Thought for the Day – 13 November – St Stanislaus Kostka SJ (1550-1568) Jesuit Novice and the Month of the Holy Souls
Stanislaus kept a journal during his novitiate. His notes, for one so young, reflect a great understanding of the need to constantly prepare for death. Here are a few excerpts:
“Consider how hard it is for a person to be separated from any place he has loved deeply. How much harder the soul will find it when the time comes to leave the mortal body, its companion so dear. And the great fear it will experience in that moment, because its salvation is at stake and it must stand in the presence of the one it has so offended. If the just man will scarcely be saved, what about me a sinner?
But think of the great joy the good will feel, at the thought of the service they’ve paid to God. They will be glad, because they’ve suffered something for love of Him back there and didn’t fix their hope and attention on the things of this world, that we leave so soon. Think of the joy that the soul will feel, in its escape from the prison of this body. So long has it lived in perpetual exile, expelled from its own heavenly home. How much greater it’s uncontainable joy and complete satisfaction when it arrives in its own country, to enjoy the vision of God, with the angels and the blessed.
I am so ashamed and confused, because I see how many have been lost, on account of a single mortal sin and how many times, I have deserved eternal damnation.
I shall reflect on myself and ask: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?”
Nine months into his novitiate he became very sick. Saint Stanislaus had drawn as his monthly patron for August the glorious martyr Saint Lawrence and in his honour he performed daily some penance or devotion. On the eve of his feast, he obtained leave to take the discipline, in the morning he went to Communion and then laid before the image of the saint a letter addressed to Our Lady, in which he begged that he might die on her Feast of the Assumption and he prayed Saint Lawrence to present to her his petition.
That night he was seized with a slight fever, which, however, rapidly increased and on Assumption Eve, he received the last sacraments. Then, as he lay dying, he had brought to him a little book containing a litany in his own writing of his monthly patron saints, whom he constantly invoked. At 3 a.m. on the Feast of the Assumption, he face suddenly lit up with joy and he breathed forth his soul to the Mother of God, who had come to conduct him to heaven. His confidence in the Blessed Virgin, which had already brought him many signal favours, was this time again rewarded. And shortly afterward he died. Stanislaus was only seventeen years old when he “arrived in his own country to enjoy the vision of God.”
The entire city proclaimed him a saint and people hastened from all parts to venerate his remains and to obtain, if possible, some relics.
Let us raise this prayer to God
God of infinite mercy,
we entrust to Your immense goodness all those
who have left this world for eternity,
where You wait for all humanity,
redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son,
who died as a ransom for our sins.
Look not, O Lord, on our poverty, our suffering,
our human weakness, when we appear before You,
to be judged for joy or for condemnation.
Look upon us with mercy,
born of the tenderness of Your heart
and help us to walk in the ways
of complete purification.
Pope Francis – Angelus, 2 November 2014