A Little Chinese Girl
Fr. Karl Maria Harrer Translated from the German, from Die Schonsten Eucharistischen
I don't know her name - a humble little 13 year-old girl, goodness in person, as the Sister told me. And that's all I knew about her, when the Communists came into our town. I knelt at the Communion rail in the church, and stayed there, praying and waiting to see what would happen. Each time there was a noise in the church or a gruff order given out in the street, I expected to be killed. Meanwhile, nothing happened. The next day I had a visitor. The police I thought, and a tremor of fear seized me.
No, this was a very polite officer who spoke perfect Chinese. The conversation went approximately like this: "Just keep on with your work as usual," he said. I offered him a cigar; he bowed and left smiling. Nothing unusual occurred in the few days following. The soldiers were reserved and looked at me with curiosity as I walked down the street. The only thing that bothered me was the visit of a certain inspector. Several months passed and I was beginning to get used to the Communist regime. But a storm arose quickly. One lovely summer day, this inspector came into the school, accompanied by four soldiers. They entered without knocking. "Times have changed now for China," he said, "and all this pious stuff has to be burned. Now, dear children, we are going to start."
While he said this, the inspector and the soldiers tore the crucifix, holy pictures, blackboards and statues from the walls. They laid them on the desks. They ordered the children to carry them to the toilet in a box. The children were frightened. They hesitated. "Faster!" yelled the inspector, "or I'll use my revolver." After, as before, there was resistance. In the last desk there was a little girl, her lips pressed together, her hands folded, motionless as a statue. "Hey, you back there!" yelled the inspector, and rushed toward her. He burst forth in blasphemies. "Take this," he threatened angrily.
The child lowered her eyes, but did not move. The other children were as if petrified. There was a deathly silence. The shot and the falling of broken glass brought forth screams and tears from the children. Attracted by the noise people came running and soon there was a big crowd of people in front of the school. The inspector kept on yelling, the child did not move. Only a big tear rolled down her cheek. The inspector's situation was being made more difficult. He pulled himself together, looked at the people and yelled: "Find her father and gather all the people together in the church..."
When the church was full, the little girl's father was brought in, his hands fastened behind his back. He was placed to the right of the Communion rail. His child was roughly forced to the Communion rail. Then, after the inspector cleared his throat, he began: "You have been taught that your God is powerful and that He lives in the tabernacle. Now I'm going to show you how you have been deceived. He can't do anything! We are going to trample Him with our boots now, and He won't even budge!" Then the soldiers came, and with their revolvers forced open the tabernacle door.
There was an anxious silence. The inspector grabbed the ciborium, opened it and strewed the Hosts all over the sanctuary floor. "Trample their God!" he commanded the soldiers. And they did it. "Now, what do you have to say?" he yelled. Everyone caught his or her breath. "Do you still believe in those fairytales your priest told you?" "Look here." He turned to the child's father. "Answer!" "Yes!" the father answered softly. "Take him away!" he yelled. At that moment a non-commissioned officer approached the inspector and spoke with him. He listened to him and submitted to higher authority. "Everyone leave the church! Only the child is to stay at the Communion rail!"
I was detained and locked in the coalbin of the church. There was a small opening facing the sanctuary where I could see the scattered Hosts and the little girl who was leaning against the wall. Shortly afterwards a lovely young woman entered and smiled. She was wearing beautiful clothes. "Poor child," she said, hugging her. "Poor little one, what have these men done to you? Come with me. Will you?" The child began to sob and fell into the woman's arms and they left. I don't know what happened then. In this dark prison I forgot the day and the hour. I prayed, I slept, I was hungry and thirsty and had a headache.
All around me was deathly still. But I heard sounds that I would not ordinarily have heard. Was it morning yet? I heard a door opening with a soft sound. I looked through my peephole. And what did I see? There was the little girl, who hesitantly approached the sanctuary, stopped, looked around, went a few steps farther, then knelt down, bowed respectfully, bent her head down to the floor and, with her tongue, took a holy desecrated Host. She raised herself, folded her hands, closed her eyes and prayed. After a while she stood up and disappeared. And every morning the same thing happened.
That was my comfort in my dark prison. Impatiently I awaited the first glimmer of morning, and the little girl who came to receive Holy Communion. Her lovely appearance, her smiling eyes, her shy and hesitant movements enchanted me more and more. How often did she come? I couldn't say. But one morning when she came to her Jesus again, knelt, folded her hands and was deep in prayer... the door of the church was opened with a crash. I heard wild shouts, then a shot. The child had fallen, her face paled. Supporting herself with one hand, she crept along painfully to a Host and received Holy Communion. The soldier approached and looked at the child. For the last time she tried to get up and fold her hands, but she fell backwards and struck her head on the floor with a dull sound.
Then she closed her eyes forever. The soldier, looking at the child and the Hosts, remained for a moment deep in thought and undecided. Then with heavy steps he went away and left the church. I was still in shock from the painful sight of what had happened to the child, martyr. Then the door of my prison was opened. The same soldier stood there and said: "Sir, you are free!" I went into the sanctuary as fast as I could. I scarcely knelt down beside the small dead body when the same soldier stood in front of me. "Sir," he said to me, "if in every town there was such a little girl, no soldier would ever again fight for the Communists!"
I still had time to bury the little martyr but, immediately after that, on the main road to the cemetery, a man approached me, invited me to get into his car and brought me to the border
The story above moved Archbishop Fulton Sheen to make a vow to pray a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament for the rest of his life.
How about you? Did it move you? How will you adore Him? When will you adore Him?
May we all adore Him with the most profound love!