Wednesday, July 7, 2010

St. Joseph Cafasso: Apostle of Hope and Confidence

The prisons in Don Cafasso's time were gloomy places infested with vermin. There was much communication between the prisoners, and the wicked had the greatest influence. It was among these outcasts of society that Don Cafasso spent most of his free time. He visited each prison at least once a week, and some of them once a day, and spent long hours there, usually four or five hours at a time.

He instructed the prisoners in the truths of religion, and not being in any hurry to leave, he did that work thoroughly. He prepared them for the Sacraments and heard their Confessions. There is no case on record in which he failed to convert even the hardened sinners among them. He brought some of the young priests under him to visit the prisons and made it part of their training to help the poor and needy and visit those in prison. He helped to get employment for those among the prisoners who from time to time were liberated.

Don Cafasso singled out for special kindness criminals condemned to death. He visited all these frequently, instructed them and prepared them for death. He accompanied them all to the scaffold—fifty seven from Turin prisons and seven others from other towns. He succeeded in getting all these to go to the Sacraments. He was not satisfied with merely converting them but endeavored to make them Saints. He exhorted them to accept capital punishment with resignation and told them that if they did so with perfect dispositions, they were in a state to go directly to Heaven without passing through Purgatory, for by dying a violent and dishonorable death they were performing the heaviest penance that could be imposed on anyone in this world. He even gave them a commission for him to execute when they went to Heaven, which was to kneel before the throne of Mary and intercede for him.

His great devotions were: to the Passion, to the Sacred Heart, to the Mass, to the Stations of the Cross, to the Blessed Sacrament, to our Blessed Lady, to St. Joseph, to many of the Saints, to the Souls in Purgatory in whose favor he recommended the Heroic Act. (Source)

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