Let your voice, the voice which asks for the life of my erring children sound in my ears. - Canticle 2:14
If such as we are, just and sinners, we can all boast of the glorious title of children of Mary, if it be true that she is our Mother, that she loves us a thousand times more than any mother can love her child, alas! how rent and torn must our Mother's Heart be! How many rebellious and ungrateful children does she count! How many does she behold daily perish before her eyes! What is the grief of a mother from whose embrace death has snatched a beloved child; how bitter seems to her all the joys and consolations of the world, now that her little one is no longer visible! Such, and incomparably more inexpressible still, is the pain of Mary's Heart when she beholds children that cost her so dear suspended over the abyss of perdition, on the point of being engulfed therein for ever. This sight was for her, during her life, a continued martyrdom, as she disclosed to one of her friends, and one capable of causing her death at each instant, had not God by His power preserved her. Oh! how ardently she besought her Divine Son to restore to her those children of her sorrow. What tears accompanied her supplications! How willingly would she have undergone a thousand deaths for each one of them!
Can we, then, we whom the Lord hath regarded in His mercy, we who are so happy as to comprehend, lo share in the anguish of our Mother, can we believe we really love her, and not cast ourselves at the feet of the divine justice to obtain the revocation of that decree impending over the heads of our brethren, to wrest from the enemy souls so dearly loved by our Mother? Through her exertions, doubtless, some are restored to life; but alas! "What are these among so many?" The Holy Ghost compares the souls that profit by the Redemption to the few olives that remain after the gathering, to the grapes left behind when the vintage is ended. + Poor souls! Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi saw them fall into hell, like to flakes of a heavy snowstorm in winter! Mary, to whom we are indebted for all, expects that we will come to her aid, in rescuing them from so dire a calamity; not that she wants either the ability or desire to succour them, but she requires to be besought to this effect, and such is the proof of love she demands from us.
All we, children of Mary, whether we have known her, loved her from infancy, whether she has withdrawn us from death to the admirable light amidst which her children walk, let us unite to attract a great number of souls in our track; let us never cease with uplifted hands to implore Heaven in behalf of our brethren engaged in the battle of life, and on the point of succumbing to the efforts of their enemies; let us not remain insensible to their perils, their disasters, the mortal wounds with which they are covered; let us parry the thrusts aimed at them, let us snatch them from eternal perdition; let us cry out with the Church - "Save, O Mother, save your people, your children, bless your inheritance, but bless them with that omnipotent benediction which makes the elect, the Saints".
Let us unite in heart and affections with the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary, which has so wonderfully discovered the way to that Heart which forgets self to think of perishing souls. Let us pray, and let us be assured of the success of our prayers. In effect, in all my other petitions I may be mistaken; if I solicit health, life for myself or others, these gifts might be, perchance, the greatest misfortunes; but when, touched by the danger incurred by my brethren, I implore Mary to grant me their souls, when I repeat to her a thousand times a day, "Give me souls"; then it is I may pray with confidence, with importunity. This gift that I solicit, the Blood of Jesus, the most ardent desire of Mary's Heart, sustains me in asking it. Far from my prayer being importunate to the Mother of Mercy, she longs for it impatiently; she is not wearied with its repetition, and seems to say to me in her turn- "Ah! let your voice, that voice that supplicates life for my erring children, sound again - and again in my ears. Pray, beseech, again and again, be never wearied, I can accomplish more than you can even hope for."
A great servant of God, Sister Seraphina of Capria, having besought the Blessed Virgin, during the novena of her Assumption, to grant her the conversion of a thousand sinners, afterwards feared having asked too much. Mary, chiding her for this vain fear, said - "Do you believe, then, that I have not sufficient credit with my Son to obtain the conversion of a thousand sinners? I grant them to you at once."
But would it be forgetting our own interests thus to employ all our prayers and good works for the salvation of souls? Far from it, it is to fulfill the greatest, the first of the commandments, that in which all others are comprised; it is to love God with the most perfect love, to love the neighbour as much and more than self, after the example of Jesus and Mary; it is to love Him even as these divine models have loved us. "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
Oh! how powerful over Mary's heart in favour of self is the soul that has saved even one of her children from eternal perdition! Could this compassionate Mother deny her anything during the days of her pilgrimage! And when her hour of death has arrived, how easy will she contrive to render that final journey to her! How tenderly will she say to her, in welcoming her to Heaven, "Arise, my beloved - Surge arnica mea; you sympathized with me. in my heaviest tribulations, you won back to me souls redeemed with the precious Blood of my Son; come to be crowned at the hands of your Mother. Enter into the joy, the merits of these poor souls, enter into the joy of your Mother, and that of my Divine Son Himself, 'enter into the joy of thy Lord'."
To pray for sinners is before God one of the most precious spiritual works of mercy; it is to cooperate, as far as lies in us, in the work of the redemption, to practise that great charity that covereth a multitude of sins - Charitas operit multitudinem peccatorum .* Therefore let no day pass without recommending to Jesus and Mary these souls so dearly purchased by them. Should you be a member of the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is devoted to this work, not only be faithful to the "Hail Mary" prescribed, but in order to enter into the true spirit of this Association, act so that, at least in intention, all your good works may be directed to this sublime end - "The greater glory of God through Mary, and the salvation of souls."
O Mary! reserve for others the riches of this world; all I desire, all I ask of you, is souls.
Mr. D, who had formerly served in the navy, was a frank and loyal man; but there his religion ended. He held Priests in abhorrence, had received none but the first of the Sacraments, and Matrimony without confession. He was in the fiftieth year of his age. An invalid for a long period, his illness assumed a serious aspect in the beginning of the year 1834, and he was obliged to keep his bed. In a short time the physicians declared his case hopeless. His daughter, educated at a convent in Paris, had made her first Communion some months before; and her father, already attacked by the chest disease which finally carried him off, was at that time a great source of solicitude. She was often found bathed in tears, and when interrogated as to the cause of her grief, she would reply - "Papa is so ill, and he will die without Sacraments." She had, so to speak, solicited but one favour on the day of first Communion - the conversion of her father, and her companions had joined their supplications to hers, for the same intention. These pious children persevered for eight months, with Leonie, in soliciting the same favour.
Not till the last hour was this happy elect one to be called by God. Mary, Refuge of Sinners, was for him the channel of grace. A relative of the sick man, a Nun, attempted to write to him, and although she did not approach the main point, Mr. D , fearing something more serious, flings the letter aside, saying, "My cousin would have me confess and communicate; but I have no faith in these formalities - they are mere priestcraft; besides, 1 have neither killed nor stolen. I thank God, I am an hoipurable man, and I have the fullest confidence in the divine mercy." Sister B, sent by his relative to visit him, replied, that if he consented to see a Priest, this latter would soon prove to him that to ensure salvation it required more than to be an honest man. "Above all, bring none of these folk about me," said he, with vivacity, "I will positively not see them."
Every second day Sister B visited her patient, with no greater success. It then became evident that they should look to God alone. Accordingly, they began a no vena of Mentor ares, and caused a miraculous medal to be presented to the sick man, with a request that he would wear it for fifteen days, and then restore it; it would then be, his cousin said, a remembrance of him, which she would be happy to preserve. "Oh!" said he, "I am not to be duped by this trick. After all," he added, smilingly, "it will feel like two sous in my pocket. But stay, to show you that I am not prejudiced, I will wear it on my neck." The effect of the powerful intercession of the Mother of Mercy was so prompt, that by the morrow our patient had altered both language and sentiments. "I know not how it is," he said, "but I would not be sorry if you brought me a Priest; I would willingly see him." However, they deemed it advisable not to be in a hurry. The day following, not only was he in the same frame of mind, but was even extremely disturbed that his request had not yet been complied with. "Do call in Mr. C," he asked; "I am impatient to see him. I am sensible I have no faith; but I desire nothing so much as to possess it. Pray get others to pray that I may believe. Confession," he continued, "is not the main point;" so had this faith he had so heartily invoked already grown in his heart; "it is absolution. What if I profaned the Sacrament, if I made a sacrilegious Communion?" "Then your faith is greater than you think." "No, it is only I desire to have it; pray, for I wish to perform the act in a Christian manner."
In effect Mr. C came, and began by discussing with him those points of religion that most perplexed him - the mysteries, the scandal given by bad Christians, etc. etc. He fully satisfied him.
"I am enchanted," he said to Sister B, when she came to see him; "Mr. C told me he did not understand the mysteries better than myself, and that I was not obliged to comprehend them in order to be saved. Ah! how I regret," he added, "not to have known religion sooner. I fancied it a monster, and now I see it produces only con- solations."
A still more reassuring feature in this conversion was, that the sufferer, like all consumptive patients, had no idea of death; nay, promised himself a speedy recovery. "I am prepared," he often said, "to fulfill whatever religion prescribes. I have made Mr. C a disclosure of my entire life, but this is not sufficient." In effect, he had not yet made his confession. God permitting him a few days after this to experience a violent crisis, during which his death was feared, Mr. C was sent for in haste.
He heard his confession, and gave him absolution. "My good Father," said the patient, when all was concluded, "when you have a few moments to lose, come, spend them with this poor sinner." Next day, the Holy Oils were administered to him, also the Viaticum, which was his first Communion. During the interval, he had asked his daughter, a girl of twelve, to recite with him appropriate acts. Seeing the credence table, whereon the Blessed Sacrament was to be laid, he said, "Bring Leonie's statue of the Blessed Virgin, and place it here." It was to Mary he owed his happiness, and so would have her preside at the ceremony. Moreover, as he had often discussed religious points with a good Christian lady, a relative of his, he wished, in reparation of the scandal he might have given her, to make her a witness of his sincere conversion, and had her invited to be present on the day he was administered. He remained in profound recollection until the arrival of Mr. C. After the short exhortation which was addressed to him, he offered his hands himself to be anointed, with so penetrated, so reverent an air, it moved all present to tears. He then received Holy Communion.
When Sister B and Mr. C were taking leave, he said, "I cannot find words to express the happiness I feel and my heartfelt gratitude for all your cares. Mr. C declared that never in the whole course of his ministry had he witnessed so sincere a return on a death-bed, nor had he ever experienced so much consolation in the administration of the last Sacraments.
Our patient had been only in time in his measures, for next day he felt much worse, and vomited blood. His friends continued their visits, and he invariably begged for prayers, adding, "Oh, you do not know what a great sinner I am." Whenever the acts of faith, hope, and charity, or any other short prayer was suggested to him. although he could hardly turn in the bed, he sat up, to recite them more respectfully. He had received the last Sacraments in the afternoon of Thursday, 5th February, Feast of the Japonian Martyrs, and on the following Sunday, at five o'clock in the morning, he expired, calmly, without agony, God, by a last effect of His mercy, sparing him the terrors usually attendant on the last passage, and the final combat against the enemy of salvation. Happy, a thousand times happy, for that, being called only at the last hour through the mediation of Mary, the hope of the forlorn, he merited to receive the reward with those who had borne "the burden of the day and the heats."
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
Vanity of vanities and all is vanity. - Eccles. 1:2
My soul, wearied with useless labours, comes to You buried in this tabernacle, O Jesus, to obtain comfort by relating her vexations. O Lord, support of my weakness, repairer of my falls, where am I going? How do my days, my hours, my years pass? Life glides on, at a distance from You, in trifles which afflict me. This rapid river called time I allow to glide and overflow the land. It is lost, instead of joining You, O great Ocean, in which all is again found. Will You not pity my misery, my helplessness? My soul flies towards You with impetuous desires, then falls again to earth, where nothing can satisfy her. All outside of You is vanity - vanity and folly. The affection, the conversation of creatures, vanity; their praises, vanity; science and labour, vanity; repose, joy, sorrow, all that is not You, undertaken, suffered for You, vanity, folly, misery. Yet by these well known snares I allow myself to be taken daily! Oh, who will deliver me from this death that is called life? Your love, Your love alone. Holy Father, give me the love of Jesus; I implore it through Jesus, Who solicits it for me with extended and suppliant arms, nailed to the Cross; through Jesus, Who remains a Victim in this Sacrament only to gain hearts.
Mary obtain this grace for me containing every other - to love Jesus even to hatred of self. O you, who only consoled yourself for the labours rendered by your Divine Son in the thought of the grateful love of mankind, listen to me, hear me favourably.
- taken from The Month of May Consecrated to the Glory of the Mother of God, The Queen of Heaven