The Conversion of Four Hardened Sinners

“I would gladly die for the sake of humanity all over again, if it were possible.”

– Jesus said to St. Bridget of Sweden

The Christian faith is one of perseverance. Love sets no limits. The Holy Spirit says through St. Peter: “And if the just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the wicked and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter: 4) St. Leonard, in one of his sermons, said: “Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved.” Salvation is a gift that God is infinitely eager to give; He suffered and died for us so that we may receive this inestimable treasure. Can we honestly say that we would rather die than commit mortal sin? If not, then we do not desire to be saved (nor do we desire the salvation of others) as much as God desires to save us! (This, of course, is impossible!)

Why, then, do we not have more confidence in Him? If we are lacking in confidence, it is likely to be because we rely too much on ourselves, and because we make weak/vague resolutions to attain holiness. May our most merciful God give us a profound humility, a love for Him, and a desire for holiness and the salvations of souls! Before reading some beautiful conversion stories, here are some words of encouragement:

+ “Lost nations! Wake up for once, and if you want to ensure your eternity, commend yourself to God, have frequent recourse to Him, through these words or ones like them: ‘My Jesus, mercy!’ And I give you my word, since Jesus Christ gave you His before I did in His holy Gospel: ‘Ask, and it will be given you’ (Mt. 7:7), ask My help and you will have it, and with My help you will sin no more.’ I give you my word, I repeat – if you commend yourselves often to God by saying ‘My Jesus, mercy!’ from the bottom of your heart, you will sin no more, and you will be saved.” – St. Leonard

+ He damns only those who are determined not to be converted; they who have a spark of good will are saved.”

– Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich

+ “I saw too that, by prayer and the offering of sufferings for others, many souls that have done no good upon earth may be converted and saved at the hour of death.”

– Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich

1. (Taken from ‘The Sacred Heart: anecdotes and examples to assist in promoting the devotion to the Sacred Heart,’ 1899)

The following is a letter addressed to the Rev. Father Ramiere, the zealous promoter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart and of the Apostleship of Prayer: “Reverend and Dear Father: The arm of the Lord is not shortened. Yesterday it worked a great miracle in my behalf. Permit me to tell you all about it, so that you and all who read the account of my conversion, may unite with me in praising and thanking the infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart. I was sent, at the age of twelve, to an excellent and fashionable boarding school, where the teachers were a pattern of devotedness and zeal. But the spirit of darkness, who crept into the Garden of Eden, crept also into our dear institute. I was the one chosen by it to fall into its snares, and from a little angel was soon transformed into a veritable little fiend. It was sufficient to speak of confession, Holy Communion, or even to mention the name of God, to make me scoff and laugh at what was said. One day after my music-lesson, weary of the repeated remonstrances of my teacher, I exclaimed in a mocking tone: Satan, I give you my heart; come and take possession of it, it shall be ever yours. From that moment I never knew what it was to have a single hour of happiness. Satan was indeed my master, and left me no peace. I no longer loved God or the saints, but there was still a spark of affection left for our blessed Lady. Remorse tormented me, but I had not the courage to reveal to any one the torture I was enduring. A lady who took great interest in me and watched me closely, could not help exclaiming, on hearing me laugh: That is not the laugh of a human being, but of a devil. She was not mistaken. At last one of my friends, in the hopes of bringing about my conversion, proposed to me to join with her in making a novena to the Sacred Heart. Through the mediation of our blessed Lady, and for the sake of Our Lady, I consented. From the very first day I felt a change had taken place in me. I was no longer the same being, and on the last day of the novena Mass was said in honor of the Sacred Heart to obtain my conversion. Since then God has continued His work of mercy in my behalf. I am now, through a good confession, reconciled to Him and I intend consecrating the remainder of my life to that dear Saviour whose enemy I have been for the last eight weary years. Oh, pray for me, pray for me.”

2. (Taken from ‘The Glories of the Precious Blood’)

Eusebius of Caesarea, the “Father of Ecclesiastical History”, tells us how St. John the Apostle brought into Christ s fold a robber, whose life had been one long catalogue of crimes, and, when the poor man despaired of obtaining mercy from God, how the saint encouraged him by saying: “Fear not, my son; thou mayest yet hope for salvation: I will satisfy Jesus Christ for thee, I will gladly undergo death for love of thee, as the Lord endureth it for us. I will give my soul in the place of thine.” Thus did St. John pass on the satisfactions gained by himself to that poor sinner.

3. (Taken from ‘Saint Anthony: anecdotes proving the miraculous power of St. Anthony,’ 1899)

A man had for twenty-four years concealed in confession a grievous mortal sin, so that every time he received the sacraments he committed fresh sacrileges. At last a ray of light pierced through his darkened soul, and he implored the assistance of St. Anthony. One day whilst saying his prayers the saint appeared, and so forcibly pointed out to him the infinite justice of God, and the danger of eternal damnation, that, filled with terror, the poor sinner hastened to make a good confession and to be reconciled with God. 

4. (Taken from ‘The Life of St. Frances of Rome,’ 1855) 

The kind of apostolate which by this time she exercised in Rome was very remarkable; and her power over men’s minds and hearts scarcely short of miraculous. There was a subduing charm, an irresistible influence in her words and in her manner, which told on every variety of persons. The expression of her countenance, the tones of her voice, her mere presence, worked wonders in effecting conversions, and in animating to virtue those whom she approached. Her gift of reading the thoughts of others, which had increased ever since the archangel had become her companion, enabled her in several instances to bring about conversions, several of which are related at length by her biographers. Amongst them was that of a young woman who was lying dangerously ill in one of the hospitals of the city. Francesca had been distributing food to the sick, and was then attending the death-bed of a young man, who was about to receive the last Sacraments, when a piercing cry from one of the adjoining wards reached her ears. She hastened to the spot, and found a young woman stretched on one of the narrow beds, and dying in all the agonies of despair. No sooner had she looked upon the poor creature than her dreadful history was supernaturally revealed to her. She had some time before had an illegitimate child, and, under the pressure of shame and terror, had destroyed it. The consciousness of this crime was driving her to despair, and she had not courage to confess it. But now words were whispered in her ear, which went straight to the point on which the awful struggle turned; which spoke of the horrible misery of dying impenitent and unabsolved, and of the boundless mercy which has provided a remedy for the deepest stains of sin, the Blood of Jesus applied to the soul by the grace of the Sacrament. For a long time the poor creature resisted, turned her head away, and refused to be comforted. But when Francesca, in still more pressing terms, alluded to the intolerable burden of an unacknowledged crime, of the life-giving humiliation of a sincere confession, of the dire confusion of an unforgiven soul on the Day of Judgment; of the love of Jesus, of the tenderness of Mary, of the indulgence of the Church, the sweetness of pardon, the peace of reconciliation; then the stubborn heart yielded, the seared spirit was softened. Bursting into tears, the dying sufferer exclaimed, “A priest! A priest!” and one was at hand at the first call of contrition, and answered that expiring cry, as Matthew did the royal prophet’s confession: “The Lord forgives; thou shalt not perish.” And shortly after in Francesca’s arms the pardoned sinner breathed her last.

Deo Gratias!

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