The General At His Daughter’s Death-Bed

December 22, 2014

In the United States of America there lived, sometime ago, a General in the army, who was known in all that country to be an Atheist.

His wife was a good Catholic, and tried to bring up their daughter, who was their only child, in the fear of God; and although her father endeavored to instill into her mind his own wicked principles, the grace of God enabled her to remain firm in her faith, and in the practice of her religious duties.

A_Young_GirlIt happened that she became very ill, and lay in danger of death. Her father, who loved her with intense affection, watched by her bedside continually; but even his love for her could not hide from him what everyone else saw, that she was gradually but surely approaching her end.

“O my dearest father,” she said to him one day as he sat beside her, holding her hands in his and tenderly caressing her” O my dearest father, you see I am now at the point of death, and I must soon leave you. You have often told me that there is no God and no Heaven hereafter; and my dear mother has taught me that there is a God, Who will reward us, and make us eternally happy in the next life in His own home above, if we adore and serve Him here on earth. Tell me now, my own dear father, whether I am to believe her or you?”
This she said, not because she doubted what to believe, but that she might gain her father from his unbelief, and make him a good Catholic.


When she had said these words, the General sat motionless, as if struck by a thunderbolt, and for some moments he did not answer. He did not wish to say to his dying child what he knew in his heart to be false, and at the same time he did not want to acknowledge the existence of God in the presence of his associates in unbelief, some of whom were in the room at the time. The contest within him was only for a few moments. He looked on his darling child, and his eyes met hers. In an instant he exclaimed: “O my child, do not heed my words; believe only what your mother has taught you.”

Those in the room who heard these words looked at him in amazement. “Surely, General,” they said to him,” you do not really mean what you have just now said.”

Subscription1He turned towards them, and, pointing to his dying child, answered, with a thrill in his voice which reached the depths of their hearts: “My friends, it is indeed more convenient to live according to what we had pretended to believe, but at the hour of death it is only the ancient faith in the existence of the one true God that will give us consolation.”

Thus did that dying child bring back her father to the truth from which he had wandered, and he lived and died an excellent Catholic.


The Catechism in Examples Vol.3, Pg. 64-65 by Rev. D. Chisholm

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 448


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