9 Little Words
A Reason To Pray?
Glumly, father Thomas set his coffee mug down on the rectory kitchen table. This was going to be a miserable, long day. He took another sip at his already empty cup. Finally he stood, straightened his collar, and trudged slowly to the front door. Reluctantly, he pulled his raincoat out of the closet, and lifted his umbrella from its place on the hat rack. He wished he could miss the bus that would bear him downtown to the courthouse, but he still had plenty of time.
Thomas heartily wished the Parker’s divorce had remained uncontested. Thanks to his big mouth, Blaze wanted to make sure Glenda didn’t get one red cent from his vast property holdings. They had a prenuptial agreement that excluded Glenda from getting anything in the event she was unfaithful. Father Thomas knew all too well that she had violated the agreement many times. It was only his bad luck that she had gotten caught now.
It was Thomas’ own stupidity. He had thought a married woman would be so safe. He had been lonely, and she had been there, ready, willing and subject to terms of a pre-marital contract that was certain to guarantee her discretion. Thomas felt a pang of regret when he reflected that he, not she had made their affair public.
The courthouse was crowded. This fact didn't keep the security guards from frisking Father Thomas. They were just doing their job. Still, Thomas wished his rosary had not set off the alarm. It wasn’t like he needed something else to attract attention to him.
He looked up with a start. Glenda was just ahead of him, walking towards the broad double doors of the courtroom. Blaze was just behind him, looking daggers at his back. Thomas turned and saw him, and flinched. He turned again, only to see Glenda’s tear streaked face glaring recriminations at him.
Father Thomas' sins had started catching up with him two months ago. Up until that time, he had been true to the spirit, if not the letter of his calling. It wasn't what he did that had landed him in a pickle, it was 9 little words which had brought his indiscretion to the ignominious point of being part of the public record.
Certainly those newspaper reporters were not here for the same case. Father Thomas’ mouth parched as he watched them take seats in front of him. He nervously fingered his rosary. It hadn’t occurred to him that the divorce of one of the county’s richest men would result in news coverage. But, Blaze Parker was a notorious publicity hound, and over the years, the press had gotten into the habit of reporting his every move. Now they would be recording Father Thomas’ as well.
"Oh God," he swore as much as prayed. Had he spoken out loud? The look of hatred on Blaze’s face hadn’t changed, but that didn’t mean anything. Glenda didn’t look any more or less accusatory as her eyes bored into Thomas’, but she did look a bit startled. Thomas was too shaken to care whether the people filing in behind him were offended by his accidental outburst.
St. Mark’s wasn’t the greatest church on earth. He could live without it. At least he tried to convince himself that he could. However becoming the pastor of his own parish had been a step up for Thomas. The hope of a bishopric had seemed attainable. He might even aspire to becoming the cardinal of his own diocese. Now, he would be lucky if he wasn’t excommunicated, let alone sent to a back water parish until he could finally retire 15 years from now.
Glenda Parker took her place in front of the courtroom with her attorney. Blaze Parker sat at the other table with several of his. The judge’s dais towered over the witness chair. When he was called to the stand, would Thomas have to place his hand on the Bible? He thought he might cry. He was fully prepared to confess his indiscretion, but he was hoping to do it in private with his friend, Monsignor Revere. But, if he swore an oath on the Holy Bible, he would have to tell the truth. His training ran too deep to do otherwise.
Thomas and blaze had known each other for years. In fact, they had been friendly until eight weeks ago, when Father Thomas had blown his own cover. Blaze had been one of the church's more generous contributors. If the church needed something, like a leaky roof repair or a new stained glass window, Blaze had always been there with his checkbook to help out. Father Thomas suspected that positive press inspired Blaze’s largess, but, a gift horse, and all of that. Ruefully, Father Thomas considered the help he had hoped Blaze would have given now if it hadn’t been for Father Thomas’ own accidental confession.
Blaze’s lawyer cleared his throat sententiously. Father Thomas glanced up involuntarily at the noise. The judge was looking at him expectantly. Suddenly, he realized that he was being called to testify.
For months now, Blaze had been trying to prove that Glenda had been having an affair. She had been. In fact, she had been having it with father Thomas Nelson, and even Blaze’s detectives hadn’t been able to find them out. They would have been safe if it hadn’t been for Father Thomas’ big mouth. And, that's just what Blaze's lawyer was about to prove to a whole courtroom of people.
Catholic Church Trivia
A Simple Explanation Of The Catholic Faith
And She Smelled Good, Too?
Father Thomas hadn't liked Glenda when he had first met her. She was loud and obnoxious. Her perfume was so thick that it had permeated both cubicals of the confessional. It was probably very expensive, but it smelled cheap to Father Thomas. Later, when Thomas had seen Glenda sitting next to her husband in the front pew, her bright flowered dress, thick make-up and large straw hat had added to his initial impression.
Glenda flirted with Father Thomas from the start. At first her attentions offended him, but eventually, he began to like her perfume, and had convinced himself he had fallen in love. He knew they could never be together. But, the stolen moments when Blaze was out of town were enough for Thomas. He knew the affair would end someday, and he still felt strongly that he had a calling. He would eventually confess his transgressions and become the perfect priest his congregation was sure he already was. He was too realistic to envision a future with Glenda. Even if it was possible, a part of him knew that wasn’t something either of them really wanted.
Father Thomas had heard Glenda’s confession many times. Her list of sins would have warned a more worldly man, but the priest had naively doled out penances assuring himself that Glenda was genuinely sorry for what she had done. He did not permit himself to realize that she was always confessing the same sins, nor that she was always at the Wednesday and Saturday confessions. She was also a frequent guest at the rectory, innocently delivering gifts for the parish poor, and donating flowers for St. Mark’s sparse alter.
Father Thomas gradually stepped into Glenda’s trap. He began to find her alluring. She invited him out for coffee. The next thing he knew, he was succumbing to her more carnal charms.
If Blaze had only known, he would have had enough evidence to use against his wife for several divorces. However father Thomas respected the privilege of the confessional, and it wasn't until Blaze's cadre of Armani suits began to attack him that he felt a twinge of temptation to violate Glenda's privilege. After all, if Thomas’ neck was on the chopping block, why shouldn’t Glenda’s other lovers share the public humiliation?
But, no, that wouldn’t be right. And, a look at Glenda’s stricken face would tell anyone but the most heartless, that it would be cruel to tell her secrets. Besides, it really was all Father Thomas’ own fault. If he had only kept his big mouth shut, Blaze would still have gotten his divorce, and Father Thomas’ part in Glenda’s extra marital activities would never have come to light.
On a hot July afternoon, Blaze had invited Father Thomas to play a round of golf at the country club. If he had stayed home that day, he and Glenda would have remained undetected. If he hadn’t gotten tipsy, he could have kept his wits about him, and not caused their adulterous relationship to be announced to the world. But, “What ifs” were no comfort as he stood in front of Blaze’s lawyers and tried to focus on the questions he was being asked.
He accepted Blaze’s invitation. He was glad of the chance to get away from the insurmountable problems that were waiting for him to solve. Several things had been bothering him. Among them was the broken minivan he shared with the convent. It could not be fixed for less than $2000.00, and it seemed Bishop O’Hare would not be convinced to have the diocese spring for the repairs, or buy a newer vehicle for St. Mark’s beleaguered inmates.
The Act Of Contrition: The Catholic Stay Out Of Hell Prayer
Oh my god, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. And, I detest all of my sins, because of thy just punishment, but most of all, because I have offended thee, my God, who art all good, and worthy of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin, amen.
The near occasion of sin
PS: I received the lightening bolt. Can’t you take a joke?
Scandalous Behavior, Or Just Human?
Did You Say Divit Or Divorce?
Father Thomas had begun riding his bicycle everywhere his duties and pleasures had compelled him to go. Then someone stole the bicycle. He knew he wouldn't be able to convince the bishop to replace that, either.
Why anyone would want his rusty old bike was beyond Father Thomas. It had been a gift to him from his grandmother for his ordination. Now, at the venerable age of twenty, it was rusty, and the tires barely stayed inflated. Father Thomas had the patch kit and air pump to prove it. At least he had until the bike and its saddle bags were stolen.
As they wandered the golf course together, Blaze told Father Thomas his troubles. Father Thomas only half listened to Blaze. It seemed to him that Blaze complained a lot. He didn't blame Glenda for wanting to leave him. He was always either whining or bragging about something. Father Thomas knew that he was being uncharitable to Blaze, but, he had his own problems, and they were just as important.
"Good swing," Blaze congratulated father Thomas on the 7th green. "Did I tell you Glenda and I are getting a divorce?"
Father Thomas tensed. Glenda had threatened to divorce Blaze to run away with Thomas more than once. He had told Glenda that he was married to the church, and could never abandon his vows completely. Apparently, she hadn't believed him. Regrettably, Father Thomas had given her ample reason to doubt his sincerity. Distractedly, he tried to follow Blaze’s attempt at conversation.
“I’ve had a private eye try to catch her at something. He hasn’t found anything, but I know the bi –“Blaze cleared his throat, “Glenda is up to something!”
Father Thomas was suddenly alert. If Blaze hadn’t caught them yet, and he avoided Glenda, it might be too late for Blaze to find out. With some relief, he asked, “Are you sure she is being unfaithful?”
“Absolutely. My private eye has seen the guy. He just can’t identify him.”
“Good,” Father Thomas barely caught himself before speaking this thought aloud. Instead, he temporized, “yes, but what reason does he have to think that Glenda is being unfaithful?”
Blaze grinned. “Father, I wouldn’t expect you to know a lot about men and women, but I’ll try to explain.” Ordinarily, this patronizing rejoinder would have put the priest off, but now he listened avidly.
“The guy turns up at my house like clockwork 5 minutes after I leave. He stays until right before I get back. While he’s there, my PI can see 2 shadows moving around in my bedroom. I don’t think the guy’s up there admiring my shaving mug collection.”
Mentally, Father Thomas conceded that Blaze had a point. He had, in fact admired the collection, but the time he took to do this hardly accounted for the hours he spent in Blaze’s bedroom.
Wake Up! Catholic Joke Time!
And the Lord said unto John, "Come forth and receive eternal life." But John came fifth and won a toaster.
A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in church when the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. “Daddy,” he whispered, “When that light turns green, can we leave?”
The Disillusionment Of The Catholic Clergy
Chicago Or Bust!
Maybe They Could Hitch Hike?
“Did he take pictures?” Father Thomas found himself asking. Did Blaze know? It wouldn’t be above him to pretend ignorance just to watch Thomas squirm
“Hell, no. He couldn’t get a good focus past the privacy shrubs Glenda planted last summer.” Blaze produced a flask from his jacket pocket. He took a big chug and offered the flask to Thomas. Thomas usually didn’t drink during the day, but maybe the booze would steady his jangled nerves now.
“Is your PI Still working for you?” he hoped his question didn’t sound too interested.
“Yeah, but Lover Boy hasn’t been there for a few days, and we still don’t know who he is.”
Father Thomas relaxed. He knew for a fact that Blaze’s detective wouldn’t be given further opportunity to identify him. He let his thoughts drift to his own problems while Blaze continued to complain about his stupid business partners, his rotten kids, and his grasping first wife.
The nuns would need the minivan by next Thursday. It was a seminar of some kind. School would be cancelled because of their absence. Parents would expect Father Thomas to come up with some distraction to keep the youngsters busy while they were at work. This had not seemed so impossible to him in the past. He usually spent his days with the kids singing and telling Bible stories. Now he wished he could dump the little brats at the movie theatre and pick them up just in time to meet their parents.
The perish didn't have the money for a replacement vehicle. Sister Claire was sure God would take care of it. But unless the Almighty wrote the church a check for $2000.00, or dropped a new bus in the church parking lot, the nuns would have to walk to Chicago.
Father Thomas had been looking forward to the nuns’ absence. But, thanks to Blaze, he wouldn’t be doing anything to offend their sensibilities whether or not they were there. Still, he had to find a way to get them to their retreat. Maybe he should ask Blaze for help. He wasn’t sure his nerves would hold for that request.
At least the denizens of the convent and rectory hadn’t starve to death as long as Father Thomas had his bike. The convenience store was a mere 15 blocks away, and father Thomas could carry enough provisions in the saddle bag for 2 days. They were, however getting morbidly sick of macaroni, potatoes, rice, and cream of chicken soup.
Maybe someone from the perish would take Thomas grocery shopping. Maybe Blaze would stop at Kroger when they had finished with their game. Had Father Thomas left his wallet in the club house? He patted his pants pockets. No, it was right there. Things were beginning to look a little brighter. Gladly, he accepted another draft from Blaze’s flask.
As they headed to the 16th hole, Blaze continued his maundering. Father Thomas drifted back into his own thoughts. He wandered how much it would cost to send 6 nuns to Chicago by bus. That would solve the immediate problem, but they still would have to come up with a long term solution to their transportation needs. Vaguely, it registered that Blaze was offering him another hit from the flask. Blearily, Father Thomas accepted.
Catholics aren’t supposed to divorce. Instead, they try to get their marriages annulled by the Church.This is how someone like Blaze could have a first wife. Besides, almost any transgression can be forgiven if it is confessed.
Only a person who is excommunicated can’t receive the sacraments. They are:
Extreme Unction (Last Rights)
Can Love Really Be A Mortal Sin?
Woops! Shouldn't Have Had That Last Hit!
Satisfied that he had reclaimed his audience’s attention, Blaze began again, “All I know about the guy is that he wears a camouflage jacket and an old flannel hat. Oh, yeah, and he might, mind you, just might wear glasses. I feel like I’ve been screwed. Sorry Father. But the guy didn’t find a damn thing on her, and I know she cheated.”
Father Thomas took the flask again as they approached the 18th hole. Blaze’s first swing promised a birdie. Father Thomas generously hoped he would make it. Blaze took the flask back and drained it. “We’ll send the caddy for another one,” he said to Thomas as if to assure him. For the priest’s part, he was sure they had both had enough.
The boy took the $20.00 that Blaze handed him and ran to the club house. If things went well, Blaze should have a new supply of booze by the time they reached the fairway.
Blaze continued to talk. Father Thomas tried to block him out as he teed off. He thought he heard Blaze say something about the guy not owning a car. The detective had found that much out at least. These facts didn’t resonate with Father Thomas, relaxed as he was from Blaze’s flask and his own near escape. Besides, he was concentrating on his shot.
Father Thomas swung. His ball curved right, and landed in a small sand trap about 40 yards away. Blaze laughed in triumph. “What a bore,” Father Thomas thought. Poor Glenda. No wonder she wanted out of the marriage so bad.
“At least the PI figured out why he never saw a car in our driveway. You know, he was going to write down his license to help me in court. Well, you’ll never guess what he found!” It turns out that Glenda’s Adonis was sneaking around on a rusty old Schwinn. And get this, he even had a box of macaroni in the saddle bag!”
Father Thomas looked up. “I’m sorry, I drifted off. I guess I have a lot on my mind.”
“Don’t worry, Father. I was saying that we found a rusty old bike in our driveway with a box of macaroni in the saddle bag ---
s“Thank God!” Father Thomas threw up his hands in triumph. “I wondered where I’d left my bike!”