Luc often assumed a devout posture in front of an altar at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He rarely attended Sunday Mass. He disagreed with many of the Church’s formal doctrines, and the Church’s formality infuriated him.
“If Christ were to come down here again, I bet he’d only go into the Church if he had to take a fuckin’ dump. He’d lay down a three-coiler in there— y’ know, a big ol’ Church door stopper—and then he’d be gone”.
Luc quit attending Sunday Mass soon after the death of his best friend. Still, the sensual, candlelit sanctuary called to him. He answered. Luc loved the smell of the incense. He loved the feel of woodgrain on his fingertips as he prayed. He loved the way the stained glass held the sunlight.
Luc never visited the confessional: the mere sight of it angered him. He referred to it as a ‘spiritual outhouse, full o’ bullshit and all’, and he wasn’t fond of the mediators in residence there. Luc wanted the un-refracted light of God to shine on his face, not the “perverse eyes of a fuckin’ child molester behind a dark, metallic screen.”
Luc’s trips to the cathedral were frequent enough for him to recognize all the of the priests’ faces, and he caught a set of their eyes as well.
A quick study, Father Fournel had asked around the Church about Luc. Those questioned often hesitated before describing Luc’s miracles, but inevitably and reluctantly admitted that Luc was endowed with a supernatural power.
One Wednesday, Luc entered the Church, and subconsciously crossed himself. Father Fournel lay in wait. He sat patiently in the front pew as Luc prayed an anguished prayer. When Luc finally finished, and walked toward the front door of the Cathedral, Father Fournel followed and tapped Luc on his right shoulder. Startled, Luc turned around like a cornered animal, disappointed by the sight of the priest.
“What?” he demanded.
“You are Luc Louis.”
“Yeah, and who the fuck are you?”
“That doesn’t matter. I’ve been watching you for quite some time Luc. I’ve heard that you have certain gifts bestowed upon you. I am very interested as to what they are.
“Whoa whoa whoa—what the fuck are you talking about?”
“Luc, please watch your language in the house of the Lord.”
Father Fournel was surprised by his courage in the face of moustache. Luc was too.
“Ok, what’ve you heard?” Luc countered, almost meekly.
“What do you think I’ve heard?”
Luc’s calm instantly shattered.
“Look, fucker! I don’t have time for your fuckin’ attempt at Socratic fuckin’ dialogue. Tell me what the fuck you’re talking about or I’ll knock the gold teeth out of your fucking mouth!”
“Please watch your language in the house of God—I won’t ask you again. I just don’t understand. You are vulgar, coarse, disrespectful… and, it seems, particularly blessed. And the miracles! Are you a gift from God? A curse from Satan? Both?”
Father Fournel thought aloud.
Luc looked at Fournel intently.
“Have you ever smoked pot, Father?”
“They should make it mandatory for you collared fucks to try it. How do you expect to see God’s glory without a bowl or two? You’re all too fuckin’ sober and somber: you look through the fuckin’ mirror dimly. This world is a magnificent place, you know. You should try to see it with fresh eyes. Try some of this”.
Luc slipped the priest the joint he had rolled at the altar. It was his habit to roll a joint or two after prayer as it settled his nerves.
“This isn’t possible.”
Father Fournel was disgusted.
“I ask you if you were sent by God and you respond by giving me this cheap hippy debauchery?”
The Priest’s voice rose, and echoed from the Cathedral’s vaulted ceiling. He threw Luc’s gift down on the marble floor.
“This is truly not possible. Drugs? Get out! This is the house of God you seek to fill with your vile, perverse plant. I will not stand for it. Leave! And don’t come back.”
Luc smiled at the Priest. Luc had often managed to raise the ire of nuns throughout his childhood, but Priests always kept their cool.
“How do you expect to see God with your world-weary eyes Father? There is no joy in you; have you ever held it? Why settle for an old, dreary vision when I offer you, for free, the path to the new one? You’re stubborn! Platonic, Augustinian logic is for the birds—no: even they would spit it up! Feel, Father, feel! Whatever happened to your St. Francis? What have you done to your million Christ’s who showed themselves to you in your darkest hour? I come in here to pray almost every day. I weep for you and those you mislead with your distorted fuckin’ view of Truth! Father, unless you embrace the chaos and wonder of the flesh, you will never truly live! And Jesus, I have learned, is The Life: be gone, yer rationalistic fuckin’ sensibility! Be gone your silly, stern seriousness! Come live with me! Dwell in your dirty skin for Christ’s sake!”
The words, now roaring, from Luc’s mouth startled him. He was used to passionate argument concerning music or women, but passion concerning the passion was strange. He had grown up in the Church and attended Catholic schools for much of his childhood, but he had never formulated a concise theology until now. He hadn’t realized he had one.
But Luc was conflicted. His speech reminded him of those he hated. And still, it was as though he wasn’t responsible for his own speech. Luc was talking in tongues now: an English tongue, specifically.
“I can tell you’re uncomfortable in your own skin, Father! Leave the ministry; it chokes you, as does that collar around your fuckin’ neck. It’s hard to tell if it clings to you, or you to it. See the world again with new eyes! Don’t be surprised by what I say! You’ve gotta see how fuckin’ beautiful it all is! God made it, you know. It’s Holy! Everything is Holy! That joint you kicked is holy! You are holy! I am holy! Our fuckin’ ass-holes are holy! Enter in, enter in!” Luc’s face was red, and heavy, heavenly rain fell from his eyes.
“Seriously though, how do you expect to ever see Heaven if you don’t know what’s going on here on earth? You’re out of touch! Who cuts your hair? Fire the bitch! Feel! It’s easy, if you try! Go West, if that’s what it takes. See the inhibition of the natural world: mirror that! Watch life burst from the crack of rock. Forget your rules, kill your inhibitions! Throw down your collar and, with it, purity’s deadly leash! Get dirty- get bloody! Trust yourself; trust your God. Sing yourself! Sweat, fuck, fight… FISH. FEEL!”
Luc’s speech quickened with every word.
Father Fournel had never been challenged in this way. The Church had challenged him to seek purity, and he had risen to that occasion. Collars, like wedding bands, attract a lot of attention. Fournel, however, had remained loyal to God. He had endured the brunt of temptation. He’d read eloquent love letters, and never taken the bait. Beautiful women had attempted to seduce him, but he preferred to excuse himself, and masturbate into the Church’s immaculately clean toilet. He now felt guilty for that too.
“This cannot be true”, he repeated, now more to himself than to Luc.
“Let’s put it this way”, Luc continued, exhausted. “Let’s say you’re born in heaven– raised by St. Peter himself. You’re not content, are ya? You wanna see where all these crazy souls have lived for the past lil’ while. You ‘debase’ yourself, and walk among us the fuckin’ earthlings. Why not see what’s here? Why not feel what’s here? Why not wander around, touch and taste? Why not taste the whip if it is offered to you by some sexy blonde? It calls for you, Father! And to me, you see? I think you spend too much of your fuckin’ time condemning the world and not enough time participating in. You’re too busy biting the hand that feeds to lick it! Lick it! Lick!”
“This is not possible”.
“My parents say that in your sermons you talk about God’s transcendence. You speak of his power at the expense of his sacred bloody heart. Where do you think Christ would be if he came to Calgary? Inside of these walls? Fuck no! He’d be fishin’ the Bow!”
“Have you ever been to the Cecil? He’d probably eat lunch there on his way to backyard beers with buds! He’d tell all you self-righteous fucks to go fuck yourself! Who was Christ really angry with in the end? The fuckin’ whores? Fuck no, he loved the whores! Have you ever seen a prostitute? He did, but I doubt you have, and yet, you claim to ‘follow him’? You’re what, 37? You probably went into seminary straight out of High School cuz you were too afraid to have a little fun and get your dick wet. You went to a seminary in your home town, which is, I’m guessing… Calgary, so you could stay with mommy and daddy while you were there. This big ol’ world scares you don’t it? Have you ever seen a chick naked on all fours?”
“Yes! I have!”
Father Fournel quickly crossed himself, and Luc smiled.
“Let’s go then, father!”
“Well, I’m gettin’ the fuck out of here!”
Luc slammed the door behind him. Fournel fought his instinct to follow by looking at Saint Paul’s polished, stained glass portrait.