The world, the flesh, and Father Smith

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Houghton Mifflin Company, 1945 - Priests - 191 pages

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Volume 942 Armed Forces Edition is also available at Google Books“As he freewheeled down the long hill, Father Smith remembered with irritation that, as a member of the League of Saint Columbia, he had promised to say a Pater, an Ave, and a Gloria daily for the conversion of Scotland. There was no dispensation either on Sundays, not even for priests who had to bicycle twenty miles on an empty stomach to say two Masses and preach two sermons in separated parishes, who had their office to recite as well and another sermon and benediction to give in the evening…"
Instead, he begins to pray for the souls of all this who must die and be judged that day, one hundred and forty thousand of them, according to the statistics. This he never found difficult, because he was filled with pity for so many ignorant blasphemers, liars, cowards, misers, successful business men, and fornicators who must wake up, in the last flutter of an eyelid, to the awful realization that Revelation was really true, after all, and that the graph of their compromisings, bibblings, cruelties, wenchings, and tattlings was going to be read out to them by Almighty God Himself…he murmurs to himself, thinking of all the forgetful people he sees daily walking with vacant eyes along the ugly streets. For it is people like that who were dying, dull men in Moscow and Madrid, raddled old women in Perth and New York, gathered into God’s basket like so many surprised gasping fish. Of course they won’t all go to hell any more that they will all go to heaven. There is purgatory, wherein the weak and the worldly are made clean, because even the best of men couldn’t hope to go clod-hopping straight into God’s presence after spending a lifetime talking about umbrellas and colds in the head.
"But in spite of the Precious Blood of Jesus some people, the willfully bowler-hatted and the blind, the oppressors of the poor, politicians and bank presidents, lechers and lewd women on high sofas, seemed bound to go plumb down to hell, because they had died in the state of final impenitence, which was the sin against the Holy Ghost….’Imagine being simultaneously burned alive and having your nails torn out and your entrails wound through a pronged mangle and having your eyes gouged out and your limbs pulled apart by horses and knowing that the pain would never stop - well, no Gaiety girl’s worth that, is she?‘ Monsignor O’Duffy had once told the men’s guild in Tobermory. The Bishop, however, had been inclined to take a more tolerant view. ‘All we really know about hell is that it is a state that exists,’ he had once told Father Smith when they had been climbing Ben Nevis together. ‘We know that hell exists because God has told us so…But we are not bound to believe that there is anybody in it…And even if there are poor unfortunate souls in hell, we are, I think, entitled to believe that their agonies are spiritual rather than physical. For the essence of hell is separation from God, and even unbelievers and sinners shall love God in hell and feel their loss of Him. Indeed a Spanish priest once told me that he thought it no unlikely that the damned would be punished in hell by being forced to practice for all eternity those very vices through whose indulgence on earth they had forfeited heaven. And sometimes, Father, when out of Christian charity and social politeness I have to listen to the conversation of worldliness, I am not sure that he wasn’t right. From an unsupernatural standpoint, the chief grumble I’ve got against sin is that it’s so boring.’”
Father Smith dense't get breakfast that day. After hearing confessions, he must celebrate Mass. But then he must baptize two babies after Mass, one from Italian parents, the other from Scots. As he divests, he is told of a request to come give a dying man the last rites. Such is the day of a priest in the year 1908 after the turn of century, a decade before World War I breaks out.
“Some of the canons at the chapter meeting maintained that it would be more
 

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
24
Section 3
37
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