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


By Ven. Mother Mary Potter


Chapter 6, Part 1

The emissaries of Satan are very busy in carrying out his wicked schemes. They are incessantly about the work of their master. Let us be more earnest in defeating those schemes; let us be incessantly employed about the work of our Master. Let us cheat the devil of his prey, of those of whom he has had possession during years and years of sin and wickedness. Let us make manifest the magnificence of God's mercy in the conversion of hardened sinners at the last hour of their lives.

Too great has been the insult offered to God by those who have lived in open rebellion to His law. Shall their death add to that insult? Shall they die at enmity with the good, good God? No, it must not be. Satan has indeed succeeded too well in the temptations he placed before these souls in the days of their health and strength; now, on their deathbed, his last struggle for the possession of these souls will take place, but it is not too late for God's grace to work.

   Have we not the example of the dying thief? Does it not seem that Our Lord wished to give us as striking an example as He could? He might have forgiven many a dying sinner, and we should have loved and blessed Him for His goodness, but it would not have been fixed upon our minds as it is now. "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all things to Myself," were the prophetic words of Our Dear Lord; and we are drawn to Thee, and will endeavor to draw others to Thee, sweet Jesus. Thou art our first thought in the morning, our last at night!

   We desire to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified; this we say with Thine Apostle whom Thou didst raise up to show forth the wonders of Thy redeeming grace; but together with Thee, what is it that we see? Together with Thee, Jesus, on Calvary, what do we see? The dying sinner changed by Thy love and power into a Saint. Thou hast willed thus. Well didst Thou know that as all ages would look toward that Mount of Calvary, where Thy love for the human race was shown to its uttermost extent in that Precious Blood poured out for their salvation, so too, all ages should see the predilection, the work, the efficacy of Thy Precious Blood, the great desire of Thy loving Heart for good, holy deaths.

   The conversion of that dying sinner was the last work of mercy of the Sacred Heart ere it broke upon the Cross. As the longing for good, holy deaths which Jesus felt as He came into this world a little Infant procured the happy deaths of the Holy Innocents, so in leaving this world, the same desire, the same intense longing, procured the good death of Dismas and gives us a revelation of the Heart of Our Lord and shows us that, as of all the works of mercy He loves to perform, the work of mercy to the dying is loved by Him the most; so also those who love Him most must love to do what He loves to do, what He loves to be entreated to do, and what those who are seeking earnestly to please Him should never cease daily and hourly entreating Him to do. As the hours of the day go by, one by one, souls are dying, souls have died, and we have not thought of them, and yet, Dear Lord, how much we might have done for Thee!

   But perhaps you may say it is a good, a beautiful thought, to pray for the dying; if I had a vocation to the religious life, it is to that I would devote myself; I can imagine nothing more pleasing to Our Lord. But I am employed in the world; I have various duties to perform which so take up my time that very few are the moments I can give to prayer after my morning prayer has been said. I answer, what you say is true. You are a great deal too much occupied to spend much time upon your knees. You have various duties to perform punctually, and punctually they should be performed, for such is God's will for you. Whatever duty is imposed upon you by your state of life, that duty is your office, and should be looked at by you in that light. The word "office" means simply your duty, your business. The priests and some nuns are bound to recite what is commonly termed "The Office." Your work is for you your "office" and looked at in that way would probably be done a great deal better and with more pleasure to yourself than if you look upon it as a burden, a task that must be done-----the sooner the better-----and consequently you give way to a deal of bustle and excitement in getting through it, which oftentimes retards rather than hastens the work you have on hand, or, at any rate, hinders it from being the benefit God intended it should be to your soul.

   You are surprised, perhaps, at what I say, but, nevertheless, it is true; God intended we should benefit by every act we do, and the benefit we should receive from every act performed according to the will of God would not be a temporary benefit alone, but likewise an eternal one. Theologians teach that no action of ours is indifferent in the sight of God; it is either good or bad. What a pity that we lose so much valuable time! I do not mean by laziness; I mean by that over-hastiness, that eagerness to hurry through our various duties which we see in so many people and which shows lamentably with how little good intention they are performing the actions which they had, nevertheless, probably offered up mechanically in their morning prayer to God, and how sadly they are wasting the time which they seem so very eager to save. You who are reading this may have fallen into this mistake, and now, I would ask you to reflect and examine yourself. Perhaps in your examination of conscience for Confession, your daily duties may not have had the proper examination they should have had. You may believe, do you not, that God's Providence watches over the world? Then, likewise, should you believe that He has appointed you certain works which will advance rather than retard the salvation of your soul-----the latter which view seems to be the strangely erroneous opinion of many regarding their daily duties.

  There are certain cases where the avocations of people seem to endanger their souls, and they seem hindered from altering their position. They complain of their position; they lament their hard lot; but those people lack trust in God. It may be that God is trying their virtue. Let them trust in Him, and His grace will never be wanting to them. In proportion as their position is difficult, He will bestow upon them freely wherewith to support those difficulties; but it not infrequently happens that people place themselves in positions which are dangerous to their souls, and in that case they must not expect extraordinary help from God. And if they fall, as they probably will, however secure they may have been of their faith or virtue, it will be but a just punishment for their neglect of what the Catechism had told them to avoid-----not only sin, but the occasions of it.

   How soon the simple words of that beautiful book, that compendium of all that we should know-----the Catechism-----are forgotten! People who place themselves, or remain, in a position dangerous to their soul when it is in their own power to change that position, are in a very dangerous state, the more dangerous if they see not their own danger. They are very sure of themselves, quite confident in their seemingly good resolutions of avoiding sin, but there is the mischief! How strange it is that people who show such a thorough want of confidence in God's care over them should have such an unbounded confidence in their own care of themselves! They will not trust the God Who is infinitely good in Himself, Who is infinitely good to us; but they do trust their own weak, sinful nature, and by that means do harm to themselves and to others as well. If any who are now reading these lines feel that they are guilty of this strange recklessness and presumption by remaining in a position which they are thoroughly aware is injurious to their soul, I entreat them earnestly to let no human respect, worldly prudence, mercenary motive, or any consideration whatever, hinder their flying the danger that menaces their soul.


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