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


Chapter 7, Part 1

We have said elsewhere that, after the possession of Himself, God can give Mary nothing she prizes so greatly as the souls for whom Jesus shed His Blood. Therefore, how dearly will she love those who devote themselves to saving souls at the last hour of that time God has allotted to them. The hour of death has come at this present time, while I am writing, for many upon this earth; I join my work in intention to the Mass or Masses being said in some part of the world at this moment in union with the Maternal heart of Our Lady, who longs for the salvation of those to whom death is approaching rapidly, and who, if it surprises them in their present state, will never receive Mary's embrace in Heaven.

   I join with that dear Motherly heart in an earnest offering of the Precious Blood of the Altar; I stay my pen to repeat, "My Jesus, mercy!" in honor of the five wounds of Our Lord; and with a glad thought of the infinite mercy of God, I hope my prayer has produced some fruit. I look gladly to Purgatory, wondering if there are many souls there through the Precious Blood which I daily offer for them; I turn happily to my Mother and say, "Yes, sweet Mother, it was with you I prayed. It is your heavenly wish I offer on this earth; God must grant it to you." And I strengthen my resolution to imitate Mary more and to be more closely united to her, that my prayer may be more powerful with God.

    It would be quite beyond the limits of this book to enter into the subject of the imitation of Mary and the best plan of doing so. I can but recommend those who have not read True Devotion to Mary by the Ven. De Montfort [St. Louis De Montfort], to read and re-read it, to study it, to practice it, and they will most certainly learn to imitate Mary by that "devotion" in a way that will render them most pleasing to God. What I wish to draw attention to here is the imitation of the maternal love of Our Lady for the souls of others. An ordinary mother's heart [I mean, of course, a good mother] is something very beautiful. There is a devotedness, an unselfishness we must admire and love in it.

    What must be the heart of the one, perfect, spotless Mary-----Mary, Mother of Jesus? There is no created thing more beautiful than the heart of Mary-----except the Heart of Jesus. The Immaculate virgin heart of Mary was well pleasing to the Eternal Father, as from His high throne He looked upon that work of His hands, and delighting in its beauty, proclaimed it good. That virginal heart, with its stainless blood-----the source of His Own future human life-----was a very world of loveliness-----to the Eternal Word. A wondrous attraction was that sweet heart of Mary to the Holy Ghost, Who from the Immaculate Blood would produce the Precious Blood, by the merits of which He, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, would work upon this earth and live in the hearts of men.

Unspeakable was the love with which the Ever-Blessed Trinity drew in a close embrace the heart which turned to it with a love that even the Seraphim have not. With unutterable complacency were the desires of that heart listened to by God and answered in a way its humility dreamed not of.

   What was next to the love of God in that heart of burning love? Love of mankind-----love of those made to the likeness of God, the people of this earth, the sinful people whom that heart yearned to save. "Break my heart," was its cry, "but save my people; break my heart, but spare my children!" God did with Mary as He does with us; it was He Who inspired the prayer, and she was free to make that prayer or not.

   God desired the offering of herself, and generously did Mary make it. It is the same with Christians now as regards the offering God desires some chosen souls to make to Him of devoting their whole lives to His service in a spirit of sacrifice, a spirit very different from that of the world around. He will not force their wills. Oh, no! He would have them offer themselves as did Our Lord, of whom it was said, "He was offered because it was His Own will." God invites us to do certain things for Him, but how differently from Mary do we act! How few generously respond; how few give themselves to Him with their whole hearts as He would have them.

     Mary's virginal heart was full of that spirit of sacrifice, inspired by burning love, by which the Saints, too, in their measure were inflamed. She longed intensely to do good to others at any cost to herself; her very blood was instinct with holy desires and wishes. She would have drained her heart and poured out its treasure of stainless blood to have saved one soul, but she knew her blood, pure and spotless as it was, could not cleanse the slightest stain from off a soul. Her heart sent up its cry to Heaven for the salvation of her people, and her heart's prayer was answered. The Precious Blood was that heart's satisfied desire.

     We might almost say it was an emanation of her heart. It was indeed precious, as we know, because it was united to the Eternal Word; but the earnest desire of what that most Precious Blood would do had been first in the heart of Mary; its very material had been first in her heart; her heart had been its birthplace. The heart of Mary was the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost; it was He Who inspired the holy desires of that heart. It was He Who fashioned the first drops of the Precious Blood from the pure drops of her own heart's blood. It was from that heart that there sprang the human life of Our Dear Lord-----the living stream of love that coursed through His veins and dropped as very drops of love when-----He hung upon the Cross.

Does God love that Motherly heart? Above all the earthly works of God and next to the beautiful creation of the Sacred Humanity, the Motherly heart of Mary is the greatest creation, the most beloved work of the Ever-Blessed Trinity. Shall we not love it? Oh come, all; come and draw, as it were, your life from it, as did Our Lord.

   Learn likewise this lesson as you think how magnificently were fulfilled the desires of that heart. Ardently had the heart of that little Virgin of Nazareth desired to do good; and see how its desires were realized. If you who read this feel a burning desire to do good, if at times you feel within a longing to devote yourself-----at any sacrifice-----to the work of saving the souls for whom Jesus died, cherish that thought; let it not die within you. If the Holy Spirit has given you the good desire, be sure likewise that the means will be provided for you to execute it, for when God inspires us to pray for anything, it is a sign that He intends to give it.

   With the will to do good, how much good you could do; but as I have said before, God will not force your will. "God's gifts are without repentance." He has ennobled the human race with the marvelous gift of free will; He will not withdraw it. "If thou wilt be perfect . . . " said our Divine Lord to one who came to Him. The young man to whom that was said should be a warning to all, should be an example, especially to those who have at some time in their lives felt the same longing which was felt by him. He came to Our Lord with a soul full of aspirings after good. Jesus looked upon him and loved him. How could Our Lord not but love him? Was not the Holy Spirit within that soul, inspiring its holy desires; and must not God love Himself? Our Lord looked upon Him with love.

Reader! Have you never felt that look of love? How have you responded? Can you look upon the loving face of Jesus-----as you should be able-----with a child-like confidence, saying, "Yes, Jesus, Thou hast called me, and I have followed Thee." And the very sweetness of God has breathed into your soul a whisper you hardly dared to listen to: "Thou art Mine. I have chosen thee; thou hast followed Me, I am thy reward exceeding great." To you who are following Jesus, in pain it may be, and exceeding suffering, I would say, "Take courage; persevere bravely to the end; the reward will come, and the reward is indeed exceeding great." Cling close to Our Lord. You have, no doubt, trials hard for poor human nature to bear, but remember, Jesus is looking upon you with love.

     It is very hard for us at times, strange to say, to believe in that love; we cannot say to ourselves confidently, "I am loved," but it would be a great help to us if we could realize that Divine Love is really watching over us, and that the voice of our good God Himself tells us, "I have graven thee in My hands, thy walls are ever before My eyes." I believe at the present time there is a great deal of suffering in God's Church. The Spouse of Christ is now being mystically crucified. Those who love Our Lord best are suffering with His Spouse, and Satan seems to have been permitted to exert a strange power. We more than ever need to place our whole trust in God, Who alone can help us, and to say, "Though He should slay me, yet will I trust in Him." [Cf. Job 13: 15]. Courage, then, faithful ones of Jesus. After the Crucifixion, soon, very soon, came the Resurrection.

   Thank God, thank God, there are many following generously the call of Our Lord, but likewise are there many who neglect that call. I believe that there are many who have turned a deaf ear to the sweet voice that said, "Come," who have answered the loving look by a cold glance, by an averted face. To you who have done this I would speak a word. The young man in the Gospel who sought to know what he must do to be perfect, when he had had the gracious invitation given him by Our Lord to follow Him, responded not to that call-----to the grand vocation offered him.

   What is the opinion of some of the Doctors of the Church regarding the ultimate fate of that young man? They think that he was lost. They argue so from the words of Our Lord. Either way, whether saved or lost, he sadly grieved the Heart of Jesus. To miss the place in Heaven, the height of glory we might have attained, is to rob God of the glory we might have given Him in a way we little understand on earth.