SAINT JOSEPH, PLEASE GIVE US A SIGN OF YOUR GOODNESS…
This is one of two Miraculous interventions of St Joseph as recounted by Sr Emmanuel Maillard in her book, PEACE WILL HAVE THE LAST WORD. When I read this book and this miraculous story of St Joseph, our dear Patron last year, I immediately thought I have to share it with others who might not have read or heard yet another miracle of our dutiful quiet active involving humble servant and father. As we all battle and deal with the Corona virus and death, as well as the crisis of faith and the culture of death, may this story cheer and warm our hearts on this feast and this special month.
In The Heart of China!
…some Chinese people devour everything that has to do with Christ and his evangelical message…. Saint Joseph is loved so much in China… Among the many Jesuit Priests over the centuries who travelled across China inspiring the people there, one Austrian brother stands out, Brother Gervasius. In 1976 he gave an account that could be found in the stories from the lives of the saints.
In Southern China, Brother Gervasius had accompanied Father Gotsch, another Jesuit Priest, who was going to the home of a dying man in Kaotai. They needed to cross 200 kilometers of mountains and hills on horseback to arrive at the house. But when they presented themselves, they were too late. The man had already died. They stayed to bury him, and after the burial they took to the road again. Halfway home they encountered a young man who seemed to be waiting for them on the side of the road. The man asked them to follow him to his sick mother’s house.
They followed him for nearly 15 kilometers to a little village. There, in a ramshackle dwelling, a woman was dying. Seeing the priest, she asked; “Stranger, will you tell me the truth, if I ask you a question?” “Certainly, mother”. “Does there exist a God in which there are three persons? Does there exist another life, with a place of happiness for good, and a place of terror for the bad? Is it true that God came to this earth to die for mankind and open for them this place of happiness? Stranger, is it true, all of that?” Stupefied, the priest answered, “Yes!” But he wondered from whom this woman could have learned all of that?
The sick woman continued, “You have the water with you. Wash me so I can go into the place of happiness!” Brother Gervasius couldn’t understand how she knew that the priest had holy water, to use for baptisms, with him. Her determined attitude had something childish, but convincing about it. The priest briefly explained the liturgy to her and the meaning of the sacrament, then he baptized her.
The sick woman continued full of joy, “you also have the bread with you. It’s special bread, because God is inside it. Give me some of this bread!” The priest took from his bag the consecrated host that he carried with him. The sick woman knew that he had ‘the Bread’! The priest explained the meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist to her and gave her holy Communion. He also gave her the last rites (the confession of sins and the anointing of the sick). Then he said to her, “up until now you have been asking all the questions. Now it’s my turn to ask you some! From whom did you learn the truths of the faith? Did you meet some Catholic believers?” “No, Stranger”. “So, you have read Christian books?” “I don’t know how to read, stranger, and I didn’t even know books like that existed”. “So, from where, and from whom did you acquire this knowledge of the faith?” “I have always thought that that is the way it should be, and for the past ten years I have lived that way. I have also instructed my sons in this way, and you can wash all of them,” (she meant baptize them).
“But you knew that we would be passing near here today?” “Of course! I saw a man in a dream, and it was he who told me to send my youngest son out to the road, and to call to the two strangers who would pass by. He told me that they were going to ‘wash’ me so that I could go to the place of happiness after death.”
Then the missionaries were profoundly touched. The attitude of this woman facing death was so peaceful that there was no room for doubt. Before leaving, the missionaries offered her a picture of Saint Joseph, patron saint of the dying. Filled with joy, she cried out, “But this is him! I know him! He has often come to visit me. He was the one who told me to send my son to the road to call you!”
She didn’t know if it had been a dream, or if St Joseph really came to visit her in person. In any case, that wasn’t the important thing. The important thing was what St Joseph had taught the sick woman. The missionaries learned that the woman died that very night.
(By Sr Emmanuel Maillard, Peace Will Have the Last Word, pp.96-99, Children of Medjugorje, Inc, 2015).
Emmanuel Mbeh mhm