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 St. Dismas - March 25 
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New post St. Dismas - March 25
From a nineteenth century (1889) Catholic children's magazine. The feast of St. Dismas is March 25, the date of the Incarnation and also the date of the Crucifixion.

The Legend of Dismas, the Good Thief.
Translated from the Spanish.

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Arise and take the young Child and His mother and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word, for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

The fugitives (i.e. the Holy Family) had now drawn near to Samaria, that country so hostile to the Jews, and found themselves in a gloomy, unfruitful glen.

It was evening. Darkness had already commenced to enshroud the earth; night was hurrying on with rapid steps—a dreary, rainy night, in which naught was heard save the roar of the wind in the high tops of the trees, the croak of the raven gloating over his prey, and the howling of the wolves in the mountain. Night was thickening apace—and the pious travellers, who had lost their way in this secluded glen, were anxiously asking each other where they could find a shelter from the storm, when Joseph, who was walking ahead leading the humble steed of his companion by the bridle, was suddenly brought to a standstill by a harsh and imperious voice which uttered these words:
“Stand, or you die!”

Before they had time to take thought as to how to meet peril, Mary and Joseph saw themselves surrounded by a crowd of armed men who seemed to issue as if by enchantment from each fissure of the rocks or from behind every clump of trees.

Already were the daggers drawn on poor Nazarenes, when Joseph, putting aside the most forward of the intruders with his hand, said to the robbers:
“What has this young mother done to you, that you should attempt her life and that of her Son?”

“You are right, old man — what indeed?” replied a benevolent voice; “and no one here shall touch you, even with the end of their finger. These men have given me their promise on oath, and I am satisfied not one will fail to keep it, even if the satellites of fierce Idumean threatened him with a cross on Golgotha.”

Dismas—for it was he who had just uttered these words—opened for himself a passage through the crowd of Samaritan robbers and approaching Joseph he continued in these terms: “Fear nothing, good old man; the crown of white hair which encircles your brow is a pledge of security for you. And as to this poor mother who is pressing her infant so closely to her heart in fear lest we should harm it, tell her also to be easy on that head. She is in no danger among us. Were any one to offer to touch a hair of her head, my dagger would soon bring the offender to justice. But the night is cold, and this young woman must be very wet. Here, take this cloak and throw it over her shoulders.”

Dismas handed to the holy traveller the cloak of goat’s hair which he had been wearing.

“Thanks! thanks, feeling and generous man,” answered Joseph shedding tears of joy and gratitude. “May Jehovah reward you at the hour of death as you deserve.”

“Now, good old man, do you and your wife follow us. My dwelling is close at hand, and in it you will find shelter until this horrible tempest has ceased to thunder over our heads.”

The poor exiles accepted the invitation of the robber.

After walking half an hour they reached the kitchen of the castle, in which Dismas caused a great fire to be kindled that they might dry their garments. The hospitable robber paid every attention to the Holy family in the most courteous manner. After a plentiful repast, which he served up to them with his own hands, he conducted Mary and Joseph, with the Infant Jesus, into a vast apartment, in which they had excellent beds prepared, in order that they might rest from their fatigue. But before leaving them for the night, he drew near respectfully to Mary and requested permission to kiss her Infant. “Certainly,” replied Mary; “are you not His protector?”

Dismas placed a warm, heartfelt kiss on the forehead of the Messiah, then went to rejoin his companions. He said to them: “I know not what passed in my heart at the moment my lips touched that Child, but I seemed to breathe more freely, and my blood is as though it were purified in my veins.”

A few moments after this every one in the fortress of Mount Hebal was asleep, and no sound was heard save that made by the wings of the night-birds as they flapped against the walls.

The following morning, when Dismas entered the apartment of his guests; they received him with a grateful smile. The bandit chief caused a meal to be got ready for the Holy Family, and during the whole time it lasted, he remained with his eyes fixed most constantly on the Infant Jesus, to whom he felt himself drawn by some inexplicable attraction.

When the moment of departure arrived, St. Joseph thanked Dismas for his kind hospitality; then he added: “Since your heart still feels compassion for the unfortunate, O why should not the Lord, who permits no good deed to go unrewarded, inspire you with the generous thought of abandoning this life of crime and danger, which will assuredly lead you to eternal perdition?”

“Good old man,” replied the brigand chieftain, “knowest thou not that the road of crime is rapid and slippery, and that when once a man is engaged in it he has no longer power to stay himself upon the slippery slope? Alas, I was good once — yes, even I — but wicked men perverted me, and now it is too late.”

The ass was now ready; Dismas had given it in charge to one of his men; and while St. Joseph was assisting Mary to seat herself upon it, the Samaritan chieftain took Jesus in his arms.

The Divine Infant put His little arms around the neck of Dismas, as if He wished to say a sweet farewell to him who had received Him so generously, and the captain of the brigands heard a voice melodious as the sound of an Aeolian harp utter softly these words: “Thy death will he glorious; thou shalt die with Me!”
Le Couteulx Leander.

NOTE—This Dismas, according to the legend, was as the “good” thief who was crucified by the side of our Saviour.

Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:19 am
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