KITTY was not a pretty little girl, nor did she wear grand clothes, nor was she a Catholic, but her father and mother thought her nearly perfect and loved her dearly. Little Jesus did not think her perfect, but He loved her much more even than her father and mother, and so He chose her out to be one of His own little lambs, and took her little soul to heaven before it had ever been spoiled by any big sin.
I told you how dearly her father and mother loved her. Now, at this time, when Kitty was five years old, they were very troubled because she was not happy at school; every day there were tears because teacher had been cross with her. At last mother took her to a Catholic school and asked them to take her in there. When the Sister hesitated because Kitty was not a Catholic, her mother begged Sister to take her because she had always heard children were so happy at Catholic schools. At last the Sister consented, and the following week Kitty went to the convent just as if she had been a little Catholic girl.
Not long afterwards Kitty had her sixth birthday and felt quite a big girl. As soon as she arrived at school she went up to Sister and said:
"Please, Sister, I am six years old to-day, and Mary is only six and a half."
Mary was one of the little girls who had lately made her First Holy Communion.
"Well, Kitty," said the Sister, as she gave her a birthday kiss, "I hope you will have a very happy birthday. So now you have nearly caught up to Mary, is that what you want to do?"
"Yes, Sister. May I have Little Jesus in my heart today. Mary did."
"But Mary is a Catholic dear, and only little Catholic boys and girls may make their first Holy Communion.
"Then please make me a Catholic, Sister."
"I can't do that , dear. You must ask father and mother about it.
Sister sighed, and Kitty went to her place and did her lessons, but from that day the tears began again at home. She kept saying:
"Oh, mother dear, I do want to be a Catholic. Won't you let me be a Catholic?"
"Nonsense, Kitty," her mother would say. "Isn't you father's religion good enough for you?"
"No, mother: I can't have Little Jesus unless I'm a Catholic."
But her mother did not understand what the child was talking about.
Then Kitty would try her father. "Daddy dear, wouldn't you like to make me very happy?"
"Yes, dear, if I can. What do you want?"
"Oh, Daddy, do let me be a Catholic. I do want Little Jesus. Oh, Daddy dear, do."
But her daddy did not understand either.
This went on so often that at last her mother said she would try another school where they they didn't put such funny ideas into children's heads. This frightened Kitty so much that she promised she would never ask to be a Catholic again if they would only leave her where she was. So for a time there was peace once more at home. Several months went by, and again at school a happy group of children made their First Holy Communion. Poor little Kitty, she had been so sure Little Jesus would have come to her this year. Many a time now she cried herself to sleep.
Soon her mother thought she was looking pale and thin and took her to the doctor.
"The child is fretting,"said the doctor. "Do you know what it is about?"
"It's all beause of that school she is at," said her mother.
"Then you had better change her school," said the doctor. "She'll never get better if she goes on fretting."
That evening her mother and father talked it over. If they took her away from the school she would fret, and if they left her there as she was she would fret. Why not let her be a Catholic? It seemed as good a religion as their own and even better.
So the next day father and mother went to the school and arranged with Sister to have Kitty received into the Catholic Church. They promised to do all in their power to help her to practice her religion. Then they went home, and her father, taking Kitty on his knee, told her what they had done. Kitty could not thank her parents enough. She seemed quie a changed little girl altogether.
Now she would tell father and mother all the beautiful stories of Little Jesus that she heard at her school; and when it came to making her First Confession she told them all about it, and how dear Jesus was going to wash her soul so beautifully white. Wouldn't they like their souls washed too, she asked. But neither father nor mother knew how to answer her.
Kitty made her First Confession, and soon after began to prepare for her First Holy Communion. So hard did she try to be good, and so often did she give up little things for her dear Jesus, that her mother was quite puzzled.
"I can't understand the child at all," she said. "Kitty used to be so fond of sweets. Now she's always giving them away; and as for cakes and jam, she hardly touches them. Yet I've never known her so happy and contented."
At last came her First Communion day. What a day of bliss!
"I feel too happy to live," said Kitty to her mother that night. "How lovely it would be to die and always live with Little Jesus."
"Would you leave father and me all alone?" said her mother.
"I could see you all the time if I were up in heaven," said Kitty, "and I woud ask Little Jesus to let you come too."
When a little later Kitty received the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation she took the name of Mary Imelda, because, she said, "Little Jesus took Imelda to live with Him always after her First Holy Communion."
Then as the months slipped by Kitty would go to Holy Communion as often as her mother would let her. She grew brighter and happier every day, and was like a ray of sunshine in the house.
"How glad I am she is a Catholic," said her daddy. "It makes me feel better to look at her."
"Yes," said her mother, "and when she says her prayers night and morning she looks just like a little angel."
Little Jesus too liked to look at Kitty. He had been helping her to make her soul more and more beautiful, till now it was like a lovely lily just opening. "This lily must never become soiled or faded," said Little Jesus. "I will take it up to heaven and plant it in my garden where it will never fade."
So one day He sent Kitty an illness called diphtheria. She was so ill that the doctors took her to the hospital. Everybody was very kind to her there. One day a dear old priest went to see her. He told her that Little Jesus wanted her to live with Him in heaven.
"Oh, I am so glad," said Kitty, and when her father and mother came to see her she told them the good news, adding: "And I will ask Little Jesus to let you come too."
But her mother and father were very sad, for they knew how lonely they would be without their little girl.
The next day Kitty fell asleep, and when she awoke where do you think she was? Right up in heaven with Little Jesus, happy for evermore. She did not forget her father and mother.
The next year her father died took but before he died he sent for a priest and asked him to let him die a Catholic like his little Kitty. The priest instructed and baptized him, and soon after he went to heaven to meet his little girl. Then only the mother was left and she asked the priest to baptize her too.
"For," said she, "I must be with Kitty and daddy when my turn comes."