Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Meditations on Purgatory III

The Seriousness of Scandal Cont.

We pick up today right where we left off with yesterday's post, quoting St. Peter Canisius in St. Alphonsus de Ligouri's "The Glories of Mary"

"One night, a certain devout canon named Frederick was praying in the church of St. Maurice and begging the Lord to remove the scandal of this prelate from the diocese. Suddenly, the door was opened by a strong blast of wind. Two young men entered carrying torches in their hands and took up positions on either side of the high altar. These two were followed by two others who laid a carpet before the altar and put two golden chairs on it. Then came another youth in the uniform of a soldier, a sword in his hand. The soldier stopped in the center of the church and shouted aloud: "O you saints of heaven, whose relics are here in this church, come and be present at the great act of justice which the Supreme Judge is about to perform." At this, many saints appeared, along with the twelve Apostles who were to be assistant judges in the trial. Finally, Jesus Christ entered and sat down on one of the two chairs. Next, Mary entered with a retinue of holy virgins and sat down on the chair beside her son. Eventually, the court was called to order and the criminal bidden to appear. The criminal, of course, was none other than the unfortunate Otto."

"In the name of the people who had been scandalized, Saint Maurice demanded justice because of the evil life of the bishop. All cried out and said: "Lord, he deserves death!" The Eternal Judge answered: "Let him die!" Mary's merciful heart was filled with grief. Before the death sentence was carried out, she left the church so that she would not have to witness this terrible act of justice. Only then did the heavenly minister of justice, the one with the sword in his hand, approach Otto. With one stroke he lopped off his head. Then the vision diappeared."

"The church was left in darkness. Trembling, the canon went to light a lamp at the lower end of the church. When he came back to his place, he saw Otto's beheaded corpse and the floor of the church all stained with blood. Morning came and the people all began to flock into the church. The canon told them what he had seen and what had actually happened. The same day, the unfortunate Otto, now condemned to hell, appeared to one of his chaplains who was unaware as yet of what had taken place in the church. Otto's corpse was thrown into a swamp. The blood spots on the floor remained there as a perpetual reminder of the event, though they were always covered by a carpet. Ever since that day, it has been the custom to uncover them whenever a new bishop takes possession of the see, so that he may be moved by the sight to order his life properly and not be ungrateful to the Lord and his most holy mother for their graces."

Perhaps I should have labelled this a meditation on hell. This true story has always given me chills. The Lord is merciful and kind, slow to anger....note that, SLOW to anger does not mean never to anger. We trust in God's mercy, but we must balance this with fear of God's just judgement. Let us strive to keep these two in balance.

I attempted to do some research on this story. I was able to find the church in which this event took place, The Church of Saint Maurice, which is now the Cathedral of Magdeburg, dedicated to both St. Maurice and St. Catherine of Alexandria. It is recorded in history that Emperor Otto I founded this Cathedral and personally received the body of St. Maurice and the relics of many saints (this is not the Otto of this story). Otto I's tomb can be visited within this beautiful gothic cathedral. I also could find a record of a bishop Otto von Hessen but I have no idea if this is the same one. Otto apparently was a very common name. This book also does not relate any dates as to this occurance, but we ought to trust the words of the saints. We are to take heed of it.


Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen+

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