A Christian woman, praying one evening in tears before her crucifix, was surprised by her daughter, who, throwing her arms around her neck, said to her tenderly: “You are suffering, mother. But tell me what troubles you.” – “My daughter,” sadly replied the mother, “pray for your brother.” – “Does he no longer love you?” – “I am sure that he still loves me, but he no longer loves God; and you know, my child, that when the love of God is driven from the heart, the love of family and of duty quickly departs also.”
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The young girl, when alone in her own room, prayed for a long time before retiring to rest.
The next day God caused to come into her hands one of those books, modest missionaries, which, borne upon the wings of angels, go forth to sow good seeds.
She found several pages in it which were like a revelation to her, and, taking her pen, she wrote, somewhat in the style of what she had been reading, the following lines:
A FEW QUESTIONS TO WHICH I BEG MY BROTHER TO REPLY THIS EVENING
How is it that my brother, so grateful for the smallest attention from his sister, so thoughtful in giving her pleasure, so ingenious in framing gracious words and affectionate thanks, forgets God so easily. He, to whom he is indebted for a loving mother, a competence which places him beyond the reach of want, health which permits him to enjoy life? How is it that he never says to Him, “I thank thee;” nor even a short prayer at the beginning or the end of the day?
Is my brother becoming ungrateful?
How is it that my brother, so exact in fulfilling all his obligations, so industrious when at his work, so submissive to those who can advance his interests, violates with so much indifference the solemn laws of God and the Church, allowing his mother and sister to go alone to Mass on Sunday, and alone to the Table of the Lord? He knows, nevertheless, that there is an express command for the performance of these religious duties, and he has not forgotten that several times he publicly renewed the solemn promises made for him at baptism.
Is my brother about to break his own word?
Will my brother prove faithless to his word? How is it that my brother, who has received a Christian education, who has not lost his faith; who knows well all that he owes to God and the Church; who could prove, if necessary, the perfect lawfulness of her authority; yet dares not to make any open profession of his religion, not even a simple sign of the cross; permits in his presence, without remonstrance, lying and blasphemous attacks upon God, the Church, and the priesthood?
Will my brother become a coward?
How is it that my brother – so discreet before his sister, so proud of her candour and purity, promptly silencing in her presence the least objectionable word – reads in secret, removed from the eyes of his mother, things he would not permit his sister to read, frequents society forbidden to his sister, and which he tries to hide from his mother?
Will my brother become a hypocrite?
How is it, finally, that my brother, so loving to his mother, so tender to his sister, so happy heretofore in living with them, seems at times to fly from their caresses, to cast down his eyes before them, amuses himself far from the family fireside, and exhibits impatience and weariness when circumstances force him to remain with them.
Will my brother become forgetful of love?
Oh! my brother! answer thy sister.
And the young girl, kneeling for a moment before the statue of the Blessed Virgin in her room, presented the little leaf to her, as if asking her to bless it. She then placed it on her brother’s desk.
Before the evening meal, which reunited the mother, brother, and sister, the young apostle waited anxiously at the door of the drawing room…
The brother enters, and, hastening to his sister, his eyes filled with tears, takes both her hands in his, and embracing her most affectionately, says: “Sister, I come to give you an answer: Before separating we will all say our evening prayers together.”
Sorrowful mothers and sisters, know you not some heart which vice has not yet quite corrupted, and to whom these lines would be of service?
– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889