Monday, November 26, 2012

An Economy

Vincent [Pallotti] had a hatred of waste - whether of time or of material things. He used to carry a book with him so as not to waste time while waiting for anything. On one occasion a young priest had received a letter and was about to crumple it and throw it into the fire. Father Palloti stopped him and had him tear off the portions of paper which were not written on and put them into a basket. The young priest obeyed unwillingly, thinking that the effort was really a waste of time. When he had finished, Father Pallotti noted that the basket was full of paper - as indeed it was - and he asked the young priest to find one of the men who collected such scraps. The man came and paid about 10 cents for the basket of scraps.

Then Father Pallotti and the young priest went to pay a visit to the Hospital of the Holy Spirit. On the way, Father Pallotti stopped and bought a box of crackers with the coin. At the hospital, there was a great sinner in bed 15 of one of the large wards; he was dying. Whenever a priest would come near him, he would foam at the mouth and utter all manner of blasphemies. On being told of this man, the two priests first went to the chapel to pray for the man's soul, for, as our saint said, "God is all-powerful and wishes the salvation of this man more than we do ourselves."

On entering the ward, Father Pallotti went first and visited with a number of other patients. When the man in bed 15 began to rave and blaspheme, he noticed that no one was paying any attention to him, so he closed his eyes. Quickly, Father Vincent went to stand by his bed. When the man opened his eyes, he saw the priest in the act of blessing him. He opened his mouth and began to curse again, but before he was well-started Father Vincent slipped one of the crackers into his mouth, saying gently, "Eat, my son, it will do you good."

The man had to stop to chew the cracker and swallow it, giving the priest time to say a few words. When he began again to curse, the priest repeated the same maneuver, time and again.

At last divine grace conquered and the man began to weep. He made an act of contrition and Father Pallotti heard his confession. As the young priest held the candle for Extreme Unction, he heard the dying man say over and over, "My Jesus, mercy! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, assist me in my last agony!" And so he died with expressions of the deepest penance. Father Pallotti then turned to the young priest and said, "There is a soul saved and gone to see, my friend, of what use were those little scraps of paper."

--A story from the life of Saint Vincent Pallotti, from Modern Saints Their Lives and Their Faces by Ann Ball

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