|Title:||Coogan, Michael (Brother Declan) to Coogan, William, 1875|
|Sender||Coogan, Michael (Brother Declan)|
|Origin||Mt. Melleray, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford|
|Destination||Harlem, NYC, USA|
|Genre||his mother's illness, family news, religious commentary on salvation|
March 13, 1875
My Dear Brother,
It was on Ash Wednesday I was favored with the receipt of your letter, and as Lent had already commenced I came to the conclusion not to write till it would be over, but the manifest wish of my dear Mother to hear from me urged me to ask permission to write, which was freely granted. The news of her declining health is painful for me to hear. But then I'm consoled when I find she does not neglect the care of her poor soul. I'm sure she will continue so till the end, which cannot indeed be far distant. Death is a flight away from earth, not a lying down a few feet beneath its sods. It is a vigorous outburst of a new life, not a resting on a clay pillow from the weary toil of this. And our life in the world beyond the grave as you know full well will be either eternally happy or eternally miserable according as we have lived and died well or ill. I hope your pious housekeeper Miss O' Connor will take great care of my poor Mother and bring her the priest when necessary that she may be in no danger of dying without all the necessary preparations.
As regards Mathew's change of life I haven't a word to say but to pray that he and his companion may lead a good holy life. I'm very sorry for Hugh's disappointment. I hope to hear from him when he enters some situation. Remember me to poor Denis whom I love so much. We have one young man here, a novice very like him, the kindest-mannered creature I ever met almost. I got an attack of cold about Christmas and it's only now it's beginning to go away. I'm sure it's not necessary for me to say anything to you about your spiritual duties. You're not so foolish as to endanger your salvation. Work out your salvation. Manfully pray as much as you can; love God with all your heart and soul. The creature cannot serve the Creator except with a service of love. Love is the soul of worship, the foundation of reverence, the life of good works, the increase of holiness, and the security of final perseverance. If you comprehended (which you cannot expect to do) for one second of time the love which God bears to us, you would spend the entire period of the longest life with your eyes streaming with tears and your heart breaking for ever over committing even a shadow of the smallest venial offence against so good a God.
Then think of the wailings of a lost soul through the long night of eternity in the dismal war-cry [?] of the lower abyss and I'd venture to say that all the demons in that dreadful place would never be able to induce you to depart from God's friendship by a mortal sin and that all the crosses and trials of life would appear to you as nothing to be endured for to gain the joys of heaven. You are all bound to aim at perfection, and endeavour every day to become more perfect and consequently to live more holy. Often think of the loveliness of God. One momentary flash of His beauty would separate body and soul by the vehemence of the ecstasy it would cause. We shall need to be fortified with the mysterious strength of the light of Glory before in the robust freshness of our immortality we can live and look upon that beauty tranquil and unscathed. Oh blessed be the goodness of God for giving us the grace to remember Him, for out of that grace will all others come, and thrice blessed be His infinite compassion for the further grace of loving Him and of yearning to make others love Him more. I hope you won't be discouraged in your religious career.
Do all you can to save your soul. Offer all your trials and sufferings to God in union with those of His Son Jesus in satisfaction for your sins and those of the world. Love God and pray to Him and to our dear Mother Mary for all the graces necessary for your sanctification and eternal salvation. Never do anything that you know would offend God, and the day will soon come when we will meet again in splendour and loveliness amid the populous throngs of the great heaven to enjoy its felicity for ever more. Now I'll conclude with those beautiful words which I hope you'll remember: "A constantly increasing sensible love of our dearest Lord is the safest mark of our growth in holiness and the most tranquilizing prophecy of our final perseverance." Remember me to all who may wish to hear from me.
The grace and blessing of the Lord be with you all.
I remain &c. your loving Br. M. Coogan &c.
I do be a little nervous sometimes when I'm writing and consequently something of a repulsive appearance will appear about my letter. So excuse.