A pious mother who had brought up her son with great care, seeing him about to leave her to enter the world, desired to give him a lesson. For two days she gave him nothing to eat but sweet food. At first the young man was pleased with it, thinking that his mother was very kind to him before leaving home. But when the evening of the first day had come, he asked her to give him some solid food. But she told him that he must be content.
The next day when he received the same kind of food, he became so disgusted with it that he could not even look at it, and he asked his mother to give him some plain bread. His mother said to him: "My dear child, I had a special object in placing before you all these dainty dishes. You are about to enter the world that is full of wickedness and ungodliness. It will put before your eyes many pleasing things— glory, honor, riches and pleasures. They simply dazzle the eye. They may be very pleasant for the moment, but they engender remorse. Do not allow yourself to be deceived by them. Yesterday I saw how you loved the sweets I placed before you. Today you are filled with disgust. So it is with those who allow themselves to be deceived by the world. Pleasures soon bring bitterness. Learn a lesson, as soon as you are tempted by these things, thrust them aside and be content with the plain food of the Christian—that is bearing patiently with all your crosses here on earth, that you may obtain an eternal reward in Heaven."
What will it avail us to begin in the grace of God if we do not persevere in it? Not the beginning, but the end of life decides our fate. Judas began well, but how did he end? On the other hand, St. Mary Magdalen and the good thief on the cross persevered in good, that is why they ended as elect children of God.
In a certain college there lived a boy by the name of Paul who was remarkable amongst all the other boys for his gentleness, his piety, and his good conduct; every one loved him. To look at him one would have thought that he had never committed any sin. But such was not the case. There had been a time when that boy, now so gentle, so mild and good, had been a slave to sin. The following is the story of his life and conversion; it was himself who told it to one of his masters: "I was once a good boy; so long as I was near my good mother, and until I was eleven years old, I did not know what mortal sin was. At that time it happened that one day when I was in the fields playing with my companion who was a little older than myself, he taught me to do what was a mortal sin. From that moment I became most unhappy; I could find no peace night nor day, because I knew that if I died in that state I should be sent to hell for all eternity.
"What made my state more awful still was this, that I also went and made two other innocent companions commit a grievous sin. When I came to this college I was quite as bad. I was perfectly miserable, and when I saw others who were so pious and so good I wondered if it. were possible that I could be like them.
"Some of my companions came and asked me to become a member of one of the sodalities of the children of Mary. I joined it just for appearance's sake. It was then for the first time I heard of that little prayer: “O my Queen and my Mother, protect me, help me, for I am thine.' I began to say it every day, and it was not long before I went to confession. I made a good confession; and oh, how happy I felt then.
"But I began to think of the terrible things I did in making the two children commit sin, so I am going to become a brother of that religious community which has specially for its object the pious education of the young, that I may be the means of saving more souls than I may have caused to be lost.
"Temptations often come back to me; but when they come I immediately remember the little aspiration: 'O my Queen and my Mother.' I at once say it, and then the temptation soon goes away."
Take away perseverance and what remains ? All else is vain and useless ; to no purpose all your good works and piety, mortification and mercy, to no purpose so many sufferings endured. Perseverance is the crown of all good, for without it we cannot obtain that which alone is good and desirable. Perseverance is the narrow way through which we must force ourselves at any cost. Perseverance is the pearl of all graces, since those who have obtained it now dwell in the land of peace and happiness.
There was once a rich count called Otho, who had a daughter whom he loved with great affection. One day the child was amusing herself with some beads of glass, with which she seemed to be much pleased. Her father was sitting by the fire watching her. My child," he said, "these are pretty beads you are playing with." Yes, papa, they are very beautiful, and I am delighted with them." Well, then," said the father, "take them up and throw them all into the fire." The child looked up into her father's face to see if he was in earnest. One glance told her he was. "Well, dear child, you may do as you please, but you know that when I ask you to do something, it is always because I, who love you so tenderly, see that it will be best for you." The girl at these words gathered up the beads and threw them into the fire. Her father said nothing, but he seemed much pleased at the ready obedience of his dear little girl.
"Now, my child, you will soon see how your father can reward you for that heroic sacrifice you made to please him. He then drew forth from a little draw a little casket and drew out a beautiful necklace, made of glittering diamonds. "This, my child, is for you. I wanted to see if you loved me more than yourself. Take this then, my dearest little one, and when you wear it, it will remind you that your Father in Heaven will reward you with a reward surpassing all understanding in the world to come, if you obey Him in this life, and sacrifice everything rather than displease Him by breaking His commandments."
The saints have persevered unto the end and what they have done we also with a good will can accomplish. Children, we must faithfully cooperate with the graces which our Lord will abundantly grant us for our salvation. We must fight the good fight, scrupulously avoid the dangers and occasions of sin, be diligent in prayer, in the reception of the sacraments and mindful of our last end.
Source: Story Sermonettes for the Children's Mass, Imprimatur 1921