilde, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi,  St. Lydwine of Schiedam, St. Christina the Astonishing, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich, Bl. Alexandrina, Sr. Josefa Menendez, and others.

One revelation shall suffice:

“…I was in heaven and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and than all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God… This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures.”

– (Diary 777).

Consider this. If the Saints (such as St. Bernardine and St. Catherine of Genoa) are able to say, in truth, that the souls in Purgatory experience a joy unlike any joy that exists on earth, how much more could be said for those in Heaven! Similarly, if the Saints enjoyed raptures of ecstatic love whilst in their earthly bodies, how great will be their pleasure in Heaven! How good God is! He is truly the source of all good things: beauty, joy, love, peace. God desires to give Himself to us at every moment!

“Eternal joy, beatific love, is ineffable. If here on earth we are enchanted by the reflection of divine perfection in creatures, by the enchantments of the visible world, by the harmony of colors and sounds, by the immensity of the ocean, by the splendor of the starry heavens, and still more by the spiritual splendors revealed in the lives of the saints, what joy shall we feel when we see God, this creative center of life and of love, this infinite plenitude, eternally self-existent, from whom proceeds the life of creation! … The elect in heaven belong to the family of God. The Blessed Trinity, seen clearly and loved sovereignly, dwells in them as in a living tabernacle, as in a temple of glory, endowed with knowledge and love.” – Fr. Garrigou Lagrange

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“I see that as far as God is concerned, paradise has no gates, but he who will may enter. For God is all mercy, and his open arms are ever extended to receive us into his glory.” – St. Catherine of Genoa

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Heaven is open to all. Never despair of God’s mercy. “In heaven, the most beautiful souls are those that have sinned the most and repented. But they made use of their miseries like manure around the base of the tree.” – Bl. Mariam Baouardy

Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata: “Benigna, I cannot make thee a saint unless thou give me the key of thy will; but if thou give it to me, I can make thee not only a saint but a great saint.”

A Valuable Lesson.

“A certain sinner once said to Mary, ‘Show thyself a mother;’ but the Virgin answered him, ‘Show thyself a son.’ Another, one day, invoked this divine mother, calling her mother of mercy. But Mary said to him, ‘When you sinners wish me to aid you, you call me mother of mercy, and yet by your sins make me the mother of misery and grief.’” – St. Alphonsus

The lesson here is that Jesus, like Mary, expects- and deserves- our love in return for all the mercy He has shown us. If we wish to receive His mercy, we must not cling to our sins. “Do not let sin grow old in thee”, said Our Lord to St. Gertrude. In other words, do not delay repentance. Rather, do as St. Padre Pio did: “Abandon yourself blindly into the hands of this Heavenly Father Who loves you better and more than you love yourself.” The fact that we choose to do something so dangerous and displeasing as sin is sufficient to prove the truth of these words!

God loves us so tenderly, so intimately, that I pray, dear reader, that one day we will meet in Paradise, where together we may praise God for all eternity!

+++

 “Knowest thou the shortest way to arrive at Heaven? It is that of confidence in My merits and fidelity to grace.”

– Jesus to Sr. Benigna (March 15, 1905)

+++

“But Josefa, do you not long to possess Me and enjoy Me without end? … I, on My part, long for you! I glory in those who do My will always and in all things… The winter of this life is about to end… I am your Beatitude.”

+++

 ** Here are some excellent, very balanced spiritual books that might be instrumental in leading us to Heaven: ‘Introduction to The Devout Life’ by St. Francis de Sales, ‘Treatise on The Love of God’ by St. Francis de Sales, ‘Christ: The Life of the Soul’ by Bl. Dom Marmion, ‘The Life of Christ’ by Fulton Sheen, ‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’ by Dom Vital Lehodey, ‘The Diary of St. Faustina’, ‘The Way of Divine Love’ by Sr. Josefa Menendez, ‘The Glories of Mary’ by St. Alphonsus, ‘Uniformity With God’s Will’ by St. Alphonsus, and many others.  

I could recommend many other excellent books, but instead I repeat what the Saints say: be careful that you read orthodox books by holy authors i.e. books in keeping with Christian Tradition.

May God bless you and your loved ones!

MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY: Refuge For Even The Hardest, Most Despairing Sinners! (part 5)

“Give up thy devotion to Mary, and I will cease to tempt thee.”

– Satan to Bl. Alphonsus Rodriguez

“When the devil wishes to make himself master of a soul, he seeks to make it give up devotion to Mary.”

– St. Alphonsus (Doctor of the Church, miracle-worker, ardent lover of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament)

Mary is truly our spiritual mother. Satan hates Mary because it is through her that God will defeat him (Gen. 3:15)! If Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body, was born of Mary, it follows that the other members of the Mystical Body must also be spritually born of Mary.

There are countless websites and books devoted to defending devotion to Mary, her dignity etc. Please read them. They explain the profound truths relating to- and titles for- Our Lady, who, like a tender mother, intercedes for our salvation (like all true followers of Christ).

Here is a link to some fairly basic Marian apologetics: http://www.ewtn.com.au/faith/teachings/marymenu.htm

(Stories taken from ‘The Glories of Mary’, by St. Alphonsus):

+ It is related by Belluacensis and Cesarius, that a noble youth having lost by his vices the wealth left him by his father, became so poor that he was obliged to beg. He quitted his native land,  that he might live with less shame in a distant country where he was unknown. On this journey he met one day an old servant of his father, who, seeing him so cast down by the poverty he was suffering, told him to cheer up, for he would take him to a prince who was so liberal that he would provide him with everything he needed. Now this wretch was an impious sorcerer. One day he took the youth with him to a wood on the borders of a moor, where he began to address some invisible person. The youth asked to whom he was speaking. “To the devil,” he answered; and seeing the youth terrified, bade him not to fear. Continuing to speak with the devil, he said: “This youth, oh my master, is reduced to extreme necessity, and wishes to be restored to his former condition.” “If he will obey me,” said the enemy, I will make him richer than before; but in the first place, he must renounce God.” At this the youth shuddered, but urged on by that cursed magician, he yielded, and renounced God. “But this is not sufficient,” said the demon; “he must also renounce Mary; for it is to her that we attribute our greatest losses. Oh, how many souls she has snatched from us, and led back to God and saved!” “Oh, this I will not do,” exclaimed the youth; “deny Mary! why she is my only hope. I would rather be a beggar all my life.” With these words he left the place. On his way he happened to pass a church dedicated to Mary. The unhappy youth entered it, and kneeling before her altar, began to weep and implore the most holy Virgin that she would obtain the pardon of his sins. Mary immediately began to intercede with the Son for that miserable being. Jesus at first said: “But that ungrateful youth, my mother, has denied me.” But seeing that his mother still continued to entreat him, he at last said: “Oh, my mother, I have never refused thee anything; he shall be pardoned, since thou dost ask it.” The citizen who had purchased the inheritance of that prodigal was secretly present at this scene, and beholding the mercy of Mary towards that sinner, he gave him his only daughter in marriage, and made him heir of all his possessions. Thus that youth recovered, through the intercession of Mary, the favor of God and even his temporal possessions.

+ Eutychian, Patriarch of Constantinople, relates the following well-known story of Theophilus. The Patriarch was an eye-witness of the fact which we here relate, and which is confirmed by St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Antoninus, andothers. Theophilus was archdeacon of the Church of Adanas, a city of Cilicia; and was so much esteemed, that the people wished him to become their bishop, but his humility prevented his consent. Some malicious persons afterwards accused him, and he was deposed from his office. This afflicted him so much, that, blinded by passion, he went to a Jewish magician, who induced him to apply to Satan for help in his misfortunes. The devil answered that if he wished his assistance, he must renounce Jesus, and Mary his mother, and hand over to him the act of renunciation, written with his own hand. Theophilus executed the vile document. On the following day the bishop having heard of the wrong done him by his calumniators, asked his forgiveness, and restored him to his office. But Theophilus began then to feel so tortured by remorse of conscience on account of the great crime he had committed, that he wept continually. What does he do? He enters a church, prostrates himself in tears before an altar of the blessed Virgin, and exclaims: “Oh mother of God, I will not despair having thee, who art so merciful, to aid me.” He persevered forty days in weeping and praying thus to the holy Virgin; when behold, one night the mother of mercy appeared to him and said: “Oh Theophilus, what have you done? You have renounced my friendship and that of my Son; and for whom? for your own and my enemy.” “Oh Lady,” answered Theophilus, “it belongs to thee to pardon me, and to obtain my pardon from thy Son.” Then Mary, seeing his confidence, answered, “Take courage, and I will pray for thee.” Theophilus, encouraged by these words, redoubled his tears, his penance, and his prayers, remaining constantly at the foot of the altar. And, behold, Mary appeared to him again, and with a joyful countenance said to him: “Theophilus, rejoice, I have presented thy tears and thy prayers to God; he hath accepted them, and hath already pardoned thee; henceforth be grateful and faithful.” “Oh Lady,” replied Theophilus, “this is not sufficient to console me; the enemy still holds that impious deed, by which I have renounced thee and thy Son; thou canst obtain it for me.” After three days Theophilus awoke one night, and found the paper on his breast. The next day, when the bishop with a large assembly were present in the church, Theophilus cast himself at his feet, related the whole story, weeping bitterly, and gave him the infamous writing, which the bishop immediately ordered to be burned in presence of all the people, who wept for joy, praising the goodness of God, and the mercy of Mary towards that miserable sinner. Theophilus returned to the church of the Virgin, and there, three days afterwards, he died happily, with thanksgivings to Jesus and his holy mother on his lips.

+ Our advocate has shown how great is her kindness towards sinners by her mercy to Beatrice, a nun in the monastery of Fontebraldo, as related by Cesarius, and by Father Rho. This unhappy religious, having contracted a passion for a certain youth, agreed to flee with him from the convent; and in fact she went one day before a statue of the blessed Virgin, there deposited the keys of the monastery, for she was portress, and boldly departed. Arrived in another country, she led the miserable life of a prostitute for fifteen years. It happened that she met, one day, the agent of the monastery in the city where she was living, and asked of him, thinking he would not recognize her again, if he knew Sister Beatrice? “I knew her well,” he said: “she is a holy nun, and at present is mistress of novices.” At this intelligence she was confounded and amazed, not knowing how to understand it. In order to ascertain the truth, she put on another dress and went to the monastery. She asked for Sister Beatrice, and behold, the most holy Virgin appeared before her in the form of that same image to which at parting she had committed her keys, and her dress, and the divine mother thus spoke to her: “Beatrice, be it known to thee that, in order to prevent thy disgrace, I assumed thy form, and have filled thy office for the fifteen years that thou hast lived far from the monastery and from God. My child, return, and do penance, for my Son is still waiting for thee; and strive by thy holy life to preserve the good name I have gained thee.” She spoke thus and disappeared Beatrice re-entered the monastery, resumed the habit of a religious, and, grateful for the mercy of Mary, led the life of a saint. At her death she made known the foregoing incident, to the glory of this great queen.

O Lady, he who honours thee will be far from damnation.”

– St. Bonaventure

“Holy Spirit, inspire me.
Love of God, consume me.
Along the true road, lead me.
Mary my Mother, look upon me.
With Jesus, bless me.
From all evil, from all illusion,
from all danger, preserve me.”

– Prayer of Bl. Mariam Baouardy

MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY: Refuge For Even The Hardest, Most Despairing Sinners! (part 4)

“Spread the devotion to my Immaculate Heart, in order that many souls maybe conquered by my love and that many sinners may return to my Maternal Heart. Do not fear, for I will accompany with my maternal protection my faithful ones, and all those who accept my urgent warnings, and they — especially by the recitations of my Rosary — will be saved.”

– Our Lady to Bl. Elena Aiello (d. 1961)

(Taken from ‘The Glories of Mary’ by St. Alphonsus)

+ 44. A very sinful man, once kneeling in tears at the foot of the cross, prayed that he might receive a sign of pardon. But when he found that his prayer was not granted, he turned to an image of the sorrowful Mary, who then appeared to him, and he saw her present his tears to her Son, saying: “My Son, shall these tears be lost?” … And then he was given to understand that Christ had already pardoned him, and from that time be led a holy life.

+ We read in the life of Sister Catherine, an Augustinian nun, that in the place where that servant of God lived, there lived also a woman named Mary, who, in her youth, was a sinner, and obstinately persevered in her evil courses, even to extreme old age. For this she was banished by her fellow-citizens, forced to live in a cave beyond the limits of the place, and died in a state of loathsome corruption, abandoned by all, and without the sacraments; and on this account was buried in a field, like a beast. Now, Sister Catherine, who was accustomed to recommend very affectionately to God the souls of those who had departed this life, after learning the miserable death of this poor old woman, did not think of praying for her, as she and everyone else believed her already among the damned. Four years having past, a soul from purgatory one day appeared to her, and said, “Sister Catherine, how unhappy is my fate! you commend to God the souls of all those who die, and for my soul alone you have had no pity.” “And who are you?” said the servant of God. “I am,” answered she, “that poor Mary who died in the cave.” “How? Are you saved?” exclaimed Sister Catherine. “Yes, I am saved,” she said, “by the mercy of the Virgin Mary.” “And how?” “When I saw death drawing near, finding myself laden with sins, and abandoned by all, I turned to the mother of God and said to her, Lady, thou art the refuge of the abandoned, behold me at this hour deserted by all; thou art my only hope, thou alone canst help me; have pity on me. The holy Virgin obtained for me the grace of making an act of contrition; I died and am saved, and my queen has also obtained for me the grace that my pains should be abridged, and that I should, by suffering intensely for a short time, pass through that purification which otherwise would have lasted many years. A few masses only are needed to obtain my release from purgatory. I pray thee cause them to be offered for me, and I promise to pray God and Mary for thee.” Sister Catherine immediately caused those masses to be said for her, and that soul, after a few days, appeared to her again, more brilliant than the sun, and said to her, “I thank thee, sister Catherine: behold I am now going to paradise to sing the mercy of God and pray for thee.”

+ It is narrated by Belluacensis that in Ridolio, a city of England, in the year 1430, there lived a young nobleman named Ernest, who gave all his patrimony to the poor, and entered a monastery, where he led so holy a life that he was greatly esteemed by his superiors, particularly for his special devotion to the most holy Virgin. It happened that a pestilence prevailed in that city and the citizens had recourse to that monastery to ask the prayers of the monks. The abbot ordered Ernest to go and pray before the altar of Mary, and not to quit it until she had given him an answer. The youth remained there three days, and received from Mary, in answer, some prayers, which were to be said. They were said, and the plague ceased. It happened afterwards that this youth became less ardent in his devotion to Mary; the devil assailed him with many temptations, especially to impurity, and to a desire to flee from the monastery; and having neglected to recommend himself to Mary, he resolved to take flight by casting himself from the wall of the monastery; but passing before an image of the Virgin which stood in the corridor, the mother of God spoke to him, and said: “My son, why do you leave me?” Ernest was overwhelmed with surprise, and, filled with compunction, fell on the earth, saying: “My Lady, behold, I have no power to resist, why do you not aid me?” and the Madonna replied: “Why have you not invoked me? If you had sought my protection, you would not have been reduced to this; from this day commend yourself to me, and have confidence.” Ernest returned to his cell; but the temptations were renewed, yet he neglected to call upon Mary for assistance. He finally fled from the monastery, and leading a bad life, he went on from one sin to another, till he became an assassin. He rented an inn, where in the night he murdered unfortunate travellers and stripped them of all they had. One night, among others, he killed the cousin of the governor of the place, who, after examination and trial, condemned him to the gallows. But during the examination, a young traveller arrived at the inn, and the host, as usual, laid his plans and entered his chamber to assassinate him: but on approaching the bed, he finds the young man gone and a Christ on the cross, covered with wounds, in his place. Our Lord, looking compassionately at him, said: “Is it not enough that I have died once for thee? Dost thou wish to slay me again? Do it, then; lift thy hand and kill me!” Then the poor Ernest, covered with confusion, began to weep, and exclaimed: “Oh Lord, behold me ready to return to thee, who hast shown me so much mercy.” He immediately left the inn to go back to the monastery and do penance; but the officers of justice overtook him on the way, he was carried before the judge, and in his presence confessed all the murders he had committed. He was at once condemned to death, without even being allowed time for confession. He commended himself to Mary. He was hanged upon the gallows, but the Virgin prevented his death. She herself released him, and said to him: “Return to the monastery; do penance; and when you shall see in my hand a paper containing the pardon of thy sins, then prepare to die. Ernest returned, and having related all to the abbot, did great penance. After many years, he saw in the hand of Mary the paper containing his pardon; he then prepared for his last end, and died a holy death.

+ In the revelations of Saint Bridget we read that there was a rich man, as noble by birth as he was vile and sinful in his habits. He had given himself, by an express compact, as a slave to the devil; and for sixty successive years had served him, leading such a life as may be imagined, and never approaching the sacraments. Now this prince was dying; and Jesus Christ, to show him mercy, commanded Saint Bridget to tell her confessor to go and visit him, and exhort him to confess his sins. The confessor went, and the sick man said that he did not require confession, as he had often approached the sacrament of penance. The priest went a second time; but this poor slave of hell persevered in his obstinate determination not to confess. Jesus again told the Saint to desire the confessor to return. He did so; and on this third occasion told the sick man the revelation made to the Saint, and that he had returned so many times because our Lord, who wished to show him mercy, had so ordered. On hearing this the dying man was touched, and began to weep: “But how,” he exclaimed, “can I be saved; I, who for sixty years have served the devil as his slave, and have my soul burdened with innumerable sins?” “My son,” answered the father, encouraging him, “doubt not; if you repent of them, on the part of God I promise you pardon.” Then, gaining confidence, he said to the confessor, “Father, I looked upon myself as lost, and already despaired of salvation; but now I feel a sorrow for my sins, which gives me confidence; and since God has not yet abandoned me, I will make my confession.” In fact he made his confession four times on that day, with the greatest marks of sorrow, and on the following morning received the Holy Communion. On the sixth day, contrite and resigned, he died. After his death, Jesus Christ again spoke to Saint Bridget, and told her that that sinner was saved; that he was then in purgatory, and that he owed his salvation to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin His Mother; for the deceased, although he had led so wicked a life, had nevertheless always preserved devotion to her dolors, and whenever he thought of them, pitied her.

Whenever you feel temptation or despair, turn to the Mother of Mercy for help.

– St. Francis de Sales

 

MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY: Refuge For Even The Hardest, Most Despairing Sinners! (part 3)

To love and venerate Mary means to honor her in God and God in her, so that He is the goal and object of all such love and veneration.

– St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church

(Words taken from ‘The Glories of Mary’ by St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church):

+ 12. In one of our missions, after the sermon on Mary which it is our custom to preach, a very old man came to one of the Fathers of our congregation, to make his confession. He was full of consolation, and said: “Our Lady has done me a favor.” “And what favor has she done you?” asked the confessor. “For thirty-five years, Father, I have made sacrilegious confessions, because I was ashamed of one sin, and yet I have passed through many dangers, and have been several times at the point of death, and if I had died then I certainly should have been lost; and now our Lady has done me the favor to touch my heart;” and when he said this he wept so bitterly, that he seemed to be all tenderness. After the Father had heard his confession, he asked him what devotion he had practised, and he answered that he had never failed on Saturday to keep a strict fast in honor of Mary, and therefore the Virgin had taken pity on him, and he gave the Father permission to publish the fact in his sermons.

+ 13. In the country of Normandy a certain robber was beheaded, and his head was thrown into a trench; but afterwards it was heard crying: “Mary, give me confession.” A priest went to him and heard his confession; and questioning him as to his practices of devotion, the robber answered that he had no other except that of fasting one day of the week in honor of the holy Virgin, and that for this our Lady had obtained for him the grace to be delivered from hell by that confession.

+ 15. There was once in Germany a certain criminal condemned to death; but he was obstinate and refused to make his confession, though a Jesuit father did his utmost to convert him. He entreated him, he wept, he cast himself at his feet; but seeing that all was in vain, he finally said: “Let us recite a Hail Mary.” No sooner had the criminal recited it than he began to cry bitterly, made his confession with much compunction, and wished to die clasping the image of Mary.

+ 16. In a city of Spain there lived a sinful man who had given himself to the devil, and had never been to confession. He did nothing good but say a “Hail Mary” every day. Father Eusebius Nierembergh relates, that when this man was at the point of death the most holy Virgin appeared to him in a dream and looked on him; her kind eyes so changed him that he immediately sent for a confessor, made his confession with a voice broken by sobs, made a vow to become a religious if he should live, and then died.

+ 25. A noble youth, named Eschylus, being bent by the prince his Father to Hildesheim, a city of Saxony, to study, abandoned himself to a dissolute life. He fell ill, and was near dying, and while in that state he had a vision. He saw himself shut up in a furnace of fire, and believed himself to be already in hell; and then he escaped from it through a hole and took refuge in a great place, where he found the most holy Mary in the hall, and she said to him: “Rash man, dost thou dare to appear before me? Depart from here and go to the flames which thou dost merit.” The young man besought the Virgin to have mercy on him, and then turned to some persons who were near, and implored them to recommend him to Mary. They did so, and the divine mother answered: “You do not know the sinful life he has led, and that he had not even thought of saying a Hail Mary in my honor.” But his advocates answered: “Oh Lady, he will change his life;” and the youth added: “Yes, I promise really to amend, and I will be thy servant.” Then the Virgin’s anger was appeased, and she said to him: “Well, I accept your promise; be faithful to me, and meanwhile, with my blessing, be delivered from hell and death.” When she had said this, the Virgin disappeared. Eschylus came to himself, and blessing Mary, related to others the grace he had received. He led ever after a holy life, always preserving a great affection towards the blessed Virgin, and was made Archbishop of the Church of Lude, in Denmark, where he converted many to the faith. Towards the close of his life, being old, he resigned the archbishopric and became a monk of Clairvaux, where he lived four years, and died a holy death. Hence he has been numbered by some writers among the saints of the Cistercian order.

+ 31. In Braganza there lived another youth who left the confraternity and abandoned himself to such vicious courses, that one day in despair, he was going to throw himself into a river. But first he turned to our Lady and said: “Oh Mary, I have served thee in the confraternity, wilt thou help me?” The most holy Virgin appeared to him and said: “What art thou doing? Dost thou wish to destroy both soul and body? Go, make thy confession, and return to the confraternity.” The youth, encouraged by this, thanked the Virgin, and amended his life.  

+ 35. In the year 1610, there lived in Turin an obstinate heretic, who even on his death-bed would not be converted by all that was said to him by the various priests who were with him for eight successive days. At length one of them, almost by force, brought him to have recourse to Mary, with these words: Mother of Jesus, help me: “Mater Jesu, assiste mihi.” And the heretic, as if awakened from sleep, exclaimed, “I will die a Catholic;” and indeed he became reconciled to the Church, and died in two hours.

+ 51. A certain canon, while he was repeating some devotions in honor of the divine mother, fell into the river Seine and was drowned, and being in mortal sin, the devils came to take him to hell. But Mary appeared at the same time, and said to them: “How have you dared to take possession of one who died praising me?” Then turning to the sinner, she said: “Repent, and be particularly devout to my Conception.” He was restored to life, became a religious, and never ceased to thank his deliverer, and everywhere to propagate the devotion to her Immaculate Conception.

+ 72. A person of impure life who had not the courage to quit his sins, began to say the Rosary, and was delivered from his vices.

+ 73. Another person who maintained a sinful friendship was seized with abhorrence of his sin by saying the Rosary. He yielded again to temptation, but by means of the Rosary finally freed himself from it.

+ 78. In the city of Cesena there lived two very bad men who were friends. One of them, named Bartholomew, in the midst of all his vices practised the devotion of reciting every day the “Stabat Mater” in honor of the sorrowful Mary. Once when he was repeating this hymn, Bartholomew had a vision, in which he seemed to stand with his sinful companion in a lake of fire, and saw the most holy Virgin, moved to pity, offer her hand and take him from the flames. She directed him to seek pardon from Jesus Christ, who showed himself willing to pardon him through the prayers of his mother. The vision ended, and Bartholomew at the moment heard the intelligence that his friend had been mortally wounded and was dead. Then he knew the truth of the vision, and quitting the world, entered the order of Capuchins, where he led a most austere life, and died in the fame of sanctity.

The SUPREME Duty And Privilege Of Every Christian: To “… set fire to the world…”

I want you to set fire to the world with this love of my Divine Heart, today extinguished in men’s hearts. Set fire! Set fire! I want to give my love to all men. I want to be loved by all. They do not accept it and do not love me. By you, I want this love to be kindled in all humanity…”

– Jesus to Bl. Alexandrina

Why were we created? So that we might know, love and serve God, and thereby save our souls and find everlasting happiness.

Why did God become man? So that we might know, love and serve God, and thereby save our souls and find everlasting happiness.

“To find Me, to know Me, to receive Me, then to come to Me -that is the only meaning of every life… I am the Alpha and Omega, your God and your All… How is it then that in so many lives, I am accepted and treated merely as something supplementary?”

– Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

Unfortunately, many neither know nor love God.

“Ah! If only they knew My Heart… mankind is ignorant of Its mercy and
goodness: that is My greatest sorrow.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa

We can help to change that!

Christians in particular have the great duty and privilege of converting sinners. How? Through love. Our love must extend to all because God desires to save all! Following the Saints, we are to pray for the grace to know and love God’s will; we must love our enemies, pray for sinners, and offer sacrifices for souls.

“The greatest charity is to take away souls from Satan and to bring them back to God!” 

– Saint Padre Pio

 “My daughter, I want to instruct you on how you are to rescue souls through sacrifice and prayer. You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone.”

– Jesus to St. Faustina

“In this matter, no sacrifice is too insignificant.”

– Jesus to St. Faustina

We are called to spread God’s love. We do this by leading holy lives.

 “LOVE IS SANCTITY. The more you love Me, the holier you will become.”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata

Like Bl. Alexandrina, Jesus invites- nay, urges– us to love Him and our neighbour. Meditation on the Passion will help us to love our enemies, just as Christ loved us. Who, considering all Jesus has done for us, can have a bitter heart? Daily we must pray for humility!

God is a “consuming fire” of love. This love causes us to suffer at times, as we have to be purified from the darkness of sin and earthly attachments. Neverthless, we must not be discouraged.

  “The Lord is equally kind when He apportions affliction as when He gives consolations.”

– St. Francis de Sales

We should consider every suffering a mere trifle in comparison with what we have deserved. Thanks be to God! Also, we should offer to God our every difficulty- however small– for the love of God and for the salvation of souls: That means more souls who will be loving God for all eternity! God desires that we become saints, so that He can live again in us!

“Benigna, I cannot make thee a saint unless thou give me the key of thy will; but if thou give it to me, I can make thee not only a saint but a great saint.”

– Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

 The more we are united to God’s will, the more He will live in us, and the more we will be filled with His dispositions: His love, His peace, His joy. Jesus referred to this as a “mystical incarnation” (to Conchita Cabrera), whereby Jesus once again lives in our hearts! In fact, certain privileged saints, such as St. Gertrude and St. Catherine, were given the Sacred Heart of Jesus with which to love Him!

How can we love Jesus with all our heart?

“My Benigna, thou canst never love Me with all thy heart, as I wish to be loved by thee, unless thou dost hate thyself* with all thy heart. Sacrifice thy personal interests and gratifications to the greater glory of God… Sinners hate Me; do thou love Me with all thy strength; sinners blaspheme My Holy Name; do thou praise Me; sinners banish Me from their memory; do thou keep Me ever present before thy mind, discarding every other thought. Let all thy actions bear the impress of Reparation and thou wilt console My Heart. Let thy life be a life of Love and Reparation. I wish to live in thee… I wish to see with thy eyes, to speak with thy mouth, to hear with thy ears, to walk with thy steps, to labor with thy hands.”

* “The remedy for pride is also to tell ourselves that there is in us something inferior to nothingness itself: the disorder of sin and its effects. As sinners, we deserve scorn and all humiliations; the Saints have thought so, and they certainly judged better than we” – Lagrange (Put simply: hate sin, disorder etc. Of course we must remember that God loves us infinitely! Do not misunderstand this point!)

 

 

A Revelation From God To All: Atheists, Christians…

Words of Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez:

My appeal is addressed to all: to those consecrated in religion and those living in the world, to the good and to sinners, to the learned and the illiterate, to those in authority and to those who obey. To each of them I come to say: if you seek happiness you will
find it in Me. If riches, I am infinite wealth. If you desire peace, in Me alone is peace found. I am Mercy and Love! and I must be sovereign King…

I am your God and your Father, your Creator and your Saviour. You are My creatures, My sons, bought at the price of My life and Heart’s Blood, which I shed to free you from slavery and the tyranny of sin… All you, whose craving for affection is unsatisfied, remember that you were made to love that which is eternal, not that which passes with time… Perhaps you will answer Me, ‘I have no faith, nor do I believe in a future happiness.’ Have you no faith?  Then how is it that you persecute Me? … Why do you rebel against My laws, and war against those who love Me?  And since you desire freedom for yourselves, why not grant it to others? You say you do not believe in a future life? … Tell Me: are you perfectly contented here and do you never feel a yearning for that which it is not possible to obtain here below? If after seeking for enjoyment, you succeed in obtaining it, does it satisfy your cravings? If after pursuing riches, you at last possess them, have you ever enough? … If you feel the need of affection, and one day find it, are you not soon tired of it? … None of these things is what you long for, and here below you will never obtain all that your heart desires. Your craving is peace; not the peace of this world, but that of the children of God; and how do you expect to find it in the midst of rebellion? That is why I have come to show you where true peace and happiness are to be found, and where you can slake the thirst that for so long has consumed you. Do not rebel when I tell you that all these things are to be found in accomplishing My law.  Do not fear this word law, for My law is no tyranny but a law of love, because I am your God and your Father. You know that in a well-regulated army, discipline must be maintained, just as in a household there must be established customs. So in the great family of Jesus Christ there must be law, albeit a law of love… I realize that you do not know Me or love Me, but rather detest and persecute Me.  On My part, I love you with an infinite tenderness, and I want you to know this heritage which is yours by right, and know also the means to acquire it: Believe in My love and My mercy… Do not imagine that I am ignorant of your state of soul.  I know that you have despised my grace, perhaps even profaned My Sacraments.  Yet you have from Me a full pardon. If then you would be happy in this world and at the same time secure your eternal salvation, do as I tell you: … Both employer and employed must accept the law of labour with submission, acknowledging a Supreme Being over all created things, who is both your God and your Father. As God, He demands of you the accomplishment of His divine law. As your Father, He asks you to accept His commandments in a spirit of filial piety. Thus, when you have spent a week in the pursuit of work, business or sport, He claims but one half-hour, that you may fulfil your Sunday duty. Is this excessive? Go then to your Father’s House, where day and night He awaits your coming, and as Sundays and Holidays recur, give Him the homage of this half hour by assisting at the Mystery of Love and Mercy, that is, Holy Mass. Tell Him about everything: about your families, your children, your business, your desires… Lay at His feet your sorrows, difficulties and sufferings… believe in the interest and love with which He listens to your prayer. You may perhaps say to Me: ‘I have not entered a church for so many years that I have forgotten how to hear Mass.’ Do not be afraid on that account … Come, spend this half-hour with Me; your conscience will tell you what to do, and be docile to its voice… Open your soul wide to grace, and it will inspire you… Youth, wealth, wisdom, human glory, all that is nothing; it will all end with this life; God only will endure forever.”

Personally, I believe that Christianity best makes sense of human suffering, love, intentionality, beauty, morality, guilt, pride, and a host of other things that reason unaided is at a loss to explain (convincingly).

I would be happy to discuss anything with you. 

All the best.  

 

 

 “The lives of the Saints are nothing but the Gospel put into practice.”

God’s Unfathomable Mercy: Deathbed Conversions

*If you do not have time to read the introduction, please skip to the conversion stories. They start with this symbol +

“Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least.”

– Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary, 1777

St. Bernard, St. Benedict and others remind us that the surest way to ensure a happy death is to live a good life (Eccles. 11:3). St. Francis of Assisi welcomed “sister death.” He came to see death as an entrance into eternal joy with his Beloved. This is what death will be like for those who- following St. Francis and others- live prayerful lives, bear their sufferings patiently, and avoid deliberate sin.  

To those who do not do this, I repeat the words of St. Alphonsus Liguori: “Some would wish to be saved and to become saints, but never resolve to adopt the means of salvation, such as meditation, the frequentation of the sacraments, detachment from creatures; or, if they adopt these means, they soon give them up. In a word, they are satisfied with fruitless desires, and thus continue to live in enmity with God, or at least in tepidity, which, in the end, leads them to the loss of God. Thus in them are verified the words of the Holy Ghost, desires kill the slothful.”

Does this sound like a description of our life thus far? If so, join me in saying “thanks be to God!” for having shown us the narrow path that leads to Heaven! What a blessing! There is still time to change our course!

Many are unaware of what they must do to be saved. For these souls we must pray and offer sacrifices. This is the grave obligation of every Christian. The Mass, which is a mystical renewal of the sacrifice at Calvary, is the most powerful offering for the conversion of sinners. If we cannot attend Mass frequently, we can at least offer our actions and prayers for sinners- especially the Rosary.

If we do not pray for sinners, we cannot say that we are following Christ, Whose entire life was offered for sinners. We must continue His work of redemption. “I have need of your sufferings to rescue souls”, said Our Lord to St. Faustina (Diary 1612). He repeats the same words to us. If we are attentive, we will ‘hear’ them resounding in the depths of our hearts.

Here are some beautiful anecdotes that should encourage us to pray and hope for the salvation of souls- including those who appear to have rejected God:

+ Even when we see no sign of contrition, we can still not affirm that, at the last moment, just before the separation of soul from body, the soul is definitively obstinate. A sinner may be converted at that last minute in such fashion that God alone can know it. The holy Cure of Ars, divinely enlightened, said to a weeping widow: “Your prayer, Madame, has been heard. Your husband is saved. When he threw himself into the Rhone, the Blessed Virgin obtained for him the grace of conversion just before he died. Recall how, a month before, in your garden, he plucked the most beautiful rose and said to you, ‘Carry this to the altar of the Blessed Virgin.’ She has not forgotten.” (Garrigou Lagrange, Life Everlasting)

+ St. John Bosco came to the bed of a dying Freemason. This Freemason said to him: “Don’t speak to me of religion. Otherwise here is a revolver whose bullet is for you and another one whose bullet is for me.” “Well, then” said the saint, “let us speak of something else.” Then Bosco spoke to him of Voltaire, relating the latter’s life. Toward the end of his account, Bosco said: “Some say that Voltaire never repented and had a bad death. This I do not say, because I do not know.” “You mean,” said the Freemason, “that even Voltaire could repent?” “Oh, certainly.” “Then I, too, could repent.” Thus this man who was in despair seems to have had a good death.  (Garrigou Lagrange, Life Everlasting)

+God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything were lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God’s powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God absolution of sins and remission of punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things. Oh, how beyond comprehension is God’s mercy! But – horror! – There are also souls who voluntarily and consciously reject and scorn this grace!” (St. Faustina, Diary, 1698)

+ “In the lowest and most painful (degree of Purgatory)… here there are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life.” (Revelation from a soul in Purgatory to Sister M. de L.C, from “An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory”)

+ Here is a beautiful story taken from the Transalpine Redemptorists’ website: http://papastronsay.blogspot.com.au/

Father Hermann Cohen’s mother died without receiving Holy Baptism. In the eyes of the unwise ‘she died as an unconverted Jewess’ in spite of the many prayers offered for her by her priestly son…

The last moments for Mrs. Cohen arrived on 13 December 1855. Father Hermann was preaching Advent in Lyons at the time and he announced this sad news to his friend in these terms: “God has struck a terrible blow to my heart. My poor mother is dead … and I remain in incertitude! However we have so much prayed that we must hope that something has passed between her soul and God during these last moments that we cannot know about.” We can easily imagine the pain of Father Hermann in learning of the death of his mother. He had so much prayed and so much had prayers said for her conversion, and she came to appear before the tribunal of God without having received holy Baptism!

“I also have a mother,” would he write one day, “I have left her to follow Jesus Christ, she no longer calls me her ‘good son’. Already her hair is silvered, already her brow is furrowed, and I am afraid to see her die. Oh! no I would not like to see her die before loving Jesus Christ, and already for many years I await for my mother that which Monica awaited for Augustine…” God seemed to have despised all his prayers and rejected his loving and legitimate desires. His faith and his love were put through a harsh trial. Nevertheless, if his sorrow was deep, his hope in the infinite goodness of God would not allow itself to be struck down…

A short time later, he confided to the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney) his disquiet about the death of his poor mother who died without the grace of Baptism. “Hope!” replied the man of God, “hope; you will receive one day, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception a letter that will bring you great consolation.”

These words were almost forgotten, when, on the 8th December 1861, six years after the death of his mother, a Father of the Company of Jesus handed to Father Hermann the following letter. (The person who wrote this letter died in the odour of sanctity; she was well known in the religious and ascetical world by her written works on the Eucharist.) The letter read:

On the 18th October, after Holy Communion, I found myself in one of those moments of intimate union with Our Lord, where he made me so feel his presence in the sacrament of His love that Faith seemed no longer necessary to believe him there. After a short time, He had me hear His voice and He wanted to give me some explanations relative to a conversation that I had had the night before. I remember that, in that conversation, one of my friends had manifested her surprise that Our Lord, who has promised to accord everything to prayer, had however remained deaf to those of Reverend Father Hermann who had so many times addressed Him to obtain the conversion of his mother; her surprise went almost as far as discontentment, and I had had difficulty in having her understand that we must adore the justice of God and not to seek to penetrate its secrets (a good tip for those who fear God excessively). I dared to ask of my Jesus how it was that He, who was goodness itself, had been able to resist the prayers of Father Hermann, and not grant the conversion of his mother. This was His (Our Lord’s) response:

“Why does Anna always want to sound the secrets of my justice and why does she seek to penetrate mysteries that she cannot comprehend? Tell her that I do not owe my grace to anyone, that I give it to whom I please and that in acting in this way I do not cease to be just, and justice itself. But that she may know that, rather than not keep the promises that I have made to prayer, I will upset heaven and earth, and that every prayer that has my glory and the salvation of souls for object is always heard when it is clothed in the necessary qualities.

(Our Lord said to Sr. Mary of the Trinity that we must desire what we pray for. We must also pray perseveringly. If we are unwilling to make sacrifices for others, perhaps we do not truly desire that for which we pray?)

He added:

“And to prove to you this truth, I willingly make known that which passed at the moment of the death of the mother of Father Hermann.”

My Jesus then enlightened me with a ray of His divine light and had me understand or rather to see in Him that which I want to try to relate. At the moment where the mother of Father Hermann was on the point of rendering her last breath; at the moment that she seemed deprived of awareness, almost without life; Mary, our good Mother, presented Herself before Her Divine Son, and prostrate at His feet, She said to Him:

“Pardon and mercy, o my Son! for this soul who is going to perish. Yet another instant and she will be lost, lost for eternity. I beseech you, do for the mother of my servant Hermann, that which you would like to be done for your own, if She was in her place and if you were in his. The soul of his mother is his most precious good; he has consecrated her to me a thousand times; he has consecrated her to the tenderness and solicitude of my heart. Could I suffer her to perish? No, no, this soul is mine; I will it, I claim it as an inheritance, as the price of your blood and of my sufferings at the foot of your Cross.”

Hardly had the sacred suppliant ceased speaking, when a strong, powerful grace, came forth from the source of all graces, from the adorable Heart of our Jesus, and came to enlighten the soul of the poor dying Jewess; instantly triumphing over her stubbornness and resistances. This soul immediately turned herself with loving confidence towards Him whose mercy had pursued her as far as the arms of death and said to Him: “O Jesus, God of the Christians, God whom my son adores, I believe, I hope in Thee, have pity on me.” In this cry, heard by God alone and which came from the intimate depths of the heart of the dying woman, were enclosed the sincere sorrow for her obstinacy and for her sins, the desire of baptism, the express will to receive it and to live according to the rules and precepts of our holy religion, if she had been able to return to life.

This leap of faith and hope in Jesus was the last sentiment of that soul; it was made at the moment when she brought towards the throne of the divine mercy. Breaking away the weak bonds which held her to her mortal casing, she fell at the feet of Him who had been her Saviour (a moment) before being her Judge.” After having showed me all these things, Our Lord added:

“Make this known to Father Hermann; it is a consolation that I wish to accord to his long sorrows, so that he will bless, and have blessed everywhere, the goodness of the heart of my Mother and Her power over mine.”

After admonishing sinners, Our Lord addresses the following words to sinners (through St. Bridget):

“MY MERCY, HOWEVER, IS THAT NONE OF MY ENEMIES IS SO THOROUGH OR SO GREAT A SINNER THAT I WOULD DENY HIM MY FORGIVENESS IF HE WERE TO ASK FOR IT HUMBLY AND WHOLEHEARTEDLY.”