An Amazing Conversion Story: From Apostate to Saint

This story is recounted by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange (in his work, ‘Life Everlasting’):

“I knew a man who had been reared as a good Christian, but who had wandered away from God. After having lost his wife and his only son, the son being an angel of piety, he was assailed by a terrible temptation to despair, a temptation which lasted many months. He determined to kill himself. On the day when he went to do so, at the instant when, in Tulle, he was about to throw himself into a ravine, his sister and the Carmelite nuns were praying ardently for him. At the very moment our Lord appeared to him, sad and sorrowful, and called him by his baptismal name: “Joseph.” After this view of the mercy of God, Joseph
Maisonneuve, [124] that was his name, understood that the redemption was meant also for him. He was converted completely. He became sweet and humble of heart. He expiated his sins by severe penance up to his last hour, dying in the odor of sanctity. He is called the holy man of Tulle. Many wonderful cures were wrought by his intercession. Even during life his prayer worked wonders. In his own village he had a friend who led a bad life. The saint prayed nightly, his arms in the form of a cross, and he performed severe penances to obtain this grace. One day he learned that his friend had shot himself, but that he was not yet dead. The saint at once went to him. The dying man had twenty-four hours to live. Joseph Maisonneuve exhorted him so well that he repented and died a most Christian death.”

God is “rich in mercy”!

But “almost all souls are lost”, say some (including certain saints, who at times appeal to alleged visions etc.). Listen, dear reader. The saints are not infallible. Not all visions and revelations come from God. Not all words come from reliable sources. Many revelations contradict each other (believe me). Only God knows the number of those who will persevere. Regardless of this number, let us not wish to run from the truth, whatever it may be. Instead, let us accept God’s unfathomable goodness, which is no less loveable when punishing unrepentant sinners. Meanwhile, let us turn our attention to the love and mercy of God:

“A single burning prayer of the seraphic St. Theresa (as was learned through a highly creditable revelation) converted ten thousand heretics.”

– Taken from ‘The Soul of The Apostolate’ by Jean Baptiste Chautard

“You see, I long to have My creatures serve Me out of love. Therefore, if a soul avoids some fault for fear of My chastisements, that is not what I am longing for from My creatures. I desire to be loved; I crave the love of My creatures! When they will come to love Me, they will no longer offend Me. When two people really love each other, they never offend each other. That is precisely the way it ought to be between the Creator and His creatures.”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

 “A religious was preaching a retreat at Thielt, and a servant girl had been present at the opening sermon in which the preacher said that the souls going to Heaven were as few in number as the leaves that remain on the trees in winter. This remark caused so great a displeasure to the woman that she stayed away from the rest of the sermons. When she mentioned this occurrence later on to Father Paul [the Benedictine “wonderworker”]  he said: “You did right, for in making such a statement the preacher outraged the infinite goodness of God.”

(Taken from p. 253 of ‘The Very Rev. Fr. Paul of Moll…’)

“Having heard a preacher declare that no person could be saved without the love of God, and that all must at least have so much of it as would lead them to repent and to abstain from sin, the Saint began to think that many, when dying, seemed to repent more from fear of hell than from the love of God. Our Lord replied:

“When I behold anyone in his agony who has thought of Me with pleasure, or who has performed any works deserving of reward, I appear to him at the moment of death with a countenance so full of love and mercy, that he repents from his inmost heart for having ever offended Me, and he is saved by this repentance. I desire, therefore, that My elect should acknowledge this mercy by thanksgivings, and that they should praise Me for this amongst the greater number of benefits from which they receive from Me.”

– From ‘The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude’

You see, things are not so straightforward. If certain subjects lead you to doubt God’s goodness, avoid them. Here is a book that I strongly suggest for all, but especially for those inclined to doubt, discouragement, sadness, melancholy etc:

‘Consoling Thoughts of St. Francis de Sales’: