Monday, January 7, 2013

Compelle Intrare And Pere Milleriot, S.J.

St. Augustine of Hippo and Compelle Intrae
If the first fruits were thus plentiful, what must the harvest have been which Father Milleriot was privileged to gather in during all the years he spent in Paris from the close of his novitiate until his death! He doubtless owed much of his success in dealing with souls to his natural gifts, his great moral and physical courage, his marvellous tact and readiness of resource, and the happy art he possessed of turning people's corners, so to speak. Not a little is due also to that strong will, the possession of which he so much deplored as a possible hindrance to his own sanctification, but which became the means of effecting the salvation of so many with whom he was brought into contact, for it can truly be said that no one has ever more thoroughly understood and more ably carried out the spirit of our Lord's injunction, compelle intrare, than did Father Louis Etienne Milleriot, S.J.. Kind as he was to every one, he had a positive weakness for the poorest and most revolting, his favourite clients being great sinners, "big fish," as he used smilingly to term them, those who were very ignorant, or who had neglected religion for years. His patience was unwearied, as is shown by the following account of the conversion of an aged man whom he used familiarly to call mon vieux Jeannin. He entitles the story, "A desperate case."
An old man of eighty-six, the father of one of our young workmen, who belonged to the Association of St Francis Xavier, had been for some time suffering from a nervous affection. On my asking his son about him, he spoke of him as being utterly irreligious.
"Very well," I replied; "next time I meet him I shall make friends with him."
"Oh, Father, take care what you do. You may be sure he will say something rude to you."
"Never mind, we shall see."
Shortly after I found myself face to face with my man. "Good morning, M. Jeannin," I said, taking his hand; "how are you?"
He pulled his hand away forcibly: "I don't like priests," he said. "Well, if you do not like priests, for my part I like people who speak their mind as you do. Besides, if you do not like priests, you like Almighty God."
"Don't bother me with your Almighty God!"

"For all that, I daresay you still say some kind of little prayer, night and morning."

"I want to hear nothing of your cursed prayers!"
"Goodbye, M. Jeannin ; some other time."
The poor old man was quivering with rage. "Never mind," I said to myself, you shall make up for the others, you old rogue; "My God, help me! you have often given me the grace to carry a soul by storm at the first or second attack; I shall have to take my time at this one." I determined to get at my old friend through his stomach; I sent him, by one of my penitents, a nice meat pie and two bottles of good wine.
"Father Milleriot has sent you a pie for you and your son, and two bottles of wine, that you may drink his health," said the kind messenger, when she presented herself at his house, laden with the good things.
At the first mention of my name, the old man broke out in a fury, but he soon calmed down, "Sit down, madam," he said, "Father Milleriot is very kind."
That was something gained. Shortly after, I called on him myself. "M. Jeannin, here is a friend come to see you!" "Take a seat, Reverend Father."
That was better still, yet my point was far from gained ; the pies and the wine had to be sent again and again, at stated intervals. I went to see him every month, and felt I gained ground every time. I avoided arguments, preferring to try and touch his heart By degrees he began to pray himself; after a time, whenever I went, we said a Pater and an Ave together. At length, after waiting four years, he was conquered; he made his confession, and I gave him his Easter Communion at his own home; for some time past, he had not been able to go out.
Before receiving Communion he said:
"Father, let me say a word to my son before you."
"By all means."
"Look here, James, your old father is going to Communion for the first time since he made his First Communion, seventy-nine years ago: you too have neglected the sacraments; of course you are free to do as you please, but if you will take my advice, you will do as I have done."
He then received our Lord with much devotion. Six months later, the poor fellow was said to be in danger; I administered the last sacraments to him myself, and he expired peacefully at the age of ninety-two years.

Link (here) to The Month to read the full account.

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