Devotion for the Dying

By Ven. Mother Mary Potter



     Jesus alone in the Tabernacle, alone as regards the people of this world, but ever surrounded by adoring, loving spirits, endeavoring to make atonement for the coldness and neglect of men who believe-----yes, firmly believe-----in His Sacred Presence and yet so cruelly neglect Him! Jesus alone in the Tabernacle! What is He doing, of what is He thinking? O God, that we might for one day watch the Heart and soul, follow the thoughts, of Our Dear Lord in the Blessed Sacrament! He sees all that is going on here on earth; He watches the battle raging amongst His people; He tenderly looks upon His chosen ones, He blesses them times unnumbered; He regards anxiously those in danger; He looks wistfully upon some who have fallen; He sees how near, how very near some are to committing sin, and He looks most imploringly upon some one of His people who could help those who are in temptation; He whispers, for His voice is hushed; His hands are, as it were, tied, and His feet, as it were, fastened, so that He cannot Himself go to the assistance of those in need, [What is meant is that, in the ordinary course of His Providence, Our Lord has made the dispensation of His graces dependent on human instrumentality.] but He-----anxiously, imploringly-----looks upon the souls whom He has enriched with graces that they may help Him, that they may go in His place in search of the lost sheep. And yet so many are deaf to His whisper, so many are rejoicing in the graces, the gifts He has given them, and forget the naked and hungry and sick souls they could help if they stretched out their hands to them.

   Many people are too happy, too warm and too comfortable in their devotion to think of one devotion that is dear, most dear, to the Sacred Heart. And yet, if they could but see into the depths of that most loving Heart, with which the very slight glance they have had has so entranced them that they remain wrapt in contemplation of the wondrous Love they have found there-----if, I say, they would enter into the very interior of that Heart, it would lead them to a work of charity than which there can be none greater, none more salutary for the saving of souls and peopling Heaven, none more dear to their Mother's Heart, none more desired by the suffering, agonizing Heart of Jesus, none more longed for by the burning Heart of Love in the Tabernacle, none more pleasing to the Heart of Jesus glorified, none more glorious to the Holy Spirit, the Eternal Word, the Father Almighty, the ever adorable and Blessed Trinity.

 No! There is no greater work than this which Mary is calling upon her faithful children to perform. Join, then, the ranks of those who have given to Mary their whole lives. Learn from her the work she would have you do; follow her as she leads you to the altar rail; kneel there and listen, and in the quiet stillness there will come to your soul a whisper from your Imprisoned Love, telling you to go forth for Him, to go and seek those whom He most anxiously wishes to assist, to help them-----help them spiritually when you can, by personal assistance, but to help them whichever way your position in life allows you; to help souls, poor souls, who are in their final agony, who are dying-----and dying in enmity with the dear Lord, Whose eyes had so often wept tears of bitter anguish at the thought of the loss of the souls He loved so well.

  Oh, if you would do an act that would endear you to your Lord, pray for the dying, suffer for he dying, work for the dying! Today they need your prayers, tomorrow will be too late. Come near the Tabernacle. Ask Jesus what you can do for Him. Surely your heart has often burned to do something for His Love as His Heart came close to your own. Surely, surely, you wish to do something for Him when you see Him so helpless, so dependent upon you, so unable to work as He did when in His mortal life He walked the earth, doing good to all. Now that Jesus leads another life, now that in His Sacramental Life He is dependent on others, on those who love Him, to do for Him what He formerly did, even to the sacrifice of His Sacred Body and Blood, which He leaves to His priests to offer, thus renewing the sacrifice of Calvary-----surely, I repeat, we will do what Jesus so desires we should do; do what He leaves us to do, that we may show our love for Him; do in His place what He, whose Love has imprisoned and hindered Him, cannot Himself do-----cannot, I say, for so has His loving Providence ordained, that the work of saving souls should be carried on through our instrumentality.

   Oh yes! We will be about our Father's business; we will work our Love's work, we will listen to Mary's call, we will answer, Adsumus-----Here we are, anxious to work for Jesus, anxious to fulfill His will, longing to correspond with His wish, longing to show our good, great God that we do love Him, that we do want to serve Him, that we do want to live for Him alone. We will do what Jesus wishes, we will give Him all He asks of us, we will do what He has left us to do, we will be in His place on earth, we will go about as other Christs, we will continue as Jesus, to go about everywhere doing good. There is work for all to do in Our Lord's Vineyard, work for all who love Our Dear Lord and wish to please Him.

   Ah, then, you who read this little book, read it in a gentle, kindly, not a censorious spirit; find not fault because it may be somewhat disconnected, but look only to the earnest wish of the writer; that the prayer that accompanied the writing may be fruitful, and may sow seed in the hearts of all who read, the seed of a pious resolution to engage in the work that the loving Lord in the Tabernacle so desires, the work of saving souls even at the last period of their earthly existence, and saving dying sinners, of saving those who are in their last agony.

   Do a grand work each day of your lives. Look how people labor to achieve some work that shall be for the temporal good of others-----look how they devote a lifetime to it-----and we each day may do a far, far greater work than they have done who have spent their whole lives upon the object that seemed to them good, upon the accomplishment of that which was indeed good for the mortal life of their neighbor.

   Do we believe we shall be heard if we pray? Do we believe there are souls in terrible need of our prayers? Do we believe that, not far from us, at this very instant, a soul is departing from its body, lingering yet, as though its guardian Angel detained it by ardent prayers, hoping relief may yet come ere it is too late? Do we believe this-----can we believe it-----and go through the day careless, forgetful, selfish in our own grief or joys, not thinking of those who will so soon appear before the God of Justice, to be sentenced to eternal misery or everlasting joy, while we may obtain this joy for them, if we will-----may avert God's fearful eternal punishment, if we will?

   It will not make us melancholy, this constant thought of death. It will make us happy with that bright, joyous happiness those ever have who are engaged in doing good to others. As the habit grows upon us of constantly remembering and assisting the most destitute, the most in need on earth, so will our interior happiness increase. As we daily more and more endeavor to assist them, by ejaculatory prayers, by the offering of our daily duties, by the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass-----even when not personally present at it, by asking our guardian Angel to offer it in our place-----by offering our Rosary, or by any other pious practices love teaches, so shall we live in a sunshine of happiness which will carry us through life so peacefully, so happily, that those who live with us would fain learn the secret of our constant joy. The thought of the death of poor, unrepentant sinners will be the best preparation for our own, the assistance of the dying the best means of securing help for ourselves in the hour of death, the best assurance of our own happy death.

   Ah, then, commence at once; commence while reading these lines, begin offering the action as
a prayer, a suffrage, for that intention, offering, your every breath in union with the last breath of Jesus for those who are in their last agony! Regulate your thoughts so that they may be ever in union with His thoughts, whose every thought was a thought of love for those who were dearer to Him than His Own Life.

    If we would but strive to attain this love, so that unconsciously our every thought and act is a prayer, how beautiful would our lives be in the sight of God! Our acts are few in comparison with our thoughts-----of what importance that our thoughts should be in harmony with those of God! Would that our thoughts were so pure, so full of love, that they were constantly ascending from our hearts as sweet incense to God! Would that our lives were ever full of delight to God, because of our whole time being well employed, our hearts praying, even when we seem to be doing nothing. For the earnest wish of our hearts is a prayer before God; and those who really love Him are ever wishing, not selfish wishes, but wishes for their neighbor's good, wishes that God's kingdom may expand, wishes that God's kingdom may indeed come.

   Though we must indeed pray earnestly if we would receive great favors, nevertheless if we are in union with Our Dear Lord, He will grant our very wishes. "Delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the desires of thy heart"; and we must delight in Him-----He is our joy, our delight, our Good above all goods, our unspeakably Precious Treasure. "Jesus, the Good, the Beautiful, is everlasting God!" This is what the lovers of Jesus sing unconsciously in their hearts, even when they know not the lovely hymn. They feel sweet surprise who, though unknown to themselves, are growing nearer and nearer to Jesus -----they are surprised, I say, as their wishes, their little wishes, are granted, and they become more and more childlike in their intercourse with Jesus, and He loves them the more for their trusting, familiar love.

They are His favorites who thus treat Him, for Jesus has His favorites, and these are they who lovingly trust Him, who treat with Him confidently, boldly, but-----from their very love and close intercourse with Him-----so reverently.

   Love is ever reverent; true love cannot exist without reverence; and the deeper the love, the more intense the reverence. Love is likewise bold; and the more we love God, the bolder we should become with Him, and the greater favors may we ask from Him. Speak to Almighty God earnestly, boldly telling Him that you have paid Him more than you owe Him for yourself, that there is that which is indefinitely over and above the debt you owed-----will He give it to those who are in such dreadful need? Yes! We may well speak confidently to God, since in offering the Precious Blood, we have more than paid the debt of our own sins; in one sense we indeed owe God nothing-----Jesus has more than paid for us-----we offer Jesus in satisfaction for our sins; we offer the Eternal Father Infinite satisfaction for finite sin. Ah, then, let us plead with the good God Who so loves the bold prayer, Who so loves the charity that prompts it. Ah, what will not charity do? What can it not do? Let us fill our hearts full of that dear, dear virtue.

     Do we understand what true charity is? If we were to answer truly, we should say indeed we know but little about it, or at least we should all be obliged to acknowledge that we have but little of it. How shall we know how little we have of it? Let us examine ourselves seriously. If we have charity, we shall love others as we love ourselves-----that means more than we at present think. From mere natural sympathy, we often weep with those that weep, but do we rejoice with those that rejoice? Ah, if we truly loved, if we loved sincerely, we should rejoice in others' joys as if they were our own. We should delight in the honor others receive; we should be grateful to those who give honor to them, who do good to them; we should almost feel as though a personal service were done to ourselves. They who possess this charity are indeed happy. They have every joy with them, since others' joys are theirs, and even others' sorrows. Knowing as they do that they have power to alleviate the sorrows of others by the wondrous power of prayer, the joys of others are a source of joy to them-----the joy of the soul that unselfishly seeks to do good to all, that knows the good it is able to do; of the soul that faith teaches to imitate God, that does so day by day, striving to live a life of love for God and man; the soul that imitates God's conduct toward others, that sees God in others, that thus possesses God within itself.

   Oh that we did possess within us that God whose Presence makes Heaven within! Nay, more, around us, also. Oh that the great God of Heaven, who ever reposes so peacefully, so tranquilly upon the choirs of Thrones, might rest where He so loves to be, within our hearts! It is something so wonderful, this thought of God's Presence within us, it is so marvelous a condescension that His Glory seems to shine more-----He seems to become more lovely as He hides in the fleshly tabernacles of His creatures -----than when we contemplate Him resting on the glorious thrones in our future Heavenly Home.

  Yes! He will abide with us if we really will it ourselves; and if He abide with us, we may ask whatever we will and it will be given us. We will, then, a God; we desire, as Thou who livest within us dost wish that we should, that our brethren may be saved. We who live in this "time of mercy" may hope, should hope; there should be no such thing in this world of mercy as no hope; therefore should we plead with the God who lives with us in this world; therefore should we ask confidently, telling Him that in other parts of His universe He shows His various adorable attributes, that in this part, this world we live in, He shows His attributes of mercy, as He seems to do in no other-----that therefore we will ask Him to be merciful, and we will strive to imitate Him as best we can. Our hearts shall be attuned to His Heart, which opened on the Cross and poured forth, mercy for all when it poured forth His Precious Blood. We will let a continual, merciful prayer issue from our hearts, that the all-merciful God may show mercy. Our prayer shall be ever flowing; it shall be humble, constant, hopeful. We will strengthen ourselves to continue it, we will refresh our souls by bathing them in the Precious Blood. We shall not weary, for the happy consciousness will come to us as to how great a good we are  doing; and from the first dawning of the peaceful thought that we are indeed helping to save souls for all eternity will come a still stronger assurance that our own souls will indeed be saved, that forever and ever we shall possess the God who is now our All-in-All.

    Yes! The closer is the union of our soul with God, the greater will be the increase of love in our hearts for our good Creator and for all around us, and the peace which His Holy Spirit will breathe into us will be the commencement on earth of that Heavenly Peace which those will possess who have obeyed Our Dear Lord's command and loved others as He has loved them.