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diately. Here is a malefactor, who is already condemned to death. He shall be united to her, and you will soon see the truth of what I advance." Accordingly the culprit was brought without delay to the girl ; and scarcely had he touched her lips, before his whole frame was impregnated with poison, and he expired in the greatest agony. Alexander, glad at his escape from such imminent destruction, bestowed all thanks on his instructor, and returned the girl to her mother. (7)
My beloved, any good Christian, strong and powerful in virtues communicated at his baptism, may be called Alexander. He is strong and powerful as long as he preserves his purity from the contamination of the devil, the world, and the flesh. The Queen of the North is a superfluity of the things of life, which sometimes destroys the spirit, and generally the body. The envenomed beauty, is Luxury and Gluttony, which feed men with delicacies,
that are poison to the soul. Aristotle is thy conscience, or reason, which reproves and opposes the union that would undo the soul. The malefactor is a perverse man, disobedient to his God, and more diligent in pursuing his own carnal delights, than the divine commands. He enfolds his sins in a close embrace, by whose deadly touch he is spiritually destroyed. So the book of Wisdom, “ He who touches pitch shall be defiled by it.” Let us then study to live honestly and uprightly, in order that we may attain to everlasting life.
In the reign of Otho there was a certain slippery priest, who created much disturbance
among his parishioners, and many were extremely scandalised. One of them, in particular, always absented himself from mass, when it fell to the priest's turn to celebrate it. Now it happened on a festival day, during the time of mass, that as this person was walking alone through a meadow, a sudden thirst came upon him; insomuch, that he was persuaded, unless present relief could be obtained, he should die. In this extremity, continuing his walk, he discovered a rivulet of the purest water, of which he copiously drank. But the more he drank, the more violent became his thirst. Surprised at so unusual an occurrence, he said to himself, “ I will find out the source of this rivulet, and there satisfy my thirst.” As he proceeded, an old man of majestic appearance met him, and said, “ My friend, where are you going?" The other answered, “ I am oppressed by an excessive drought, surpassing even belief. I discovered a little stream of water, and drank of it plentifully; but the more I drank, the more I thirsted. So I am endeavouring to find its source, that I may drink there, and, if it be possible, deliver myself from the torment.” The old man pointed with his finger. “ There,” said he, “ is the spring-head of the rivulet. But, tell me, mine honest friend, why are you not at Church, and with other good Christians, hearing Mass?” The man answered, “ Truly, Master, our priest leads such an execrable life, that I think it utterly impossible he should celebrate it, so as to please God.” To which the old man returned, “Suppose what you say is true. Observe this fountain, from which so much excellent water issues, and from which you have lately drunk." He looked in the direction pointed out, and beheld a putrid dog with its mouth wide open, and its teeth black and decayed, through which the whole fountain gushed in a surprising manner. The man regarded the stream with great terror and confusion of mind, ardently desirous of quenching his thirst, but apprehensive of poison from the fetid and loathsome carcase, with which, to all appearance, the water was imbued.
the rivulet; drink again, it will not harm thee.” Encouraged by these assurances, and impelled by the intensity of his thirst, he partook of it once more, and instantly recovered from the drought.
Oh! master," cried he,
never man drank of such delicious water." The old man answered, “ See now; as this water, gushing through the mouth of a putrid dog, is neither polluted, nor loses aught of its natural taste or colour, so is the celebration of mass by a worthless minister. And therefore, though the vices of such men may displease and disgust, yet should you not forsake the duties of which they are the appointed organ." Saying these words, the old man disappeared ; and what the other had seen he communicated to his neighbours, and ever after punctually attended mass. He brought this unstable and transitory life to a good end; and passed from that which is corruptible to inherit incorruption. Which may our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, grant to all. (8)