Stories of Mary 11: Mother of Penitent Sinners
Neither in heaven nor on earth can I find one who
has more compassion for the miserable,
or who can aid me more than you.
It is narrated by Belluacensis that in Ridolio, a city of England, in the year 1430, there lived a young nobleman named Ernest, who gave all his patrimony to the poor, and entered a monastery, where he led so holy a life that he was greatly esteemed by his superiors, particularly for his special devotion to the most holy Virgin.
It happened that a pestilence prevailed in that city and the citizens had recourse to that monastery to ask the prayers of the monks.
The abbot ordered Ernest to go and pray before the altar of Mary, and not to quit it until she had given him an answer. The youth remained there three days, and received from Mary, in answer, some prayers, which were to be said. They were said, and the plague ceased.
It happened afterwards that this youth became less ardent in his devotion to Mary; the devil assailed him with many temptations, especially to impurity, and to a desire to flee from the monastery; and having neglected to recommend himself to Mary, he resolved to take flight by casting himself from the wall of the monastery; but passing before an image of the Virgin which stood in the corridor, the mother of God spoke to him, and said: “My son, why do you leave me?”
Ernest was overwhelmed with surprise, and, filled with compunction, fell on the earth, saying: “My Lady, behold, I have no power to resist, why do you not aid me?” and the Madonna replied: “Why have you not invoked me? If you had sought my protection, you would not have been reduced to this; from this day commend yourself to me, and have confidence.”
Ernest returned to his cell; but the temptations were renewed, yet he neglected to call upon Mary for assistance. He finally fled from the monastery, and leading a bad life, he went on from one sin to another, till he became an assassin. He rented an inn, where in the night he murdered unfortunate travelers and stripped them of all they had.
One night he killed, among others, the cousin of the governor of the place, who, after examination and trial, condemned him to the gallows.
But during the examination [court trial], a young traveler arrived at the inn, and the host, as usual, laid his plans and entered his chamber to assassinate him: but on approaching the bed, he finds the young man gone and a Christ on the cross, covered with wounds, in his place.
Our Lord, looking compassionately at him, said: “Is it not enough that I have died once for thee? Dost thou wish to slay me again? Do it, then; lift thy hand and kill me!” Then the poor Ernest, covered with confusion, began to weep, and exclaimed: “Oh Lord, behold me ready to return to thee, who hast shown me so much mercy.”
He immediately left the inn to go back to the monastery to do penance; but the officers of justice overtook him on the way. He was carried before the judge and in his presence confessed all the murders he had committed.
He was at once condemned to death, without even being allowed time for confession. He commended himself to Mary. He was hung upon the gallows, but the Virgin prevented his death.
She herself released him, and said to him: “Return to the monastery; do penance; and when you shall see in my hand a paper containing the pardon of thy sins, then prepare to die. Ernest returned, and having related all to the abbot, did great penance.
After many years, he saw in the hand of Mary the paper containing his pardon; he then prepared for his last end, and died a holy death.
Oh Mary, sovereign queen, and worthy mother of my God, most holy Mary! Finding myself so vile, so laden with sin, I dare not approach thee and call thee mother.
But I cannot let my miseries deprive me of the consolation and confidence I feel in calling thee mother. I know that I deserve to be rejected by thee, but I pray thee to consider what thy son Jesus has done and suffered for me; and then cast me from thee if thou canst.
I am a poor sinner, who, more than others, has despised the divine Majesty; but the evil is already done.To thee I have recourse: thou canst help me; oh, my mother, help me. Do not say that thou canst not aid me, for I know that thou art omnipotent, and dost obtain whatever thou desireth from thy God.
If then thou sayest that thou canst not help me, at least tell me to whom I must have recourse for succor in my deep distress. With St. Anselra, I will say to thee, and to thy Son: Have pity on me, oh thou, my Redeemer, and pardon me, thou my mother, and recommend me to pardon; or teach me to whom I may have recourse, who is more compassionate than you, and in whom I may have more confidence.
No, neither in heaven nor on earth can I find one who has more compassion for the miserable, or who can aid me more than you.
Thou, oh Jesus, art my father, and thou, oh Mary, art my mother. You love those who are the most wretched, and you seek to save them. I am worthy of hell, and of all beings the most miserable; you need not to seek me, neither do I ask you to seek me; I present myself to you with a sure hope that I shall not be abandoned by you. Behold me at your feet; my Jesus, pardon me; my Mary, help me.
“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy
Stories of Mary 13: Mary’s Delayed Response
A True, Recent Story…
Three months after her husband had been buried,
a priest knocked on her door and asked,
"Are you Mrs. Donna E.?"
(3 minute read - Enjoy!)
America Needs Fatima has 8 to 11 full-time teams of Fatima Custodians crisscrossing America all year long. Each team carries a replica of the miraculous Pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady of Fatima that wept 13 times. Her most recent weeping–photographed, investigated, and ecclesiastically approved–was in a church in New Orleans, USA, during the evening of July 17, 1972. (story and photo here)
Along with taking the statue of Our Lady of Fatima into their hosts’ homes, our Fatima Custodians show an audio-visual presentation on Mary’s apparitions in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, and speak about her prophetic message to the world.
Kenneth Murphy, one of our Custodians, relays the following true story from a Fatima home visit:
“Hosting the Fatima Visit was Mrs. Donna E., in Arlington, VA.
While explaining how to fulfill the Five First Saturdays devotion I asked, ‘Does anyone know Our Lady’s promise to those who make this devotion?’
Donna replied, "Those making the Five First Saturdays will receive all the graces they need for salvation before they die." (see note in P.S.)
She then said that her husband had loved making the Five First Saturdays devotion. However, when he died, it seemed that Our Lady hadn't kept her promise… He passed away suddenly.
Here’s what happened
One day Donna’s husband was traveling through snow-covered roads. Suddenly, he suffered a heart attack, lost control, and crashed.
The ambulance promptly arrived but, unfortunately, her husband passed away on the way to the hospital.
When Donna arrived at the hospital, she was told that he had died, and, unfortunately, without the benefits of the Church’s Sacraments…Besides the obvious grief at such news, she was anxious as to the state of his soul at that last moment.
Apparently, Our Lady hadn't kept her promise
Three months after Donna’s husband had been buried, a priest knocked on her door and asked, "Are you Mrs. Donna E.?"
The priest then related how, three months earlier, he had been driving behind her husband and saw him lose control of his car.
He said, "I knew right away that he had experienced a heart attack and was in danger of dying." The priest stopped, ran over and asked, "Are you a Catholic?" Mr. E. responded in the affirmative.
He was in a lot of pain but was able to make a full confession to the priest. The priest heard his confession and gave him Last Rites before the ambulance arrived.
Because the priest had been on his way to say Mass, when the ambulance arrived, he left for the Church.
After hearing that Mr. E. had passed on the way to the hospital, the priest felt that it was important to let the family know that he had had the Last Rites. The medical facility, however, would not give him the family's information.
Only after three months did someone at the hospital give him an address.
Indeed, Our Lady had kept her promise!
P.S. OUR LADY’S EXACT WORDS: On December 10, 1925, Our Lady promised to Sister Lucia (the oldest Fatima seer) that she would “…assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months confess, receive Holy Communion, pray a Rosary, and keep me company for a quarter of an hour meditating on the fifteen mysteries with the intention of offering me reparation.” [back to text]
Stories of Mary 12: At The Hour Of Our Death
Very worried, Saint John lost no time
in visiting the Blessed Virgin
to tell her of Lillian and
her great danger...
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.
Lillian was poor and humble, and busied herself with her household chores. A short time 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.”
On 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 soul whom the devil was trying to snatch from her Son.
Now, 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 myself going 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.
“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.
Adapted by Michelle Taylor for Crusade Magazine’s “Family Series” from a story told by Venerable Mary of Agreda in The Mystical City of God
Stories of Mary 14: “Forced” To Confess
She Could Find No Peace, And Was Forced,
As It Were, To Go To Confession.
(4.5 minute read - Enjoy!)
No sinner need ever fear that he shall be rejected by Mary, if he has recourse to her mercy. No, for she is mother of mercy; and as such, desires to save the most miserable.
Mary is that happy ark in which he who takes refuge will never suffer the shipwreck of eternal ruin.
Even the brutes were saved in the time of the deluge in the ark of Noe; so, under the mantle of Mary, even sinners are saved.
St. Gertrude one day saw Mary with her mantle extended, beneath which many wild beasts, lions, bears, and tigers had sheltered themselves; and Mary not only did not cast them from her, but received them with pity and caressed them.
And by this the saint understood, that the vilest sinners, when they flee to Mary, are not cast out, but welcomed and saved from eternal death. Let us enter, then, into this ark, and seek refuge under the mantle of Mary; for she certainly will not reject us, and will surely save us.
It is narrated by Father Bevius, of a very sinful person named Helen, that having gone to church; she accidentally heard a sermon on the rosary.
As she went out she bought one but carried it hidden, so that it should not be seen. Afterwards, she began to recite it; and although she recited it without devotion, the most holy Virgin infused into her heart such consolation and sweetness in it, that she could not cease repeating it.
And by this she was inspired with such a horror of her evil life, that she could find no peace, and was forced, as it were, to go to confession. She confessed with so much contrition, that the confessor was amazed.
Having finished her confession, she went immediately before an altar of the blessed Virgin, to thank her advocate; she recited her rosary, and the divine mother spoke to her from her image, and said, “Helen, you have too long offended God and me; henceforth change your life, and I will bestow upon you many of my favors.”
The poor sinner, in confusion, answered: “Ah, most holy Virgin, it is true that hitherto I have been very sinful, but thou, who art all-powerful, assist me; I give myself to thee, and will pass the remainder of my life in doing penance for my sins.”
Assisted by Mary, Helen bestowed all her goods upon the poor, and commenced a rigorous penance. She was tormented by dreadful temptations, but she continued to recommend herself to the mother of God; and always, with her aid, came off victorious.
She was favored also with many supernatural graces, as visions, revelations, and prophecies. At last, before her death, of which she had been warned a few days previously by Mary, the Virgin herself came with her Son to visit her; and in death, the soul of this sinner was seen, in the form of a beautiful dove, ascending to heaven.
Behold, oh mother of my God, Mary, my only hope, behold at thy feet a miserable sinner, who implores thy mercy. Thou art proclaimed and called by the whole Church, and by all the faithful, the Refuge of Sinners; thou then art my refuge; it is thine to save me. Thou knowest how much thy Son desires our salvation. Thou, too, knowest what Jesus Christ suffered to save me.
I offer to thee, oh my mother, the sufferings of Jesus; the cold which He endured in the stable, the steps of His long journey into Egypt, His toils, His sweat, the blood that He shed, the torments which caused His death before thy eyes upon the cross; show thy love for this Son, whilst I, for the love of him, beg thee to aid me.
Extend thy hand to a fallen creature, who asks pity of thee. If I were a saint, I would not ask for mercy; but because I am a sinner, I have recourse to thee, who art the mother of mercies. I know that thy compassionate heart finds consolation in succoring the wretched, when thou canst aid them, and dost not find them obstinate in their sins.
Console then, today, thy own compassionate heart, and console me; for thou hast a chance to save me, a poor wretch condemned to hell; and thou canst aid me, for I will not be obstinate.
I place myself in thy hands; tell me what I must do, and obtain for me strength to do it, and I will do all I can to return to a state of grace.
I take refuge beneath thy mantle. Jesus Christ wishes me to have recourse to thee, that, for thy glory and His, since thou art His mother, not only His blood, but also thy prayers, may aid me to obtain salvation.
He sends me to thee that thou mayest assist me. Oh Mary, I hasten to thee, and in thee I trust. Thou dost pray for so many others, pray, and say also one word for me. Say to God, that thou desirest my salvation, and God certainly will save me. Tell Him that I am thine; this is all I ask from thee. Amen.
“Stories of Mary” are taken from the Glories of Mary, translated from the Italian of St. Alphonsus Liguori; New Revised Edition, P.J. Kennedy & Sons. Copyright 1888 by P.J. Kennedy
SAINT OF THE DAY
Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks.