Needless to say, the happenings in my mother’s house startled me. I could pass off the stories she told as products of an overactive imagination, but not those I witnessed. An old dog barking at air? Some mysterious force preventing said old dog from walking into the kitchen for food and water unless a member of the family escorted her? The chandelier wind chimes with no wind?
Without question, the logical portion of my mind could concoct logical reasons for each occurrence, but not everything taken together.
I needed guidance.
My roommate offered a suggestion. On a night off from work, our church had scheduled a special Mass followed by face-to-face confession with the Pastor himself. I would have preferred one of the younger priests, but the old Monsignor was kind enough and had never been from the hellfire and brimstone school. Quite the contrary, he came from the “God luv ya!” school. He could never remember names, so he'd take your hand and proclaim "God luv ya!."
He's still going at 92, but that's by-the-way.
As a young man trying to be a good Catholic, I decided to go. Worst case scenario had me receiving communion and high-tailing it, particularly if the Monsignor slurred his words or rocked back and forth at the altar, or offered new and varied flourishes to his blessings.
Truth be told, that might the best time to talk to him as he wouldn’t remember a thing the next morning.
Ding, ding, ding.
We stood, and the entrance song began.
I held out hope for Fr. Bruce, but resolved to make the best of the situation.
Following the cross-bearing acolyte strode a short gray haired man without crozier, without mitre, without pectoral cross or even the zucchetto.
Genuflecting at the base of the stairs, walking around and kissing the altar, then taking his place at the priestly throne was the Bishop.
So much for one of the younger priests. Hell, so much for a priest.