The Bishop nodded, thoughtfully. “And have you seen this ghost?”
“No sir, I haven’t. But I sure have seen some strange things happen around there. And I have no doubt that it's Mr. Scott's doings.”
He listened as I expounded on the various phenomena, and, surprisingly, seemed to take me seriously.
“So you don’t think I’m…?”
He smiled and shook his head. “Not at all.” He must have found the look on my face funny because he laughed. I didn’t know what to think. “Look, people have been seeing ghosts since the dawn of time. It’s nothing new.”
“I don’t understand.”
He sighed. “You’re obviously familiar with the concept of purgatory?”
“Then you know that, essentially, it’s a place where souls go to be cleansed in preparation for heaven. Why wouldn’t these ghosts, as it were, be souls in purgatory waiting for heaven?”
Made absolute sense to me. “But my mother adopted one.”
He laughed again. “Perhaps she welcomed one into her home. Listen, just between you and me, the Church doesn’t teach everything it knows. It can’t, mostly because it’s forgotten over the centuries. You’d be surprised at some of the old teachings. I’ll tell you now that the Church once taught about the reincarnation of souls but the various Councils in the early centuries put the kibosh on it.”
He shrugged. “Probably because it was too much for people struggling for food, water, clothing, and shelter to comprehend. Anyway, the modern Church rejects the notion and will deny that anyone in the Church ever believed it or taught it.”
We discussed some of my mother’s other idiosyncrasies, and things that may or may not have been, including some amazing happenings with the Ouija Board.
"Be careful," the Bishop warned. "That can be good or evil."
More to come on that.
"Don't worry about your mother," he said. "She's just eccentric."
“So, what sins do you have to confess?” he asked.
“I've already told you.”
He shook his head. “We’ve been talking for nearly an hour and I haven’t heard a single sin.”
“How about I disobeyed my mother?”
He tossed his head back and guffawed. “You’re too old for that one, aren’t you?”
“How about disrespecting my mother by coming to you and tattling on her.”
“I’ll take that one. And before you give me a good act of contrition, let me say that you seem to be a sensitive, thoughtful young man. If you ever decide to go to Rome, call me at the Chancery office. I’ll arrange a visit for you to the Vatican Library.”
Call me Dumfounded.
After my penance of three Hail Mary’s for the women in my life, and an Our Father for Mr. Scott, I left feeling better about myself, and all things metaphysical.
The Church and I have fallen away from each other over the years, the Church for covering up and abetting pedophile priests among other things, me because I can no longer accept an exclusively patriarchal deity (though at least the Catholic Church gives Mary some love), but in that moment, I believed.
I found the Bishop to have been right about a number of things. When I mentioned his observations about reincarnation in confession a few years later, the priest said, rather disdainfully, “No one in the Church told you that.”
Yes, someone did.