Father Mulligan sat on the park bench, looking across the street at the church. He had been in charge of St-Joseph’s for over forty-seven years now. Recently, he had been ashamed. So ashamed, in fact, that he wouldn’t even confess to his secret. He always smiled at the thought of keeping a secret from an omniscient God.
In fact, his shame and his secret were two different truths.
For the last two years or so, Father Mulligan had lost faith. He’d stopped believing in the Church and mostly, God. He’d continued to celebrate mass nonetheless, to listen to his parishioners’ confessions and to give the Holy Communion. Basically, he felt he was doing a job, gossiping and feeding theoretical cannibals. That was his secret.
His shame was that his secret was so clichéd. He felt like a stereotype. How original: a priest who lost faith. He hated himself for so predictable. Much to his dismay, he pushed it even further by doing the only thing that seemed logical. He asked God for a sign he existed.
Right about then, a man on fire ran right in front of him. So close, in fact, that he felt the heat across his face. Following him, further behind, a small crowd of people were screaming and waving their arms. Father Mulligan’s hearing wasn’t what it used to be. He never heard them coming.
The old clergyman stood up, looked at the sky and muttered: “that the best You can do?” Disappointed he walked slowly across the street to the church, briefly glancing back at the burning man who was already far away.
For some reason unknown to him, Father Mulligan smiled and went in to get ready to hear today’s gossip.