Vespers had just ended. The rain was pelting on the convent roof which had been an old farmhouse in earlier years. The city had encroached on the farmland, and a simple, but beautiful, community had blossomed around and near the farmhouse.
The rain was pouring down in buckets. Several of the sisters had left the community room to go to bed. The two younger sisters sat before the fire listening to the rain. They were a community of ten women. They ministered in the city as teachers, nurses, and a secretary in the local parish. They were not fully garbed, but they were easily identified as Sisters of the Loving Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Sister Isabel and Sister Martha sat in the front of the fire. They had become wonderful friends in the first year they had been with the community. They often prayed together. Sister Isabel was a teacher at the parish school and Sister Martha was a nurse at the small hospital near town.
“Ruth must be driving home by now. She left early this morning,” said Sister Isabel. “The roads must be hard to navigate.”
Sister Martha nodded. “Perhaps we should say the Rosary for her safe return.”
“Yes, let’s. We’ll pray for her safety. That baby has been stubborn about coming into this world, but Ruth said the baby girl was alive and well when she called. Praise God!”
“Yes, let’s pray,” Sister Isabel replied.
They began their prayers and the meditative rhythm of the Rosary grasped their hearts and souls. They were praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, and had just finished when they saw the lights of the community’s car turn into their driveway. Sister Ruth got out of the car and opened the garage door. Of course, when she walked into the living room where the young nuns were praying she was dripping wet. “I’m soaked!” Ruth announced. “The roads were awful, but the baby was born! Praise, Jesus! Macy held her baby and decided on adoption. She’s so young. Sisters, pray that she’ll be strong. It’s not easy and she’s so young.”
Ruth joined Martha and Isabel for another decade of the Rosary. The Rosary beads flowed through their fingers like the living waters promised by Jesus. They prayed for the young mother and her baby. They praised God that in spite of the pressure she received, young Macy, chose not to abort the life within her. Many couples had already applied to adopt the baby. The need for family is a primal need, and children bring so many blessings.
“He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18: 2-4
It was so simple. A child was in their midst. A new soul was brought forth into the world from a brave young woman. Her heart would be pierced as she gave up her baby. She was too young, and her parents were too old to raise the child, but they all knew this baby would be brought up in a loving home.
“Ruth,” said Isabel, was the delivery easy? (Ruth was a midwife at the hospital.) “Yes, it was, physically for both the mother and baby, but there will be tears in the morning when the new parents arrive to meet their baby.”
Sister Martha’s began to weep silently. When she was 19 and in college, Martha had given up a child. She knew the pain of this separation, but she also knew that her son would have a better home than she could have given him. After graduation from college, Martha chose to enter the convent, and that was a decision she had never regretted. She realized her vocation was prayer, service, and sacrifice. She remembered her baby on his birthday and every day of his life. She left the community room, and fell on her knees in the chapel.
The lights flickered and she was plunged into darkness. The candle Martha had lit when she entered the room was burning, like her heart, it burned with love for the child she would never know. Martha pressed her hands against her abdomen. She sought comfort in prayer, and in prayer she was comforted.
Ruth and Isabel gave Martha the gift of silent love and support. They knelt down outside of the chapel and prayed. Martha had chosen to bring a child conceived during a violent act of rape into this world. She had forgiven her rapist everyday of her life since that day. She prayed for him. She prayed that someday he would be in heaven, but the pain was still acute. She was often afraid as she walked alone, but God was still with her, even as he had been on that terrible night.
Martha was in college when she was raped. She could have aborted her son, but he was her child, and she could not bring herself to do what everyone had strongly recommended, including her parents. She would never forget the violation of her body, but out of it came a new life. She carried that life to term and delivered a healthy son. He would never know her, but she would carry the image of his face in her heart forever. After his birth, Martha had to leave him at the hospital with his new parents. Her heart was filled with pain and sorrow, but she knew it was the best things she could do. Her dreams of life beyond college had been shattered like her heart. She didn’t know where her path would take her. He was in a stable home with parents who loved him.
She wept with both joy and sorrow for her son. He was safe and happy. Someday, in heaven they would meet.
When Martha left the chapel, she went to her room. Her Rosary had been soaked with tears. She found an unopened envelope beside her bed. She hadn’t realized that mail had been delivered in the frightening storm. In the envelope, she found a note and a picture of her son! His parents had named him Thomas Anthony, but he was called Tommy. He was 8 years old now! He was so tall next to his mother, and he looked like his biological father. “Dear God,” she prayed as she gasped, “Please take care of Tommy and bless his parents.”
The note explained that Tommy had just made his First Communion. Even at his young age, he talked about becoming a priest. He stood between his parents and smiled a gangly smile like the gangly boy that he was.
Martha wept again.
She didn’t know, but this would be the last time she heard from Tommy’s mom. Tommy’s mother had cancer, and she was dying. Martha would find out later, many years later, when Father Tom found his biological mother. Father Tom’s mother had died a year after she had written the note. Of course, Father Tom’s heart was broken at the loss of his mother, but his father raised him as a good Catholic. Tom’s father was at his ordination. It was then that he gave Father Tom a letter written by Sister Martha when he was born.
Now, he was with his biological mother.He would hear her last confession and give her the Eucharist before she died. He would hold her hand and pray for her and with her. A nun had given him life. For that he was most grateful. He had been given the gift of two beautiful mothers. Each one played a significant part in his life. He would offer Masses for both of his mothers. Without the first one, he would never be. Without the second one, he would not have known the beauty of a woman who loved more than any woman should. Her prayers had been answered. She had been given a child. God had made good come from evil. He prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and forgiveness. He understood why his mother had given him to his parents. He loved them both.
Father Tom held Sister Martha’s hand as she died. It really was a dark and stormy night, but the peace in the room was overwhelming. He felt both of his mothers next to him as he walked to the car. He knew that they had finally met and that they were happy. Once in the car, he wept.
The next morning, Father Tom offered his Mass for Martha and Mary. A tear rolled down his face, but he was comforted. God was good. God was good.