Category: Saints

The Story Of St. Christopher “The Christ Bearer”

The Story Of St. Christopher “The Christ Bearer”

The Story Of Saint Christopher “The Christ – Bearer”.

Feast Day July 25, Martyred 254 A.D, One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Catholic Church.

In Catholic Ancient Tradition that has been passed down from Generation to Generation like many of the Church’s Traditions. This Catholic Tradition concerns Saint Christophorus, and the story of this Great Saint relates:

He was born in the land of Canaan, and was named Reprobus, that is Reprobate, for he was a barbarous heathen. In stature and strength he was a giant. Thinking no one his like in bodily vigor, he resolved to go forth in search of the mightiest master and serve him. In his wanderings, he met with a king who was praised as the most valorous man on earth. To him he offered his services and was accepted. The king was proud of this giant and kept him near his person.

One day a minstrel visited the king’s castle, and among the ballads he sung before the court was one on the power of Satan. At the mention of this name the king blessed himself, making the sign of the cross. Reprobus, wondering, asked him why he did that. The king replied: “When I make this sign, Satan has no power over me”. Reprobus rejoined: “So thou fearest the power of Satan? Then he is mightier than thou, and I shall seek and serve him”.

Setting forth to seek Satan, he came into a wilderness. One dark night he met a band of wild fellows riding through the forest. It was Satan and his escort. Reprobus bravely accosted him, saying he wished to serve him. He was accepted. But soon he was convinced that his new master was not the mightiest on earth. For one day, whilst approaching a crucifix by the wayside, Satan quickly took to flight, and Reprobus asked him for the reason. Satan replied: “That is the image of my greatest enemy, who conquered me on the cross. From him I always flee”. When Reprobus heard this, he left the Devil, and went in search of Christ.

In his wanderings, he one day came to a hut hidden in the forest. At its door sat a venerable old man. Reprobus addressed him, and in the course of the conversation that ensued the old man told him that he was a hermit, and had left the world to serve Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth. “Thou art my man,” cried Reprobus “Christ is He whom I seek, for He is the strongest and the mightiest. Tell me where I can find Him”. The hermit then began instructing the giant about God and the Redeemer, and concluded by saying: “He who would serve Christ must offer himself entirely to Him, and do and suffer everything for His sake. His reward for this will be immense and will last forever”.

Reprobus now asked the hermit to allow him to remain, and to continue to instruct him. The hermit consented. When Reprobus was fully instructed, he baptized him. After his baptism, a great change came over the giant. No longer proud of his great size and strength, he became meek and humble, and asked the hermit to assign to him some task by which he might serve God, his master. “For,” said he, “I can not pray and fast; therefore I must serve God in some other way”.

The hermit led him to a broad and swift river nearby, and said: “Here build thyself a hut, and when wanderers wish to cross the river, carry them over for the love of Christ”. For there was no bridge across the river.

Henceforth, day and night, whenever he was called, Reprobus faithfully performed the task assigned to him. One night he heard a child calling to be carried across the river. Quickly he rose, placed the child on his stout shoulder, took his staff and walked into the mighty current. Arrived in midstream, the water rose higher and higher, and the child became heavier and heavier. “O child,” he cried, “how heavy thou art! It seems I bear the weight of the world on my shoulder”.

And the child replied, “Right thou art. Thou bearest not only the world, but the Creator of heaven and earth. I am Jesus Christ, thy King and Lord, and henceforth thou shalt be called Christophorus, that is, Christ-bearer. Arrived on yonder shore, plant thy staff in the ground, and in token of my power and might tomorrow it shall bear leaves and blossoms”.

And the child disappeared. On reaching the other shore, Christophorus stuck his staff into the ground, and behold, it budded forth leaves and blossoms. Then, kneeling, he promised the Lord to serve Him ever faithfully. He kept his promise, and thenceforth became a zealous preacher of the Gospel, converting many to the Faith.

On his missionary peregrinations he came also to Lycia, where, after his first sermon, eighteen thousand heathens requested baptism. When Emperor Decius heard of this, he sent a company of four hundred soldiers to capture Christophorus. To these he preached so convincingly, that they all asked for baptism. Decius became enraged and had him cast into prison.

There he first treated him with great kindness, and surrounded him with every luxury and even sent him two of the most beautiful women in his kingdom to tempt him to sin, but in vain as he ended up converting the two Pagan women to Christ who were shortly Martyred. Then he ordered him to be tortured in the most cruel manner, until he should deny the Faith. He was scourged, placed on plates of hot iron, boiling oil was poured over and fire was lighted under him. When all these torments did not accomplish their purpose, the soldiers were ordered to shoot him with arrows. This, too, having no effect, he was beheaded, on July 25th, 254. Two great saints refer to the wonderful achievements of St. Christophorus which is a further declaration of the truths of the Story of Saint Christopher as Saint Ambrose mentions that this saint converted forty-eight thousand souls to Christ and Saint Vincent Ferrer declares, that when the plague devastated Valencia, its destructive course was stayed through the intercession of Saint Christophorus.

Prayers To Saint Christopher.

Prayer of the Church in Honor of Saint Christopher.

Grant us, almighty God, that whilst we celebrate the memory of Thy blessed martyr St. Christophorus, through his intercession the love of Thy name may be increased in us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer In Honor Of St. Christopher.

O God, Who did make St. Christopher a true Christ-bearer, who converted multitudes to the Christian faith, and Who gave him the grace to suffer for Thy sake the most cruel torments, through the intercession of this Saint, we implore Thee to protect us from sin, the only real evil. Preserve us also against the harmful forces of nature, such as earthquake, lightning, fire, and flood and In all our Travels. Amen.

Invocation Of St. Christopher.

Great St. Christopher, seeking and mightiest master which Thou found in Jesus Christ, the Almighty God of Heaven and earth. Faithfully serving Him with all Thy power to the end of Thy life, gaining for Him countless souls and finally shedding Thine blood for Him, obtain for me the grace to bear Christ always in my heart, as Thou once did, bearing Him on Thine shoulder. So that by this I may be strengthened to overcome victoriously all temptations and resist all enticements of the world, the Devil, and the flesh, and that the powers of darkness may not prevail against me. Amen.

Prayer Of Petition By The Merits Of Saint Christopher.

My Lord and my God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His Immaculate and Blessed Mother, Mary ever Virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the Holy Helper, St. Christopher, in whose honor I say this prayer. Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thine Grace and Thy Love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.

The Finding Of The Relics Of St. Stephen, The First Martyr (415)

The Finding Of The Relics Of St. Stephen, The First Martyr (415)

The Finding of Saint Stephen’s Relics – (415).

After St. Stephen, the first martyr, had been stoned to death by the Jews for having incontestably proven that Christ, Whom they had crucified, was the true Messiah, some pious men, filled with deep sorrow, buried him with all due reverence. Foremost among these was Gamaliel, who had formerly been a teacher, and later a disciple of St. Paul. He arranged everything so that the body of St. Stephen was carried, during the night, by some Christians, from the spot in which it lay, to his country-seat, which was a few miles from Jerusalem. In the course of time and in consequence of the persecution of the Christians in Judasa, the location of his tomb was forgotten, until it pleased the Almighty to reveal it in the time of the Emperor Honorius. There lived, at that period, in the place where St. Stephen was buried, a priest of the church of Jerusalem, named Lucian.

This second festival in honor of the holy protomartyr Saint Stephen was instituted by the Church on the occasion of the discovery of his precious remains. His body had long lain concealed under the ruins of an old tomb in Caphargamala, a place twenty miles from Jerusalem, where there was a church served by a venerable priest named Lucian.

In the year 415, on the 3rd of December, the priest Lucian was sleeping on his cot in the baptistry, where he habitually retired in order to guard the sacred vessels of the church. Being half awake, he saw a tall, comely old man of venerable aspect, clothed in white and gold, who approached him and called him by his name three times, bidding him go to Jerusalem and tell Bishop John to come and open the tombs where his remains and those of certain other servants of Christ lay. This act would permit God to open the gates of His clemency to many souls, the visitor affirmed. Lucian asked his name, and he replied, “I am Gamaliel, who instructed Saint Paul in the Law”. Gamaliel then said they would also find the tomb of Saint Stephen, protomartyr, and of Nicodemus, who came to visit Jesus at night and who, when driven out of Jerusalem by the authorities, had been sheltered by himself in his country residence at the present site. This vision was twice repeated, and on the third visit, the priest was reproached for his delay. He was promised that the discovery would cause a current famine to cease.

After the third vision, Lucian went to Jerusalem and laid the whole affair before Bishop John, who directed him to go and search himself for these relics. And Gamaliel appeared again, this time to a holy monk of the same region, to indicate the exact site where the inhabitants of the village should dig. There indeed were found three coffins or chests with the respective names engraved on them; and without opening these, Lucian sent immediately to acquaint Bishop John with the discovery. The bishop was at the Council of Diospolis, and, taking with him the bishops of Sebastis and of Jericho, he journeyed to Caphargamala.

Upon the opening of Saint Stephen’s coffin the earth trembled, and there came from the coffin an agreeable scent. There was at that moment a vast multitude of people assembled at the burial place, among whom were many persons afflicted with various maladies; seventy-three recovered their health instantly. They kissed the holy relics, and then the chests were closed again. The bishop left the relics of Gamaliel and Nicodemus for the village, and consented to leave a small portion of Saint Stephen’s relics there; then, amid the singing of psalms and hymns, the rest of them were carried to the Church of Sion in Jerusalem. They were later transferred to a magnificent church built in his honor in that city, towards the end of the fifth century. The greater part of the relics are presently in Rome.

Miracles Of St. Stephen. 

In St. Austin we have an indisputable witness of this, as he lived at the time of the discovery. Among other things, he tells us, in the twenty-second book of the “City of God,” of many great miracles wrought, in his presence, by these relics, in the city of Hippo, of which he was bishop, as also in adjacent countries. A few of these we will here relate. ⬇️

A blind woman’s sight was immediately restored, by touching her eyes with a flower, which at her request had been laid on the relics of St. Stephen. Lucillus, a bishop, was cured of a dangerous fistula by devoutly carrying the sacred relics. Eucharius, a priest, arose again to life, when they placed upon his corpse a tunic which had rested on St. Stephen’s body. Two men suffering with gout were cured by the same. A lad who was killed by being run over by a carriage, was not only restored to life, but his broken limbs were healed. A nun who had died, returned to life and health when her habit was laid on her after it had touched the sacred relics. Eleusinus placed the corpse of his child upon the spot where the relics of the saint had rested, and immediately the child lived again. Upon the head of Martial, a hardened Jew, his brother in-law–a Christian–laid a flower, which had been on the altar near the relics, and the next day the Jew requested to be baptized. Two sisters, who were afflicted with epilepsy, were instantly cured by these relics. Many other miracles are narrated by St. Austin, and he concludes with these words: “If I alone were to relate what I know of the miraculous cures performed by St. Stephen at Calama and in its neighborhood, I should have to write many books, and yet not be able to collect all of them”.

What does a non-Catholic think or say on reading or hearing these and many other things which the holy Fathers have written of the sacred relics? He rejects all these histories, and accuses St. Austin and other great teachers of falsehood and superstition. But if he believes even one of these miracles, how can he, according to the doctrines of his religion, condemn the veneration of relics and the invocation of the saints?

Practical Considerations.

I. The many miracles which God wrought through the relics of St. Stephen, are a certain sign that the veneration of sacred relics and the invocation of the Saints are pleasing to Him and beneficial to us. If they had not been allowable, or not agreeable to the Almighty, He would not have wrought the miracles nor would He have bestowed such remarkable grace upon those who venerated the relics, or invoked the Saints. Be not misled, therefore by those who speak with contempt of sacred relics or reject and denounce the veneration and invocation of the Saints. Honor as was the ancient custom, the sacred relics, and reverence the Saints and implore their intercession, as friends of God, and our faithful advocates around His throne. The church has never adored Saints or relics. To those, therefore, who say to you, “The Catholics practice idolatry with the Saints and their relics,” give the same answer that Daniel gave to each of the wicked judges, to whom he said: “Well hast thou lied against thy own head”. “Imbecile!” writes St. Jerome to the heretic Vigilantius, “who has ever adored the holy martyrs? Who has taken man to be a God?” And elsewhere he says: “We honor the sacred relics because they are of those men who became martyrs for the sake of Him Whom we worship. We honor the servants, that the honor we bestow upon them may go to the Almighty, Who says: “They who receive you, receive me”‘. Well may non-Catholics be opposed to sacred relics, as they are a continual proof of the truth of our holy religion, such as they cannot bring forward for their’s; for never yet has any one died in their belief, at whose tomb miracles have been wrought by the power of the Almighty. Should not this alone be sufficient to open their eyes and bring them to the knowledge of the truth?

II. God revealed where the body of St. Stephen lay, and caused him to be greatly honored on earth; still greater will be the glory of this, sacred body, when at the resurrection, it will be again united to the soul. Your body will also be reunited to your soul, on the day of resurrection; for our faith teaches us, that we shall rise from the dead, and receive again the body which is now our’s on earth. The reason for this is, that our body, which now partakes of our good or evil deeds, must then receive either the punishment or recompense we deserve. Hence there will be a great difference between the bodies of the just and those of sinners. Among other gifts, the body of the just will receive great beauty. Its splendor will surpass the brightness of the stars, while the body of the sinner will be more hideous and repulsive than we can imagine. The soul of the just, united to the body, will rise to Heaven, where both will enjoy more bliss than the mind of man can conceive; while the soul of the sinner, with his body, after the judgment, will be precipitated into Hell and there suffer inexpressible pains and torments, for all eternity. How will your body fare? Although I have already answered this question, several months ago, I will do so again. If you use the members of your body to commit sin and offend God, rest assured that, with your soul, it will be banished into Hell, where it will suffer the most excruciating pain, as long as God remains God. If however, you use your body in the service of the Almighty, keep it unspotted by sin, patiently carry the crosses and trials God sends you to bear, it will, with your soul, be received into Heaven, where it will enjoy unspeakable happiness, as long as God remains God.

Hence if you love your body and desire for it eternal bliss, use it as long as you are on earth in the service of the Almighty, after the example of St. Stephen. Do not defile it with sin and vice. Bear patiently all it has to suffer, and do not use its members as instruments to offend Him Who has given them to you. Consecrate it entirely to God and His service, according to the admonition of St. Paul, who says: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, wholly pleasing unto God, your reasonable service” (Rom. 22). Besides this, remember the advice which you have heard, and use it to your own benefit. If your body desires anything wrong, refuse it, otherwise it will have to suffer for it. If it encounters a difficulty in the service of God, if it has to suffer pains, use all the strength of your soul to make it suffer without complaint, as it will be greatly rewarded. Console yourself with the hope of your future resurrection, and reward, as the Machabees and other holy martyrs and confessors have done. Say with Job: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day, I shall rise out of the earth and shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God”.

Prayer from the Liturgical Year, 1909.

What a precious addition to thy history in the sacred Books is furnished us, O Protomartyr, by the story of thy invention! We now know who were those “God-fearing men, who buried Stephen and “made great mourning over him”. Gamaliel, the master of the Doctor of the Gentiles, had been, before his disciple, conquered by our Lord, inspired by Jesus to Whom in dying thou didst commend thy soul, he honoured after thy death the humble soldier of Christ with the same cares which had been lavished by Joseph of Arimathea, the noble counsellor, on the Man-God, and laid thy body in the new tomb prepared for himself. Soon, Nicodemus, Joseph’s companion in the pious work of the great Friday, hunted by the Jews in that persecution in which thou were the first victim, found refuge near thy sacred relics, and dying a holy death was laid to rest beside thee.

The respected name of Gamaliel prevailed over the angry synagogue, while the family of Annas and Caiphas kept in its hands the priestly power through the precarious favour of Rome, the grandson of Hillel left to his descendants pre-eminence in knowledge, and his eldest line remained for four centuries the depositories of the only moral authority then recognised by the dispersed Israelites. But more fortunate was he in having, by hearing the Apostles and thyself, O Stephen, passed from the science of shadows to the light of the realities, from the Law to the Gospel, from Moses to Him Whom Moses announced, more happy than the eldest born, was the beloved son Abibas, baptized with his father at the age of twenty, and who, passing away to God, filled the tomb next to thine with the sweet odour of heavenly purity. How touching was the last will of the illustrious father, when, his hour being come, he ordered the grave of Abibas to be opened for himself, that father and son might be seen to be twin brothers born together to the only true light!

The munificence of our Lord had placed thee in death, O Stephen, in worthy company. We give thanks to the noble person who showed thee hospitality for thy last rest, and we are grateful to him for having, at the appointed time, himself broken the silence kept concerning him by the delicate reserve of the Scriptures. Here again we see how the Man-God wills to share His own honours with His chosen ones. Thy sepulchre, like His, was glorious, and when it was opened, the earth shook, the bystanders believed that heaven had come down, the world was delivered from a desolating drought, and amid a thousand evils hope sprang up once more. Now that our West possesses thy body and Gamaliel has yielded to Laurence the right of hospitality, rise up once more, O Stephen, and together with the great Roman deacon deliver us from the new barbarians, by converting them, or wiping them off the face of the earth given by God to His Christ.

-St. Stephen, Martyr Of Christ, Pray For Us!

Visions Of St. Don Bosco: The Road To Hell [II]

Visions Of St. Don Bosco: The Road To Hell [II]


The Road to Hell Part [II].

How to Avoid Hell: Obedience & Frequenting the Sacraments.

This is one article more in the series on the dream of St. John Bosco about Hell. It is the second installment.

We continued our descent, the road now becoming so frightfully steep that it was almost impossible to stand erect.

And then, at the bottom of this precipice, at the entrance of a dark valley, an enormous building loomed into sight, its towering portal, securely locked, facing our road. When we finally reached the bottom, I became smothered by a suffocating heat, and I could see a dense, green-tinted smoke lit by flashes of scarlet flames rising from behind those enormous walls which loomed higher than mountains.

“Where are we? What is this?” I asked my guide.

Locked Gates Of Hell.

“Read the inscription on that portal and you will understand”.

I looked up and read these words: ‘Ubi non est redemptio’ – ‘The place where there is no redemption‘. I realized that we were at the gates of Hell.

The guide led me all around this horrible place. At regular distances bronze portals like the first overlooked precipitous descents; on each was an inscription, such as: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels”. (Mt 25: 41) “Every tree that yielded not good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire”. (Mt 7: 19).

I tried to copy them into my notebook, but my guide restrained me: “There is no need. You have them all in Holy Scripture. You even have some of them inscribed on your porticoes” – (portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls). 

At such a sight, I wanted to turn back and return to the Oratory. As a matter of fact, I did try to start back, but my guide ignored my attempt.

After trudging down into a steep, never-ending ravine, we again came to the foot of the precipice facing the first portal. Suddenly my guide turned to me with a changed and startled face, pointing to something with his hand: “Look!” he said.

I looked up in terror and saw in the distance someone racing down the path at an uncontrollable speed. I kept my eyes on him, trying to identify him, and as he got closer, I recognized him as one of my boys. His disheveled hair was partly bristled and partly tossed back by the wind.

Pointing to Hell.

His arms were outstretched as though he were thrashing water to keep from going under. He wanted to stop, but could not. Tripping on the protruding stones, he kept falling even faster.

“Let us help him! Let us stop him!” I shouted, holding out my hands towards him.

“Let him go”, my guide replied.


“Do you not know how terrible God’s vengeance is? Do you think you can stop one who is fleeing from His blazing wrath?”

Meanwhile the youth had turned his fiery gaze behind him in an attempt to see if God’s wrath were still pursuing him. He precipitated himself toward the bottom of the ravine and crashed against that bronze portal as though he could find no other solution in his flight.

“Why was he looking back in terror?” I asked.

“Because God’s wrath pierces all the gates of Hell and will reach and torment him even amidst the fire!” 

As the boy crashed into the portal, it sprang open with a roar of chains. Instantly two, then ten, then one hundred, then near a thousand inner portals opened with a deafening screech as if moved by the crash of the youth, who was dragged in by an invisible, very rapid and irresistible gale.

As these bronze doors – one behind the other, though each at a considerable distance from the other – remained momentarily open, I saw far into the distance something like furnace jaws spouting fiery globes at the moment the youth hurtled into it. As swiftly as the portals had opened, they then clanged shut again.

For a third time I tried to take notes, this time to write down the name of that unfortunate lad, but the guide again took me by the arm and said, “Wait, and look again”.

I could see a new scene. Three other boys of ours precipitated themselves down the same path. Screaming in terror and with arms outstretched, they were rolling down it, one behind the other like massive rocks. I also recognized them as they too crashed against that first portal. It sprang open and so did the other thousand. The three lads were sucked into that endless corridor amidst a long-drawn, fading infernal echo, and then the portals clanged shut again. At intervals, many other lads came tumbling down after them.

I saw one unfortunate boy being pushed down the slope by an evil companion. Others fell alone or with others, arm in arm or side by side. Each of them bore the name of his sin on his forehead. I kept calling to them as they hurled down, but they did not hear me. Again the portals would open thunderously and slam shut with a rumble. Then, dead silence!

My guide explained to me: “These are some of the reasons many are eternally lost: Bad companions, bad books and bad habits”.

The traps I had seen earlier were indeed dragging the boys to ruin. Seeing so many falling into perdition, I cried out disconsolately, “If so many of our boys end up this way, we are working in vain. How can we prevent such tragedies?”

My guide replied: “This is their present state and that is where they would go if they were to die now”.

“Then, let me jot down their names so that I may warn them and put them back on the path to Heaven”.

“Do you really believe that some of them would reform if you were to warn them? At first, your warning might impress them, but soon they will forget it, saying,
‘It was just a dream,’ and they will do worse things than before. Others, realizing they have been unmasked, will receive the Sacraments, but this will be neither spontaneous nor meritorious since they are not upright. Others will go to confession because of a momentary fear of Hell, but will still be attached to sin”.

“Then is there no way to save these unfortunate lads? Please, advise me how they can be saved”.

Here is the advice: “They have superiors; let them obey them. They have rules; let them observe them. They have the Sacraments; let them receive them”.

To be Continued…

Visions Of St. Don Bosco: The Road To Hell [1]

Visions Of St. Don Bosco: The Road To Hell [1]

The Road to Hell [I].

Human Respect Leads to All Vices.

Given the extraordinary interest raised by The Letter from Beyond, which is a description of the judgment and condemnation of an actual woman who entered Hell, we decide to present to our readers a prophetic dream, St. John Bosco had in 1868. In it, the great Saint symbolically saw the dangers threatening the spiritual lives of boys of the Oratory, who were students of St. John Bosco. These multiple dangers occasioned the eternal perdition of many of them.

It is not difficult for parents and educators to transfer to their own children and students those metaphorical warnings given by God to the Saint. This dream is an admonition for adults to prevent the eternal perdition of the youth under their guidance.

I will post the entire dream in parts.

On Sunday night, May 3 [1868], the feast of the Patronage of Saint Joseph, Don Bosco resumed the narration of his dreams:

I have another dream to tell you, a sort of aftermath of those I told you last Thursday and Friday which totally exhausted me. Call them dreams or whatever you like. 
I told you of a frightful toad threatening to devour me on the night of April 17. When it finally vanished, a voice said to me: 

“Why don’t you tell them?”

I turned in that direction and saw a distinguished person standing by my bed. Since I did not understand the reason for that censure, I asked:

“What should I tell my boys?”

“What you have seen and heard in your last dreams and what you have wanted to know, which shall be revealed to you tomorrow night!” He then vanished.

The next day I was continuously worried about the miserable night in store for me, and when evening came, I did not want to go to bed. I sat at my desk browsing through books until midnight. The mere thought of having to contemplate more terrifying scenes thoroughly frightened me. However, with great effort, I finally went to bed.

In order not to sleep immediately, and fearful that my imagination might drag me into the previous dreams, I placed my pillow in a way that allowed me to practically sit on the bed. But, due to my tiredness, I unintentionally fell asleep.

Soon I saw the man who had appeared to me the previous night standing by my bed. He said to me: “Get up and follow me!” 

“For Heaven’s sake,”
I protested, “leave me in peace. I am exhausted! I have been tormented by a toothache for several days now and need rest. Besides, my last dreadful dreams have completely worn me out”.
I said this because this man’s apparition always means anxiety, fatigue and terror for me.

“Get up,” he repeated. “There is no time to lose”.

I complied and followed him. As we walked, I asked him:

“Where are you taking me?”

“Come and you will see”.

He led me to a vast, boundless plain, veritably a lifeless desert, with not a soul in sight, nor a tree or brook. Yellowed, dried-up vegetation added sadness to the desolate scene. I had no idea where I was or what was I to do. For a moment I even lost sight of my guide and feared that I was lost, utterly alone. Neither Fr. Rua nor Fr. Francesia nor anyone else was with me. When I finally saw my friend coming toward me, I sighed in relief and said:

“Where am I?”

“Come with me and you will find out!”

“Well, I will go with you”.

He led the way and I followed in silence, but after a long, dismal trudge, I began worrying whether I would ever be able to cross that vast expanse, what with my toothache and swollen legs. Suddenly I saw a road ahead. Breaking the silence I asked (him) my guide:

“Where to now?”

“This way,” he replied.

Path of roses

We took the road. It was beautiful, wide, and neatly paved. Both sides were lined with magnificent verdant hedges covered with gorgeous flowers. Roses in particular peeped everywhere through the leaves. At first glance, the road was level and comfortable, and so I ventured upon it without the least suspicion.

But after walking a while, I noticed that it almost imperceptibly kept sloping downward. Although it did not look at all steep, I found myself moving so swiftly downward that I felt I was effortlessly gliding through the air. Really, I was gliding and hardly using my feet. Our march was fast. Then the thought struck me that the return trip would be very long and arduous, I asked my friend:

“How shall we get back to the Oratory?”

“Do not worry,” he answered. “The Almighty wants you to come back to it. He Who leads you onward will also know how to lead you back”.

The road was increasingly sloping downward. As we continued on our way, flanked by banks of roses and other flowers, I became aware that the Oratory boys and a multitude of others whom I did not know were following me on the same road. Somehow I found myself in their midst.

As I was looking at them, I noticed that now one, now another, fell to the ground and then was instantly dragged by an unseen force toward a frightful opening in the ground, distantly visible, which led those unfortunate boys straight into a furnace.

“What makes these boys fall?” I asked my companion.

Take a closer look,” he replied. 

I did. Traps were everywhere, some close to the ground, others at eye level, but all well concealed. Unaware of their danger, many boys got caught, and as they tripped, they would sprawl to the ground, legs in the air. Then, when they managed to get back on their feet, they would run headlong down the road toward the abyss. Some got trapped by the head, others by the neck, hands, arms, legs, or sides, and were pulled down instantly toward that hole. These ground traps, fine as spiders’ webs and hardly visible, seemed very flimsy and harmless; yet I observed that every boy they snared, fell to the ground. 
Noticing my astonishment, the guide remarked:

“Do you know what that is?”

“Just some filmy fiber,” I answered.

“It seems like nothing,” he said, “but it is human respect”.

Seeing that many boys were being caught in those fibers, I asked:

“Why do so many get caught? Who pulls them down?” 

“Go nearer and you will see!”
he told me.

I followed his advice but saw nothing peculiar.

“Look closer,” he insisted.

I picked up one of the traps and tugged. I immediately felt some resistance. I pulled harder, only to feel that, instead of drawing the thread of the trap closer, I was being pulled down myself. I followed where the thread led and soon found myself at the mouth of a frightful cave. I halted, unwilling to venture into that deep cavern, and again I started pulling the thread toward me. It gave a little, but only through a great effort on my part. 
I kept tugging, and after a long while a huge, hideous monster emerged, clutching a rope to which all those traps were tied together. He was the one who instantly dragged down anyone who got caught in them.

It would be useless to match my strength with his, I said to myself. I would certainly lose. I could better fight him with the Sign of the Cross and with short ejaculations. 
Then I went back to my guide and he said to me:

“Now you know who he is”.

“I surely do! It is the Devil himself who places these traps to make my boys fall into Hell!” Carefully examining many of the traps, I saw that each bore an inscription: Pride, Disobedience, Envy, the Sixth Commandment, Theft, Gluttony, Sloth, Anger, and so on. Stepping back a bit to see which ones trapped the greater number of boys, I discovered that the most dangerous were those of impurity, disobedience and pride. In fact, these three were linked to together. Many other traps also did great harm, but not as much as the first two. Still watching, I noticed many boys running faster than others. 

“Why such haste?”
I asked.

Devil tempting with mirror of vanity
Bishops and Kings are tempted by the mirror of pride and vanity.

“Because they are being dragged by the snare of human respect”.

Looking even more closely, I spotted knives among the traps. A providential hand had put them there to cut oneself free. The bigger ones, symbolizing meditation, were for use against the trap of pride; others, not quite as large, symbolized spiritual reading well made. There were also two swords – one representing devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, especially through frequent Holy Communion, and the other devotion to the Blessed Virgin. There was also a hammer symbolizing confession, and other knives symbolizing devotion to St. Joseph, St. Aloysius and other Saints. By these means, quite a few boys were able to free themselves or evade capture.

Indeed, I saw two boys walking safely through all those traps without being caught, either becuase of good timing – getting past it before before the trap sprung on them – or by sliding out of it if they got caught. 

When my guide saw that I had observed everything, he made me continue along that rose-hedged road. But the farther we went, the scarcer the roses became. Long thorns began to appear, and soon there were no more roses. The hedges became sun-scorched, leafless and thorn-studded. Withered branches torn from the bushes were strewn along the roadbed, littering it with thorns and making it difficult to walk through.

We had come now to a gulch whose steep sides hid what lay beyond. The road, which increasingly sloped downward, was becoming ever more horrid, rutted and littered, bristling with rocks and boulders and making the march ever more difficult. 
I lost track of all my boys, most of whom had left this treacherous road for other paths.

I kept going, but the farther I advanced, the more arduous and steep the descent became, so that I tumbled and fell several times, lying prostrate until I could catch my breath. Now and then my guide supported me or helped me to rise. At every step my joints seemed to give way, and I thought my shinbones would snap. 
Panting, I said to my guide:

“My good fellow, my legs will not carry me another step. I just cannot go any farther”.
He did not answer but continued walking. Taking heart, I followed. Finally, seeing me soaked in perspiration and thoroughly exhausted, he led me to a little clearing alongside the road. I sat down, took a deep breath, and felt a little better. From my resting place, the road I had already traveled looked very steep, jagged and strewn with loose stones, but what lay ahead seemed so much worse that I closed my eyes in horror.

Let us go back,” I pleaded. “If we go any farther, how shall we ever get back to the Oratory? I will never make it up this slope”.

My guide sternly responded: “Now that we have come so far, do you want me to leave you alone?”

At this threat, I wailed:

“How can I survive without your help?” 

“Then follow me,” he added. 

To be continued

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