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The End of the Journey.

It was evident to Matilda that her end was near. Her age was what would be called old age in the Middle Ages, when life was so much 128 shorter than in our time. “I asked the Lord,” she said, “how I should conduct myself in these last days of my life. He answered me, ‘Thou shouldst do in thy last days as in thy first days. Love and longing, repentance and fear, these four things were the beginning of thy course, and must therefore be the end also.’

“Then said I, ‘Beloved Lord, where, then, are the two things that are the foundation and crown of heavenly blessedness, where are faith and full assurance?’

“Then said our Lord, ‘Thy faith becometh knowledge, and thy longing is turned into full assurance.’ This I understood from the speaking of the Lord to me, and I know it also in my heart.

“I am a wonder to myself, and am indeed a wonder. For when I think of death, my soul rejoices so mightily in the thought of going forth from earthly life, that my body is lulled, as it were, in an inexpressible supernatural quietness, soft and sweet, and my mind is awakened to see the unspeakable wonders that attend the going forth of the soul. Meanwhile I would desire most to die at the time which God has before appointed. Yet at the 129 same time I would willingly live till the last great day. And my heart longs oftentimes to live in the days of the martyrs, that I might shed my sinful blood in true Christian faith for Jesus my Beloved.

“That I dare to say I love God, is a gift of His pure grace. For it is when my sins and sufferings are before my eyes that my soul begins to burn in the fire of the true love of God, and the sweetness is so surpassing, that even my body shares in the Divine blessedness. I write this as it were by compulsion, for I would rather hold my peace, because I live in fear and dread of secret tendency to vainglory. Yet I am more afraid, when God has been so gracious to me, that I, poor and empty as I am, have kept silence too often and too long.

“From my childhood onwards I was troubled with fear, dread, and constant sorrow of heart in thinking of my end. Now in my last days God has given me peace. And I have said to Him, ‘Lord, it likes me well to think of the light and blessedness of thy heavenly glory, of which I am so unworthy, but I still have a great fear as to how my soul shall pass from my body.’ And the Lord answered, ‘It shall be thus—I draw My breath, and the soul will 130 follow on to Me, as the needle to the magnet stone.’”

And again she prayed that at that last moment the Lord would come to her, as “the dearest Friend,” as the “Confessor,” as the Father.

“O Lord, I pray, when dawneth the last day

These weary eyes shall see,

Come as a father to his darling child,

And take me home to Thee.”

In these prayers and longings we find no thought of purgatory. Yet as an article of her creed Matilda believed in it. Nor did any thought of superior holiness make her overlook it in her own case. But the true spiritual instinct of the new nature was stronger than the force of education and of the authority of the Church. How true is it that in spiritual matters the head is no match for the heart.

So in the case of saint-worship—Matilda had never renounced it, yet we see her heart turn instinctively to God, as the needle to the pole.

The waiting time was one of suffering, but cheered by the love and tenderness of the sisters, who delighted to wait upon her.

“Thus does a beggar woman speak in her 131 prayers to God—Lord, I thank Thee that since in Thy love Thou hast taken from me all earthly riches, Thou now feedest and clothest me by the means of others; for everything which I can now call my own, and all that gives joy to my heart, must now come to me from strangers.

“Lord, I thank Thee that since Thou hast taken away the power of sight from mine eyes, Thou hast appointed other eyes to serve me. Lord, I thank Thee that since Thou hast taken the strength from my hands, Thou servest me with other hands. Lord, I thank Thee that since Thou hast taken away the strength of my heart, Thou servest me now by the hearts of strangers. Lord, I pray Thee reward them here on earth with Thy divine love, and grant to them to serve Thee faithfully till they reach a blessed end.”

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