Johanna Karafiat of Austria
Mrs. Karafiat received Holy Communion very often, and she taught her children more by her example than by her words. Joan longed to be close to Jesus and often cried out, "Mamma, I wish I could fly, I would like to be a little angel, in order to get nearer to the dear Lord Jesus!"
When Joan was three years old, she simply would not let anything stop her from going to Mass every morning, even when it was very cold. She was proud of her brother who was a Mass server, and always wanted to accompany him to church. When at Mass, Joan insisted that everybody who was beside her must kneel at all times when they prayed and she would tug at their clothes to make them do so.
More than once it happened that when she was three years old, little Joan would kneel between those who were receiving Communion, and open her mouth, hoping that the priest would give her Communion. But of course she should not really have done that and she did not receive the Host. Joan was most disappointed when the priest passed her by, but it shows how great was her longing to be united to Jesus.
The little girl always wanted to be dressed in white clothes, "the white of Angels", as she called it, and was most unhappy when she found that her dress was soiled with a black spot! In fact she loved many white things, such as snow, white flowers, and anything that had the color of innocence and purity.
One time she was all ready for church, neatly dressed and wearing her little white fur coat. The maid was scrubbing the floor and Joan suddenly tripped over the scrub bucket and fell right into the bucket of dirty water! But that did not stop little Joan from going to Mass! She quickly changed and was able to get to Mass on time.
The family often joked with Joan calling her, "the little scholar", because she was a very talented child and always eager to learn. She often followed her brother a part of the way to school, hoping that the teachers would allow her to join a class, but alas she was too young and had to wait until she had reached the proper age.
At the same time however, even though Joan was still young, with her mother's help she learned how to read and write and do arithmetic. She was also a very talented artist and her lovely drawings filled many with surprise and wonder. She could also recite poems by heart, like an adult, without making any mistakes! She had a great talent for music and took much pleasure in it.
And to top it all off, she knew by heart, all the prayers and songs she heard in church, and her sweet little voice could always be heard among the other voices.
From the beginning of World War I (1914-1918), Joan's father was a soldier in the army. During this time, her mother cried many tears, but Joan would wipe away her mother's tears with her little handkerchief and console her mother saying, "See Mamma, do not cry; I will give you much, much joy!" One day the family learned that Papa was to come home from the war for a short while. They prepared a nice welcoming for him, but then learned that he had been made a prisoner of war. While the whole house was crying and saddened by this turn of events, little Joan piped up, praying in a loud voice, "Dear Guardian Angel, please, please open the door of Papa's prison so that he may come home!"
From that time on, one of Joan's main concerns was to make sacrifices for her dear Papa. On day she gave a soldier the bread she had been given for her breakfast, in order that her Papa might get bread from somebody too. On another occasion, instead of putting a lump of sugar in her coffee, she placed it on the house altar with the words, "See dear little Jesus, here I give Thee my lump of sugar, so that all may go well with Papa."
Often little Joan could be found in a corner of the garden praying her Rosary out loud. After each decade of the Rosary, she added this prayer, "My Jesus, have mercy on my Papa and on all soldiers, and have mercy on the souls in Purgatory."
Joan had a great love for Jesus and always wanted to be the "little bride of Jesus." She longed to receive Jesus and when she was four years old she passed the Communion examination without a single mistake. And when she made her first Confession, she cried tears of sorrow for her little faults.
Joan received Holy Communion on the day of her missionary uncle's first Mass, and from that time on she belonged totally to Jesus; she made a resolution: "No sin; not ever; not even the smallest!" For the love of Jesus, Joan was not vain; she no longer wished to hear it at all when people said she was a lovely child. She no longer wanted her own will and she became totally, a meek and humble and earnest little girl.
Because of the war, Joan and thousands of other children had to go without foods that would help them remain healthy. One day she became very sick with terrible pains in her head and neck. She had "meningitis", a disease which paralyzes, causing her to become unable to move.
On July 6, 1918, Joan was taken to the hospital in Vienna and a spinal puncture was made. When the needle was put in her spine, little Joan bore the pain patiently and without complaint for she did not want to offend God by committing a sin!
When a Sister tried to tie Joan's hair with a silk ribbon, the little girl replied, "Please dear Sister, don't do that, because it is vain!" So they had to tie her hair with an ordinary piece of wool.
On July 11th, Joan was taken back home in a dying condition. Her body was gradually becoming paralyzed and she was no longer able to speak! She suffered extremely much.
Joan was able to receive Holy Communion two more times, but it caused her much pain to swallow even a tiny piece of the Host. And finally after eight days of terrible suffering, Jesus came on July 18, 1918, to take little Joan to Heaven. Joan was only five years old and during her short life she had received Holy Communion seventy-three times. Please God that we could also be like little Joan, loving Jesus with all our hearts.
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