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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 March 9, 2021

Take no notice, my son; let them publish what they like. I f...

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March 9

 

Take no notice, my son;
let them publish what they like.
I fear God’s judgment and not that of men.
Only sin is to be feared
because it offends God and dishonors us.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Frances of Rome

At eleven she asked to become a religious but only met with...

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St. Frances of Rome

Frances was born in Rome in 1383, the daughter of noble, wealthy and pious parents. At eleven she asked to become a religious but only met with point blank refusal. A year later, the attractive, precocious girl was betrothed to Lorenzo Ponziano, a young man of good character, fortune and position. Frances submitted.

At first, married life was trying for the thirteen-year-old. One day Vannozza, her sister-in-law, found her weeping. To France’s surprise Vannozza revealed that she also would rather have been a religious. Thus was born a life-long friendship.

The two friends drew out a program for virtuous living amidst their social duties; they began to pray together, and to visit the sick in Rome. Their husbands supported them against wagging “social” tongues.

Frances and Lorenzo had three children: John Baptista, Evangelist and Agnes. Despite their privileged position, Frances would hear of none other caring for them.

Being supporters of the true Pope against the antipope during the great schism, the Ponzianis suffered through war, imprisonment and pillage of their estate. Frances’ husband was seriously wounded but recovered under her care, and her boy Baptista was taken hostage but was miraculously delivered.

During a pestilence young Evangelist died and Frances turned part of the house into a hospital.  God rewarded her labors with the gift of healing. In a vision she saw Evangelist accompanied by an Archangel. He revealed to his bereaved mother that Agnes was also soon to die, but as a consolation she would have the Archangel as her visible companion for twenty-three years. In the last part of her life she was to have an angel of even higher dignity.

By this time the fame of France’s virtues and miracles had spread throughout Rome and her assistance was sought from all quarters. With the full support of both her husband and her confessor she formed a society of women living in the world but dedicated to serving God and the poor. After seven years, they felt the need to establish a community house to which Frances retired after her husband’s death.

Frances died on the evening of March 9, 1440 saying: “The angel has finished his task: he beckons me to follow him.”

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

We are well aware Our Lady is constantly working and spreadi...

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Cause of Our Joy

We are well aware Our Lady is constantly working and spreading her graces as we travel to homes with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. On a recent visit in south Texas, we were surprised to see Our Lady’s visit to one household as the culmination of a beautiful story of grace, nine months in the making.  

Our hosts had gathered friends and neighbors from their small town on a sunny afternoon to welcome the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. As the program progressed, the lady of the house asked to tell a story about a certain grace she had received.

Two years ago, her daughter had suffered a miscarriage in her first pregnancy, which had a devastating effect on the family. This past year, the same daughter again became pregnant.  However, rather than being a cause for rejoicing, the family was apprehensive due to what had happened previously. Our hostess then explained how she and her husband vowed to take a dozen roses at the beginning of each month of the pregnancy to Our Lady’s shrine at the local parish, asking the Queen of Heaven for a safe delivery.

The florist of the town, upon hearing the story, took great care to make an extra-beautiful bouquet in honor of our Blessed Mother.

For nine months, the couple was faithful in bringing the flowers and asking Our Lady’s powerful help. To their great surprise, the final time coincided with our visit with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Our hostess began to cry tears of joy in telling the story, so honored was she to have such a clear sign of the intercession of the Mother of God. She then told that the doctors all gave reports of a healthy pregnancy, and the child was due any day now. The last bouquet of roses, lovingly arranged by the town’s florist, was placed at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in thanksgiving for a healthy pregnancy and their soon to be newborn grandchild.

We later learned that a healthy boy was born two days after the visit. Not only did Our Lady grant new life to a family who was so eager to welcome it, but she also restored the hope and strengthened the faith of this family and all who were gathered to share their joy. This easily brought to mind one of the beautiful titles of Our Lady from the Litany of Loreto: Causa nostrae letitiae, Cause of Our Joy. May Our Lady bring to the fullness of joy all who invoke her with confidence.

By Ben Broussard

Become a Child Of Mary

We are well aware Our Lady is constantly working and spreading her graces as we travel to homes with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. On a recent visit in south Texas, we were surprised to see Our Lady’s visit to one household as the culmination of a beautiful story of grace, nine months in the making.

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