We are familiar in our journeys to Europe of visiting places and shrines where startling and mystical things have taken place.
Places of pilgrimage such as Padre Pio’s town where that great saint lived out his priestly life with the stigmata. We marvel at the miracles done which are so beyond what we can even imagine.
What would happen if, in a little, very ordinary, small country town, a mysterious priest takes up residence in a falling down, decrepit shell of a church? Curiosity would run rife. If the priest, who has no name but, ‘Father’, shuts himself in with a high fence surrounding the building and grounds, and whose only companion is a little mongrel dog – the priest becomes the main topic of conversation in the area.
The villagers know the old church; it has been there forever but has been shut since before most of them were born. The women, with little to talk about, find their ‘silent priest’ bewildering and try their hardest to find out about him; what he does all day, what he wears, what he eats, They try leaving food, for the dog, in the bucket hanging near the tall front gate and if they spot him doing his bit of shopping in the main street – where there are a few basic shops – he speaks softly, tells them nothing, but is always courteous, keeps his eyes down and blesses them. He is occasionally visited by some great personage in a big black car with darkened windows and bearing a crest on the side door.
The villagers are now completely mystified. What is this man? Is he a lunatic? A vagabond? Someone on the run? No one lives like this! When the first public Mass takes place, events occur that sends the simple, good, ordinary, locals into hysterics. People scream; some swear fearfully, some faint, some run for cover out of the church never to return, while some take it and accept it. Some even begin to understand it. What would you do?
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About the Author:
Father Antony Brennan was born in Australia to a family of Irish/English background. He taught for a time in Universities, firstly in English Literature, then in Neural malfunctions of the brain. He then entered Religious Life. He began as a monk then was transferred to the Diocesan priesthood where he worked in many difficult parishes, with major social problems and great poverty. He was recalled to Bishop House and worked in close contact with the bishop for years. Overwhelmed by the problems in the Church, he asked for, and received, permission, to go and try his vocation as a hermit in an extremely isolated place, utterly alone. He loved it. He loved the utter silence, the benefits of fasting, the awareness of being alone with Christ, and the hard physical work he did in the wrecked church and grounds. When it was time to return to the Bishop’s House, he knew the haven of peace was over.
Retiring from active life, eventually, with cardiac problems, he continues to use the 1962 Missal to offer the Holy Mass. He writes for hours each day – his first degree was in English Literature – and so far he has written fifteen, or sixteen books, including six in one series, and a Trilogy which he says was ‘just for fun’.