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sable as an imitation of the human form. Such as they were, they sufficed to transport me to the Cross of Mount Calvary. I was present in spirit at the great sacrifice of redemption ; I heard the sound of the hammer ; I saw the blood flowing from his wounds; I beheld him hanging once more between heaven and earth, a victim of propitiation for the sins of the world. For thee, for thee, he died.' The words seemed to come from the Cross, and to pierce my soul like lightning ; but with them came a terrible thought of despair, · He died, but not for thee; thy sins are beyond the pale of salvation. Scarce had the enemy of mankind suggested the thought, when the bell for the Angelus tolled once more. It was as if the Mother of God had spoken to my soul in the silence of that hour set apart by all Christians to commemorate her consent to the incarnation of Christ and the salvation of man. Methought she spoke to me thus : Crucify not my son again, oh man! by thoughts of despair. Never has his blood been poured forth in vain. Arise, go thy ways, and repent. I am the Mother of Mercy, and from Mercy itself will I ask thy pardon.' Lady, I may not tell of the grateful tears which were shed at the foot of that Cross. I may not tell you of the love and sorrow which burned in the breast of the pardoned bandit. Magdalen has shed such tears at the feet of her Saviour. The penitent thief has known such love when he heard those blessed words, . This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.'
Many a soul was hushed that hour into thoughts of fervent adoration: but who could feel as I did, who had been so much forgiven ? who had been so saved from a career of crime! Oh! speak not to me," father Francis continued, with an accent of fervour that made me start,—"speak not to me of idolatry and superstition in the love which we Catholics give to the Mother of God! Tell me not that she who shared, as a mother, in every thought of Jesus, does not share in his compassion for man; that she who stood beneath the Cross does not pity us, even for the pity which he showed to the penitent thief; or, that he will refuse her prayer, whose slightest wish he obeyed on earth. Tell me not that the sinner is unpitied by her, who understands the nature of vice and virtue more clearly than it ever was given to any other mortal to understand it; since she measures her love for the one, and her hatred of the other, by the love that she bears to God;-love that may be almost deemed without measure in her, whose soul reflects the perfections of the Divinity, as the mirror returns the effulgence of the sun. Mary is the mother of mankind by the spirit, as Eve was their mother by the flesh. Tell me not that she sits in the Heaven of Heavens, mindful of the glories which Jesus gives her, unmindful of the sinners for whom Jesus died; that she turns not her eyes towards her children weeping and mourning in this vale of tears ; that she seeks not continually their pardon from her Son, or that Jesus, that Son, will be deaf to her prayer. She did not refuse him anything on earth, neither will he deny her aught in Heaven ; least of all will he refuse her the conversion of man, for whose salvation he thirsted while walking on earth. Then tell me not that there is no efficacy in the prayers of Mary ; rather cry out with St. Bernard—Oh, Mother ! let those cease to honour you, who never have experienced the efficacy of your prayers !'”
The old man paused, tears streaming from his eyes which were lifted towards Heaven, and his whole face radiant with love! Would that at the hour of my death, such thoughts as caused the brightness of that look may
be dwellers in my soul! After a moment's prayer, he spoke again.
“ Yes, my good friend, trust me this belief in the communion of Saints,—which with the monstrous inconsistency attached to error, the Church of England reads aloud in her churches, while she dares to scoff it as a Catholic superstition,—this very belief is one of the most consoling doctrines of the Church of Christ, one of the silver links that bind heaven and earth together, and that makes the church militant upon earth in some degree a sharer in the joys of the Church tri. umphant in Heaven. Who ever stood above the grave of a Saint, and felt not a joyful thrill through his soul, which seemed a participation of his heavenly bliss, and which was truly an incentive to more perfect virtue? Who ever thought upon Mary, and thanked not God in his heart for the graces bestowed upon her, and through her upon kind in the person of her Son? In very truth, this reliance on the prayers of Mary and the Saints is the ægis which has preserved thousands from the despair and suicide that disgrace the annals of unbelieving England. It is the wand of Aaron which brings forth flowers and fruit from the sapless wood, and by its emulative influence on the mind, it may be even declared to have often made perfection more perfect in the souls of the just.” He paused once more.
I murmured a few words, I know not what, for I was overborne by the energy with which he had asserted his belief in the communion of Saints; but he fancied I demanded an explanation, which he instantly gave.—That the prayers of one person are more acceptable than the prayers of another, we learn from the
book of Job, where God tells the two friends of Job, “ My servant Job shall pray for you; and his face I will accept, that folly be not imputed to you; for you have not spoken right things before me, as my servant Job hath.'
Now humility and this text alike teach us to believe, that the Saints who have passed through the trials of this life, and are no longer even capable of offending God, will pray in a manner more pleasing to Him, than we, who are continually sinning against Him even in our very prayers; and consequently that their petitions will often be heard, when ours would not be granted,' because we have not spoken right things before the Lord,' as the Saints, His servants, have done. For this reason we are taught by the Church to have great confidence in the prayers of the Saints, and we believe that they can hear our requests, because it is written in Scripture, that there is joy among the Angels of God over one sinner doing penance. And of the Saints we are told, ' that they are as the Angels of God.' Therefore the power of understanding our feelings, which Christ declared was given to the Angels, we must of course believe to have been likewise conceded to the Saints, who are in all things as the Angels of God. We rely more particularly on the prayers of Mary, because we believe Almighty God will most readily grant her petitions whom He chose to be the Mother of His Son, and who is therefore dearer to Him than the most favoured of His heavenly host; and because she loves mankind with the love of a Mother, for such she became to us from the moment when JESUS bequeathed her to John, and through John to the whole race of man as a Mother. Now, dear lady,” the old man continued earnestly, “ if you were living beneath the rule of a king who had absolute power over your property and life, would you not feel more secure and happy were you persuaded that all his most intimate friends were your friends likewise, and if his mother had conceived such an affection for you that she even condescended to address you as her child-in short, if you were assured that the whole court would remonstrate in your favour, should the king be inclined to act harshly in your regard. This king is Jesus, the Judge of the living and the dead, this mother and these courtiers are Mary and the Saints. Can you wonder that we have confidence in their prayers, or that a great Saint declared, he would not be afraid of appearing before Jesus, if he were sure of the intercession of Mary, being certain that the Son would not refuse to grant the prayer of the Mother--that Mother whom he loves the most perfect of his creatures, and as the most tender of mothers.”
“ There seems some justice in your remarks, my good father,” I replied. And now may I not hear the remainder of your story ?”
“ I have little more to tell, lady. I rose from my knees an humbled and an altered man; and as the first duty of repentance is to undo the evil it has done, I warned the travellers of their danger, concealed them in a little chapel dedicated to our Blessed Lady which the robbers would not have ventured to assault, and taking one of their horses, I rode like a madman to a neighbouring village, where I knew I could obtain such an escort as would enable them to leave their retreat in safety. I succeeded, and by dawn next morning they were on their way, and I rode with them for a league. I soon told them my story, and they promised and ultimately obtained my pardon for the crime which was the origin of all my woes. As we approached my home, I strained my eyes to behold it once more, and my soul rejoiced in the joy which Bianca would feel at my swift repentance. I strained my eyes to see it, but it was no longer there, or a thick smoke veiled it from my eyes. A presentiment of evil crept over my heart—voices came up from the valley - they were singing the hymn for the dead—I spurred on my mule. A troop of peasants were slowly approaching. When they saw me they opened their ranks, and amid a low murmur of pity, laid their load on the ground. I sprang from my saddle, and gazed one moment wildly around—the next I was kneeling by the corpse of Bianca." He paused again in uncontrolable emotion. “ I learnt all afterwards,” he resumed. “ The bandits soon discovered that I had betrayed them; they sought me at my home; had they found me they would have murdered me. Bianca came forth to meet them. Her veil was on her head, and her cross was on her neck. As a nun she feared them not, and even among men like these, the fame of her sanctity would have been sufficient protection; but when she knew their errand, unable to repress her pious gratitude, she fell on her knees, and thanked God for having saved me from crime. Enraged at this, one of the robbers fired; the ball touched a vital part; terrified at the sacrilege they had committed, they set fire to the house, and departed. A servant who had been concealed now came to the aid of Bianca. It was too late; she was rapidly dying. Once more she thanked God for His mercies to me, then lifting her eyes to that Heaven, the glories of which seemed already reflected in the radiance of her face, and crying out, · Father, lay not this crime to their charge, with these words of pardon and peace yet on her lip she gave up her innocent soul to God. We buried her in the churchyard of the convent, and often the kind sisters fling white roses on the grave of one whose spirit was like the flower, for it had never known a stain."
“And your bride ?" I asked.
“I sought her, and told her all. Her love was more that of an Angel than of a human being; she gave me most willingly to the service of God.”
“ And what became of her ?”
“ Lady, there is a nun in the convent where my sister should have been, and every day she kneels at the lowly grave of Bianca, and our spirits mingle in prayer when the bells of the churches toll the ANGELUS.”
M. C, A.
A SUFFICIENTLY curious catalogue, under the above designation, might be made, of misstatements and errors of judgment fallen into by our separated brethren of the English Church establishment, not only as regards the faith and practice of Catholics, but as to the position they themselves occupy among the hordes of Christian sects that linger without the pale of unity. Such misapprehensions, arising from the combined influences of ignorance, prejudice, and self-sufficiency, have been over and over again exposed and refuted; but like the heads of the monster hydra, as often emerge again into a sort of chimerical existence. We have a mind to note down some of the fallacies that have fallen under our more immediate remark, and will commence with a few strictures on the word “ Catholic," an appellation, of which, in these times, a large section of the Protestant community has thought proper to become exceedingly jealous. Time was, dating from that felicitous epoch in general history, when the combined efforts of apostate friars and rapacious sovereigns contrived, under the specious mark of religious reform, to pervert a portion of Christendom, that the partisans of the new-fangled doctrines, in their eagerness to renounce all connexion with Rome, most anxiously disclaimed every thing that could in any way confound their practice and belief with the old faith from