Saturday, May 14, 2011


by Walt Staples -

The man in the brown habit wore the battered face of a former boxer. As he shuffled, long experience caused him not to notice the tremor running through the walls and floor of the abandoned mine shaft. Sheba was just being Sheba.

The Abbot halted his silent progress down the hall of the scriptorium. He eased open the Judas slot on the door marked “Ignatius” so as not to disturb those on the door’s other side. From within came a newly cracked voice, “…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the…” The tall, stooped man slid the slot closed.

He continued to the next cell. Its name was “Jerusalem.” This time, he heard, “…and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Though Him all things…” He smiled and went on to “Douay.”

He listened and began to frown as he heard, “…The same was in God—” A much older voice cut the younger off, “No.” It continued more gently, “No, Bede, it goes this way; now listen carefully. ‘The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made.’ There you see?”

The Abbot’s forehead cleared as the first voice said, “Sorry, Brother Eustis,” and began again, “The same was in the beginning…”

He thought about Brother Eustis as he walked toward “James.” The old friar had earned a proper retirement years ago, but continued to teach the young Douay Bibles. The Abbot shook his head and smiled, old men and old hunting dogs.

As if conjured by the thought, Fezik, the oldest ratting dog, trotted by. He wagged at the human and went about his business. He and the chief cat seemed to have a competition as to who could bring Brother Trout, the abbey cook, the most rats.

At “James,” the ancient heard, “…All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in…”

He went on greatly cheered. The new crop of Bibles were coming along well. Even young Bede showed promise. By Advent, all six of the present class would be ready to go out to their respective churches. The Abbey of Francis might produce priests, but they were crippled without his Bibles. He caught himself. No! In that direction lay Pride. He whispered an Act of Contrition.

He turned his thoughts back to their original path. Yes, he thought, six new Bibles by Advent. His face broke into a toothless grin of pure happiness. His expression sobered somewhat as he was reminded of the problem of Brother Eustis. Which of the older Douays should he pick to replace the old friar when the sad time came? He padded on through the halls of the Abbey of Jerome.