Sunday, 2 September 2012

Coffee in Heaven

Father Ignatius had received a request from Bishop’s House to accommodate Father Ferdinand at St Vincent Parish House for a few days.

The French priest was visiting from France to attend a Conference at Bishop’s House, but as there was no accommodation for him there it was decided to house him at St Vincent, where he was Parish priest many years ago before Father Ignatius, and for him to travel daily to the Conference from there.

On the appointed day Father Ferdinand arrived and was greeted by Father Ignatius whom he had never met.

The two men spent some time getting acquainted with each other before settling down to a sumptuous evening meal prepared by Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper.

At the end of the meal the French priest complimented Mrs Davenport on her culinary skills.

“That was marvelous Madame,” he said, “perhaps you should come with me to Tours in France where you can be my chef in our Parish!”

“What is that?” asked Mrs Davenport not understanding the man’s distinct French accent, “you want me to do the Tour de France? You expect me to cycle at my age?”

“Non … non … Madame,” continued the priest, “I said Tours in France. It is a City in Central France where my Parish is situated. I am known jokingly there as Le CurĂ© de Tours … as in the book by Balzac!”

“Balzac?” asked the housekeeper as she left the room with a tray full of empty plates and cutlery, “I’ve never heard of him. But then I don’t know much about French cyclists!”

Father Ignatius smiled and said nothing, knowing full well that to have a conversation with Mrs Davenport is sometimes like speaking to a being from outer space.

“Eh bien …” continued Father Ferdinand, “how is the state of affairs in your little corner of God’s Kingdom on earth?”

“Generally things are getting along fine …” replied Father Ignatius, “most people are struggling in a small northern town where the economic crisis has had most effect. Poverty and desolation are widespread but people are coping as well as they can, with the help of God!”

“At least God is still with you …” said the French visitor, “even in this cold and damp place which I remember all too well from my days here! It has always been poor as I remember. Poor in wealth but rich in Spirit! I really liked my time here Ignatius. I regret having to return to France and handing over this bit of Heaven to you!”

Father Ignatius smiled and said nothing. He’d never heard his town described as a bit of Heaven before.

“You see …” the French priest went on, “there is in France a trend, a modern movement if you like, where it is fashionable to reconsider one’s beliefs in an Almighty Deity.

“It is now trendy, enlightened even, to say that God does not exist. He is either a figment of one’s imagination … or an invention created by man to soothe and protect himself from adversity, or even to control lesser educated fellow humans.

“We often see famous figures writing in the press or speaking on radio and TV about the non-existence of God.

“It is bad enough in itself Ignatius. But these people encourage others to follow in their beliefs. It’s as if the devil himself has visited our affluent towns and cities and he is on a recruitment drive.”

The French priest stopped and sipped a little coffee.

“That is sad …” commented Father Ignatius quietly.

“It is a crisis in every respect …” the French man responded, “the Church, in France and elsewhere in Europe I suspect, seems helpless in this situation …

“Sermons on Sundays and Church teachings have been toned down … mustn’t frighten the horses you see … as you English say!

“Talk of the devil and hell from the pulpit is greeted with ridicule and derision.

“But he exists all right. Ignatius. I’ve seen him often in my town … He is certainly winning over many souls at the moment with his fine convincing arguments on the media and the temptations he puts in our way to lure people to his way of thinking!”

Father Ferdinand stopped again as he put his cup of coffee down.

“I pray daily Ignatius,” he went on, “that this trend does not spread throughout Europe and beyond. But I fear that as wealth increases throughout nations and their populations the devil advances in its wake!”

“In that case the devil may never come here …” joked Father Ignatius, “this town has always been very poor … so much so that even the church mice are on a starvation diet!”

Father Ferdinand smiled as Father Ignatius went on, “In Christ’s death and Resurrection we know that God has conquered evil.

“He knows full well those who believe in Him and love Him. Whether we do this with full intellectual knowledge; or just with humble, simple humility and understanding.

“And the Lord knows full well those who stand against Him in defiance, and worse still, encourage others to do the same!”

The two men were interrupted by Mrs Davenport entering the room with another pot of hot coffee.

Father Ferdinand looked up and said, “Madame … you are one of God’s treasures here on earth. One day the Good Lord will be most pleased to have you serve coffee in Heaven!”

“I don’t know what you mean …” she said as she gathered more empty plates on her tray, “Do they have coffee in Heaven? What do you think Father Ignatius?”

12 comments:

  1. Something weird is going on with my blogging. I've left two comments on blogs, today, that have somehow disappeared! Probably a sign to give up blogging!

    Anyhow, I think I said something about hell and something else about poverty and it all seemed to make great sense:-D

    God bless, Victor:-)

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    1. Don't give up blogging Vicky. Some of your comments make great sense; others are funny.

      I'll try to retrieve your lost comment; or rather, my computer expert will try.

      God bless.

      Delete
  2. In a previous post, mysteriously disappeared, Vicky said the following:

    Money and rich comforts really can lead people away from God, can't they? As I was thinking about this story, it occurred to me that this would explain why some of the great saints practiced self-mortification, don't you think?

    It must be difficult to preach about hell when the people who really need to hear about it might not be ready to accept it. Maybe, priests need to be prepared to lose them for the sake of the truth - though, that's a hard call to make for someone who's responsible for the flock, isn't it?

    Lots to think about, Victor!
    God bless:-)

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    Replies
    1. This makes great sense Vicky. As people become more affluent they focus more on the nicer things in life and forget about a Deity requiring a great deal of blind Faith and very little proof. Until things go wrong ...

      You're also right in saying that any preaching about hell will fall on deaf ears. People have their own standards of right and wrong and don't believe in a devil tempting us away from God and sleep-walking us into hell.

      You raise a very good point about priests prepared to lose a few people for the sake of the truth. Christ did just that in John 6, when His followers walked away from Him. He just let them go rather than re-adjust His message to suit their ears.

      Thanx for a brilliant contribution Vicky.

      God bless you.

      Delete
  3. This was painful to read because there are so many truths in it. But that is what makes it so powerful.

    An excellent post, my friend.

    God Bless.

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    1. Thank you so much Michael. I'm always encouraged by your support as your posts are a standard to aspire to.

      God bless.

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  4. I love Mrs. Davenport. I would sure like to sit down to one of her sumptuous meals. But I don't know if I could converse with her and keep a straight face.

    Father Ferdinand's observations made me sad because they reminded me of life here in the U.S. I live in the "Bible belt" (the south), but I still encounter such "enlightenment." And when I travel to the north, I feel very out of place as a believer. I do believe our prosperity has made us arrogant.

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  5. It's sad Sarah how many people are moving away from God.

    Mrs Davenport makes me laugh.

    God bless you.

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  6. I loved this story, especially the exchanges between Father Ferdinand and Mrs. Davenport. Life would be very dull without her. I'd like to read more exchanges with her. The simplicity is beautiful.

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  7. Thanx Barb. I'll try to write her in more stories.

    God bless.

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  8. Loved this Victor1 I really like the housekeeper character.
    It's a very gently compelling read but with so much spiritual good sense there - lovely.
    God bless,
    Gigi x

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  9. Thanx Gigi for your kind words. I hope to write more about Mrs Davenport.

    God bless.

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