A Valuable Lesson
She was an Irish Catholic, and was placed in the same cabin with Esther and me on the great steamer, Canarvon Castle. She was more than sixty years of age and had once had a very beautiful face. Her complexion which had once been fair and rosy was now of a dark bluish tinge — different from any I had ever before seen. This was caused by a medicine containing silver that had been given by a careless doctor for indigestion. It left the silver under the skin, giving it the quality of sensitized photographic paper, so that at the close of each day she was naturally darker complexioned than she was in the early morning, because of the action of the light upon the silver. There was no cure, a consultation of doctors had decreed, and she had suffered this embarrassment for over thirty years. When she told me about it, I said tenderly, “The Lord can heal you, and remove that color. Let us trust Him.”
She answered quietly, “Oh, I’d never spend time praying for this while there are so many other things more worth while to pray about.”
“Well, but the Lord loves you, and likes to do things that make us happy; and, besides, it is nothing to Him to remove that color from your body.”
“Well, I’d never pray about that,” she answered. “If He wants to remove it without my asking, it is all right; but I would not be vain enough to suggest it to Him.”
Then she continued, “When I was a girl; they said I was pretty. I was very vain, and God sent this to humble me. But before it came, I asked Him to give me my purgatory in this life instead of the next. Then this followed, and a number of other trials — not too severe — but enough to purge me of my faults — and now I cannot ask God to take away what He has sent me for my good.”
I thought, “What resignation, what faith! What implicit confidence in the providence of God!”
One day she entered our cabin and began telling more of her experiences. She had once for a long time been terribly pressed by a series of strong temptations. Her efforts at resistance were so strenuous that she became physically weak — then the Lord led her to victory through reading the life of “The Cure de Ars,” who told how he overcame temptation. When tempted he prayed thus: “My God, I offer up all these temptations to Thee in exchange for their opposite virtues, in the name of Jesus.”
The seven cardinal sins are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. Their opposite virtues are humility, liberality, chastity, meekness, temperance, brotherly love and diligence.
So when tempted to drink, he suggests that one pray about as follows: “My God, I offer up all temptations to drink, in honor of the thirst of Jesus on the cross, in exchange for the virtue of temperance.”
If tempted on another line he suggests that one’s prayer be similar, naming the sin to God.
These thoughts were a great help to me, so I am passing them on to our readers. In exchange for her kindness I gave my roommate the happy idea of receiving the witness of the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus. She had never heard of that, but supposed that salvation was by good works and suffering penance patiently.
When darkness intercepts the skies,
And sorrow’s waves around me roll,
And high the storms of trouble rise,
And half o’erwhelm my sinking soul;
My soul a sudden calm shall feel,
And hear a whisper, “Peace; be still.”
Though in affliction’s furnace tried,
Unhurt, on snares and death I’ll tread;
Though sin assail, and hell, thrown wide,
Pour all its flames upon my head;
Like Moses’ bush I’ll mount the higher,
And flourish, unconsumed, in fire.