The Blessings of Mary: Text Only
Irish Ursulines, 1920 with IMPRIMATUR

  Second Half

The Dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. John the Evangelist, rapt in ecstasy on the Island of Patmos, beheld a most wondrous vision. He tells us that he saw "a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Apoc. xii, 1). And who is this woman? St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and other leading commentators, declare her to be no other than Our Blessed and Sovereign Lady herself. She is, indeed, declared to be "fair as the moon and glorious as the sun," while her devoted servant, St. Bernard, tells us that her twelve special gifts and prerogatives may be fittingly symbolised by the glittering stars encircling her brow.

Of all pure creatures she is the most excellent and the most exalted. Her throne in Heaven is set above, not only those of the greatest of the Saints, but even above those of the highest of the Angels. "He that is mighty," she exclaims, "hath done great things to me." In very truth has the Almighty done for her great things, and immeasurably greater than He has done for any other whomsoever. But what Our Blessed Lady especially referred to when she broke out into those inspired words was, no doubt, the fact that God had chosen her to be His Mother.

Such a dignity surpasses every other that could be conferred on a pure creature, since it brings the creature into the most intimate and direct relationship with the dread Creator. So that, even though God might have given Our Lady yet greater graces and a yet greater beauty than she now possesses (for it is impossible to exhaust the resources of the Infinite), yet even God Himself could not have made her a greater or a more admirable Mother; for the dignity of maternity, or motherhood, is measured by the dignity of the offspring, and in Our Lady's case, God the Infinite could not have given her a child of greater excellence and worth, since that Child is the Eternal and Uncreated. Hence St. Thomas teaches that, in respect to her maternity, her dignity belongs to a Divine order, and is of an infinite degree.

But other consequences follow. Since God's counsels are eternal, He must have determined from the very beginning to make her His Mother; and, therefore, from the first He must have prepared and fitted her for this unspeakably sublime position. With this end clearly in view, He preserved her absolutely from the stain of Original Sin, and filled her "full of grace" from the very moment of her conception in the womb of St. Anne, her privileged Mother.

And note that this was no ordinary grace, such as the grace which beautifies, purifies, and sanctifies every Christian child in holy Baptism; it was a grace apart. Indeed, so special, so immense, and so wholly exceptional was it, that, according to the learned and devout theologian Suarez, it surpassed that conferred upon the very highest and most glorious of the Cherubim and the Seraphim, and, according to St. Alphonsus, even exceeded the sum total of all the graces conferred upon all men throughout all time. Thus it would seem that Our Lady entered into life in the actual enjoyment of a greater degree of grace than that which other Saints possess when they depart out of life.

But there is yet another circumstance which we must not forget if we are to estimate Our Lady's sanctity aright, viz., this grace was never suffered to lie idle in her soul. By her perfect correspondence to it she kept it continually increasing till it exceeded all calculation. For we must bear in mind that though the Blessed Virgin was once an infant, in many respects she was not like other infants. By a tremendous miracle of God's Providence she possessed the full use of reason from the moment of her conception, together with a supernatural knowledge of God; so that, from the earliest dawn of her existence, she began to acquire greater and greater graces as the days and the weeks and the months went by, and continued thus to advance in sanctity till the last day of her life upon earth. Some learned and grave theologians even go so far as to opine that this growth was never interrupted even by sleep, applying to her immaculate soul the words of the Canticle of Canticles, "I sleep, but my heart watches." If, then, we consider that the initial graces which she received as a child in the womb were more abundant and richer than those which other Saints have acquired during the whole course of their lives; and if we further remember that this store, so measureless to begin with, was unceasingly doubling and trebling and quadrupling all her life long, to her last breath, we may possibly form some faint and inadequate notion of its stupendous and inconceivable total amount.

We, poor mortals, alas! often abuse grace, or forfeit it by our negligence. And, even when we correspond with it, this is often only imperfectly and very partially; but she turned every opportunity to account, and corresponded with each grace, as it came, with the utmost fidelity and perfection. The well-known preacher, Padre Segneri, very truly observes that, even had her degree of grace been but small to begin with, so perfect a use of it would have increased it to inconceivable proportions by the end of her earthly career. But, since it was wholly measureless from the very outset, no one can so much as imagine its accumulated results when at last she was assumed into Heaven.

Well may we, her children, praise her; well may churches by erected and altars built and sanctuaries decorated and adorned in her honour. Well may painter and poet, preacher and sculptor vie with one another in setting forth her virtues and in proclaiming her matchless sanctity. No wonder the Church of God institutes feasts in her honour, and sounds her praises, and bids all her children glorify and thank God Who has so honoured one of their own race -bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.

Greatly do we Catholics dwelling on earth reverence and honour Mary. Yet it must be confessed, not only are all the veneration and homage and love which we show her on earth less than her due, but they are insignificant as compared to what she receives from the countless myriads of the Blessed who are gathered around her in the heavenly courts. There the vast host of glorious spirits that no man can number joyfully acknowledge her as their peerless Mistress and their sovereign Queen. There is none above her, there is none to equal her; there is none so exquisitely fair, none so surpassingly beautiful, none so absolutely perfect, none so ravishingly attractive and joy-giving among all God's creatures.

God Himself, of course, is a Being apart; for He is the Infinite and the Uncreated, and no creature, however exalted, is worthy to be mentioned in the same breath. There has always been, there is, and there ever will be, an infinite distance between Him and her; for He belongs to another order of beings-----or rather, the Godhead and the Blessed Trinity constitute an order of Their Own. But, among mere creatures, Our Lady occupies the very highest pinnacle, and stands absolutely without a rival, whether among men or Angels.

And if Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, delight to show her honour, how much more the Saints, who share with her the self-same human nature, and who, like her, have lived and laboured and suffered and wept as exiles upon earth! Who shall say with what grateful, loving hearts they gather around her, who has reversed the curse of Eve, who has borne within her chaste womb the world's Redeemer, who suffered at the foot of the ignominious Cross more than a Martyr's pangs, and whose presence now in Heaven in one of the sources of intensest joy and delight to the elect! St. Bernardine of Siena declares that if God did not utterly destroy the world after Adam's disobedience, it was owing to the greatness of the love which He bore to this most holy Virgin, whose unrivalled beauty and innocence and purity captivated His all-seeing Eyes even before the creation of the world.

And if the Saints and Angels love her with such ardour, what shall we say of her love of them and of us? Except God's infinite love of us, there is no love that bears any comparison to the love with which Our Blessed Lady loves us. And, furthermore, if her heart goes out to all those of her spiritual children who are at this moment gathered around her safe and secure in their heavenly home, neither is she unmindful of us, who are still struggling and battling and suffering amid innumerable dangers in this valley of tears. Her love for her children, even for the least worthy of them, is incomparably greater than any human love to which we can point. And why? Because she knows and realises far better than any other what our salvation has cost her Divine Son, and all that He suffered in securing it; the priceless value of His Passion and of His Death for us upon the Cross, and the torments and humiliations that accompanied it.

Her love for Jesus Christ exceeded all thought. She loved Him immeasurably more than herself; she loved Him as her own Son, as her only Son, and as the most perfect and affectionate of sons; but she loved Him also as her Creator, her Benefactor, her Lord, her Redeemer, and her God. Yet she beheld this same Son, Whom she so loved, ruthlessly seized, stripped of His garments, and roughly thrown down on the Cross, and foully murdered, with every refinement of cruelty and indignity, before her very eyes. And as, with broken heart, she gazed, she fully realised that He endured all willingly and gladly for our salvation; that no one could touch a hair of His head without His sanction; that no power could hold Him down to the hard wood; that no power could drive in the cruel nails; and that no power on earth or in Heaven, save the power of His insatiable love, could extinguish the pure flame of His human life, or separate His Soul from His Body. His love, and His love only, could exercise so wondrous a power, could produce so stupendous an effect. Such was the greatness of Christ's love.

And, as no one approaches our Divine Lord so closely in other respects as Mary, so no one approaches Him so closely in this. She loves us because of His great love of us, and because of what He did to prove it; and consequently, her love of us exceeds that of all other creatures, and is surpassed only by that of God Himself.

Oh, what a joy to possess such an advocate in Heaven! However weak and miserable, who will despond or lose courage when he knows he can claim the most powerful and efficacious aid of Mary Immaculate, and reckon her as a friend and protectress! Let us resolve to be devout to her, and to place ourselves under her guidance; let us lay our petitions in her stainless hands that she may offer them to her Divine Son Who will refuse her nothing. Let us pray to her devoutly and constantly, and invoke her name at all times, but more especially in the hour of conflict and amid the darkness of temptation. "Pray for us now and at the hour of our death."

An Edifying Story of the Rosary

A priest was called to a sick person, who lived at number twenty-eight of a certain street, but by mistake he went to number eighteen. He only found closed doors on the first story, so he mounted to the second, where a child showed him to a room in which lay a sick person. There he found a poor woman, by whose bed a man of perhaps some fifty years of age was sitting. The priest kindly asked him how his wife was.

"That does not concern you," he answered gruffly. "What are you doing here, and who sent for you? "Someone called me to a sick person, but perhaps I have made a mistake in the number of the house. In any case, I believe I can be of use here also, for it is undoubtedly God's will that I should come to your wife."
"Yes, indeed," whispered the woman in a dying voice, "Almighty God has led you here, and I will willingly make my confession." "That you shall not!" called out her husband. "For ten years no priest has put his foot in the house, so leave us in peace, sir, and do not trouble yourself about our affairs."

"My friend," answered the priest, "your wife's soul does not belong to you. So I will hear her confession and do my duty; please leave us alone for a time." The man continued to grumble, but at length he went out. Then the woman showed the priest a Rosary, hanging near her, and said: "Look, Father, this Rosary must have saved me. For ten years I have turned my back on God and religion, for fear of my husband, but every day I have faithfully said a decade of the Rosary." Thereupon the dying woman prepared herself by a contrite confession, for her departure out of this world, and died soon after.

Say the Rosary

Not very long ago, a gentleman who was very much esteemed in the eyes of the world, but unfortunately quite alienated from the practice of religion, was in the company of several ecclesiastics on the occasion of a grand festival.

In the course of conversation he let slip this avowal: "I would willingly believe in the true Faith, but it is quite impossible for me to attain to it."

One of the priests present, who was sitting near, whispered in his ear: "You have no faith? Then say the Rosary!" The conversation continued without any further mention of this subject.

Three years afterwards, this same priest received a letter, which ran as follows: "You will perhaps still remember that about three years ago, I was in the company with some priests, of whom you were amongst the number. I then expressed my regret that I could not BELIEVE, whereupon you advised me to say the Rosary. Those words which seemed so strange at first, remained in my memory, always ringing in my ear, with a singular fascination. By degrees they touched my heart, and at length they became sweet and lovable to me. I began to say the Rosary, and today I BELIEVE. I am now happy, and joyfully fulfill my religious duties."

Such was the result of only a few words dropped, as it were, casually, into the ears of a stranger, and points to the efficacy of persevering prayer above arguments or exhortations. Say one prayer, however small; KEEP UP one practice, however little, in honor of Mary, and whatever your want may be, it will surely be fulfilled.

At the Point of Death

An American newspaper relates the following interesting event:-----"On Good Friday, a Mr. MacGill, being 240 miles from Gainesville, where he believed there was a Catholic church, determined to go there and remain over Easter. Arriving at this place he found there was neither a church nor a priest, and that the nearest town where he could receive the Sacraments was Pilatea-Putnamby. This was too far for him to go, so he engaged rooms at a hotel, where he stayed several days.

"On the morning after his arrival, he noticed that many persons went in and out of a certain room. He asked the landlord's daughter whether anyone was sick, and received the answer that a young man from Massachusetts lay there, dying of consumption. Mr. MacGill asked to be taken to see him, and as his business was not urgent, and his visits appeared to be pleasing to the sick man, he often sat for hours by his bedside, rendering him all kinds of little services, by arranging his pillows and giving him water or medicine, etc. He spoke to him about anything he thought might interest him, but avoided the topic of religion, for he supposed the young man to be a Protestant.

"On the evening before his departure, Mr. MacGill visited the sick man once more, and just before leaving him, raised him in bed, in order to arrange the pillows and bed coverings. He then caught sight of a Scapular, which, to his astonishment, the sufferer was wearing round his neck. Seeing, however, that he was exhausted and sleepy, he could not say anything more to him that night, but going to him early the next morning, he told the patient that he had noticed the Scapular, and asked if he were a Catholic. "I am not one," was the answer; "my mother was, but she died when I was quite a child. Before her death, I attended the church and Sunday school, but afterwards, I gave no thought to religion. My father kept a boarding house for sailors, in Boston, so you can imagine the kind of companions that surrounded my youth. I was nursed at the beginning of this illness by a Sister of Mercy in a hospital and before coming here she gave me the Scapular, recommending me to wear it, as it might perhaps be of use to me. I have worn it ever since, just to please her, because she was so kind to me, and I shall continue to do so, even if I return home." On being asked whether he would like to see a priest, he said he would, but added he had nearly forgotten all he had ever known of the Catholic religion, but that, if he ever practised any form of worship, he would prefer the religion of his mother to any other. His friend saw there was no time to lose, for the youth was in the last stage of consumption so he hastened to the telegraph office, and sent a dispatch to Father Kenny, at Pilatea. The priest took the next train, and arrived in the morning at Gainesville; he went to the sick room, instructed the young man, heard his Confession, gave him Holy Communion, and administered Extreme Unction. The very day after, the poor sufferer died.

Is not this, again, a proof how the Holy Mother of God takes care of all who are in any way her servants? If this youth had not worn the Scapular, he would, most probably, have died without the opportunity of making his peace with God.

Conversion with the Scapular

The circumstances under which a renowned American General and his wife were converted to Catholicism, during the war between the North and South American States, are so noteworthy, and show so clearly that they owed this inestimable grace to the Mother of God, that it will be for the greater honour of our Lord, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, to make them known to all who have not yet heard or read about them.

Whilst the cannons roared, and the cries of the wounded and dying were heard on every side, a soldier who had been struck by a ball was led to the General. The latter found that though the ball had struck the man over his heart, yet he was not even wounded, and it was most evident that his Scapular, worn on the very spot where the ball had pierced, had been the means of saving his life. The General could account for the wonderful occurrence in no other way, and when the grateful soldier had unfolded to him more in detail the efficacy of wearing our Lady's livery under his uniform, the Mother of God vouchsafed to enlighten the understanding of the brave officer, who had so promptly acknowledged Her power, winning for him the grace of conversion, and, from being a zealous Protestant, he became a fervent Catholic.

His wife knew nothing of this change, for, as she was a bigoted Protestant, he concealed the fact from her; but he prayed very earnestly, and especially invoked our Lady on her behalf. Nevertheless, when he returned home after the war, he was not without anxiety, lest the peace of the house should be disturbed by his change of religion, so he resolved, at least at first, to keep it a secret.

On the first Sunday after his return, when the bells were calling the faithful to Mass, the General left the house unperceived, and went to the Catholic church. Here he knelt down in the bench assigned to him, and was soon absorbed in devout prayer. A little later a lady entered the same bench without the General perceiving anything, or taking notice of his companion. Mass being ended, he rose to leave the church, and saw, with joyful surprise, that his wife had been next to him, and had signed her forehead, mouth, and heart with the cross.

Unknown to each other, they had embraced the Catholic religion, the wife naturally attributing the grace she had received to the prayers of her husband. Who can describe the happiness and joy of these two new converts, when side by side, they left the church! The love which bound them together as husband and wife, was now augmented by their union in the One True Fold.

Thus, did that faithful practice of wearing the Scapular, bear fruit a hundredfold.

The same General relates another interesting fact concerning a trumpeter who was struck down near him. He declared that the ball had wounded him in the breast, but when the Captain examined him, he found that the ball had fastened itself to our Lady's Scapular, which the man wore, and had not penetrated into the flesh. The Captain held up the ball, and showed it to all who were standing near.

The Cure of Anna Krebs

Anna Krebs was the daughter of an honest weaver, and from her infancy she had been a delicate and sickly
child, suffering especially from scrofula [a tuberculous infection of the skin of the neck-----the Web Master], which was the cause of a constant soreness of the eyes. She was incapable even of the slightest labor, and only dragged herself occasionally to school; but, in spite of her thirst for knowledge, she was obliged at last to give this up as well. Finally, she became completely bedridden, for, besides scrofula, she was afflicted with most painful cramps and constant headaches, her entire body being swollen to an extraordinary size. Her eyes were so sore, that she could not endure the least glimmer of light, and her room had to be kept in total darkness. At length she became quite blind. The illness was daily growing more serious, and the child's voice had become so weak, that it was with the greatest difficulty anyone could understand her almost inaudible whispers; this state lasted for nine weeks. Two doctors had been in constant attendance, and they at length declared that there was no hope, as the child was in a decline. After this decision, the poor sufferer was prepared for the Last Sacraments, and, having been anointed, she longed to be released from her sufferings. A few days later, the illness took such an alarming turn, that the sorrowing parents were daily expecting the loss of their child, and had given up even the slightest hope of her recovery. At this juncture, a friend brought a medal of our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and bade the mother hang it round the child's neck, as a last endeavour to save her life. This was about two o'clock in the afternoon, and before three, the dying girl raised herself, and called out in a perfectly distinct voice: "Mother, I am better, for our Blessed Lady has helped me!" At the same moment she was able to distinguish the objects around her, and did not feel the slightest pain anywhere; in fact she was quite transformed. The swelling had already decreased, although none could take this as a certain sign of recovery. Unhappily, this sudden improvement was not a complete cure. The poor invalid was, indeed, able to sit up and do a little work, but her feet had lost all power, so that she could neither walk nor stand, and had to be carried from one place to another. A week later, she was taken to the shrine of our Lady at Philippsdorf, a pilgrimage which she most especially loved, in order to obtain from our Blessed Lady a complete cure. Another week passed, and still they persevered in their prayers; the poor mother was longing for her child's recovery, and in her impatience, she kept urging her to try and make some Little effort, and endeavour to stand or walk, or at least to stretch out her foot. But Anna felt how utterly useless every attempt of this kind was, and so refused to comply with her mother's request. The latter having left the room for a short time, the child felt she had done wrong not to obey, and so made an attempt to stand up. She bade her brother give her a stick, and leaning upon it she raised herself; at the same moment the weakness in her legs disappeared, and she was able to walk.

It was no freak of imagination that had caused this helpless state, for all who knew the child's character and disposition were convinced that she was incapable of being deluded, either by fancy or nervous apprehension. The miracle was thus all the more evident, and within a few weeks her appearance was quite changed, and she became the very picture of health.

May all praise and thanks be given to the Blessed Mother of God, to whom alone Anna Krebs ascribes her miraculous cure, as she did the very moment of her improvement in health, when she cried out, "the Blessed Virgin has helped me!"

The Good Thief, Dismas

The Roman Martyrology, on the 25th of March, makes mention of the Good Thief, who, according to tradition, is called Dismas, in the following words:

"At Jerusalem, on this day, is the Feast of the Good Thief, who acknowledged Christ on the Cross, and from Him deserved to hear the words: 'This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.' The sudden change and conversion (for Dismas from a sinner became a penitent and Saint) has been rightly attributed to the prayers of our Blessed Lady. Mary, say the holy Fathers, had obtained the soul of the malefactor, as a recompense of her sorrows, and the price of her compassion. Saint Peter Damien assures us, that Mary prayed for the thief who was on the right side of the Cross, on which side she also stood, and exhorted him to hope in Jesus, and to do penance. Saint Anselm, in a treatise on the youth of Jesus, relates the following pathetic incident about the early years of Saint Dismas, which we will give to our readers as a pious legend:-----

" 'Dismas was living in a forest on the confines of Egypt, when Mary went thither with the Child Jesus, to escape the rage of Herod. He was a highwayman, and the son of the chief of a band of robbers. One day, as he lay in ambush, he saw a man, a young woman, and a little Child approaching, from whom he rightly expected no opposition. Therefore, he went towards them, with his comrades, with the intention to ill-treat them. But he was at once so charmed with the supernatural beauty and grace which shone on the countenance of Jesus, that instead of doing them harm, he gave them hospitality in the cave which he inhabited, and made ready for them everything of which they stood in need. Mary was grateful for the tenderness and care which the robber bestowed on her Beloved Son, and warmly thanking him, she assured him that he would be rewarded before his death. This promise was fulfilled later, when Dismas was crucified with the Saviour of the World, and obtained the grace of repentance in his last hour, openly confessing Jesus Christ's Divinity. When the Apostles had fled, he had the happiness to receive the first fruits of the Redeemer's Sacrifice, and soon after, entered the Heavenly Kingdom with his Saviour.'

"Saint Dismas is considered as the Patron of penitents, and is especially invoked for the conversion of hardened and obstinate sinners, and always with a favorable result. The Catholic Church has indeed sanctioned the veneration given to this Saint, by instituting a special Feast, with a most beautiful Office, in his honour, as also, a proper Mass. This Feast is allowed in many Dioceses and religious Orders."

The Lighted Candle

There lived in Paris a poor old couple who dwelt in a miserable garret, for which they had to pay twenty francs a year. They often lay down to sleep hungry, and many a time for their breakfast, they had only an old crust of bread, which had to be first soaked in water, before they could eat it. They were ashamed to make known their poverty, for in former years, they had been in good circumstances; but little by little, through no fault of their own, they had gone down in the world. Finally, they sold all their goods, until nothing was left to them.

It was Saturday, and they had not a single penny, or even a piece of bread. The wife was sickly, the husband lay ill in bed; the day passed in the most fearful anxiety, night came, and no food had passed their lips. So, sadly, they sat down together and wept, and prayed. Sunday was still worse, and, in the evening, the fearful pangs of hunger forced the woman to leave her husband's side, and go out into the streets.

She meant to beg; but, as often as she tried to do so, shame closed her mouth, and she returned home, more
exhausted and discouraged than when she went out. They had tasted no food for two days, and tears of anxiety and distress rolled down their pale, sunken cheeks. "We shall die, my poor wife," said the old man, "God has forsaken us." His wife made no reply; but, after some time, she lifted her head, and said, as if with a sudden inspiration, "We will invoke the Blessed Virgin, she is the Consoler of the Afflicted, and the Refuge of the Sorrowful; she will help us. I have still a little bit of candle, which we will burn before her picture. I feel confident she will send us help." No sooner said than done. They found the candle, lighted it, and placed it before a small picture of Mary, which was still in their possession, because none would buy it. Then the two old people knelt down, and prayed with many tears.

Now there was living in another part of the same house a needlewoman, whose child was ill. When she got up in the night to tend her little invalid, she noticed that the two old people still had a light. She knew them slightly, and whenever she met either of them, she would salute them.

"Perhaps something is the matter," she said to herself, and without more ado she dressed herself, took a lantern and went to look after the old couple When she opened the door, a pitiful sight met her gaze! There lay the unhappy pair, pale and trembling, before Mary's picture, having fallen on the ground through sheer exhaustion. She went up to them and kindly asked what was the matter. Am in many tears they told her, and the good woman disappeared again quicker than she had come. She went to her little room, got some bread, broth, and whatever else in the way of food she could lay her hands on, and then returned to the old folks, whom she warmly embraced and consoled.

The following day this kind neighbor told the parish priest and the superior of Saint Vincent's Society, who both
went at once to the house and reproached the poor people gently for having so long concealed their distress. The help was lasting, and a few days later the old couple came in for a little fortune, left them by a distant relative. In after years, how often would they relate that they owed their deliverance to the Mother of God, and that but for the little candle, or rather for their great confidence in Mary, which inspired the happy thought of lighting it, their neighbor would not have come to their aid, and they would have succumbed under their privations.

Answer to a Child's Prayer

During the last battle between Poland and Russia, a Count of noble birth who had taken up arms, was seized and condemned to death. On hearing this dreadful news, his wife hastened with her little son to the chapel, where, kneeling before a picture of our Lady of Sorrows, she prayed a loud, "O Mother of Sorrows pray for us, protect and save us! Give back to a poor, unhappy woman, her husband; to a child and son, his father! Thou must take pity on our tears, thou, who so much lovest thine own Divine Son! O sorrowful Mother, who hast suffered so much, have pity on us!" She remained praying some time with the child, then she left the chapel. It was as if some mysterious consoling inspiration had taken possession of her soul. She went at once with her son, under the protection of a faithful servant, to the prison where her husband was detained. She was able to bribe the guard and jailer by some gold pieces, and then she was taken to the dark cell. An hour later the Countess and her child again passed the guard, the former with her face covered, weeping, the boy also crying bitterly. They did not open the cell again until it was quite dark. Then the Inspector came and examined all closely. He gave a loud cry, and called the guards, saying, "Betrayed! betrayed!" Instead of the Count they found a woman! The Countess had entreated her husband to go away in her place; full of confidence in the assistance of the Mother of Sorrows she had made this resolve, and possessed the courage and strength to carry it out. Her husband was now safe, and on his way to Paris.

A year and a half passed by; from day to day the poor Count vainly awaited the return of his wife, hoping in Mary's protection that she would be pardoned; the unhappy man could not even hear what had befallen her. The continually-repeated questions of his child-----"Where was his mother all this long time?"-----only increased the racking pain of his tormented heart. He had placed the boy in a school under religious teachers, and he was growing up in piety, knowledge, and good morals. The time of his First Communion was approaching, but the thought of his mother followed him continually. He said to his father, "She MUST come to my First Communion, and she WILL come!" Quite taken up with this idea, one day he suddenly interrupted his studies, made the Sign of the Cross, and wrote the following letter to the faithful old servant, who had accompanied the Countess to Warsaw, where he was still staying.

"Peter, will you please tell my mother, that in four weeks' time I am to have the happiness of making my First Communion, and that she is to return to Paris, and must be present. I am not writing to her, because Papa says they intercept all our letters; but I firmly rely on you using all possible precaution, that this news may reach her, and that you will tell her all I want.

"I embrace you, you good, faithful old Peter, with all my heart. Your Stanislaus."

The letter being finished, the child put a little picture of our Lady inside, that the missive might bring happiness, sealed it, and took it to the post. Meantime the Count had received a note, in a strange unknown hand containing the following lines: "No more hope-----departure for Siberia decided upon-----Peter will make a last effort but they say that any attempt to escape will be punished with her life."

The day of the First Communion was now at hand. Stanislaus had said nothing about his letter, either to his father or teachers, but he talked all the more about it to his loving Lord, Whom he was going to receive. He counted the days and hours, saying to himself, "I will make a Novena to the dear Mother of God, before my First Communion, and will so arrange that it shall finish the very moment I receive absolution after my general Confession; I will pray so earnestly, so long, and so well that the ever blessed Virgin will be compelled to give me back my mother."
It was the eve of the Great Day. According to a pious custom, the parents saw their children in the parlor, gave them their blessing; and the little ones could then ask pardon for all their faults and failings. The Count came also. Stanislaus clung around his neck, lovingly kissed him, then asked his pardon, and kneeling down received a blessing. Then he said: "I have your blessing now, but I also hope to receive my mother's." His father remained silent. "Do you not know then, that mamma is coming?" The Count answered by a deep sigh, tears filling his eyes. "She will come, she MUST be present at my First Communion. Listen, dear father. I have made a Novena to the Mother of God, which finishes about five o'clock. At four o'clock I shall be absolved, and then I shall be pure as an Angel; I will beg our Blessed Lady to send my mother this evening, or at least tomorrow. "The Count tried to smile but could not; he left his son, for he could no longer control his feelings. It was five o'clock, and Stanislaus was on his way to the porter, when one of the Religious met him, and said, "Where are you going, my child?" "To see if no one has asked for me?" "Your father was only here this morning" "Yes, but am expecting another visitor-----my mother." "Why, she is not even in Paris!" "But I am quite certain she will come." "No more distractions this evening, my dear boy," answered the Father, "the time for visitors is over, so go to your companions." The Novena was finished, and the child thought that the Queen of Heaven must send his mother immediately, so full of hope was he, and he had prayed with such confidence, and so earnestly. It was a great sacrifice, not to see the porter, but he bore it bravely, ever saying to himself; "When my mother comes, she will ask for me, and then they will send for me." Six o'clock struck, then seven! No one was announced. Supper was over, and all went to the their bedrooms; poor Stanislaus felt discouraged.

Just at this time, a woman, care-worn and meanly-clad, her face drawn and disfigured, very miserable-looking and thin, came up to the porter, saying she desired to see the young Count Stanislaus. The Brother did not know
what to think of such a late visitor; besides, he mistrusted her, for she looked like a vagabond. So he stoutly refused to announce the visitor; but she did not desist, begging still more earnestly. At last, tried by her persistence he let her go to the window to see the children as they were passing by. Stanislaus, who still counted on his mother's return, could not resist going a little out of the ranks and examined the parlor with a quick glance. The Countess, for she it was, had only time to call out: "There, there!" when a loud cry was heard, and she fell to the ground. She had arrived at the exact time appointed by her child. By a special providence of God, she had been able, in an unguarded moment to escape, on her way to Siberia. Over mountains, through woods, marshes and valleys, she had made the long journey on foot, and at last reached Paris, begging her way as she walked, for she had no other means of help. But whither was she to turn her steps in this great city?

Fortunately, Stanislaus, in his letter, had thought of giving his address. She remembered the name of the street, and finally, after many enquiries, arrived at the school, where her child was.

The next morning the happy parents, re-united after such a long and painful separation, were present at their son's First Communion. It is certainly wonderful what power an earnest and persevering prayer has with God. But it is not less wonderful how our sorrowful Virgin Mother compassionates her suffering children and helps them.

"Mary, Help"

The following is a very simple story, we may say, which has been very often told; it lays claim to no miraculous intervention, and yet, each time that our tender Mother has vouchsafed to show the same merciful pity, is a fresh motive of love and gratitude to all her devoted clients:-----

"There lived at Liege, a family, who were in great distress; they had formerly been in better circumstances, but they had gradually been reduced to such a state of poverty, that the father was forced to do the ordinary work of a day laborer. Unaccustomed as he was to such employment, the hard work told upon his health, while the menial tasks he had to perform, were like gall to his natural pride. Added to this, his wife was prostrated by a serious illness and his two eldest children fell sick.

 "One evening he returned home, after a long day's toil, and, worn out as he was, he sat down beside his wife's bed, to watch by her through the night. He was so oppressed with grief and harassed by anxiety, that he seemed on the verge of despair; his wife, who was a pious Christian, endeavoured, in vain, to console him, then, his eldest daughter said to him: 'Dear father, say a "Hail Mary," and our Blessed Lady will help you.' 'I can't pray any more,' he answered bitterly, and so saying, he sprang up, and rushed into the dark night. For a long time he wandered aimlessly about, until, at last, a flood of tears relieved his aching heart, and falling on his knees, he cried: 'O Mary, have pity on me; O Mary, help!' after which, feeling his confidence revive, he stretched out his hands towards Heaven, and recited an Ave Maria.

"As he rose from his knees, he thought he saw something lying on the ground, and, stooping down, found a pocket-book full of bank notes. He was returning home, with the intention of restoring it to its owner, when he met a gentleman, who inquired whether he had seen a pocket-book. 'Here it is,' replied the poor man. The gentleman was full of gratitude, and gave him one of the bank notes, asking, at the same time, whether he was in want. With tears of joy, the happy man exclaimed: 'I was, a moment ago, but now I am no longer.'

"Some days later, the gentleman came and made minute inquiries, as to the circumstances of the family, and gave them most generous and permanent assistance. Gladness now returned once more to the poor cottage; the mother speedily recovered, and the children grew strong again; distress and want were at an end, and, by degrees, the father regained his former position.

"He often recalled, with deepest gratitude, the help which our Blessed Lady had tendered to him in his hour of need, and would relate how he had been saved from despair through one 'Hail Mary.' "

The Ringing of the Angelus

Three times a day, the solemn sound of the Angelus, echoing throughout Christendom, recalls to all faithful Catholics the thought of God's Holy Mother, and the great mystery of the Incarnation; for we may say with truth, that the Angelus is a compendium of the grandest mysteries of our Faith, and that it re-awakens in our hearts a sense of wonder and gratitude, for that infinite act of Divine Love, which was announced by the Angel to the Virgin at Nazareth.

In Catholic countries, where the simplicity and devotion of former times may yet be seen, the people naturally uncover their heads and kneel down at the first sound of the Angelus. In Italy, in France, in Spain, in Ireland, this pious custom has always been preserved, and the following story is only one of the many proofs, of how much our Lady values it:------

"After the defeat of Don Carlos, the famous Pretender to the Spanish Throne, many of his followers were taken prisoners, among others Don Zavala, the most faithful of all his adherents. In course of time Don Zavala was brought before a court-martial to be tried for high treason, and after a very short sitting he was sentenced to death. He heard his fate with the utmost calm, and merely asked when the sentence would be carried out. 'This evening, half an hour before the Angelus,' was the reply. Don Zavala bowed his assent, and having asked for a Confessor, spent the interval in preparing for death. In the evening the guard arrived to lead him to the place of execution; he was quiet and composed, and passed apparently unmoved through the crowd of spectators who had assembled to see the famous Carlist die. Meantime the soldiers arranged themselves in single file, awaiting the order to fire.

" 'Present arms,' cried the officer. Immediately every gun was raised. There was a moment of awful silence, the onlookers held their breath, when suddenly the Angelus bell rang out loud and clear. Instinctively, every man
dropped on his knees with head uncovered. Don Zavala also knelt, and commended himself once again to the Mother of the God Who had redeemed him. Doubtless too, many a one in the kneeling crowd offered their prayer for him who in another minute would be standing before a heavenly tribunal. But it was not to be, Providence had otherwise ordained, for, as the last sound of the bell died away, an emissary rode up at full gallop, waving a white flag. The air was at once rent with shouts of delight, bursting from the immense multitude; party spirit, the desire of revenge, rancour, all these had been quelled by that unanimous recital of the Angelus. Zavala was pardoned; who his deliverer was he knew not, but he attributed the mercy bestowed on him to the intercession of Mary, the channel through whom life had been given to the whole human race."

The Power of a "Hail Mary"

Under this title the Catholic Times published some time ago, the following true story, told by a Lancashire priest:

"One day an honest workman came to the presbytery, and asked to speak with me at once. He said that he was
not a Catholic, but he would be very grateful if I would kindly visit his wife, who was in a decline, and he believed
that she had not very long to live. I asked him if she were a Catholic.

'No,' he answered, 'but she insists on seeing you, and will not hear of a clergyman of any other religion,' then inquired where he lived, and found that it was in the most miserable part of the town.

"On reaching the house, I was welcomed most eagerly by the poor woman. She at once declared of our religion. I was astonished at all this, for I learnt that not one of her relations or neighbors were Catholics; so I asked her somewhat anxiously if she really knew I was a Catholic priest. She answered in the affirmative, and added that she perfectly understood what she was saying, and what she was about. Under these circumstances, I at once began my instruction, and was surprised to find how quick the poor woman was; she was very eager and interested about all I had to teach her, and showed a very retentive memory. The thought of Confession and Communion did not trouble her, and as death did not seem so very near, I had time for a thorough preparation. After six weeks she made her first Confession, and when death was approaching she received the Last Sacraments with great devotion, dying a very happy and edifying death shortly after.

"Before her death, she made her husband solemnly promise to become a Catholic, and to send their two children to the Catholic school, and to have them brought up in the Faith. After his wife's death, he faithfully carried out this promise. He declared that he owed his conversion mainly to the extraordinary patience and cheerfulness which his wife showed during her painful illness. I myself have not the slightest doubt of the sincerity of her conversion, and I am firmly convinced that at her death she was a Catholic from the bottom of her heart.

"Astonished at the exceptional graces the poor woman had obtained, I was naturally curious to find out by what means she had merited such favours. I asked her if, before her illness, she had ever entered a Catholic church. Having received an answer in the negative, I continued: 'Have you ever spoken to a Catholic priest?' 'No,' she answered. Then I asked her if she knew the 'Our Father'-----she knew nothing of it-----nor did she know the Apostles Creed. 'Have you ever said any other prayer?' First, she answered in the negative; then, as I asked if she never prayed before going to bed, she answered, smiling, and hesitatingly, as if not quite sure, if what she did say deserved the name of prayer: 'When I was a little girl, I often played with some Catholic children, and I caught a few words from them, which I have repeated every night, before going to bed.' She then recited the words:

'Hail Mary, full of grace,' etc.

The secret was at last discovered. In the hour of death, Mary, her Heavenly Mother, had claimed her for her own."

To the Honor of Mary Immaculate

Three hundred years ago, when the Council of Trent was being held, the Pope sent Father James Laynez, a Jesuit, to join that venerable assembly, on account of his great learning and wisdom. The doctrine of Original Sin was then being treated of, and the question was proposed in this holy Council-----which was so visibly inspired by the Holy Ghost-----whether the most Blessed Virgin Mary had been conceived without the stain of Original Sin, or whether, after her conception, she had been sanctified, and freed from the stain common to all the children of Adam.

The humble Jesuit was asked his opinion on this matter, and being at that time in a very suffering state, he began by an apology for not being able to speak in a manner befitting so great and important a subject. He rose and stood before the Council, pale and emaciated but a heavenly light shone in his eyes, when he began to speak of the Mystery of our Lady's Immaculate Conception. He spoke with such great fervor and depth of wisdom, that for three whole hours, he kept the Assembly spell-bound under the powerful influence of his arguments. When he ceased, the Fathers of the Council declared "that it was not their intention to include the Holy and Immaculate Mother of God, in the decision they passed concerning Original Sin." Our Blessed Lady amply rewarded the humble defender of her glorious privilege, for she not only obtained for Father Laynez an increase of bodily strength, but also a brilliant flow of convincing arguments; and besides the heavenly light that shone in his countenance, he received the gift of such marvellous eloquence, that on this solemn occasion he spoke as he had never spoken before. Moreover, from that time, he was cured of the fever which had prostrated him, and never had a return of the same illness.

Taken from "MARIA SANCTISSIMA" by Rev. Dom Joseph A. Keller, DO., OSB, Imprimatured, 1907.

Mary's Picture

Such great misfortunes, following so closely, one after another, had come upon a certain family, that the father's confidence in God and his fellow-creatures, had given place to despair, which is the worst thing that can befall a man; and taking a rope, he resolved to go and hang himself. Before going away, he avoided seeing either his wife or little children, lest, perhaps, such a touching sight should hinder his evil design. He chose a lonely place situated outside the town, and planted with willow trees, for the execution of his desperate intention. On his way, he saw a square piece of white paper lying on the ground; he picked it up and turned it over; it was a little picture of our Lady, under which were the words:

"O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

"It is very wonderful," he thought, and he stood still, "that I should find this little picture, just now, pick it up and read these words." He went a little further looking at the words, "Pray for us who have recourse to thee." He stood still again; suddenly, he felt as if the love of life had returned, and he said: "Pray for us"-----he retraced his steps, and continued-----"who have recourse to thee." He threw away the rope, kissed the little picture of our Lady, and hastened back to his family. Embracing his wife and children, he asked their forgiveness, and then showed them the picture; they all knelt down, and said: "O Mary, Mother of God, pray for us who have recourse to thee!" After this, the man made known his sinful intention to the parish priest, and soon succeeded, with God's help, in freeing himself from all trouble. But he ever kept the little picture as a sacred treasure, for he said that it was through the instrumentality of this picture of the Mother of God, that he had been saved.