The Enthronement and Conversions
As for conversions wrought through the Enthronement, by just making the effort of bringing the Sacred Heart into the home. I shouldn't say it was an effort it was rather a longing, an urge, a necessity, a loving one. I had to wait sometimes, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years for a conversion, but once the Sacred Heart went into a home I was convinced the miracle of grace would take place.
Mr. R. was a Baptist. He married a Catholic girl. They had eight children. Mrs. R. brought them up in her faith of course. Mr. R. was satisfied, it seemed to be the way he was. Sunday or weekdays, it didn't matter. They were all the same to him. He was always dressed up with his old working clothes. Naturally he was a good upright man, but his wife and children never bothered him on religious issues. When I was called there to take care of Mrs. R., of course, the Sacred Heart came in with me. I explained the Enthronement to them. Rev. George Archambault came to officiate at the solemn ceremony and Mr. R. himself hung the picture up, and signed his name to the document. Then I wondered would he ever turn a Catholic. It seemed so hopeless. But Our Lord was there and nothing is impossible to Him. We just have to wait. We waited ten years when Mr. R. became a fervent Catholic. It stirred the town as he was a prominent businessman. Our Lord made use of a serious sickness he had and exhortations I gave him to take the step. He told me afterwards that he had been wishing to become a Catholic for forty years but that there was no one to “church” him. He didn't know the meaning of that expression but I understood. He meant that no one was interested in helping him. They left him in his little corner indifferent whether he saved his soul or not. But Our Lord isn't indifferent. He has a Heart, a loving one.
Mr. V. wasn't a Catholic, but his wife and little girl were. I brought a picture of the Sacred Heart to them. They hung it up well in view in the parlor. Many times, Mr. V. was approached on the Catholic faith but he wouldn't let the grace of God grasp him, he dodged it. As things weren't going too well in the family, I encouraged them to pray together. They did. Nearness to Our Lord warmed Mr. V. up. I explained the Enthronement to him. He became anxious to have it done. I had explained the case to Father Cornelius Collins. He was a very zealous priest. Mr. V. went after Father with his car. They got acquainted with each other. Father solemnly enthroned the Sacred Heart in the family. When everything was over and the document was signed, Father said to Mr. V: “Let's go in the next room, here. I'm going to put you in tow. When shall we start instructions?” “Whenever you're ready, Father,” answered Mr. V. The Sacred Heart had given him a push into the net. He was caught. He is now a fervent Catholic and so happy that the whole family is united in the One faith and so proud to kneel alongside his little daughter and wife at Mass on Sundays and receive Holy Communion with them.
The fire didn't stop there; it spread. Mr. V. has a friend Mr. F. who was a non-Catholic but also had a Catholic wife and son. They informed me about it. As Mrs. F. had a sore leg it gave me a reason to visit her. In our conversation she explained to me how concerned their boy was. Being 15 years old it dawned on him that he was the only one in the family going to church on Sunday. Why would they be so intent and anxious about him practicing his religion when his father didn't bother practicing any, nor his mother. She had an excuse sometimes on account of sickness, but still there were times when she could have gone.
At my second visit there, Mr. F. happened to come in from work. “Oh, good”, I said, “you're just the one I want to see.” We went into the parlor, and who did I find there but a good size picture of the Sacred Heart that Mrs. F’s sister, a Maryknoll had given her when they got married. But she didn't know that they were married outside the Church. When I saw the Sacred Heart it gave me courage and I was convinced He had led me there. I explained to Mr. F. that there was a great worry marring his wife's happiness, she was outside her Church and that his consent to marry in the Church would lift or take it away. Then I told him how his son felt, how happy he would be to see his father kneeling alongside of him in Church. “You see”, I said, “it is for you to lead him, not he lead you. In a family all should be in harmony, all united especially in the most important thing, Faith. “If you want,” I said to Mr. F, “I'll help you to study your catechism and make things easy for you.” It gave me great hope when Mr. F. said to me “Will you give me until tomorrow to think it over?” When Mr. F. came out of the parlor his boy said to him: “Dad, did you say yes?” “Not yet”, his father said. The boy was broken hearted. He went in his room and sobbed. His father consoled him and told him that he didn't say “no” but would give his answer the next day. Of course when the morrow came it was “Yes”. They went to see the priest were married in the Church, then Mr. F. after a regular course of instructions was baptized for the first time and admitted in the Church. What happiness in the family, thanks to the Sacred Heart, whose picture was hanging in the parlor for so many years. Our Lord himself said: “I will bless the place where an image of my heart is honored and exposed. Our Lord was working his way there, slowly but surely. So thanks to the Enthronement at Mr. V.s’, Mr. F.’s conversion was brought about and their friendship became stronger still.
Our Lord gave me souls by the handful sometimes. One day, I was called to go and take care of a young mother 25 years of age. She had six children, Norma, Dorothy, Richard, Betty, Bobby and Peter Paul, the baby. He was six months old. The doctor had ordered the mother to bed for a month. She asked me if I wouldn't please bathe the baby because the woman who did it before didn't seem to handle him right. He cried so, she thought he was getting murdered. It sounded that way. I put Peter Paul in a small tub. Dunked him to the neck. He enjoyed it immensely. There wasn't a peep out of him. His father being a sailor, maybe that's why he liked a dip instead of a sponge.
As I was nearly through, Norma came around; we got acquainted. She said to me: “You know Sister, I'd like to go in that beautiful place where they have flowers and candles, where people pray.” You mean in Church, Norma?” “Yes”, she said. “Aren't you a Catholic?” I said. “I don't know”, was the reply. “Do you know some prayers?” “No”, said Norma. That made me think to probe a little more into the case. When I brought Peter Paul up to the mother, she said: “You're not through yet, Sister, he didn't cry”. “But”, I said, “you don't want him to cry, do you?” She laughed. Father, if I tell you this, it isn't that I thought I was smarter than the other woman. I imagine she knew more about it than I did, but Our Lord was helping me out. I had a mission to perform there.
I said to Mrs. A: “Mrs. A, being a religious as well as a nurse, I’m not only interested in bodies, but also in souls. May I ask you if your baby is baptized?” “No”, she said. “Are the other children baptized?” I added. She became embarrassed. I'm ashamed to say but they’re not. “Are you a Catholic?” “Yes”, she said. “And your husband?” “He is a Catholic also.” “But”, I said, “what happened to you?”, “Well we are navy people and we never get settled down long enough in one place. I kept putting it off and then we didn't have enough money.” “Here”, I said, “money had nothing to do with that for in the navy they have chaplains who are always ready and glad to help them out. Listen, do you want me to help you with all this?” “I'd be very happy if you did was the reply.” Was I happy too. What a good catch it was.
A good friend I had drove me to the naval station where I contacted Father Gorsky, a very zealous priest indeed. He immediately took the case over. The three youngest were baptized first as the three oldest had to be instructed before receiving the Sacrament. I had the great happiness of assisting Father, as it was done in their home. Little Bobby amused me. He was but two years old and still some of the little talks I had given the others on Baptism had registered. During the exorcism he kept opening his little shirt, peeping in to see the process of the big black spot of original sin being washed away and see when God would take over. Father Gorsky also found out that Mr. and Mrs. A. had been married by a Justice of the Peace. The marriage was blessed and God's grace came back to them, His friendship, His love. I brought them a picture of the Sacred Heart and we had a private Enthronement.
Father Gorsky rounded up about 60 sailors who hadn't been confirmed, at the naval station and 4 soldiers at Fort Adams. So he asked His Excellency Bishop Keough, then in Providence, but now Archbishop of Baltimore to have Confirmation at the naval chapel. Little Norma A. being 11 years old, Father included her in the class. Bishop Keough has great devotion to the Blessed Mother. He always boasted that he always had a little Mary to confirm on his rounds. Our Blessed Mother always gave him that joy. But here the thought: “This is once when I won't have a little Mary to confirm.” He figured at the naval chapel it would be all men sailors and soldiers. But what was his surprise to see one little girl dressed in white with veil right in front of the class and when her name was pulled up, it was “Mary”. The Bishop saw in the event, Our Blessed Mother's doings. She was right there at the station too. She had followed him there. He blessed Norma very especially, gave her his photo after having autographed it. Wasn't that a handful, Father? I mean a handful of souls. Of course, Our Lord did the real work and we were just little instruments.
Mr. T. was a non-Catholic. He had a Catholic wife. She was much concerned about her husband. He had never been baptized. When in good health he ran a clothing store and was well known in the city. Some priests who were friendly with him had tried and felt around to see whether he was inclined towards the Catholic Church. He seemed to be satisfied the way he was. But it happened, that he developed a cancer, was in the hospital for a while and then came home to die. No one dared to approach him on religion. I was asked to take care of him. I made him as comfortable as I could and then sitting near him I said: “Mr. T., I am a religious and of course I'm also interested in your soul are you baptized?” “No”, he said. “Well,” I said, “it's high time you think of it. You know sickness is a warning. You may get better and you may not. Do you wish to save your soul?” “I do”, he said. “Well then, the Bible says one has to believe and be baptized for that.” He then went on to tell me what a wonderful wife he had and how faithful she was to her faith. “Then”, I said “wouldn't you want to join the Church, the one true church and be one in the same faith with your wife.” “Sister,” he said, “give me till tomorrow to think it over.” The next day he expressed his wish to become a Catholic. He was baptized and made his first Holy Communion. It was his last communion also. He died a month after he had entered the Church. How I thanked the Sacred Heart and Our Blessed Mother.
To be continued...