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From time to time throughout History, God reminds His creatures, in very vivid ways, of "the four last things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell. In his History of the English Church, St. Bede the Venerable records one such occasion as it was told by an Irish monk named Haemgisl.

A wealthy man and a native of Northumbria in England, Drithelm was married and the head of a devout family. No particulars of his early life, other than these few, are known of him prior to the extraordinary event which changed the course of his life forever. In the year 693, Drithelm fell suddenly and gravely ill, died, viewed the afterlife, and was then permitted to return to life in order to tell others of his vivid experience.

The morning after his death, as his grieving family was gathered around his bier, Drithelm sat up. Frightened at the sight of the dead man come back to life, everyone but his wife ran away, terrified. “Be not afraid,” he said to her, “for now I am truly risen from death and allowed again to live among men... But,” he added, “hereafter I am not to live as I have been wont, but rather in a very different manner.”

Drithelm immediately left his house and went to church, where he spent many hours in prayer. Returning home the next morning, he divided up all his possessions among his wife, his children and the poor. He then gave a detailed account of his experience to King Aldfrith of Northumbria, Aethelwood Bishop of Lindisfarne and the Irish monk. At the sovereign’s request, the Abbot of Melrose Abbey admitted Drithelm into the monastery as a monk.

Drithelm spent the rest of his life in a hermitage on the banks of the River Tweed. His remaining years were indeed lived “in a different manner” as he gave himself over to constant prayer and mortification, often combining the two by standing in the freezing waters of the river, surrounded by floating ice, while reciting the psalms. To those who would comment on his extraordinary means of penance by such remarks as, “It is wonderful, Brother Drithelm, that you can stand such cold,” the monk would reply gravely, “I have seen greater cold.” To those that heeded, he would warn them to have a wholesome and holy fear of their lot in eternity, and to those who would stop awhile and listen, he would recount his vision, thereby influencing many for the good by his words and example.

What had changed Drithelm's whole way of life was an astounding vision of eternity that he had experienced while he was "dead."

After dying, Drithelm said he had found himself in the presence of a “handsome man in a shining robe.” This guide showed him three panoramas. The first was a long valley with a road running through it. One side was being consumed by a great fire, on the other blew a blizzard of freezing snow and hail. On both sides could be seen countless souls who would cast themselves from the fiery flames to cool off in the icy blizzard, and then throw themselves out from the blizzard to warm up in the fire. Drithelm thought this must be Hell, but his guide told him it was not.

They next came to a place of intense darkness. Here the guide withdrew and left him for awhile. Soon Drithelm saw a deep pit. Out of this pit, tongues of flame would throw up souls like sparks and then swallow them up again. Among those souls he saw a clergyman, a layman, and a woman. The stench of the pit was unbearable. As he stood looking, a crowd of devils surrounded him menacingly, but when his heavenly guide returned, they all fled.

The third vision was of a pleasant meadow full of sweet-scented flowers and happy people. “This is not the Kingdom of Heaven,” his guide informed him. When they went towards the kingdom and could sense from afar its light and sweetness, the guide would not let him go any farther. He then explained to Drithelm that the first valley was filled with people who had been saved only at the moment of death. They had much purification to endure, but the prayers and Masses offered for them on earth could shorten their suffering. The pleasant meadow was for those whose need for purification was slight. Those who died without imperfection, he said, would enter Heaven at once. But those who entered the dark hole of Hell could never escape.

His heavenly guide then told Drithelm that he must return to life, but should live thereafter “in a different manner.”

 


 Photo by: Unterrather

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 28, 2020

In the realm of evil thoughts none induces to sin as much as...

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January 28

 

In the realm of evil thoughts  
none induces to sin  
as much as do thoughts 

that concern the pleasure of the flesh. 

St. Thomas Aquinas


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

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Thomas Aquinas

Falling to his knees he begged God for the virtue of integri...

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St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas was born about 1225 in the castle of Rocca Secca, into the noble lineage of the family of Aquino. His father, Landulf, was a knight and his mother, Theodora, a countess.

At age five Thomas was sent to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino as an oblate and remained until thirteen. He was studious, meditative and devoted to prayer, and frequently asked the question, “What is God?”

Around 1236, the Abbot convinced Thomas’ father that such a talented lad should go to Naples to study, and there he shone academically. In Naples Thomas came under the influence of the Dominican Order of Preachers, and at nineteen was received into the Order.

His family was indignant because he had chosen a mendicant order. At Theodora’s orders two of his soldier-brothers imprisoned him in a castle. They even introduced a temptress into Thomas’ chamber whom he drove away with a brand snatched from the fire. Falling to his knees he begged God for the virtue of integrity of mind and body.  Falling asleep, he dreamt of two angels who girded him with a white girdle saying, “receive the girdle of perpetual virginity”, and he was never tempted by the flesh again – for which he is called “The Angelic Doctor”. He spent the two years of his captivity praying, studying and writing.

Finally his mother relented. Returning to the Dominicans they found that he had made so much progress on his own, that he was soon ordained. Sent to study in Cologne under St. Albert Magnus, his great size and silence earned him the encomium of “the Dumb Ox” but hearing his brilliant defense of a difficult thesis, St. Albert responded, "We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world."

Thomas received his doctorate in Theology in Paris, and went on to teach, preach, and write extensively. Between 1259 and 1268 he was in Italy as Preacher General teaching in the school of selected scholars attached to the Papal court. About 1266 he began writing the most famous of all his works, The Summa Theologiae.

In 1269 he was back in Paris, where he was a friend and counselor of King St. Louis IX. In 1272 he was recalled to Italy. On the feast of St. Nicholas the following year he received a revelation that caused him to leave his great Summa unfinished saying, “…all that I have written seems like so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”

Becoming ill, Thomas died on March 7, 1274 at fifty years of age. He was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a con...

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Our Lady and the Three Dresses

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

One day, their priest-confessor advised them that, as a preparation for the feast of the purification of Mary, they should recite the whole Rosary every day for forty days. The three nuns obediently complied.

On the night before that holy feast day, the Heavenly Mother appeared to the three nuns as they gathered in the choir. To the first of these three sisters she handed a rich garment, embroidered with gold. Holy Mary thanked her and blessed her.

She then handed to the second nun a much simpler garment, and also thanked her. Noticing the difference in the two garments, the second sister asked, "Oh Lady, why have you brought my sister a richer garment?" Mary Most Holy lovingly replied, "Because she has clothed me more richly with her prayers than you have done."

Mary then approached the third nun with a canvas garment. Being an observant young lady, this sister at once asked pardon for the half-hearted way in which she had prayed her rosaries.

A full year had passed when all three fervently prepared for the same feast, each saying her Rosary with great devotion. On the evening preceding the festival, Mary appeared to them in glory, and said to them: "Be prepared, for tomorrow you shall come to paradise."

The following morning dawned, full of promise. Each nun wondered if this would be her last day in this vale of tears. When evening came, would they retire to their modest cells once more, or did Holy Mary have something else in store for them?

The sisters related to their confessor what had occurred, and received communion in the morning. At the hour of compline (evening prayers) they saw again the most holy Virgin, who came to take them with her. Amid the songs of angels, one after the other sweetly expired.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

Many centuries ago, three young nuns lived together in a convent. Day after day, they took their meals together, they went to chapel together, and they prayed and sang together.

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