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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
M. Clément, one of the most illustrious orators of the 18th century, was called, towards the middle of the night, to confess a young lord who had just fallen into apoplexy. He hurried there. He found a house in disarray, a desperate wife, doctors vainly employing all the resources of their art, a sick man without consciousness. The night is spent in these agitations. At daybreak, the churches being open, the confessor goes to say mass in a nearby chapel, and says a votive mass of the Blessed Virgin for the patient. As he finished, a lackey came in haste to inform him that his master had regained consciousness. What was the happy surprise of this religious, when, arriving at this lord who had been only too well known for his excessive debauchery, he found him penetrated by feelings of the most lively compunction, asking God for mercy, more by his sighs and his tears than by his words, and offering his life with heroic generosity for the expiation of his sins! In this state of mind, the sick man confessed, asked for the last sacraments and received them. Finally, the edified and deeply moved confessor asked his penitent if he could not imagine what could have prompted the Lord to work this great miracle of mercy in his favor. “Alas, Father,” replied the sick man, in a voice broken by sobs, “what could have moved Him to do it, if not His own mercy, moved by your prayers, and perhaps by those of my late mother?”
This illustrious lady had been a model of piety at court and in the city. After a few years of marriage, of which the young duke had been the only fruit, she had lost her husband, whom she survived only a few months. At the article of death, she had called her son, and had spoken to him more or less in these terms: “I leave you, my son, a great name, with great possessions; but I exhort you not so much to preserve the one and the other, as to support the title of Christian. How many dangers I foresee for you, my son! Into what excesses perhaps will not precipitate you a brilliant fortune which you will enjoy too soon? I am dying, alas! too soon, indeed, for you. The will of the Lord be accomplished! It is under the protection of the Blessed Virgin that I leave you: I beg Her to take the place of your mother. My son, if you keep some memory of me the rest of your life, if from now on you want to give some marks of your attachment to the most tender of mothers, who, in dying, regrets life only because of you, promise me the only thing I am going to ask of you; it will cost you little: it is to recite the rosary every day.”
“I promised it most heartily,” continued the sick man, after having given this detail to his confessor. Since that moment, the idea of my mother, in that state in which I had last seen her, has come back to my mind every day. I have done regularly what she had recommended to me with so much urging, and I confess that it is the only act of religion I have done for ten years.”
The confessor did not doubt that it was a special protection of the august Mother of God which had drawn upon his penitent this astonishing mercy of the Lord. He urged him to redouble his trust in his powerful Benefactress. He did not leave him until his death: he received his last breaths, which were animated by the same spirit of penance.