…I sat there in the pew for what seemed to me like an eternity. As the time marched on my hiccups seemed to get worse. I prayed and I 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. I looked up into the bright afternoon sun but again no reprieve. 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 accentuated with particles of floating, flickering dust and spotted me. It was Father Docherty. 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 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 previously, second hand spittle was a fate worse than death or penance for someone as young as me! He had a high squeaky voice which did not adequately or accurately 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 Docherty’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.
“Morrison” 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.”
I obeyed and when I got within an arms throw 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 immediately.
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 never forgot. It was 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 after visiting St Anne De Beaupre’s shrine outside of Quebec City with his mother. 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 for life nor my innocence or naivety as yet.
Only happy thoughts!….
Note: this thread started 02 Jan