PRAYING FOR OTHERS — ESPECIALLY POOR SINNERS
Making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing (Ep. of Sunday).
How pleasing to Jesus Christ are prayers for sinners! “Assist Me, O My daughter, to save souls by your prayers,” — said Jesus one day to Sister Seraphina de Capri. No souls that really love God neglect to pray for poor sinners.
It is quite certain that the prayers of others are of great use to sinners, and are very pleasing to God. And God complains of His servants who do not recommend sinners to Him, as He once complained to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi to whom He said: “See, my daughter, how Christians are in the devil’s hands: if My elect did not deliver them by their prayers they would be devoured.” But God especially requires this of Priests and Religious. The same Saint used to say to her nuns: “My sisters, God has not separated us from the world that we should only do good for ourselves, but also that we should appease Him in behalf of sinners.” And God one day said to her, “I have given to you, My chosen spouses, the City of Refuge (i.e. the Passion of Jesus Christ), that you may have a place where you may obtain help for My creatures. Therefore have recourse to it and thence stretch forth a helping hand to My creatures who are perishing, and even lay down your lives for them.” For this reason the Saint, inflamed with holy zeal, used to offer God the Blood of the Redeemer fifty times a day on behalf of sinners, and was quite consumed with the desire she had for their conversion. She used to say “What pain it is, O Lord, to see how one could help Thy creatures by giving one’s life for them, and not be able to do so!” In every exercise she recommended sinners to God; and it is written in her life that she scarcely passed an hour in the day without praying for them. Frequently, too, she arose in the middle of the night, and went before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for them; and yet for all this, when she was once found bathed in tears, on being asked the cause, she answered, “Because I seem to myself to do nothing for the salvation of sinners.” She went so far as to offer to endure even the pains of hell for their conversion, provided that in that place she might still love God; and often God gratified her by inflicting on her grievous pains and infirmities for the salvation of sinners. She prayed especially for Priests, seeing that their good life was the occasion of salvation to others, while their bad life was the cause of ruin to many; and therefore she prayed God to visit their faults upon her, saying, “Lord, make me die and return to life again as many times as is necessary to satisfy Thy justice for them!” And it is related in her Life that the Saint, by her prayers, did indeed release many souls from the hands of Lucifer.
I thank Thee, O Lord, for the sweet promise of pardon Thou hast made to sinners, — to forget the sins of those who repent. I will not remember any of their iniquities. (Ezech. xviii. 22). It is all the fruit of Thy Passion, O Jesus! O sweet Passion! O sweet mercy! O sweet love of Jesus Christ!
No souls that really love God neglect to pray for poor sinners. For how is it possible for a person who loves God, and knows what love He has for our souls, and what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for their salvation, and how our Saviour desires us to pray for sinners, — how is it possible, I say, that he should be able to look with indifference on the multitudes of poor souls who are living without God, and are slaves of hell, without being moved to importune God with frequent prayers to give light and strength to those wretched beings so that they may rise from the miserable state of perdition in which they are slumbering? True it is that God has not promised to grant our requests when those for whom we pray put a positive impediment in the way of their conversion; but still, God of His goodness has often deigned, at the Prayer of His servants, to bring back the most blind and obstinate sinners to a state of salvation by means of extraordinary graces. Therefore let us never omit, when we say or hear Mass, when we receive Holy Communion, when we make our Meditation or the Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, to recommend poor sinners to God. And a learned author says that he who prays for others will find that his prayers for himself are heard much sooner.
Oh, how many souls are sometimes converted, not so much by sermons, as by the prayers of Religious. Pray for one another that you may be saved, for the continual prayer of the just man availeth much. (James v. 16).
O great God, Thou art indignant against sinners and with too great reason, for they repay Thee with ingratitude for all the great love Thou hast shown them. I offer Thee Thine own Son. May this Victim appease Thee and move Thee to have pity on all poor sinners. Give them light and strength to come out of the miserable state in which they are blindly living. I pray Thee for all, but especially for myself who have been more ungrateful than others in offending and despising Thee.
O Mary, hope of sinners, do thou obtain pardon for me, perseverance, and the love of Jesus Christ.