Story of “The Prostitute” by Catherine Doherty
Catherine Doherty was the founder of Madonna House, "a family of Christian lay men, women, and priests, striving to incarnate the teachings of Jesus Christ by forming a community of love." To find out more about Madonna House visit their website here!
The girl was a prostitute, she never denied it. In fact, she seemed to flaunt it. She would loudly demand to be served ahead of the long and patient line of people waiting for clothing because, she said, she was tired of “standing” too long after her night’s work!
Of course, she didn’t get that attention, for justice to others had to be guarded and priorities observed. So she would curse, in a steady, droning monotone for over an hour or more, until her turn finally came to examine the clothes we had and to select the things she needed...
At long last her turn would come and she would step through the door of our clothing center, a storefront which opened onto a busy slum street. The worker in charge was a young and beautiful girl. She had to listen to this stream of filth for over an hour every day of the week – except Sunday! She bore it patiently.
Funny how serene that worker’s face was, how gentle and understanding she always appeared. Every day she would suggest a cup of coffee to the girl to help take the coarseness out of her throat. Always the girl drank the coffee and then, very critically, looked over the secondhand clothing we had to give away until she found what she wanted.
Three hundred and sixty-five days in a year, minus Sundays and holidays. That gave our worker about 300 days to listen to abuse, make coffee and give out a dress to this girl. That’s a lot of hours, a lot of days, a lot of abuse, a lot of coffee and a lot of love!
Then one day the prostitute was sober, quiet, watchful and even a little timid. She knocked politely and entered when bade. Then, standing straight and tall, she looked into the staff worker’s beautiful face and asked point blank why she had been so patient. Why hadn’t she called the cops? Why had she so sweetly endured insults and injuries? Why had she given her the coffee, the dresses, the polite and gentle service? Why had she never complained?
All the worker said was, “Oh, that’s very simple. I love you.” The prostitute swayed as if struck in the face, and out of her very soul came the cry, “Me! Why?”
Even gentler than before came the reply: “Because you are Christ to me, because he died for love of both of us, because I am your sister in him, because I am here to love and serve you.”
The girl crumpled to the floor. She wept with deep, heavy sobs that slowly subsided, leaving her spent and quiet. Slowly she got up. She said: “I never heard such things, but I know you mean business because . . . because you were always the same. There was always the coffee, the dresses . . . yes, now I know. I want to love as you do. Teach me how.”
The girl was a prostitute. She never hid it. She flaunted it. But after that day she took instructions. She was eventually baptized and went to confession and received Communion. Today, in that big city, there are 17 of them that I know of, prostitutes who wept at the feet of Christ. They all arose, cleansed and whole, and it was this girl who had brought them to him.
Consider yourself the servant of everyone you meet.
Consider yourself lower than they are.