...ever heard of Your Excellency."
The Bishop was silent for a few moments and then he asked, "Do you have a particular devotion that you like?"
"The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus," was the response.
"You have, it seems, the most difficult task in the convent," he continued.
"Oh no, Your Excellency" the sister countered, "but I cannot lie, it is unpleasant for me."
"And what do you do when you have such temptations against your work?"
"For things that cost me greatly, I grew accustomed to facing them with joy and enthusiasm out of love for God, and then I offer them up for one
soul on earth. To whom God chooses to be gracious as a result, I have left completely up to him and I do not want to know. I also offer up my time of
Eucharistic adoration every evening from 8 to 9 for this intention."
"Where did you get the idea to offer up all your merits for someone totally unknown to you?"
"I learned it while I was still out in the world," she replied. "At school our teacher, the parish priest, taught us how we can pray and offer
our merits for our relatives. Besides that, he said that we should pray much for those who are in danger of being lost. Since only God knows who
really needs prayer, it is best to put your merits at the disposition of the Sacred Heart of Jesus trusting in his wisdom and omnipotence. That is
what I have done," she concluded, "and I always believed that God would find the right soul."
Day of birth and day of conversion
"How old are you?" Ketteler asked.
"Thirty-three, Your Excellency," she answered.
The Bishop paused a moment. Then he asked her, "When were you born?" The sister stated her day of birth. The Bishop gasped; her birthday was the
day of his conversion! Back then he saw her exactly as she was before him now. "And have you any idea whether your prayers and sacrifices have been
successful?" he asked her further.
"No, Your Excellency."
"Don't you want to know?"
"Our dear God knows when something good happens, and that is enough," was the simple answer.
The Bishop was shaken. "So continue this work in the name of the Lord," he said. The sister knelt down immediately at his feet and asked for his
blessing. The Bishop solemnly raised his hands and said with great emotion, "With the power entrusted to me as a bishop, I bless your soul, I bless
your hands and their work, I bless your prayers and sacrifices, your self-renunciation and your obedience. I bless especially your final hour and ask
God to assist you with all his consolation."
"Amen," the sister answered calmly, then stood up and left.
A teaching for life
The Bishop, profoundly moved, stepped over to the window in order to compose himself. Some time later, he said good-bye to the Mother Superior and
returned to the apartment of his bishop friend. He confided to him, "Now I found the one I have to thank for my vocation. It is the lowest and
poorest lay sister of that convent. I cannot thank God enough for his mercy because this sister has prayed for me for almost 20 years. On the day she
first saw the light of the world, God worked my conversion accepting in advance her future prayers and works.
"What a lesson and a reminder for me! Should I become tempted to vanity by a certain amount of success or by my good works, then I can affirm in
truth: You have the prayer and sacrifice of a poor maid in a convent stall to thank. And when a small and lowly task appears of little value to me,
then I will also remember the fact: what this maid does in humble obedience to God, making a sacrifice by overcoming herself, is so valuable before
the Lord Our God that her merits have given rise to a bishop for the Church."
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