Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

three or four times before he appeared sensible of my presence. At length he turned towards me, his face bathed in tears, his hands joined together, and he said to me, with a degree of expression I cannot describe, Oh, how this good gentleman must have prayed for me! I was overcome with astonishment; I felt at once that a miracle had been wrought in his favour. I raised him up; I took his arm, and almost bore him out of the church. I then asked him what was the matter. "Oh! he exclaimed, ' take me where you like: after what I have seen, I am all submissicn.' I intreated him to explain hiinself to me. He could not; his emotions were too strong. He took out of his bosom the miraculous medal, which he kissed again, and again, and bathed it in his tears. I conducted him home; and although I pressed him much for an explanation, he only answered by exclamations mingled with deep sobs, “Ah, how happy I am! how good is God! What an abundance of grace

and happiness has he not showered down upon me! Oh, how much are those to be pitied who have not obtained knowledge!' He then poured forth his tears over heretics and singers. “But,' he said, turning to me, do you not think me a fool ?

No, no; I am no fool ; everybody knows that I am no foul." ».

pp. 10-12.

He then requests to be conducted to a priest, is desirous of receiving baptism, and upon becoming more calm, gives the following description of his emotions and feelings at the moment the grace of God wrought his conversion :

- I had scarcely been a few minutes in the church, when all of a sudden I felt myself overcome by disturbance of mind. I raised my eyes; the whole edifice disappeared from my eyes; one chapel alone, if I may say so, concentrated all the light, and in the midst of the glory which it made, appeared high above the great altar, grand, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, the Virgin Mary, such as she is figured on my medal. The Virgin made a sign to me with her hand to kneel down, and she seemed to say to me~' It is well!' she spoke not, but I understood all.'

This short recital was made to us by Ratisb ne, interrupting himself often, as if to recover his breath, and get the better of the emotion which oppressed him. We listened to him with a sacred awe, mingled with joy and gratitude; admiring the depth of God's ways, and the ineffable treasures of his mercy. One phrase particularly struck us, from its mysterious character : She spoke not; but I understood all ! From that moment it was sufficient to hear Ratisbonne; the Catholic faith exhaled, as it were, from his heart, like a precious perfume from the vase enclosing it but not restraining its fragrance. He spoke of the REAL PRESENCE as a man who believed in it with all the energy of his mind; or, rather, indeed, to use a inore adequate expression, who FELT it. Taking leave of Father Villefort, we went to return thanks to God, to St. Mary Major, and then to St. Peter's.”—pp. 12-13.

66

The compiler then goes on to give a minute and full relation of all the circumstances relative to the preparation for baptism of the interesting convert, and of the ceremony, which was followed by his admittance to the sacraments of confirmation and the holy Eucharist. The effect produced upon him at that happy moment, is related in the most simple, yet moving manner. We would with pleasure give the passage entire, but, as the work is small, we are unwilling to encroach any more upon its limits, and must therefore refer our readers to the pamphlet, which we now heartily recommend to their consideration. We shall have cause to rejoice if we can induce others to peruse this admirable publication, and we earnestly exhort them to join with the Church in fervent thanksgiving to our bountiful God, for this wondrous manifestation of his infinite power and mercy.

Such is the notice we had prepared some time since, of this miraculous conversion, but which we withdrew till the appearance of the narrative from the pen of the individual who was himself so highly favoured, even that of M. Ratisbonne himself, and which now, in a fair translation, we have lying before us, As we anticipated, it is superior in interest to that of M. Bussière ; for, without disparagement to the latter, there is a charm in the simple statement of M. Ratisbonne, which we confess has affected us in no ordinary degree; but it is not only this that pleases us; it also proves to every reflecting son of the Church, that a miracle of grace has been effected in his heart, no less wonderful than that of the holy vision which was vouchsafed to him, and which claims our respectful attention, and gives testimony to the heart both weighty and assured, even had not the Church since spoken, and the successor of St. Peter set his seal to the truth of this wondrous

event,*

* The following is what we allude to above. “In the name of God, Amen. In the year of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, one thousand eight hundred and forty-two; of the Roman indiction fifteen ; and in the twelfth year of the pontificate of our Holy Father Gregory XVI, and the 3rd day of June.

“ In the presence of his Eminence Cardinal Constantine Patrizi, Vicar-General of our Holy Father the Pope, in his city of Rome, judge in ordinary of the Roman Curia, and of its jurisdiction, has appeared before the Reverend Father Francis Anivitti, promotor fiscal of the tribunal of the vicariate, and specially delegated by the cardinal vicar to search out and interrogate witnesses relative to the truth and authenticity of the wonderful conversion from Judaism to the Catholic religion, which was obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Alphonseg

Truly, there has been here given, in God's mercy, a consolation to the faithful in these days of coldness and misbelief, which claims in an especial manner, the devout remembrance and gratitude of all that love the faith. Here there has been a wondrous manifestation vouchsafed to cheer our hearts in this vale of tears; to give us courage, it may be, to abide the storm of renewed persecution; the falling away of some; the lukewarmness of many; the malice that may spring from amidst ourselves ; in a word, to urge us, whether the times be for the better or the worse, to renewed exertion in purifying our heart,—to give an example of holy virtue to all around us, to kindle the flame of devotion, first in our own, then in our brother's heart, to teach us as all our pulpits resound, to honour the blessed Virgin, by an imitation of her virtues,-to prepare

the
way,

it

may be of sorrows in the Church,-or

Marie Ratisbonne of Strasbourg, aged twenty-eight years, and then being in Rome; the said promoter declares that he applied himself with all the solicitude and zeal of which he is capable to the fulfilment of the duty which was thus undertaken by him with eagerness and joy; and having subjected to a formal examination nine witnesses, all of whom, juridically questioned, have exhibited in their sincere recital an astonishing unanimity in everything relating both to the substance and to the results of that wonderful event; he, therefore, further declares, that he is convinced that nothing more is required to constitute the character of a true miracle. Nevertheless, he has referred the definition of the whole matter to his very reverend eminence, who, after having seen and examined the acts, interrogatories, and documents, shall vouchsafe to interpose a definitive decree, as shall seem expedient to him in the Lord.

“ Wherefore, after having heard this report, and seen the process, the interrogatories of the witnesses, their answers and references, and having considered all these things carefully and maturely; having also collected the opinions of theologians, and of other men of eminent piety, according to the form prescribed by the Council of Trent(Sess. 25, de Invocatione, veneratione, et reliquiis Sanctorum, ac sacris Imaginibus), his eminence, the cardinal-vicar of his holiness, has declared and definitively pronounced that there is full evidence of the true and illustrious cure operated by the most good and great God, through the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, to wit,the, instantaneous and perfect conversion of Alphonse-Marie Ratisbonne, from Judaism. And whereas it is an honourable thing to reveal and confess the works of God (Tobias, xii. 7.) therefore, for the greater glory of God, and to increase the devotion of the faithful towards the blessed Virgin Mary, his Eminence has deigned to permit that the relation of this remarkable miracle should be printed and published, and authorized

“Given at the palace of his Eminence, the said cardinal-vicar, and judge in ordinary, on the day and month and year mentioned above.

“ C. CARDINAL-VICAR.-CAMILLUS DIAMiLLA, Not deput. Conformable with the original,-Joseph Canon TARNASSI, Sec. Place of the seal.” -- From Andrews' Orthodox Journal, Vol. xv. p. 104.

to strengthen us against the more difficult task of bearing with moderation and thankfulness, still higher proofs of God's mercy that He may have in reserve for the elevation and conduct of His Holy Spouse.

But there is yet another reflection which springs as it were out of this narrative, and it is this. The times in which we live, declare to the most cursory observer, that it is God that is working, and not man. We see his purposes fulfilled by instruments foreign to our unpractised ken; where man would have least looked for help, assistance has come ; and whence he would have predicated it as most likely to have arrived, there has emanated, alas ! but too often, a stumbling-block or a scandal. To our weak impression, it is beautiful to see how adverse and remote are the means that God's almighty power takes to replenish the fire of devotion in the jaded heart of his poor creature, man. It is beautiful to see how much He loves us, notwithstanding our weakness and unworthiness ; how, by such an issue as the narrative that suggests these thoughts, produces, He shows that independent of us, and all in mercy and forbearance, He can prove at once His power and His mercy,--His need of us, in His love,--His want of us in His means His necessity (for charity is boundless) in filling up the number of His elect-and His might in doing so, by being “made perfect," as St. Paul says, “in our infirmity.” There is a set or current in the waters of infidelity, running hard against the children of faith-it meets us at every turn,—we feel its influence in every point of the compass,—it penetrates like a two-edged sword into our very hearts --our domestic hearths gives us its echo,--and we have heard it (God help us !) rise from the very sanctuary,—that is from those whom we would have looked on as living sanctuaries of the Church of God. Assailed then on every side,--met by scandals abroad, -by weakness within, whither shall the feeble and driven flock of Christ fly for refuge, but to their SHEPHERD, to him who leadeth his flocks by still waters, and green pastures,—who still in His glory in heaven remembers that He had said to His apostles, “I am with you all days, even to the consumo mation of the world,”—and yet who forgets not that He had said, as in the practical instance before us, SON, BEHOLD THY MOTHER," and

MOTHER, BEHOLD THY SON.”

Perhaps in no instance, in the whole course of God's dealing with His Church, among those where the faithful have most needed support, could we point out one which more calls for our gratitude and thanks. giving than that of M. Ratisbonne. Here we have the weakest, and most unlikely of all human influence, power, or authority. We see a

[ocr errors]

young man, gifted indeed with a temperament that longs for the good of his neighbour,—especially of those who, by right of birth and exclusion, may be considered as his more particular and especial neighbour. Of his natural ability and talents we have no means of judging, excepting that the narrative before us, from its succinctness and simplicity, both of thought and diction, would have induced us to give that opinion of his capability, which we may suppose Gamaliel would have predicted of his young disciple Saul, but could either the one or the other,—we, or the pharisee ever have supposed that the pupil that we had, perhaps in the pride of our hearts, praised, should have one day been selected as the favoured object of manifestations,—so wide apart, but yet so similar ? In the great Apostle, of the vision of our blessed Redeemer,-in the humble Jew of holy St. Mary;-of the fulfilment in the one of BEHOLD THE SON; in the other of its antithesis, BEHOLD

THY MOTHER.

Though doubtless this little narrative is by this time familiar to most of our readers, yet we cannot forbear extracting a few passages, illustrative of what we have observed above. And first we will take the following, which relates what the state of his soul was an hour previous to his conversion (which took place January the 20th of this present year), and then as a contrast, that part of the narrative which describes the change wrought upon him, when, after the vision, light had been suffused into his soul :

“We separated at eleven, after engaging to meet on the following day, to examine a painting, the production of our fellow-countryman, the Baron de Lotzbeck. On entering a café in the Piazza di Spagna, to look over the journals, I there found M. Edmund Humann, the son of the minister of finance; he placed himself near me, and we chatted very gaily on Paris, the fine arts, and politics. I was soon after accosted by a Protestant friend, M. Alfred de Lotzbeck; with him, I conversed upon still more trivial matters ; such as hunting, the amusements of the carnival, the brilliant soirée given by the Duke de Torlonia on the previous evening. My approaching marriage could not be forgotten; I invited M. de Lotzbeck, who promised to be present at the ceremony.

“It was now mid-day. If, at this moment, a third individual had approached me, and said ; ' Alphonse, in one quarter of an hour, thou shalt adore JESUS Christ, thy God and thy Saviour; thou shalt be prostrate in a poor church ; thou shalt strike thy breast at the feet of a priest in a convent of Jesuits, where thou shalt pass the carnival in preparing for baptism, ready to immolate thyself for the Catholic faith; and thou shalt abandon the world, its pomps, its pleasures; thy fortune, thy hopes, thy whole future ; and if still necessary

« PredošláPokračovať »