Jeez! I didn’t accept that! ... Got sorely offended and I’m still hot jumping mad! So, I chose to make my own life! ... Any kid in his right mind would have done the same!”
“Ah Brian, you feel so justified in your anger! ... Do you want to remain a victim?”
“Listen you holiest of holies, ... I won’t stay here forever!”
“Your name-calling hurts Me! ... But Brian, ... you’re still here!”
“Oh no–o-o! ...Those three tough punks coming toward me belong to the Diables Gang Bangers who control all of us street bums! ... Sam had gotten so badly beat up on Sunday he didn’t wake up in the hospital until Friday. I thought my buddy was dead! ... Sure I wanted to call the police but the thugs ran after me! ... I hid until yesterday!”
“Brian, deny me no longer! Are your circumstances any better now than before?”
“Well! Here’s the scrawny geek we we’re lookin’ fer! ... Did ya yap off ta the cops?”
I slyly slide the ten dollars under the guitar case.
“Ya were in the wrong place at the wrong time! I’m not goin’ ta jail ‘cause of ya!
“Jesus! ... Help me! ... I’m sorry!”
“Ha. Ha, ha! ... Y’ er wacky man - a real Jesus Freak! ... And friggin’ dead meat!”
O-o-o ye! ... Ugh! ... Hmm! ...Yeah okay! ...I understand! ... I won’t blab!”
“Go ahead Hank, it’ s yer turn! ... Give our scrawny squealer a few souvenirs!
“Hey Brett! ... Watch this! ... Ha, ha, ha!”
“Aw-w-h-h-h-h! ... Ug-g-g h-h-h-h! .... Yi-I-I-I-I! ... Stop-p-p-p!”
“Hey Frank! ... Mess with him fer a bit too!.. Give him a real guid lesson!”
“O h-h h! ... U m p h-h-h-h! ... O’ merciful Lord-d-d-d! ... Help-p-p-p!”
“Brett! ...I think he’s had enough fer now! ... Cum on, let’s move on!”
I watch the wild animals bound off, safe now, shake like the palsy, put my ten bucks back in my guitar case. “Jesus! ... You’ re just like the rest of this lousy world!”
“No Brian! ...You called to Me and finally admitted that I am real! The gang could have killed you! But they didn’t! You’ve been marked by My Seal before you were you born! I sacrificed My Life on the cross for you and for the many who choose to believe in Me!”
“Whatever! ... Happy now? ... But if you really are Jesus, let’s face it, no one cares! ... We Christians are living targets! ... Dangerous and crazy to believe in God nowadays!
“Yes Brian perhaps dangerous but not crazy as you put it! ... Prepare for today’s persecution! ... Your growing spiritually will make your life uneasy! ... Are you afraid?”
“Of course! ... The Diables just beat me up!”
“Yes my dear disciple, My Body was crushed and My Blood spilled for you too! Those who believe in Me, will gain Eternal Life! ... So, do you choose Me or the way of the world?”
“I don’t know yet!”
“Brian, I never abandoned you! ... You refuse to trust me completely. Your pride and doubt prevent you from allowing My Holy Spirit in your soul to help you to confront them!”
“Just look at me! ... I got a fat lip, feels, like a black eye swelling up, blood’s running down my cheek, my ribs burn like blazes! And all because I didn’t try to defend myself! ... Am I supposed to trust You and your God to save me from evil psychopaths like that even if I get on my knees and pray for them to stop? ... Do you really think they would? ... Ridiculous! ... That’ll only encourage them all the more to hurt me! ... When they come back again to get their money, they might do worse ... or to my family!... Oh God! ...Help me!”
“Brian, leave here or endure the consequences! ... If you stay, you must defend yourself! ... David defended himself against Goliath by having faith that the Father would support him in his battle! ... God will deal with the Diables! ... More important, pray for their evil-possessed souls so they too can be saved before they die physically. And die they will!”
“What? I’m to forgive those idiots who are already damned to hell! ... Just like that!”
“If you love Me! ... For your sake and for theirs! ... Hasn’t God already forgiven you for the countless transgressions against Him? ... By forgiving them, your anger, your revenge, your temptation, will all subside and you will find peace, happiness, and consolation in the Father! Pray for God’s Grace Brian! ... Choose to walk in wisdom and be free of sin!”
“Get away from me! ... You’re frustrating! ... I have to live in this obnoxious world!”
“Brian, your soul’s eternal destiny depends upon your faith in Me!”
“Well maybe so! ... I don’t care! ... I’ll kill Brett if I see him again! ... I will!”
“Then if you do! ... Your unforgiving spirit cannot follow me!... You choose death!”
“What Christ?... Do you not see what is really happening? ...Christianity is dying! ... Crosses are being taken down from government places, prayers are taken out of schools, your name Jesus is illegal to be spoken in public places in Europe and in North America!
Most Christians have already stopped going to church!... Heck! ... Christians are too ashamed or too scared to talk about God for fear of offending their friends, other religions, and lawsuits! ... Even parents don’t teach their kids about You! ... Look at the Diables!”
“Yes Brian, people are in rebellion against the Father! They want to do their will just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, ... and just as you do!”
“Well man, you got that right! ... And Christian families? ... Huh! ... What a laugh! ... Living together has become the bloody accepted norm! ... Bonding in the sanctity of Holy Matrimony has become a real joke! ... It’s disappearing and will soon be gone forever!”
“Have more faith Brian! This is the result of the Church crumbling and the beginning of the necessary decaying process to make way for My Second Coming!”
“You would have me believe that the onslaught against Christianity by TV. broadcasts, movies, talk shows, documentaries, books magazines is God’s Will too!”
“No need for sarcasm Brian! The ways of the world are not God’s ways! Yet, those who choose to justify sin by man’s laws are spiritually dead just like the Pharisees and scribes were when I walked amongst them on earth! ... God’s spirit grows in barren ground just like the mustard seed!”
Blustering snow swirls around me, can barely see the cathedral now, mounting wind nearly smothers out the bells ending the mass, alone again, prisoner to an uneasy peace!
“Brian, I will never leave you! You are mine forever! Your holy spirit makes you holy!” “Ar-r-w-w-w!”
So Brian! ... Have you sided with the atheists too?”
“What if I have! ... Most scientists, medical doctors, professors, archaeologists, politicians are atheists aren’t they? ... Can they all be wrong? Their works are based on logical reason and concrete evidence!”
“Brian my Beloved, true knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit of God that gives reasoned discernment to the mind. Do you not see that atheists desperately want to remove the final Judgment of God from themselves? Their disbelief can’t change His Eternal Laws!”
“Oh come on now! Do you think I’m that dumb? ... Everyday scientists are finding new undisputable discoveries about how the universe came into creation!”
“Satan is deceiving you Brian and them too! ... Atheistic scientists claim the universal laws are based on accident and not from God’s Divine Plan! ...Have faith in God’s Word!”
“Faith you say? ... All the famous scientists laugh at faith in God!”
“Not true Brian! ... Nicholas Copernicus, Catholic Church canon, formulated the first mathematically based system of how the planets revolve around the sun. Sir Francis Bacon established the scientific method L’ interpretatione Naturae Prooemium.;he rejected atheism! Johannes Kepler, a pious Luthern, astute mathematician and astronomer, established the laws of planetary motion about the sun. Rene Descartes of strong Catholic faith, scientist, mathematician, modern philosopher, is known for: Les Pensées, a defence of Christianity.
Sir Isaac Newton, a genius in physical mechanics, mathematics, including chemistry, proved how mathematics and numbers were central to the understanding God's plan for history from the Bible, also discovered the concepts of: the natural law, principle of gravity, and the idea of the absoluteness of space dominion created by an intelligent and powerful Being. No part can explain the whole. Robert Boyle known for "Boyle's Law" regarding gases wrote lectures for proving that God was in control and not some random force.
Michael Faraday, a devout Christian, revolutionized physics that led to our modern technological lifestyle regarding telephone-lines and even computers. Gregor Mendel, an abbot, laid the mathematical foundations of human genetics as a principle of God’s plan. Max Planck, a churchwarden and scientist of the quantum theory, gave us our clear understanding of the atomic and sub-atomic worlds in his outstanding work on Religion and Naturwissenschaft. Lastly, Albert Einstein transformed our thinking about time, gravity, spacial dimensions, and energy (E=mc2). He wanted to show how God created our universe!
Okay, then, why do so many of today’s archaeologists claim to have found your tomb and burial box with the name of Jesus, inscribed upon it?”
“Son, the name of Jesus was as common as the name of John Smith is today!”
Yeah, well, most of the TV. programs and talk shows depict your so-called miracles, including the resurrection, as nothing more than an elaborate set of tricks and illusions, and that God is simply man’s invention to satisfy his longing desire for immortality!”
“Brian, believe I am the Resurrection and I will save your soul! Death comes to all mankind. Only souls who live in the Holy Spirit will be co-heirs to Heaven!”
“You know what Jesus? ... That’s a threat! ... Why should I believe in the existence of the Holy Spirit? Today’s scientists are telling us that the spirit of man is nothing more than a result of a bunch of chemical reactions in our mind, just like love or any other human emotion is. Besides, there is no solid proof that the soul even exists! The acclaimed supernatural may easily be explained through quantum physics or even by psychosis!”
“Brian, trust me! ... The accuracy of laws and mathematics cannot be explained by accident or there wouldn’t be any such precision! Applied reason proves this to be so! ...Scientists cannot offer any viable explanation for the creation or existence of even the tiniest piece of matter let alone a whole universe. The best they can do is to describe how it functions. And, the majority of scientists actually do believe in God! ... Know this to be so!”
“Say young man, havin’ a hard time? ... Looks like the Diables gotta hold of ya!”
“Er, hello Officer McLean, ... I’m fine! ... Oh my face? .... I ... I slipped on the ice!”
“Sure ... sure! ... Well, ya don’t seem to be stoned or drunk. Do ya have any medical condition that I should know about? ... Yer scruffy beard and unclean clothes tell me y’ er livin’ off the streets. Can’t afford ta buy yer medicine?... Are ya in deep trouble Son?”
“No, not at all Officer!”
“Lad, ya know our city ordinances?... Zero tolerance of vagrancy in the market! ... Hmm! ... Things seem a little suspicious ta me! .... I need ta see some identification!”
“Why Sir? ... I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Then give me some identification and I won’t arrest ya! ... Thank you! ... So-o-o, y’ er Brian Casey are ya now? ... Aye-e! ... The son of the renowned Irish heart surgeon, Patrick Casey at General Hospital. He knows me well! ... I’ll be!... I’d watched ya grow up meself. Ya got yer Mom’s eyes though! I’d lost sight of ya fer quite awhile. Thought ya had gone off to college or university. Then Brian me Lad, what are ya doin’ here?”
“I ... I’m doing a research on street people.”
“Is this fer some university assignment Brian? ... A thesis perhaps in Sociology?”
“I hope to sell my article to a local newspaper or a magazine publisher.”
“Freelancin’ are ya now! ...Then what’s the ten bucks doin’ in yer open guitar case?”
“I sing some Christmas carols from time to time to give a little spirit to the market. Shoppers like that sort of thing! ... And just seconds before you arrived a woman mistook me for panhandling. I called after her but she didn’t reply!”
“If what ya say is true Son, then ya won’t mind givin’ this money ta support the Police Charity Drive that buys Christmas toys for deprived children!”
“Go right ahead Officer, take it! I have no need of it!”
“Bless ya me Boy! Here are yer tickets and ya just might win a guid prize too-o-o!”
“No Sir! ... You keep it and if you win, give it to some family in need!”
“Me advice ta ya Lad is ta get yerself back home lickety-split! ... The Diable Gang prowls around this part of the city! We police officers can’t patrol all over the market square at the same time. Aye! ... Get yer cuts attended to and say hello ta yer Ma and Da fer me!”
Glacial wind picks up, chills me to the bone, sit back down more depressed than ever! Mass is over, aimlessly survey the parishioners coming out, spot Mom and Dad. My mother signals to cross the street, they proceed quickly toward me, must hide, pull down my hood!
“Pat, I won’t be long! ... Promise Dear!... I’ll just buy the hat and gloves for Katy’s Christmas present that I know she’s dying to have and I’ll be straight out! Be patient Luve!”
“Aye Mary, how many times have I heard that in our forty-two years of marriage?”
Dad, lost for something to do, paces up and down the sidewalk, looks aimlessly in store windows, stops, reads the Market Restaurant Menu, strolls over to Beaudry’s French Fry, strikes up a conversation with André the owner, checks his watch, returns near me, glances in the boutique to see if Mom is coming out, and I knew as he did that she would still be in there for a while yet, impatience sets in. Then as I feared, he takes notice of me!
“Say Laddie, could ye play me a Christmas carol? I’m awaitin’ fer me wife who’s in the store and she’s takin’ a wee bit longer than I’d figured on.”
A panic attack overtakes me, get hot, nervous, dizzy, didn’t dare move a muscle! “How silly of me! ...Of course! I gotta drop some change inta yer guitar case. Look, it’s Christmas so don’t be offended if I overpay ye! Here, take twenty bucks! How’s that? ... Okay? ... Now sing fer me a sweet carol! ... I know! ... It’s Christmas in Killarney if ye know it. If not, any carol will do-o-o.”
I knew the song. I’d sung it many times for him. Ouf!... Would recognize me if I did!
“Well son, has the cat got yer tongue! ... Holy St. Patrick! ... I gave ye enough maun!”
He’d never heard me sing in a tenor pitch before, began, managed to finish my song!
“Lad, y ’er a natural Irish singer ye’ re! Aye! Ye sang it beautifully! Almost had tears in me eyes I did! Yer voice reminds me of some great times of me youth in me native Ireland.” Mom arrives, pauses, curiosity compels her to bend down, sneaks a peek under my hood. Timidly, she lifts it from my face, stares straight into my eyes, recognizes me, gasps, pulls back suddenly, then warmly caresses my left hand with all the pent-up love she had held back for a long time, rises slowly, smiles back at me again. I make a quick sign for her not to tell Dad. Before leaving, he replies merrily,
“We’ll come back tamorrow ta hear ye sing again jus’ befer Christmas Eve Mass.”
Dare not sob, heavy snowfall swallows them up, Beaudry French Fry closes for the night. I’m alone! My eyes drift off to the still-lit church. How I recall the happy wonderful moments I’d spent there with Mom, Dad and Kate! O’ my heart yearns to have that life back!
“Father in Heaven, if you really exist, I pray somehow to reunite me with my family! I want to be loved by them and by you! ... I don’t care what pain I must go through ... Please!”
Hang my aching head upon my throbbing chest. Impish frost bites my nose and ears.
“Get up ya piece of garbage! Brett sent me back ta make sure ya ain’t gonna tell!”
“Uh? ... What’s going on? ... Is Sam dead? ... No! ... I don’t want to hear that!
“The rat put charges against Brett fer attempted murder! If Brett goes down, then me too! Then all the gang! ... And If Sam dies, and it’s not lookin’ ta guid fer us, that’s murder!”
“No Hank, ... I kept my mouth shut to the police! ... And, I won’t ever talk! ... Promise!”
No, y ’ain’t gonna fer sure! ... Brett wants no witnesses! ... Gotta do it or he’ll kill me!” Had to fight for my life! He throws himself at me, I step aside hitting his jaw, he spins about, kick him in the stomach, knock the wind out of him, bends over in agony, give him an uppercut, he falls back down, jump on top of his rigid chest, hit his soft face again and again!
He moans, groans, I get up believing the fight to be over, he attacks anew with a switchblade, we dance around, I avoid his rapid lunges, grab hold of his right arm, wrench it behind his back, he lets go of the knife, I pick up the weapon, walk away without remorse.
He jumps me on my back like a monkey, my neck cracks, fall face down in the snow, all is woozy, kick him backwards in the groin, he falls over in agony, pounce on him once more with the switchblade at his Adam’s apple, tempted beyond control, my hand tightens to slice his throat! In fear of his life, tears roll down his cheek.! ... Then Jesus’ s voice:
“Brian, choose: the way of the world or surrender to Me and live!”
Struggle with my half-belief that this voice is really the Holy Spirit! Frank’s frantic eyes cry out for mercy! God’s Love governs my soul, imprisons my vicious human animal instinct! I rise, help Hank to his feet, give him back his knife, trembling I say sincerely,
“I’m truly sorry! ... I might’ve killed you!”
My knees sink into the soft snow. “Oh Christ, forgive me! .... Thank you!”
Suddenly, a powerful arm catches me in a chokehold! His unwavering hand pushes down on my neck until my forehead slams onto the sidewalk, his two legs arch over me poised to sever my central nerve cord, his body heaves upward signalling he is going to kill me! I am a sacrificial lamb! ... Feel the cold switchblade slide across the back of my neck, skin stings, tiny droplets of red blood sprinkle onto the white snow, I whisper audibly, “God! ... God, Your Will be done!”
Hank drops his razor-keen knife stained with my blood, clutches onto me weeping,
“Sorry! ... I’m so-o-o-o sor-r-y-y-y! ... I don’t know what ta do! ... I’ve no where ta go! ... I hate myself!... I hate-e-e this whole world! ... I’d be better off dead! ”
I examine his sincerity and see the face of frightened a broken-hearted sixteen -year-old kid! ... Instantly, we catch sight of the gang coming our way on the adjacent street!
“Hank quick!... We must hide from the gang in the church!”
“Whatever ya say! ... Gotta git away from the Diables! ... Or, I’m dead!”
Duck into the nearest alley, scurry behind Fred’s Furniture Store, trudge our way through blinding squall drifts, get to the church rectory, ring the half-frozen doorbell, no answer! ... Can’t make it to my home either in this wicket storm!
“Hank, got any money for a cab to get to the shelter?”
“Not enough Brian! ... Brett rips us off every day! ... Keeps us lean and mean!”
Like cornered prey, we huddle together in the church doorway, await our hateful fate!
“Brian, you and Hank are God’s children! I have not yet come to bring you home with Me You both have much to do for the Father! ... Go inside the church by the side service door. The janitor will be leaving within a few moments. ... Hurry! ... Enter, then go directly to the confessional box so you won’t be seen! Father Mulligan is still there praying for all those who had asked for absolution of their sins. He will help you! Make your confessions too!”
“Come Frank! ... God will save our lives!”
Bewildered, he follows my faith! ... We creep in like thieves in the night, shuffle noiselessly to the confessional, hide inside, shutter closes scaring me, the priest mutters,
“It’s late. I am finished hearin’ confessions!”
‘God always has time Father to for his child who wants to reconcile with Him!
Priest sighs, “Okay me son!... True, for Christmas and we must meet Jesus with a clean heart! ... Be quick about it! ...Say the act of contrition.... Aye, now spill yer guts ta me!” All passes in a flash, receive absolution, leave the suffocating booth light-hearted, promise Jesus to believe in Him if I survive, wait to hear the priest mumble to Hank. But ... only total silence!
Realize Hank is not there! Search for him up and down the pews! ... Gone! ... Side door ajar! ... Run back out into the howling blizzard, barely see Hank staggering like a drunkard heading toward the church gate leading to the market. I jackrabbit through the mounting snow banks, catch sight of the Diable gang intending to hunt him down for the kill!
Hank falls, gets up, falls, gets up again, struggles to escape in the opposite direction! I tackle Hank, the possessed demons press on relentlessly yelping death threats!
“Hank, this is our last chance! ... We’re going back inside the church. We’ll ’be safe there!... If not, we’ll close our eyes for the very last time and be in God’s presence!”
Fear weakens our frozen legs like in a nightmare! Barely have time enough to get inside the church, bolt the side door shut! ... Hear heavy panting and hateful cursing!
“Father ... Father Mulligan! ... Come quick!”
“Who are ye lads? ... What’s wrong with your friend?”
“Hank wants out of the Diable Gang Bangers so they want to kill him now!”
“Bang! ... Bang! ... Bang! ... Thump! ...Thump! ... Thump!”
“Hey! ... Hey ya Goody-Goodies! ...Open up or we’ll set the place on fire!”
Kicking, heaving, pounding, the top steel bolt bends, hinges whine and loosen!
“Lissen ya bullies! I’m Father Mulligan. Y’ er assaultin’ God’s church! ... Be off now!”