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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
A journalist of the small press, to amuse himself from time to time, sometimes told his readers about the conversions that took place at Notre-Dame des Victoires; one can presume in what tone: the spirit of Voltaire dominated in his stories. He always had some insult to hurl at the archconfraternity; for example, he was particularly fond of this formula: “It is usually on Sundays and at nine o’clock in the evening that the priest of Notre-Dame des Victoires performs miracles, but there, real miracles, etc., etc.,” and the rest to the point.
An assiduous reader of this little newspaper, so pleasantly facetious, took the notice seriously, and said to himself: “My goodness! I would like to see a miracle. The editor of this witty paper would not insist so much, if there were not something serious about it. I must see for myself and find out for myself.”
So our man went to the blessed shrine of Mary on a Sunday evening; he arrived there at least a good half hour before the service began, to be well placed in front of the privileged altar. He had taken a chair and sat down. The venerable parish priest went up to the pulpit; the curious man listened to him, he felt interested, then touched, tears came to his eyes, the memories so powerful, so sweet and so good of his first communion came back to him. Finally, he could not stand it any longer, and did nothing to conceal his emotion. During the salute that followed the instruction, he prayed fervently, and the next morning he went to a priest to whom he told what had happened to him and what he had experienced the day before; he confessed and became an excellent Christian.
His confessor then said to him: “You see, my friend, how God knows how to make use of an evil element to work the greatest good. You would be acting as a good Christian if, in your turn, you could encourage and above all decide your journalist to come and see for himself the miracles which are so often performed at Our Lady of Victories.
– But, Father, I don’t know him at all.
– What does it matter, befriend him in such a way as to bring him to this shrine where so many marvelous things make the admiration even of the most hardened or coldest hearts.
– I will do my best,” replied the new convert, full of zeal for the salvation of the one who had earned his own without the slightest suspicion.
Here is our good Christian who goes away, looking in his mind, in what way he will be able to approach the journalist towards whose office he is heading. He asked for him; he was shown into a cabinet where the editor was busy preparing the ordinary food for his sheet.
“Sir,” said our convert in greeting, “I have come to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the good your excellent advice has done me. Thanks to your articles, I had the curiosity to go to Notre-Dame des Victoires to see the miracles that you announced to your readers, and I confess to you that, in spite of my incredulity, I was obliged to give in to the evidence.
– How, Sir, did you see a real miracle?” stammered the journalist, who was beginning to take an interest in the conversation, in astonishment. “If I advised my readers to go to that church, it was purely in jest, for I have never been there, and I have no desire to go there.
– I expected your answer, Mr. Editor, so I came here on purpose to urge you to see for yourself, and I think you will not be upset. I only wish you to be as well favored as I have been.
– Sir, I am very sensitive to your invitation,” replied the journalist cordially; “please share my modest dinner with me next Sunday, and then you will be my guide to take me to see, at Notre-Dame des Victoires, the miracles which you say take place there. I even confess to you that from now on the time will seem long to me; for I am very curious about my nature.”
We parted after an exchange of mutual courtesies, and our new convert, a little troubled, returned to kneel before the altar of Mary, saying to Her, in the naivety of his heart, “Good Mother, perhaps I have just made an imprudent step; for if this man is not touched, as I was, by the grace from above, it will be for him a new occasion to insult You. Pray, then, for him, I beseech Thee, come to the rescue of this poor sinner.”
During the rest of the week, which seemed very long to him, he did not cease to recommend the journalist to Mary; on Sunday morning he took communion for her. The evening arrived, he went to find him, and the latter, shaking his hand cordially, said to him: “I was afraid that you would forget our appointment, which I really want us to keep. I can assure you that I cannot explain to myself the pleasure I have in having made your acquaintance and in accompanying you this evening.”
The dinner quickly dispatched, the two new friends left, and they arrived at Notre-Dame des Victoires just as the service was beginning. The journalist was charmed to hear the religious chants; he saw his companion praying with the greatest fervor, and he did not dare to interrupt him; however, at the moment when the worthy parish priest ascended to the pulpit, he whispered in the ear of his friend: “At what time do the miracles take place?
– Patience!” replied the other, “patience!” And he began to pray even more earnestly.
The sermon (Providence is marvelous in His encounters!) was about the bad press, about the evil produced by the ungodly newspapers which were spreading such deplorable doctrines and accumulating so much moral ruin in our society. The venerable priest insisted, – clearly demonstrating them, – on the ignorance and, what is worse, on the bad faith of all those folliculars who were perverting more and more the notions of common sense in the minds.
I wonder if the reporter was listening avidly; it seemed that the sermon was for him alone. At last the preacher concluded with an appeal full of affectionate pity to these poor ignoramuses, as he called them. “Come, come,” he said, “just once here, and when you have seen our holy ceremonies, the recollection of the faithful, of course you will no longer dare to blaspheme.”
At these words, the journalist felt moved; his friend looked at him and said to himself, “Here is grace working! Ah, good Virgin, one more impulse and You will count one more victory.”
The service was long over; everyone had gone out, and yet our journalist, on his knees, could see nothing around him; he was all in God. His friend drew him out of the church and said, “How do you find yourself?
– Ah, Sir, how grateful I am to you!… What a service you have done me! Yes, I proclaim it loudly: miracles and real miracles are performed at Our Lady of Victories; I will support it in life and in death.”
The journalist broke his pen, and at the present time, devoted to the holy rigors of penance in an austere convent, he edifies by his profound piety all the religious, his cloistered companions.