Alter Christus…well two of them

Skipping through the hymnal, I stumbled upon “Parce Nobis Domine”. As if spurred on by compulsion, I sang the notes slowly and mournfully. My eyes drifted up to the tabernacle. Bright noonday sun bleached its dull bronze surface a fine gold. The altar linen beneath shone like whitest wool. Nothing occupied my thoughts but the tabernacle and the sound of my voice. Then other voices behind me caught my attention. Slowly, I finished the song and then glanced back. My parish priest, Father G. walked in and he was not alone!
Beside him was a tallish gentleman wearing black pants and a black shirt. I assumed he was a guest from the way Father showed him around. They came closer and I glanced back again. The smallest mark of white became visible around the other man’s neck. He was a priest! He had an olive complexion, dark hair and younger features. Now, one priest I could probably ignore (…okay maybe not) but two, this demanded attention.

Father G. spoke to me yet his gentle voice faded through the distance. I unseated and approached that I may hear him as he repeated again,
“The door is locked, how did you get in?”
I replied with a wry grin, “They locked me in.”
He nodded. Like a spring released from a coil, my arm shot out in the direction of the other priest,
“Nice to meet you,” I said.
His hand felt cold as he shook mine and told me his name: Father O. I instantly recognized the name. Last week, he gave a mission at another parish I attend. Due to working evenings, I missed all three of his speeches which of course were on my favorite subject, the Eucharist. Yet I’d prayed for him the entire time. They were intense prayers as if not coming from within myself but from some deeper source.
“Sorry I interrupted your prayer, your singing was beautiful,” he said.
Blushing at the compliment, I replied, “No, it’s okay. I was speaking to Jesus but now I have two more Jesus’es in my presence.
Father G. jokingly spoke in Latin. I understood what he said, nodded and said “Alter Christus…well two of them…I don’t know how to pluralize it…”
“Me neither” Father G. replied. He gave a light-hearted, relaxed smile.
Not wanting to keep them any longer, I said farewell and scurried back to my seat with the hugest grin on my face.
It was only I realized asking the Lord that I may meet the priest I’d prayed so hard for.

good shepherd


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