At this point, though the gambling
hadn't ended, Some gamblers drifted in, in search of friends. The
nun's companion came and soon intended To tell a tale. "When the farmer
ends, I have one that God's own message sends," She whispered to the
nun, "Cecilia's tale, That should touch many a soul, should I
"But you must wait," the nun said. "There's a
list With just one person still, as I believe." "That person will
give way, if I insist," The second nun replied. "You can just
leave It all to me. I know you can't conceive Of being rude in God's
own interest, though The tale may save some souls, as well you
The farmer finished; the bartender then said, "We have
one more to tell a tale, then all The telling's done, and we may move
ahead To judge or not the best, as is my call." "But wait!" the
second nun said. "A favor small I have to ask, for those who've come in
late. We, too, might have some tales to relate."
"That may be,"
the bartender replied. "But we don't have all night. We could go
on Forever as more gamblers come inside. So let's just do what we've
agreed upon -- One more tale, and then the telling's done. It's your
turn," he concluded, turning to The buyer. "Now the telling ends with
"But wait!" again the nun said. "First let's see Whether
we agree with what you say. Let's vote instead of acting by
decree, And settle this the democratic way!" "Here! Here!" some
said, just newly come from play, Not knowing much of what was going
on, But hearing words they all agreed upon.
"OK, OK," the
bartender agreed. "How many wish to hear this woman's tale?" A lot
of hands shot up, so that indeed It seemed the loud protester would
prevail. "And how many not?" It seemed that side would fail, Since
what had been a group was now a crowd, Becoming swiftly boisterous and
"Tell your tale and be damned!" he cried, Then realized
that she was a nun and blushed. "I'm sorry, Sister," he
apologized, Seeing that the bar was suddenly hushed. The second nun
just glared, her enemy crushed. "I'll tell my tale now," she then
intoned. The bartender sat down again and groaned.
THE SECOND NUN'S
This tale is true. It happened to a
friend, A nun, Cecilia, named for that dear saint Who died for
Christ a martyr, and whose end Was so bloodstained, it used to make me
faint, Though she endured it all without complaint. My friend was
named for her, born on her day, And so she died in that same saintly
In a Muslim country she was serving Christ, A nurse among
the poorest of the poor, Nor was one Muslim in her care enticed By
word or deed to feel a faith less pure, But all her work was to the
body cure And leave the soul to worship as it would. She touched
their hearts only by being good.
For fifteen years she toiled thus,
through wars That came and went like thunderstorms, while
she Treated all alike, and shared her stores With all who hungered,
giving equally To all sides. None more giving could there be! She
was loved by all whom she had served Those many years � a love she well
In time, however, though not by her desire, A few whom
she had helped came to believe, Drawn like moths to her internal
fire, That faith in Christ would all their sins relieve, And so they
hungered for that sweet reprieve. They begged her to be baptized, and
confess Their sins, that they the true faith might profess.
she refused awhile, knowing well The penalty was death for all who
strayed From Islam to another faith. Her cell, Containing but her
cot and cross would fade As in distress she to her Savior
prayed. "Dear Lord," she said, "please guide me in this choice! My
way is crooked. Let me hear Your voice!"
It tore her heart to think
that souls that would Be saved must be by Christians turned
away. All she meant in life was to do good, Yet here the good and
bad on both sides lay. For if this were found out, crazed men would
slay Converts and converters both, while all The missions in that
country soon would fall.
She thought of Saint Cecelia, her
namesake, And knew for her the choice would be quite clear. Life was
little with a soul at stake, And death for Christ was something she
held dear, Rejoicing as her martyrdom came near. But now the Church
was waffling on the claim That none could be redeemed but in Christ's
Cecelia had been sent with orders strict Not to
proselytize, but only to Do good to all, and warned not to be
tricked By spies into conversions she would rue, And would impugn
the good that she might do. Cecelia prayed to Christ all through the
night. Near dawn He spoke and bathed her in His light.
day she told those who wished to be Christians of what Christ had said
to her: That if they prayed to Allah fervently And were good
Muslims, He would not deter Their entry into Heaven, but it would
stir His heart with love for them, just as it would For all who
loved God and in life did good.
For God loved all who loved Him and
had faith That they would find salvation in His heart, And even
those who thought He was a wraith And in the life of spirit took no
part, All were loved and could be saved. The art Of love of God had
many signs, she said, And Christ would know them when He waked the
These Muslims then were satisfied that they Were saved by
Christ though they were Muslims still, And to both Christ and Allah
they would pray, Knowing that through both they did God's will, So
long as they did not do others ill. They would be Christians, but they
understood This compromise would be for their own good.
passed, the wars grew worse, until there came An army of the purest of
the pure, Who said they did jihad in Allah's name And of the Truth
were absolutely sure. They had for all life's ills the only
cure, Devoted to the triumph of Islam When all the world would live
by the Koran.
Hating Christians, they set out to find A villager
who might betray the nun, Saying she and others of her kind Had
proselytized among them. But no one Would bear false witness against
her, or would shun Her hospital until one child, enticed By candy,
said his parents prayed to Christ.
Ah, then! Through torture and
the threat of death, These parents did eventually give way, Naming
all who would, under their breath, To Christ their Lord as well as
Allah pray, And so did all that little band betray, Who soon were
rounded up and tortured, too, Till all did just as they were told to
Cecelia often spoke of Christ, they said, And openly
disparaged the Koran, Told how Christ would come to wake the
dead And save those who believed in him, but ban All Muslims from
his heaven. Not one man Or woman could be saved but through Christ's
love, Which she would often from her Bible prove.
Nor did their
lies end there, but they averred, Hoping their tormentors thus to
please, That she made them repeat what they had heard And pray
before the cross upon their knees Before a nurse would tend to their
disease Or dress their wounds. Nor would she give them bread Till
they affirmed that Christ rose from the dead.
Thus the jihadists
got what they might need To prove Cecelia tried to proselytize, With
testimony false that soon would feed A frenzy in the country round. The
lies Became the truth, as those who long had ties To Christians
quickly severed them from fear, And no one to Cecelia would come
Then out of Hell they came, these infidels, To seize
Cecelia, rape and torture her, Face her with her followers in their
cells As they affirmed what never did occur, And said they'd been
abused, as well they were. She looked straight into her accusers'
eyes, Burning through their innocence and lies.
you!" she said to them, "as I Forgive you and will pray for you. Your
sin Will be washed clean by love, and by and by We'll meet in
Heaven, spiritual kin Joined by faith in God and love within. For
the Father and the Son I gladly die, And here and now forgive you for
At this they wept, and some tried to recant, But they
were quickly slain upon the spot. A few, possessed by fear, began to
rant Against the nun, repeating what was not, And cursed her that
they might improve their lot. But when their captors said that they
must spit On her, they could not stomach it.
So they as well
were slain, and then the nun Was dragged before a camera and once
more Asked if she'd converted anyone, Which she again denied. Forced
to the floor, She said she now knew what her life was for, And
thanked God for the chance, a piece of dust, To die for Him, as now she
knew she must.
She asked God to forgive those who had raped And
tortured her, and those who even now Prepared her for beheading, as
they draped A hood over her head, and had her bow Down to them, and
like a willing cow Stretch her neck that they might easily Find the
place where they might set her free.
�Forgive them,� then she
prayed, just as the knife Entered her thin neck with a great
stroke. But instead of taking her poor life, As though it found a
rod of steel, it broke, Its shattered pieces hot and veiled in
smoke. "Allah be merciful!" they cried in fear, Leaping away, afraid
of coming near.
Cecelia bled profusely from her neck, Lying on
the ground in shock and pain. She used her shirt to keep the blood in
check, Pressing hard upon the open vein Until she could somehow
advantage gain. Eventually, the bleeding slowed. She lay There
unattended, and began to pray.
"Dear Lord," she said. "I do not
know what You Intended by this miracle, but please Give me strength
that somehow I might do Your will." And then she got up on her
knees Slowly, and by delicate degrees. Seeing which, her torturers
soon fled, Not knowing if she was alive or dead.
The camera was
still rolling as she knelt In front of it, as if to it she
prayed, And when she raised her head, the bloody welt On both sides
of her neck was well displayed, Deep chasm into which a mouse might
wade. Next door three jihadists watched the screen Rapt with wonder
at what they had seen.
"Forgive them, Lord," she pleaded once
again. "They know not what they do. Perhaps someday All people will
know love, and in Your name Be good to one another. This I
pray." And then she died, and out of camera lay. The three jihadists
watching were amazed At the miracle on which they gazed.
came into the room as to a shrine, As did the shepherds on a Christmas
night, Looking on what happened as a sign Of something that did all
their deeds indict, Something more than which belief was right. And
then they prayed as Muslims pray, but to A God the nun Cecelia also