DESPAIR AND PRESUMPTION
Satan sought to inject into Margaret's soul that sense of despair which fills Hell. Showing her the sins of her past, he strove to persuade her that they were too many and too great to obtain God's forgiveness.
Besides, he told her, she had no guarantee that she would persevere to the end; one day or another God would abandon her, and then her damnation would be certain.
Margaret grew frightened and turned her tearfilled eyes toward her sweet Savior. She found strength in an unlimited confidence in God's mercy. Then the Devil changed tactics and tried to make her proud. He reminded her of the victories she had won over herself, the virtues she had acquired, the mortifications she practiced, the veneration with which she was surrounded. But the memory of her sinful life was Margaret's shield against this new temptation.
One night, when such presumptuous thoughts were pressing in upon her, she arose, went onto the balcony of the house in which she lived, and shouted as loudly as she could:
"Get up, people of Cortona, get right up! Take stones and drive out of town the most criminal and unworthy of all women she whose sins have been a scandal to the world!"
And on that balcony, weeping bitterly, she publicly announced her sins. Those who heard her struck their breasts and said: "It's that poor penitent may God forget her sins and ours because of her!"
Thus the Devil was always defeated.
One day the Lord said to her:
"If Lucifer could break out of Hell and join your enemies, he would rush upon you in order to deceive you, so furious is he against you, due to the state of grace to which I have raised you. But you shall be well protected, My daughter, for I will always be with you."
Ever since that inner inspiration which God had whispered in Margaret's soul when she was under the figtree in her father's garden, the divine messages had become more frequent and more intimate as the penitent advanced on the path of perfection. In these early heavenly conversations, God called her only "My poor little one." Margaret ardently longed to be called "daughter," and after her reception in the Third Order she requested it of the Lord. He replied:
"You can not yet receive from Me the sweet name of daughter, for you are the daughter of sin. When by means of another general confession you will have completely purified yourself from your vices, I will number you among My daughters."
Then the humble penitent prayed to St. Francis and to St. Mary Magdalene for the graces which she needed and for the most intense sorrow for her sins. And to Father Giunta she made a general confession that lasted eight days. Then she went to Holy Communion with her cord around her neck, under her veillike a criminal. And when she received the God of Mercy into her heart, she heard Our Lord say to her:
Oh, how sweet that word from the lips of Jesus sounded to the former sinner of Montepulciano! It caused Margaret to be rapt in ecstasy, and she exclaimed to herself: "O my infinitely and sovereignly sweet Lord! Here at last is the day which my Jesus promised me! At last, in this intoxicating moment, I have been given the sweet name of daughter, that word which I had yearned and prayed for with all my heart's fervor that word which was so consoling to hear and which I will ever joyfully remember! My God has said to me: `My daughter!' My Jesus has called me: daughter!"
This new favor greatly increased her contrition and grief over her sins. She asked her Seraphic Father St. Francis to intensify her repentance and to obtain for her the forgiveness and remission of all her sins. And Our Lord assured her that since her last general confession all her sins had been forgiven and their temporal punishment set aside. This assurance was repeated to her several times.
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