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The Old Woman, the Butcher & the Captain

Elaine Marie Jordan

The following true story was related to Sr. M. Veronica Murphy by an elderly nun who heard it from the lips of the late Reverend Father Stanislaus SS.CC.
In a little town in Luxembourg, a Captain of the Forest Guards was in deep conversation with the butcher when an elderly woman entered the shop. The butcher broke off the conversation to ask the old woman what she wanted. She had come to beg for a little meat but had no money. The Captain was amused at the conversation which ensued between the poor woman and the butcher:

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Requesting a bit of meat at the butcher shop
“Only a little meat, but how much are you going to give me?” the butcher asked her.

“I am sorry,” the woman responded, “I have no money but I will hear Mass for you.”

Both the butcher and the Captain were very indifferent about religion, so they at once began to scoff at the old woman's answer.

“All right then,” said the butcher, “you go and hear Mass for me and when you come back I'll give you as much meat as the Mass is worth.”

The woman left the shop and returned an hour later. She approached the counter and the butcher, seeing her, said, “All right, then, now we will see.”

He took a slip of paper and wrote on it "I heard a Mass for you." He then placed the paper on the scales and a tiny bone on the other side but nothing happened. Next he placed a piece of meat instead of the bone, but still the paper proved heavier.

The Captain, who had decided to stay on at the shop to see how the small drama would end, looked at the butcher. Both men were beginning to feel ashamed of their mockery.

The butcher placed a large piece of meat on the balance, but still the paper held its own. The butcher, exasperated, examined the scales, but found they were all right. Placing an extremely large piece of meat on the scale, it still favored the weight of the paper.

Removing both items, he again checked the mechanism of the scale and then weighted several other items, and the scale proved to be exactly accurate.

Exasperated, the butcher said kindly to the woman, “What do you want my good woman, must I give you a whole leg of mutton?”

At this he placed the leg of mutton on the balance, but the paper outweighed the meat. An even larger piece of meat was put on, but again the weight remained on the side of the paper.

This impressed the butcher so much that he converted, and promised to give the woman her daily ration of meat. He kept his promise and the business flourished more than it ever had before.

As for the Captain, he left the shop a changed man, and became an ardent lover of daily Mass. Because of that incident, he became a daily attendant at Mass and his children were trained to follow his example. Peace and happiness in the home increased as the love of God grew in the family. Two of his sons became priests, one a Jesuit and the other a Father of the Sacred Heart.

Later when his sons became priests, the Captain advised them to say Mass well every day and never miss the Sacrifice of the Mass through any fault of their own.

Father Stanislaus finished by saying “I am the Religious of the Sacred Heart, and the Captain was my father.”


Blason de Charlemagne
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Selected from
Catholic Society of Evangelists Newsletter, August 1999
Posted July 31, 2010

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