Cecy and Her “New Friend”
Jul 15, 2022 / Written by: Pauline Sanders
This is a true story based on the autobiography of Cecy Cony, later Sister Maria Antonia, O.F.M. Cecy was born in Brazil in 1900 and had the privilege, as this story recounts, of seeing and hearing her Guardian Angel from her childhood until the age of 30. Sr. Maria Antonia died in 1939.
While faithful to the facts, we have adapted the narration for young readers with the intention of publishing a fully illustrated book for children containing all the episodes published in Crusade Magazine. But for now, we are delighted to share this beautiful story here on the ANF Website.
The Golden Key
It was my first day at school and I was assigned to replace dear Miss Mable, who had just passed away a few days before.
She had taught for thirty-some years at the school. She was the kindest and most accomplished teacher I had ever known. Every one talked about her, loved her, and valued her words as gospel truth.
I thought to myself, how was I going to fill such big shoes? I looked down at my little feet and then back up at the fifteen pairs of little eyes staring at me. I took a deep breath and sat down.
“Ouch!” I screamed, jumping up. I looked down at the chair and right in the center of the seat was a pincushion.
By now, the sweet little angels were roaring with laughter. Some were doubled over, others were bouncing up and down clapping their hands, and the rest were shaking with giggles.
I knew it! I knew I was going to get a bunch of black-winged angels, I thought. Angels… Suddenly the idea occurred to me. I remembered another angel. It made me smile thinking about it. I waited patiently. Eventually the class settled down. I removed the pincushion, pulled the chair around the desk, and sat down.
“Everyone close their books,” I demanded.
Surprisingly, the children obeyed.
“Does anyone know what the golden key is?”
The children shook their heads.
Getting up, I went to the blackboard and drew a beautiful, sparkling key. “This,” I said, “is the key that will open the door.”
“What door?” asked one.
“Does it take you to a magical place?” asked another.
Well, I had certainly caught their attention.
“That is for you to find out,” I responded.
“Right,” Johnny with the round face grumbled.
“There is no key,” another said.
“Shhh, listen,” a little girl with bright red hair muttered. I found out later that her name was Lucy.
“I am going to tell you a story about how to find this wonderful key. Whoever finds it first,” I continued, “will get to open the door. Agreed?”
“I am getting it first.”
“No I am!”
“Well, if you all would be quiet,” the same little girl said, “we could find out.”
"This is a true story,” I began…
Cecy and God the Father
In the land of Brazil around the year 1900 there lived a little girl who had a very special friend. Her name was Cecy Cony. One day, when Cecy was about four years old, there was a big storm. The thunder scared little Cecy who was sitting outside on the front porch. She was so frightened that she ran and hid her head on her daddy’s lap.
“Do you hear that?” her father said. “That is Our Father in heaven Who is angry with the children and grown-ups who don’t want to be good. But when little children are good, our heavenly Father commands the sun to shine and He is very happy.”
Little Cecy listened intently. She realized that in Heaven our good God watches everything we do. Every day afterwards the first thing little Cecy would do when she awoke in the morning was to check and see if the sun was shining or if it was raining. When it rained without thunder, she imagined that her heavenly Father was just sad with her and not angry. She thought about all the naughty things she had done. She remembered the time she had not allowed Acacia, her nursemaid, to put ringlets in her hair or had called her ugly. She thought about the time she had thrown food on the floor because she did not want to eat it. That day it had rained and thundered. Every time little Cecy did something wrong, she would run to her mother’s bedroom where a picture of the Eternal Father with a long white beard hung on the wall. She would look up at Him to check if He was angry with her. He never seemed to be angry since His face had not changed. This was how Cecy began to love our good God, for He seemed to be so patient with her, just like her good father. She did not want to make the good God sad anymore.
“You see,” I continued, “look how dark it is getting.” I pointed to the window and fifteen little heads turned simultaneously. The clouds were rolling in from far away, and the sound of thunder could be heard.
The children were amazed. They couldn’t believe it. Could it be that our good Father in heaven was upset with them?
“I told you we shouldn’t have put the pincushion on her chair,” someone said.
“Shhh, she will hear you,” another child whispered.
“Be quiet,” said the little girl with the red hair, “let Teacher tell the story.”
After a moment’s pause, I continued. “You see children, that is why we should never do anything to hurt our good God in heaven. It makes Him very sad and then it rains. Let’s pray it doesn’t thunder.” The children were dumfounded. Some looked like they were about to burst into tears. Others began to sniffle.
Little Johnny broke the silence by asking a question. “Is that also our good God in Heaven?” he asked, pointing to the crucifix on the wall.
“Yes,” I replied. “But that is our good God’s Son, Who is also God. His name is Jesus. I will tell you how Cecy found out about Him.”
Cecy and God the Son
One day, a friend of the family, Mrs. Mimosa, came to visit Cecy’s mother. Cecy liked her very much and always ran to her when she was in the house.
Picking the little girl up, Mrs. Mimosa brought her over to a large bureau where there was a large crucifix. She told Cecy about Jesus and how He also lives in Heaven with His Father. He wants us to be good so that we too may go to Heaven and live with Him. But most people don’t want to be good. They prefer to go to a place called Hell where people are punished for all the bad things they have done. However, our good God in Heaven does not want people to go to Hell. So He sent His Own Son Jesus to live here on Earth, that He might ask all the people to be good and to do only what His Father in Heaven wanted them to do.
But bad men did not like the good Jesus. They hurt Him very much; they mocked Him, spit on Him, and gave Him over to bad soldiers who tied Him to a cross. Then they put these huge nails through Jesus’ hands and feet. After the good Jesus lost all of His blood, He died. Three days after; He resurrected from the dead and eventually went back to Heaven.
Hearing this Cecy felt a great pain in her heart. She buried her face in Mrs. Mimosa’s shoulder and sobbed. Both Mrs. Mimosa and Cecy’s mother did not know what was making Cecy so sad so they called the nursemaid Acacia and asked her to take the little girls to watch the pony being washed down outside.
Cecy was filled with pity for the good God hanging there on that cross. It was Cecy’s first great sorrow.
From that day on, she decided to be very good and guard the crucified Jesus Who hung on the black cross over the bureau in her mother’s bedroom so that He wouldn’t be afraid of the bad soldiers anymore. When it began to get dark, Cecy would go and stand next to the crucifix. She would stay a very long time keeping Jesus company. It was hard for Cecy because when the room got dark she was afraid.
But she loved Our Lord Jesus so much that she would rather remain afraid than leave Him alone.
Cecy Goes to Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras approached. In Brazil, Mardi Gras is called Carnival and it is a big affair. On the day before Ash Wednesday, the people go to the streets and squares wearing colorful costumes and masks. They skip, jump, dance, and throw colorful bits of paper at each other.
That year was the first time little Cecy was going to a Carnival. Cecy thought the masks were people’s real faces. She was terrified. To her, they reminded her of those ugly people that go to the bad place because of their wrongdoings. All she knew was she had to get away. In her fear, she began to walk toward the gate, leaving her family behind. She wanted to get home. Soon, she was swallowed up in the big crowd. She felt so alone, but then she remembered Jesus on the cross back home, Who was also alone. It saddened her that she couldn’t have brought Him with her. She also remembered that our good Father in Heaven sees all things. He was also watching over her.
Suddenly, a huge man with a mask and horrible flashing eyes grabbed her hand and began to take her away. Little Cecy felt that she could have died of fright. She had gone a few steps when she sensed at her side, without actually seeing anything, a presence that came to protect her from the big bad man. Even though not visibly, Cecy somehow knew he was there — the angel she had seen on a picture at a friend’s house. She knew it as certainly as she knew the bad man on the other side of her. Yes, she had seen him before in that picture. It was a picture of an angel looking over two little children. Suddenly, the masked man let go of her hand and disappeared into the crowd.
Cecy was not afraid anymore. With her “New Friend” by her side she felt perfectly safe. She knew her Father in Heaven had sent this angel to watch over her.
Then, she saw Acacia, running frantically toward her. She felt so calm with the presence of her New Friend, that Acacia, looking at her quickly, calmed down and said nothing more of the matter. From that day on, her New Friend never left her side. Little Cecy understood him perfectly even though she never heard his holy voice. She called him “my New Friend” until she was six years old when she learned that his real title was “Guardian Angel.”
She was also no longer afraid when watching the large crucifix by the bureau when it began to get dark. Her New Friend was always there with her.
“And now, children, the bell has rung and it is time to go home. We will continue next time — if all of you are good.”
“Hello children,” I said as I finished wiping the black board. “Since your parents tell me you have been good this week, would you like to hear the continuation of the story about Cecy?”
“Oh, yes!” the whole class clamored.
“The last time we spoke, Cecy had been rescued at the carnival by her New Friend, right?”
The whole class assented.
“All right,” I began, after making myself comfortable, “let us continue.”
Cecy and Her Friend Go to the Seashore
Not long after the carnival, little Cecy overheard her father speaking about going to the seashore. The whole family was going to go, even Abelino, the soldier who groomed the horse, Congo. Cecy was delighted and began to make preparations for the trip. She began by putting her teddy bear and doll in a basket given to her by Mrs. Mimosa.
Suddenly, she recalled that her dear crucified Jesus, above the bureau, would remain alone in the dark, closed up in the house. That would not do, she thought. After all, it was her dear Jesus Who had sent her New Friend to protect her at the carnival from the big bad man. Her soul was filled with sorrow for her God hanging on the cross. She could not leave Him alone. How was she going to take Him without anyone knowing? Looking down at the basket, she suddenly had a wonderful idea. She would take out the teddy bear and the doll and put the crucifix in its place.
Clapping her hands, she gleefully ran to her mother’s room and took the crucifix down from the bureau. Gently wrapping it in a small blanket, Cecy placed it in the basket.
So this is how Cecy, her New Friend, and the crucifix went to the seashore with the family. Cecy guarded the basket at all times, and when they arrived at the shore, she kept it at the foot of her bed.
The classroom was silent. So I continued. “Now children,” I said, “I am going tell you how Cecy was prepared for her first Holy Communion.
Cecy’s First Day at School
It was the first day at school. Cecy was about five years old and she was introduced to Sister Eugene who welcomed Cecy and her two sisters. She was extremely kind. She sat the three of them on the front bench. Cecy noticed a cross-shaped piece of cloth on Sister Eugene’s chest, sewn to her habit. She had never seen a nun before and soon grew to like Sister Eugene very much.
And oh, there on the wall Cecy saw a cross as big as herself with her crucified Jesus. His hands and feet were nailed to the wood and there was a big wound on His side over His heart. Cecy was so saddened by this sight that she began to cry. Thinking that she was feeling homesick, Sister Eugene tried to console her and after a while, took her to the next classroom.
In this room, a crucifix also hung on the wall and to her great joy, a picture of her New Friend just like the one she had seen at the home of Captain Bezerra. Later, she was taught that her New Friend was called her Guardian Angel. Cecy sat quietly on the bench while her New Friend stood by her all the time.
Sitting behind the desk was another Sister, Mother Rafaela, who was to be her teacher and whom Cecy learned to love dearly. Here, Cecy quickly learned how to make the sign of the cross, say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostle’s Creed, and the beautiful prayer to her New Friend who never left her side.
Mother Rafaela also taught her about her good Father in Heaven. Mother Rafaela referred to Him as God. It was the first time Cecy realized that her good Father in Heaven was God. Mother Rafaela also spoke about the soul, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and how horrible sin is to God. Cecy thought about all these things and knew that her Guardian Angel would explain them even better to her with time.
Cecy and the Little White Host
However, what really fascinated Cecy was when Mother Rafaela spoke about the little white Host.
When Cecy realized that her good God and the same good Jesus who lived and died for us was in the little white Host, she wanted to receive Him into her heart. Soon, she began to love the little white Host very much.
One day, Sister Irene asked all the girls who had not received first Holy Communion to raise their hands. Cecy raised her hand with the others but, to her great disappointment, Sister Irene told her she was too young. She would, however, be allowed to participate in the classes that were given to prepare the children to receive Jesus.
This was not enough for Cecy. It was the first time she felt very unhappy. She already loved her dear Jesus very much. Why couldn’t she receive Him, she wondered, sighing deeply.
“You see children, little Cecy wanted so much to receive her dear God, but she could not because of her age. You older ones can, but how many times do you really pay attention to the God within you?”
The class remained silent. After a while, I continued.
“When we receive Jesus into our hearts, what are the things we must avoid?”
No one answered.
“No one knows? Well, then, I am going to tell you in Cecy’s story. It is sin, black and ugly, that we must avoid.”
Sister Irene taught one of the first ideas of sin that Cecy learned. She told the children that every time we commit a sin, we drive a big thorn into our good Savior’s head.
“That is true.”
And so Cecy made up a prayer and said it each morning to her New Friend. She asked him to take care of her so that she would not offend her good Savior Who died because of the sins we commit. When we do sin, and still receive Holy Communion, we forcibly drive our dear God out of our hearts and allow the devil to come in. So Cecy tried very hard not to sin. Many times she was tempted to commit a sin, but her New Friend always told her not to do it, and she listened to him.
The Peach Tree
One day, for instance, when Cecy was about six years old, Acacia took her, her sisters, and some other children to an orchard to buy some fruit.
While Acacia was talking to the farmer, the children, not being watched, began to fill their small baskets with the fruit hanging from the trees. Cecy was tempted to pick some fruit as well. Her basket was the only one that remained empty. She looked up and right within her reach hung beautiful peaches. She reached up, touched the velvety skin of a peach, and was about to pick it, when she heard the calm but kind warning of her New Friend. Her arm, still raised in mid-air, was gently but firmly pulled down.
Suddenly, Cecy realized what she had almost done and begged forgiveness of her New Friend. She felt so ashamed. To think that she had almost driven a thorn into her sweet Savior’s head by stealing filled Cecy with great sorrow. Before going to bed that night, she fervently begged her New Friend and her good God for forgiveness. Cecy kept up this habit of asking pardon every night until she was fourteen.
“You see children; we too have a New Friend.”
“We do?” Johnny asked in amazement.
“Yes I responded. We cannot see him as Cecy could, but that does not mean that he is not there. He watches us closely, and every time we do something we shouldn’t, he covers his face with his big shining wings. But when we are good, he smiles and presents to God our deeds. But now it is time to go home. I want all of you to remember today’s story and every time you are tempted to do something wrong, pray to your Guardian Angel and he will surely help you not to do it.”
For a continuation of this story of Cecy from heaven, click here!