Tag Archive: mystery


The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most-perfect gift in which God gives himself to man, and man gives himself to God. When we go to Mass, a banquet is spread before us full of splendor, richness, sweetness and praise. God’s goodness overflows.  As a Protestant, I couldn’t really see God’s love for me, nor touch or taste it. God was an abstract person, far from us, that the preacher only talked about. Yes, he did tell us to “accept Jesus into our hearts” but this sort of prayer seemed like an intellectual exercise. When I finally discovered the Catholic Mass, I was able to say, here is truly the outward manifestation of God’s love for us! In the act of receiving communion, believed to be the actual body and blood of Jesus, “accepting Jesus into your heart” became more than just an idea but a real, concrete thing.

The Mass is our “Mysterium Tremendum”. It is the kingly, priestly and prophetic prayer of the entire people of God. Both a banquet and a sacrifice, it reopens every grace bestowed to us by Jesus on the cross of Calvary. In a lifetime, it would be impossible to understand all that happens at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or count all its gifts. Before such a tremendous mystery, we can only reflect on bits and pieces until the whole is revealed in heaven, where at the altar not made of human hands, we will worship for all eternity. The following gifts I now reflect on are just a foretaste of what God prepares for us, that which eye has not seen and ear has not heard.

 

The Gold of the Mass:

gold

“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” – Malachi 3:3

When the sweet smell of incense rises in smoky curls, the organ thunders and heavenly strains of Gregorian chant hit your ears as you see the priest process by wearing vestments that shimmer like fire, you are experiencing the gold of the Mass. These are the outward treasures of the church proudly displayed. While such beauty may consist of expensive materials, they speak of the treasures of heaven rather than earth. We do not count the cost of this perfume poured out in devotion, for God is master of all things.

Some may deem beauteous things as mere externals however, we know their true purpose: our senses, sight, smell, sound, touch, are guided to heavenly realities. Mysteries are brought low, so that man may taste and see. We see before us, entrance into that paradise lost and a foretaste of eternal delight. A lavish wedding feast calls our attention, our minds and hearts.

The gold of the Mass is the priceless adornment of the temple of God, which should match the adornment in our heart. Since we cannot see the hearts of others, we are shown something to strive for, the adornment of virtue, faith, hope, charity. It is also a reminder of God’s greatest gift to us, His Only begotten Son, who was incarnated of the Virgin Mary and became man. The Lord of all creation became poor so we may be rich. He became human so we could become divine. Gold was presented to the newborn babe in Bethlehem, placed before the manger of the King of Kings. Now, chalices and plates of gold are a fitting throne for Him. From a gold vessel we receive something infinitely more precious than gold. We receive the price of our redemption: the blood of Jesus Christ!

The beauty of the Mass summons our collective memory as ransomed people of God, no longer slaves but friends and servants of the most high. A royal priesthood, whose bonds have been loosed, we stand and give thanks to God, carrying our gold, singing our song of victory. Thus the gold corresponds to the end of the Mass which is thanksgiving.

Instead of being a pompous parade of human accomplishments, fine vestments and solemn chant sing of God’s accomplishments. He shed all the glories of heaven and while still Lord of Lords, died on a barren cross for our sins. He wore the sorrowful vestments of death so we could wear the glittering garments of resurrection. Being tried in fire, gold is living. Pressed in the crucible, it emerges stronger. It is also a very pure element, mirroring pure worship. Therefore, being given an inheritance that never fades away, we echo the words: “How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me.”

 

 

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Last week a friend visited me. We got to talking about the Mass… and I showed her a video on Youtube of a priest consecrating the Holy Eucharist ad orientem. No, this is not the name of a famous Chinese restaurant- it means facing towards the east, towards the altar. Inadvertently, I started gushing about the priesthood, what a gift it is and how it is a profound sign of romance with God.

To begin, the Mass itself is shrouded in nuptial language and symbolism. Paul refers to the Church in his letter to the Ephesians: “And the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:31-32) The book of Revelation was originally called “Apocalypsis” from Greek, meaning “unveiling” and it describes in detail a heavenly liturgy and the sacrificial wedding feast of Christ. Christ himself used wedding imagery in his parable of the King’s banquet where those without proper garments were cast away. Most telling, one of the angels gathered around heaven’s throne in Revelation exclaims:  “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (19:9)Everything about a Mass is nuptial. When Mass bells ring, it is a summons to all, to come to this wedding feast. Wearing garments, the priest approaches the altar from the church’s central aisle, as do a bride and groom. The penitential rite asks for God’s forgiveness, so we may be cleaned of sin and given the white garments of grace. We approach the Holy Eucharist from that same aisle, bowing in humility and accepting the flesh of Christ, our Divine Spouse.

Now that this short background is given, I will speak just of the priest, because it was what I saw in the priest that brought me to such admiration. A Catholic priest is one wedded to the Church- and to Christ. The sacrament of Holy Orders unites him with God Almighty in an unseen bond of untold power. It melds his soul into the soul of the Church, which is the Holy Spirit sealed by the blood of Christ. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the consecration, ad orientem. (note: I am not going into liturgical politics here and am aware that consecration ad populum or facing the people, is wholly valid. So please do not misinterpret things)

The priest becomes closed to the world and opened to God. He stands there, partly in silence, sometimes muttering and sometimes speaking plainly. A conversation is happening there, a dialogue so hidden that we dare not pry, we don’t ask “Father what were you saying back there?” It is a conversation so tender that the very heart of Christ seems manifest before us. We perceive Calvary and we gasp at the horror- and sheer beauty of it.

While an epic scene unfolds, the priest becomes less like a stuffy celibate and every minute more like an enraptured spouse. He leans close, whispers sweet nothings to God, his Beloved and gazes into the space between heaven and earth. The man without a wife and family experiences the greatest of intimacies. In amorous poetry matching the Biblical Song of Songs, the soul makes love to God. Here, the priest seems to say: “My Dearest, My Only, I am here…I worship you… I love you. Stay with me and never leave!” The priest becomes as John, the Beloved who leaned upon Our Lord’s breast and who, captured by love, ceased to worry.

Someone who relinquished what is so natural and so goodly for every human man suddenly realizes why. In that moment, nothing is worth more than God. Nothing beckons and calls but God alone. The priest realizes only he can approach the altar, only he may caress the sacred host or raise the precious chalice. Only he can place his head on the breast of Christ, place his hand into His saving wounds and draw out the sacrifice which is mankind’s salvation. What a gift! What profound intimacy and divine love! All the mercy, long-suffering and tenderness of God revealed here!

 

ad orientem

 

Our only proper reaction is to shrink back, bend low and weep as did the Israelites when smoldering clouds wreathed the mountain of Sinai. We can say, “Jesus Christ, my Lord and God, have mercy!” One thing we absolutely cannot do is ignore it, shrug or say in prideful impatience: “What is going on? Will he hurry up?” Even non-Catholic and non-Christian persons cannot pretend that something mysterious is not happening. Whether one adores or despises the priest, he can’t look away; he can’t help but be moved on some level. God is at work in the hands of a priest. He declares His love through the whispers of a priest. He uses lowly men, both wicked and saintly men, doubtful and confident men, ugly and wondrous men, selfish and loving men. Yes, God, who created the entire Universe in ages primordial, chooses mere man that He may draw all men to Himself.

Attention Pastors, Youth Pastors, Music Directors, Deacons and Catechists:

 

I have oft heard the complaint from you that “The young people aren’t interested in Catholic faith, they don’t come to Mass and they don’t volunteer to sing, lector or help with ministries…it seems there is little hope these days!”

I’ve come to tell you, there is hope! The young people can be drawn to Catholic faith, Mass, choir and any church-related ministry. You can get them interested!

 

The Problem:

Frequently, young Catholics feel ignored, not that they aren’t being pampered or praised or given special attention, I mean they are trying to tell you exactly what they like, what they expect from the Church, what they are yearning for deep in their souls… but you simply aren’t listening.

I am in my twenties, part of the tail end of what they call “the John Paul II generation” I came into the Catholic Church just as John Paul II went out. My RCIA class was on fire for faith, for learning and for yearning. We did homework, read our catechism, got on the internet, immersed ourselves in it all! The parish that nurtured this crop of oncoming-converts was steeped in reverence and awe for tradition. Not just going through motions and singing empty songs. On Ash-Wednesday, we proudly explained the odd mark on our heads, we debated Protestants on the Bible, we learned basic prayers- in Latin AND English. Sunday night Mass ensued in candlelit splendor, amidst clouds of incense and to the tune of Laudate Dominum. You could never look at these young people and say “They just don’t care”.

After RCIA and graduation, I returned home and attended what you’d call your average parish church. I descended from a world of splendor to bare walls, hurried Masses and barebones hymns. Still fervent in the sacraments, the Eucharist and the Early Church Fathers, I lived on. Come 2012, I attend a parish in central Florida. Art covered the walls, thank God, but it was rather bare art. Mass was still hurried and hymns still barebones. Something however was very familiar: no Latin during Ordinary time, nor during Advent, nor during Lent, no incense, no Laudate Dominum.

I spoke up once during choir practice (I’d since then joined the choir because I enjoyed singing and praising the Lord). I said “You know, I’d really like some Latin hymns…Maybe we can have some silence after Mass during Lent- you know for reverence…”

I suggested to our priest once: “I think a Eucharistic procession around Christmas to celebrate the incarnation would be cool…” Deaf ears in reply. I was told by the music director: “We don’t do Latin anymore…Silence bores the congregation…” The priest said a procession would be “too inconvenient”. What I gave was the opinion of a young Catholic- a real, live young Catholic. They didn’t want it.

The problem is all these people keep telling us young folk what bores us, what we really like, what we find interesting. And guess what, THEY’RE WRONG! If one listens to the young Catholic voice, one would find we are yearning for beauty, for tradition and for truth. Traditional Catholicism honestly fascinates us! We go all week hearing perky pop-songs, jumping techno and chatter that doesn’t leave a minute of silence. We go to church and we get exposed to the same exact things. Thus, of course we find it boring! Why should we go to Mass when we can stay home and sing “Gather us in”, listen to a preacher on tv and fill our rooms with noise? Young people are sick of the world. We long for a safe habitat where we can bow before God and think. We crave contact with ancientness, with a strong grounding, with strong Catholic identity. God’s people are chosen out of the world, set apart, destined for a heavenly home. We want a taste of that!!

 

What young Catholics want:

First, we wouldn’t mind if you listened… Stop telling us what we think and what we like.  Look at traditional Catholic parishes, they are overflowing with young people and traditional seminaries are crowded with young aspirants. The next generation wants precisely what your generation has put away and tried to hide from us. There’s a proverb: “The son longs to remember what the father longs to forget!” We long to revisit the Latin oldies, incense, kneeling and chapel veils. We hate guitar Masses. We hate sappy hymns, watered-down teachings and Masses that must be kept minimal. We want the red meat that is the 2,000 year old Catholic faith and not only that, we want to sink out teeth into it!

When young people see that Mass is not like the rest of the week, that it’s not like the world, that it requires us to think and act differently- as if we’re present when heaven touches earth, we will be interested. We will wander in with curiosity, saying “what glorious thing is this?” and we will stay there.

And this is not a dilemma that has gone unnoticed either.  An article on Catholicculture.org states: “The Roman rite was always different from all of the eastern rites, of course, but the sense of the transcendence of God, which once marked our liturgy strongly, seems rarely to find expression in our worship today. And we trashed, just trashed, a glorious tradition of liturgical music which the council fathers at Vatican II explicitly commanded be fostered. ” I can tell you that many of our young people agree with this! Our generation is immensely attracted to the statements of Pope Benedict XVI that ask for a return to tradition in liturgy.  I hear countless, young Catholic college students and bloggers begging: “Please, give this back to us.”

People can pretend that worship is a strictly spiritual matter, pretend that it does not involve shallow, physical things but the Mass is precisely opposite. It is very physical just like the union of two lovers is very physical. No sane person declares love is just a spiritual thing, that saying “My dear” doesn’t matter, that singing a serenade or reciting a sonnet doesn’t matter or that a candlelit banquet makes no difference. Our worship became VERY physical the moment Christ assumed human flesh. Catholics are people of the incarnation. We don’t go to Mass to philosophize and have Bible study- no, we go to Mass to taste and see the goodness of the Lord! Mass isn’t about social gathering- no, it’s about each soul receiving perfect union with God! Shouldn’t our pastors and music directors be showing us that? Shouldn’t our priests be saying with their actions and words and prayers: “Hey, this isn’t part of the world that bombards you with noise and ugliness, that constantly seeks to entertain you, this is heaven!”

Jesus Christ came to give the hungry world that which they were so long deprived of. He came to give meaning, to give mystery, to give us the awesome presence and tender love which is God. Jesus didn’t say “Let’s get the young people interested.” He said “Feed my Lambs.” So, I sincerely ask our pastors, youth pastors, deacons and music directors to give young Catholics a taste of heaven, give us mystery, give us that presence and awesome love of God. Hit us with a meaty Catholicism that makes us stop and think, that makes us truly perceive the miraculous thing that is happening at every Eucharist, and causes us to bow down and say “Truly this is the Son of God” “Truly this is the New Covenant” “Truly this is the Promised Land- our heavenly home”!

 

“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.”

-Psalm 34:8

The third book of the “Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli” series is now available in paperback. Unlike the previous volumes, this book combines a murder mystery with its comedic element. and trust me, Cardinal Fratelli is hilarious as ever!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Misadventures-Cardinal-Fratelli-Constable/dp/1478164131/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1341470816&sr=1-8

Chapter 12.

The Upset.

 

Fratelli’s heart thumped in his chest. Slowly, he stooped down and examined the shoes. Discovering one side badly damaged, and a piece scraped off, he almost shrieked. Covering his mouth, he stood, tiptoed down the hallway and peered into the parlor where Gino was working. Maybe this was a coincidence? After all, fancy shoes did damage easily. How could he be so sure the missing piece came from that same shoe?

He shook his head, trying to think clearly. Suddenly, an idea emerged in his mind. Coming back into the parlor, Fratelli sat in a nearby chair, watching as Gino diligently painted. His delicate hand molded shapes and colors. Mary’s swaddled figure, he outlined in deep blue. He hated to interrupt but asked anyway:

“I sure feel sorry for what happened to your friend Diego, he was your friend right?”

Gino stopped, looked over his shoulder and replied, “We worked together every now and then…I really didn’t know him well.”

“Oh.”

Fratelli clasped his hands. He really didn’t know what else to say. He just sat…and observed. However, his anxiety grew very perceptible to Gino who turned and politely stated, “Your Eminence, I know you are very interested in my work- and I’m honored by this, however, I feel your presence is distracting me.”

“I apologize.”

Why should he apologize? It was his own house…well, the Church’s house… Fratelli moved past the door then silently peered around the threshold.

“I know you are still there, Good Eminence…”

“Oh.”

He crept back to where Gino’s shoes were and again looked closely at the damaged one. Feeling shivers, he wondered if a murderer were right here, in his house.

Dreadfully nervous, Fratelli summoned Dina and met with her in the kitchen. In case things became dangerous, he wanted her away from the house. Seeing his uneasiness, she asked him:

“Your Eminence, what is the matter now?”

“I want you to get Ernesto for me…”

“But it’s noon and it’s raining, and he may be very busy at work.”

Thinking quickly, Fratelli answered:
“Then I give you the rest of the day off, go home!”

She began protesting then hushed, eyed him strangely and seeing he was serious, gathered her things to leave. He waited until she left before walking into the parlor.

“I’m going to the market,” he announced.

Gino gazed at him.

“It’s raining, Your Eminence.”

“Well I like the rain!” he asserted, proudly crossing his arms.

Although he didn’t say anything more, Gino’s face displayed a fine smile. The cardinal added:

“You can stay here and help yourself to the wine, I’ll return shortly.”

Fratelli donned his shoes, grabbed his draping, red cloak, wrapped it around himself and dashed outside.

Soon as he stepped onto the street, his robes became wet. Lifting them up around his knees, he sprinted across the piazza. He hoped to find Ernesto soon as he looked rather foolish out there in the rain; a soggy, red figure running down the street.

He suddenly halted in front of a figure on horseback.

“Ernesto, is that you?”

“Yes, Angelo. What are you doing out here? You are soaking wet.”

Dropping the hem of his cassock, letting it clump forlornly around his feet, he replied, “Yes…I’m aware of that.”

Ernesto dismounted and escorted Fratelli beneath an alcove. Cold water rushed from the roof, away from them and pooled along a ditch on the street. The cardinal removed his red skullcap and wrung water out of it. Then he futilely put it back on his soaked head.

“Your Eminence, just look at you!”

“Ernesto, there’s something I must tell you…I found a pair of alligator shoes- and one’s missing a piece from it. The same color as the one you had shown me.”

“Where?”

“At my house- at my house! They belong to Gino Siglio!”

Ernesto’s eyes widened. He paced back to his horse and quickly mounted. Passing Fratelli, he said:

“Go ahead home Angelo and I’ll follow you…”

Reluctantly, Fratelli plodded home, walking over rain puddles though doing his best to avoid them. His shoes were drenched, his finery water-logged and heavy. He looked altogether pathetic by the time he reached home. Ernesto waited beneath a tree as he came inside, tracking mud and water all over the carpet. Dina would be very upset at him…

He removed his shoes and put his red cap atop the hat rack. It slid, weighed down by moisture and fell. Fratelli sighed, shrugging. He promised he’d pick it up later.

Fratelli went into the parlor and discovered it dark and empty. Gino was nowhere to be seen! Running back, he told Ernesto and the constable came in after him. He looked for the shoes but found them neither.

“It seems he knew what you were up to, Your Eminence… What did you tell him before you left?”

“I said I was going to the market.”

“Oh, Angelo that is so transparent!”

“I am sorry, so sorry Ernesto. I failed you.”

“No you didn’t, you helped me. Putting Gino to flight only makes him look all the more guilty. Now let’s find him.”

Chapter 2.

Unexpected Things.

As Cardinal Fratelli leaned back in his chair, smiling, glad to have a moment of peace, someone wrapped on the door. Slightly opening it, he peeked his head through and saw Dina, the kitchen-maid standing there. She wore a light blue dress, her brown hair tied-back and tugged the door fully open.

“Your Eminence, I know you aren’t feeling well today but your brother is here. He wants to see you immediately,” she said.

Fratelli walked out and at the hallway’s end, he met a tall, muscular man with handsome features and amber eyes just like his own.

“Angelo, you have to come to my house at once!” he stammered, “Michele is very sick!”

“Ernesto, wait, I’ll be out in a minute…let me fetch my gloves…”

“You don’t need those,” Ernesto replied and jerked his arm, leading out the door.

In the front-yard of Fratelli’s villa waited a small, uncovered coach. Ernesto climbed atop and helped Fratelli after him. The cardinal sat uncomfortably. He shifted abruptly, clutching the armrest beside him when their driver urged the horses forward. As trees blurred past, leaving the city and crossing open country, Fratelli glanced aside. Used to smoother transport, he closed his eyes against bumps and jolts. At last everything stilled. Ernesto jumped down and left Fratelli struggling to plant his feet solidly on the ground.

Before a stately farmhouse, built of wood and dull-yellow brick, he stood beside Ernesto who tugged the door open then shouted, “Michele, we are here!”

Michele’s figure emerged from another room, her dainty, olive-toned skin shining dully in afternoon sunlight. Moving aside her silken black curls, she stared with rich, dark-brown eyes.

“My, you poor creature, you look exhausted!” Fratelli cried.

Ernesto elbowed him.

“No Michele dearest, you look beautiful” he said- then asked the cardinal, “Doesn’t she look just stunning?”

“Oh, yes!”

Scowling, Michele plumped down on the couch nearby. Soon as she did so, a bell rang out as her brown-pointed; Siamese cat came running into the room.

“Oh Bella…” Michele sighed, taking the cat into her arms.

Seeing Fratelli standing so close, Bella peered curiously with pristine, blue eyes, and mewed.

“She wishes for an audience with you, Angelo,” Michele said.

She handed Bella to Fratelli. He uneasily pried the cat’s claws from his fine sleeve and uncomfortably held her. Perceiving this discomfort, the cat squirmed, landed a nice tear in Fratelli’s red cassock then jumped down. Sticking a finger through the hole, he groaned.

“Are you feeling better, Michele, my dear?” Ernesto asked, sitting next to her.

“I believe so…” she replied, “I keep thinking that maybe… I’m pregnant.”

“You are!”

Fratelli stirred, his lips curling with joy, his hands nervously folded and he inquired, “Am I going to become an uncle?”

“I don’t know…” she answered.

“How can’t you know!” Ernesto cried

He took his wife’s hand. His deep amber eyes stared at her, begging.

“Ernesto, these things are complicated…” Fratelli stated.

Now glancing up towards him, Ernesto remarked, “and how do you know?”

The cardinal blushed, looked again at the hole in his garb and responded, “I’ve read about it…of course.”

“You two!” Michele said, “Are starting to make me feel worse.”

Simultaneously, both men stepped away, letting light shine from the window onto her comely face. She breathed deeply, appearing quite relieved. They remained, sat and conversed for about an hour. Ernesto retrieved a brass time-piece from his trousers and hesitantly announced:

“It’s getting late, should I take His Eminence home?”

“How I wish you could just stay here…” Michele told Fratelli who anxiously eyed the window.

The skies had darkened somewhat as grey clouds covered the sun. They were thick, gauzy bands but not menacing or harboring a storm. Returning his attention to them, Fratelli spoke:

“Let us share a glass of wine first- to celebrate.”

Smiling, Michele stood but Ernesto stopped her and went into the kitchen himself. Resting back in her seat, she snickered childishly, holding within those mysteries a woman could hold. After Ernesto returned, Fratelli unseated, took the wine-bottle and blessed it with a swift gesture.

“Thanks be to God!” he gasped.

Twilight already engulfed the city in shadows when Fratelli arrived home on horseback, led by Ernesto. He dismounted, stroked the horse’s neck and shook his brother’s hand.

“You have my blessing and profound congratulations,” he said.

“But…we really don’t know?”

Fratelli laughed, “I suppose not. Be careful, sleep well my brother.”

As the cardinal turned his back, striding indoors, Ernesto gripped the reigns of his horse and circled. His stern face betrayed no excitement but surely, he felt it. Pacing at a trot, he glanced homewards and smiled wide against the setting sun.

Chapter 1.

The Letter.

Golden sunlight peeked from behind clouds, touching the bustling streets and terra-cotta rooftops of Lucca. Near the city’s piazza, stood a glistening, grey cathedral. Its tall bell-tower soared upwards and cast cool shade over sunbaked pavement.

Suddenly, a figure burst from the large, wooden doors; wearing elegant clothes, obviously wealthy. A black-robed priest chased after then halted upon the steps, raised his first in the air and called out:

“Get away from here! I do not absolve people who aren’t sorry- your sin will be the death of you!”

The wealthy man turned and gestured with his hand, angrily shouting. Then, he hastily left.

Still huffing with irritation, the priest spun, seeing a flash of bright red crossing the nearby courtyard. Squinting against vibrant daylight, another man, brown-haired, in his early thirties, came forth. His draping, scarlet finery rustled from the wind and quickly, he snatched his small, red cap before it could blow away.

“Father Adreo, whatever is the matter?” he asked.

Anxious, Adreo stared down. He bowed reverently and replied, “Cardinal Fratelli, Your Eminence, I didn’t think I would see you so soon…I’m sorry this had to get your attention.”

“I was just strolling,” Fratelli said, “and heard you yelling. Are you upset? Do you wish to talk about it?”

“No…not really.”

For a moment, they stood awkwardly eyeing eachother.

Hesitantly, the cardinal began ascending the stairs but he stopped right in front of Adreo and stepped back. He waited silently- then spoke,

“Father, you are blocking the door…”

“Oh!” Adreo exclaimed and moved aside.

He blushed, his fair-skinned face turning red as the cardinal’s robes. Fratelli however, ignored him as he passed by. Entering into cold candle-lit air, he sighed; glad to escape from the summer sun. Walking solemnly with his hands folded, he chose a suitable place where he knelt quietly in prayer.

Peering up at the white, marble high-altar, he mumbled:

Good Lord, be my shelter and relief. You know everything and so, you indeed know I’ve had a headache all day. If this suffering cannot be removed, O God, please… at least spare me from yelling and stress…”

Immediately after he finished this prayer, delicately signing a cross, some loud noise clanged outside. Jumping afoot, he muttered, “What now?”

Exiting through a side door, Fratelli looked upon broken glass, scattered paint-brushes and a man who sat next to a fallen cart. Splatters of every imaginable color surrounded him. His black hair streaked yellow and blue, he glumly frowned. As Fratelli approached, gingerly lifting the hem of his garb far from the paint-splashed ground, he jolted and spoke:

“I’m so, so sorry! I had been scheduled to come here, work in the cathedral…but was so excited, I lost my bearings! One thing happened, then another! Please forgive me?”

Although concerned, feeling utmost sympathy for this man, Fratelli bluntly asked, “You were supposed to work here today? Why didn’t anyone inform me?”

“I’ll clean all this up, Your Eminence…I promise…”

“Why doesn’t anyone tell me these things!”

The cardinal stomped off, leaving the painter alone to bemoan his colorful mess.

Sun shone through tall windows. Seated in the rectory office, an older priest; grey-haired and quite short, browsed through a pile of letters. He raised his head when Fratelli rushed in.

“Did you see what happened outside?” the cardinal huffed.

“No, Your Eminence.”

“Father Rodrigo, the painter you sent here, without informing me of course…which is something we must speak about, he dropped all his things and the sidewalk… is now covered with every color of paint!”

“Lord have mercy!” Rodrigo gasped, folding one arm against his chest.

“You will help him clean it up,” Fratelli said, “Then come back here so we can discuss why you keep forgetting to tell me things!”

Avoiding Fratelli’s hot gaze, Rodrigo scurried out.

Musing to himself, Fratelli now rested.  Seated at the desk, he regarded the letters and began sorting them. One, addressed from London, England, caught his eye. Quickly, he opened the envelope and read aloud:

Dear, Angelo Cardinal Fratelli,

          I have not forgotten about you and the wonderful times we shared when we were two, mischievous youths. You had always been a great friend of mine and at last, I’ve taken opportunity for a vacation in Italy. Summers here in London are dreary and depressing, so this arrangement is perfect!

          I cannot wait to see you, visit and talk about where life has led us. In advance, I send this letter so preparations can be made for my reception. Don’t be too anxious, I’ll be there before you know it.

 

          Sincerely,

          Your Old Friend,

          Jack Holloway.

Feeling shivers of excitement, Fratelli set down the letter then picked it up and read again. Though a dull pain still throbbed in his head, he felt glad- even relieved. He hadn’t seen Jack for 7 years, since his ordination into priesthood. Truly, they would have so much to talk about!

Yes there is another Cardinal Fratelli novella in the works. Here is a quick summary:

The Cardinal and The Constable

artist: J.G. Vibert

Cardinal Fratelli’s misadventures continue in this third comedy novella. Things seem to settle down, Michele and Ernesto grow into family life and an old friend comes from London to visit. However, just when everything seems peaceful, a murder is committed in the city of Lucca- with one of Fratelli’s priests as a suspect!

As his friend seems to have become a totally different person since he knew him, Cardinal Fratelli must help his brother, who is the city’s constable, catch the real killer. All this while dealing with life’s little unexpected turns and keeping his dignity intact.