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


By Ven. Mother Mary Potter


Chapter 6, Part 2

   There is a class of Catholics I would here say a few words to. The evil I would notice in them is such a common one that I need but point it out for all my readers to acknowledge the truth. It is the disregard of Catholic servants as to whether they get a place where they can hear Mass and attend to their religious duties, or whether they are in a situation where the weeks and even months go by, and they can never get to Mass, or very seldom. Their souls are rarely cleansed and made pleasing to Our Lord by the purifying Sacrament of Penance; and though He waits for them, and even longs for them to come and receive Him in the Sacrament of the Altar, He waits in vain, for they come not to Him.

   Who could have believed it? "The High, the Eminent, that inhabiteth eternity, He Whose name is Holy, Who dwelleth in the high and holy place," desires to meet, to hold communion with the low, the despicable, those who dwell in time, whose name is sinful, whose habitation is in a fallen and wicked world, and they will not come to that wonderful meeting, that communion with God their Creator. He Who in the unfallen world conversed familiarly with Adam in his primeval innocence, would show the greatness of His Divine compassion in this fallen world to His sinful creature by a greater condescension, by a meeting far more wonderful, but the creature refuses intimacy with its Creator, the child refuses the proffered embrace of its Father; the redeemed will not go to thank their Redeemer; they will not go to have the merits of His Holy Passion and death applied to their souls and begin on earth a union with Him which He desires shall continue in Heaven forever.

   Why is God thus refused admittance to the hearts of His creatures? In many, far too many cases, among those Catholics whom I am now speaking about, the Catholic servants, it is selfishness, utter selfishness. Their love of change or desire of bettering themselves, or some inconveniences they meet with in their present situation, will make them give up a place where they can hear Mass and attend to their other religious duties, for one where they will be debarred almost altogether from the Sacraments and their Sunday's Mass. A trifling worldly advantage is preferred to the spiritual advantage their soul must derive from its intercourse with God, from the graces He bestows on those who worthily approach those wonderful channels of grace, the Sacraments.

     How sad it is, Dear Reader, whoever you may be now reading what I write. Think: do you value grace? Do you believe that gold and silver and precious stones are but dirt in comparison with what may be termed a little grace, though indeed all grace is great? You do know it well enough; you fully believe it. Then, bring that faith into practice. Look at your past life. You have perhaps had to move from one place to another. Was your first thought to look to the spiritual advantages you might gain by your change of residence, daily Mass and the rest? You may have many a time taken a holiday in the country; did you previously ascertain whether there was a church in the place, or perhaps have you not known there was not one and yet determined to spend your holiday in one place you fancied more than another, though there was no Blessed Sacrament there, no daily Sacrifice of the Mass, no opportunity of receiving the Sacraments?

     Think of it, Dear Reader. Look through your life, your daily life, as well as long years back, and see if you are the least bit as anxious to obtain spiritual riches as to obtain worldly goods. Do you not allow any little matter to interfere, for instance, with a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, God put aside for your own comfort! How sad it is! I have said it in another work, [The Path of Mary] but I must say it again: Souls are being lost daily, hourly, momentarily; with every breath we draw, a soul has drawn the last breath in this world of mercy and has entered another region, a region where the Divine Justice is exercised with a severity we shrink back from contemplating; and if we could ask each miserable soul that has already commenced its eternity of woe why it was lost, what, if it answered truly, must be its answer? It had neglected grace. I beg, I entreat all who read this, think of what I say. Do you value the salvation of your soul? Then value grace. Do you care for the souls of others-----your children, relations, those around you whom you love, or those unknown to you, but whom you love because Jesus loves them and died to save them? Do you care to assist with Him in saving them? Then you must value grace. Do you care, with Jesus, to glorify your Father Who is in Heaven? You must value grace.

   These are three motives. You may look at them separately and influence yourself by whichever has most weight with you. You may say to yourself, "For my own good, I will get all the grace I can;" or "for my neighbor's good I will strive not to lose graces that so many poor souls are in such great need of." Or you may say, "For God's good, to glorify Him, that His wonderful mercy may be shown upon this sinful world, I will treasure, I will esteem His graces, as it is His wish I should." Take these three motives separately, if you will, though they are but one in reality, and see if they will not induce you to make a strong resolution for the remainder of your life, to look at grace in a different light, to realize that it is an entity, a real thing, far more real, far more valuable than the greatest treasure this world could give us.

   But in thus strongly advocating the esteem of grace, I would not have my meaning misunderstood. There are some sadly mistaken people who seem to think that the Church is the only place where God gives grace. Now, whereas I bitterly deplore the disregard so prevalent among Catholics of all classes for the graces they may obtain in God's house, the place where "He openeth His hand, and filleth with His blessings every living creature," likewise do I grieve over some-----I do not think their number is great, but still they do exist-----who are so wedded to a wooden rule they have made for themselves, that not even to do an act of charity will they miss one of the services of the Church they are accustomed to.

   I myself remember a case in point: One who was nursing a sick person-----whom she naturally did not like to leave unattended, even to assist at the Sunday's Mass-----sent to inquire of a good woman she knew whether she would come and sit with the invalid while she was away at the early Mass. She was surprised and not a little disedified by a refusal from this religious person, on the ground that she was always accustomed to hear both the early and the High Mass.

   I would counsel those who feel they are wanting in a proper liberty of spirit to invoke every morning most earnestly the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Let them unite themselves to the heart of Mary and make an offering of the Precious Blood in union with the dear Motherly heart that furnished it, and soon, very soon, will they find wonderful effects of God's Holy Spirit produced in their souls.

   To return to the subject from which I have so long digressed-----the people who are placed in such a state of life that they are really hindered from many graces, from obtaining the powerful helps God gives us to fight against the devil, the world, and our own corrupt nature: There are many worthy people who have a great longing to do good; they would be very happy to have the opportunities they see enjoyed by others of hearing Mass, frequenting the Sacraments, visiting Our Dear Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and making reparation to Him for the offenses offered to Him; but they think-----as they are so much occupied with their various duties-----they cannot do the good they would.

   And yet how much good they may do that they do not think of! The best intention we can have in all our actions is the intention of doing the adorable will of God. That thought will give a zest to all we do. If we are doing our actions because they are the will of our Father Who is in Heaven, we shall do them as we should imagine He would wish us to and shall therefore avoid that over-haste, that excited way of setting about our daily work, that almost certainly produces numerous venial sins, and not infrequently mortal; but of this I have spoken before. If we are doing our actions because they are the will of God, we shall likewise do them earnestly and carefully. "Cursed is he who doeth the work of the Lord negligently. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might."

When all things were in quiet silence, and the night in the midst of her course, when Thy Almighty Word, O Lord, came down from Thy royal throne, and the Angels praised Thee, saying, "Glory to God in the highest," likewise spake they to the inhabitants of earth, bringing Thy message, Thy promise of "peace" to a troubled world; but to whom would that priceless treasure be given? Not to men of noted good deeds. No, it was simply to "men of good will." "Glory to Thee, O God," the heavenly army sang; "Glory to Thee in the highest." Peace to the poor human race; peace even on earth to men of "good will."


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