When Roger and I lived in Liverpool, I met a man I will call John. I saw him often, early in the morning, for we were both dog walkers.
He was very attracted to me because of my faith. John was a lapsed Catholic.
He spoke about the faith with fondness, particularly the Faith before Vatican II.
He found the changes to the liturgy unbearable and began to draw back from the Church at that time. Yet, he was still practicing.
But, his wife left him and filed for divorce. John then married a childhood sweetheart in a civil marriage. She was not only Protestant, but belonged to the Orange Order and was not very supportive of his Catholic faith.
Then, when he asked a Priest to baptise his firstborn son, by his new wife, the Priest refused, because the son was born of divorced and re-married parents.
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Whilst John still said his daily prayers, he stopped going to church.
He was no longer welcome to receive Holy Communion and his children were not welcome to be baptised. For him, that was it.
But, once a Catholic, perhaps always a Catholic. He was so drawn to me, because his heart yearned for the Faith.
I tried to get him to come to Holy Mass with us, to the Traditional Latin Mass, of which there are plenty in and around Liverpool.
One time, a Priest friend of ours was coming to consecrate our house to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was to celebrate a private Latin Mass for us beforehand. The Priest even offered to see John and talk with him, so I invited John, but still he would not come.
Then, John became ill and was diagnosed with cancer, which had spread terribly through his body, infecting his liver, kidneys and bones.
I visited him in hospital and gave him a Miraculous Medal for which he was sincerely grateful. With chemotherapy, he seemed to improve. I prayed and prayed that he would return to the Church.
But, not long afterwards, John died.
Sadly, I had been ill myself and was not aware that he was deteriorating. I did not see him in those last two weeks of this life. I received a phone-call from a friend, who told me that he had died.
I was devastated, for I was so concerned about his passage into death without the last rites.
I visited the Chapel of Repose where his remains were held and dropped to my knees in sadness on seeing his cold, white body.
My supportive step-daughter comforted me and we prayed a Rosary together for the repose of his soul.
I felt dreadful. ‘I could have done more’, I thought constantly to myself. ‘I could have done more to help him back to the Church. And now he has died in rupture. What will become of his soul?’
In torment, I went to Confession and was counselled by the Priest to pray for him.
‘That is all you can do. He is now in God’s hands’, said the Priest ‘and you don’t know what state of soul he was in when he died. If he was repentant then the Lord may have mercy upon him.’
The Priest also told me that he has heard so many confessions like this, where the penitents are concerned they did not do enough for a newly-deceased person, prior to their death and that they are in some way at fault for the soul’s torment.
I continued my prayers and thanks be to God, John’s family arranged a Catholic funeral for him.
I have been praying fervently for John ever since his death and I write this as a sign of hope for those whose loved ones and dear friends have left the Church and die in rupture.
I also write in the month of November as a reminder of how important it is for us to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
They so need our prayers and sacrifices.
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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