Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 10th January 2015 in Prague, Czech republic
In the French magazine "L'orne de Croix" Father Labutte tells the following story of the Second world war:
I come from one of the largest parishes in Nantes. Last month, one evening I was very tired from the days work.
It was about midnight, I was finally able to finish my breviary when the bell was rang so violently at the door of the rectory, that I was shocked. As I suspected, it was for a sick person, I went myself down to answer the door.
On the doorstep there stood a woman of about 40 years. She asked: "Father, come quickly, there is a young man who is going to die!” - ”I will come tomorrow in the morning before the Holy mass at six o’clock,” I answered.
But she replied: "Father, it will be too late; I implore you, do not hesitate!" - "Well, please write down the exact address, name, and street number into my notebook lying down on the table in the reception room.”
The woman rushed to the close room. Then I could see her clearly. She looked very worried. She wrote down the name into my notebook and also the address: "37, Rue Descartes, 2nd floor." I then said: "You can rely on me! I'll be there in twenty minutes.” With a low voice she said: "May God reward you! You are tired. May God protect you in the time of danger!" Then she disappeared in the darkness.
I took my coat and all the things necessary for the administration of the sacraments and walked into the empty dark streets of the city. When I came to a checkpoint I had to show my passport and went on hurriedly.
The thoughts in my head went like this: “You do not know the family you are called for.” The name the woman wrote into my notebook raised no memory in my head. As regards the woman, I only remembered distantly to have seen her once about three years ago. I regretted that I didn´t know all my parishioners.
Finally I discovered the number 37, Rue Descartes: a large apartment building with five floors and dimmed windows. I could hear the sound of the radio in the apartment. I used my flashlight and went upstairs and rang on the second floor violently, as someone who is expected. I could hear the steps and a ray of light appeared, then the safety latch creaked and the door opened. A young man of about 20 years looked at me with reverent astonishment. "I come to a sick person in danger of death," I said, "is he here?" "No, Father, that's probably a mistake." "Yes, somebody told me: Go to number 37, Rue Descartes, 2 floor." "Yes, this is number 37 of the street, 2nd floor, but I am a young man," he added smilingly, ”and certainly I’m not in danger of life. "
I showed him my address book and said: "A woman about 40 years old came with great sorrow and wrote this address into my little notebook." – “Really, Father, it seems to me that I know this handwriting, it is similar to that of mine ...: but no, that's so strange. I live alone with my father, who is now working in the factory. That's certainly a mistake. The woman wanted to write without doubt "Rue Despartes" and wrote by mistake "Rue Descartes". But Father, please stay here for a couple of minutes! You are numb with cold; I'll make a cup of tea for you.”
I entered an elegant little living room, where books were laid on the sofa. In one corner there stood a radio and a leather chair. "I was just listening to a Hungarian music from Vienna," said the young man and switched off the radio. Then he continued: "Father, it has already been two years I wanted to speak to you but I did not find the courage to call you." He smiled sheepishly and he sadly confessed: "I am a prodigal son!” Sitting on the sofa, he told me the story of his whole life ... I left him after having reconciled him with God. Then I hurried to the Rue Despartes. On my way I was still thinking of the strange visit I had just made. But we priests are used to such strange incidents.
The clock on the city tower displayed the time: It was half past eleven when I crossed the Theatre Square. Suddenly the sirens began to howl. Alarm! I started running as fast as I could but there was no number 37 in the whole Rue Despartes, the road ended with number 16. The first bombs have already fallen onto the city. The infernal noise came closer. I only had time to escape into the close shelter. There I spent three-quarters of an hour in terrible fright with a lot of other people. When I came out, flash firelight illuminated the rooftops of the city. There were at least 200 fires around. There were ruined houses everywhere in the streets that were full of clouds of smoke, dust, and crying people.
I went to the nearest emergency. There were several hundreds of wounded and dead and more and more others were being brought especially women and children, most of them injured on their heads. I went from one to another, gave absolutions, and the Extreme unction. Suddenly I had to lean on the wall. "What’s the matter with you, Father?," one of the doctors asked me. I turned pale. "One of your relatives perhaps?" "No, a parishioner." I stumbled over the body of the young man whom I had met in the number 37 Rue Descartes. Barely an hour ago I had left him full of life and had been very glad to give him absolution for his sins. His words came to me again: "You are wrong! You see, I'm in a good health!" And he had laughed happily! But he had already stood at the edge of eternity and did not know! However the mercy of God had given him time to confess before his dying.
I knelt beside the body, looked for his wallet in the hope to find some personal documents. His name was written in a visit card. He was 21 years old. Among the various other documents, there was also a yellowed letter with photos. One of them represented a woman of about 40 years. I jumped up. This was without doubt the picture of the woman who had asked me at midnight to visit the young man. On the back of the picture I read the simple word "Mum". Another photograph showed her on her deathbed, the hands folded, with the Rosary. The years were mentioned, too: 1898–1939.
I looked at the yellowed letter. What a surprise! The handwriting was so similar to that of the woman who called me the day before.
Now think of this incident which is so exciting and mysterious. For me there is no more doubt. It was the mother of the young man who came from the eternity.
A mother returned from the eternity to take care of the spiritual welfare of her son! How often the heavenly Mother has appeared for our salvation?
In 1830 she appeared to St. Catherine Labouré in the Rue du Bac in Paris, in 1846 to the children Maximin and Melanie in La Salette, in 1858 to St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes and in 1917 to Francesco, Jacinta, and Lucia in Fatima. Everywhere she demanded repentance, repentance, prayer, prayer of the Rosary! This is what we are doing here!
The Mother of God always appeared to lead people to her Son. That is why you will find a confessional and the Holy Sacrament at places where she has appeared.
May she help us, may she lead us to her Son! Amen.