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


By Ven. Mother Mary Potter


Chapter 7, Part 3

In a most remarkable way, too, a mother influences her unborn child. How many young girls enter the marriage state carelessly, without thinking of the responsibilities they take upon themselves! Do you know, young wives who are now looking forward to the birth of your babies, that your little ones will come into the world with inclinations and passions taken from you? You may know it, but surely, then, think a little more seriously of it. When in a few years' time your child manifests an ungovernable temper, will you be ready to accuse yourself of being the author of the evil by your own fits of passion? When your child, almost as soon as it can speak, commences to speak untruthfully, you may perhaps wonder, as I have heard a mother wonder at her child's untruthfulness almost from infancy. But there is no effect without a cause, and it is very likely indeed that the cause was in the parents.

   Also, there is much parents have to reproach themselves with which is not positively evil. There is so much good they might have done and have not done. Of how much good do mothers who rarely approach the Holy Altar deprive their children! What a sad, sad pity that mothers do not go to Holy Communion frequently and receive the blessing Our Dear Lord is anxious to give the little ones yet unborn within their womb. Mothers need much grace to keep themselves from yielding to sins that may have an influence upon their infants in after years. They need more than ever to be careful to restrain their temper, and other passions; and to enable them to do so, they should receive frequently the Sacrament which gives greater grace than any other, since in it they receive the Lord and Giver of all grace; therefore should mothers be careful not to neglect so great a grace for themselves.

   But they have yet another reason, in that by receiving the Blessed Sacrament they do so much good to the child in their womb. Jesus comes not to the mother without bestowing some good upon the child; in fact, we know not how much good, nor of what incalculable service the visit of Jesus to the mother is to the child within her. But this we do know, that Our Dear Lord is the same Lord Who "went about everywhere doing good." St. John the Baptist was sanctified in his mother's womb by the visit of Jesus and Mary to his mother, St. Elizabeth. We know that virtue went out from Our Lord and healed those who touched but the hem of His garment. It is the same now as then: if we go to Jesus, He will give to us. It is His great wish that we should come and ask Him for what we desire.
O you who would bring into the world children free from defects of mind and body, who would wish that they may have noble, generous natures and be kept unspotted from this world, with their souls unsullied by mortal sin; if you would bring up true children of God, bring them whilst yet unborn to God, bring them to Jesus, Who in Holy Communion comes to you. Remember, while Jesus remains within your breast in the Blessed Sacrament, you have really within you the, Priceless Treasure, the Precious Blood He shed with His great love for the little one within you.

Ask Him, by the Precious Blood to bring your infant safely into this world, to be cleansed and made beautiful by the Sacrament of Baptism, and ask likewise that it may ever retain that robe of Baptismal innocence and be kept unspotted from this world.

     Parents have far, far more responsibility as regards their children than most of them think of. Think how great it is. In Hell at this moment, children are cursing their parents for their very birth. They lament that they were ever born, and it would have been better for them if they had not been born. "It were better for that man if he had not been born," said Our Lord, speaking of the unhappy Judas. Parents who undertake the responsibility of bringing into the world those who may be sentenced to the fearful eternal punishment of Hell, do you do the part you should for those who have to undergo this terrible risk? Through you the world is peopled with human beings; through you have they received the priceless treasure of life; through you likewise is Hell peopled, peopled with most unfortunate, unhappy souls; through you are those miserable beings now wailing and lamenting that they ever received that life.

     Look and see; do you fulfill your duty? Do you think it the one important work you have to do in the world? Look back at your own childhood. Do you not see evils in your own rearing? Happy for you if it is not so; but if you do see the mistakes that were made in your own bringing-up, then, for the love of God, correct that error in your own behavior with your children. It is especially while very young that habits are formed-----and sins committed that parents must answer for.

Why, do you think, has God implanted in the hearts of children such implicit confidence in their parents that, I might say, it is an unheard-of thing for a very young child to doubt what a parent says, unless deception has been practiced on it? Why do little children feel such confidence in their parents that a mother might take up her little one and it would feel safe in her arms in the most dangerous places. Or, as I have seen in some work advising us to have the same confidence in our good God, the Father of Fathers, that a little fellow would have who would run into the midst of a battlefield without fear if he had hold of his father's coat. Children have this confidence given them purposely. They have little understanding, and the understanding is as it were the eye by which the will sees what to do. Until that understanding comes, parents must supply its place, and even when it does come, parents have still to guide their children to its right use. Ah, if parents were what they should be, the world would be full of Saints!

   Think, you who are reading this, think what mistakes you have made in life through inexperience, and make the resolution to be watchful over those under your care and firm in guarding them from falling in the way you did yourselves. Those who find or have reason to fear that they have been negligent in the sacred duty of watching over their children must not give way to useless repining, but strive to repair the evil they have done. By an earnest, zealous devotion to the dying, they will strive to earn for their own children a good death, and as I have said, most certainly they will obtain great graces at the all-important hour of death for those who belong to them if they have assisted others in that time of need. You will act wisely by doing this. We have high example given.

      You know the parable of the unjust steward; he was not faithful to his charge. Your great charge was your children. You have not been faithful to your charge; therefore, you have been unjust to them. What now must you do? What was the conduct of the unjust steward? He called those who owed money, who were in debt to his lord, and remitted part of that debt, thinking that in gratitude they must and would do something for him in return; "and the lord commended the unjust steward for as much as he had done wisely." All the parables spoken by Our Lord have many lessons for us, and we may well take one from this and resolve likewise to do wisely.

      Think of those now lying on their deathbed owing a debt to God which they know well they cannot pay. They are almost in despair as they think of the long, ill-spent life they have lived for the world and themselves and of the little they have given of that life to the God who had given it to them; but great graces come to them-----they hope, they are contrite! God has breathed upon the soul that was, as it were, dead; and the soul, springing into new life whilst the mortal body is decaying, has with its last effort made the supreme act of love of God above all things, and then, separated from the body, has learned from God Himself that it is saved, that it will be with Him forever!

   Can we think that that soul will not wish to do something for its benefactor on earth, to whom, in answer to a prayer made for some person in his last agony, God had granted the great graces that had obtained for that dying person a happy death? Surely, surely, yes. That Soul, too, though not yet in Heaven, has great power in Purgatory. It is, I think, St. Teresa who said that she had obtained through the intercession of the Holy Souls in Purgatory what she had asked in vain from the Saints in Heaven to obtain for her. The Souls in Purgatory are in a state of suffering, and again we may apply the principle of the power of impetration possessed by those in suffering.

   We are all stewards; we have vast treasures of God at our disposal. We not only may use these treasures for the benefit of others, but it is God's wish that we should do so. Therefore, use those riches wisely. Offer your Masses, your Communions, for those who have the greatest need, and thus make to yourself friends who will be mindful of you and yours when you are in your greatest need.


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