There was once a very vile and disgusting man who seldom went to church, never prayed, cared little for those around him, and thought only of his own sinful pleasure night and day. Then one day as he was walking past the cemetery, he suddenly heard his dead mother’s voice calling to him from beyond the tomb. He didn’t actually hear her voice in his ears, but rather, listened to its strange, ethereal call from deep inside his heart. Softly and soothingly she beckoned him to enter the cemetery, and when he stood before the large granite cross that adorned her grave he suddenly realized he had very little time left to live. His whole sinful life began flashing before his eyes and he was forced to contrast this with the piety of his deceased mother’s holy, saintly life. The man began to cry and ran from this place in utter terror; immediately going into a nearby church to pray. There he begged the pastor to hear his confessions and, through an endless flow of tears dripping into his handkerchief, sincerely confessed his sins unto God, received this healing sacrament, and then suddenly dropped dead at the pastor’s feet.
The surprised pastor then witnessed a very mysterious thing. Immediately surrounding the dead man was a group of little, dark, evil-looking creatures who held in their hands papers listing all of the man’s sins. Yet, off to one side, stood a bright and radiant angel–the man’s own guardian angel standing in prayer.
These “devils” took their papers and placed them on one side of a very large scale that appeared to “weigh” the man’s life. The scale was heavily tipped to one side and the dark little creatures began to laugh and rejoice at another “prize” to grace their master’s subterranean domain.
However, before these ugly looking creatures could actually take the man’s soul, the angel went near to the body, picked up the man’s handkerchief sodden with his tears of repentance, and placed it upon the other side of the scale. Immediately the weight of the tiny handkerchief outweighed the multitude of sins of the man’s life, and the little black devils cried out in anguish and fled. The angel then picked up the man’s soul and carried him to paradise where his Lord and his mother were awaiting his arrival.
Author’s note: You know trouble finds us all, but “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13: 12 RSV).