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A Mother’s Undue Grief

Fr. F. X. Schouppe, S.J.
There is a duty of strict Justice which regards children: ¨They are obliged to pray for their deceased parents. Reciprocally in their turn, parents are bound by natural right not to forget before God those of their children who have preceded them into eternity. Alas! There are parents who are inconsolable at the loss of a son or of a dearly beloved daughter, and who, instead of praying for them, bestow upon them nothing but a few fruitless tears.

mother weeping

The mother would not cease weeping
& mourning the loss of her son

Thomas of Cantimpre relates on this subject an incident that happened in his own family.

The grandmother of Thomas had lost a son in whom she had centered her fondest hopes. Day and night she wept for him and refused all consolation. In the excess of her grief she forgot the great duty of Christian love, and did not think of praying for that soul so dear to her.

The unfortunate object of this barren tenderness languished amid the flames of Purgatory, receiving no alleviation in his sufferings. Finally, God took pity on him. One day, while plunged in the depths of her grief, this woman had a miraculous vision.

She saw on a beautiful road a procession of young men, as graceful as Angels, advancing full of joy towards a magnificent city. She understood that they were souls from Purgatory making their triumphal entry into Heaven.

She looked eagerly to see if among their ranks she could not discover her son. Alas! The child was not there. But then she perceived him approaching far behind the others, sad, suffering and fatigued, his garments soiled and drenched with water.

"Oh, dear object of my grief," she cried out to him, "how is it that you remain behind that brilliant band? I should wish to see you at the head of your companions."

boy and mother

The youth beseeched his mother:
‘Cease your weeping & offer prayers & Masses’

"Mother," replied the child in a plaintive tone, "it is you at fault. It is these tears which you shed over me that moisten and soil my garments, and retard my entrance into the glory of Heaven. Cease to abandon yourself to a blind and useless grief. Open your heart to more Christian sentiments.

"If you truly love me, relieve me in my sufferings. Apply some indulgences to me, say prayers, give alms, obtain for me the fruits of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is by this means that you will prove your love, for by so doing you will deliver me from prison where I languish, and bring me forth to eternal life, which is far more desirable than the terrestrial life which you have given me."

Then the vision disappeared, and that mother, thus admonished and brought back to true Christian sentiments, instead of giving way to immoderate grief, applied to the practice of every good work that could give relief to the soul of her son.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Purgatory Illustrated by the Lives and Legends of the Saints,
London: Benzinger Bros., 1893, chap 42, pp 239-240

Posted November 25, 2023

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