Story from St Peter Canisius - Part I
Feastday: December 21
b: 1521 d: 1597
This is a story which is related by this great Jesuit priest, theologian, writer and Doctor of the Church. He lived during the time of the reformation and ministered to the heavily persecuted Catholics in rebellious Protestant Germany. Read more about St. Peter Canisius here. Its a somewhat lengthy story, but is a riveting read, therefore it is here presented in two parts.
First off ~ this is a true story, related to us via St. Alphonsus de Ligouri in his famous book "The Glories of Mary" available for purchase here. As you may know, St. Alphonsus is also a Doctor of the Church and his book of course bears the Church's Imprimatur. This book has only been outsold by the Holy Bible in the world since its first printing in 1750 - it is indeed one of the greatest spiritual classics of all time.
Our topic, of course, is again - giving scandal, and the tragic outcome of doing so. Scandal is a horrible sin, but sadly one many, if not most of us are guilty of at some time in our lives. We must pray for the conversion of those who give scandal, pray in reparation for any purposeful or inadvertant scandal which we have given. The choice is ours to pay the debts due to this sin in this life through pentitential reparation, or in the next life in purgatory. This story is offered as a meditation, albeit a TRUE story which demonstrates very clearly the dire consequences of scandal given.
"Trithemius, St. Peter Canisius, and others relate that in Magdeburg, a city in Saxony, there was a young man named Otto who as a youth was so simple-minded that he was the laughingstock of his fellow students. One day when he was more than usually disturbed over his backwardness, he knelt before a statue of the Blessed Virgin and prayed to her. A short time later, Mary appeared to him in a dream and said: "Otto, I come to reassure you, for I shall obtain from God such talents that the others will not only stop taunting you but will even admire you. Moreover, I promise that after the bishop's death, you will be chosen to succeed him." Everything Mary told him came true. He made progress in his studies and eventually became bishop of that city.
But Otto was so ungrateful to God and to Mary, his benefactress, that he gave up all semblance of devotion and became a scandal to everybody. One night while he was lying in a bed of sin, he heard a voice saying to him: "Otto, stop this at once; you have gambled enough with your soul's salvation." When he first heard these words he became angry, thinking that someone was whispering to him in order to scold and correct him. But when he heard the same words repeated the second and third night, he began to be afraid that it was a voice from heaven. Nevertheless, he went on with his sinful way of life. When the three months which God had given him to amend had elapsed, the punishment came. And this is what it was....
Come back tomorrow for this stories' conclusion!
O holy and heavenly child, destined Mother of my Redeemer and great mediatrix of miserable sinners, have pity on me. Behold at your feet another ungrateful soul who appeals to you and asks for mercy. Is it true that because of my ingratitude to God and to you, I deserve that God and you should abandon me; but I have heard, and I believe it to be so (knowing the greatness of your mercy), that you do not refuse to help anyone who recommends himself to you with confidence. Therefore, O most exalted Lady, since there is no one but God above you, and the greatest saints in heaven are small compared with you, O saint of saints, O Mary, abyss of charity and full of grace, help me, a senseless sinner, who has lost grace through his own fault.