THE SECOND NUN'S
At this point, though the gambling
Some gamblers drifted in, in search of friends.
nun's companion came and soon intended
To tell a tale. "When the farmer
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
With just one person still, as I believe."
"That person will
give way, if I insist,"
The second nun replied. "You can just
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,
one more to tell a tale, then all
The telling's done, and we may move
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
We, too, might have some tales to relate."
"That may be,"
the bartender replied.
"But we don't have all night. We could go
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.
turn," he concluded, turning to
The buyer. "Now the telling ends with
"But wait!" again the nun said. "First let's see
we agree with what you say.
Let's vote instead of acting by
And settle this the democratic way!"
"Here! Here!" some
said, just newly come from play,
Not knowing much of what was going
But hearing words they all agreed upon.
"OK, OK," the
"How many wish to hear this woman's tale?"
of hands shot up, so that indeed
It seemed the loud protester would
"And how many not?" It seemed that side would fail,
what had been a group was now a crowd,
Becoming swiftly boisterous and
"Tell your tale and be damned!" he cried,
that she was a nun and blushed.
"I'm sorry, Sister," he
Seeing that the bar was suddenly hushed.
The second nun
just glared, her enemy crushed.
"I'll tell my tale now," she then
The bartender sat down again and groaned.
THE SECOND NUN'S
This tale is true. It happened to a
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
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
word or deed to feel a faith less pure,
But all her work was to the
And leave the soul to worship as it would.
their hearts only by being good.
For fifteen years she toiled thus,
That came and went like thunderstorms, while
Treated all alike, and shared her stores
With all who hungered,
To all sides. None more giving could there be!
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
That faith in Christ would all their sins relieve,
And so they
hungered for that sweet reprieve.
They begged her to be baptized, and
Their sins, that they the true faith might profess.
she refused awhile, knowing well
The penalty was death for all who
From Islam to another faith. Her cell,
Containing but her
cot and cross would fade
As in distress she to her Savior
"Dear Lord," she said, "please guide me in this choice!
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
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
Converts and converters both, while all
The missions in that
country soon would fall.
She thought of Saint Cecelia, her
And knew for her the choice would be quite clear.
little with a soul at stake,
And death for Christ was something she
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
proselytize, but only to
Do good to all, and warned not to be
By spies into conversions she would rue,
And would impugn
the good that she might do.
Cecelia prayed to Christ all through the
Near dawn He spoke and bathed her in His light.
day she told those who wished to be
Christians of what Christ had said
That if they prayed to Allah fervently
And were good
Muslims, He would not deter
Their entry into Heaven, but it would
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
That they would find salvation in His heart,
those who thought He was a wraith
And in the life of spirit took no
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,
long as they did not do others ill.
They would be Christians, but they
This compromise would be for their own good.
passed, the wars grew worse, until there came
An army of the purest of
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
Devoted to the triumph of Islam
When all the world would live
by the Koran.
Hating Christians, they set out to find
who might betray the nun,
Saying she and others of her kind
proselytized among them. But no one
Would bear false witness against
her, or would shun
Her hospital until one child, enticed
said his parents prayed to Christ.
Ah, then! Through torture and
the threat of death,
These parents did eventually give way,
all who would, under their breath,
To Christ their Lord as well as
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,
disparaged the Koran,
Told how Christ would come to wake the
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
Which she would often from her Bible prove.
Nor did their
lies end there, but they averred,
Hoping their tormentors thus to
That she made them repeat what they had heard
before the cross upon their knees
Before a nurse would tend to their
Or dress their wounds. Nor would she give them bread
they affirmed that Christ rose from the dead.
Thus the jihadists
got what they might need
To prove Cecelia tried to proselytize,
testimony false that soon would feed
A frenzy in the country round. The
Became the truth, as those who long had ties
quickly severed them from fear,
And no one to Cecelia would come
Then out of Hell they came, these infidels,
Cecelia, rape and torture her,
Face her with her followers in their
As they affirmed what never did occur,
And said they'd been
abused, as well they were.
She looked straight into her accusers'
Burning through their innocence and lies.
you!" she said to them, "as I
Forgive you and will pray for you. Your
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.
the Father and the Son I gladly die,
And here and now forgive you for
At this they wept, and some tried to recant,
were quickly slain upon the spot.
A few, possessed by fear, began to
Against the nun, repeating what was not,
And cursed her that
they might improve their lot.
But when their captors said that they
On her, they could not stomach it.
So they as well
were slain, and then the nun
Was dragged before a camera and once
Asked if she'd converted anyone,
Which she again denied. Forced
to the floor,
She said she now knew what her life was for,
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
tortured her, and those who even now
Prepared her for beheading, as
A hood over her head, and had her bow
Down to them, and
like a willing cow
Stretch her neck that they might easily
place where they might set her free.
"Forgive them," then she
prayed, just as the knife
Entered her thin neck with a great
But instead of taking her poor life,
As though it found a
rod of steel, it broke,
Its shattered pieces hot and veiled in
"Allah be merciful!" they cried in fear,
Leaping away, afraid
of coming near.
Cecelia bled profusely from her neck,
the ground in shock and pain.
She used her shirt to keep the blood in
Pressing hard upon the open vein
Until she could somehow
Eventually, the bleeding slowed. She lay
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
Slowly, and by delicate degrees.
Seeing which, her torturers
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
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
Next door three jihadists watched the screen
Rapt with wonder
at what they had seen.
"Forgive them, Lord," she pleaded once
"They know not what they do. Perhaps someday
All people will
know love, and in Your name
Be good to one another. This I
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
Looking on what happened as a sign
Of something that did all
their deeds indict,
Something more than which belief was right.
then they prayed as Muslims pray, but to
A God the nun Cecelia also