From Iscariot by Tom Phelan
Then words fell out of O'Brien like the first trickle of water coming off winter's melting snow. "I got your first blessing the day you said your first mass. Do you remember? Everyone in the church queued up because we all knew you from the time you were a child, Peter's son. The missus had gone to the earlier mass and was home minding the child. I don't know if you'd remember how she was delicate, the child. I rode home to Ballafalia on the bike, and told the missus to go back to the church for the blessing. I always remember it, how I thought the three of us would be safe because we got your first blessing, you being one of ourselves, and a new priest with no sins, as it were. But the child died before she was three: hole in the heart. And the missus only lasted a few months after that."
In the silence that followed, Molloy saw himself that day, moving along the line of believers, calling down the blessing of God on them while he laid his newly oiled hands on their heads. Bitterly, too, he saw himself in the first flush of the priesthood, a delicate, unsuspecting flower about to be yanked out of the ground, indelicately chewed and consigned to the first stomach of the great dumb cow, the institutional Church. Molloy's mind was flooded with images of places he had been, of relationships he had been through, of pains and joys, and all the time, unbeknownst to him, he had been woven into O'Brien's sad memories, had probably been thought of kindly at times when he would have been glad of a little gentleness and kindness. For too many years he had looked for kindness within the priestly brotherhood. By the time he realised his search had been futile from the start, he himself had become a spiritual wasteland, his soul a stretch of barren moonscape strewn with mountainous isolates of anger and bitterness.
When Molloy glanced up at O'Brien, a ripple of warmth, emanating from a dim awareness of solidarity, slipped into his chest, and he knew that if he had found even this much connectedness with his fellow churchmen, he would probably still be a priest.
Copyright ©1999 by Glanvil Enterprises, Ltd.,
Freeport, New York.
Published by Brandon Books, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland.