Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A letter from a dying Saint

A letter from a dying Saint to his mother. The letter was penned by St. Aloysius whose feast day is celebrated on June 21st. Like St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, the Saintly martyrs from England whose heroic Christian witness is celebrated on the following day, June 22nd, St. Aloysius provides the holy incentive of facing death with courage and joy. The anticipation of heaven and the certainty that it exists, is the very thing that makes people ask: "What do those Christians see that we do not see?" And when that joy of Christian hope is put to the test by adversity and the real possibility of dying, such joy and confidence inspires among onlookers to place their treasures where it belongs, namely, in heaven. But before such a witness can be borne, a death to worldy desires must be fostered through solitary prayer, meditation and self-denial. The more the garden of the soul is de-weeded, the more the reality of heaven will impress itself upon the soul.

To his mother:

"May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours for ever, most honoured lady. Your letter found me lingering still in this region of the dead, but now I must rouse myself to make my way on to heaven at last and to praise God for ever in the land of the living; indeed I had hoped that before this time my journey there would have been over.

If charity, as Saint Paul says, means to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are glad, then, dearest mother, you shall rejoice exceedingly that God in his grace and his love for you is showing me the path to true happiness, and assuring me that I shall never lose him.

The divine goodness, most honoured lady, is a fathomless and shoreless ocean, and I confess that when I plunge my mind into thought of this it is carried away by the immensity and feels quite lost and bewildered there. In return for my short and feeble labours,

God is calling me to eternal rest; his voice from heaven invites me to the infinite bliss I have sought so languidly, and promises me this reward for the tears I have so seldom shed. Take care above all things, most honoured lady, not to insult God’s boundless loving kindness; you would certainly do this if you mourned as dead one living face to face with God, one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth.

And our parting will not be for long; we shall see each other again in heaven; we shall be united with our Saviour; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies for ever, and enjoy eternal happiness. When he takes away what he once lent us, his purpose is to store our treasure elsewhere more safely and bestow on us those very blessings that we ourselves would most choose to have.

I write all this with the one desire that you and all my family may consider my departure a joy and favour and that you especially may speed with a mother’s blessing my passage across the waters till I reach the shore to which all hopes belong. I write the more willingly because I have no clearer way of expressing the love and respect I owe you as your son."