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The Dying Wish Header

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 February 23, 2020

Prayer is the conversation of a child with its Father; of a...

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February 23

 

Prayer is the conversation
of a child with its Father; of a subject with his King;
of a servant with his Lord; of a friend with the Friend
to whom he confides
all his troubles and difficulties.

St. John Vianney

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

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Polycarp

A spear was thrust into his side, killing him. A dove flew o...

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St. Polycarp

Polycarp, a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, was part of the group of early bishops. When heresy arose in Asia, violence toward Catholics arose with it, and Polycarp was persuaded by his friends to go into hiding.

Eventually Polycarp was found and arrested. When his persecutors arrived at his hideout, he went to them and served them a meal, asking for a short time to pray before being taken away. Polycarp was sent to trial, where his captors tempted him with freedom and tried to convince him to denounced Our Lord. “Fourscore and six years I have served Him and He hath done me no wrong,” he said, “how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

Soon after this, in the year 155, Polycarp was burnt at the stake – though there was no odor of burning flesh: instead a smell of incense was in the air. When the fire seemed to do him no harm, a spear was thrust into his side, killing him. A dove flew out of the wound, and Polycarp’s blood quenched the fire, causing part of his body to remain intact. However, his remains were later burned to ash because the heretics feared other Catholics would revere the body as a relic.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Catholics proclaim their Faith in the public square as they...

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Why Ash Wednesday? Why Ashes?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent symbolic of the forty days Our Lord fasted in the desert. Occurring forty six days before Easter, it is consequently moveable-as early as February 4 and as late as March 10.

The ashes applied to the forehead, made from the palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday, are blessed, perfumed with incense, and hydrated with a little holy water or oil as a binding agent. Thus treated, the ashes are considered a Sacramental.

The Catholic Church is replete with sacramentals, holy objects, words and rituals that we can see, touch and hear to help convey to our spirit an attitude of openess to Grace.

The ash used on Ash Wednesday, accompanied by the words "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," or, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" places us in a disposition of penance and humility, which is the attitude needed for a fruitful, Grace-filled Lent.

Sacramentals are specially potent when well explained to children who are so visual and touch oriented. They are a powerful means to convey the unseen mysteries of our Faith to their young minds. 

 

WOC Devotional Set Flag

Catholics proclaim their Faith in the public square as they go about marked with a black cross.

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