What Was The Question?

Bro. Juniper

Q. What are "victim souls" and are there any in our time?

DB, Louisville,KY

A. "Victim souls" are those that have been chosen by God to manifest in their bodies the sufferings that Jesus underwent during His passion, crucifixion and death on the cross.

These souls accept this request of God to offer their lives as a living image of Jesus Crucified for the salvation of souls.

The most recent of such victim souls was the Franciscan Capuchin Friar, Padre Pio in Italy.

Closeness with the suffering Savior is the fire that lights the path most clearly for Christians who have cast their lot with God. The Messias knew this truth well. He understood the importance that His sufferings would take on in the outpouring of love which would enflame many after His death.

He prepared the path of history by assuring that He would not be completely abandoned by His friends. He drew a few souls to Calvary; a few whose allegiance was such that their loyalty no human respect nor fear could smother.

Through these select souls, the dying Redeemer placed on record an example of love that has inspired and enflamed His followers throughout the ages. Through this example, every pure lover and every sinner of all times can find a model.

The great mystery of love is hidden from mankind in the price one must pay to gain it: suffering. Most people, unfortunately, are unwilling to pay the price. They will pay the price for transitory pleasure and superficial `success.' But, they find it too expensive to pay the price for the greatest human experience: genuine, unadulterated love.

Because of His love for mankind, Jesus the Crucified seeks out special souls in whose lives His own sufferings are mirrored.

Here in America, we have been privileged to have such a victim soul. There is no doubt that this country has been protected from evil because a small soul suffered in a big way for the salvation of souls. These souls are even more rare in our day and that easily accounts for the proliferation of immorality eating society like a cancer.

Today, few remember this once-famous victim soul who lived in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Her name was Rose Ferron.

How did all this come about? In the summer of 1922, the Most Reverend William Hickey, Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, launched a million-dollar drive for the construction of several new high schools in his diocese. Although the bishop did not expect any collection to be endorsed in all quarters, he never expected that this drive would meet the wave of bitter opposition from the ranks of the French-speaking Catholics. These were always traditionally loyal to the Church.

By 1924, a leader had arisen to crystallize the movement around a weekly newspaper called La Sentinelle. The paper spared no words in attacking the bishop. Its circulation grew to the point that by 1927, its followers had become so virulent that they refused all financial support to the Church.

Those who sided with the newspaper's ideology were refused the Sacraments by order of the bishop. Finally, the obstinate leaders _ fifty six in all _ were excommunicated.

This is where Rose Ferron enters the picture. The broken-hearted shepherd of the Providence diocese looked for someone to give him supernatural assistance.

He chose the home of Jean-Baptiste Ferron who live in Woonsocket. Jean-Baptiste was of a solid Catholic ancestry. He himself attended daily Mass before going to work. On his way home from work, he stopped at the church for that typically man's devotion among French Canadians, the Way of the Cross.

His wife had dedicated each of her newly-born children to a mystery of the Rosary and had finished all fifteen decades. It was Marie-Rose, or simply Rose, who was dedicated to the tenth mystery, the Crucifixion. And was to her that Bishop Hickey turned in his distress.

At the age of six, Rose had already had a vision of the Child Jesus. "I saw Him with a cross and He was looking at me with grief in His eyes," she said.

When she was seven, Christ taught her a French prayer which she recited daily until her death:

"Lord Jesus, when I reflect upon the words You have uttered, `Many are called, but few are chosen,' I begin to tremble for those I love, and I beg You to look upon them with mercy; and behold, with infinite tenderness, You place their salvation in my hands, as it were; for everything is promised to him who knows how to suffer with You and for You.

"My heart bleeds under the weight of the affliction, but my will remains united to Yours, and I cry out to You: `Lord, it is for them that I want to suffer!' I want to mingle my tears with Your Blood for the salvation of those I love! You will not turn a deaf ear to my cry of sorrow and You will save them."

By the time Rose was twenty-five, she had already learned how to suffer from a priest. It was at this time that Bishop Hickey called on her for her help.

The Bishop asked her: "My child, will you suffer for the Diocese of Providence, for its priests, and for those I was obliged to punish?"

It is then that Rose accepted to become the living holocaust for the salvation of souls. She humbly replied: "I will do whatever you want." And added: "I am willing to suffer as you wish and for the return of those you have excommunicated. I accept at once. It will be my mission to pray for their return."

A lone victim was obtaining graces for an entire diocese through the unusual, through mystic suffering.

Eventually, through her sufferings, Rose gained the conversion and submission of the fifty-six rebels.

Rose was one of the most completely stigmatized persons on record. Whereas only thirty have borne the five wounds and the crowning of thorns, Rose had all of these, as well as the shoulder wound and the bleeding from the eyes.

The wounds of Christ's scourging had appeared now and then during the latter part of 1926. But it was during Lent of 1927, a few months before Bishop Hickey sought in Rose a victim for his diocese, that these wounds began to appear regularly every Friday.

The red and purple stripes were clearly visible on her arm which seemed to have been lashed with whips. The wounds swelled and smarted like burns.

The wounds of the nails appeared in her hands before the very eyes of her biographer and another priest. Her feet, too, bore the marks of the nails. Rose felt all the pain that Our Lord felt when the nails were being driven through His hands and feet.

Rose was suffering in her body the suffering others should have suffered for their sins just as Our Lord's love prompted Him to bear mankind's punishment in its stead.

We would think that the world would be moved by the visible sufferings of this young girl. But it was no different now than when Christ underwent these sufferings and death. Those who denied Him then, continue to deny Him to this day. It was no different for Rose. Calumny, gossip and ridicule. These are the well-worn tools and weapons of Satan against God's holy ones.

We see the difference between those of this world and those who bear such attacks for the love of Christ. Rose once said in response to such attacks: "Even were I to try to hate and blame those who work against me, I could not do it." Instead of hatred, he explained: "It seems that I love them still more; I am rather prompted to pray for them."

The ultimate explanation of Rose's tenderness toward criticism and of her joyful optimism and sense of humor was her tremendous love of God. "O Jesus, the happiness I have in loving You outweighs the martyrdom I endure," she exclaimed.

During one ecstasy in the presence of six visitors, Rose asked her Savior how long she had still to suffer and then repeated the answer aloud: Seven years!" She began counting the age she would have after seven more years _ she would be thirty-three.

Christ seemed to ask her if that were too long, because she said with great eagerness: "Oh, no! Come and get me whenever You want. I am ready to suffer one hundred years, if You want it. It is my sacrifice to stay."

Rose Ferron died in 1936 at the age of thirty-three.

She once remarked: "God and the victims are the only ones who know what is meant by the word `Cross'. "

The world has lost its latest victim soul _ Padre Pio. Soon, he too will be forgotten just like the world has forgotten Rose Ferron. The world will continue on its hell-bent course to the bitter end. What of those victim souls who may still be around but have not yet become manifest? Will their sufferings gain the grace of conversion for anyone? The answer to this question is not hard to find. It is positive: Yes.

The hidden sufferings of unknown victim souls will gain the grace of salvation for their relatives and others.

We should thank God for these victims souls who may appear to us without the visible phenomena witnessed by such souls as Rose Ferron and Padre Pio.

Those who are genuine and loyal devotees of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are victim souls. Note well, however, that not all those who claim to honor the Immaculate Heart of Mary are genuine and loyal.

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