Category: book

Returning from Mass around 5:30 in the evening, I set down my car-keys and checked the mailbox. Nothing was there. A sinking feeling came into my heart as I realized it wouldn’t be until Monday that my newly ordered, 4 volume set of breviaries arrived. Not that the wait particularly bothered me as I currently had an old crinkled volume IV from the church’s library in my custody. Still, anticipation boiled within me. I longed to feel the weight of each volume in my hands and smell the newly printed pages while chanting the psalms. 

All day, I believed that my breviaries awaited me on Monday. I made dinner, said my Legion of Mary prayers and began surfing the internet. Finally a thought came to mind. I forgot to feed that cats! My mother entrusted me with this duty before embarking on a trip with her sisters. The poor babies were probably starving by now. Curse my negligence! Stealing into my mother’s empty room, I turned the light on and saw a rectangular cardboard box sitting on her bed, two envelopes on top of it.
Excitement surged forth as I read “” on the sides and saw the curved arrow on the logo. I cried out “It’s them! They’re here!” Like a child on Christmas morning who just sited the biggest shiniest gift box with their name on it, I seized the box. My brother, Kevin came in the room wondering what all the shouting was about. All I said was “My books are here! They’re here!”

My fingers trembled as I retrieved a pair of scissors yet Kevin easily tore the box’s lid with his finger. He pulled out a smaller, white box, paused for a moment, then handed it to me saying, “You should be the one to open it.”
In black letters, the words were written across the white box: “Liturgy of the Hours” Without a doubt, they had arrived! Blue, red, brown and green, they lined up inside the box, waiting to be freed by my anxious hands. Carefully, so as not to hurt them, I turned them to the side and let them slide out onto the couch. One by one, I investigated them. They were perfect! At once, I felt unified with the entire Church, enrolled in the camaraderie of countless priests, seminarians, monks, nuns and lay people. God’s hand was in my hand. He gently led me to a piece of tilled land, the fruit of which I was yet to discover.

(By the way, I later discovered that my father fed the cats at 5:30.)




Very often, late at night, looking out at the faint outline of trees, the vast dark skies and eerie moonlight floating above, I think of nature, and God’s wisdom displayed therein. You know the “beasts of earth” and “birds of air” type stuff- and how man was given dominion over them. Too unfortunately, some Christians interpret this as a harsh dominion. Protestant Christian philosophy seems to harbor innate hostility towards nature, a “take and kill what you want” attitude which allows devastation of natural resources. “What use is fussing about the temporary world?” they say “God’s going to destroy it all anyway.”

Now, Catholic philosophy has long said “Let all that lives and breathes bless the Lord.” Some of our great saints, such as Francis of Assisi, Kateri Tekakwitha and Hubert, the patron of hunters, walked amongst nature and saw God’s hand at work in it. We see, on Christmas day, the newborn Jesus adored by lowly ox and ass. We tell stories of mules bowing before the Eucharist and doves landing on popes. To the Catholic Christian, natural things convey supernatural realities. After all, we’re those weirdoes who believe that bread and wine actually becomes the body and blood of Christ. And I fancy only a Catholic would stop and ponder the deeper, theological meaning of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book.

Though the character of Mowgli, considered neither man nor wolf, strikes me as a sort of savior-figure, who masters the animals and destroys their chief enemy, there is something perhaps more subtle that catches my eye. It is the jungle’s creation-story, in the second installment which foretells when every animal will fall under one law. During a severe draught, a truce is declared for sake of survival. At the water hole, where animals drink, none of them may kill or hunt another. Here, Mowgli learns that Shere-Khan, the tiger, killed a man, asks why and then hears the jungle creation-story.

It begins with a creator-god…or elephant; who makes all the jungle creatures, all the land, water and food. All animals only eat plants and fruit- they are innocent. It is the Tiger who brings sin into the world. He gets banished and fear takes flesh in the form of hairless, cunning human beings. The tiger returns, admits his crime but then slays the human out of pride. He says: “I killed fear” but because he did so, man, that fearsome creature, learns to kill and deal death. Here we see the motif of creation, paradise and original sin. Interestingly, the Tiger is given one night yearly to venture forth and lawfully kill a man.

Blood begets blood. From first-kill comes first-predator. Man is fearsome, a most-wise enemy of nature who, forgetting his primordial home, builds villages and fires. He holds dominion over the animals, trapping and killing as he pleases. His tools are deadlier than any tooth or claw. Hurt by that first sin, he sets himself against nature. Likewise, Adam and Eve battled animals and forces of nature after expulsion from paradise. In Eden, they never needed fire. Yet, out in the desert, they needed not only fire, but nets, spears and knives. Against the emergent onslaught of sin and death, man devised many tools and deadly strategies. However, his enemy was- and always will be the Tiger, the agent of that first sin. A cunning predator, the Devil has allowance into our homes, a work-permit towards our destruction. Scripture compares this enemy to “a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Pride breeds pride. In a vicious cycle, man and Devil ever threaten the world around them.

Here, the story ceases to give further insight. The rest could be guessed. I believe that henceforth, man is given a choice. He can fashion nets to save animals- or to slay them. Whether he kills for food or for pleasure makes the difference. The way he kills speaks volumes about his soul. For if God made man in His own image, ruling over the beasts, his humanness and mercy betray God. When merciless and cruel, he betrays another. By no mistake, we regard a man who loves animals as sensitive and kind but think a man who hates them as heartless and frightening. An animal-lover mirrors God who condescends to lesser beings. Like God, he feeds, tends, looks after the weak and gives shelter. He is fatherly, like a husband. The man who beats, tortures or starves animals echoes the Devil who only undermines and destroys. We would never trust him with our children!

Now, I’m not saying the perfect Christian is a tree-hugging hippie- no, I’m saying that Christian faith obliges us to care for what is beneath us. We act in God’s image whenever we feed a stray dog, scare a possum off the road or knock a bird’s egg back into the nest. A stewardship has been placed in our hands. How should we use it? We’ve all heard the saying: “Nature, red in tooth and claw.” But how, tell me, shall be man? Isn’t he more than tooth or claw? Has he not received a rational mind, ruling over the earth, wielding bow and trowel, both hunter and gardener, modeled in the loving image of God?



Nature red in tooth and claw,

man beheld natural law.

Creation laden death and glory,

forests ring with man, his story.


I twas a gatherer for God first gathered

the starry sky.

I twas gardener for God first planted

the greenest byre.

I twas fisherman for God first schooled

flocks of the sea

And I twas archer for God first plucked

feathered breed.


Lo, but after fall,

I gazed upon nature all.

Man the killer, not under law,

held fin, leaf and feather

beneath red claw.


Then I twas ever to bleed,

keep from bleeding

and to make bleed.


Once, no thing slew,

now we all slay

lest slain.


The fifth book of “The Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli series.” A cardinal’s life is full of duties, documents, appointments and ceremonies, this young Fratelli knows well, and after a series of comical mishaps gets him to realize he’s being overworked, he decides upon a lovely vacation in Pisa to the south. He heads along the coast of Italy, reluctantly taking Gianni and several servants with him, including Jan, intent on soaking up the sunshine and lovely scenery.

However, Fratelli soon finds that even vacations can be thorny as the friendly Archbishop of Pisa wants help with many things, Gianni soon lands himself in trouble and the pestered cardinal just can’t seem to get any time alone! Will Fratelli get the vacation he’s always wanted- or disaster?

Avalable on Amazon and Kindle!

A Short Story

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,

because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions.

Let us test him with insult and torture,

that we may find out how gentle he is,

and make trial of his forbearance.

 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,

for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

–          Wisdom, 2:12, 19-20



Slick snow covered grey pavement, exhaust rose into the air lost in the clutter of many feet. Dennis glanced up folding a textbook in his backpack. It would be 1:00 soon and he’d have to rush off yet again, get back to the small city university, sit in a crowded lecture room and listen to a boring physics professor.  As he stood, a silence settled over the cool afternoon. The crowds had cleared, scurrying to finish their day’s work. Suddenly, on the frozen street emerged a lone figure, a tall man with closely-cropped, brown hair. Most noticeably, a long, stark black robe swirled behind his silent footsteps.

Dennis had seen a Catholic priest before but never like this, walking so conspicuously down the street. Shivering, tightening his jacket, Dennis watched the priest’s otherworldly, almost ethereal silhouette glide over the snowy ground. Far as Dennis knew, no one else was there. He stood, not understanding exactly why this priest transfixed him, demanded his attention. He actually felt silly…

Another person strolled past, utterly ignoring Dennis as if he were an unassuming icicle on the nearest wall. This person was undoubtedly male, thickly-built, his face wrapped in a red scarf. He approached the black-robed priest. Meeting him, he raptly yanked the scarf off, showing his meaty neck, stress-creased face and small lips which opened to speak:

“I was raised Catholic… now I know Jesus Christ.”

The priest timidly turned.

“I am glad you know Him,” he answered.

Such a demure, cool reply seemed to only unnerve the man who shoved an indignant finger into the air

“And you never told me! Some Gospel you preach… buried in a heap of piety and false motions!”

“I am sorry you feel that way…” began the priest before he was cut off.

“AND, you lied to me, told me I had to confess my sins, pray to statues and bow to the pope!”

The priest cleared his throat. He had an explanation; he wanted to explain and would have explained if only the man ceased hounding him.  Hands trembling, he pulled a worn, black covered Bible from his coat pocket. Dennis saw the heavy book then briefly remembered his class. He needed to go right now or else be late. However, he stood there motionless as yet someone else came forth: a teenage girl clad in a tattered, leather coat. She spoke but the two engrossed men didn’t hear. Determined that her voice would be acknowledged, she stepped between them and raised a bony hand.

“The hypocrisy of the church is why I don’t believe in God,” she asserted.

The fervent, Bible wielding man paused, certainly baffled. His mouth tensed and waited to announce salvation to yet another lost soul.

“A priest refused to help my sister who was penniless and pregnant- and why? Because she could never pay back the money she needed!”

The Bible-toting man hesitated, silently debating whether he should tell the poor atheist girl of Jesus or adjoin more complaints about the Catholic Church. But, the young woman seemed very sensible…she after all, had been scandalized, pushed away by the glaring hypocrisy of false religion. Thus, he decided to leave her alone. This priest had dared show his face in public, to flagrantly display his religiosity and therefore, begged for a challenge.

The teenager beat him to it. She impatiently ordered, “Yes, please tell me how we’re supposed to believe that bread and wine somehow, miraculously  turns into the body and blood of Christ? Tell me how you can swear off marriage in some fancy ceremony and then prey on widows and even children?”

“I never harmed a child,” the priest objected.

Anger flashed in his eyes. He would have fled these two, dogged accusers but he cringed, cheeks flushed with humility, stung by a sense of injustice and grave sin. A deep voice suddenly erupted from behind Dennis. He clutched his backpack, shivering and let an elderly man step past.

“And you Catholics are racist!” he yelled, “Think that blacks and women are second-class.”

He then pointed back towards Dennis. Noting his light-brown complexion, he now brought attention to the fact he was mulatto, half African-American.

“Bet you would tell this boy he shouldn’t go to college?  Say he’s better off cooking fries in some greasy restaurant?”

“I never said that, nor would I ever say that…” muttered the priest, “My religion doesn’t teach that…”

Growing calm for a second, the teenaged-girl crossed her arms. She would assert herself, dominate the symbol of patriarchal society who trod her down. It wasn’t good enough to make him think, to make him question faith…she needed to crush him just like she had been crushed.

“My sister had to get married at sixteen, to an abusive prick because her family said if she got an abortion, she would burn in hell. She can’t even pay her bills, she lives in a trailer, in some hick town- you ruined her life!”

Finally, they backed the besieged priest into a nearby alley. He leaned against a wall, huddled, closing his eyes and said, “Please leave me alone. Stop tormenting me!”

“Oh you dumb kid,” admonished the elderly man, “You have no clue about real torment. Twenty years ago, I was stationed in Vietnam. I saw good friends, guys I went to school with, die. They died for your freedom, with twenty-five pounds of gear strapped to their backs, so that dandies like you could parade around in dresses!”

“Don’t say that to me!” the priest finally shouted back. He straightened, gaining courage, and faced the old man.

In return, the old man scowled. He lifted his fist, saying:

“Back in my day, kids who smarted their elders got slapped across the mouth.”

When the priest attempted to bat the old man’s hand away, he abruptly jerked and with one swift stroke, struck him across the mouth. Dennis now quivered. He didn’t know what to do. Could he pull the old man away? Would his combativeness then be unleashed upon him? No, it was better the adults dealt with it….

At once, Dennis’s gaze turned to yet another oncomer. Wearing a blue, buttoned, uniform shirt, strolled past a security guard. Likely, he was on patrol, rounding the nearby construction site and seeing him, Dennis sighed with relief. Maybe he would put a stop to this? See the disputing men and direct them to take their disorderly conduct elsewhere? He did speak however, his voice grated, almost angry, definitely harsh:

“This guy giving you trouble?”

Ironically, this question wasn’t addressed to the priest but rather the old man.

“Nah, just a young git who thinks himself better than us,” the old man replied.

The teenage girl added, “He’s pushing religion on us!”

“Really?” said the guard, “This guy here, harassing a defenseless, old man?”

Recovering his bearing, the priest then interjected:

“He is not defenseless. He just hit me!”

Nearing the priest, looking into his eyes, the menacing, security-guard jeered:

“Maybe you deserve to get hit?”

Yet the guard let that question hang above them and hastily departed, for he had more important business elsewhere.

Cringing, the priest stepped aside. He shook his head in sheer disbelief.

“I didn’t do anything to you, to anyone!” he hollered.

Desperation marred his fairly-youthful face. Dennis realized he could be no older than forty. He saw his intense, bright blue eyes darting with fear.

“I didn’t do anything either,” remarked the old man, ringing his cold hands, “In fact, I was once a hero, then when I was done, they threw me away. For my reward they called me a burden, a good-for-nothing old crock!”

Raptly, as if seeking an outlet for anger and long-accrued spite towards the world which used fellows like him then simply threw them away, the old man grasped the priest’s shirt. He growled then thrust him onto the hard ground. The Bible-carrying man, who had since been deathly silent, clutched his book of Holy Writ tightly to his chest, nodded his head and came forth.

“Oh, leave him alone,” he pleaded, “He’s just a wretched sinner in need of God’s grace…”

“You gonna preach to him?” asked the old man. Rather satisfied, convinced he had expressed himself enough, he shrugged and backed away.

Indeed, our goodly, Christian man, reached down, offering the priest his hand and said:

“Come on, come and repent of your sin…surrender to the arms of the Lord.”

Eyes flashing fearsomely, deeply insulted, the priest shoved this hand away. He climbed to his feet, wiped his face and retorted:

“I know Christ. It is you who fails to see him.”

At this, the Christian replied, “Oh yes and you know Christ? You who serves the Whore of Babylon stained with the blood of God’s holy people, who murdered the saints throughout the ages, who plundered and made a fortune from conquest?”

“I didn’t do those things…nor did any Catholic alive today,” the priest stammered, “and the Church, she is not a Whore but the Bride of Christ.”

“A very filthy and adulterous bride!”

Sighting a way of escape just beyond the alley’s edge, the priest took his chance. He swerved to the right then dashed away. In this frenzy, his feet suddenly slid over icy ground and stumbled.

The Christian man looked on coldly while the teenage-girl giggled. A clever smile crept across her face. Ever youthful, ever pure, her countenance glowered with dark and most impure sadism. She approached, halting the priest mid-stride and snatched him in a playful embrace.

“You’re just a poor boy…” she crooned then in a darker tone, added, “and you remind me of everything I hate!”

She shoved him backwards then spit on him. A sudden quiet settled. Soon, a young male figure entered the alleyway. About Dennis’s age, he may have easily been his fellow-student. Noise and voices drew him and coming closer, he gazed curiously. Immediately seeing the black-robed priest, he cleared his throat and declared, loud enough for all to hear:

“The Catholic religion is nothing but a disease….Inquisitions, Crusades, Oppression, hypocrisy, child-molestation…A damned crime against humanity!”

Dennis gaped, beholding the surreal scene.  By now, several onlookers had gathered, standing at the alley’s mouth. Dennis could hear their rusting feet and faint muttering.  It seemed a small mob had gathered off the city streets and assembled into a court of law. A nightmarish jury clothed in snow and smoke, they stood ready to sentence the unfortunate clergyman and his entire church. He shook his head to be sure he wasn’t trapped in some strange dream. What were they doing here? Where did they all come from? Why did they so greatly loath this lone priest? Why didn’t anyone stop the student as he drew a set of keys from his pocket and rushed upon their “defendant”?

Wide-eyed, Dennis couldn’t help but watch. Something like a bad movie unfurled right in front of him. The student, built like a jock, overpowered the priest and then landed two good-sized cuts across his face. At this point, the Christian man who once proudly touted his holiness and true love of God, fled.  The old man stared in surprise. However, he didn’t act. He merely wagged his head, as if silently saying: “That’s what he gets.”

The atheist girl quivered with excitement. When the student swung another blow, she shrieked, jumping up and down, yelling: “Oh, my hero! Show him! Make him pay!”

Frantically, Dennis peered directly at the small crowd, his plaintive, brown eyes beseeching them. There were four of them. They could easily stop this fray, could calm everyone down- or at least, call the cops. Yet they stood frozen, unmoving, unable- or unwilling to do anything.

A shape fell at his feet. Face oozing with blood, the priest hugged Dennis’s pant-leg, wordlessly pleading for help. Panicked, heart pounding in his chest, Dennis began tugging on the old man’s coat-sleeve.

“Please do something!” he hissed.

Jerking his arm free, the old man replied: “Get off me!”

He turned away. Consumed by his own fear, Dennis nearly forgot the student that now faced him. He panted like an animal, marveled at his show of strength, gazed upon broad, blood-stained hands. Then, rather casually, he wiped them on his pants.

“What the hell is wrong with you,” Dennis blurted out, fearfully backing away.

“Oh, I have just begun,” answered the student.

His dry, chaffed lips twisted into a calloused grin. He was demented, Dennis realized, he was mad with the deadliest sort of wrath. Glancing towards the four onlookers who still stood there dumbstruck, he mouthed: “Call the police.”

All hope was lost as the student intently drew nearer. Effortlessly lifting the priest, the student glared at Dennis with piercing, black eyes. He asked him:

“You go to that fancy university, I know you do. So you can tell all about the Catholic Church, all about its history, all about its horrible clergy who did and still do evil things…”

When Dennis hesitated, the student spoke louder:

“Come on, college-boy; tell me, what do your textbooks say?”

Downcast and defeated, Dennis finally answered, “It’s true… They did horrible, evil things. By the fourteenth century, the Catholic Church became so corrupt and immoral, that Christianity had to split itself in two. That is what the textbooks say.”

A crushing woe struck Dennis. It sunk into the pit of his heart. He had to accept the grim facts he was taught, that Catholicism existed as an opportunistic, self-serving religion. He knew nothing else. He bet even the five who watched knew it. They had also learned nothing else. If the priest served evil- then he was evil and maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for him to incur punishment. Maybe it suited that he endured the lashes of their anger, suffering and indignation.

Suddenly, the unspoken sentence was decided. The crowd, the old man, the girl, the student and the textbooks all said one thing. Dennis drifted into a dreamlike haze. He could hardly believe he remained there as the student tossed his priestly victim down and delivered a hard kick to his side. The girl laughed aloud and Dennis thought, just for a second, he heard the old man mutter, “I’m washing my hands of this…”

A second kick thudded, hitting bone and for a first time, shrill cries jarred the crowd from their stupor. Two walked away, one drew close for a better look and the rest indifferently stared. What was wrong with them? Dennis wondered. What was wrong with him? He strained to speak, at least to say this was getting ridiculous. The student, who once decried cruel acts of history, seemed increasingly hypocritical as he pummeled the priest with his booted foot. Dennis longed to stop this but he could not move. He also feared the student’s wrath, realizing he might turn on him, cut open his face, snap his fingers like pencils, send him down to the ground. No, he didn’t want to follow after the priest who writhed bleeding and helpless on the icy pavement.

“Don’t just stand there!” Dennis scolded himself inwardly, “Help him for God’s sake before that lunatic kills him…do it because he is human.”

That last part echoed resoundingly in his mind, repeated itself over and over. People who did bad things were still human. For all their wickedness and hypocrisy, human beings possessed living, breathing souls, sometimes capable of great good. Wasn’t it a beautiful thing when a gangbanger turns to God? When a hooker gives up the fast life? When hardened-killer on death-row, finds pardon? Didn’t Dennis faintly remember hearing in Sunday-school long ago that God came for sinners? The priest did nothing. He was innocent. It was not expedient he should pay for the others’ sins.  Dennis would no longer stand by and watch him get beaten to death.

“Stop it, damn you!” he shouted, moving to grab the student’s arm.

With a single gesture Dennis was shaken off. He tripped backwards; eyes closed as he hit the stone wall and opened them to see a lifeless black lump at his feet. It was too late…

Tales of Frustration in Search of Tall-tales.




As a Christmas gift I received a NOOK, yes, one of those e-reader things I swore I’d never want, something I always regarded as the mark of the beast- an unnatural, evil nemesis to timeless, paper books. However, once I got this electronic library into my hands, I developed an uncanny desire for tall-tales. You know what I’m talking about, giants, princesses, dragons, talking trees, shape-shifters, magic carpets, enchanted forests and palaces that belong to ancient gods whose names usually end in “us” or “ios”…

In short, I embarked on a search for good yarns. However, little did I know that on this quest, my childhood innocence would be ruthlessly culled by senseless erotica involving every one of my cherished creatures from gargoyles to elves. Seriously, what is wrong with people that they write a novel dripping with pornographic scenes and label it “fantasy” so that some ten-year-old kid can randomly stumble upon it and ask their mother what on Middle-Earth is the fairy princess doing to Puff the Magic Dragon’s tail?

I miss the good old days when R-rated books were separated from the rest and given a cautionary warning that read: “May have contents foul, perverse and at best, very awkward.” I would sincerely appreciate having such a warning on my NOOK so that the next time I search for books about “mermaids” I don’t encounter The Erotic Tales of Ariel the Sex-fiend in some dark corner of the magic forest.

Just in time for Christmas, I published the 4th Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli book on Kindle and Nook.


The Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli endure in this 4th novella of the series. Easter Season, the holiest season of the year, comes into full swing. Following the death of his Aunt’s father, Cardinal Fratelli prepares for his youngest cousin, Philomena’s arrival. He has trouble adjusting to this new resident who draws the eyes of many young men- including the son of the Duke of Tuscany!
Meanwhile, the boy, Gianni, readies for his first communion. Michele, who is married to Fratelli’s brother, also prepares for something important: the birth of her first child. Surprises, mishaps- and party invitations, appear around every corner and Fratelli must balance being a pastor, a chaperone and a nephew as family dysfunction rears its ugly head!




It is hilarious and well worth giving as a gift!

**In case you are wondering why I’m not posting any Christmas stuff yet, I’m still waiting until we are further along into Advent. I know Christmas is about more than just buying things, it is centered on the greatest moment in history when God became man! When time stood still and the Almighty entered into earthly life. The precise answer to mankind’s cry for a Savior. Oh darn, I just posted Christmas stuff!

Please consider buying my Cardinal Fratelli books for someone special this Christmas. Revolving around the mishaps of a blundering clergyman, they feature a light-hearted look at Christian faith, family and life. They are available on, Nook and Kindle!






^ This is the first volume, it introduces us to the lovable character of Cardinal Fratelli and shows us the little mishaps that occur every day as he lives out his priestly vocation. See how profoundly, a relationship with the Lord effects his life in meaningful- and comical ways!





The second volume is all about Cardinal Fratelli’s plans for Christmas. Here, you get to meet his entire family and see their funny quirks. A strong message about the real reason for Christmas is also written into these pages. It is wonderful, endearing and hilarious!







I encourage everyone here to click on this link so that they will be treated to a wonderful experience. This is a project I am working on and will be contributing more to: The Cardinal Fratelli Picture Book.


Reverie in the Garden

It features illustrations, done by Rachel M. Gohlman (myself) and Denita L. Arnold, of various scenes from the good cardinal’s life with beautiful descriptions for each picture. When it is fully completed, it will be posted on his blog. Please click on Cardinal Fratelli’s facebook page below to see the work-in-progress and enjoy it!


~ The Cardinal Fratelli Picture Book ~


I would also like to remind those of you who are looking for a good Christmas present for a special person, that the first three volumes of the Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli are out on, Kindle and Nook!






Sooner or later, it comes natural for a writer who is engrossed in their new Catholic faith and in all things ecclesiastical, to want to write about clergy. Stern priests waging war against the powers of darkness, crafty bishops and determined popes make for excellent characters. They are themselves, each one man, laid bare and, for the most part, without mundane desires, clichéd motives and romantic affairs. The story of a clergyman is simply, the story of a soul.

It is easy for a writer to get swept up in epic matters when dealing with clergy characters, partially, from the attributes aforementioned and partially, because they are characters who seldom display their vulnerable, human traits. Indeed, many fictional churchmen are iron-willed or altogether immoral while most, real men waver somewhere in between. Sometimes, in works lacking original quality, they are one-sidedly apathetic, fanatical or power-hungry, to the point where the man is erased and the stereotype is all that stands.

Clergymen have dual-citizenship as to speak. The man dwells on earth, entrapped within sensations, desires and fears while the soul of the man fixes eyes on the heavens, ever battling unseen demons. He is man, wholly man. And despite his impotence or cowardice, he embodies the meaning of what it is to be man.

A priest, whether portrayed as a ruthless tyrant or a weeping martyr, is Adam. The Spirit of God is breathed into him, giving new life and new meaning to the fatherly vocation. Even the most-abominable cleric, which is seen throughout books and movies, is called to be Adam, a tiller of the soil, a tender of the flock and a father of the household. He is the caretaker of Eve, the woman, the Church. He can teach his spiritual children to be like Cain or Abel. And mostly, like Adam, he will fail, will waver and will sin.

But it was through Adam that the tribes of Israel were born and the line of David. Where sin abounds so does virtue. That is why the name of the evil pope will be forgotten in literature, except perhaps the most infamous examples who hearken back to Judas, and why the name of the good will last onwards. Shallow people get caught up in the life of Alexander VI or Cardinal Wolsey, and think their stories to be epic romances whereas people of true, deeper faith are enraptured by the lives of Leo The Great or John Fisher. They preoccupy themselves with those who are living, whom they will meet one, grave day in heaven and ask of them untold questions.

Verily, where Adam failed, there is Christ, the True Adam and True Priest. Where there is sin, there lies hidden a story of redemption. The life and death of a clergyman is measured by sin and redemption. In a good story, one you will want to read again and again, the sinful priest realizes his destiny. He eventually shrugs off the weight of the world, repents and then dies as a chaste, old man- or at least, bequeaths to his children the virtues he never himself learned. The story of a wicked cardinal does not become epic when he falls from grace, robs the poor or defiles his body- no; this tale only enters the realm of saga when he gives himself back to God.  It is repentance that gives sin worth- otherwise it is just obscene repetition, only good for backroom novels and second-rate literature.

When writing of clergy; keep three factors in mind: every priest is a sacrifice and a sacrifice-er, a ruler and a slave, a virgin and a father.

      The priest is a victim, offered up for sake of his people. Even the most worldly of priests did not own themselves. Their breath was taken from them in the end just like every other man’s, their toils laid into the foundation of the Church. The priest is a lamb, led to slaughter. If any trouble or misery fall upon his flock, it shall fall upon his shoulders. At the same time, he offers sacrifice, the one and only Eucharist of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Lamb of Heaven. The most corrupt and vile cleric must still, despite all his ventures and wills, prepare this Most-Holy sacrifice at the altar.

         The priest rules over his family and flock. He is father and presider over them yet he is also a manservant before them and the entire Church of God. He bows down his head beneath the flock’s sins and bares them up in absolution. Even if he may be devoid of life in himself, he must immerse the newborn soul into baptismal waters. Even if he repents not, the priest must provide the sweet unction of forgiveness at every deathbed.

       Did you consider that even the lustful priest, after his own flesh, is yet a virgin? There is a right way and a perverse way that one is virginal: The Godly priest keeps chastity and prudence at his side, knowing not charm or romance or affections. He is like Christ, born of a virgin, married to Heaven and not to this world. However, one can be in his spirit, a boy and never a man. His soul knows not the consummation with Christ and stays to itself, waning in spiritual poverty. By this second way, is the priest who commits debauchery. While he is virgin, the priest is a father of many children. As the Great Apostle Paul, he becomes father to his children by the Gospel. As they are babes, he feeds them and raises them up, giving them spiritual meat in good time. Married to God, he gives himself away and lays down life so he may sire mature children of faith.

What are good models or mold for clergyman characters? I suggest simple reference to the Scriptures, for therein, lies the ultimate saga of priesthood. I have said before that the priest is like Adam. Thus, the bishop is like Moses, the cardinal like Peter and the pope like King David. Yet, they all must be like Christ- or else, they are the same as Judas. The priest is Adam, tiller and husband of the Church. He is the primal man, closest to original nature. He wills good at all times, though weak-willed and gullible, and perishes in the duties of protecting his family and flock. By the sweat of his brow, he lives, by the outpouring of self, he loves. His children are many. The best priest of fiction will mimic in every way, Adam, that first patriarch.

     The bishop is Moses, law-giver and miracle-worker. He rules the Church. He is covenanted man, closest to what God wills him to be. Christ sees in the bishop a meager and inferior reflection of Himself. The bishop leads his people unto new frontiers; he quells their disputes like a high-priestly judge. He is so united to the flock that on his body, their suffering is mirrored. When he wavers, so do they. When he sins, they do despair.

        The model cardinal is as Peter, prince and steward of the Kingdom. He governs the church, brother to the bishop, sharing in the priesthood. He is also covenanted man, urged by God’s will. However, like Peter, the Chief disciple, he represents power mixed with weakness. His courage quickly becomes cowardice yet his every curse becomes a holy blessing.

        The most-legendary pope is David, holder of the keys, royal arbiter of the Kingdom. He judges the Church. He bears the burden of the Covenant, commanded by God’s will. Like David of Old, he lingers between grave sin and untold holiness. With each and every commission of adultery, his heart is rent and his soul driven to repentance. The words always upon his lips are: “Miserere me Deus.” “Have mercy on me, O God.” He represents both Christ and the flock. Because the saints wage constant war with devils, the pope will be embodied by thus. If he makes a judgment with evil, he reflects Satan and when judging rightly, he mirrors the Lord Christ. Like Adam, his sin is carried onto the next generation but like David, he is foresworn a fixed place, free from hell’s pressing dominion, at the Lord’s door and gate.

Study these types and write of them carefully. Know what it is you are telling. Cling to the eternal romance which God has unraveled before mankind, throughout history, and you will hold within it, the story of all wickedness and virtue, of all grief and joy, of all death and life- the story of our fall and rise- and of our final salvation.