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 Now and at the hour of our death
  By Michelle Taylor

 

After the Holy Ghost had descended in the form of fiery tongues on the Apostles on Pentecost day, Saint Peter stepped out before a great crowd and spoke with so much fire, unction, and wisdom that five thousand at once asked for holy baptism.

In that crowd was a poor, young woman, listening with all her soul. Her name was Lillian.

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Lillian was poor and humble, and busied herself with her household chores. Some days after that great day when she had heard Saint Peter preach, Lillian fell ill. Her malady gradually worsened and soon, exhausted and weakened, she took to her bed.

The devil, who is a very big coward, had been watching her very closely, “Ha, ha!” He thought, “Now that she is so weak and sickly I may prompt her to sin and, perhaps, even steal her new Faith from her.”

You see, my friends, the devil is very resentful of all who possess our holy Catholic Faith, for that Faith gives them the means to reach heaven and see the good God. This, the devil will never be able to do.

In her weakened state, the poor girl did consent to a few sins. Now, we all know that when we commit sins we become weaker, making it much easier for the devil to tempt us even more.

So, the devil now took on the appearance of a woman, approached Lillian’s sickbed, and began to talk to her about the new Church that had just been founded:

“You, know,” said the woman (who was really the devil), “you shouldn’t listen to what those disciples of that Man who just died on a cross have to say. They are deceiving you. All those things they are telling you are lies. You should stay away from them. If you don’t, the same priests and judges who crucified their Teacher will punish you.”

Lillian lying in bed, distressed, as the devil disguised as on old woman leavesOn and on went the devil, spinning his tale, until the young girl was nearly convinced that she should give up her newly acquired Faith. Still, she asked, “But, what about that lady whom I have seen with the Christians and who is so beautiful, so good, so kind and patient?”

“Oh,” replied the devil, “wouldn’t you know. She is the worst of them all! Don’t be deceived by her looks and her supposed kindness and patience!”

Hearing all this, young Lillian believed the fiend and gave up her Faith. At the same time, her health failed once and for all, and she was soon at death’s door.

Hearing of her condition from a neighbor, one of the seventy-two disciples of Our Lord Jesus visited her. Finding her so very sick, he tried to talk to her and help prepare her for the approaching end. But she would not listen to him. The more he tried to talk, the more she stopped her ears and asked him to leave her house.

Realizing that the girl was in great danger, the disciple immediately looked for the Apostle Saint John to tell him about Lillian’s plight. Saint John quickly made his way to the girl’s house and, on entering, beheld the poor creature lying on her bed surrounded by legions of demons.

On seeing Saint John, the demons retired, but, still, there was nothing the Apostle could do to convince Lillian to return to her Faith. The girl could not be reached. As soon as Saint John left, all of the devils came right back, tormenting the poor girl and making sure that she remained in their clutches.

Very worried, Saint John lost no time in visiting the Blessed Virgin, who was then living in Jerusalem, to tell her of Lillian and her great danger. Our Lady was much concerned and immensely sorry for this simple sheep whom the devil was trying to snatch from her Son.

The angels stop Our Lady and St. John on their way to visit LillianNow, our great Lady had, among all her gifts, the ability to see with the eyes of her soul all that happened with her Son’s Church. Gazing with these interior eyes, she could see the poor young girl on her bed, suffering terribly and surrounded by hideous devils. Retiring to her chamber, she prostrated on the floor, and begged God to save that tormented soul.

After having prayed, the holy Lady called one of the angels that always accompanies her and bade him go to the young girl to try his mightiest to return her to her senses. The angel obeyed immediately, and was soon back.

“My Lady, I return from the task of assisting this girl in her mortal danger, as thou, Mother of Mercy, had commanded me. Alas, so hard is her heart that she will not listen to me. I have fought against the demons but they resisted, saying that, by right, this soul belongs to them because she gave herself to them willingly. God has not enabled me to fulfill thy will. I am sorry, my Lady, but I cannot give thee this consolation.”

The loving mother was quite saddened at this news but, being truly our mother, she would not give up on this poor girl.

Once more, with her face to the ground, she beseeched God Our Lord to deliver this poor soul from the devil’s clutches. Our Lord, however, seemed not to hear her. Sometimes He did this only to hear His sweet mother’s voice calling to Him longer. Besides, He was sure she would do the right thing.

Even though her Son said nothing from heaven, the Blessed Lady knew that she had to help. Whenever a charitable act had to be done, no one was as eager as the Blessed Virgin, our Mother to accomplish it.

Turning to Saint John then, she said: “Come with me, my son. I am going myself to help this young dove who is so deceived.” Closing the door of the Cenacle behind them, they made their way to the girl’s house, which was not far from there.

As soon as they had gone but a few paces, several angels appeared before them and blocked their progress. The holy Mother asked them why they did this, and they answered: “There is no reason that we should allow you to walk, my Lady, when we can carry you.” Saying this, they made a throne of shining clouds and, seating the great Lady upon it, they carried her right to Lillian’s bedside.

Lo, as soon as the Blessed Lady appeared in the room, the devils made such haste to leave that that they tripped over each other in their flight! The powerful Queen commanded them to return to hell and to remain there until she gave them permission to come out. So ordered, they could do nothing but give in to her command.

This kindest of mothers then approached the girl and, taking her hand and calling her by name, spoke to her sweetest words of life. Immediately, the girl felt better and refreshed.

Our Lady reassures Lillian of the truth of the faith. Lillian embraces the cross. “My Lady,” she said, “a woman came to me and told me that the disciples of Jesus were deceiving me and that I had better separate myself from them and from thee. She said that if I accepted their way of life, great misfortune would befall me.”

The Queen answered: “My daughter, she who seemed to you a woman was your enemy, the devil. I come in the name of the Most High to give you eternal life. Return, then, to His true Faith, and confess Him with all your heart as your God and Redeemer. Adore Him and ask Him to forgive you your sins.”

“All this,” the girl answered, “I believed before, but the woman told me it was all very bad and that they would punish me if I should ever confess it.”
The heavenly teacher replied: “My daughter, do not fear this deceit; remember that the only punishments to be really feared are those of hell, to which the demon wants to take you.”

The poor girl was soon crying and most sorry for what she had done. She begged the good Lady to continue to help her and to bring her back to the Church.

The Blessed Mother then sent for Saint John to administer the Sacraments to the dying girl. Repeating the acts of contrition and love and invoking Jesus and Mary, the girl died happily in the arms of the good Mother.

The great Lady had remained with her two hours to prevent any demons from returning. Her help was so complete that not only did she restore the girl to eternal life, but also made up for her Purgatory with her own prayers. As soon as Lillian breathed her last, the great Queen handed her soul to one of the twelve angels who are the special guardians of all those who have devotion to Mary and bade him deliver her to Heaven.

So, my dear friends, every time we say the Hail Mary and come to the words “pray for us now, and at the hour of our death,” let us remember this story and ask the Blessed Mother with all our hearts to be with us at that hour just as she was with Lillian. Better still, if we are her faithful devotees all throughout our lives, no devil, no matter how powerful, will ever overcome us. And, in the hour of our death, this Mother, who is so sweet to her children and so terrible to the devil, will come herself to take us to her Son and to eternal happiness.

 


 Adapted for Crusade's "Family Series" from a story told by Venerable Mary of Agreda in The Mystical City of God

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 12, 2020

“Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the...

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July 12

 

“Know you not
that you are the temple of God, and
that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
(1 Corinthians 3:16)

St. Paul the Apostle


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. John Gualbert

Meeting his brother’s murderer in a narrow alley, he was a...

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St. John Gualbert

John Gualbert or Giovanni Gualberto, was a Florentine nobleman who one day, meeting his brother’s murderer in a narrow alley was about to slay him when the culprit, falling to his knees, implored mercy with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. It was a Good Friday, and Gualbert, suddenly reminded of Jesus Crucified, embraced the man and forgave him.

Going on his way, John entered the monastery of St. Miniato where he knelt before a crucifix. As he prayed, the crucifix miraculously bowed his head in thanks for John’s act of generosity. Struck to the heart, Gualbert sought the abbot, asked to be given the religious habit, and was ultimately accepted.

He later left St. Miniato with a companion, looking for a more perfect way of life and founded, in Vallombrosa near Fiesole, a new order based on the primitive, austere rule of St. Benedict adapted to the particular circumstances of his time.

He was known for his zeal but also for his mildness, and for making the burden of discipline sweet. In his humility he never received even minor orders. He zealously fought simony, which is the sale of ecclesiastical posts.

His order grew and monasteries multiplied, which were a blessing to their regions and especially to the poor, as no beggar was ever turned away empty handed.

Popes sought his wise counsel, and Pope Alexander II testified that the whole country where he lived owed the extinction of simony to his zeal.

John Gualbert died on July 12, 1073 being eighty or more years of age. Pope Celestine III canonized him in 1193.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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