VITA, DULCEDO! HAIL, OUR LIFE, OUR SWEETNESS!
XXVII.-MARY IS OUR SWEETNESS; SHE RENDERS DEATH SWEET TO HER CLIENTS
Such also will be your death if you are faithful to Mary. Though you may have hitherto offended God, she will procure you a sweet and happy death. And if by chance at that moment you are greatly alarmed and lose confidence at the sight of your sins, she will come and encourage you, as she did Adolphus, Count of Alsace, who abandoned the world and entered the Order of St. Francis. In the Chronicles of the Order we are told that he had a tender devotion to the Mother of God, and that when he was at the point of death his former life and the rigours of Divine justice presented themselves before his mind, and caused him to tremble at the thought of death, and fear for his eternal salvation. Scarcely had these thoughts entered his mind, when Mary, who is always active when her servants are in pain, accompanied by many Saints, presented herself before the dying man, and encouraged him with words of the greatest tenderness, saying: “My own beloved Adolph, thou art mine, thou hast given thyself to me, and now why dost thou fear death so much?” On hearing these words the servant of Mary was instantly relieved, fear was banished from his soul, and he expired in the midst of the greatest peace and joy.
Let us, then, be of good heart, though we be sinners, and feel certain that Mary will come and assist us at death, and comfort and console us with her presence, provided only that we serve her with love during the remainder of the time that we have to be in this world. Our Queen, one day addressing St. Matilda, promised that she would assist all her clients at death, who, during their lives had faithfully served her. “I as a most tender Mother, will faithfully be present at the death of all who piously serve me, and will console and protect them.” O God, what a consolation will it be at that last moment of our lives when our eternal lot has so soon to be decided, to see the Queen of Heaven assisting and consoling us with the assurance of her protection.
Besides the cases already given in which we have seen Mary assisting her dying servants, there are innumerable others recorded in different works. This favour was granted to St. Clare; to St. Felix, of the Order of Capuchins; to St. Clare of Montefalco; to St. Teresa; to St. Peter of Alcantara. But, for our common consolation, I will relate the following: Father Crasset tells us that Mary of Oignies saw the Blessed Virgin at the pillow of a devout widow of Willembroc, who was ill with a violent fever. Mary stood by her side, consoling her, and cooling her with a fan. Of St. John of God, who was tenderly devoted to Mary, it is related that he fully expected that she would visit him on his death-bed; but not seeing her arrive he was afflicted, and perhaps even complained. But when his last hour had come the divine Mother appeared, and, gently reproving him for his little confidence, addressed him in the following tender words, which may well encourage all servants of Mary: “John, it is not in me to forsake my clients at such a moment.” As though she had said: “John, of what wast thou thinking? Didst thou imagine that I had abandoned thee? And dost thou not know that I never abandon my clients at the hour of death? If I did not come sooner, it was because thy time was not come; but now that it is come, behold me here to take thee; let us go to Heaven.” Shortly afterwards the Saint expired and fled to that blessed kingdom, there to thank his most loving Queen for all eternity.