Lorraine had been taking her groceries out of the trolley, and lining them up so that they could be scanned. She was in the Iceland shop in Middlesex. She bent over and her miraculous medal caught the light and its shine caught the attention of a middle-aged man behind Lorraine in the queue.The man gave Lorraine a scorching look. He gave Lorraine’s miraculous medal a look that would have melted Everest.
A bit taken aback by the man’s obvious hate for the medal – or what the medal represented – Lorraine took a deep breath and asked him,
‘Am, is there something the matter?’
‘You’re wearing a miraculous medal’ the man said stonily in an Irish accent.
‘Oh, have you got one?’ asked Lorraine, a bit nervous of this Irish fellow at this stage.
‘Huh. I put it in the gas meter years ago because my sister was abused by Catholic priests in Ireland.’
‘That’s terrible’, Lorraine sympathised. ‘Those priests should not have been put in that position of caring for children. But the majority of priests do very good work. You can’t tar them all with the same brush.’
The man listened, and didn’t say anything, but was surprised that Lorraine had intelligent answers.
Lorrained continued, ‘regardless of what the priests have done, we need Jesus and the precious Eucharist to heal us at Holy Communion.’ Lorraine felt that she was implying that the man needed healing. The man softened and said,
‘Before in Ireland, a lot of men were pushed into the priesthood.’
Lorrained nodded, and the man said ‘I feel a lot better for having talked to you.’
Lorraine believes that the miraculous medal was the catalyst for this opportunity for the man’s conversion. Had Lorraine not been wearing the miraculous medal she would never have got into a conversation with this wounded man.
Similarly, I was on the Bakerloo line in November, sporting a miraculous medal, when I found myself worrying about a pregnant friend of mine. Almost as a reflex at this stage, I blessed myself and began praying. My prayers are very childish and take much longer than other people’s because my thoughts interrupt the words of my prayers. While praying, I saw a lady stare at me, get out of her seat like she had had a fright, walk all the way down the carriage and not stop until she was leaning into me. Sighing, she said,
‘What are you doing...Are you one of those religious people?’ she said accusingly, and with a corrugated frown. Oh dear, not another ‘lady’ who feels duty bound to persecute Catholics. I didn’t think she was up for a two-way discussion, most likely she just wanted to berate me. So...
‘I can’t see how that is any of your concern’ I said, and extricating myself and my gigantic handbag from my seat, I walked around her, got out at the next stop and sighed with relief. Perhaps I had acted like a spineless coward in not engaging in discourse. I do, however, think that wearing the miraculous medal is in itself a good example and can jog the conscious of those who behold the miraculous medal. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the rays of grace from the miraculous medal are in the eyes of the scoffers.