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A story for every day...

Our Lady of Purgatory

Power of a monk’s prayer

A person of high nobility and considerable wealth, having died in England, left a son who was cruelly affected by this loss, and who, full of zeal for the salvation of the one he so rightly loved, immediately went to the Carthusian monks. It was in their church that the funeral service had been held. He presented the prior with a large sum of money, as alms, and asked the community to remember him before God for the soul of his dear departed. Immediately the religious were summoned to the choir. “Servants of God, said the prior to them, let us unite our prayers in favor of the deceased who has been buried here lately; this young man, who makes us a considerable offering, asks this of us.” The monks then intoned with one voice the Requiescat in pace, to which the superior answered Amen, and then each one withdrew in silence to his cell.

The benefactor remained astonished. “This is very little, he thought: what! for such a large sum, a single Requiescat!” So he approached the prior with modesty, and said to him in a tone of respectful complaint, “Is that all, Father? and the soul of the one I am mourning will have no other suffrages, when I have shown towards you some generosity?” The holy man, surprised in his turn at this question, answered him gently: “Would you pretend, my son, to weigh in the same scales your alms, even if they were a heap of gold, and the prayers of my religious, however short they may be? – No, Father, I do not intend to make a comparison. However, I think that two or three words are not much, and that I have done more for the monastery. – I see that you still doubt, my son. Wait a moment; you will, thank God, make sure of your error.”

Turning to the Father Cellarer: “Go, he said to him, find our brothers one by one in their cells; tell them to write on a piece of paper their Requiescat in pace and bring it to me at once.” At the same time he ordered a lay brother to go and get a scale. He put the young man’s silver and gold on one side of it, and the weight quickly carried the pan away.

When the bills had arrived, he invoked the help of God, and put them, light as they were, on the other side, saying, “We will see, my son, what our short prayer is worth in comparison with your gift.” O marvel! exclaims the historian here: at once the scales rose, carrying away the sum of money as if it had been a feather or a light straw, and tilting all under the weight of the little pieces of paper, which appeared to be masses of lead.

At this sight, all those present made the sign of the cross, and blessed God for making known to them the price of the simplest prayer in the mouth of His servants. The young man, more than the others, was in admiration, and, with eyes full of tears and repentance in his heart, he asked forgiveness for his lack of faith. He had a magnificent stone prepared, on which the Requiescat in pace was engraved by his orders, and which was placed, in memory of the prodigy, on the tomb of his father. He no longer doubted the power of this simple cry of a truly Christian soul.

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