Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Now what would Halloween be without a Strange-But-True story. . .

When I was in the sixth grade I went to Catholic school where besides a daily religion class, once a week one of the priests would visit the class for additional instruction. At this time, our parish had a young priest that everyone liked. All the mothers in the parish said he would be a bishop one day, and all the school children liked him, too, because unlike many of the older priests, this young man was approachable and the kids felt they could talk to him. All us children liked the day when Father * came to class. I did, too -- until the strange event happened.

"Put your books away," Sister said when the school bell rang and the current class hour ended. "Father * will be coming today." And all of us children dutifully lifted our desk tops, and after putting away our books, we folded our hands on top of our desks and waited.

Father * came swiftly into the classroom, and as his wont, sat on the edge of Sister's desk and began to talk to us. I settled down to listen since Sister usually gave us a quiz on whatever topic Father lectured us on, but my ears began to ring, and as I looked at Father, the room seemed to go slightly dark, like a thin curtain being drawn across a too sunny window. I could no longer hear what he was saying. Then, through the door strode a being. Tall he was, taller than the doorway, and thin. He wore no clothes, but that was not what bothered me: his skin was gray though not naturally so -- as I looked closer at him I could see a red light close all around him. It was the glow from his ashen flesh that burned from an invisible fire. Somehow I knew the pain was excruciating. His face did not seem quite human and he was regal. Oh! Quite so. But his gaze was truly terrible and I could feel his contempt for us. High intellect without empathy or a quality of mercy. He hated us. On his head he wore a simple golden crown with a solitary, large purple gem inserted in it.

I saw the being held a chain in one hand. He pulled it, and through the door bounded what I at first thought was a little black dog. It whimpered constantly and strained to get away from the being that held it, but the thick collar around its neck and the chain affixed to it portended no escape. Each time the chain was pulled, the black dog jumped up and whispered into the young Father's ear, then tried to get away only to be jerked back. I suddenly realized that the collared creature was a human!

I looked at the young Father, amazed by what I was seeing. Could he not hear the pitiful creature whispering in his ear? Could no one else see what I was seeing?

The crowned being slowly looked at all of us children, back and forth went his hard, cold eyes. Then he stopped at me. Somehow he knew I could see him. "You won't have him for long," he told me. I looked at the young priest. I became very sad because I somehow knew that he would not be a priest for very long. This thought made me feel sick, and as suddenly as it started, the horrible vision ended. I thought I would faint. No one else had noticed a thing. I wanted to say something to the Father or Sister, but I didn't think they would believe my story. And so I stayed quiet.

I watched the young Father. I never spoke to him again as the other children did, and I never went to him for Confession after that. He left the priesthood a short time after that to the surprise and dismay of most members of our parish church and married a divorced woman. No one could understand why he left the priesthood; it was all so sudden . . . .

But I knew.

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