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Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, Apoc. 14:13

Stage Coach

 

In June of 1909, a stagecoach rumbled on a long journey to Gillette, Wyoming. One of the passengers, a priest, had sent word to the Catholic settlers out there that Mass would be offered on Sunday. The Northern Prairies had been so long without a priest that the reception of the Sacraments was only a fond memory.

 

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After Mass, the visiting priest watched a man, whom he had seen in the pews, riding up to him. He led another saddled horse.

“Father,” said the fellow smiling widely, “the stage doesn’t leave until late. What about a ride in the hills?”

“Wonderful!” responded the priest, and promptly mounted the saddled horse.

They had gone ten miles on the trackless prairie, when they saw something white flickering in the distance.

“What can that be way out here…?” asked the priest.

“Hmmm, Possibly a cowboy?” So they veered in the direction of the signal.

As they approached, they realized that the “something white” was a sheet being waved by a young woman.

On seeing the priest, she greeted him gladly, yet unexcitedly.

“Father, I’ve been looking for a priest, my brother is dying.”

The priest was mystified how a woman, out in the middle of no-man’s-land could have been “looking for a priest”, and on seeing one, received him in such a matter-of-fact manner.

But leaving such musings for later, he followed her to a tent. As she held open the flap, the priest caught sight of two candles gleaming on a small table. Between the candles was a crucifix, and a prayer book opened to the litany of the dying.

Giving the last ritesOn the cot next to the table was the woman’s brother, about thirty five, thin and worn. The priest quickly heard his confession, absolved and anointed him. In those days priests carried holy oils at all times.

As soon as the man received the last rites, he breathed his last.

And then the young woman told her story.

“Father, every day of his life my brother prayed for the assistance of a priest at his death. I hadn’t heard that you were visiting our region, and I had no idea where I would find a priest around here. This morning, my brother and I prayed for the last time. We said three Hail Marys, and then I went outside and waved the sheet.”

 

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Later, returning in the coach, the priest thought back to his visit, and that amazing, miraculous encounter, as a young man’s answer to a life-long prayer not to be allowed to die without the last sacraments of Confession and Extreme Unction or, as we say today, Anointing of the Sick.

Believing as he did, it’s no wonder the young man had prayed for such a grace his whole life.

Confession gives the penitent the assurance of complete pardon of all sins. Extreme Unction remits temporal punishment for sin, strengthens the soul against the last attacks of the devil, and further cleanses and prepares it for the supreme crossing. The last Anointing is such a powerful Sacrament, that, sometimes, it even restores bodily health.

Fingering the small bottle of holy oil in his pocket, the priest marveled at the courage of these two brave pioneers. As good Catholics, who gave their all in this life, they also knew the importance of dying in God’s Grace to be assured of God’s pardon and thus the right to eternal life.

 


 References: based on a story from Treasury of Catechism Stories by Rev. Lawrence B. Lovasik

 

 

DAILY QUOTE for February 24, 2019

God wishes to be served to the last breath, to the exhaustio...

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February 24

God wishes to be served
to the last breath, to the exhaustion of the last drop of strength,
and He multiplies our capacities for suffering and doing
so that our dedication may reach the extreme limit
of the unforeseeable, the improbable, the miraculous.
The measure of the love of God is
to love Him without measure, said Saint Francis de Sales.
The measure of fighting for God consists
in fighting without measure, it may be said.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

  
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SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Praetextatus

Fredegund, mistress of King Chilperic, a murderous woman res...

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St. Praetextatus

Praetextatus became the bishop of Rouen, France, in 549. The thirty-five years during which he occupied the position of bishop were riddled with troubles involving the Frankish monarchy, a result of which was a time of exile for the saint.
Among the players of this political drama was Fredegund, mistress of King Chilperic, a murderous woman responsible for several deaths in the royal family. Fredegund despised Praetextatus and opposed his return from exile, but a council in Rouen overruled her interference and reinstated the holy bishop to his see.

“The time is coming when you shall revisit the place of your exile.” She threatened the saint shortly before his death. “I was a bishop always, whether in exile or out of exile, and a bishop I shall remain; but as for you, you shall not always enjoy your crown.” He said, as he urged the queen to convert.

The wicked queen refused to reform her life, and in 586 as Praetextatus was offering Holy Mass, Fredegund had an assassin stab him under the arm. The mortally wounded bishop managed to drag himself to the altar and receive Holy Communion before he died.

WEEKLY STORY

Holding Hands with The “Gate of Heaven”

Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of...

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Holding Hands with The “Gate of Heaven”


Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of the most beautiful. This title gained a new meaning for me when I arrived for a Fatima home visit at the house of Dominique McGuire and found her in tears. Her mother, Marie Jeannine Michel, a native from Haiti, had suffered a massive heart attack the day before and was now dying.

I was more than happy to take the statue to visit her at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was painfully clear, when we arrived in the Intensive Care Unit, that this poor soul was reaching the end.

Over the next couple of hours we prayed numerous rosaries, litanies and the prayers for the dying by her bedside. We also struggled to provide the dying women with all the spiritual assistance we could.

As we prayed, the attending nurse, who happened to be Catholic, kept calling local Churches to find a priest who would administer last rites. Whenever she entered the room to care for Mrs. Michel she would join in the responses to the Hail Mary. Overwhelmed by the scene, she exclaimed, “I hope when I am dying someone will bring the statue to visit me and pray the rosary.”

Moments before the priest arrived, Dominique asked me if I had an extra scapular for her mother. I did not. As the priest administered the last rites I scurried from the room in search of this precious sacramental, only to find I was the only person wearing one. Mrs. Michel was in much more need of it than me, so with the help of a doctor we temporarily removed her oxygen mask and placed my scapular around the dying woman’s neck. Dominique then took her Miraculous Medal and pinned it on to the scapular.

The most moving part of this visit occurred when Mrs. Michel opened her eyes and showed signs she wanted to speak. When they removed the oxygen mask, Dominique told her mother, in their native tongue, that “Momma Mary” was in the room.

Since Mrs. Michel seemed to be already looking into eternity, with a type of “fog of death” in her gaze, I carried the statue over next to her bed. Surprisingly she reached up and took hold of our Lady’s hands and held on for some moments. The oxygen mask was then replaced as the nurse administered morphine to deaden the pain she was experiencing.

Mrs. Michel died at 6:00 AM the following morning with Dominique praying beside her bed.

While the America Needs Fatima home visitation program is a very rewarding apostolate, nothing on earth compares to the satisfaction of a visit like this. A person going through such a moving ordeal, however, could naturally ask, “Was there something more we could have done?”

In the case of Mrs. Michel, the answer is a resounding no. She received the last rites of Holy Mother Church, was clothed in the brown Scapular, and was almost continuously surrounded by the melodious sound of the Angelic Salutation.

Hours before she passed into eternity, Mrs. Michel also had the grace to hold hands with She who truly is the Gate of Heaven.

By: Norman Fulkerson

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Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of the most beautiful. This title had a new meaning for me when I arrived for a Fatima home visit at the house of Dominique McGuire and found her in tears.

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