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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Blessed Alain de la Roche tells the story of a schoolmaster who, after having led the most abominable life, was brought before the courts and condemned to prison and to bread and water for the rest of his life.
He had already been a prisoner for a year, when he was struck by the air of resignation and even contentment with which one of his fellow prisoners was suffering the same punishment. He asked him how he could bear without a murmur such a sad fate from which only death could free him. The poor prisoner having answered that he attributed the cause to his devotion to the Blessed Virgin, the schoolmaster said to him: “If this devotion is so advantageous, if it brings so much good to those who embrace it, why is it that you have been in prison for so long, and that, by its virtue, you have not been set free! – For a long time, he replied, it has depended on me to enjoy freedom, but I have not wanted to accept it, and I do not want it, because I am quite happy to do a harsh penance here for the rest of my life, in order to satisfy divine justice, and, by this temporal punishment, to avoid the eternal punishments which my crimes have deserved; for I will have reason to fear that my perverse inclinations to vice will cause me to fall back into the abyss of iniquity from which I am here safe from. In this view, prison seems sweet to me, and I prefer the rigor of my state to all the pleasures of the world. I owe all these graces to the Blessed Virgin, I shall pray Her to procure for you the same happiness; and, if you will devote yourself to Her service, you will feel Her protection.” The schoolmaster allowed himself to be persuaded, and addressed this prayer to Mary: “Holy Virgin Holy Virgin, have mercy on Your slave, I vow to serve You all my life, and I promise You to recite Your rosary every day, if You rescue me from this prison.” His prayer was answered. He obtained his freedom, and he took advantage of it to go to another country where he opened a school. He instilled in the children entrusted to him a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin; he taught them to say the rosary with piety, and the schoolchildren carried this holy practice into their families. The Blessed Virgin, by a last favor, opened to the master the entrance to a religious order. He led a very edifying life, and his death was precious before the Lord.