Devotion for the Dying  [and the Holy Souls in Purgatory]


By Ven. Mother Mary Potter


Chapter 2, Part 1

    Our Lord's desire that we should pray for one another is shown most plainly in the revelations made to the Saints. To St. Mechtilde it was said, "If anyone out of pure love of God prays for another person as though he were praying for himself, his prayer shall enlighten the heavenly Jerusalem like the morning sun"; and to St. Gertrude it was revealed that however small the good work might be that was done for the glory of God, if but one "Our Father" is said for the welfare of the Church, the Son of God receives that work with ineffable delight as the fruit of His Passion, gives thanks to God for it, blesses it, and in blessing, multiplies it. Who would not wish to increase the fruit of Our Dear Lord's Passion? Who would not wish to add to that glorious multitude who have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb? Who would not wish to give Our Lady more children?

   Who would not wish to save an immortal soul from the eternal misery of the loss of God? To what can we compare that fearful loss? To many has occurred the comparison of the needle and the magnet, and it is a true comparison, for the disembodied soul must tend to its center; it must seek to rest in God, but the lost souls are condemned never to rest. They are kept back from the eternal repose for which they were created-----the peaceful rest in the Bosom of their Heavenly Father. They are kept back from the blissful vision of the most high, most holy God. Instead of the ravishing harmony of angelic song, horrible sounds on all sides greet their ears. Instead of the Beatific Vision, they have the perpetual vision of Hell with all its fearful sights and horrors. Horrible, most horrible, is the thought of the poor lost soul kept by the iron hand of God's justice from ever possessing what it must ever want -----Himself.

   We cannot enter into that misery, we cannot understand it, unless-----which God forbid-----we experience it. A homely comparison may give us some faint idea of it. Suppose some animal-----a lion or a dog-----were chained up and food placed just beyond its reach. Imagine, if you can, the raging efforts of this starving creature to reach this food for which its whole being craves.

    It is but a poor comparison; I might give you another, and though they fall so far short of any approach to the reality of the misery of a condemned soul, they will be of service if they induce you to acquire a habit of making visible things serve as means to raise your thoughts to the invisible. It is a most useful practice.

   Oh, how the tender Mother of Pity and Compassion sorrowed on earth over sinners, how she now in Heaven longs for us to cooperate with her in saving them! See from her apparition at Lourdes-----which we need not be accused of credulity for giving weight to, since Rome itself has done so, and because of the innumerable miracles worked at that favored place where she appeared-----see, I say, how she longs to save sinners! I copy from the authentic account given of the vision:

   "The look of the Holy Virgin appeared in an instant to travel over the whole earth, and she directed it, all filled with sorrow, towards Bernadette, who was on her knees. 'What is the matter, what must I do?' said the child to herself. 'Pray for sinners,' replied the Mother of the human race. On beholding sorrow thus veiling like a cloud the everlasting serenity of the Blessed Virgin, the heart of the poor shepherdess all at once experienced a cruel suffering. An unutterable sadness spread itself over her features. From her eyes, continually quite open and fixed on the apparition, two tears rolled down her cheeks, and stopped there without falling."

   Ah, that beloved child of Mary was happy in the union with her Mother which made her suffer when she saw that Mother suffering! We too, if we loved Mary more, would suffer as we see the human race, of which she is Mother, so steeped in sin, so easily led from Jesus, so deceived by Satan. Mary is looking upon the world, longing to save sinners. She watches the onward course in sin of each single soul. She hears the gentle voice of Jesus pleading with it and the clamorous sounds made by the tempter to drown that voice. She sees the enemy approach nearer; she sees that soul permit itself to be blindfolded, and thus become an easy prey, and Jesus is left. But does Jesus cast that soul off there and then? Does He not seek to enter again into the heart that was once His own? He does, but to what can we compare the efforts made by Our Lord to enter the hearts of His creatures? He has Himself consecrated the practice used by the Saints of making homely comparisons a means of arriving at some idea of truth.

   "I am a worm and no man, the despised and most abject of men," He says. And again, "We have esteemed Him as a leper, and as one struck by God; there was no comeliness in Him that we should be desirous of Him," are the words of Scripture in reference to Our Lord. Have you ever seen an outcast, homeless animal stricken with some complaint, driven piteously from door to door, receiving a kick from one, a stone from another? Have you noticed the piteous look in the poor creature's face, as it wanders about seeking for shelter and finding none? Ah, if so, that poor stricken thing may remind you of Him Who was as one struck by God, Who was wounded for our iniquities, Who was bruised for our sins-----Jesus, Who was driven hither and thither in His Passion, Who was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and Who as a sheep before His shearers opened not His mouth.

   What was done to Jesus in His Passion is a figure of the treatment He receives in all ages. People will not give Him entrance to their hearts, or they take Him in for a time and then send Him forth; and the thought of those who would do that, the thought of the sin of Judas, was a far greater suffering to Him than when His sorrowful heart cried out on the hilltop near Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children to My breast as a hen doth her brood under her wing, and thou wouldest not." But we will, Sweet Lord, we will come and nestle in the resting place Thou hast provided for us-----Thy own most sacred, loving Heart. We have heard Thy cry, "I looked for one to grieve with Me, and there was no one; and for one that would comfort Me, and there was none." We will remain and be warmed in this furnace of Divine Love, and we will take from therein sparks of Divine Love wherewith to kindle the flame Thou so desirest should be enkindled-----the love of souls, Thy love, the love of Thy heart; for "he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God Whom he seeth not?" If your brother were dying, would you leave him alone, untended and uncared for? All of mankind is your brethren. The souls that are this moment in their final agony, the souls that before this day is ended must appear before the dread tribunal of Divine Justice, are your brethren. Jesus died for them, Christ died for all, be they who they may. No matter to what clime or tribe of people they belong, Our Lord shed His Blood for them and has put into your hands His Body, Blood, Passion, Death, all the actions of His most holy life. He has given you infinite treasures that you may use them for the good of souls, and you leave those treasures untouched that should be used for the intention of the Sacred Heart, to impetrate a last grace, to satisfy Divine Justice, and to bring down the mercy that God so desires to bestow on the dying sinner.

    It is the wish of Our Dear Lord's Heart. Ye who love that Heart, ye who have banded yourselves, and daily watch in turn to show your love and your desire to make reparation for the outrages It receives, forget not the souls who are dying, who, if a grace is not given to them, may be torn forever from the Heart that beat and bled for them.


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