The Rescue

Near the close of World War I, an American submarine was in trouble a few miles off the coast of Bermuda. The batteries were dead, and the air compressor would not work.

The men imprisoned inside the submarine did not lose hope, even when, after some hours, they began to feel the effects of escaping gas. Nor did they lose courage when their imprisonment lasted well into a second period of twenty-four hours. They now lay quietly in their bunks to save their bodily energy and to breathe as little of the remaining air as possible.

The sea off Bermuda in good weather is glassy smooth and blue. An American plane spotted the helpless submarine, well outlined against the ocean floor, and took the news to the main­land.

A cruiser was sent at once with divers and needed equipment. The captain was to direct the rescue. In record time the cruiser reached the place reported by the plane. In very little time the submarine was safely on the surface of the sea, being towed by the cruiser. Its tower hatch was open, and the submarine’s crew were breathing the air of freedom and joyful release.

Application
In the Creed we say that Christ descended into hell. By this we mean that He went, after His death, to the place or state of rest called limbo, where the souls of the just were waiting for Him, to take them to heaven. The souls in limbo had a much longer wait than the men in the submarine. They knew, through St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, and Simeon that the Saviour of men was on earth and that salvation was near, but they did not know their rescue would come. They could not have known that the Saviour would first pass through death, and would come to join them while His body was still in the tomb. He went to limbo to announce to those waiting souls the news that He had reopened heaven to mankind. The joy of the sub­marine crew at their rescue could not even be compared with the joy felt by the souls of the just when Christ told them that their long wait was ended, and heaven’s freedom was soon to be theirs.

The Punishment of Two Eyes

The members of a Greek colony in Southern Italy had grown so lax in morals that their leaders could stand conditions no longer. Therefore, they asked Zalaukas, an honorable and highly esteemed man, to draw up laws for the guidance of the people. He did so with great care and earnestness.

To his great sorrow, the first one to break the new law was his own son. The judges condemned him, according to the law laid down by his father, to have both his eyes gouged out. Zalaukas did not think of asking for mercy for his son, but fa­therly love impelled him to find some way to soften the punish­ment without lessening the force of the law. After much thought, he offered one of his eyes for his son. The sentence was carried out by depriving the son of his right eye, and the father of his left eye.

Application
How the empty eye socket of his father must have reminded the disloyal son of his crime, but also of his father’s great love! You are reminded of a greater act of love by the picture of the crucified Saviour. The sight of Him hanging on the cross is also a reminder of the evil of sin which killed, not blinded, the Son of God.

The Modern Prodigal

Vincent’s mother died three days after his birth. His father was very wealthy and had a nurse take care of his son’s every need. As the boy grew, the father began to worry that his boy would become selfish with all this care, so he adopted a boy of Vincent’s age. The orphan’s name was John. He was quite rough and cruel to his brother, but Vincent did not complain. John began to drink and finally caused such a scandal that he left his father’s home. Neither Vincent nor his father heard from him for years.

Since Vincent realized how worried his father was about John, be decided to go out to look for him. He knew that his adopted brother loved horses and out-of-door life. He followed him to Argentina and Mexico, and finally caught up with him in Arizona. His brother had come after him and tried to pick a quarrel with him.

One day in a tavern where he was drinking, he shot at his brother Vincent to scare him. Jose, wanting to protect Vincent, drew his gun and began firing at John. When Vincent got in the line of fire while trying to stop Jose, one of the bullets from his stepbrother’s gun found its way into Vincent’s lungs and heart instead of the Mexican’s.

There was silence as Jose and his men carried the dying man into another room. Vincent had something to say to his brother. As John came to his side, Vincent spoke slowly, "Johnny, your father is waiting for you. You are breaking his heart. Forget the past and go back to him."

Tears filled John’s eyes as he fell on his knees beside his brother. He promised to go back to his father. A few moments later Vincent died peacefully, glad that he could bring his step­brother back to his father.

Application
This is a picture of God’s love for us. We have been adopted by our heavenly Father in baptism. We left our Father’s house by sin. Christ, our Elder Brother, left heaven in order to bring us back to our heavenly Father. He pleaded with us through the many graces he offered. He won us back for heaven by His death on the cross. It was our sins that crucified Him. His sufferings teach us God’s love for man and the evil of sin.

The Just Sultan

In the middle of the past century the peoples of the Caucasus Mountains in South Russia were ruled over by a very just sultan, Schlamyl, who wished to clean out all corruption and bribery from his people. He made a law that whoever was convicted of bribery should be punished by fifty blows of the whip in sight of all the people.

A surprising thing happened. The first one to be caught in bribery was the sultan’s mother. The news hurt him terribly. For three days he struggled with himself in his tent; on the fourth day he appeared before the people, had his mother brought before them, and gave orders to two men to begin the whipping. But, just as the first blow was about to fall, he suddenly pushed to his mother’s side, untied her hands and gave orders to the two men to tie his hands instead, to tear his shirt from his shoulders, and to begin the whipping. They did so unwillingly. With a deathly pale face he bore all the fifty blows himself till the blood began to flow from the wounds. Then he turned to his shocked people and said:

"Now you may go to your homes. The law has been satisfied; the blood of your sultan has flowed to make up for this crime." And from that day bribery was never heard of again, because the people never forgot their just ruler, Schlamyl.

Application
Never forget what our redemption cost Jesus, who Himself accepted the falling blows of God’s just anger and took our punishment in our stead. He also could say to His heavenly Father, "Accept these sinners as Your children again, for the Blood of Your own Son has flowed on Calvary to make up for their sins."

The First Crib

We read that the mother of St. Francis of Assisi, in order to imitate the Mother of God, wished that her first son should be born in a stable. And so it came about, for the child could not be born until the mother left the beautiful bedroom, went into the stable, and there lay upon the straw in one of the stalls. Thus the first cradle of Francis, like that of the Saviour, was a manger full of straw in a stable. He began his life in the year 1182, among tame animals in Assisi, one of the oldest cities of Italy.

Later St. Francis founded the Franciscan Order. He had so much devotion for the mystery of the birth of Christ, that he rose daily at midnight, in order to adore our Lord at the hour when He was born into the world. Later he even went so far as to ask from Pope Honorius III permission to have midnight Mass sung on Christmas night. Out of love for the divine Infant, the Pope granted the permission.

Midnight Mass was sung on Christmas night in the middle of a forest which was near the Monastery of Greccio. The clergy and people of Greccio were invited by St. Francis to keep Christ’s Nativity with him. He arranged with his monks a sort of stable or cave with rocks, moss, and branches of trees; then they put up a manger. They scattered straw over the floor of the stable, and brought there two animals. It was in this simple stable that an altar was erected and midnight Mass sung.

A large crowd of people came to the midnight Mass. They carried torches and all night long they made the forest resound with their pious hymns and prayers. The story is told that some saw a little child asleep in the manger, who woke up when St. Francis took him in his arms.

Application
Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Christmas Day, in Bethlehem, more than nineteen hundred years ago. In memory of this greatest event in the history of the world, Holy Mother Church cele­brates Christmas in a very solemn manner. The priests may say three Masses on the birthday of Jesus. The custom of having a crib in our churches and midnight Mass dates back to the time of St. Francis.

The Diamond Ring

A colored slave, named Joe, worked on a large plantation for a rich man in the South. Before the master died, he gave his diamond ring to the slave as a token of appreciation for faithful service. After his master’s death there was nothing for Joe to do. He left the plantation. All he had was the diamond ring. He did not want to sell it.

About a year later Joe was resting near a well at the roadside. The well was deep and muddy. By some accident he dropped the diamond ring into the well. The poor old man cried pitifully, for he was unable to recover the diamond ring.

It so happened that a rich plantation owner and his son were out driving. They pulled up to the side of the road to ask Joe a question. Joe told his story. The rich man asked his son whether he would like to help Joe get his ring. The young man was very kind and generous. After changing clothes with the beggar, so as not to soil his own, he climbed down into the filthy well, reached into the black mud and brought back the diamond ring.

Joe was overjoyed. He did not know how to thank the young man, who not only gave him the diamond ring, but also his suit of clothes.

Application
You are like the colored slave. The diamond ring is a picture of your soul, the most precious thing you have. You received it from God. You put it in danger of being lost eternally by every mortal sin you commit after the stain of original sin has been wiped away by baptism. Jesus is the rich man’s son. Though He is God’s own Son, having a divine nature, He put on the clothes of our human nature and became man. He went down into the depths of suffering and into the filth of our sinfulness in order to save our souls. He let us have His garment of sanctifying grace. Jesus is God and Man. He has a divine and a human nature. How you should love Him for being so generous!

Questionnaire of Jesus Christ

Name: Jesus Christ.
Age: 30.
Parents: Mother’s name — Mary. Father — My heavenly Father.
Brothers and sisters: Every human being, living, deceased, and to be.
Race: Human race (not Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Teutonic).
Color: The color of all men — black, white, yellow, brown.
Residence: Often homeless. I stay with anyone who will have.
Profession: Teacher of higher learning, with degree of G.O.D.
Languages? One: prayer.
Employed? Constantly in My work to save souls.
Income: Nothing. I work only for the outcome of every man’s life.
Bonds? Eternal ones with every penitent heart.
Education: The one and only necessary thing to know: that the love of God and the keeping of His commandments is the history, geography, arithmetic, and success of every life … the highest wisdom in this world.

Application
Today we are often required to fill out questionnaires for jobs, taxes, the census. If Jesus would have had to fill out a questionnaire, it would have looked much like this one. It points out that Jesus Christ is only one Person, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Doesn’t it also point out the really important things in your own life?

The Young King

There is a story of a young king in olden days who really loved his people, and was grieved to know how much they suffered from hunger and cold and sickness. He did what he could by gifts of clothes and food, but his people did not seem to care. "It’s no use telling the King our troubles," they would say. "He could never understand what it is to work or to be hungry and cold."

The young king felt discouraged and went to a wise old man of his kingdom to seek his advice.

"How can I win the confidence of my people?" he asked. "I want to show them how to put an end to some of their sufferings, and help them to bear the others bravely, but they do not know their king loves them. Tell me how I can make them understand."

"There would be only one way, I think, Your Majesty."

"Tell me, for God’s sake."

"If Your Majesty could go and live among them, not as king, but as one of themselves."

That night a man dressed in poor clothing left the palace. No one knew it was the king, and no one knew his secret but the old man and two trusted servants. People thought the king had gone on a journey to some faraway country. But for months he lived in a poor hut in one of the towns. He lived and ate and worked as a peasant; he tended the sick and aided the workers. The people around him soon got to love him and came to him for help and advice. They were sorry when he had to say good-by to them.

When he came back to the palace and once more went among the people as he did before, he was soon recognized by those who had known him as a laborer. The story spread, and from that time on his people loved and trusted him because he had shown that he loved and cared for them to such an extent that he had even become one of them.

Application
Jesus loved us so much that He became one of us. Though He was God, He wanted to become man. He lived and worked and suffered like us. We should go to Him with great confidence, because He under­stands our needs, since He is man. He can help us in our needs, He is God.

Dusty Sandals

When Jesus was a little boy at Nazareth, His dear Blessed Mother took the greatest care of Him. There is a legend that every night when our Lady put the Holy Child to bed, she would place His clean clothes and His spotless sandals beside His cot.

Now one morning she was greatly puzzled at finding His sandals and the hem of His robe dusty and spotted with mud. This happened several times, so the Blessed Mother decided to watch. Next night she saw the little Lord rise from His bed, put on His clothes, take a candle, and start down the road that ran past their cottage. All night long He walked the highways of the world and looked for souls. From house to house He went, from palace to cottage, seeking men’s hearts, searching for souls. At dawn, His candle still flickering, He returned wearily to bed, His sandals dusty and His heart heavy because so many men had forgotten their God.

Application
Jesus, the Saviour of all men, still lives with us in His little taber­nacle home. He searches for souls to love Him, but many pay little attention to Him. Till the end of the world He will go about seeking souls, drawing them by the power of His grace. Try never to refuse Him your love, because as your Saviour He deserves it, and you owe it to Him.

Wilfred

Wilfred was a great and powerful knight who had fallen victim to the dreadful disease of leprosy. His body, like that of poor Lazarus who lay at the rich man’s gate, was covered with sores. He felt very unhappy, thinking within himself, "There is but one thing left for me, and that is to die."

One day he was told that in Salerno there were skillful doctors who could cure him. At once he started out for the beautiful land of Italy to consult those doctors.

"There is no cure for you," they said, "you have to die. The only thing that could restore your health would be a transfusion of a certain type of blood of an innocent child."

Now the poor man was still more unhappy. He thought, "I surely must die. Who would ever give his blood for me?"

Upon his return home he inquired throughout the land. One day a poor farmer, accompanied by his little son who was willing to offer his blood for the sick knight, knocked at his door. The little boy saved Wilfred’s life. He was later cured.

Application
The poor sick knight covered with wounds is mankind covered with the leprosy of sin. Like Wilfred, mankind could not be cured except by the blood of an innocent child. Christ is the Child who came to this earth to give His life’s blood for us that we might live. Thus God ful­filled His promise to send into the world a Saviour.