Devotion To Our Lady And The Salvation Of Souls
by Father Stefano Maria Manelli, S.T.D.
We Must Save Our Souls
Our Lady appeared at Fatima to remind us of the necessity of saving souls.
Thus She recommended with insistence to the three little shepherds to pray and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. "Many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and make sacrifices for them."
Most of all, Our Lady has in Her Heart the intention of saving our souls. Truly as a Mother, She is concerned even with our temporal needs, but the grace She wants to give us most is the grace of saving our souls.
This is without any doubt the grace of all graces, the grace equivalent to the eternity of Paradise.
The apostle St. Peter wrote to the Christians, receive "the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (1 Pet. 1:9.) But do we really work for the salvation of our souls? Do we take this to heart? Are we serious about it?
Unfortunately, how thoughtlessly we make our response like that of sick children who, instead of being grateful for the care and consideration given them to regain their health, remain inconsiderate and instead think only of themselves and their personal joy.
Our Heavenly Mother comes to remind us of our eternal destiny. One day, a lady bogged down with sorrow and despair came to Ars because a few days before her husband died in a tragic way. He committed suicide by throwing himself from a high bridge into the river. The wife was terribly tormented by the thought of the possible damnation of her husband. Entering the Church of Ars, the poor lady knelt at once to pray and cry. It was the first time she had come to Ars.
The Holy Curщ of Ars, passing by, whispered to her, "He is saved!"
"What do you mean?" exclaimed the lady in astonishment.
"Your husband is saved," repeated the Saint, "and he is in Purgatory in need of prayers. From the railing of the bridge to the river he had time to repent. It is Our Lady who obtained for him this grace. Remember what you used to do in your room during the month of May? Sometimes your husband, though he was irreligious, joined you in your prayers and put flowers in front of the statue of Mary. That obtained for him the grace of repentance and final pardon."
The white stair ...
One day, while Padre Pio was slowly passing through the crowd, a young man from afar shouted, "Father, tell me what I must do!" Padre Pio looked at him profoundly and responded quickly: "Save your soul."
This is the most essential thing to do. All the rest passes away. The salvation of your soul lasts forever.
Our Lady assures us of our salvation with our own cooperation in using the means given to us: prayer, the sacraments, mortifications, good works, and particularly Marian devotion. Even St. Francis of Assisi in the famous vision of Friar Leo on the white ladder and the red ladder assures us that devotion to Our Lady is a guarantee for salvation. Thus, those who were saved on the white ladder at whose peak was the Blessed Virgin entered Heaven; those on the red ladder — what a loss!
- Examine your conscience every night.
- Ask yourself often: "What good does my soul profit by this action, this thought?"
- Speak about the salvation of their soul to others also.
|Mariano Rego, considered Portugal's greatest guitarist also called the Golden Guitar, recently joined the campaign to spread the true Message of Fatima in the Portuguese Islands of the Azores. Mariano took the time to show proof of his support for The Fatima Crusader. Above he holds one of the 100,000 petitions which our International Office printed and distributed in Portugal.|
The Time To Save Myself
On earth God has given me time to save and sanctify myself, "Who wills all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4), desires our "sanctification" (1 Thes. 4:3) and gives us a certain period of time for our earthly life.
The period of time may be long or short. St. Dominic Savio sanctified himself by living only for fifteen years. St. Alphonsus de Liguori lived for ninety-one years. The length of time is in the hands of God — "the master of life and of death" (Wis. 16:13). We only have to use our time according to the purpose for which God has created us, that is, "to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this life", according to the teaching of the catechism of St. Pius X.
This means "do good while you have time" as St. Paul recommended (Gal. 6:10). Everything must help me attain the eternal joy of Heaven which consists in the beatific vision of God. Otherwise all my work is meaningless, with great loss of merit and energy.
An old hermit once was asked his age. "I'm fifty years old" he said. "This is not possible!" replied the visitor. "You're surely more than seventy."
"You are right", replied the hermit. "I am seventy-five years old but I don't count my first twenty-five years because I spent them away from God."
A good example ...
Let us look at the example of our contemporary saint, Blessed Joseph Moscati, the great Neapolitan doctor. He did not live long but he filled his time with things truly noble and holy.
Daily he would start at 5 o'clock in the morning with two hours of recollected and intense prayer: making his meditation, participating in Holy Mass, receiving Holy Communion and making a long thanksgiving. He said that without these two hours, especially Holy Communion, he would not have the courage to enter his office in order to see his patients.
Soon after the two hours of prayers, he was ready to work in various districts of old Naples, to go down some basements or go up high-storied buildings to graciously visit the sick who were in painful and pitiful condition.
In the morning he would continue with his studies and make medical rounds of his patients in the hospital. In moments of difficulty before a diagnosis, he would place his hand in his pocket, and holding his Rosary he would recommend himself to Our Lady. During his visits to the sick he would not forget to mention to them the care of their souls, giving them substantial advice and admonitions ... like that of confession or communicating oneself often.
At noon, at the sound of the Angelus even if he was in his doctor's office, he would unfailingly recite the Angelus, inviting those present to join. In the afternoon, he would continue his medical visits and be home at sunset. He would end his day with a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, reciting the Rosary and evening prayers. He died while making such calls. He loved his neighbor, proving this by his care of their souls and bodies. This is a true Christian who did good things while he had the time to do so.
- Start and close the day with morning and evening prayer.
- Mortify above all your eyes and tongue so as not to waste time in curiosity and gossip.
- Pray instead of talking uselessly.
Death is the door to eternal life. Through it one enters another life. It is an imperative passage. "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Heb. 9:27), a destiny brought about by original sin. Death is the wages of sin (1 Cor. 15:21). Thus it is terrible to die, Death shows us bluntly and truly the word of God: "remember man, for thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return." (Gen. 3:19.)
But with the redemptive work of Jesus, death in the grace of God is the seal of eternal salvation; for the saints, death is the entrance to Paradise. St. Paul seems to shout of the joy when he wrote: "For me death is gain." (Phil. 1:21.) For this St. Thomas More, condemned to die by the heretics, wished to put on his most beautiful and precious clothing on the day of execution. And St. Charles Borromeo in his painting depicted death with a dying man full of serenity; close to him was a beautiful angel with a golden key ready to open the door of Heaven. What a grace it is to die a saint! "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." (Ps. 115:15.)
When? How? Where?
Death is the most certain thing, but we do not know when it will be, how it will be and where it will be. One may die while in his mother's womb or after a hundred years; one may die while in bed or in the middle of the street. At night we are not sure of seeing the sun again, nor in the morning can we be sure of reaching the evening. We are sure only of this: We "know not the day nor the hour" (Mt. 25:13); death will come "as a thief in the night" (1 Thes. 5:2), that is, stealthily and surprisingly. Thus Jesus emphatically admonishes us "Be you then also ready: for at what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come." (Lk. 12:40.)
How foolish we must be then not to think of death simply because it makes us sad. And in not reflecting, we somehow resemble ostriches, who put their head under the sand to not see the danger which is approaching.
Only in eternity will we understand how tragic is a bad death. The devil knows well how beneficial it is to think of death. He considers it a misfortune if we are deprived of a life that is carefree and full of the pleasures of indulging in vices and sins.
One day when Pope Pius XI was on the street a lady came to him asking him for a personal remembrance. After looking at the lady who was luxuriously dressed, the Pope bent down, took a little of the dust and placing it on the lady's forehead said, "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return." He could not give her any better remembrance than that!
Be always ready ...
We are capable of spending our day on amusements, on sex, on politics, on sports, on cigarettes and on television. We live confused and restrained by the tension of satisfaction, pleasure and success. We are not aware that we are going to eternity "where everybody must go" (Jn. 14:3). The earthly realities, the temporal affairs, the physical health, the material things that enslave us, that paralyze us in a spiritual drowsiness can be fatal. Jesus reminds us many times in the Gospel that we must be spiritually ready and waiting for the heavenly kingdom: "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh, shall find watching" (Lk. 12:37).
To be "awake", to be "ready" above all, means to live always in God's grace, avoiding mortal sin or immediately asking forgiveness and going to confession if one has the misfortune to fall. St. John Bosco told his boys to come to him even at 2 o'clock in the morning to confess as soon as they commit mortal sin. This must be the first and absolute business of every Christian: any time death comes with its "sharp sickle" (Apoc. 14:14) it must find me in God's grace.
God's grace is like the oil lamps of the ten virgins in the parable of the Gospel. The five wise virgins who brought oil lamps entered the wedding feast with the bridegroom; the five foolish virgins were deprived of the wedding feast because their lamps were without oil. "I know you not" was the terrible answer of the Lord to them (Mt. 25:1-13). Instead let us think of the death of St. Benedict. When he sensed that his time had come, the saintly patriarch stood supported by two monks and remained in that position with arms lifted high, in the act of "going to meet the bridegroom" (Mt. 25:6).
"... At the hour of our death"
From Our Lady we can obtain the grace of a happy death. This grace is so important that the Church asks it from Her in every Hail Mary: "Pray for us now and at the hour of our death." Blessed is the death of him who has loved Mary, of him who has invoked Mary! St. Mary Magdalene Sofia Barat said that "the death of a true devotee of Mary is the leap of a child into the arms of his Mother". St. Bonaventure wrote that to die "with pious invocation of the Virgin Mary is a sign of salvation".
When St. John Bosco had the apparition of St. Dominic Savio who died a few days before, he asked this question, "Tell me, Dominic, which of the things consoled you most at the hour of your death?"
"You guess, Don Bosco."
"Perhaps it was the thought that you have guarded well the lily of purity?"
"Perhaps the penances you made during your life?"
"Not even those."
"Then it was the peace of conscience ... free from any sin?"
"This made me happy, but the most consoling thing for me at the hour of death was the thought that I was a devotee of Our Lady! Tell this to your boys and recommend with insistence devotion to Our Lady."
- Offer your day for the dying.
- Live as if it is the last day of your life.
- Read and meditate on the parable of the ten virgins (Mt. 25:1-13).
|"Those who embrace this devotion to My Immaculate Heart will be as flowers placed before the throne of God."|
The Judgment Of God
The meditation on the "Judgment of God" conveys to man what St. Augustine seems to say, "If the Christians do not listen to other preachings than that of the Judgment of God, it would be enough to make them observe the Gospel and live holily in grace."
It is true that we would not change our behavior if we don't often have the courage to ask ourselves, "How would I want to find myself on judgment day?" A certain recommendation is given to us by St. James: "So speak ye, and so do, as a being to be judged" (James 2:12).
Judgment day will be a real judgment and an endless glorification of the justice of God, "who will bring to judgment every action with all its hidden qualities whether good or bad". (Ecc.12:14.) On judgment day we will be what we are, without pretense or masks, with all our hidden faults and shame. "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment" (Mt. 12:36.).
What a confusion ...
If we don't die as saints, we will truly experience a great confusion. St. Jerome wrote that he trembled in his whole body every time he thought of the judgment day and of God's reward and punishment.
"At the end of the scholastic year", wrote the servant of God, Dolindo Ruotolo, "each student presents himself to the examiner for interrogation ... the same thing happens with a soul; the sinner who remains in sin is condemned to hell; the mediocre soul is sent to Purgatory to repent and expiate for his sins; the soul which is totally pure is welcomed to the glory and bliss of Paradise."
Let us remember then the admonition of Jesus: "Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come and to stand before the Son of Man" (Lk. 21:36).
Judgment Day is the real "rendering of account" justly and inappealably. St. Augustine tells us that the devil will be the worst accuser of our soul (cf. Apoc. 12:10.).
"Lord," the devil will say, "this soul did not observe Thy commandments but mine. Give him to me then because he belongs to me."
We might shamefully say, "Lord, to follow the devil is less fatiguing; Your laws are indeed very hard to do." "It's not true, it's not true!" The devil will insult us: "I even made you work on Sunday when God's law tells you to rest, and you worked for me. I made you drink wine even when you were not thirsty and it made you feel bad; with your drunkenness you brought yourself down to the animals' level. I told you to dance and though you're worn out by your day's work you exhausted yourself dancing to please me. I suggested to you a dangerous date and you left your family even if it was cold, raining or snowing. I told you to waste energy and weekly salaries on vices, and you, afraid of giving alms, spent the money meant for the sustenance of your family on gatherings with your friends. This is how light my yoke is! And you preferred it to that of God."
To whom shall we go? ...
Judgment Day will be according to the kind of life we have lived preparing for it. What will be our state of life on judgment day? "and then will He render to every man according to his works", Jesus tells us. (Mt. 16:27)
But if our work is not in conformity with the Gospel, that is, our love for Jesus and our neighbor (Mt. 25:31-46), to whom shall we turn to at that moment which will be sudden like a "twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:52)?
Before that happens make provision for obtaining a judgment of salvation. "Now is the acceptable time" (2 Cor. 6:2), it is the time of mercy. As long as we live we can obtain an abundance of mercy by having recourse to Our Lady, "the Mother of Mercy" as we invoke Her in the "Hail Holy Queen". It will be a special grace if in our last agony in life we will have recourse to Her, approaching Her "with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy" (Heb.4:16).
St. Maximilian M. Kolbe said that even if we are already with our one foot in hell, provided we invoke the Immaculate Virgin, She will obtain for us eternal salvation.
St. Gabriel of the Mother of Sorrows in agony on his deathbed suffered evil attacks. He looked a bit worried. His confessor blessed him and thought he wanted to change his position. "No," whispered the saint, "I'm looking for the image of Our Lady." The image was in bed among the folds of the bed cover. His face brightened up as soon as he found it. He looked at it with love and said, "Mother, make it soon?"
Even St. Camillus of Lellis on his deathbed was assailed by the thought of sins he committed during his ill-spent youth. The saint took a picture of the Crucifixion with Mary at the foot of the Cross and with ardent passion prayed to the Virgin of Sorrow to intercede for him. He died contemplating serenely the Mother of Mercy.
May it also be granted to us to present ourselves to the judgment of God contemplating our Heavenly Mother!
- Ask yourself often: How do I want to find myself on Judgment Day?
- Ask our Blessed Mother to help us prepare ourselves for Judgment Day.
- Meditate on the pages of the Gospel of St. Matthew particularly Mt. 25:31-46 and
- perform some acts of charity.