March 14, 2013

A Withered Hand No More

From 409 to 431, Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulina was bishop of Nola, in southern Italy. The man later became known as St. Paulinus.

One day, the Bishop came upon a beggar who asked him for alms. The beggar had a withered hand and the Bishop asked him about it. The beggar then spoke of having a kindly mother, to whom he had been disobedient since his early childhood. He had spent almost all of the money she had and then asked for the last of it. When she refused, he struck her and she died as a result of the blow. This took place on the night before Holy Thursday. On Easter Sunday, having hid her body, he came forward at Mass and received Holy Communion.

As he did, the hand with which he had struck his mother stiffened and, amid terrible pains, became withered. He cried out so that his cries attracted the attention of the whole congregation. Stunned and embarrassed, he quickly fled.

Since then, he wandered about, with his deformed hand serving as a constant reminder of his terrible deed and his profanation of the Eucharist. He lamented to the Bishop that he could bear the physical hardship well enough, but it was the expectation of Hell that tormented him.

St. Paulinus told him, “There is in the Heart of Jesus, whom you have so grievously offended, enough compassion and mercy to pardon you.” He then told the beggar to make an earnest confession and to again receive the Eucharist, although this time, with respect and reverence. Having previously thought there was no hope for him, the man was instantly renewed by the knowing confidence of the Bishop in his proclamation of such mercy.

He did as the Bishop suggested, made a forthright confession and then went again to Communion. As he received the Lord, he again felt a power in his hand. This time, however, his withered hand was restored. He was cured.

This Lent, let us know at St. Paulinus and St. Faustina attest, that there is mercy beyond our comprehension for all who honestly seek it. Let us approach Him with reverence and respect. Let us be grateful and rejoice.

(Adapted from an account in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S.)


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