Wednesday 10 February 2010

Missing Cross.

Evening Mass had finished half-an-hour ago and the congregation had long departed to their homes. Father Ignatius tidied up in the Sacristy and then entered the church and sat on the front pew, just where he normally sits by the statue of the Virgin Mary. He took his Rosary from his pocket and started praying.

A few minutes later he heard a noise from the back of the church. It sounded as if someone was trying to break into the collection box for the poor.

He got up and hurried to the back. “Is anyone there?” he shouted.

A figure ran out in the dark. He heard something crash to the ground and then he saw the back door open and slowly close again as the spring on the door pulled it shut.

As he reached the exit door at the back of the church Father Ignatius switched on the lights in the porch. He noticed that a small table which had various leaflets and pamphlets for visitors had been knocked to the ground by the escaping intruder. Papers and pamphlets were strewn everywhere.

More out of instinct than intelligent thinking the priest rushed out to the car park … but he saw no one there.

Father Ignatius entered the church again and locked the door behind him. He was somewhat shaken by the whole experience and wondered what he would have done if the intruder attacked him.

He picked up the table and started collecting the papers and pamphlets from the floor. It was then that he noticed that the Crucifix which hung on the wall by the back door was missing.

He opened the door again, instincts taking over his actions once more, and got out. He looked aimlessly everywhere hoping against hope to find the missing Crucifix.

It was then that he saw Father Donald drive in and park his car in the usual place.

Days later, Father Ignatius was walking Canis the dog in the park opposite the church. News of the intruder had been mentioned in the weekly church newsletter and the Crucifix was still missing.

“It’s probably been sold for a few pennies …” thought Father Ignatius, as the dog stopped by a tree to sniff in the delectable canine fragrances deposited there.

At that moment the priest noticed two men approaching him. One was well built and about six feet tall and reminded Father Ignatius of a wrestler he’d seen fighting on TV. The other was slightly smaller and had a scar on his left cheek. They both wore hats and heavy overcoats. They stood about two feet away with their hands in their coat pockets. The giant one had a small matchstick in the corner of his mouth and said nothing.

“Are you Father Ignatius from the church over there?” asked the smaller man.

“Yes … I am …” said the priest holding back the dog on a very tight leash.

“We’ve heard about the break-in you had the other day … that’s terrible …”

“Yes … I suppose it is …” replied Father Ignatius hesitantly, retreating a little to keep the dog from jumping on them. Canis growled once or twice as he pulled on the lead, the hairs on his neck standing almost vertically.

“I’m sorry someone stole the Cross your Holiness.”

“Eh … it’s not your Holiness … you address the Pope as your Holiness …” corrected Father Ignatius and then quickly bit his lip as he remembered who he was speaking to.

“I see …” continued the smaller man, “I know who stole your Cross … rest assured your Holy … rest assured Father Ignatius, that it will be returned to you … with recompense …”

“Thank you … there’s no need for …”

“Enough said …” interrupted the smaller man, as both of them turned round and walked away to the sound of a barking Canis and a priest having difficulty controlling him.

As he arrived back to the Parish house Father Ignatius found a small packet by the church door. It contained the missing Cross and £100 in used notes in an envelope.

The following day two men called on Father Ignatius. They identified themselves as detectives from the local police force. He invited them in the visiting room and offered them tea.

“No thanks …” said the senior one of the two, “we’d just like to ask you a few questions …”

“How can I help you?” asked the priest.

“Yesterday evening you were seen speaking with David Garton and his henchman in the park …”

“I spoke with two men … that’s right …” replied Father Ignatius.

“We’d like to know what they said …” asked the junior detective.

“Well … I’m not sure I can help you …”

“Do you know who these people are?” interrupted the junior.

“No … I’ve never met them before …”

“Well Father,” the senior detective said gently, “let’s say they are unsavory characters …”

“They may have confessed to the break-in which you had here the other day … which by the way you did not report to the police … that’s an offence you know …” interrupted the junior officer again.

“Well …” replied Father Ignatius calmly, “if they had confessed to anything, you know very well that I could not tell you about it …”

“There is such a thing as withholding evidence …” interrupted the junior policeman again.

Before Father Ignatius answered the senior detective spoke again gently.

“Well Father … shall we leave it at that for now. You met up with Garton and Stones, you’d never seen them before yesterday evening, and you do not feel disposed to tell us what they said.”

“Yes that’s right …” replied the priest.

“Good … we won’t trouble you further. But should you change your mind please contact me on this number … by the way I’m pleased to note that the missing Cross is back in its place …”

Before the priest could say anything the detective continued, “shall we say you found it somewhere in the car park … that would be accurate I think …”

Father Ignatius nodded and the policemen left never to return again.

To this day Father Ignatius wonders whether he handled the situation well. He prayed about it often and he was clear in his mind that he should not have said anything to the police; not under those circumstances anyway. But should he perhaps have reached out to the two men in the park? Could he have said something that … perhaps … may have led them to experience the love of Christ?

The £100 was used to buy food for the old people in his Parish.


  1. Interesting story. I like your use of details. If I were Fr. Ignatius, I think I would have told the police what happened since the men really didn't confess to anything and he wasn't under any sacramental seal. It seems to me that the henchmen were trying to make good and that example might have uplifted the police men.

  2. Hi Anne,

    Thank you for your comment. It's nice to see you visiting here again.

    I've left the story deliberately "open ended" to see what my readers think. Was the priest under a sacramental seal? I really don't know. The talk was not in a confessional, but was it a private talk or not?

    Had the priest told the police that the men knew about the break-in, and what they told him; would he have un-intentionally given them information helpful to their enquiries and possible future arrests? What if the thugs came back for revenge?

    Was he wiser to say nothing?

    I don't know ... what do other readers think? What would they have done?

    Thanx Anne for starting this discussion. God bless you.

  3. It reminds me of Montgomery Clift in 'I Confess'! (A mis-spent youth watching old black and white films on Sunday afternoons)!

  4. Hello Mother of this lot,

    I remember that film ... can't recall the plot exactly but Montgomery Clift as the priest would not reveal who the murderer was.

    Thank you so much for writing in. God bless.

  5. You know I remember a time that one could visit the church anytime....just to sit down and pray, meditate, find solace and comfort. I don't remember them ever locking the church doors when I was young.....those were the best of times and the worst of times but one knew they could always go to church.
    We can't do that today, so much has changed and the trust is not there. It is sad but I do understand.....perhaps if they had a place to go to pray and feel safe there would be more trust.
    I love Father Ignatius and these stories are wonderful......:-) Hugs

  6. Hi Bernie,

    Yes ... I remember those times too!

    It is the devil's finest hour when we lock our churches.

    When I worked in London in the City I used to spend many a lunch hour visiting the churches there and meditating or praying. I wonder how many are left open these days? Certainly not many around here.

    God bless you Bernie, and thank you for enjoying my stories. I may write one about the very subject you raise.

  7. I enjoyed this story, Victor. It reminded me of your novel, which I just finished! It was wonderful to get to know Father Ignatius better. I loved the ending, which I won't mention here so as not to spoil it for someone else.

    I liked the questions you raised about faith and submitting to higher authority. I loved the messages of forgiveness woven throughout. And I loved the way believers of many backgrounds came together to pray and worship. It was very uplifting.

    I plan to post a story on my blog soon with a link to the book.

  8. Dear Sarah,

    I'm very grateful for your comments about my book. It's so nice as a writer to find that someone enjoyed what you wrote. Thank you so much for your kind and generous comments.

    Thank you also for drawing attention to my book in your Blog. If it helps someone somewhere experience the love of Christ then my humble writings have served a purpose.

    I may write something about the book in my Blog to coincide with what you write. It's so difficult for me because I don't want to be seen as blatantly advertising. All I wish is to reach new people out there and somehow get them to know Jesus.

    God bless you Sarah for writing in and telling me about my book.

  9. You're welcome, Victor. I feel the same way about my blog. I can only imagine how it feels when you write a whole book.

    It's always good to know you have readers, and better to know that they enjoy your writing. But the most rewarding feeling is knowing that something you wrote touches or inspires or comforts someone in some way.

    I will let you know when I post about your book. Should be one day this week.

  10. Thanx Sarah for your kindness.

    I receive emails every now and then at my website from people saying they bought and enjoyed my book. The last email was from Spain I believe. So it's nice to here from readers every now and then.

    I suppose I'm not the kind of person who advertises the book or Blog enough. I leave it to word of mouth recommendations; and let God make sure the book reaches the right hands in His time.

    I may say something about this on my Blog sometime this week.

    Thanx again for your kindness to me. God bless.

  11. Very well told Victor. I really enjoyed this one. There was real tension when Father met those guys in the park. My curiosity wants to know more about them.

    I have to diasagree with Anne above. I don't think Fr. should have said anything at all to the detective. After all, they left a £100 with the crucifix. They were repentent and even made up for their sins.

    Hope you're feeling better.

    1. Thank you so much Manny for visiting me again and for taking the trouble to write.

      When I write my Fr Ignatius stories I take care not to say anything contrary to Catholic Faith. I suspect, in reality, the men did confess, somehow, to the priest. And as such he could not say anything to the police.

      There are many more Fr I stories in my FREE books. See top left link.

      God bless you, Manny.

    2. Thank you. I just picked up The Adventures of Father Igantius. I got it off Kindle which was inexpensive enough. I'll let you know what I think.

    3. Thank you so much Manny. Look forwards to your comments. God bless you.



God bless you.