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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Jesuit missionaries wrote from Dalmatia to the Messenger of the Sacred Heart:
The people of this country are full of faith and religion, but they are easily overtaken by revenge, which they consider a duty of honor. An offense done to someone is considered to have been done to the whole family, and the memory is passed down from generation to generation until vengeance has been taken, or a suitable satisfaction has been offered. So the Fathers aimed especially, in their missions, to extinguish these tenacious hatreds. Now, in 1855, Fathers Carrara and Basil were giving a mission at Zara, in Dalmatia, when a man came to Father Basil one day. “Help me, Father, he said, my life is in danger. – How so? said the Father. – When I was young, I quarreled with the lord of a neighboring village, we came to blows, and I killed him. This crime earned me twenty years in the galley; now my sentence is over. Two years ago I returned to the country, but the family that I deprived of its leader pursues me with its hatred and always seeks revenge. Also I am in continuous anguish and fears; I beg you, deliver me from this miserable position. – Alas, my son, may God protect you, for, in truth, I do not see what I can do for you.” The unfortunate man insisted so strongly that the Father promised to try a reconciliation. The priest who housed the missionary, learning of his plan, pointed out to him that many influential people had already lost their lives in it and that the thing was impossible. “Impossible, indeed, replied the missionary, if I relied on my own strength; but all my confidence is in the Sacred Heart, and, I doubt not, He will give me this grace.”
The next day he left with the syndic (or first magistrate of the village), who carried two paintings of the Sacred Hearts, covered with a piece of cloth. He arrived at the home of the outraged family, and asked to see the master of the house. Introduced into the apartment of the two sons of the victim: “I have come, he said, to bless you, your family and your property.” These words were received with joy and gratitude. Taking advantage of the happy impression already made, he said, “It is not I who will bless you, but the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,” and he showed the paintings. The two brothers, deeply moved, fell at the missionary’s feet. “Before these Sacred Hearts bless you, continued the missionary, you have to do something that They ask you through my mouth. – Father, what is it about? cried the elder, We are ready. – Well, the Sacred Heart asks you to forgive the one who killed your father.”
These words were scarcely uttered, when the eldest, who was the most obstinate, stretched out his arms and cried, “Where is he that we should press him to our hearts!” All who were present were extremely surprised at this sudden change, and the Father immediately sent for the poor culprit, who anxiously awaited the result of the procedure. Arriving at the door of the apartment, he fell to his knees, and greeting the two brothers with the “Praise be to Jesus Christ!” which is customary in the region, he asked if he could enter. On receiving an affirmative answer, he enters, advances a little, and repeats on his knees the same greeting, adding, “May I advance further?” He receives the same answer, and still advances on his knees to the elder of the two brothers, then greets him for the third time, and asks if the reconciliation is concluded. At these words, the outraged one opens his arms, rushes to him, and hugs him like a friend. All those who had gathered in large numbers to witness this spectacle were moved to tears. The missionary then, pointing to the paintings of the Sacred Hearts, said: “You have granted each other mutual forgiveness. Now, let both parties ask forgiveness of the Sacred Hearts, the one for the insult and the crime he has committed the other for the hatred so long maintained.” They obeyed, and then came new embraces, in which took part all the members of the family, men, women, and even the little children. The insult would not be considered completely forgiven, if the smallest of the children were forgotten in the reconciliation, because, having grown up, he would be entitled to full satisfaction.
The priest exhorted them to keep the peace he had just re-established, and to remain faithful to the devotion to the Sacred Heart. Then the forgiven murderer, not containing himself any more of joy: “During my long prison I was happy enough to save forty-two thalers (126 fr.). I dedicate them to say masses for the intention of the one I murdered. – No, not at all, said the elder, it is up to us to take care of our father’s soul. This money will be dedicated to the Sacred Heart, to whom we are indebted for the grace we have received. Let us use it to buy a magnificent shrine where the two paintings will be enclosed, and then exposed in the church to the veneration of the faithful, as an eternal monument of our reconciliation.” This project was approved and accomplished shortly thereafter.
Before departing, the Father blessed the house, and a small dinner was served, at which the two brothers seated their new friend in their midst, and toasted each other with great expressions of affection. As Father had advised, both parties made their confession and approached the Holy Communion Table, and three days later, during the farewell sermon, they publicly renewed in the church their promise of peace and good harmony. Needless to say, this event caused the deepest impression. Many people could not hold back their tears, and many were led to put an end to their enmity and to be reconciled.Thus the truth of the promise made by St. Margaret Mary in the name of Our Lord, when He assured her that He would pour out abundant graces by means of the images of His Sacred Heart, was manifested.