- Abandoned -
Table of Contents
a religious thriller written by
Ronald E. Boutelle
Chapter 42: Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Father Mark and his dad were content. Dinner had been great: salad, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and pan-fried okra. The cafeteria was located on the ground level of the Manor; always a smiling face and plenty of laughter. On their way back to ninth floor Mr. Penrose stopped a few times to say hello to friends, each time introducing his son, as they made their way back to his apartment. He was so proud of his son: Father Mark Penrose.
The Manor Dining Hall
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
Back in his dad’s room they both got ready to settle down—the two big easy chairs inviting them to get comfortable. A pot of fresh coffee filled the apartment with a rich aroma. From the bedroom where Mr. Penrose had accessed the Ancient Faith Radio website from his laptop, the Chanters of St. Lawrence were softly singing The Cherubic Hymn through a pair of powered speakers.
While his dad placed a few oatmeal cookies on a plate and poured the coffee, Mark gazed out the window at the city below, always impressed by the view. With the long summer nights quickly becoming a thing of the past and the first week of October already upon them, flickering lights were becoming more plentiful, although it was only a little after six. Both men sat down.
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
“So tell me dad, how have you been? You look great.”
“Oh, I have no complaints but I might be a pound or two heavier. But you know me, I try to keep busy. I’ll tell you Mark, it’s really great to have you back. I never realized how long four months can drag on—guess I kept an eye on the old calendar a little too often.”
Mark chuckled. “I’m sorry but I just felt that since I made the commitment to go that I needed to take enough time to see a bit more than the average tourist—plus there was the additional time I wanted to spend in Spain.”
“Oh yes, I remember that you had mentioned something to me about a convent in Spain. What was that all about?”
“Yes, that’s right; but I wanted to get all my facts together before I told you more. That’s why I flew to Madrid first. Dad, you know that I like to read, but the history of this part of Texas in the early 1600s and the mystery surrounding what happened here, somehow that had totally escaped me—even at the seminary.”
“I guess I don’t follow you son. Why do you say it’s a mystery?”
Mark took a sip of coffee and then continued. “Dad, the history I’m talking about is as interesting as it gets—full of details, eye-witness accounts, intrigue, geography, and covering enough material to fill a book. But all of that is just window dressing. The real story, as I see it, is the unexpected conclusion that has made me think long and hard about something that I never even thought was remotely possible.”
“Well, that’s not a bad thing, is it?”
“Oh no, but it’s one of those, what if’s.”
“Then just give me a brief outline and we’ll get right to the point. We can backtrack at another time.”
Mark had always appreciated how his father helped him simplify his thoughts. The music from the bedroom changed and the rich voices from a Russian men’s choir chanted the beautiful, Doxastikon for the Praises. Not exactly your normal Catholic music but very beautiful just the same.
“Yes, that’s a good idea. Dad, have you ever heard of bilocation?”
“I think you mean when somebody defies the laws of science and is somehow able to be in two places at the same time.”
Looking at his dad, “Yes.”
“Actually, Mark, there are many Catholic stories involving bilocation. It is a phenomenon in which a very devout person is in one place, and at the same moment is in a different place. In other words, two places at once.”
“Good, I was sure you would know about it.”
“Son, all I can say is that bilocation is one of the most mystifying aspects of our Catholic faith that you will ever come across.”
“Yes, I am also coming to that conclusion.” Mark paused for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. “Dad, the thing that makes it so intriguing to me is that it has actually been well documented. For instance—because of the veracity and unquestionable character of so many witnesses, it’s just about impossible to dismiss bilocation as fantasy or illusion—propelled along by lies and exaggeration. If you take that position then you’re disparaging the very stalwarts of our faith who bore witness.”
“Mark, I never mentioned this, but I once spent a fair amount of time reading about bilocation and from what I can gather, in many instances there is first a prolonged state of spiritual ecstasy that precedes the actual event. Wait a second. Let me get something.”
Mr. Penrose then stood up and retrieved a small journal from a large bookcase and sat back down. “Here are some notes I wrote down years ago. This contains a list of Catholic Saints that were observed in two places at the same time. Boy, it’s been a long time since I opened this up. Let’s see— OK, right here!
“First there is Bishop Alphonsus Mary De Liguori who was seen by his entire staff sitting motionless in his room for two days, but was also seen at the same time comforting Pope Clement XIV as he lay dying. Hm.
The list gets pretty detailed so I’ll just touch on the highlights.”
“Then there is Saint Paul of the Cross who was seen leaving on a ship but then a short time later was noticed back in the very city where he had just been. This was confirmed by the same person who first took him to the ship, watched it set sail, and then a few hours later—found himself talking to him again.
“Another saint was Joseph of Cupertino. He was seen in Assisi but at the same time, surrounded by a flash of bright light, Joseph suddenly appeared at the bedside of his dying mother, miles away.
“There is also Saint Catherine Dei Ricci. She was the abbess of Saint Vincent’s Convent in Prato, Italy where she remained her entire life. Even so, she was observed having frequent conversations with Saint Philip Neri while he was in Rome.
“In the late 15th and early 16th century, Saint Francis of Paola was often seen in two places at the same time. He would be seen on the altar or lost in prayer, but upon second glance, working in the kitchen or talking with guest outside on the street.
“And here’s a note I left about a famous shepherd. The locals called him Saint Drogo. His occupation as a Sheppard gave him an enormous amount of time for prayer, but it also demanded that he never leave his flock unattended. Yet, he was regularly observed in various churches. Because he was so often seen in two places at once the locals coined the famous saying, ‘Not being Saint Drogo, I cannot be in two places at the same time.’
“Saint Anthony of Padua was a famous Franciscan theologian. One Sunday he was speaking in the Cathedral of Montpellier in front of hundreds, while at the same moment he was singing at another monastery with their choir.
“Let’s see, I have two more pages here. Of course there is Saint Francis Xavier. He was one of the seven original followers of Saint Loyola. Xavier’s bilocations were both numerous and carefully witnessed.”
“My God, father, I had no idea that there were so many. How many more do you have listed there?”
“Well, let’s see: Saint Vincent Pallotti, Saint Lydwine of Schiedam, Father John Edward Lamy, Saint Peter of Regalado, Father Paul of Mol, Saint John Bosco, Padre Pio, Saint Gerard Majella and Sol Maria de Agreda. Oh, didn’t you tell me that you were going to visit Agreda while you were in Spain?”
“Yes, and I did go there. It’s a small village located in the north of Spain. Dad, how much do you know about Sister Maria?”
“Well, that’s a good question. She’s the last entry. Hm, I must have stopped reading by the time I got to her because I don’t remember a thing.”
Laughing at himself, Mr. Penrose continued. “I’m either becoming a fool in my old age and can’t remember anything, or I’ve got her confused with all the others.”
Enjoying the fun with his father, Mark then became serious. “This is just amazing. I had no idea that so many Catholic Saints were able to bilocate. I guess my seminary focused more on modern history and less on legends and the supernatural. But then, when I started to read about Maria—the eye-witnesses and the artifacts she left behind—her story just convinced me that when she confessed to her Spanish superiors that she was the nun whom the Indians from San Angelo were talking about, that she was speaking the truth. As I see it, when tangible artifacts are brought into a story it can no longer be called a legend.”
“What do you mean by artifacts? What artifacts?”
“Rosary beads—she said that she had taken some rosary beads from her convent in Agreda and gave them to the Indians.”
16th Century Rosary Beads
photo by: Peter Crossman of the Mary Rose Trust
http://www.maryrose.org/ • Wikipedia
“Dad, there’s even a statement from the top Spanish investigator who was right there—testifying that an Indian chief actually gave one of the rosaries to him, as a gift. And that’s not all there is.”
“Where did you learn this—in Spain?”
“No. Actually, the most comprehensive source is a book I read by Marilyn Fedewa. It’s in my briefcase. Would you like to read it? I can leave it?”
While Mark reached for his briefcase to get at the contents, O All Holy Spirit began to play in the bedroom, a song that Mr. Penrose especially liked. “Here it is, Maria of Agreda, Mystical Lady in Blue.”
“You bet I want to read it—yes, on top of the newspaper is perfect. Great, the next time I see you I’ll be able to have a half-way intelligent conversation with you.”
Laughing again, Mark then said, “Dad, what impressed me the most about her sudden arrival in the midst of the Indians, is that at first, she was not always treated well by the Indians.”
“Now what do you mean by that, son?”
“Well, by most accounts they eventually came to love her. I would have to say that they even worshiped her. But at first, even she admits to problems.
“Dad, I spent a lot of time reading what Maria said and it’s easy to conclude that not only were the Indians able to see and talk to her in their native language, they were also able to touch her. However, she mentions that during her early visits, on more than one occasion they captured and tortured her. But in reality—if I can even use that word here—she was still safe-and-sound back in Agreda.
"After Maria’s ecstatic trance broke, she would simply resume her duties at the convent as if nothing had happened. I even read that the Indians martyred her more than once by shooting her full of arrows. But again, when she came out of her room she was just fine.”
“My God, Mark, that is just amazing!”
Looking at his father, Mark continued. “But what if—I mean—just think about this for a moment? OK, I am convinced that bilocation happens. And not just in the Catholic realm, but let’s save that for another day. So yes—definitely it can happen. Alright, dad, you just read a long list of Saints who had this ability. Right?”
Mr. Penrose smiled. “You need to take my notebook and read about each one. I pretty much skipped over all the details.”
Putting the notebook in his briefcase, Mark then said, “Thank you, dad. OK, let me put it this way. What is the common denominator that you see in each of them?”
“What do you mean—that they could all bilocate?”
“Well, yes, that was there but what was it on the spiritual level? What is the one thing that clearly binds them together, even though they might have lived centuries apart and even continents apart? Jesus—right? In every instance, love for Jesus Christ united them as a family. Jesus Christ was their spiritual master.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Well, then the question that comes to mind is who is greater, the master or the disciple?”
“Christ is God. Nobody is greater than God.”
“Alright, then—if Mother Maria, Padre Pio, and all those other saints were able to bilocate, then what about their Master, Jesus Christ? Do you get the drift of what I am saying? Surely Jesus Christ was the consummate practitioner of bilocation. This conclusion is inescapable.”
“Well, that’s something I’ve never considered. OK, I think I’m following you so far.”
“Good. Then this leads us to my point. One morning when I was in Vrindavan, a profound thought came to me. On one hand, the Indians touched, captured, tortured, and then killed Maria—a fact certainly real to the Indians, but actually not in truth because her real body was located in far way Spain. In reality she was safe in her room—lost in a state of spiritual ecstasy.”
“Wait a minute, son. I think I see where you’re going with this.”
“Exactly, dad! And from all accounts, the clue that led the Spanish investigators to her was the fact that her bilocated-self was a perfect copy of her real self; clothing and all. It was her clothes that tipped of the priests.”
Looking a bit perplexed, Mr. Penrose said, “What do her clothes have to do with it?”
“Well, back around 1620 when a band of Jumano Indians were trying to explain who had given them their rosaries—when they saw a picture of Luisa de Carrion they suddenly said— ‘Dressed like her, but not old. No, very pretty. Yes, dressed like her!’”
Mr. Penrose set down his cup of coffee. “I guess—maybe I’m not following you.”
“That’s OK, dad. Let me explain. I’m getting ahead of myself. The Indians had gathered at the beautiful San Agustin Mission located near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hanging on a wall was a painting of Mother Luisa who was wearing the distinctive blue cloak of the Poor Clare Nuns of the Conceptionist Order. They are still the only ones in Spain who cover themselves with a blue cape. That is why the priests sent a letter back to Spain asking that the Minister General go to the Poor Clare convents and ask if anyone knew about a nun preaching to the Indians.”
“My goodness, Mark, no wonder you spent so much time reading about her. I can’t wait to read that book.”
“Dad, let me get to the crux of the matter. Now let me ask you this: Who did the Roman soldiers actually touch, capture, torture and kill? Jesus or His double? If Maria’s double was martyred by the Indians—but in fact she was safe and sound in her room—what about her Master? Dad, this is the one thing about Christianity that I never liked. How could God let His Beloved Son be abused by those Roman barbarians? Remember when we saw ‘The Passion of the Christ’? It was absolutely horrible what they did to him.”
“Well, they say…”
“Dad, I know what they say. And sure—I guess you can build a theology around that. Actually, it’s a brilliant theology. If an innocent person has stepped forward and has given his life so that you—the guilty one—may live, then naturally that encourages feelings of love and gratitude for the person who died for you—what to speak if that person is the Son of God. Needless to say it helped to awaken my love for Jesus, as well as yours, right?
Mark’s father nodded in agreement, adding, “It has certainly resonated with the hearts of men and women from its very inception. Who but God could have created such a perfect blend of truth, sacrifice and even majesty?”
“I completely concur but still, it has always bothered me. I think that is why I unexpectedly enjoyed India so much. I’ve got so much to tell you.”
“Whew, just look at the time. Didn’t you ask me to remind you when it got close to seven thirty?”
“Oh yes, I am expected back at the rectory. But we have a few more minutes before I have to go.”
The Rectory Where Father Mark Lives
photo by: Ronald E. Boutelle
“Well, Mark, I must say that you have given me plenty to think about and we haven’t even gotten around to the biggest part of your trip.”
“I know, Dad. But please don’t think I came back emptied handed or disappointed. I took lots of pictures and made some new friends. I know you were in the Vietnam War and I even have something to tell you about that. Granted, going to Spain wasn’t part of our original plans but all at once I got myself involved in several things at the same time. But then again, they’re all connected to God so everything is good. Yes, I had a wonderful trip. Thank you, dad. I cannot begin to tell you how much it has meant to me.”
“Mark, I am the one who is thankful to have such a wonderful son. You live nearby and we spend a lot of time together—more than enough for you to tell me everything. Thank you. Now you better get going so you’re not late for the meeting.”
Mark’s father walked him down the hallway to the elevators and pushed the button before giving his son a big hug.
“Thanks again for loaning me that book.”
“You’re welcome. Are you up for a nice walk in the morning?”
Back in his room Mr. Penrose sat in his easy chair holding the book that his son had left. He felt a little confused. Perhaps ‘unsettled’ is a better word to use. ‘Chants from Balamand’ seemed to stir his soul. He wanted to connect the dots for himself. No, he said to himself, I haven’t read anything about Maria of Agreda. But why is her name in my book? He began to reflect back, thinking to himself. Maybe I had looked around but couldn’t find anything. That was a long time ago. Way before Google.
He held the book but just stared at the cover. “Mark’s one hundred percent right! How did he put it? The ‘consummate practitioner of bilocation.’ Mr. Penrose felt his eyes grow heavy. He slowly prayed: ‘All things are possible with God. All things are possible with God. All things are possible with God. Who did the Roman soldiers actually kill? Does it really matter? Mr. Penrose suddenly opened his eyes, ‘What an amazing question!’