The Light of God
(Catholic Priest from 1850s. Photoshopped: *see below for orig./credit)
He hadn’t been drunk the first time I met him. He had a bit of gin in him, that’s all. And he was not an itinerant worker. He was a priest. It was his look that fooled me, not quite that of a souse, more of a man with something devilishly heavy upon his shoulders. In that first meeting, I didn’t consider him or the Irish brothers. Now he won’t speak to my concerns or let me near the brothers until I’m cleansed; until my soul opens to the Light of God…
I ambled by the timber-framework of the home the Irish Brothers were constructing, searching for the two medium height brothers with their red hair and sunburned skin. Just a few feet to my right, a man seemed to appear out of the thin air. He wore a black gown buttoned from his neck to his feet and a broad-brimmed hat. And he pointed a long and heavy silver cross at my waist. I was hungover and half-dazed. The man could have easily jabbed the edged end through my soft belly.
Without thought my right hand fell, I raised my left, moved my right foot back and was ready to snatch “the weapon” and gut him with it.
I remembered his gown was called a cassock and was the typical outfit worn by Catholic priests. Around his neck was another cross that hung low on a silver chain by his chest, and hanging down above that was a gold Christ head pendant attached to a purple ribbon. He raised the large silver cross up in a proper manner. He began to speak in Latin, leaving me all but certain that he was a priest.
“Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo…”
“I’m searching for the two brothers,” I said.
“Omnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres…”
“I’m not so good with the Latin, Father,” I said.
He paused and glanced into my eyes. “Confess with me, and only afterwards, will I answer your questions.”
“Yes Father,” I said, and mumbled along as he spoke.
“I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel. I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed. Therefore, I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amen.”
The priest blessed me with the sign of the cross, bowed his head, and then said another pious incantation under his breath.
I slowly recognized him as the drunkard who’d been with the Irish brothers yesterday afternoon. And was soon certain, he was also with them last night. He drove the cart, and helped them dismember the demon, Chuck A. Luck. So it seemed he was not only a priest, but a demon hunter too…
The priest looked up into my eyes. “You sin each time you take money for doing the Lord’s work.”
“It’s not the type of work any man should do,” I said, knowing he spoke of demon hunting. “I’d give back every last copper not to have to do it, and to know it doesn’t have to be done.”
“You’re right, son.”
“If you want my money, I’ll give it to you.”
“No son, keep it.”
“Means nothing to me.”
He stepped closer. He took the silver cross from around his neck and dropped it over my neck. “Your soul, always make sure it’s open to the Light of the Lord. Because they will take it. They will take it.”
“I don’t want it to happen,” I said, and closed my hand over the cross.
“You need to pray every day; you need to let the Lord hear your voice. He won’t forget you. But don’t you ever stray from His Light. Not you, son. You can’t.”
I felt a rare rush of emotion. “I am going to die a horrible death,” I blurted.
He clasped my hand which still held the cross and pressed it firmly to my chest. “Always stay in the Light.”
“I’ll try to, Father.”
“As much as a mortal man can be, against the darkest of all beasts, I will be here for you.”
“Thank you,” I said and could just hear a distant voice along with the chirp of springtime birds. The priest must have heard the voice too, because he spoke louder.
“Always stand firm in the Light of God, and if you can’t see it with your eyes, look for It with your heart.” His lips suddenly grew taught and his eyes beaded; it seemed as if he’d been knifed in the back.
“What is it?” I asked, while trying in vain to make sense of the voice. It was a full moment before the priest responded.
His mouth opened with a look of surprise. “The beast knows your name.”
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Forty-One
Skin (Late April 1854 – Coney Island)