Saturday, 5 November 2016

Devotion to The Sacred Heart, Its Theology, History and Philosophy part 63.

By  Rev. Joseph J. C. Petrovits, J.C.B., S.T.L.

As to the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, it may be said that the accessible sources, when weighed and viewed collectively, seem to pronounce in favor of its administration to the Beata. It is known that her prophecy as to her death in the arms of two Sisters, vis., Frangoise-Rosalie de Verchere and Peronne-Rosalie de Farges, was actually fulfilled. 48 Hence, these two sisters were in a position to know the circumstances under which she expired. These same sisters in 1715 engaged in writing her life preliminary to the canonical process of her beatification. In this autographic Memoir, to the composition of which each of them contributed her share of efforts, they do not leave us in doubt as to the administration of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

In the extracts from the canonical procedure of 1715 we read that Sister Anne-Alexis de Mareschall, a contemporary of Blessed Margaret Mary, made a deposition that there was just about sufficient time to give her the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

Sr. Claude Rosalie de Farges informs us in the course of her deposition that Blessed Margaret Mary asked to receive the last Sacraments, but on account of undue delay was found in such a state that she was no longer able to receive the benefit of the viaticum. Since she does not make such unfavorable comment concerning the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, we can legitimately infer that it was given.

All doubts on this subject ought to disappear entirely when one reads in the original circular of the Convent of Paray, written on August 8, 1691, one year after the death of the Beata, that she expired while the last unction was being given. 41 Father Croiset, whose work appeared the same year, gives testimony to the same effect and, judging from the language he employs, it may be concluded that he drew his information from the same circular. It would seem that in the face of all this first-hand testimony the statements of those who, having consulted only secondary sources, maintain that her death occurred while the fourth unction was given, fall to the ground.

It is not our intention to create an impression in the mind of the reader that this point has a bearing of paramount importance on the interpretation of the Great Promise. We merely wish to clarify and correct the mistaken notion which so many spiritual writers entertain on this particular point. Even, if it were unquestionably certain that Blessed Margaret Mary did not receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, the arguments of those who cling to the third mode of interpretation would still retain their full force. This was made clear in one of the preceding paragraphs. Therefore, Father McNabb's observation, even if he could demonstrate his statement, fails to prove a stumbling-block to those against whom it was directed.