Only a Taste of Lourdes Water

A Jesuit Father writes the following account to a religious paper :

 

The horse which was to have brought me to the railway station, fell on the slippery streets, and, so I missed my train. This was indeed very vexing as I had taken every precaution to be in time. We arrived at the station just as the train was moving off; regrets were useless, so I patiently submitted to my lot, and thought I would say my Office during the time which would elapse before the next train, which was due in about an hour. This was no easy task in a busy station, but if I went away, I did not know what to do with a large bottle of Lourdes water, which I had with me. To put it in the luggage room did not seem quite reverent, but I noticed in the corner of the waiting-room, a man, closely wrapped up, who, to all appearance, meant to sit there for several hours. So I walked up to him, and asked if he were going to remain there for some time. “Yes,” was the reply. This ‘Yes’ was uttered shortly, and signified, rather, ‘What does it matter to you?’  “Are you going to stay till eleven o’clock?” “Yes,” was the curt rejoinder. His voice sounded still gruffer. “If I leave this article here, will you look after it?”  “What is it”? he asked. “Oh, nothing very particular; but will you have, the kindness to take care of it?”

 

In a sulky voice, I at length got the reply- “Very well, leave it there.” I then went off to a quiet spot under some trees, near the station. Having finished my Office, I bought a newspaper, in order to pass away the remaining twenty minutes. Scarcely had I begun to read, when I seemed to hear a voice saying to me: “Go and see what has become of the bottle!” “Stupid bottle!” I could have said but the remembrance of its contents restrained me. I wanted to read, but the voice seemed to repeat: “Go and see what has become of your bottle!” I could stand this no longer, so I went; the man was still there, the man of the slow, rough and morose answers, but he sat with his face buried in his hands, and the tears welling through his fingers. “Oh, Father”, he said, “I will tell you all, yes all.” (How I wondered at this unexpected manner of address.) “You see that I am already an old man. I was born and baptized in the Catholic Church, and until the age of eleven, I practised my religion; then I lost my mother, and my father being already dead, I was left alone in the world.

 

Fortunately, I was in the hands of a good master, but he was a staunch Protestant, and he eventually constrained me to embrace his religion; and to please him, I became a Protestant. Later on I married, and God gave me a good Catholic wife who continually entreated me to return to the religion of my childhood; but I put it off from year to year. When you went away, leaving this bottle standing here, I was curious to know what it contained, and to try what a papist priest’s brandy tasted like, but I soon perceived that it was only water after all. As soon as I had taken a mouthful, a change came over me, I felt determined to become a Catholic once more; and I will do so immediately. So I beg of you, Father, to hear my confession.” This announcement was so strange that at first I believed the good man had been drinking something more than my water, and so I wanted to get rid of him. “We have not any time now,” I replied, “for the train will be here in a few minutes; besides, this is not the place for such things. Come to me at X.”

 

“Now, Father, now,” was the rejoinder. “I cannot come to X; do hear my confession and I promise you that I will go to church next Sunday with my wife.” “Do you know,” I asked, “where this water comes from?” “No” he replied. “It is from the miraculous spring of the Immaculate Mother of God at Lourdes.” “Well then, it is the Blessed Virgin Mary who has obtained this grace for me,” he said. Thereupon I lost no more time and before the train left, I had reconciled this aged sinner to his God.

 

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