From "The Little Flowers, Legends, and Lauds"

Edited by Otto Karrer,
Translated by N.Wydenbruck
1979, Sheed & Ward, London.

E.Morrogh Bernard,
Vicar General, Westminister
Aug.14, 1947

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How it was revealed to Brother John of Penna that he must take a long journey (45)G

When Brother John of La Penna was still a boy living in the world in the province of the March, one night there appeared to him a most beautiful child, who called him, saying: "O John, go to St.Stephen's, where one of the Brothers Minor is preaching; have faith in his doctrine and attend to his words, for I have sent him to you.
When you have done that, you will have to take a long journey, and then you will come to me."

Thereupon the boy immediately arose, feeling a great change in his soul. And he went to St.Stephen's and there he hound a great multitude of men and women who were standing there to hear the sermon, and he who was to preach was called Brother Phillip, who was one of the first of the brethren to come to the March of Ancona; as yet they had but few houses in the March. The Brother Philip arose to preach, and he preached most devoutly, not with words of human wisdom, but in virtue of the spirit of Christ, announcing the kingdom of eternal life. When the sermon was over, the said boy went to Brother Philip and said to him; "Father, if you would please to receive me in the Order, I would gladly do penance and serve our Lord Jesus Christ." Brother Philip, seeing and recognizing in the boy a marvelous innocence and ready will to serve God, said to him: "Come to me at Recanati on such and such a day, and I will have you received."

At that place the provincial Chapter was to be held. Thereupon the boy, who was exceedingly pure and simple, imagined that this was the long journey he must take, according to the revelation he had had, and that hen he would go to heaven. This he thought would happen immediately after he had been received into the Order. So he was received, but seeing that his expectation was not realized and hearing the Minister say in Chapter that whoever wished to go to the province of Provence, would willingly be given licence by the merits of holy obedience, he felt a great desire to go there, thinking in his heart that this might be the long journey he must take before going to heaven. But he felt ashamed to say so. But at last he confided in the aforesaid Brother Philip, who had had him received into the Order, and entreated him tenderly to obtain the grace for him that he might go to the province of Provence.

Then Brother Philip, seeing his simple purity and his godly intentions, obtained the permission for him, and Brother John prepared to go with great joy, being convinced that when he had completed this journey he would go to heaven. But as it pleased God, he remained in that province thirty-five years with that expectation and desire, living in an exemplary manner with greatest honesty and saintliness, growing continually in virtue and in the grace of God and of the people, and he was greatly beloved by the brethren and the students.

One day, when Brother John was praying devoutly, weeping and lamenting because his longing was not fulfilled, and the pilgrimage of this life was drawn out so long, Christ the Blessed One appeared to him, and his soul melted away. And Christ said to him: "My son, Brother John, ask me whatever you like!" And he replied: "My Lord, I know not what to ask except Thyself, because I desire nothing else.  But this alone will I ask Thee, that Thou shouldst forgive me all my sins and give me the grace to see Thee another time, when I will have most need of it." Christ said: "Your prayer is granted." And having said this, He departed, and Brother John remained wholly comforted.

In the end, when the brethren in the March heard such great things of his saintliness, they prevailed with the General of the Order that he should command him by hold obedience to return to the March. He received this command with a glad heart and set out on his way, thinking that when he had completed this journey he would go to heaven, according to the promise of Christ. But when he had returned to the province of the March, he lived there for thirty years, and he was no longer recognized by any of his kinsmen, and every day he hoped that God in His mercy would fulfill with great discretion, and God wrought many miracles through spirit of prophecy - And all these things were related to me, serene man who spoke but rarely; he was a man of prayer and devotion, and especially after Matins he never returned to his cell, but remained at prayer in church until daybreak. While he was at prayer after matins one night, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "Brother John, now you have come to the term of your life, which you have desired so long, and so I come to tell you from God that you may ask whichever grace you desire, either one day in Purgatory or seven days of suffering in this world."

And when Brother John chose rather seven days of suffering in this world, he suddenly fell ill with diverse infirmities. He was stricken by a great fever, and by gout in his hands and his feet, by a pain in his side and and other pains. But the worst that happened to him was that a demon stood in front of him, holding in his hand a great scroll, on which were inscribed all the sins that he had ever committed or thought of, saying to him: "For these sins that you have committed, either in thought or by your tongue or by your woks, you are damned to the nethermost hell." And he could not remember any good deed that he had ever don, neither that he was in the Order, nor that he had ever been in it, but he believed that he would be damned as the demon said. Therefore, when he was asked how he was, he would say: "I am in a bad way, for I am damned!" When the brethren saw this, they sent for an aged friar called Brother Matthew of Monte Rubbiano, who was a holy man and a great friend of Brother John's. And Brother Matthew came on the seventh day of his tribulation, saluted him and asked him how he was. He answered that he was in a bad way, for he was damned. Then Brother Matthew said: "Now do you not remember that you have confessed to me many times and that I absolved you completely from all your sins? Do you not remember either that you have served God in this holy Order for many years? And what is more: do you not remember that God's mercy is greater than all the sins in the world, and that Christ the Blessed One, our Savior, paid an infinite price to redeem us? Therefore have good hope, for most certainly you are saved."

And while he was speaking, the term of Brother John's purgation had come, the temptation departed and the consolation came. And with great joyousness Brother John said the Brother Matthew: "As you are tired and the hour is late, I beg you to go and rest." And Brother Matthew did not want to leave him, but in the end he gave way to his urging and left him to go and lie down. Brother John remained alone with the friar who served him. And lo! Christ the Blessed One came with great splendor and excessive sweet fragrance, according to His promise to appear to him another time, when he would have the greatest need, and He healed him completely from all his infirmities. Then Brother John rendered thanks with folded hands that he had made so good and end to the journey through the present miserable life, and into the hands of Christ he recommended and laid his eternal soul, passing from mortal life to the life eternal with Christ the Blessed One, whom he had so long awaited and desired.

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