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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

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 19, 2020

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out wit...

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January 19

 

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent!
Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues.
I see that the world is rotten
because of silence.

St. Catherine of Siena


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

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Wulfstan of Worcester

The citizens of Bristol would kidnap men and sell them into...

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St. Wulfstan of Worcester

Wulfstan (Wulstan) was a native of Warwickshire, England.  After his priestly ordination, he became a novice at the monastery of Worcester where he edified all by the innocence and sanctity of his life. He was assiduous at prayer, often watching all night in church.

The first task assigned to him at the monastery was the instruction of children, then treasurer and eventually - though against his fierce resistance - he was made prior. In 1062, he was elected Bishop of Worcester.

Wulfstan was a powerful preacher, often moving his audience to tears.

To his vigorous action is particularly attributed the suppression of the heinous practice among the citizens of Bristol of kidnapping men into slavery and shipping them over to Ireland. St. Patrick who became the great apostle and patron of the Irish was such a slave in his youth.

After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror was initially uncertain about Wulfstan. But acknowledging his capacity and uprightness, Wulfstan was the only bishop William retained at his post under the new rule.

For the next thirty years Wulfstan rebuilt his cathedral, cared for the poor and put forth great effort in alleviating the harsh decrees of the Normans upon the vanquished Saxons. Whenever the English complained of the oppression of the Normans, Wulfstan told them: “This is a scourge of God for our sins, which we must bear with patience.”

The saintly bishop died on January 19 at eighty-seven years of age after washing the feet of a dozen poor men, a humble ritual he performed daily. He was canonized in 1203.

Photo by: Christopher Guy

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

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

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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