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


By Ven. Mother Mary Potter


Chapter 3, Part 2

As I have said, wherever God's Spirit leads you is best. The attraction that leads you to one mystery of Our Lord's life more than to another you have no doubt found increases your love of Him and strengthens your soul. Therefore, as a tree is known by its fruits, you may safely conclude that you are led by His Spirit. And though the Passion of Jesus is most especially applicable to the devotion which I advocate here, this devotion of intercession for the dying is nonetheless after God's own Heart, and therefore, let us, in all our prayers and meditations, refer them to this work of mercy.

   You may love to be at Bethlehem; you have found the Child with Mary His Mother, and you remain. Jesus with Mary! It is sufficient for you. But are your thoughts, as you look upon that Divine Infant, wholly occupied with the joy and happiness that radiate from that Countenance!-----in which, mingled with its infantine expression, the Divinity shines out as its eyes meet those of Mary!-----and that radiate from her eyes, in which are reflected peace and happiness, as she looks upon her Child and her God? Is Calvary forgotten by Jesus? Is it unknown to Mary? It was ever before the eyes of Our Lord: "I have a baptism wherewith I must be baptized, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished," are the words of Our Lord. And Mary, can we think that she knew not the prophecies that spoke so plainly of the Messias? "They have dug My hands and My feet, they have numbered all My bones."

   Has Mary never read that? Oh yes, surely, surely! She knew that the tiny hands that Joseph loves!-----which, as she holds them out to him he kisses with reverence!-----will one day be pierced with cruel nails and that, crushing those tender feet, there will be driven into them another nail, thus fastening them in a position of exceeding pain and anguish which she, His Mother, must watch but not alleviate. She knows that that delicate form, molded so beautifully!-----for "He was beautiful above the sons of men," formed of her substance, nourished by the milk from her breast!-----she knows, full well she knows, that that Infant Flesh will one day be scarred and seamed until there will be "no sightliness in Him that we should desire Him."

   If Mary, sinless Mary, did not forget this, as she looked upon Him upon whom Angels long to look, should we, sinful creatures that we are, forget it, as we too look upon the Babe of Bethlehem? Oh, no, we should bring it to our minds; we should look upon this Divine Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, as He is resting now peacefully within the arms of Mary, pressed close to her breast, but hereafter to be pressed close to the Cross, fastened to its hard wood by rude nails; and we should think of this and bring to our minds the Blood that will come from those Hands, those Feet, that Side. Even from the Eyes will come drops of that life-giving Stream, forced out by the cruel thorns that surround His Brow.

   Those Eyes, so beautiful, that speak their love for the human race, will be glazed and dimmed by His Agony on the Cross. He will be "esteemed as a leper, and as one struck by God." We should remember these things as we look at the Babe of Bethlehem and recollect why these things are so. Why will that Divine Infant be hereafter known as the "Man of Sorrows?" Ask yourself that question. "For my sins," your conscience cries. It is true: "He was wounded for our iniquities; He was bruised for our sins."

   It seems to us that Bethlehem is sadder in some ways than Calvary. The fearful expectancy of what was to come must have been excruciating agony to the Mother's heart; the anticipation of evil is always a most trying pain. Think, then, of Mary's gentle soul, continually kept on the rack, anticipating the future of her Son. In saying my Rosary, commencing with the Joyful Mysteries and entering into Our Lady's spirit, there seems to me a sense of relief when Calvary is reached; there it is finished; there the worst has arrived; there the work of Jesus is consummated. He has died that His children might live; He has died that the hour of others' deaths might be the hour of their birth to a glorious eternal life; He has died in grief and sorrow of soul that His children might die in peace and joy. He will die no more, He can die but once. Oh, but to Mary the long, long anticipation of that death-----and Jesus Himself was straitened till that day came!

    How earnestly Jesus longed for good, holy deaths! He saw the future of every individual, and the tears of the Infant Jesus as they rolled down His cheeks were produced by as great a sorrow as those He shed in after years in Gethsemane. There were the infants of His Own age lying in their mothers' arms all around Bethlehem; He saw the probable unhappy end of many if they lived to manhood. No, He must save them; He longs for good deaths, and the executioners of Herod are the ministers of His tender love and mercy. Such are the ways of God-----from a seeming evil springs a great good.

   From the crime of infanticide, practiced to such a frightful extent in China, God produces in His wisdom this great good, that numbers of souls are rescued and Baptized and thus enter Heaven who might never otherwise have been there, and the maternal heart of Mary is rejoiced by many children it might otherwise never have possessed.

   We love thee, then, dear Mother at Bethlehem, though we do not think of thee there as all in joy as do some; but we love thee, dearest Mother, with Jesus in thy arms-----beautiful model and picture of mothers. Open thy breast, dear Mother, and draw us near to thy sweet maternal heart.

   I turn to you who really love Mary and wish to imitate her, and I ask you, "How can you become like to that most perfect Mother, the one perfect Mother, unless you are imitating her in her maternal love for others?" If you studied the secrets of that sweet Motherly heart, what lessons would you not learn! Mother love is the purest form of human love there is. "I am the Mother of fair love," speaks Mary in her Office, and those who meditate upon and strive to discover more and more the beauties of the heart of Mary are sweetly inebriated and delighted-----as infants at their mothers' breasts draw and are satisfied with the milk the mother's heart bestows upon them. "Truly, Mary, thou art to us as the breasts of God, from which we suck unutterable sweetness." [The Path of Mary]

   From the study of the Motherly heart of Mary we learn practice after practice most pleasing to God, from the daily practice of praying for infants yet in their mother's womb, to that which this work is written to inculcate, in the full belief that it is the most pleasing act of charity we can do to endear us to the heart of our Mother, the practice of praying for those in the agony of death. But we must not forget that though our most earnest supplications are for those who are dying in sin and who are in danger of Hell-fire and of losing God forever, there are other souls in danger of dying and losing the sight of God forever, though not in danger of Hell.

   I mean the souls of infants. The Motherly heart of Mary yearns for those souls; are they not redeemed by the Blood of Jesus? Did He not die for them? Do they not, therefore, belong to her?

If they have bad mothers, must not she supply their mothers' place? If through their mothers' neglect or carelessness, they are in danger of dying without Baptism, without the Blood of Jesus being applied to their souls, what must not Mary's children do to hinder this calamity? Let us then daily: pray that God may raise many missionaries who will go into heathen lands and Baptize the poor children of the savages; let us be Mary's missionaries ourselves in our own land and go into the houses of the poor and see if their children are Baptized.

   What a blessing it would be if we interested ourselves more in the poor; if those who lived, for instance, in our country villages knew how much might be done among Protestants, as well as Catholics. How many simple-----nay, innocent-----people we find who know nothing of the Catholic Faith, who, though they may not always be ready to be instructed themselves, are quite willing that their children should be Baptized and will allow them to be instructed and to attend the Catholic schools. Ah, England would soon be Catholic if people interested themselves in the work of conversion; and surely it is as needful in our own country as in any heathen land; the people here are as woefully ignorant of the truths of religion. In one sense, also, the regaining of England to the Faith would seem a thing more pleasing to God than the conversion of a barbarous nation.

   There is desecration in our fair land, being robbed of its ancient Faith; there is sacrilege in the churches that were once Catholic, being used for false worship. The people are ripe for conversion, and the time of those who can give it would be well employed in conversation, familiar conversation upon the truths of religion, with the simple, ignorant poor-----not so much in the way of argument, as in simply putting before them the truths of the Catholic Faith.

Let us give good example, let us pray, let us give an answer to those around us of the hope that is in us, and soon, very soon, we shall see the good effects. The fields are white for the harvest. Come, then, and labor; come-----the Voice of God calls you: "The harvest, indeed, is ready, but the laborers are few: pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He send forth laborers into the harvest."