A Religious Refrain

Yesterday’s tidbit about the British Scientist not believing in God got me to thinking.

 Yes religion is based on faith. And whether you believe in God or not is fine with me. That is your right and who am I to challenge that. That is why I get tiffed when famous people start pontificating to the rest of us about various things such as climate change, religion, Black Live Matter, Pride etc.

Famous actors in particular set me off about this as they have a very strong platform given to them to foist their opinions and beliefs upon the rest of us. That is why I no longer watch award shows. I can’t stand it when some famous actor or singer wins an award, struts up to the stage, steps before the mic then broadcasts that they have dedicated this award to the polar bears, or the continued Canadian climate change efforts to curtail the Chinook!

 So here is my religious refrain:*

 …….I sat there in that cavernous church for what seemed like an eternity. And as time marched on my hiccups seemed to get worse. I prayed and prayed that they would stop but no heavenly dispensation came my way that day. I held my breath for what seemed to be minutes but no luck.  Finally I sensed that I was the only young soul left sitting in the pews of the church, still hiccup-ing.  Just then the priest came out from his priest-cave, looked around in the late afternoon sunlit church, with its long shadows and soft beams of spiritual light with particles of floating, flickering dust and spotted me. It was Father Doherty. He was a fatherly Father of our church: nice but somewhat of a lush. Chubby, but not fat, more cherubic like features, weathered and somewhat rustic with a fractured nose and pronounced limp from his athletic days of playing ice hockey for the “Holy Rollers.”

 His robes hung over him in disarray. He was somewhat of a slob, or should I say heavenly slovenly. He always drooled so it was wise to give him a wide berth to avoid the spittle for, as mentioned earlier, second hand spittle was a fate worse than penance for someone as young as me! He had a high squeaky voice which did not adequately personify his physical features.

How did I know he was a lush? Several of my friends were alter boys – assistants to the priest while celebrating Mass. And father Doherty always celebrated the 10:15 Mass. That was the time that the semi-high mass at our church was celebrated.  And one dictum that every young lad or lass in the parish knew was never ever go to the 10:15 Mass. It lasted an eternity. And being a semi-high mass meant more wine at the Offertory segment of the celebration. It was the alter boys job to carry the small carafes of water and wine from a side table hidden from view from the parishioners up to the alter area such that the priest could mix the water with the wine. Only in his case there was no water only wine, and lots of it, in two carafes: one being white to resemble water the other being red to symbolise the blood of Christ. By the end of the Mass, Father Doherty’s limp became more pronounced as he began to slur his words. This was not really a problem because no one in the church was paying attention by this point in time anyway and even if they were they couldn’t understand Latin.

 “Smith” he commanded “What’s the problem”

 I thought that I think it is obvious Father.

 “I have the hiccups, Father, really hiccup-ing bad so I cannot say my hic-up-ed confession with these hiccups.”

 “Come here”

 I obeyed and when I got within an arms length of his massive arms he put his left arm around me, chuckled somewhat and told me not to worry about the hiccups as he led me to the confessional. Perhaps he was impatient for this session to end so that he could run back to his own quarters and watch Tarzan.

 And at that exact moment in time, without a doubt and with no exaggeration on my part, when he slung his left arm across my shoulder, those hiccups ceased, instantly.

 Is this a saintly, canonization, beatification worthy moment? Probably not in the overall Catholic scheme of things but for me it was an experience that I have never forgotten. Right up there with my Uncle Rupert’s guardian angel apparition on that dark and stormy night or my Dad’s miraculous recovery from cross eye-ed-ness at St Anne De Beaupre’s shrine outside of Quebec City. Truth or fantasy? Don’t really know for I was an impressionable and innocent soul back in those days. Cynicism had not yet manifested itself or wrestled away or destroyed my enthusiasm, innocence or naivety as yet. Only happy thoughts.

* Excerpt from my book: “I Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven.”