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Tuesday 8 July 2014

Big Posting Day

A friend invited me over to use the Net....thanks to all.

Hope I can get on tomorrow....continuing with Garrigou-Lagrange, of course.

VIP from Father Z and The Catholic Encyclopedia

St. John Nepomucene, pray for us.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia online.

Born at Nepomuk about 1340; died 20 March, 1393. The controversy concerning the identity of Johnof Pomuk or Nepomuk (a small town in the district of Pilsen, Bohemia), started in the eighteenth century, is not yet decided. The principal question at issue is whether there was only one John ofNepomuk, or whether two persons of that name lived in Prague in the second half of the fourteenth century and met with precisely the same fate. This inquiry leads naturally to the further question, as to the true cause of John's violent death. In a controversy of this character it is of primary importance to set down clearly the information given in the original sources. Extant documents,ecclesiastical records, and contemporaneous accounts of the second half of the fourteenth century relate in unmistakable fashion that in 1393 a certain John of Nepomuk was Vicar-General of theArchdiocese of Prague, and that on 20 March of the same year by command of King Wenceslaus IV ofBohemia he was thrown into the Moldau and drowned. This John was the son of Welflin (or Wölflin), a burger of Pomuk (Nepomuk), and studied theology and jurisprudence at the University of Prague. In 1373 he took orders and became public notary in the archiepiscopal chancery, and in 1374 was madeprothonotary and first secretary of Archbishop John of Jenzenstein (Jenstein). In 1389 he received theparish of St. Gallus in Prague, and, continuing meanwhile his studies of jurisprudence at theuniversity, was promoted in 1387 to the doctorate of canon law. He was also a canon in the church ofSt. Ægidius in Prague, and became in 1389 canon of the cathedral in Wyschehrad. In 1390 he gave up the parish of St. Gallus to become Archdeacon of Sasz, and at the same time canon of theCathedral of St. Vitus, without receiving however any cathedral benefice. Shortly afterwards thearchbishop named him president of the ecclesiastical court, and in 1393 his vicar-general. King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia, wishing to found a new bishopric for one of his favourites, ordered that at the death of Abbot Rarek of Kladrau no new abbot should be elected, and that the abbey churchshould be turned into a cathedral. The archbishop's vicar-general, however, interposed energetically on this occasion in defence of canon law. When Abbot Rarek died in 1393, the monks of Kladrauimmediately held a new election, the choice falling on the monk Odelenus, and John, as vicar-general, promptly confirmed this election without referring to the wishes of the king. Upon hearing this Wenceslaus fell into a violent rage, and had the vicar-general, the cathedral official, ProvostWenceslaus of Meissen, the archbishop's steward, and later the dean of the cathedral thrown intoprison. The first four were even tortured on 4 March, but, although the others were thus brought to acquiesce in the wishes of the king and the official even proposed everlasting secrecy concerning all that had occurred, John of Nepomuk resisted to the last. He was made to undergo all manner of torture, including the burning of his sides with torches, but even this could not move him. Finally, the king ordered him to be put in chains, to be led through the city with a block of wood in his mouth, and to be thrown from the Karlsbrücke into the river Moldau. This cruel order was executed on 20 March, 1393.
We possess four contemporaneous accounts concerning these proceedings. First of all, the extant bill of indictment against the king, presented to Benedict IX by Archbishop John of Jenzenstein, who went to Rome with the new Abbot of Kladrau on 23 April, 1393 (Pubitschka, Gesch., IV, app.; ed.Pelzel, "Geschichte König Wenzels", I: "Urkundenbuch", 143-63). Some years later Abbot Ladolf of Sagan gives an account of it in a somewhat abbreviated form in the catalogue of the Abbots of Sagan completed in 1398 (ed. Stenzel in "Script. rerum Silesiacarum", I, 1835, pp. 213 sqq.), as well as in the treatise "De longævo schismate", lib. VII, c. xix (Archiv für österreichische Geschichte, LX, 1880, pp. 418 sq.). A fourth reference is to be found in the "Chronik des Deutschordens", a chronicle of theTeutonic Knights which was compiled by John of Posilge who died in 1405 ("Scriptores rerum Prussicarum", III, Leipzig, 1860—, 87). For the discussion of the question it is important to remark that Archbishop John of Jenzenstein in his above-mentioned indictment (art. 26) calls John ofNepomuk "martyr sanctus", and that, in the biography of John of Jenzenstein by his chaplain, John ofNepomuk is described as "gloriosum Christi martyrem miraculisque coruscum". It is thus clear that his contemporaries had already begun to honour as a martyr and a saint the vicar-general put to deathby the cruel and licentious tyrant for his defence of the law of the Church. The body of John ofNepomuk was drawn out of the Moldau and entombed in the cathedral of Prague, where in fact, as isproved by later documents, his grave was honoured.
In his "Chronica regum Romanorum", finished in 1459, Thomas Ebendorfer (d. 1464) relates that KingWenceslaus had Magister John, the father confessor of his wife, drowned in the Moldau, not only because he had said that "only he who rules well is worthy of the name of king", but also because he had refused to violate the seal of the confessional. The refusal to violate the seal of the confessionalis here for the first time given as the reason for John's violent death. The chronicler, who speaks of only the one John drowned by order of King Wenceslaus, evidently refers to the John of Pomuk put to death in 1393. In the other chronicles written in the second half of the fifteenth century, we find thereason regularly assigned for the execution of John, that he had refused to tell the king what the queen had confessed to him.
Paul Zidek's "Instructions for the King" (sc. George of Podiebrad), completed in 1471, contains still more details (cf. Schmude in "Zeitschrift für kathol. Theologie", 1883, 90 sqq.). He says that KingWenceslaus suspected his wife, who was accustomed to confess to Magister John, and called upon the latter to declare the name of her paramour. On John's refusal to say anything, the king ordered him to be drowned. In this old account we do not find the name of the queen or any date assigned to this occurrence; a little later the year 1383 is given, when Wenceslaus's first wife, Johanna (d. 1389), still lived.
In his "Annales Bohemorum" ("Kronika ceská", first printed in BohemianPrague, 1541; translated into Latin and published by Gel. Dobner in 6 vols., Prague, 1761-83) the Bohemian historian, Hajekvon Liboczan (d. 1553), in view of these varying accounts, is the first to speak of two Johns ofNepomuk, who were put to death by order of King Wenceslaus: one, the queen's confessor, andmartyred for refusing to violate the secret of the confessional, having been thrown into the Moldau in 1383; the other, auxiliary Bishop of Prague, drowned in 1393 because he confirmed the election of the monk Albert as Abbot of Kladrau. The later historians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries give more or less legendary details of the universally accepted martyrdom of John, because he refused to violate the secret of the confessional. Bohuslav Balbinus, S.J., in his "Vita b. Joannis Nepomuceni martyris" (Prague, 1670; "Acta SS.", III, May, 668-80) gives the most complete account. He relates with many details how on 16 May, 1383 (this date is already found in old accounts), Johnof Nepomuk, because he steadily refused to betray the confession of Queen Johanna to KingWenceslaus, was by order of the latter thrown into the Moldau and drowned. From the year 1675 thecathedral chapter of Prague repeatedly petitioned Rome for the canonization of Blessed John ofNepomuk, who enjoyed special veneration in Bohemia. In the years 1715-20 evidence was gathered and the cause examined; in 1721 followed the beatification, and in 1729 the canonization. The actsof the canonization are based on the statements, according to which John died on 16 May, 1383, amartyr to the secrecy of the confessional. But ever since 1777, when the Augustinian Hermit,Athanasius a Sancto Josepho, sought to prove by the testimony of Archbishop Jenzenstein's written accusation, which did not become known till 1752, that John of Pomuk was put to death byWenceslaus in 1393 for the reason given above, the controversy has never ceased.
We still find defenders of the opinion advanced by Hajek, that there are two Johns of Pomuk. Most modern historians, however, are probably correct in regarding the vicar-general murdered in 1393 as the only historical personage. A few of these, however, do not look upon the confirmation of theelection of the Abbot of Kladrau as the true reason for John's murder; they hold that Wenceslaus IV was already exasperated against John, because he would not violate the secret of the queen'sconfession, and took this opportunity for revenge. These details can in no way affect the validity of the canonization of the vicar-general, who had been recognized as a martyr immediately after his death. Consequently, when Protestant historians, as Abel, assert that the veneration of St. John Nepomucene was first introduced by the Jesuits to banish the cult of John Hus from Bohemia, their contention is both unhistorical and without justification: the veneration of John of Nepomuk was widespread long before the Jesuits ever existed. St. John Nepomucene is patron saint of Bohemia. When in 1719 his grave in the Prague cathedral was opened, his tongue was found to be uncorrupted though shrivelled. His feast is celebrated on 16 May.

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Dies Irae

Garrigou-Lagrange quotes Thomas Aquinas on the fact that the punishment received for sin is less than we deserve.

St. Catherine confers on this point. Mercy tempers justice. Garrigou-Lagrange writes, “…with the souls in purgatory divine mercy is still more active, inspiring them with the loving desire to make reparation, which temper a little the keen purifying pain they are undergoing and confirms them in their assurance of salvation.”

Mercy is seen not only in purgatory, but in hell, as the punishment could be worse, if we really understood the gravity of our sins before God.

And in heaven, “…divine mercy shines forth in the saints according to the intensity of their love for God.”

And, “How consoling is the thought of this infinite mercy, which transcends all wickedness and is inexhaustible. For this reason, no relapse into sin, however shameful, however, criminal, should cause a sinner to despair. There is no greater outrage against God than to consider His loving kindness inadequate to forgive. As St. Catherine of Siena tell us, ‘His mercy is greater without any comparison than all the sins which any creature can commit.’”

Most of us really do not realize this. The pride which makes us hide our sins gets in the way of accepting mercy. The theological virtues, destroyed by mortal sin, can be re-energized, resurrected, as it were, through the sacrament of Confession. 

I love the Dies Irae, which some people cannot understand. Why--because as Garrigou-Lagrange points out, the hymn celebrates both justice and mercy. 

Day of wrath and doom impending,
David’s word with Sibyl’s blending!
Heaven and earth in ashes ending!
O what fear man’s bosom rendeth
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth!
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Through earth’s sepulchers it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.
Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its judge an answer making.
Lo! the book exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded;
Thence shall judgment be awarded.
When the Judge His seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
When the just are mercy needing?
King of majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us!
Think, kind Jesu, my salvation
Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation;
Leave me not to reprobation.
Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,
On the Cross of suffering bought me;
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?
Righteous Judge! for sin’s pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution,
Ere that day of retribution.
Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
All my shame with anguish owning;
Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning!
Through the sinful woman shriven,
Through the dying thief forgiven,
Thou to me a hope hast given.
Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.
With Thy favored sheep O place me,
Nor among the goats abase me,
But to Thy right hand upraise me.
While the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy Saints surrounded.
Low I kneel, with heart submission,
Crushed to ashes in contrition;
Help me in my last condition!
Ah! that day of tears and morning!
From the dust of earth returning,
Man for judgment must prepare him;
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!
Lord all-pitying, Jesu Blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest. Amen.

And, in another illuminating footnote, Maritain is quoted, in a very interesting reflection on evil and good in our times. I shall quote part of this.

“So the cockle grows up along with the wheat; the capital of sin increases throughout the whole course of history and the capital of grace  increases also and superabounds. Christian heroism will one day become the sole solution for the problem of life….Then we shall doubtless see coincident with the worst condition in human history a flowering of sanctity.”  From St. Thomas Aquinas, Angel of the Schools, translated by J. F. Scanlan.

Downright prophetic…to be continued.

The Law of Acceleration

Garrigou-Lagrange refers to the “law of acceleration governing the love of God”. I have seen this, even in children, which is one reason why I wrote the virtue and homeschooling series last summer, almost exactly one year ago.

The law of acceleration means that if one is truly fighting against all attachment to venial sin, if one can get to daily or frequent Mass and Adoration, desire and fervor increase, as do love and grace.

This law of acceleration is a consolation, but also a result of God’s mercy. The author tells us that, “It will be seen that, just as the stone falls more rapidly as it approaches the earth which is attracting it, so is it with the souls of the just: the more nearly they approach to God and therefore the greater the force of His attraction, the more rapid must their progress be.”

Hence, the importance of early training of the child in the direction of holiness.

How much harder it is for us adults to re-train ourselves re-sensitize ourselves to the mercy of God.  Garrigou-Lagrange notes that at our judgment, if only Justice prevailed, we would all be condemned.

The “last appeal” of God to our hearts for repentance is based on mercy, and according to the Dominican, stronger, more persistent.

“If His justice inflicts the punishment due to sin, here again His mercy will outstrip it by pardoning. To pardon means to ‘give beyond’ what is due. The rights of justice are safe-guarded, but mercy outweighs it by constantly inspiring the sinner, as death approaches, to make a great act of love for God, and of contrition, which will wipe away sin and the eternal punishment mortal sin incurs. And so, through the intervention of mercy, through the infinite merits of the Savior, through the intercession of Mary refuge of sinner, and of St. Joseph patron of the dying, for many persons death is something very different from the way they lived. These are the laborers of the eleventh hour whom the Gospel parable speaks of (Matt. 20:9); they receive eternal life, as do the rest in proportion to the few meritorious acts they have performed before death, when already in their agony. Such was the death of the good thief who, touched by the loving kindness of Jesus dying on the cross, was converted, and he had the happiness of hearing from the Savior’s lips:’ This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise’ (Luke 23:43). These interventions of mercy at the moment of death are one of the sublimest features of the true religion.”

Such is one example of the mercy of God…

“The death of the repentant sinner is one of the greatest manifestations of divine mercy.”

A powerful example of this is from St. Catherine of Siena, greatly featured in this book, in which she refers to a young nobleman, Nicholas Tuldo, condemned to execution for criticizing the government.

“Seeing me at the place of execution, he began to smile, and wanted me to make the sign of the cross upon him. I did so and then I said to him: ‘On your knees, sweetness my brother. You are going to the marriage feast. You are about to enter into everlasting life.’ He prostrated himself with great gentleness, and I stretched out his neck; and bending over him, I reminded him of the blood of the Lamb. His lips said nought save ‘Jesus’ and ‘Catherine’. And so saying, I received his head in my hands, closing my eyes in the divine goodness, saying, ‘I will’. Then as I saw, as might the clearness of the sun be seen, the Godman, the wound in His side being open. He was permitting a transfusion of that blood with his blood, and adding the fire of holy desire given to that soul to the fire of His divine charity.”

This is from the Letters of St. Catherine of Siena, translated by Scudder.

We must all pray for the grace of final perseverance and if we do, even daily, can we doubt the mercy of God at that time?

To be continued….

The Age of Mercy

For those of us growing up in the Age of Mercy, especially with all the gifts connected to the devotion and promise connected to the Divine Mercy, as revealed to St. Faustina, the ideas in the chapter on Providence and Mercy will come as no surprise.

A few points to summarize from Garrigou-Lagrange:

1)      Mercy is linked to Justice, but “superior”.
2)      It is giving that which is not strictly necessary.
3)      It is based on pure goodness, as is Justice.
4)      Sanctifying grace is from mercy.
5)      The Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is THE act of mercy.
6)      “Justice loses none of its rights, but it is mercy which prevails” because of the Cross.
7)      The Eucharist is a result of Divine Mercy.
8)      Those raised Catholic and Christian have been given mercy over and above the graces necessary for salvation.
9)      “…the gifts of mercy go far beyond anything we have deserved.”
10)  “The grace of absolution from mortal sin is not something that can be merited, it is a gratuitous gift. And how often has that grace been granted to us!”

More later….to be continued….

The General Judgment

The general judgment as described and defined by Garrigou-Lagrange, seems both terrifying and consoling. The author notes, “This general judgment is evidently expedient, because man is not merely a private person, but is a social being, and this judgment will reveal to all men the rectitude of Providence and its ways, the reason also of its decisions and their outcomes. Divine justice will then appear in all its sovereign perfection in contract to the frequent miscarriage of human justice. Infinite mercy will be revealed in the case of repentant and pardoned sinners. Every knee will bend before Christ the Savior, triumphant now over sin, the devil and death.”

I read all footnotes, of course, and at the end of this chapter on Providence and Justice, the author writes this in a footnote:

“A young Jew, the son of an Austrian banker, who knew little of the Gospel beyond the Our Father, was one day given an opportunity of revenging himself on an enemy. But at the very moment the opportunity presented itself, there came to his mind the words, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Instead of carrying out his revenge, he forgave his enemy completely with all his heart, and immediately his eyes were opened: he saw the Gospel in all its majesty and most firmly believed. He became a good Catholic and afterwards a priest and religious of the Order of St. Dominic. The kingdom of God was revealed to him the very moment he forgave.”

To be continued….next, Providence and Mercy.

The Particular Judgment

I am running out of time to share Garrigou-Lagrange’s Providence with you, so I want to skip some bits, not that these are not worthy, in order to concentrate on the last few chapters.

Recommending pages 251, 252, 253, 257, 264 and 292, I am skipping to the discussion on the particular judgment. Now, I have written on this before many times on this blog. One of my friends experienced his particular judgment over a year ago, for three days, seeing all the sins and failings. A strong man, he told me he sobbed during those three days, realizing his great lack of holiness and love for God.

As noted in a post quite a while ago, I had one experience of the horror of one venial sin.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes this: “Once the body has been left behind, the soul has direct vision of itself as a spiritual substance, in the same way that the pure spirit has direct vision of itself, and in that instant it is made aware of its moral condition. It receives an interior illumination rending all discussion useless. God passes sentence, which is then transmitted by conscience, the echo of God’s voice. The soul now sees plainly what is its due according to its merits and demerits, when then stand out quite distinctly before it.”

The author continues, and then refers to Newman, who I referred to a few days ago. Here is the passage from The Dream of Gerontius quoted:

“When then—if such they lot—thou seest thy Judge,
The sight of Him will kindle in thy heart
All tender, gracious, reverential thoughts.
Thou wilt be sick with joy, and yearn for Him
That one so sweet should e’er have placed Himself
At disadvantage such, as to be used
So vilely by a being so vile as thee.
There is a pleading in His pensive eyes,
Will pierce thee to the quick, and trouble thee,
And thou wilt hate and loathe thyself; for, though
Now sinless, thou wilt fell that thou hast sinned
As never thou didst feel; and wilt desire
To slink away, and hide thee from His sight;
And yet wilt have a longing eye to dwell
Within the beauty of His countenance.
And those two pains, so counter and so keen—
The longing for Him, when thou seest Him not;
The shame of self at thought of seeing Him—
Will be thy veriest, sharpest purgatory.

It is the face of the Incarnate God
Shall smite thee with that keen and subtle pain;
And yet the memory which it leaves will be
A sovereign febrifuge to heal the wound;
And yet withal it will the wound provoke,
And aggravate and widen it the more.”

Garrigou-Lagrange continues, “Justice will then mete out condign punishment for sins committed, to last for a time or eternity. “

And, “…the sinner clearly realizing that through his own fault he has failed forever to attain his destined end.”

The Dominican reminds us that both mercy and justice are mysteries. We cannot understand God’s mercy nor His justice. And, although we define these as separate attributes of God,  but are in reality inseparable.

To be continued…

Peace and The Cross

Peace comes from these two simple points to remember;

1)      Everything that happens in every moment is either God’s Perfect Will or His Permissive Will;
2)      Those things are directed to a higher good, a higher good purpose.

Garrigou-Lagrange quotes St. Francis de Sales:

“Every moment come to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on and plunge into eternity, there to remain forever what we have made it.”

Wisdom leads to peace, the author assures us all. As we have all been given wisdom in the sacrament of Confirmation, only sin keeps this gift from blossoming.

Actual grace is like air when we come up from swimming, state Garrigou-Lagrange. We swim and breathe; we act and receive grace.

It is our duty to take advantage of these breaths of air, these graces and not pass these up.

The author writes, “The more the heart loves, the more it desires; and the more it desires, so much the more will it receive. The will of God presents itself to us at each moment as an immense ocean that no human heart can fathom; but what the heart can receive form this ocean is equal to the measure of our faith, confidence and love.”

As I have written before on this blog, sadly, I know people who have never experienced either human love not have they perceived God’s love. Their perceptions are blinded by hurt, deception, self-will. They what want they want and pursue their wants madly, ignoring what they need.  They are sometimes afraid to love and be loved, as they are afraid that if someone gets to know them intimately, they will be despised, or abandoned. They trust neither God nor men. They have no idea of abandoning themselves to God’s “adorable will.”

It seems to me that the vast majority of people live in fear, especially the fear of not being forgiven, or loved.

It all has been done already, on the Cross.

Do you trust?

Trusting in Divine Providence is practiced every moment of every day.  Garrigou-Lagrange tell us that “In the order intended by Providence this present moment is in some way related to our last end, to the one thing necessary; and thus each instant of fleeting time has some sort of relation with the unique instant of unchanging eternity….then not only the time of mass or our hours of prayer and visits to the Blessed Sacrament would be a source of sanctification to us, but every hour of the day  would take on a supernatural significance and remind us that we are on our way to eternity.”

The author notes that in the Great War, World War One, this attitude was that of those who were spiritual.

“ In those three-minute intervals before firing recommenced, they would say to themselves, ‘One moment, perhaps, and then death’ and they would live the present moment as though it were the prelude to eternity.”

The readership of my blog has changed over the years. Many people in their forties (remember the poll two years ago or so?) find these perfection posts helpful. But, many do not want to be reminded that Church politics or government decisions, which do effect us, are not what make us saints.

The saints never lose the “sense of God’s presence”.  They are not immersed in the material or the transitory.

If prayers do not seem to be answered, the saints would think, either, “I am not one with God’s Will” or “This will happen when God ordains.”

Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us that none of our actions are indifferent. As I say on this blog, there is nothing which is neutral. The author refers to Aquinas, who tells us that no moral act is neutral-none. Nothing trivial is neutral.

So, how do we avoid doing evil? How do we avoid not offering up each moment of the day for God?

The answer, Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us, is simple. A daily offering in the morning to God is all that is necessary.

And, this following thought is consoling for those in the Church Militant. “…in the lives of the just every deliberate act that is not sinful is at once morally good and meritorious, whether it be easy or difficult, trivial or heroic.”

To be continued…

Novella Part Eleven Sally Forth

Sal was much worse than Frieda had anticipated. The TLM priest was just leaving when Frieda and Matt got there. The Baby was ill, not seriously, but Abbey could not come. Little Abbey was usually healthy, but this week she had a bad cold, turning into croup.  The damp summer did not help.

Sally was sitting up in bed, looking so ethereal that she seemed to be made out of marble. Matt kissed her and Frieda stood there for a moment. "I am so glad to see you, I cannot tell you how much." Sally smiled. Then, Frieda in her impatient way, took the ring off her finger and put it on one of Sal's. Sally's hands were so thin, the ring looked enormous on her, and simply no longer fit. But, she smiled.

"Frieda, you are God's Drama Queen." Frieda laughed, "I shall get a tee-shirt with that on it."

Matt said he had to leave for a meeting but would come back for Frieda in two hours. The two women had a lot to talk about, but Sally was so tired.

"Sally, do not get upset with me, but I phoned  Kronstadt, I mean, Hans." Frieda waited. "Oh Frieda, you should not have bothered him. Really."  Sally took a deep breath. "I never told you something and I did not write it in the journal."

Frieda sat down next to the bed. She waited.

"You probably read the journal, but I left out one of the most important things.I was too afraid, too proud to write it down at the time". Frieda waited, as Sally was so tired.

"Hans said one more thing to me at our last meeting on the day after he began to propose."

Frieda squirmed. Why did Sal not write this thing in her journal?

"He told me, after a long time, and almost at the end of our last conversation, that I was to do something."

Frieda waited. She wondered how many days Sally actually had to live. She wished her to live.

"He told me to get ready to die young, as I was his angel, his way to heaven, even if we were separated."

Frieda began to cry. She had not really faced Sally's death and here was Sally telling her the obvious truth.

The two sat in silence. Frieda took Sally's little hand and just held it for a long time. Matt was due back soon. 

Frieda's cell phone went off. "Blast, I forgot to turn it off." She looked at the number. "Sal, are you OK for a moment, I want to get this call."

"Of course, Frieda. Go on. And, look, here is Matt." Standing at the door was her brother, smiling. Frieda walked into the hallway and down to the foyer, as Matt entered the room.

Frieda came back in about five mintues with two people. They were both Norbertines-one short and bald, about sixty, and the other tall, dark, handsome.

Matt could hardly be happier. Here was his old mentor, Kronstadt, and a companion, Timothy. Hans went over to Sally.

"Hello. Frieda found out I was here for a conference in psychology and phoned me to come. Do you mind?"

Sally was weeping so silently. "I knew I would see you one more time. I knew it."

Hans bent over Sally's bed and whispered, "I told my superior I was going to visit a saint. He said 'Fine' And, I see you have the ring".

Sally just smiled. Matt, Frieda and Timothy stood at the end of the bed. They all began to say the rosary out loud, but quietly. 

Then, as if called by a Bridegroom who was a very Jealous Lover, Sally died.

Hans had never seen her so beautiful. Matt phone Abbey, then Massie and Duke. Massie went ballistic. "Why did you not tell me how ill she was? Of course, we could not come down. Duke hates flying."

Matt tried to explain that he has told Massie how ill Sal had been. She did not listen, really. "Well, John told me Sally was lying about having cancer and that it all psychosomatic. He told us all that." Matt felt sick to his stomach.

A strange phrase came into his head: 

You shall indeed hear but never understand,
    and you shall indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and their ears are heavy of hearing,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
    and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
    and turn for me to heal them. 

"Goodbye, Mom. Maybe I will talk to you again."

The End.

(I want to thank my dear friend J....for encouraging me to write this. Thanks, JY.)

Novella Part Ten Sally Forth

Frieda decided to read the journal on the plane. Again, one section cried out for attention.

Hans told me over coffee a strange thing, but then our entire relationship has been strange. First, he said to keep the ring, as a sign of love and respect. Then, he said something very odd. "Sally, I think that your insight into my vocation is only part of the vision here. I do not know what this means, but I think that when I saw you in white, that you would be in heaven before me and I need you, please, to pray for me. I am not a natural celibate. I am worldly and vain. I have always had everything I ever wanted, except you."

I waited, as this confession was painful for both of us. "Will you, as you would have as my wife, pray for me everyday?"

Of course, I assured him I would, and I shall. Enough of this. There is nothing left to say.

Frieda thought about her own life, so caught up in the material. Here were two people who were "thresholders", living on the edge of life, living with one foot on earth and one foot in eternity. She felt happy to have known both....she envied the ease with which they could love and let go of love.

Well, Sal was still alive. Then, she had another idea.....

To be continued...

Novella Part Nine Sally Forth

Matt and Abbey visited Sally regularly. No one else came the four months she was in the hospice, after being with Abbey and Matt for awhile. Summer was proving to be stormy and upsetting. The weather was "all wrong" and one could not count on nice, hot days, only storm after storm.

In her room, with good care, Sally waited in pain for death. She did not know how to pray anymore. She thought, in the wisdom of her now thirty-eight years, that people who were really ill could pray. She knew better now. Her suffering was her prayer. Sometimes, she would say the rosary with the nice deacon who visited her once a week. She could not swallow Communion, but could receive the Blood of Christ.

The nice deacon read her the Gospel of the day in the Novus Ordo. She had seen the TLM priest once a month for Confession, and he promised her an anointing in the old rite. She waited.

Frieda in Madison phoned Matt when she could. She had taken on summer courses and could not get away until early August. Her fear was that she would not see Sally alive again.

One day, at the beginning of July, Frieda decided to read the journal Sally had given her.

The story written in Sally's beautiful hand was not one Frieda expected.

Part of the story which caught Frieda's attention was this.

On Saturday,we went out and Hans began to speak of marriage. I immediately heard a small voice, maybe my angel, say, "You will never be his wife." I did not know what to say. We truly love each other, but as I looked at him over the dinner table at The Grove, I wondered at this small voice, so gentle yet so firm.

Then, I saw Hans all in white, with sandals and a big straw hat, like a missionary hat. He was walking across a desert landscape, as in California.

My great uncle had been a Norbertine at St. Michael's and I saw Hans, in my mind's eye, like that. He took out the ring box and began to propose. I was shaking like a leaf. No, no, no. I would have to say no.

I began to cry and he did not understand. "I thought you loved me," he said softly. I could hardly answer.

"I do, but God loves you more." He became angry and pushed the ring box in front of me and walked out.

Then, outside church on Sunday, he took me aside and asked if we could have coffee after Mass. When we sat down, he said he went home and was so angry he almost called me back to tell me off.

Then, he was filled with a tremendous fire, and then peace. Then, he heard a little voice-"Be a priest". I was so shocked, I laughed outloud. Me, with two doctorates, a tenured position, a great practice.

Then, I saw you, in heaven, all in white...I cried and gave God my will."

We have not talked since that day. I shall never see him again this side of the grave. 

Frieda looked at the ring. It was gorgeous. A large ruby set in diamonds in platinum.

She got goose bumps and had an idea. She phoned Isaac.

"Isaac, Frieda, how would you like to make some money this summer? I want to take off during the second semester, the short class, this summer. Could you see if Smith would let us do this?"

In two days, Frieda has extricated herself from her special short-semester class and had bought a round-trip ticket to Houston. She would leave on July 10th. She had one bag and on her hand a ruby ring.

To be continued....