Virtues and Vices

827. FAITH OF THE VENDEAN.-----A Vendean, named Repoche, who during the French Revolution served in the royal army, having been taken prisoner by the revolutionary party, was conducted by them to a place where a cross had been erected, and there he was thus accosted: "You have been taken with arms in your hands, and so your life is forfeited. There yonder is the cottage in which you were born; your father is still living there; now your life will be spared to you if you will do one thing. Take up that axe and at once cut down that cross." Repoche took up the axe; his fellow prisoners turned aside their heads and trembled, for they thought that Repoche was about abjuring his God. Repoche, brandishing the axe over his head, sprung upon the pedestal of the cross, and uplifting his arm, cried out in tones loud enough to be heard by even those who were at a distance: "Death to him who shall insult the cross of Jesus Christ! I shall defend it from ignominy to my last breath!" With his back to the sacred wood, he swung the axe round his head, his eyes brilliant with a Divine fire, and his frame endued with supernatural strength. For some minutes he succeeded in warding off the sacrilegious soldiers, but soon he was overwhelmed by numbers, and though transfixed in every part of his body, he still clung fast to the cross, and in this position was put to death. What faith! What intrepidity!-----Power

    828. CHARITY OF A PRIEST.-----A young ecclesiastic, curate of parish in the neighborhood of Villeneuve, bequeathed to his country an example of one of the most heroic achievements. The Patron day of the place was being observed, and the entire population of the surrounding country was assembled to join in its celebration The rains of the previous day had swollen the river, and it rushed madly onward in its course. As the priests were chanting vespers piercing cries suddenly burst on their ears: "A boat has upset! The men are floating down the river!" The young curate without a moment's delay, hurries to the Church door, takes off his sacerdotal vestments, and without attending to the danger surrenders himself up to the mercy of the waves, in order to save the wretched victims who were yet struggling to keep themselves above water. He wrestles with the flood; his efforts are crowned with success, and he brings back the half-drowned men, one after the other, amidst the acclamations of the people, who were witnesses of the terrific scene. This heroic deed accomplished, the worthy and virtuous ecclesiastic quietly returned to the church and resumed the office which had been for the time interrupted. This delightful act of heroism was not long without its reward, for he was presented by the Government with a gold medal.------Guillois

  830. S. ANTHONY'S DECISION.-----Many monks had come to S. Anthony from various parts, in order to discuss which was the virtue whereby one might climb with security to the heights of perfection. Some thought austerity of life, with watchings and fastings, to be the most necessary virtues; others held perfect contempt of earthly things to be of still greater importance; While others again thought solitude, charity, etc., each one exalting different virtues, according to his inclinations and graces, and giving reasons for the opinions he held. At length the great S. Anthony arose, and, while praising all the various virtues named by the others, said that Prudence seemed to him of all others the one virtue which best enabled man to reach perfection, for it controlled him in the practice of the others, keeping him from the two extremes of excess and defect. After developing the subject and explaining his reasons, S. Anthony found his brother monks agreed with him that Prudence is that virtue which leads most securely to God.-----Cassian

831. S. MARTIN AND THE FALSE MARTYR.-----In a chapel near Tours, there were kept some relics which the Faithful round about used to venerate with great fervor: But S. Martin refused to honor them till he had verified the genuineness of these relics, and in this he gave proof of prudence. He inquired of the oldest of his clergy, and also among the laity: and all he heard only tended to increase his doubts. One day at length, he went to the church with some of his clergy, and begged God to make known who he was that the Faithful were honoring with their devotions. And at once on his left he beheld a frightful specter, who spoke, at the Saint's command, so that the latter understood it was a thief and criminal, put to death for his crimes, that the people were honoring as a false martyr. The Saint was the only one who saw and heard the specter, and he immediately put an end to the superstition of the people.------Sulp. Severus 

  882. S. JANE AND THE CALVINIST.-----A young man of illustrious birth offered his hand to Jane Frances. He possessed great wealth, occupied an honorable position, enjoyed a wide reputation for his good qualities, in a word everything seemed in his favor, and all was being arranged, when Jane, to her horror, discovered that he was a Calvinist. This very thought was enough to make her cast aside the bright future that was before her, and she declared she would never unite her lot to one who was an enemy of the Church; all efforts to the contrary, made by her family and friends, were of no avail: the engagement was broken off, and later on, as is known, she was joined to the Baron de Chantal.------Her Life: Aug. 21

  833. THE FOOLISH CHILD.-----A little girl, whose name was Agnes, had just reached her fifth birthday, and her mother invited their friends to come and dine with them, in honor of the happy day. Agnes's godfather was there also; and when the child ran to meet him, he put into her hand a sovereign in gold as his gift. Agnes, as may well be imagined, was full of joy when she saw the beautiful piece of money, and knew that it was her own. She showed it to everyone that came into the house. When her parents were at dinner, and when she had had her share of the good things upon the table, she left the room to amuse herself at the door of the cottage. Just at that moment a country woman was passing by, carrying a basket filled with fruit. Agnes ran towards her and cried out to her, "Look here! look at the beautiful piece of money I have." The woman took the coin into her hand, and seeing that it was gold, said to the child, "Yes, it is indeed very beautiful; but see! here is an apple which is larger and still more beautiful. I will give you this large red-cheeked apple if you will give me your little piece of gold." The child looked at the apple; it was indeed very pretty. "Yes," she said, "I will give you the money in exchange for the apple." When the woman received the money, she went away at once, and was seen no more. Agnes, after admiring the apple for a few moments, thought she would run and show it to her mother. "Look, mother!" she said, "look at this beautiful apple." "Where did you get that apple, my child?" "Oh! a good woman that was passing by, gave it to me for my little gold farthing; is it not beautiful?" When her mother heard this, she became very angry, and her father gave her a severe scolding. But her godfather said to them, "Do not find fault with the child for what she has done; she did not know the value of the piece of money, and it was quite natural for her to give it away for that beautiful apple, which she thought was much more valuable."-----There are many who sell the endless joys of Heaven for the miserable things of this world; and there are others who, for the pleasure of a moment, lose their souls in eternity. This child has given us a lesson which we should never forget.-----Schmid

  834. HENRY DILSON, S.J.-----When H. Dilson entered the Society of Jesus, he had so little intelligence and memory, that he was unable to learn or remember anything. One day, deeply afflicted at his state, he prostrated himself before a statue of Our Lady and vowed himself to her, body and soul, for the rest of his life. At once his memory became retentive, and he gained such a power of penetration into things spiritual, that the most learned of the Society thought he drew his admirable instructions from the most solid authors. But it was Our Lady's intercession that obtained for him the gift of understanding.------Catechisme en Exemples

  835. THE HERMIT BY THE RIVER.-----A hermit took up his dwelling near a river, and whenever a traveler presented himself, he helped him to cross over. This life of obscure charity, so profitable to the soul, soon roused the jealousy of the devil, who persuaded the solitary to give himself up to fastings and austerities; this he did, but in a few weeks he was worn out and exhausted. Then the Holy Spirit showed him the motive that had led him to such excessive penance; after which he resumed his former life of simple charity and, to the great rage of the Evil One, made rapid progress in perfection.------Catechisme en Exemples