Tuesday, 23 November 2010
In the dream, St Peter asked Father Ignatius directly, ‘Have you done a good job of looking after Our Lord’s lambs and sheep?’
“What a challenge!” thought Father Ignatius, “St Peter himself asking me if I was a good priest!”
Jack lived a few yards down the road from St Vincent Church, just the other side of the Convent.
One Friday evening he was waiting outside the Fish and Chips Shop just opposite the church when Father Ignatius joined the queue.
“How are you keeping Jack?” he asked, “you look really miserable right now … just like a mile of bad road, I should say!”
“Hello Father …” mumbled Jack under his breath, “it’s a long story!”
“You’d better tell me about it … let’s move away from this queue …”
The two men left the queue and walked a few paces away from the shop.
“It’s this friend of mine …” Jack said hesitantly, “he’s over seventy years old, lives in Brintown, and he’s not too well. I think he’s dying. I spoke to the lady friend he lives with and she said the doctor is not holding much hope. I’ll go and see him tomorrow as I’m not working this weekend … I hope I get there in time …”
“I’ll pray for him Jack. I notice you said lady friend … is he not married then?”
“Oh … that’s another long story Father.” said Jack, “Many years ago, when he was thirty or so, he met this lady and fell in love with her. She was divorced and his priest would not marry them. In fact he argued the matter with the priest and the priest excommunicated him.
“I think he probably excommunicated her as well … I don’t know.
“Anyway, they’ve lived together ever since … that’s about forty years. I don’t know if they ever got married in the Civil Court.
“But the man kept faithful to the ban imposed on him. He didn’t move to another church and take Communion there, even though they moved town several times. In fact I believe he never set foot in another church ever since that day!”
“We’d better go and see them then …” said the priest.
“What now … it’s five o’clock. It will take us two hours to get to Brintown!”
“The sooner we start the better,” replied Father Ignatius, “you go to my office and phone them from there. I’ll get the car ready!”
Moments later Father Ignatius was driving up the highway as fast as the speed limit allowed.
They arrived just after 7:30 that evening. Father Ignatius went to see the old man in his bedroom whilst Jack stayed with the old lady in the front room.
They could hear talk, and sometimes laughter from the bedroom. The priest stayed there for a while. He heard the old man’s Confession and gave him Holy Communion. Then they chatted away about the past … the old man had spent some time in Italy, not far from where Father Ignatius studied for the priesthood, so they talked about Italy and all the places they visited whilst there.
Eventually the priest came out and asked Jack to go and stay with the old man.
He heard the old lady’s Confession and gave her Holy Communion.
Father Ignatius and Jack set off back home at about 10:45 that evening. In the car, on the way to St Vincent, Jack said, “Thank you Father … being with you is like being with Jesus!”
“Don’t ever say that,” replied the priest, “no one can possibly be like Jesus!”
The old man died three days later.
The old lady also died a few months after that.
(Based on a true story).