Spiritual Reading for Thursday – Fourth Week After Easter ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Posted by

Spiritual Reading


He that is a friend loveth at all times; and a brother is proved in distress-(Prov. xvii. 17), says the Book of Proverbs. We can never know our friends in the time of prosperity; it is only in the time of adversity that we see them in their true colours. People of the world, never abandon a friend as long as he is in prosperity ; but should misfortunes overtake him, and more particularly should he be at the point of death, they immediately forsa.ke him. Mary does not act thus with her clients. In their afflictions, and more particularly in the sorrows of death, the greatest that can be endured in this world, this good Lady and Mother not only does not abandon her faithful servants, but, as during our exile she is our life, so also is she at our last hour our sweetness, by obtaining for m, a calm and happy death. For from the day on which Mary had the privilege and sorrow of being present at the death of Jesus, her Son, Who was the Head of all those predestined, it became her privilege also to assist at their deaths. And for this reason the holy Church teaches us to beg this most blessed Virgin to assist us, especially at the moment of death : Pray
for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death!
Oh, how great are the sufferings of the dying ! They suffer from remorse of conscience on account of past sins, from fear of the approaching judgment, and from the uncertainty of their eternal salvation. Then it is that hell arms· itself and spares no efforts to gain the soul which is on the point of entering eternity ; for it knows that only a short time remains in which to gain it, and that, if hell then loses it, it loses it for ever. The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing thqt he hath but a short time-(Apoc. xii.12}. And for this reason the enemy of our salvation, whose charge it was to tempt the soul during life, does not
choose at death to be alone, but calls others to his assistance, according to the Prophet Isaias : Their houses shall be filled with serpents-(Is. xiii. 21). And indeed they are so; for when a person is at the point of death the whole place in which he is is filled with devils who all unite to make him lose his soul.

It is related of St. Andrew Avellino that ten thousand devils came to tempt him at his death. The conflict that he had in his agony with the powers of hell was so ter­ rible that all the good Religious who assisted him trembled. They saw the Saint’s face swelled to such a degree from agitation that it became quite black, every limb trembled and was contorted; his eyes shed a torrent of tears ; his head shook violently ; all gave evidence of the terrible assault he was enduring on the part of his infernal foes. All wept with compassion and redoubled their prayers, and at the same time trembled with fear on seeing a Saint die thus. They were, however, consoled at seeing that often, as if seeking for help, the Saint turned his eyes towards a devout picture of Mary, for they remembered that during life he had often said that at death Mary would be his refuge. At length God was pleased to put an end to the contest by granting him a glorious victory; for the contortions of his body ceased, his face resumed its original size and colour, and the Saint, with his eyes tranquilly fixed on the picture, made a devout inclination to Mary (who it is believed then appeared to him) as if in the act of thanking her, and with a heavenly smile on his countenance tranquilly breathed forth his blessed soul into the arms of Mary. At the same moment a Capuchin nun, who was in her agony, turning to the nuns who surrounded her, said: “Recite a ‘ Hail Mary,’ for a Saint has just expired.”
Ah, how quickly do the rebellious spirits fly from the presence of this Queen ! If at the hour of death we have only the protection of Mary, what need we fear from all our infernal enemies ? David, fearing the horrors of death, encouraged himself by placing his reliance on the death of the coming Redeemer and on the intercession of the Virgin Mother. For though, he says, I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, . . . thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me-(Ps. xxii. 4). Car­ dinal Hugo, explaining these words of the royal Prophet, says that the staff signifies the Cross, and the rod is the intercession of Mary ; for she is the rod foretold by the Prophet Isaias : And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root-(Is. xi. 1). “This Divine Mother,” says St. Peter Damian, ” is that powerful rod with which the violence of the infernal enemies is conquered.” And therefore does St. Antoninus encourage us, saying : ” If Mary is for us, who shall be against us?”

Leave a Reply