Friday, October 26, 2007

The Man Who was Greene: A Nightmare

At a recent church gathering, I had the following story about Father Greene related to me. It was assured to me that all events that took place are real and true. The only parts of this story that are fiction are the parts that aren’t true. Happy Halloween.

Father Greene turned to look at his calendar on his desk. “December 9, 1965” he said to himself as he crossed off the date. It was late and Father Greene was calling it a night. He gathered his brivery, papers, and rosary, locked up his office and the church, and proceeded into the church to recite his night prayers.

The church was old and his steps echoed dully on the wood floor. Several boards creaked as he walked down the center isle. It was fit with a large high altar in the sanctuary, stain glass windows of bible stories and saints, icons, statues of the holy family and St. Michael through out the church.

When he made it to the front pews, he genuflected, made the sign of the cross, slipped into the right pew, and began night prayer. He finished his prayers, and on his way out he saw that the votive candles were missing. Except it wasn’t only the candles but also the three six-foot wide and three-foot high cast-iron stands that held the votive candles.

“Who? How,” Father Greene asked himself as he quickly scanned the church to see if the candles have been moved? “I guess they are being cleaned,” he whispered as he turned toward the vestibule to leave the church.

* * *

The next day Father Greene arrived at the rectory after the morning mass to find the secretary already diligently at work.

“Jessica,” Father Greene asked, “did we have the votive candle stands sent out to be cleaned?”

“No Father” said Jessica.

“That’s strange. After I finished night prayer, I saw that the votive candles, stands and all, were gone.”

“That is strange”

Father Green spent the rest of the day looking for the missing stands and candles. His efforts resulted in nothing; the votive candles and stands were never found, and Father Green would on occasion while passing by where the candles once were would wonder where the stands could have disappeared to.

* * *

Several months later, during his usual routine of night prayer, something strange occurred. While in the middle of prayer, he noticed a movement off to the side, just out of his field of vision. Then he saw it above him. Then again to the side.

Confused he turned around in his seat and saw with great horror, flapping in a silent wind: Banners! They were everywhere. Banners on the wall. Banners hung from the ceiling. Banners covering the icons. There wasn’t a place that a banner was not.

Father shaking in ghast. He fell out of the pew and to the floor. Quickly he grabbed his things and left the church in a great hast without looking back.

Upon closing the door behind him, he leaned against it, took a deep breath and sighed. He was glad to be out of the church.

* * *

On the Following day, Father Greene told Jessica of the incident. She knew nothing about the banners and how they could have gotten there. What was most startling for Jessica was how Father Greene said that before he started night prayer the banners weren’t there. It was only sometime during night prayer when the banners arrived, but Father said there wasn’t anyone with him in the church.

Father removed the banners from the church and threw them in the dumpster out back. Yet, from time to time, the banners would return with no sign of how they got there or who put them there.

* * *

Strange things like what happened with the banners and candles continually occurred in the parish, and in a somewhat alarming rate. It was first that Father Greene found that someone had taken all the old spirituality books out of the library – the ones like “Imitation of Christ”, “Confessions” -- and replaced them with newer books with titles like “Jesus and Me”, “My Buddy Jesus”, “Jesus the Warm Fuzzy.” Next all the icons and statues went missing: not a clue was left to their disappearance. After leaving the church one night and returning for morning mass, Father found the high altar to have been replaced with a wooden table and the gold vessels were also replaced by wooded and glass containers. If things couldn’t get any worse, the stain glass windows with rich images of saints and stories were somehow changed without any indication of how or who had done it. In the place of the 8 windows was now 8 colored glass windows with indecipherable images. Father Greene felt as if one might need a Phd in order to find the meaning of said new colored windows.

* * *
Exactly one year later, Father Greene walked through the church lamenting, “What happened to this church? Why are there bare walls here? Why can’t I keep any icons or statues in the building? People keep stealing them, that’s why.”

He sighed and exited the side door of the church and headed over to the small adoration chapel located about 30 paces from the main church structure. He reached the door and saw that someone had placed a sign on the door that read “Peace Room.” Puzzeling, he thought. He opened the door was stopped in his tracks by what he saw – it was certainly unexpected. The basket of rosary had been replaced with stylish meditation bracelets. The chairs were gone and in their place were bamboo mats. The bibles were replaced with copies of “I’m Fine . . . You’re Fine”. As Father Greene took in all the changes to the adoration chapel he let out in a tremendous yell, “What is going on here? This is the last draw!”

After that Father Greene was determined to catch the individual responsible for these unauthorized changes. He purchased a statue of Our Lade Queen of Victory and placed it in the Church. The statue of Our Lady was sure to be irresistible to this thief. So, he waited. For two weeks Father Greene did not sleep and barely ate.

Then late one night, as he prayed night prayer, he discovered what was behind the disappearances of art and beauty in the church. In a strong gust of wind the doors to the church blew open and in came a might wind. The banners for the Lenten season blew furiously in the church, and the chairs that now replaced the pews rattled against each other. From the back of the church from, through the doors, it appeared in all of its horridly bad plaid polyester. It was a spirit, and it was horrible -- like a soul without its body. The spirit was dead, and in a state that it was not meant to be in in the earthly place. In pain the spirit howled as if it being painfully ripped from its body. The spirit glided over to the statue of Our Lady that Father had placed in the church. Shaking, Father confronted the spirit, “Wh-Who-Who, What are you? Stop! Get away from that statue!”

“Spirit,” the thing moaned.

Father rushed to the holy water font a scoped up a handful of water and began blessing the spirit in hopes to put it to rest. His prayers and blessings had no affect upon the spirit.

Again Father asked, “What do you want here? What have you done with all our things?”

“Vatican”, the spirit groan and wailed.

“What!? What about the Vatican?”

“Two”, the thing shrieked.

“What are you saying? Are you the Spirit of Vatican II? Where is your body? Why are you separated from your texts? What have they done to you?”

The spirit groaned and mummered some more then moved toward Father Greene. Father stepped back and it came closer. Looking through the creature he could see the statue of Our Lady was missing. He also saw that the spirit was translucent and all the things that had been taken from the church -- the icons, statues, candles – were afloat within this hideous monstrosity.

The spirit advanced upon Father Greene. He fell back to the floor in a hard thump. He tried hard to skirt out of the path of the spirit, but it eventually overtook him. With a yell like something from the pits of Hades, the spirit was gone, and so too was Father Greene.

* * *

It has been said that Father Greene was never seen or heard of since. Some think that he ran off and joined the circus or just went crazy. Others say he entered a monastery in South Louisiana. Still it has also been said that Father Greene now wanders the globe after this spirit trying to restore the spirit to its body, the text. But whatever happened to Father Greene, it is uncertain and no one really know what happened to him after his encounter with the Spirit of Vatican II.

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