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As the story begins, Anton is still reeling from the abrupt end of his mission as a Franciscan friar. To be wrongly stripped of his life's calling has been painful, but even worse, he cannot forgive himself for being powerless to save the children who were in the church's care. When the Nazis loaded up Anton's students, he was overcome by an overwhelming sense of having committed the unforgivable sin. Though there was nothing Anton could have done to save the children's lives, the guilt is crushing.
While Anton wrestles with his demons, Elisabeth, a young mother of three who is still grieving over the unexpected death of her beloved husband, is in the midst of considering the hardest decision of her life: whether to remarry in order to provide for her family. Elisabeth feels great shame as she struggles to reconcile the feeling of being unfaithful to her first husband. If there was another option, she would gladly choose it. Alas, the harsh realities of wartime force Elisabeth to publish the following personal ad:
Good churchgoing woman, widowed, mother of three. In need of a humble, patient man, willing to be a father to my children. Interest in legitimate marriage only. I have no money, so those who think to profit need not reply.In coming across Elisabeth's plea for help, Anton is immediately struck with a new sense of purpose. Though his first choice would be to eventually return to his Franciscan order, and while Anton remains true to his sacred vows, he feels that supporting Elisabeth and her children is the right thing to do. This opportunity has the potential to fulfill Anton's deep need to be useful, to find forgiveness, and to protect those who need it most (addressing his need for redemption due to the loss of the children snatched up by the Nazis who shut down Anton's school and religious order).
The soul of this book is revealed in the simplest, and yet loveliest of ways, as two faithful individuals remain true to their vows, their principles, their hearts, and all that defines a life worth living, and for which they are willing to die. When Anton's involvement in the resistance movement against Hitler brings danger into his new family's life, relationships will be tested, and the true nature of love will be revealed.
Based on the real life experience of one of the author's family members, The Ragged Edge of Night is a timely story that is sure to inspire every reader who is concerned about the extreme tensions that are being felt in today's world. This is a moment in history when every single one of us can take heart as we consider the difference an ordinary person like Anton can make in the lives of those who are hurting. I was deeply moved by this book and highly recommend it.
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