Monday, March 05, 2007

Does God still care? Nun sees a divine hand in her ‘small miracle’

From Catholic .org

Great story.

Does God still care? Nun sees a divine hand in her ‘small miracle’

By Tom Sheridan

Catholic Online (

OCALA, Fla. (Catholic Online) – Does God still care? And perhaps more important, do we notice when he does? Consider the experience of Dorothy, a retired Cenacle sister.

NUN PRAYS IN CHAPEL – Poor Clare Sister Mary Therese of the Sacred Heart Lavery prays in the chapel at St. Clare Monastery in St. Louis in 2006. A 98-year-old nun’s prayer, recounted in the book Small Miracles, the Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Touched by God, revealed to her God’s presence in the most ordinary of situations. (CNS/St. Louis Review)

The 98-year-old shared her story with me, as one account of among almost 100 who recognized when God touched their lives and were recounted in the 1996 book Small Miracles, the Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Touched by God.

“It happened years ago at a Chicago retreat house. I was just a young sister, busy as a bee, trying to keep up with the hundreds of people who for prayer, meetings and the like,” she said.

“My assignment was to make dessert for the several groups which would meet at the same time in different rooms. I was not a gifted cook, but I was blessed with good feet and could stand for most of the day. Making dessert meant standing for hours mixing, stirring and pouring.

“Layer cake was the easiest way to serve the greatest number of people. But it was nearly impossible to mix enough for so many groups – unless I did it all at the same time. Other duties – and prayers, of course – had to fit in, too. So I often worked late at night when it was quieter.

“With a wooden spoon – and with my arms up to the elbow – I mixed the gooey batter. There was no time for mistakes; no time to do it over. Layers had to be poured into pans, baked, then iced, one after another.

“Late one night, when I was especially pinched for time, I noticed that a big chunk of the wooden spoon I was using had broken off and was lost somewhere in the batter. I was aghast at the potential implications. I tried to fish around with my hands in the big, batter-filled dishpan, but it was useless. I had no more time to waste; there were too many more cakes to bake. So I went on.

“But later that night, lying in bed, I continued to worry about the lost piece of wooden spoon. Where was it? Someone could choke on it. Lord have mercy! The next day I fearfully watched as meal after meal, including cake, was served to all those people. Where was the piece of wood?”

But in the end, all Dorothy could do was pray – and apprehensively, at that.

So, what happened to that piece of wooden spoon lost in the cake batter?

Sunday evening, after all the retreatants had gone home, the staff sat down to dinner. Afterward, they served themselves the last few pieces of leftover cake. That piece of wooden spoon that had troubled the young sister so much throughout the weekend, finally turned up.

It was in the last piece of cake, served by the woman who had made the batter – served to herself.

She told me she never forgot that moment: “I’m 98 years old now, and that was a long, long time ago. But I still remember. I said, “Thank you, God.’ And then I got goose bumps.

That was what 70 or 80 years previously? And she still remembered the goose bumps.

It’s not as important what happens as it is that we recognize the hand of God in it. Paying attention to small miracles – and recognizing them as signs of the grace of God – will always promise goose bumps.

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Tom Sheridan, a long-time journalist and former editor of The Catholic New World, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is the author of Small Miracles, the Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Touched by God (Zondervan, 1996).

Sheridan is currently researching a sequel to Small Miracles, believing that most people have a small miracle to share, everyday stories that let us recognize the presence of God.

He invites people to share their small miracles, be they a healing, an insight, an opportunity or an event that let you know God came close when you least expected it. Send your story to: Mr. Tom Sheridan, 15771 SW 16th Terrace, Ocala, FL 34473; by e-mail to

If your small miracle is included in the book, Sheridan will send you a copy. Even if it’s not used, you’ll know that just by sharing it, you’ll be helping to proclaim the presence of Lord.

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