memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for July 3, 2011

An all-seeing God

The idea behind the following little tale I shamelessly borrow from one of my heroes – Roald Dahl.

Once upon a time there lived in Austro-Hungary towards the end of the 19th century a family of five – father, mother and three children. They lived in a country village near the German frontier, where the father worked as a customs official. The family was staying at an inn, the Gasthof Zum Pommer, with its pretty orchard of apple trees at the back. While the father went to work every day at the frontier post, the three children attended the local village school and the mother, who was very pious, busied herself around the village with good works and worshipped daily at Mass in the church.

One day the mother found herself to be expecting another child.

In those days society and the Catholic Church in general, and her authoritarian husband in particular, all conspired against her to produce babies – a task to which she was neither physically nor temperamentally suited. She was a thin nervous woman and her previous two pregnancies had ended in miscarriages. She decided to visit her friend the priest at the church and confide her fears and doubts to him. She explained about her abusive husband and trembled lest the birth should be problematic.

–          Put your trust in God, my daughter and let us kneel down and pray for the safety of your unborn child.

So she and the priest knelt in the church and prayed fervently and she derived spiritual comfort there from. Before she left the priest blessed her and urged her to say a novena of her rosary each day.

The day of the confinement arrived. It was a dark threatening evening; distant thunder muttered in the mountains and lightening flickered silently over the plain. In the village, people hurried in out of the streets to their cozy fire-lit homes and drew their curtains against the dark stormy night.

At the inn the poor woman’s labour began, while her husband was below in the tap-room quaffing beer with his cronies. The birth was a long drawn-out agony and when the baby was eventually born he was sickly and not expected to survive the night. The mother lay back in her bed sweating and exhausted – effete. She clutched the priest’s hand and asked about her baby.

–          The poor wee mite is a bit poorly my daughter but with the Lord’s help he will live; don’t forget that He is all-knowing and all-seeing. Do not worry, place your trust in the wisdom of Our Lord and everything will come out alright in the end, Frau Hitler.

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