Dear Father Angelo
Before moving on to the question, let me introduce myself, in the hope that my testimony, if published on your blog, may help your visitors to increase their faith. I am a 17-year-old student who is attending the Junior/11th grade. For reasons that I will be explaining in a second, I will not write my real name here. Instead, you can call me Michele.
I would like to say that I was born into a non-practicing Muslim family, which is why I have always been an atheist in my life. However, this situation has not prevented me from knowing the Truth because I was anyways called by Jesus. My path of conversion began in the second half of December 2018, just a few days before Christmas. I got to know Jesus at school, during the religion class. I can confirm that its teaching at school is still very useful. My conversion is a miracle because when enrolling in high school, I filled out the exemption form (translator’s note: In Italy, Roman Catholic religious instruction is offered in public schools as an optional subject). Nevertheless, for some strange reason that exemption form never reached the secretariat of my school, and I had thus to attend the religion class the first week of school––the first religion class of my entire life. That hour I was so strongly affected by my teacher’s charisma, that I decided to definitely attend his class. Through films, documentaries and catechesis over the year, I got an overview of Christianity. After a year and a half, at the mid of the 10th grade, as I anticipated above, my conversion began. At that point, I believed in God! Now, I have been a Catholic for a year and a half and I am following the path of Discipleship to obtain the sacraments, which are scheduled for Easter 2021. Unfortunately, and I say this with great regret, I have to hide my faith to my family, because they would perceive my conversion as an act of cultural betrayal, even though they are not at all practicing Muslims.. If I did not do so, I am positive, they would hinder me the way to the sacraments. Thus God now asks me not to reveal my faith in Christ, until will have obtained the sacraments. In any case, God gave me Christian relatives, on whom I can rely in the future.
Now, I will get to the point.
I recently read on your website a letter from a boy who asked: “Can a mother’s sufferings and tears save her child who died far from God?
Reading you answer, a couple of questions arose in my mind:
-If the suffering offered to God for the salvation of a person can actually save that person retroactively, i.e. even though (s)he has already died? Should we consider any specific condition about the person we want to save? For example, in the case of a mother, it is more than legitimate for her to whish that her child be saved; but what happens in other cases? Would such wish still be legitimate? I will give you an example. Can I offer my prayers and sufferings for the salvation of a deceased musical artist? (This applies to every kind of person. With the example, I just wanted to you to understand the distance between two people).
-Can I also offer the suffering that I feel during temptation? In fact, I often fall into temptation and I know that, after all, I hurt me only. However, if you now tell me that I can offer those sufferings to save souls, then it would be a radical turning point for me.
While waiting for your answer, I pray for you for your holy enterprise .
Thank you very much!
The answer of the priest
1. I believe that all our visitors, and they numerous, will be pleased with the Lord and His most holy Mother and will thank them because through what is humanly called an oversight (the exemption form from the religion class that went lost …) you have been led to the light and to life.
In fact, meeting Jesus is the same thing as meeting the Light. This is how he described himself: “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12)?
Similarly, he defined himself as the “Life”, when he said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6)?
Now you feel yourself in the light, and feel a sense of fullness in your heart.
2. And I am convinced that all our visitors are also pleased with you, for the joy that filled your heart at the moment you met Jesus.
You have gone from atheism to faith, from darkness to light.
It was not because of you that you were an atheist.
But the Lord that day making you enter the classroom for the hour of religion for the reason that it was said he passed by you and, to say it with the great Saint Augustine, he breathed his perfume over you, you breathed it and now you yearn for Him.
3. The date for your Baptism is already set: Easter 2021.
It is the year of the eighth centenary of the death of our Holy Father Dominic.
I am happy about this great coincidence, because it pushes me to pray for you from now on, so that St. Dominic may obtain for you an ever increasing attraction for our Lord.
It was the grace that he himself asked the Lord every day: to have ever greater love and attraction for Him.
Moreover, this is the sense of our life on this earth.
4. Since the day of your Baptism will also coincide with the day of your First Communion and Confirmation, let me remind you of the conviction of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: “On the day of your First Communion, you get anything you ask for”.
She had heard it from her mother: Once she ask her eldest daughter to pray on the day of her First Communion, that her aunt, seriously ill, would fully recover. And God immediately granted what she had asked.
You do not need me to suggest you what to ask. However, among your pleas to God, there must certainly be plea pertaining your parents’ enlightenment: so that they also may know Jesus, love Him, possess Him and live for Him.
With this grace, you will ask for many more for yourself, for your beloved ones, for your friends, and for your schoolmates. It must be a day when the Lord will pass by each one of them to repeat for their lives what He did with you.
The Lord will be particularly prodigal on that day.
5. Now I finally come to your questions.
First of all, whether you can pray and offer sacrifices for the eternal salvation of everyone. And not only of a person with whom you had special bonds of affection.
The answer is: yes, of course.
By the power of charity we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).
This means that we are very affectionate to everyone, even without knowing them.
A little above I just reminded you of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Well, in her house, they were eager for the salvation of everybody. And when some obstinate sinner was reluctant to make any attempt, the whole family became passionate about the difficult task of earning it for the Lord. Saint Joseph was called to intervene with a novena and many victories of this kind were obtained through prayer.
The parents of St. Therese, both saints (Zelia Guerin and Louis Martin, were French), knew no more joy than these.
And they continued to apply their suffrages even to those who, having died unrepentant, had disappointed their hopes.
So you have good predecessors!
6. For the second question: whether you can offer the sufferings you feel during temptation.
Here too the answer is: yes, of course.
And if you have read some of the answers on our website, you see that I always insist with boys and young people to overcome temptations for the love of the Lord.
Yes, for the love of the Lord.
This is the highest and most powerful motivation that triggers the temptation to show Jesus that we love Him, that we do it out of love for Him and to give strength at the same time to many who are in the same temptations so that they can overcome them.
7. I wish you all the very best for your future: May you be the light of the world, as the Lord wants you to be (Mt 5:14). May you gain many to the faith, as the Lord used that professor of religion to gain you.
I thank you for your testimony.
I thank you also for the prayer you promised me by writing “I pray for you for this holy endeavor of yours (i.e. Father Angelo’s answering visitors’ questions)”.
I really liked that adjective: Holy.
Let it be so!
I bless you and remember you to the Lord.