Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Golden Dagger, from The Life of Sr. Mary of St. Peter.

THE GOLDEN DAGGER.

"The earth is steeped in crime! The Holy Name of the Lord is blasphemed; the very Sunday itself is profaned: these fill the measure of iniquity. In no age has crime been so malignant…. My Name is everywhere blasphemed; even by the little children!"

(Words of Our Lord to the Sister.)

It took place on the 26th of August, 1843, the day after the celebration of the feast of St. Louis, who is specially honoured as the protector of France, the defender of the Roman Church, and the avenger of the Divine Majesty outraged by blasphemy.

This date is not without its signification, which shall be noticed further on. A violent storm had suddenly burst forth from the fiery heavens and fell in torrents over the city of Tours. "Never," said the carmelite virgin, "have I realised the justice of an irritated God as at that moment. Prostrate in an agony of fear before the Lord, I unceasingly offered Jesus Christ to his heavenly Father for the necessities of our holy mother the Church: one of our sisters experienced the same emotions as I."—According to the doctrine of the Apostles, the phenomena of nature are the visible signs of things invisible and supernatural. The terrible rolling of the thunder and the gleaming of the lightning seemed to be the menacing threats of the Most High. The flashes of lightning were as arrows, ready to destroy the enemies of the Lord. At five o'clock, she commenced her evening prayer; placing herself in spirit at the foot of the cross, (according to her custom, as we have seen), she lovingly asked of Our Lord the cause of his wrath. Her Divine Master, wishing to try her, changed his usual manner, and said: "I have lent ear to your sighs, and have seen your desire to glorify me; yet, all this proceeds not from you, it is I who am the Author of all holy desires."

The sister continues: "Then he unfolded his Heart to me, concentrating therein the powers of my soul, and addressed me thus: 'My Name is everywhere blasphemed, even little children blaspheme it.' And he made me understand how that dreadful sin pierced and wounded his Heart, aye, more than all other crimes. By blasphemy, the sinner outrages him to his face, attacks him openly, and pronounces upon himself his own judgment and condemnation. Blasphemy is an empoisoned dagger, wounding his Divine Heart continually; he told me that he would give me a golden dagger with which to wound him delightfully, and heal the poisonous wounds caused by sin."

"The following is the prayer which Our Lord dictated to me, notwithstanding my unworthiness, for the reparation of blasphemy against his Holy Name: he offered it to me as a golden dagger, assuring me that every time I said it, I would wound his Heart most lovingly."

May the most holy, the most sacred, the most adorable, the most unknown and the most inexpressible Name of God be adored, praised, blessed, loved and glorified, in heaven, on earth and in hell, by all creatures formed by his sacred hand, and by the loving Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar. Amen.

The sister here suddenly interrupts her interesting narrative to explain an expression contained in this prayer.;

'As I was not a little astonished when Our Lord said and in hell, he had the goodness to make me understand that his justice was there glorified. I beg to remark, that he did not only mean the place where the wicked are punished, but also purgatory, where he is loved and glorified by the suffering souls. The word hell is not merely applied to the place where the damned are confined, for our faith teaches us that the Saviour descended into hell or Limbo, where the souls of the just were detained until his Coming; and does not our holy mother the Church pray her divine Spouse to deliver the souls of her children from the gates of hell? A porta inferi erue, Domine, animas eorum. (Office of the Dead.)

To these explanations may be added, that St. Paul, in one of his epistles, made use of the same expression in an analogical sense, saying: "At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend in heaven, on earth and in hell."

She continues: "Our Lord, having given me this golden dagger, added: "Beware how you appreciate this favour, for I shall demand an account of it. 'At that moment, I seemed to behold flowing from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, wounded by this golden dagger, torrents of grace for the conversion of sinners, which sight gave me confidence to ask: 'My Lord, do you then hold me responsible for blasphemers?'—This question shall have its answer later; for the present, the divine Master said nothing more. That which he had just communicated was sufficiently decisive, and deserving the most serious reflection. "Aware of my weakness," said she, "and fearing the demon, I prayed the Blessed Virgin to be pleased to guard that which her Divine Son had just confided to me."

She did not fail to take instant note of this important communication, and according to her custom, delivered it to the mother prioress as soon as written. The latter received it without appearing to attach much importance to its contents. But after the sister had retired, and the mother prioress had carefully perused it, a new avenue of thought was opened to her, and for the first time she began to suspect the gravity of the communications received by her spiritual daughter, and foresaw the responsibility which would devolve both on her and on her community. For not only was the prayer in honour of the Holy Name of God to be repeated by the person to whom it had been revealed, but it was to be communicated and spread among the faithful.

As we can readily understand, this was a subject for reflection to a superior as prudent as Mother Mary of the Incarnation.

"This communication" said the sister, "has wrought a change in my soul, for I am constantly occupied in glorifying the most Holy Name of God. Our Lord inspired me to add to the golden dagger, some other prayer, to be repeated every hour of the day; he graciously accepted this exercise, desiring that it be promulgated.  My Divine Saviour made me participate in his desire of beholding the name of his Father glorified, he exhorted me to praise and bless that adorable Name, in imitation of the angels who are perpetually singing, Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus; that thus I would accomplish his desire, that of honouring his Sacred Heart and the holy Heart of his Mother. He likewise made me understand that this would not prevent me from honouring him in his sacred mysteries, that during his life, his Sacred Heart had suffered from blasphemy." At the end, she added:” I understand, moreover, that the more acceptable a thing is to God, the more odious does Satan try to render it, in order to disgust the soul; but if she be faithful, notwithstanding her repugnance, she will acquire great merit. Our Divine Saviour gave me these instructions to help me resist the assaults which the devil was meditating against me, because of this work. His aim is its annihilation, as Our Lord made known to me, but his efforts will be fruitless."

The little exercise of reparation spoken of by the sister, and revealed to her on the feast of St. Michael, commenced with the Magnificat, followed by twenty-four verses, the first of which we subjoin:—

”In union with the sacred Heart of Jesus, come let us worship the adorable Name of God, which is above all names. … In union with the holy Heart of Mary, come let us adore this Name … In union with the glorious St. Joseph come let us adore” … The last invitation is thus terminated: ” Come let us adore the exalted Name of God which is above all names, and let us prostrate ourselves before him; let us weep in the presence of the Lord who has made us, for he is the Lord our God, we are his people and the sheep whom he conducts to his pastures.”

Though these prayers contained nothing but what was in conformity with the spirit of the Church, yet the mother prioress would not at first allow Sr. Mary St. Peter to recite them, but retained the formula which had been remitted her.

In the meantime, she took proper care to place bounds to the impetuosity of a zeal which astonished her, and which., in her opinion, might have been the effect of self-love. ”But,” said the good sister, “as I was persuaded that my superiors did nothing but by the special permission of God, I submitted to their orders, and did all in my power to obey. Our Lord, made a gap in the wall of obedience (if I can express myself thus) which I had opposed’ to him; through this he came into my heart to converse about his work, or rather he drew me to himself.”

One day, when speaking to our Rev. Mother, I told her that when at prayer I found myself entirely occupied in repairing the outrages committed against God by blasphemers. She reprimanded me severely, and forbade me to continue; ordering me to apply my mind to meditate simply on my last end, or on any other similar subject. She reproached me for presuming to make reparation for others, whilst perhaps I, myself, had blasphemed God in my heart. ‘ Would you not do better,’ said she, ‘ to meditate on these words which may be addressed to you some day: Go, ye cursed into everlasting fire ? ‘

With a grieved heart the poor sister retired from her superior. ”Seeing that our reverend mother appeared to be so dissatisfied with me, I went to tell my sufferings to Our Lord, for it troubled me not a little to be obliged to change my method of prayer and to resist the attractions which he gave me. I was tormented with the fear of disobeying; but I did the best I could to follow the method of meditation indicated by our mother superior, and I then rendered an account to her. When she told me that I had fulfilled her desires, my soul became tranquil. One day, Our Lord made me understand that it was more necessary for me to obey my superiors than to credit what I believed to have heard from the Lord himself. With the assistance of grace, I have always been submissive to the least wish of my superiors.”

Nevertheless, the humble virgin was a prey to great mental sufferings. She obtained no consolation from any one, neither from her confessors nor her superiors, ”who, in their wisdom,” said she, ”proposed to try me, to ascertain if it were really the work of God. It was then I felt the weight of that cross which, even before my coming to Carmel, Our Lord had promised to give me in religion.” In fact, she now commenced really to carry the cross, and we shall see that she was never released from it until her last sigh. Let us now attend to her, as she reveals the manner in which she con ducted herself towards her superiors:” When Our Lord communicated anything to me on the subject of his work, I dared not speak of it to our good mother, but I took note of it and left the writing in her office, very glad when she was not there. On one occasion, among others, I was all in a tremble before the Blessed Sacrament, holding in my hand a little letter which I presented to Our Lord before going to remit it. Sometimes the work of Reparation was a burning fire within me. I felt the necessity of speaking to some one who would take an interest in it, but I could not obtain the permission.”

”At length, however, Our Lord sent me a great consolation: I was one day kneeling be fore our reverend mother, speaking “to her of the sufferings occasioned by the work with which I was charged; our good mother said: ‘What can I do for you, my child? Nothing, at all, you must bring forth this work by your own sufferings. ‘As she was speaking, there fell from a book which she held in her hand, a little leaflet on which was printed an honourable amende to the- most Holy Name of God, followed by an appeal to the French nation, to appease the anger of God, irritated by blasphemy. This had a striking resemblance to the communications which I had received, and which at that time appeared to be a mere chimera of my own. Our reverend mother was lost in astonishment. She had never before seen this paper, n0-one in the house knew anything about it; the book which contained it had not been taken from the library perhaps for twenty years; and it was in my presence that this incident occurred! I was in an ecstasy of joy, nor could I disabuse myself of the idea that Heaven commenced to speak in my favour.“

The writing in question had been published in 1819, by l’Abbe Soyer, then vicar general of Poitiers, who became bishop of Lucan. To the first title of Appeal to the People of France, there was added a second, Reparation, inspired to appease the Anger of God. Therein it was stated openly that blasphemy drew down the anger of God on France; to avert which, prayers and supplications, similar to those proposed by Sr. Mary St Peter, were specified. ”In her surprise,” continues the latter, ”our good mother said, smilingly, ‘ Well, sister, if I did not know you, I would think you were a sorceress.’ I replied: ‘Mother, I am confident that the holy Angels have brought this to light;’ for I remembered having invoked them before going to our Mother’s office; undoubtedly it was they who caused this book to be taken from the library at the proper moment.“

The mother prioress sought further in formation on the subject, and wrote to l’Abbe Soyer for an explanation. The prelate replied that it was he who had published the ”Appeal,” at the solicitation of a carmelite, of Poitiers, named Sister Adelaide, a soul of predilection, with whom the Lord had held the most intimate communications. ” That admirable carmelite,” said he, “was the most mortified, the most humble, and the most saintly soul I have ever met. It would greatly contribute to the edification of the members of your order if her life were written. ”Mother Adelaide died on 31st of July, of the same year, 1843; and just twenty-six days after her death, Sr. St. Peter, religious of the same order, was inspired to demand the work of Reparation for blasphemy; as though God had awaited the death of one prophet before raising up another.”

Another remarkable coincidence happened on the same day, the 26th of August. A pious gentleman had distributed among several of the communities of Tours, a prayer in honour of the Holy Name of God, to obtain through the intercession of St. Louis, king of France, the dispersion of the enemies of that divine Name. This prayer had been recited before the feast of St. Louis, and what was more admirable still in the dispensations of Divine Providence, was that the prayers had been circulated among all the religious houses of the city, as was afterward learned, the Carmelites alone being forgotten. On the very next day, the Lord communicated to the most unworthy of his servants, the fruit of the prayers of these holy souls.“

The very pious gentlemen in question, is no other than M. Dupont, the holy man of Tours. He was on the most friendly terms with the Carmelites, and this occurrence, as may be supposed, only the more strongly cemented the bonds of friendship existing between them. For years he had burned with an ardent zeal for the reparation of blasphemy, and as a natural consequence, with a great devotion to St. Louis, king of France. This fervent Christian, as the sister relates, had received with great joy the formula of prayers called the Quarantine of St. Louis, which had come to Tours by post, n0-one knew from whence, in the early part of July, 1843. Madam Deshayes, religious of the Sacred Heart, considered as one of the foundresses of the Institution, was the first to receive thirty copies; she gave one to M. Dupont who lost no time in having more printed. The prayer was in honour of the Holy Name of God, and in reparation for blasphemy. On the copy distributed among the faithful, there was the following:

”From the 16th of July to the 25th of August, inclusively, the faithful are called upon to unite in prayer for the necessities of the Church and State… . May thy Name, O Lord! be known and blessed, in all times, and in all places!” This prayer had been recited during the forty days prescribed, in all the communities of the city. But what was most astonishing, was that notwithstanding the intimacy existing between M. Dupont and the Carmelites, (besides the circumstance that the Quarantine seems to have been put under the protection of our Lady of Mount Carmel), the mother prioress and her daughters, as the sister remarked, had not the slightest knowledge of the event. The day after the feast of St. Louis, 26th of August, immediately after the last day of the Quarantine, the pious sister received the divine communication, of which we have spoken. We cannot but be forcibly struck with the coincidence, as well as with the affinity existing between the words of the quarantine: May thy Name be known, blessed, and those of the ”Golden Dagger” inspired to Sr. St. Peter, the same day: May the holy Name of God be forever praised and blessed.

M. Dupont, especially, attached so much the more importance to this, as he was then preoccupied with the idea of reparation for blasphemy. He naturally concluded that the prayers, offered in 1843 by a great number of holy souls, had been heard. ”If faith does not oblige us,” said he, ” it at least allows us to believe that God has heard our prayers, according to his promise: Where several are united in my Name, there am I in the midst. It was only one year after the revelations made to the venerable sister, that we were informed of the very mysterious coincidence existing between the prayers of the quarantine and the invocation dictated her by Our Lord. It seemed as though Heaven had heard the supplication of earth, and planted the seeds of Separation, which would ere long spring forth and blossom.

From the general aspect, it seems as if this year was predestined by Divine Providence for the work of Reparation. It was on the 8th of August, 1843, that the Pope, Gregory xvi., promulgated a brief for the erection of a pious confraternity under the patronage of St. Louis, king of France, for the Reparation of blasphemy against the Holy Name of God. “We find that at the same epoch, a Jesuit laboured for some time in a small country village of the diocese of Nantes, whose inhabitants were strangely addicted to blasphemy. But after his bishop had approved of an association in reparation for blasphemy, to which an indulgence of forty days was attached, he obtained the most salutary and abundant fruits. These events had the effect of causing the superiors of Sr. M. of St. Peter, to relax some what in their severity toward her.

”I was permitted to occupy myself with the work of God according to the inspirations given me. When our Rev. Mother returned to me the prayers of Reparation, I was carried away with joy, and every day I recited them with renewed devotion. My good Master gave me to understand that they were most agreeable to him. Soon after, he told me that I must request my superiors to have them printed; a new source of trouble for me, for our wise and prudent Mother, seeing that Our Lord continued to follow up his work, desiring as she did to see it established upon a solid foundation, continued to try me, in order to ascertain if it were truly God who guided me.”

One day she told me that I seemed like another Peter Michel. This man was a visionary, who had deceived multitudes by his false revelations; he had come to see our Rev. Mother, but she discovered the imposition at the first glance. Eventually, he was tried, convicted as an impostor and condemned to several years imprisonment. I knew not what to think of my communications on beholding myself placed on a par with this individual. Our Lord reassured me, however, by these words: ‘As long as you continue humble and obedient, rest assured that you are under no illusion.’ 

Shortly after these events had taken place, our Rev. Mother became very ill. Though she had often crossed me both for the good of my soul and to ’be convinced whether it was God who was guiding me, yet, I loved her very tenderly and placed unbounded confidence in her. One day during my meditation (it was on the eve of the feast of St. Michael) Our Lord made me understand that I had pleased his Divine Heart with my little reparation; that these prayers caused him to forget my past ingratitude; and that if the Community wished to obtain the restoration of our Rev. Mother, that she might be able to discharge her duties with less suffering, they should make a novena before the Blessed Sacrament, in reparation for blasphemy against the Holy Name of God, and also that they should say the prayers of the little exercise with which he had inspired me; that it was but just, children should aid their mother, and that if the sisters gave this satisfaction to his Sacred Heart, he would lavish graces upon the community.”

”I could not refuse to impart this communication for Our Lord, who added, as if to induce me to comply with his request: ‘ Oh! if you could understand all I have done for you, and what graces I have lavished on your soul, you would be filled with astonishment on beholding the Creator thus abasing himself to his creature!’ Then I said, ‘My Lord, I will again do your bidding; for after all, I run no risk, I shall only be covered with humiliations.’ I placed myself under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, and I communicated my mission to our Rev. Mother, whose sufferings were most violent. She consented to make the novena; but in order that the sisters should not know it was I who composed the prayers, our confessor had the kindness to copy them; they Relieved the new devotion came from him.”

”For myself, I have never regretted my unlimited obedience to Our Lord, who is never outdone in generosity. On that same day, the feast of St. Michael, the Divine Master declared it his will that our mother should begin to promulgate these prayers of Reparation. As she was in a state of debility and suffering, Our Lord granted me as a token of my mission, the restoration of her health. He assured me there was nothing in this devotion contrary to the spirit of the Church, which has been established to glorify the Holy Name of God. I promised him if he cured our mother, that she would not neglect his work. Then when she recovered I said: ‘My Lord, ‘I shall deliver your messages again, when and to whom you wish.’ My Heavenly Spouse, faithful to his word, restored to health our beloved invalid, who was soon able to fulfil the important duties of her charge.“