Recalled to life (A Leodiensian Sketch)
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.
—A Tale of Two Cities,
Book One, Chapter One
Pars prima. Winter ADMMXVIII
"I'll convince you. You see, you cannot get from nothing," he said, lighting a cigarette in the winter rain with a summary air, "to something—not without some uncaused cause, still living, never dead, outside space and time, yet lord of these, vast in power, yet without form, body, or extension; his word, act, and will are one." The fire within his cigarette, as he breathed, glowed with a richness which I guessed he'd planned. He was theatrical first, saintly second. We stopped at the Cathedral where, blessing himself and praying in private, I watched, and contemplated sin while the house of God sounded with a chanted Psalm. Leaving, re-entering the rain, I said, "Alright, you've convinced me."
Pars secunda. Summer ADMMXX
I passed through the office of the parish secretary and saw the priest through the window in his office door. His walls were lined with books—scripture, the Summa, commentaries, Patristic writings, and so on. He appeared a small and unimpressive man, short, squat, one of those locked perpetually in his mid-sixties, as though he'd never aged and never would. I knocked.
"Excuse me, father—"
"Who is it?"
"We had an appointment."
"Ah yes, come in."
"Thank you." I took the seat opposite his. "I am ready to be Catholic."
"You are? Wonderful—are you sure?"
"I'm sure, sir—father."
"How do you know?"
"I have read all of Father Brown."
"You're aware there is more to do?"
"Oh yes, father; I have come to hate my sins and to love holiness. I have studied the blessed Trinity. I have no rosary, but I love Our Blessed Mother as I do Our Blessed Lord."
"Then I must catechise you. What is the purpose of a bishop?"
"The purpose of the bishop is to bureaucratise and to administrate, to love church more than men, and to love state more than church, so that the men hate the bishop."
"I am not sure I need these formalities of catechism, Father. I have read the catechism."
"The whole thing?"
"Indeed, sir. And afterwards I prayed for help, and Our Lord appeared before me, and brought me up onto a cross to suffer with him. It excruciated me; the pain was unbearable: the nails went through my wrists and ankles, and the Lord's own gravity worsened that agony which He Himself felt."
Pars tertia. Spring ADMMXXI
He (who was formally I) looked into her eyes. "Marry me," he said.
"I can't! It's too early."
"Later this afternoon, then."
"Sweet, later in life. I am too young!"
"But I have known you as my wife, many years. Therefore you are my wife, and therefore you should marry me: I have mastered syllogism."
"You have known me as wife, without having me as wife; therefore I can continue to be known by you your wife, but not be your wife."
"But this is Satan speaking through you. Come, Kate; I'll be your Petruccio. Let's be wed."
"You might convince me."
Written by CHARLES EAGER
Artwork - painted box - by SHAUN PHILIP HUTCHINGS