Cecy Tells Her Story from Heaven
Jul 19, 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.
I am now in Heaven
My name is Cecy Cony. I am now in Heaven with my Guardian Angel who brought me here and am waiting for all of you to come one day.
Like you, I was also a child and, like you, had a very special friend, my Guardian Angel. I want to tell you all about him and how I could hear him and see him for a long time but, first, let me tell you a little about myself and my family and how I first learned about the good God who gave me my great friend.
I was born in the year 1900, in the far away land of Brazil where the sun shines brightly, palm trees sway in the wind and colorful birds sing many songs. My father was a captain in the army and my mother a very sweet lady. I loved my parents and had a very special spot in my heart for “Papai” which is how we say “Daddy” in Brazil.
Papai had a big soft spot in his heart for me also. I was glad because when I came to learn of the other big “Papai in Heaven,” as my father called the good God, I knew He was just as good as my father only much, much more; which made me love the good God hugely!
I can remember as far back as when I was four years old. I can remember the day Papai said to me: “Cecy, come see the baby the big stork brought in his beak to Mother.” It was my little brother!
I remember that even at that time I already knew something about the good God. That is because my parents had a crucifix on top of a bureau. I would ask Acacia, my good nanny, who took care of me until I was eleven, to hold me up so I could see it. I also remember the big picture of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. We also had a holy water font with the image of the Blessed Mother on it.
Thunder and Lightning
One day, Papai was sitting in his big comfortable chair reading when it began to storm. There were huge claps of thunder and lightning. Frightened, I ran to my father’s arms and hid between his knees. It was there that he told me about “Papai in Heaven.”
“Hear that, Cecy?” he said. “That is Papai in Heaven who is not happy with those children and grown-ups who do not want to be good. But when we are good, Papai in Heaven is very happy and makes the sun shine.”
It was my first lesson about the good God. From then on, as soon as I woke up in the morning, the first thing I did was check if the sun was shining or if it was raining. When it was raining but there was no thunder, I figured, Papai in Heaven was just sad but not upset. Then I tried to remember what I did wrong that could have saddened Papai in Heaven.
I often remembered something ugly I had done. One day I did not let good Acacia put curls in my hair and called her ugly. The other day I threw a fit because I wanted to see Congo, Papai’s big horse, given a bath. Then, yet another time, I had pretended to eat but had angrily thrown the food on the ground. That day, it rained and thundered.
After these tantrums, I felt ashamed for having made the good God sad. Then I ran to my mother’s bedroom and looked hard at the picture of the Eternal Father with the long white beard to see if He was still sad or upset with me. I never found His holy face angry, but rather calm and peaceful looking down on me.
It was then I began to love the good God very much. In my heart, I felt the wish to please Him and not make Him sad anymore. I thought, “My Heavenly Father is so good, and He wants to do good things for me. When I am bad, He does not like it, but when I tell Him that I will not do such a bad thing any more, then my Heavenly Father is my friend once more.”
I did not know how to pray yet. I only learned how to pray in school when I turned five. I did know that God who lived in Heaven made all that is good and beautiful.
Jesus Crucified and His Holy Mother
The crucifix on top of the big bureau frightened me a bit. That is because I did not know who was the poor man hanging on the cross and felt very sorry for Him.
One day Dona Mimosa, a friend of my mother, came to visit us. I liked this lady very much and always stayed with her when she came to our house. That day, taking me up in her arms she approached the bureau and asked me if I knew who the man on the cross was. I did not know. Then, turning to the picture and pointing to the old man with the beard as white as cotton, she asked if I knew who He was. “O, yes,” I said, “that is Papai in Heaven!”
Returning to the crucifix, she explained to me that the man on the cross was Papai in Heaven’s Son. She said, “Your name is Cecy and His name is Jesus.” She explained that He lived in Heaven with His Father and that Heaven was a beautiful place. She also explained that His Father made everything on earth for good people and that some day all the good people would come to live with Him in Heaven. However, the bad people who did not want to live with Him in Heaven would go for punishment to the deep earth where there is a lot of fire.
“But the good Father in Heaven had pity on those bad people,” she continued, “so He sent His Son Jesus to live here on earth to ask all the bad people to be good and to do only what His Father wanted them to do.” Then she said that many people did not like the good Jesus. They beat Him, and soldiers seized Him and nailed Him to a big black cross. Jesus died but then He came to life again and went to Heaven.
But the good Jesus is so good and He loved those bad people so much that He said to them: “Do not do bad things! Everyone, even children like Cecy who want to be good, I shall bring to the beautiful Heaven that is filled with angels who fly like butterflies,” she finished.
Then taking the holy water font with an image of the Blessed Mother on it, she showed it to me and said: “This beautiful woman is the Mother of the good Jesus. She is good like her Son and went with Him to Heaven.”
This was the first catechism lesson I ever received. It sank deeply into my heart and I never forgot it. I was always grateful to Dona Mimosa. She does not know the good she did to me!
My First Sorrow
After Dona Mimosa explained to me about Jesus, I felt a great pain in my heart. I felt so sorry for Papai in Heaven and for His Son nailed to that big black cross! Burying my face in her shoulder, I cried bitterly. My mother and Dona Mimosa were frightened and did not know why I was crying. Then Acacia came and took me out to see Congo.
From that day on, I loved Papai in Heaven much more and felt a great desire to please Him. Even though I still did many wrong things, it was never on purpose anymore. I tried more and more to be good from the day of that holy lesson.
From then on, I also decided to keep Jesus company. When it was getting dark, I would go into the room with the big bureau, pull up a chair and stand there with the good Jesus so He would not be frightened of the bad soldiers. The darkness scared me but I did not want to leave Him alone.
One time, Papai brought us a delicious box of candied fruit. My mother kept it on the bureau. One day, finding me on the chair, Acacia thought I was there to sneak some fruit. However, I was not. I was just keeping Jesus company. She did not know better and told my father. He said to me sadly: “Now I know that my little girl is like the little mice who love to take away what they can find..
I never said anything. I could not understand why Acacia had said what she did but then I was too small to realize that she did not realize why I was there.
After some time, I went back to keep the good Jesus company. Whenever we went visiting people, I always felt sorry for Jesus all alone in the house and hoped He would not be too scared of the bad soldiers.
I was five years old when I went to my first Carnival or Mardi Gras in 1905. Carnival is a big ado in Brazil. In my time, people would gather in the town square, wear costumes with masks and skip around waving colorful balloons attached to sticks.
At such a time, Mama would dress us up and send us to town with Acacia. My sisters seemed to have a lot of fun but I was terrified! All I could do was hold on to the other children because I was so frightened.
I hated those awful masks that people wore and thought, in my little head, that they were people’s real faces. I imagined that surely those people came from that deep hole in the earth full of fire.
The more people jumped and banged their sticks on the ground, the more scared I became. At a certain point, it was too much for me and I wanted to go home. Acacia was busy talking with some friends and no one was paying attention to me, so I decided to find my own way. Driven by fear, I began to walk away from the crowd. I was so scared I did not even cry. I had no idea where my house was but headed for the big gate at the end of the square.
As I walked, I remembered the good Jesus on the cross on top of the bureau. He was at home all by Himself and I wished I had brought Him with me. Nevertheless, I knew that He was my Daddy in heaven and was watching out for me from there. I knew He could see me all by myself in the middle of that crowd.
It was then that a big man grabbed my hand. He wore a horrible mask and his eyes flashed. Oh! I don’t know how I didn’t die. I should have died of fright. He began to pull me away. I had walked a few paces, my hand in the big hand of the masked man when, on the other side of me, I felt a person. I knew it was the angel that my Father in heaven had sent to take me safely home. I had seen that angel in a picture in the house of a friend of my father, Captain Bezerra. So, now I knew it was he, that same angel of the picture that was here with me. I could not see him with my eyes but I knew that he was there as surely as I knew the big man was on the other side of me.
Suddenly, the ugly masked man let go of my hand with a shove and disappeared into the crowd.
Now, instead of being frightened, I felt perfectly happy by my “New Friend,” as I called him. He stood calm and strong by my side. I no longer felt afraid or scared. Only later, when I was six, did I learn that his name was Guardian Angel.
We had almost reached the gate when Acacia came running. “Cecy, Cecy! Where have you been?” she asked, panting for breath and eyes opened wide. She was surprised to find me calm, content and not one bit afraid. That was because I felt safe with my New Friend.
I never told Acacia or my parents about anything that had happened.
From that day on, my New Friend was always by my side. I did not see him with my eyes or hear him with my ears, yet I saw and heard him clearly in some other way. Wherever I went, he went too. Every time I pulled up my chair to keep company to the crucified Jesus on the bureau he was there, standing by me all the time.
A Trip to the Seashore
Right after carnival I heard Daddy talking about us going to the seashore. The next day my mother and Acacia were busy packing suitcases and getting everything ready for the trip.
What fun! We were going to the seashore! My New Friend would come too, that I knew. All of us were going. Even Abelino, the soldier that washed Congo, the horse, was coming to drive the buggy. The house would be locked until we returned.
I was thinking of all this as I put my teddy bear in a little basket that Acacia had given me. I was also trying to fit in my big doll but she would only go into the basket sitting down.
Suddenly, I remembered something. It made me very sad. Even my teddy bear was going to the seashore and the only one that would stay in the dark house was Jesus on the cross on top of the bureau! He who was my Daddy in heaven and who had sent me my New Friend who had scared away the big masked man!
If I could, I would gladly stay with Him but I knew Mama would not let me. What if I took Him instead of the teddy bear and the doll? That is what I would do! Acacia had given me the basket for the teddy bear and the doll but instead, I would take Jesus without Mama and Acacia having to know.
I went into the room, dragged the chair to the bureau and took my Great Friend ever so gently in my arms. Going to my closet, I took down my hooded cape and wrapped the cross that I loved so much in it. Then I placed it in the basket. That is how Daddy in heaven went to the seashore. All during the trip, I held the basket close and when we arrived at our lodgings, I kept it always at the foot of my bed.
We were many days at the seashore and when we returned to the city, I placed the crucified Jesus back on the bureau. Mama and Acacia never knew anything.
When I was about six years old, Daddy who, as you may remember, was a captain in the army, was sent to a new post in another city. So, of course, we all went too.
We now lived in a new city and a new house. It was also time for me to go to school. I remember the first day of school so well! It was called the School of the Immaculate Conception. Our nanny took us; that is, my two sisters and me.
Good Sister Eugenia received us at the door. She was all kindness and the picture of goodness. She took us to her classroom and asked us many questions. I liked her right away. I also noticed she had a little black cross that was sewn over her heart. Jesus was not on it but it was the same cross that was above the bureau at home.
And then, looking up I saw a big crucifix, as big as I, with Daddy in heaven nailed on it! There was blood on His hands and feet and on His side a big open wound.
I felt a great pain in my heart and began to cry. Sister Eugenia thought I was crying because I missed my father and mother and tried her best to console me.
Taking me by the hand, she led me into another classroom where I met dear Mother Rafaela, who was to be my teacher. She also had a little cross sewn over her heart and, there on the wall, was another big crucifix. To my great joy, there was also a picture of my New Friend on the wall.
Mother Rafaela sat me in the first row. That was going to be my place. My New Friend stood by me all the time. I didn’t have to look for him. He was right there.
I liked school and the good, kind sisters who taught us so much. Soon, I knew how to say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles’ Creed, and the beautiful little prayer to my New Friend. It was Sister Pauline who taught it to us. It was with her that I learned that my New Friend’s name was Guardian Angel.
Mother Rafaela also told us a lot about Daddy in heaven, only she never called Him that, but rather “the Good God.” It was then I understood that the name of Daddy in heaven is God, and the name of Mommy in heaven is Mary Most Holy.
Mother Rafaela also told us about the good Jesus, Whose name I had already learned with Dona Mimosa. She also told us about our souls, about ugly sin, about heaven, hell, and purgatory.
I tried to remember all I could. I knew that my New Friend would help me with the rest.
The Little White Host
Mother Rafaela also told us about the little white host that was also the same good God, the same good Jesus Who had lived and died here on our earth.
Oh, hearing that for me was awesome! Oh, how I wanted to have the good Jesus with me in that little white host! I thought: If only I could have Him in that holy white host, I would gladly trade Him for the crucifix on the bureau! That is because I knew that the white host was really Him and the crucifix on the bureau was only a figure of Him. Mother Rafaela then explained to us that yes, we could receive Him in the white host when we made our First Communion. Oh, I wanted that little white host!
One day, Sister Irene came into our classroom and said: “Those who have not yet made their First Communion, raise your hands.”
Up shot my little finger. But Mother Rafaela caught it in the air and shaking it gently, said smiling: “Cecy is very small yet, she will have to wait another year… And I don’t think her Daddy is going to let her. But Cecy can go with Sister Irene and the other girls and listen to all she teaches.”
That meant I could go and learn all that Sister Irene was going to teach about receiving Jesus in First Communion, but I was not going to be allowed to receive my First Communion just yet. I complained to my New Friend but he didn’t say anything. He just stood there, very quietly.
I felt a great pain in my heart. Oh, good Mother Rafaela: that was the only time she ever made me sad, she who had taught me about the little white host!
I went with Sister Irene to the instructions. Every day I wanted more and more for Jesus to come into my heart. I also felt a great horror of sin. Sister Irene had said that sin was a very ugly thing that made the good Jesus very sad. She said that if we received Him in the little white host and then committed a sin we would push Him out of our hearts and let the ugly devil come in.
She also taught us that He had died for the sins of all men, and then she said something I never forgot: “Every sin we commit is like a big sharp thorn that we push into Jesus’ head.”
Oh, I did not want to hurt Jesus like that! So, every day when I woke up in the morning, I said to my Guardian Angel, “My New Friend, my Holy Guardian Angel, take good care of me today and don’t let me make the good God sad. Amen.”
I made up this little prayer myself and said it all my life.
And my good Guardian Angel heard me. So many times I was about to push the “big sharp thorn” into Jesus’ holy head, but my New Friend stopped me just in time! I will tell you about one such time.
One day my sisters, some other children, and I went on an outing to the country with Acacia. Abelino had told Acacia about a fruit farm that he knew and said he thought we would enjoy going there. He came, too, to show us the way.
So, we all went happily to the farm. On arriving, a man holding a shovel over his shoulder told us to come in. While the man with the shovel picked some fruit, all the other children began to sneak great peaches and plums into their own little baskets without Acacia and Abelino perceiving. I saw them; their little baskets were almost full. Only mine was empty.
I was standing right beneath a great peach tree. There were so many peaches! And all at my reach! Why couldn’t I take some too? Thinking this, I put out my hand and was already touching the velvety skin of a plump peach when I heard the calm, sweet voice of my New Friend: “Cecy, do not take the peach. It is not yours.” At the same time, I felt his holy hand lowering my arm.
That night I cried bitterly in my pillow after asking Jesus to forgive me the ugly sin of stealing that I had almost committed. I told Him how sorry I was for having almost pushed a great thorn into His holy head. I asked Mother Mary to forgive me too. And I thanked my New Friend for stopping me from doing such an ugly sin, from taking what was not mine.
An Ugly Lie
After the visit to the peach orchard where my Guardian Angel, my good friend, had stopped me from stealing a peach, I knew what stealing is: taking what is not ours without permission. As he lowered my arm away from the juicy peach, his holy face was so sad and serious that I understood right then and there that stealing makes the good God even sadder. I never wanted to do that again.
Still, I didn’t know what lying was. One time, good Sister Irene had told us the story of a little boy who told many ugly lies. Because of that he had to suffer a good while in Purgatory.
But, what is a lie, I wondered. My good friend was going to show me very soon.
Every afternoon Acacia took us, along with several neighbor children, to buy milk. We each carried a small glass wrapped in a napkin so we could have some fresh milk to drink. Mine was a beautiful little cup that a friend of my father had given me. It was green with a golden wing and golden stars painted on the glass.
One little girl liked my glass better than hers and said to me: “Give me your glass and you can drink milk from mine.” Overhearing her, Acacia said: “No, no, little lady, each one must drink milk from her own glass.”
The little girl said nothing but as soon as Acacia wasn’t looking, she tugged at my napkin so that my cup fell to the ground and broke in a million pieces. Then she went running to Acacia saying: “Cecy was so angry that you didn’t let her drink out of my glass that she threw hers to the ground and broke it!”
Turning around, Acacia scolded me: “That’s very nice, my angry puppy,” she said. “Now you have no glass and no milk. You can watch while the others drink.”
Oh, I was so angry! I was getting ready to run over to the little girl and break her glass in turn when I felt my Guardian Angel holding me back again. I heard his voice clearly saying: “Your poor companion has committed two big sins.” I didn’t understand that the first sin was in breaking the glass, but the second sin I understood as he explained it. The little girl had told Acacia a big lie saying that I, not she, had broken the glass.
Looking up at my Guardian Angel, I said: “O, now I know what a lie is. It would be a lie if I broke a glass and then told my mother I had not done it.”
Later, when we reached the place where we bought milk, I forgot to tell Acacia that it hadn’t been I who broke the glass. Maybe it was because my Angel was standing there and I respected him even more than Mother Rafaela and Sister Irene. And I respected them a lot! Still, good Acacia gave me milk out of my sister’s glass. In this way, my good friend stopped me from committing yet another ugly sin: the low sin of vengeance.
My Angel Teaches Me Modesty and Good Manners
If I didn’t feel a great love and respect for the holy presence of my good friend, I think I would have developed very ugly habits and bad manners. At about eight years old I began to dress by myself. Until then, Acacia had always helped me. Sometimes, as I put on my stockings for example, I was not careful of my dress or my position. Immediately, I would feel so strongly that my Angel was not very happy that I would correct myself.
This happened many, many times. Some days, when I was playing at games, I would sense his beautiful face looking at me sternly. Immediately, I would correct my manners or not-so-modest positions. I never resisted his admonitions in this regard. He helped me train my rebellious nature. He wanted me to be a lady. And a lady is feminine and modest.
I will tell you of one such time.
One day, Daddy took us to a military celebration. I was delighted when I realized that anyone could ride on the horses. One officer brought a beautiful pony over to me. This made me very happy. Picking me up, he sat me astride the pony like a little boy. I had just begun to pull on the reins when I heard the warning of my good friend: “No, no, Cecy, little girls do not ride like this.”
Taking me gently by the arm, he pulled me off the pony. Once on the ground, I said to the lieutenant: “I don’t want to ride anymore.” He was amazed at how quick and sure footed I was in dismounting. Oh, I would have loved to have ridden on that pony, but I wanted to please my Angel much more.
White Roses for Our Lady
In this way, my good friend was preparing me for my First Communion. How I wanted to receive Jesus in that little white host! Still, good Mother Rafaela would not let me. Oh, how that hurt! Even though I was six years old, I looked smaller and, even if Mother Rafaela did not say it, I know now that another reason was because I was very slow in class. Yet, I understood very well that Jesus was present in the little white host and I loved the Holy Eucharist very much.
If Mother Rafaela only knew how much I suffered! Every night, I buried my face in my pillow so no one would hear me and cried bitterly. My new friend was the only one who shared my secret. He was always awake and never sleepy. So, after I had finished crying, I would sit up in bed and tell him of my sorrow and beg him to talk to Mother Rafaela. I knew she would listen to him.
One night, as I sat complaining to my Guardian Angel, the thought suddenly came to me: “Ah! I have forgotten to ask Jesus’ holy Mother! Sister Irene calls her our Mother in Heaven. I must ask my good Mother in Heaven to command Mother Rafaela to let me receive her Jesus.”
Next morning, I jumped out of bed and went straight to the crucifix on the bureau and said this prayer: “Dearest good Lady, I want your Son Jesus to come into my heart so much! But Mother Rafaela won’t let me because I am too small. Please make me grow a lot today and let Mother Rafaela see it. In my bank, (which had the shape of Noah’s Ark) I have eight Cruzeiros (the former monetary unit of Brazil) that I have been saving to buy the soda in the window of the Girls’ Shop. If Mother Rafaela lets me receive, I will not buy the drink but, instead, will buy a bouquet of big white roses for your altar in the church. Amen.” I then kissed the holy water font with Our Lady’s picture on it.
My new friend was there with me and I well knew that he also wanted Our Lord to come into my heart.
Going to school, I was convinced that Our Lady had made me grow. Yet, that day Mother Rafaela didn’t seem to notice it, for she said nothing. Next day, she still didn’t say anything. Another three days passed. I finally decided to go and ask her again. Posting myself in the passage way with my heart beating so hard that I didn’t know how I was going to say a word, I waited. My Angel was there with me and I knew he would help me.
When Mother Rafaela came, I didn’t even have to speak. Looking at me kindly she said: “I know what Cecy wants. If your father lets you receive I will too.”
Oh, the joy I felt! I knew I would receive the Good Jesus now because Daddy would be easy to convince.
Next day, Acacia and I boarded a boat to cross the river to the lady who sold flowers. There, I handed her my eight Cruzeiros and, in exchange, she gave me a bunch of glorious white roses. Before wrapping them, she said, “If you put other flowers of other colors with those, they will be very beautiful.”
“No,” I said, “I want only white roses.” That’s because I had promised Our Lady white roses.
After buying the flowers, Acacia took me to the church where Father Domingos, our pastor, arranged them in a glass vase and placed them in front of the altar of Our Lady. I felt immensely happy.
That night, I sat up to talk to my Guardian Angel, this time not to complain but to ask him if Our Lady and he himself had liked the bouquet of white roses. Now, my Noah’s Ark was empty and I couldn’t buy the soda, but I would start saving again and I asked my good friend not to allow any other girl to buy the drink.
And I did save. But when the time came when I had enough for the soda, I used it to buy something else that would make me just as happy as when I bought the white roses. I will tell you about it later.
My First Confession
Finally! I was going to be allowed to receive my good Jesus in the little white host. I was beside myself with excitement waiting for October 17, the day set for the great visit of the King.
But first, Sister Irene explained to us all about Confession. She told us that to receive Jesus, our souls must be as white as the beautiful dresses that our mothers were preparing for us. The way we did that was to think of all the ugly things and all the sins we had done and to tell every one of them to Father in Confession. Once we did that, Father would bless us and forgive us all our sins because Jesus Himself had given him the power to do that. All those ugly dark spots on our souls would disappear.
She gave us each a little book and bid us look in there for all the sins we had committed. I wanted to make double sure I didn’t leave any out because I wanted my soul spotlessly white for my Jesus’ visit. Wouldn’t you? Imagine if a great king was coming to your house. Wouldn’t you want it sparkling clean? Well, Our Lord Jesus is the King of all kings.
Well, I looked and looked and looked through the little book. And I wrote and wrote and wrote on a piece of paper. I took much longer than all the other girls and Sister Irene couldn’t figure out why.
When the time came for Confession, my heart was pounding. Yet, my great Friend was there standing by me and I knew he would come into the confessional with me. After a while it was my turn. But something funny happened. As soon as I began to read my sins, Father asked for my piece of paper. As he looked at it, he chuckled a little, and I thought it was because he must have thought me very silly. You see, I had copied all the sins from the little book. I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave any sin out just in case I had done it and not remembered. The good Father explained kindly that I only needed to confess the ones I remembered, and he helped me make a good Confession.
I also prayed a lot with a little book dear Mother Rafaela had given to me that was called: Key of Heaven. I loved that book with its gilded pages and beautiful prayers and prayed from it often in preparation for my First Communion.
My First Communion
The great day finally arrived. Mother and Acacia dressed me in a beautiful white dress and white veil with a wreath of flowers. And thus we all went to church where all the other girls, looking like beautiful small brides, were also waiting.
Father began the Mass and then said those holy words over the little white host that transformed it into Jesus Himself. When my turn came, I received the little white host on my tongue and returned to my pew. Lowering my head, I told Jesus how happy I was that He had come to visit me. I felt Him very, very close to me. I knew I would. I had loved Him ever since I had seen the crucifix on top of the bureau, but now He was here for real. It was the happiest day of my life.
Returning home, accompanied by my faithful Angel and carrying within me my great Guest, I wanted to go straight to my room to be alone with Him. But Acacia was already waiting to take me to Grandmother’s house and Godmother’s house.
We soon returned home and Acacia told me to change my dress. I said, “Ok, Acacia, but can I wear my best Sunday dress?” You see, I wanted to wear my best dress and my best manners for my great Visitor. Acacia said yes, so I changed and then went to my room where I sat in my little chair quietly, seriously, respectfully, and using my best manners.
I hugged myself because I knew I was hugging Jesus inside me. I talked to Him for a long while and told Him of my love and thanked Him for all the good things He had done for me and for the great Friend He had given me in my Angel. I asked Him also for many things for me and for all my loved ones.
And He, my Divine Guest, listened to me without being bored at all. Without actually hearing His voice, I knew He was telling me that He never wanted to be away from me, that He never wanted me to do any of those ugly sins, the only things that could separate us.
Then, getting up from my little chair, I knelt on the floor and, making a cross with my two index fingers, I kissed it affectionately and said: “O, good and beloved Jesus, I promised Thee, my Lord, that I do not want ever to commit any sin.”
I felt that the good Jesus took this great promise and placed it within His Most Sacred Heart. And He took care that this promise was never broken by his weak little creature.
Ever since the episode with the white roses, I had become very, very fond of the Blessed Mother. I knew it was she who had convinced Mother Rafaela to let me receive her Son in Holy Communion.
So, when Mother Rafaela told us about a new prayer to the Blessed Mother, the holy Rosary, I was delighted. I quickly learned to say it and wanted to pray it every day as a gift to Our Lady.
But there was a problem. I had no rosary. Soon I had a grand idea. Acacia had a necklace of blue beads that I could use. So, I borrowed it from her and started saying my rosary on it. I could see that my Angel approved and, therefore, Our Lord, too. And I am sure the Blessed Mother did not mind that I was saying her rosary on Acacia’s necklace.
My little book, Key of Heaven, helped me with the mysteries and showed me how to think of each mystery as I went along.
Later, I asked Acacia if I could have her necklace and I would give her all the coins in my Noah’s Ark in exchange. But good Acacia would not have it. She let me have her necklace and only accepted a little box of chocolates for it.
At the end of that year, I received as a prize a beautiful small blue and white satin purse with a little white rosary in it! How I loved that rosary. I said it faithfully and also taught it to an old, paralyzed man who lived across the street from us. His name was Mr. Cyprian. I will tell you all about him next time.
I told you all about how I began to pray the rosary with Acacia’s blue necklace and then finally got a beautiful little white rosary of my own. I mention this because it will play a part in the story of Mr. Cyprian, an old man who lived across the street from us in the “Shelter for the Poor.”
For that is what the big house facing our house was, a shelter for all those poor people who had lost their families and homes. The house had big wide windows, and from my room I could see an old man always lying on his bed. My mother felt very sorry for this old man and took it upon herself to provide his meals every day.
One day, when Acacia went over there, I asked to go with her. She let me come but did not let me in past the door. Standing in the doorway, I saw a very old man with a snow white beard just like that of God the Father on the picture of the Holy Trinity at home. And then I saw a crucifix as big as my hand hanging around his neck. Immediately my heart went out to him and I made up my mind to visit him. I thought: “I already like this poor old man very much. I shall take care of him so that his soul and his heart may become as white as snow for the good Jesus.”
Back home, Acacia explained that he was paralyzed so that he could not move any part of his body except his head and one arm. His name was Mr. Cyprian.
That night before going to sleep I said to my guardian angel: “My New Friend, tomorrow I wish to go visit the poor old sick man and to speak with him about our heavenly Father. I ask you to go with me. I do not want to go with Acacia because she is always in a hurry to leave.”
Next day, we had off from school, so I crossed the street, and after a couple of tries, managed to climb onto the windowsill.
The old man seemed startled by the apparition at his window, so I said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the same little girl who came here yesterday with Acacia. I live next door.”
At this the old man looked very happy.
Then pointing to his cross I said: “I like Him very much, too. Can you show it to me?”
Taking it from around his neck, he handed me the cross. Then, holding it, I repeated to him, word for word, that beautiful lesson Mrs. Mimosa had taught me two years before about Jesus dying for us on the cross.
The old man listened and listened and then big tears welled up in his eyes. Thinking he was sad, I pleaded: “Please, Mr. Cyprian, don’t cry. I will come back tomorrow and show you the beautiful picture of Jesus’ mother on our holy water fount.”
From that day on we became fast friends. The poor man looked always very sad but became happy whenever we talked.
During my visit, my guardian angel was there with me all the time. He did not sit on the windowsill, though, but always stood by me. And he seemed pleased.
Next day, I brought the holy water plaque for Mr. Cyprian to see the picture of the Holy Mother of Jesus on it. Then I told him about her and began to teach him the Hail Mary. It took many days before the poor old man could say it by heart.
Every clear day, when returning from school at four o’clock, I went to sit on his window. I never missed my visits because I knew these made him very happy. On rainy days, I would just go to my window and look at my friend from there. I loved this poor old man very much and know he liked me too.
In this way, the months went by. Little by little, Mr. Cyprian learned how to say the Our Father, the short prayer to his guardian angel, and the Memorare to Our Lady. The day I was given my little white rosary, I sped over there to show it to my old friend. Then I began to teach him how to say it.
At first, before I had my little white rosary, I wanted to show him how to pray Our Lady’s rosary on Acacia’s blue necklace. But my guardian angel always stopped me from doing that. Then, when I was given the little white rosary, he let me teach Mr. Cyprian with it. Then we began to say the rosary together. Mr. Cyprian would pray on my rosary while I read the mysteries from my Key of Heaven booklet.
Mr. Cyprian’s Baptism
One day, a terrible thought struck me. “Mother Rafael said in class that whoever is not baptized cannot go to heaven. Oh, poor Mr. Cyprian will not be able to go to heaven, then, because he is not baptized.” As I struggled with this thought, tears ran down my cheeks.
Whenever I did not know what to do, I raised my head looking for the face of my New Friend, my guardian angel. There he was beside me. Soon my tears stopped as a new thought entered my mind like the cool breeze after the storm. “I can baptize Mr. Cyprian. I know how to do it. Mother Rafael taught us.”
And thus I fell asleep that day, wishing tomorrow was already here so that I could bring Mr. Cyprian the happy news of his approaching baptism.
Next day after school, my legs carried me over to Mr. Cyprian’s window as fast as they could take me. Sitting on the sill, I told him all about what I wanted to do for him. Good Mr. Cyprian was very obedient to his young catechist and always ready and happy to do anything she asked him. When I explained that for him to go to heaven and see Our Lord Jesus and His good Mother he needed to be baptized and that I could do it, he was so happy that big tears began to flow from his tired eyes.
I did all I could to console him and told him that if he stopped crying I would give him a holy card that Sister Eugene had given me. Then he pulled from under his pillow a big, red-striped handkerchief and began to dry his tears. But when I said: “Mr. Cyprian, Mother Raphael told us that baptism washes away all the sins of grown-up people. Now, you are a grown-up person. Your soul will become as white as mine was on the day of my First Communion.” At this, he began to cry all over again.
I set the baptism for Sunday. “Then I will be wearing a nice dress for your baptism, Mr. Cyprian,” I announced.
Suddenly it occurred to me he had nothing beautiful or nice to wear for such an important occasion. I had a grand idea. I would bring him one of my father’s shirts with starched collar and cuffs, a new knitted undershirt, and some Cologne water.
“Now,” I thought, “We must also have some goodies and sweets to celebrate after the baptism. Running home, I emptied my Noah’s Ark onto my lap. There were just a few coins lacking to buy that special drink I wanted so much! For a moment, something in my heart was sad, and I did not want to spend all my coins for the poor old man. But then, seeking the face of my Angel Friend, I saw that he was disappointed. Immediately my sadness disappeared and all I wanted was to make him happy.
Gathering all my savings, I ran to the store and returned with a lovely package full of bonbons, chocolate cigars, and chocolate bars. I felt as happy as on the day I used all my coins to buy the white roses for Our Lady. My angel friend, walking beside me, was not sad anymore.
On arriving home, I made a package with my father’s shirt, T-shirt, and Cologne water. Later, as I told this story, people asked me if I had asked Daddy’s permission to do this. I replied no, because it never occurred to me he wouldn’t let me. I always considered everything belonging to my father as also belonging to me. Also, no one ever saw me doing any of this even though I did not try to hide it from anyone. I did everything naturally, yet no one saw me or stopped me.
It was not easy climbing onto the windowsill with all my packages but it was done. When I handed Mr. Cyprian the bundle with father’s things explaining everything to him, he began to cry. Trying to console him, I handed him the package with the chocolate cigars so he could start enjoying them before the next day. He wept even more. I did not realize that it was because he was so thankful, so I proposed we say some prayers in preparation for the next day. Only then did he stop crying.
We said all the prayers we knew by heart: the Apostles Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Hail Holy Queen, the prayer to the guardian angel, the Memorare, and the Act of Contrition.
Now we were ready! I told Mr. Cyprian to be very good because tomorrow was a great day.
Mr. Cyprian’s Big Day
Next day at holy Mass I said nearly all the prayers in my little book, Key of Heaven, for Mr. Cyprian. Arriving home, I asked Acacia to let me keep my Sunday dress. She was my good friend and said yes.
Then, taking the little pitcher that Mother had bought me for our trips to the dairy, I filled it with water. Oh, my heart was beating violently at the thought of what I was about to do. Reaching the windowsill, I looked at Mr. Cyprian, but what a disappointment, for he was not wearing the new white shirt! It was only then that I remembered that, of course, he could not put it on since he was paralyzed and had no one to help him.
I looked at my guardian angel, and he seemed pleased. So it was all right to baptize Mr. Cyprian in his old shirt, which was quite clean. We once again recited the Act of Contrition, and then I told Mr. Cyprian to incline his head, which he did. Leaning over him with my heart thumping wildly, I poured the whole pitcher of water over his white head saying at the same time as Mother Rafael had taught us: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
“Mr. Cyprian,” I said then, “From now on you are to go by the name of Joseph in honor of Saint Joseph.” I gave him that name since he reminded me of Saint Joseph because of his white beard. The poor old man began to cry again and, placing his one good hand on the large crucifix hanging from his neck, he said, “My good God! My good God! My good God!”
I was as happy as on the day of my First Communion. And I could see that my guardian angel was very, very pleased with me. On saying goodbye to the old man I said: “Your soul and your heart are as white as my soul was on the day of my First Communion.” I always used this comparison when I wanted to say that something was very white.
But alas! The next day, we were still at breakfast when Acacia returned from taking Mr. Cyprian his breakfast and cried out sadly: “Mr. Cyprian died this morning!” My parents were saddened at the news but I, oh, I felt a great pain fill my heart! I cried for the loss of my friend and missed him very much.
The windows of his room were closed and, on returning from school I did not even look at them. For a long time, I said the rosary on my white beads for the soul of Mr. Cyprian.