Friday, August 17, 2012

A public exorcism, Your Eminence?

I am posting this excerpt of the Saga in honour of the birthday of Father Stanley L. Jaki, OSB, who warned us of the dangers of evil, and our need to combat it regardless of the cost, and urged us who are yet in the Church Militant to beg divine assistance for those actively doing battle. He, in fact, is the sort of priest like Father Bondost: a priest who would wake a cardinal in the middle of the night.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.

* * *

(Just for background: Father Bondost is the master of a boys' orphanage where Glen is a resident. Bernie Brown is the president of the Chivalry Club. Denny is one of the agents of the Enemy.)

                "Oh my God, Father. That obsidian knife! Denny actually had it at my throat..."
                Quickly Father Bondost made the sign of the cross.
                Bernie also blessed himself, then he said, "Of course, Father, that's the old pagan sacrifice of Meso-America. Denny kept talking about Mayan dates." He twisted uneasily in his chair. "All right. If you're willing to wake up a cardinal in the middle of the night, I guess I can tell you... where I think the bad guys are headed. And it's not to my friend's place. It's to the studios of Channel Nine."
                Father Bondost didn't speak, but immediately began to dial.
                "C.B.... it's Denis... In Latinam vocemus, quoniam..."
                His Latin was fluent, honed to almost the state of a pivate dialect – so much so Bernie could barely catch a root here and there. But he kept smiling, and nodding with satisfaction. "Optime, O Mare Apis amicus meus. Ideo... Certainly, though I may be asleep. Ah, I am forgetting – the boys will wake me by then. But call in any case. ... Amen, my brother.... God bless you too."
                He sighed and hung up the phone. "I know you wish to sleep... but I think we had better go and keep vigil."
                "In your chapel?"
                "Yes. He is going to act. God only knows what the media will do in that crazy city... but then again... perhaps it is God's plan." He stood up. "Few men – and fewer priests – would dare to wake a cardinal out of his sleep and send him out... to battle. We ought to show our support in the only way we can."
                "I'm with you, Father."
                He followed the priest to the chapel. As they went down the hall, a door opened. "What's wrong, Father?" asked a young voice.
                "Go back to sleep, Glen. Bernie and I are going to the chapel to pray."
                "I want to come – please?"
                The priest sighed. "Very well..."

* * *

                In New York, Cardinal C.B. Tallisen got dressed, then summoned his clerical secretary to the small chapel.
                Father Lwanga "Larry" Russo, a tall black man named for the great martyr of Uganda, looked dubiously at the cardinal as he put on his episcopal regalia. "You're actually expecting to do a public exorcism, your Eminence?"

                The cardinal was struggling with a recalcitrant button on a vestment. "No, Larry – that is, I'm not expecting anything. But we must be prepared. Something stinks... I don't think it's another September 11, nothing like that. But the enemy is on the prowl, and the shepherd must be awake." He picked up the large Roman Ritual, pulled an overcoat over his vestments, then nodded. "Let's go. You drive, please."

                 The cardinal chuckled as the car began to move. "It's times like this when I could almost wish we were permitted flashing lights like the police... think of it, Larry... yellow and white... and a peal of bells instead of a siren. Maybe I'll send a quaestio to the Sacred Congregation of Rites. I wonder which congregation they'd pass it off to..." He chuckled again. "There ought to be some liturgical awareness of automobiles, don't you think?"

                Fr. Russo was used to C.B.'s wit. "Of course, the usual car lights always make me think of the Divine Mercy image," Fr. Russo replied. "Every time I'm on a highway at night – on one side, the shining white, on the other, the flaming red..."

                "Very good... If I nod off, please wake me."

                "But your Eminence, you didn't say where we're going!"

                "Oh, I beg your pardon. The studios of Channel Nine, at 99th and Seventh Avenues."

[PJF, "" in From Darkness Into Light]

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A curious handling...

"...a curious handling of Psalm 22, the Good Shepherd. A stunning landscape..."

                Bernie, Marty, and John followed the priest to the other side of the main entrance of the church. This picture showed a gruff man walking through a dreary background with a young lad on his shoulder; with one hand he supported the child, and with the other he wielded a heavy walking staff. By deft use of color, the figures were illuminated against the dark surroundings; one would hesitate to call it an aura. It was rather the reverse: the humans were seen in natural light, and the encroaching darkness was the unnatural. Bernie took it in – the artistry was stunning – but when he turned to see the others, he was shocked to see the look on John's face: a look he read as startled recognition.

                Marty snapped a shot and said, "Bernie, that rocky waterfall – we've seen it before." (He meant it looked like the background to the painting of Christ and St. Peter at Caesarea Philippi, in the chapel of Old Main.)

                The priest nodded. "I'm not surprised that you recognize it. That waterfall is well-known in the area – ah – perhaps not as well-known as it once was. But my friends and I often hiked out there in our younger days..." He sighed. "Out to the gorge, back in the hills past St. Michael's – as I'm sure you know."

                "St. Michael's – you mean the orphanage?"

                "That's right. It is called the Peter-falls."

                Bernie had turned back to examine it more carefully. "It sure looks eerie. What's that thing off to the side, something smoking? Is there a hot spring near that waterfall?"

                The priest shook his head. "No; I always took it to represent the burnt sacrifices of the pagans." He sighed. "It's all the more terrifying to me as I think of Carthage, both ancient and modern – but I won't say more on that topic, not in this consecrated place. There's other threats lurking if you look carefully: a crevice in the rocks, and snakes, and there's a lion almost hidden in the trees."

                "A lion!" Bernie said anxiously, trying to locate it.

                "Yes; there were lions in Israel in the days when David was a shepherd boy..." He paused, lost in thought.

                As the priest remained silent, Marty asked, "Did you read what it says, Bernie? 'Though I walk in the Dark Valley, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me'." But he turned when he heard John moan, and asked, "What's wrong, John?"

                "Nothing. But just look at that child's face. Is that supposed to be Jesus in the arms of St. Joseph?"

                "Huh. There does seem to be a kind of glow around their heads, doesn't there? What do you say, Father?

         He nodded, smiling. "I think it's like other things, intentionally left open so we can see more. Like St. John always speaking of 'the disciple who Jesus loved', or St. Luke writing to 'Theophilus' – which merely means 'Friend of God'. I find it very comforting, even though many times I am the one who must carry others and guard them against the terrors of darkness. What you must not forget is that there are other sheep not shown here – ones which have fled from the shepherd, into that forest..." He shivered. "If one has doubts about his vocation, this picture provides a healthy stimulus."

[PJF, From Darkness Into Light]