Sadly, we have become accustomed to the news of scandals in the Catholic Church hierarchy, but we tend to forget the innocence of the rank and file, the monks and the nuns, as demonstrated in the following story which I have heard recently from an Iraqi follower of the church, just thrown out of his country.

A Lebanese monk was giving a lift to a nun after attending a religious conference. The nun was enchanting and young, so much so that the monk could not help putting his hand on her thigh. After a few seconds he heard her sighing and then murmuring: Colossians 3:23. So he took his hand away piously. But, still he could not resist the temptation. So he put his hand on her knee and rubbed it gently. The nun sighed even louder and repeated the same words: Colossians 3:23 and bowed her head. The monk took his hand away. But just two minutes later, he attempted to touch her breast. Once more, he heard: Please brother, Colossians 3:23. Chastened, he took his hand away. Shortly afterwards they arrived at the convent where the nun alighted and bade him good night.

As soon as he reached his own monastery, he rushed to his cell and picked up the Holy Bible to discover the meaning of the particular verse to which the nun had repeatedly referred to. He opened the chapter of Colossians and read verse 3:23. It said: “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as if working for the Lord and not for man.”

On the other side of the Mediterranean, an Egyptian fellow from the Muslim Brotherhood, was getting fed up with the quality of the food he was getting from his new young wife. So, one day, discreetly he hung a work of calligraphy quoting the words of the Prophet Mohammed. The quote said:

“If any of you shalt perform a task, he shalt perform the same efficiently.”

The bearded fellow came back from the mosque after the evening sermon, starving for food, any food, and went straight to the kitchen. Bism Illah wa alhamdu lillah, he uttered as usual, but there was no poor quality food to eat, in fact there was no food at all. He was also surprised to notice that the holy words of the Prophet were missing. He could not find the calligraphy panel anywhere; it had been removed. He wondered whether his wife had sold it to buy food. But later, as he and his new young wife went to bed, still hungry, he found the missing calligraphy hanging above the bed.

Literacy, one should always remember, is an important thing in life, even in a country like Egypt, where you don’t necessarily need to read and write in order to become a minister of religion.