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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
A preacher full of zeal, preaching in England, gave himself up to very lively oratory movements against the impious who dare to insult the divine Majesty to his face. A woman of the world, given to great disorders, was attending this sermon; she was so touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit and the terror of God’s judgments, that she wanted to give proof of her repentance and contrition before the whole world. “Father,” she cried aloud, shedding tears, “Father, confession, confession at once for this unfortunate sinner!” The latter, in admiration of this great faith, nevertheless invited her to keep silent until the end of the discourse and not to disturb the recollection of the others. She did so for a moment; but, repentance oppressing her heart more and more, she cried out again: “Oh, I beg you, servant of God, come down for a single moment to give me absolution for my crimes, for my enormous offenses!” The priest again imposed silence on her, adding, that he had but little more to say, and that he would be at her disposal afterwards, to console her and restore peace to her troubled conscience. He ended by briefly recapitulating what he had just said about the seriousness of sin; but, at this picture that seized her, this woman got up and began to cry again, as if out of her mind: “No delay, Father! at once, at once! pain is breaking me, and I am dying…” And, indeed, she fell on the pavement of the church and expired in the middle of her sobs.
Great was the astonishment of the audience and the confusion of the preacher; he regretted not to have given himself immediately to the prayer of this poor converted sinner who sighed after the word of forgiveness. After this first moment of agitation, he recollected himself and, addressing the listeners, asked them to pray to the Divine Majesty to show mercy to this soul and to deign to let him know what state she was in, so that suffrages could be earned for her if she needed them. When he returned to his monastery, he shut himself up in his cell for three days, praying continuously, without taking any rest or food.
On the third night, the deceased appeared to him all glorious, her face shining with joy, and she said to him: “Here is the sinner for whom you prayed so much: I am delivered from the punishments that my countless faults had earned me. Give eternal thanks to the goodness of God, who has so promptly accepted me. Yes, I am flying forever in the magnificent abode of heaven, and I will be your protector there.” And as the good Father seemed to doubt the vision and to fear that all this was a dream of his imagination, she added: “So that you do not hesitate to believe what you see, I am going to give you a sign by which you will recognize the truth: This very day the great servant of God John de Nivelle, canon of Liège, has passed into the blessed life… But, before ascending where my God calls me to crown me, it has been granted me to come to you, to testify my gratitude to you, since it is your blessed words that have enlightened me, and you have remembered me in your orations.”
As soon as the vision had passed away, the Father hastened to write to Liege, and he received from the canons the assurance that on that very day, at the hour when he had seen and heard, the venerable John had left this world.