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


By Ven. Mother Mary Potter


Chapter 7, Part 2

I believe frustrated vocations to be more common than is generally supposed. Parents and other relations are certainly wrong in the violent opposition so many make to the vocation of those belonging to them, and not infrequently [when those they oppose give way] are punished-----by the fall or misfortunes in their worldly state of those whom God had called to His service alone. But I repeat again, if those who have felt this call from God keep their will steady, if they perform well their religious duties and the duties of the state of life they are then in, if they are persevering in prayer, most certainly there will be a way opened to enable them to follow their vocation at some time of their lives.

   Parents who have opposed the vocation of your children, think of this: Remember, if your children are faithful to God, their prayers will be answered in a way you and they reckon not of. Then beseech God to change your resolution. He beholds your will, He sees the tenacity with which you adhere to the determination not to give to God what He asks of you, what it should make your heart rejoice to be able to give Him. God observes your will, and sooner would He shorten the time allotted to you on earth for the exercise of your free will than not answer the prayer of those who are dear to Him and whom He would make dearer still. Their prayer is that He may remove the difficulties surrounding them; they think not how it may be answered, but God is Master of life and death. On your deathbed your children might pray that your life might be prolonged, and He would not listen. He does not force the will opposed to Him, but He can and will stop the exercise of it.

To return to the sad example of a lost vocation given us in the Gospel: Up to the present day that story has been again and again repeated-----not in the same way, no, but in various ways. Many who cared not for suffering, poverty, or any personal sacrifice, have failed through disobedience, temptations of the devil, self-love, or a want of perseverance and courage in what appeared to them insuperable difficulties. Many not called to a religious vocation fail to follow the whisperings of God's Holy Spirit leading them to a life of perfection in the world, leading them to be apostles in the world, preparing them for some work for God of which they may not for years have the slightest idea.

   "What can I do?" you think to yourself. Do your present duties for God. Act as did Our Lady. She knew not the high destiny awaiting her, but if she had known it, she could not have prepared herself better than she did: She treated not the desires, the longings of her heart to do good, as wandering fancies. She felt God's Spirit whispering in her heart. She followed it, she united-----lost-----her own spirit in God's Holy Spirit, and thus, when her work was shown to her, she was prepared. Do you, dear Reader, be prepared likewise. Maybe you have sought long years to know God's will, and it has not yet been shown to you. Remain tranquil, the word will come to you in the course of time, your mission will be made known to you, your walk in life will be clearly shown. You have a special work to do for God. He has appointed it; but remember, of the thirty-three years Our Lord lived, but three were spent in His public life. How were the thirty spent? In the company of Mary.

     Do you imitate Jesus in this? If your time is spent in the company of Mary your Mother, learning to know her better, loving her, imitating her in all you do, your time is well spent, and if in the course of time you see a work you may do for the glory of God, for the salvation of souls, you will be prepared to do it. We all have a work to do for God. It may be a public one, and seemingly in the sight of men a very grand one. It may be a hidden one, one that is slighted or that is thought but little of. But it is doing God's will that will make us pleasing to Him, and it is not the greatness of our work, but the way we have performed it-----whether it was great or small-----that will obtain for us the reward. As Rodriguez tells us, in the performance of a drama, it is not the one who has the highest office who is the most applauded, but the one who has performed his part the best-----whether it be the part of king or the part of clown.

     It is certain that, whatever is to be your future work, you will be best prepared for it by your present retirement in the company of Mary and by cherishing the inspirations you receive from God. Esteem them not as chimerical because you see no present chance of their fulfillment. These holy desires have come from God; they must be accounted for to Him; and He Who by them has begun a good work in you will Himself perfect it. Imitate the virginal heart of Mary in its longing to save her people. Imitate that Motherly heart in its devotion, in its oblation, in its entire sacrifice of self for the sake of her children.

   Learn this lesson from the heart of Mary. Ask her to lend you her heart when you approach the Altar to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Ask Him to bestow upon you some of His love for the heart of His Mother, so that whatever fault, trial, or temptation besets you, you may never be discouraged, or that whatever may be the state of a soul for whom you pray, you may still pray with confidence, because you pray in union with the heart of Mary. And if you really love that dear Mother's heart, you will have an unbounded confidence in it, and if you ask Jesus, He will show you some little of the marvelous power He has attached to its prayer.

   Have not ordinary mothers a special power of impetration given them in the good Providence and Wisdom of God-----Who gives in accordance to our need? Mothers who read this, have you brought up children for many years without finding the need you had of prayer to avert both spiritual and temporal dangers from them? Use the power that God has given you, use it earnestly, use it most efficaciously, by praying in union with the Motherly heart of Mary. Pray, as it is your duty, for your own children, but forget not the wish of the Maternal heart of Mary; forget not those of her children who have the greatest need, those who are dying in sin, those who, if they are not helped soon, can never receive help. Oh, do what Mary would have you do: pray, work, suffer for the dying, and by thus joining with her in her Mother's work of assisting the dying, you will obtain her assistance at the hour of death for your own children.

   Think of that fact, mothers whose hearts are now aching with the grief your children are causing you. If you join heart and soul in this work of helping the dying, how could it be that your own children will not receive special help when their own hour comes? Pray, then, Christian mothers, use your power with God, the power your sufferings give you, as well as your office of mother. Make use of the sufferings which are entailed upon you by that office of mother. A mother must suffer. It is a law laid down by God for our present state-----and may be applied both to the bodily and spiritual birth-----that a mother must bring forth her children "in sorrow." You who are mothers know this full well. From infancy to youth, from youth to mature age, what suffering, dear Christian mothers, have not your children caused you? You who are advanced in years, look back and count if you can the trials you have gone through. You have gone through many, but the worst of all was when you watched the onward course in the path of sin of one, and that one maybe-----as it often strangely happens-----the best loved.

   Poor mother! How many bitter tears have you not shed? The little one, the infant you pillowed on your breast, whom you watched and tended day and night-----the little child that looked its love and confidence at you as the bright blue eyes that smiled in your face and the little arms that were thrown around your neck-----that child grew up and forgot your care, forgot your love, and turned to you with angry eyes, and spoke harsh words to you, and your heart felt broken, broken for your own slighted love, but broken still more for God's slighted love-----broken, for you knew that your child's innocence was gone; broken, for you knew that he had treated God far, far worse than he had treated you, and that the sight of your child's sins had caused the Heart of Jesus far, far more grief than they had to your own poor heart. Perhaps your grief so distracted you that you did not turn to prayer at a time when, by reason of that very grief, your prayer would have been all powerful with God.

   If you did but know the power that the prayer from a suffering heart has with God! It is one of the inventions of God's wisdom to turn the plots and schemes of the evil spirit into a means of good. Thus the sins of others produce the sorrow which, when borne in a Christian spirit, is so sanctifying to the soul that suffers, and thus makes us of such service to the souls of others. If, then, you engage yourself in the work of saving souls in their last hour, in your times of sorrow you should pray more. The Cur d'Ars advised people to offer the temptations they endured for the conversion of sinners, for by doing so they turned the weapons of the devil against himself.

   So likewise, when a mother in sorrow and grief of heart sees the devil drawing her children astray by his alluring temptations, that mother should turn to God with her whole heart and pray with the confidence her grief should give her-----for I must repeat, it is the suffering heart that may make most certain of being heard and answered-----she should pray for her own children, but pray likewise for the children of others, who are in more need than her own; for they are on their deathbed, enduring the last temptation that can assail them.

   Let that mother resolve for the time that Satan has possession of her children to strive the more earnestly by prayer to defeat his snares at the deathbed of others, of those of whom he has nearly achieved eternal possession. Ah, if she obtains the salvation of a dying sinner, how that soul thus ransomed will plead for her! Will not that mother defeat the snares of Satan? Will he not relinquish his hold upon her children? Or, if their own wills are obstinately bent on following their course of sin and they are surprised by sickness in their sinful state, how at their death will graces thicken!

   Mothers, devote yourselves to the dying, and you cannot doubt but that God in His justice will reward you. Your children may be far from you, and you may not be able to assist at their death. You may not even know they are dying, but God knows it, Our Lady knows it, Angels and Saints know it, and be sure the Guardian Angels, the Patron Saints of the souls you have assisted in their last hour, as well as those souls themselves, will plead for your children at the time when they have to pass through that tremendous ordeal of dying, when they have to perform that awful act that will decide for them an eternity of happiness or woe.

   God knows how bitter is the pain of a mother when she hears of the sudden death of a child who she fears was not prepared to die, and if she likewise has to reproach herself with any neglect on her own part, what extra grief is caused by the remorse of conscience she endures! Mothers, are there not many of you who can trace the loss of faith, the neglect of religious duties of your children, to some error in the way you brought them up? Not in all cases, but in far too many it is so, by allowing unrestricted reading, or too close intimacy with unsuitable companions, or by the almost unlimited evils caused by a Protestant education [I mean the custom of parents sending their children to Protestant day schools, which cannot be too strongly deprecated], or again by parents' own neglect of their religious duties, and by bad example.


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