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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fr. O'Keilty

I had the awesome-est dream last night. I dreamt that I was at Christendom, talking with Fr. O'Keilty. He started telling me one of his life stories, and as he told it, my surroundings changed to reflect everything that he was saying. He told the story so vividly that I was an observer of the events as they happened.

There was also a new priest at Christendom. He was a larger priest with red hair, and a bushy red beard. The color was not unlike Kelly P., but lighter and brighter, like the McG. twins. Remember Brendan's beard? That color, but all over. He was Irish as Irish can be. I can't recall his name in my dream, but I know a priest who kind of looks like this: Fr. Dennis Smith. This priest was not Fr. Smith, but for the sake of the story, I'll give him that name.

Anyway, like I said before, I was talking with Father O'Keilty, and the new priest joined our conversation. Fr. O'Keilty and Fr. Smith, both being Irish, had a jolly good time reminiscing about the old days. Apparently these two priests knew each other from way back when. I asked them how they first met each other. Fr. O'Keilty's eyes lit up, and he looked off into the distance. Fr. Smith told me under his breath that Fr. O'K told the story much better than he did, and we both turned towards Father O'K.

Suddenly, I was no longer at Christendom. I was a silent observer. I was in the middle of a jungle, and it was night-time. Machine gun fire could be heard everywhere, and flashes lit up the area. I looked around to see where I was and whether I was in danger. I was in no danger: I didn't even exist, except metaphysically. I could see and interact with everything, but nothing could see me or hear me, but they could become aware of my presence if I had desired to make it known.

I looked around to see if there was anyone around me. As I scanned the brush, I saw a thin barrel and a pair of eyes peeping out. I knew the eyes, but I wanted to make sure. As I approached closer, I saw what looked like a younger Fr. O'Keilty in marine BDU's holding a sniper rifle. He wasn't firing at anyone, but he was ready to, when it came time. A few solo soldiers came out of nowhere a few paces ahead, but they did not see Father, and ran right on past. As they disappeared, I caught a glimpse of the insignia on one of them: they were Nazis.

I was seeing WWII.

It was clear that Father was, indeed, a priest, but the situation called for the chaplain to take up arms. There was no one around him, and he was in German territory.

I looked around, knowing that Father had no one watching his back. To Father's left, just outside of his line of vision, I saw a Nazi setting up a heavy weapon, along the lines of a chain gun. His partner carried the ammo. They were silently setting up this gun, and it was obvious that they had seen Father.

I didn't have time to act, and even if I did, I don't know what I could have done. I got in the line of fire, knowing full well that my metaphysical presence would not stop a bullet, especially of that caliber. The heavy weapon mowed down Father's section of the brush. I turned, knowing that I would see what I did not want to see.

But Fr. O'Keilty surprised me yet again. Some force stopped the bullets from hitting him, and as flattering as it would be to think that that force was actually my presence, I seriously doubt it. Instead, I credit it to Father's Guardian Angel.

The Germans began to quickly pack up their weapon, believing Father to be dead. Suddenly, a bright flash exploded somewhere behind the brush, exposing the standing silhouette of Fr. O'Keilty. He just stood there, knowing that these two Germans had seen him. Sure enough, they had, and they drew their pistols.

I looked back at Fr. O'Keilty, who stood straight, strong and unmoving, as though he was challenging them to fire. Whether he was or not, they did so. After emptying their magazines at him, he was still standing. Fear struck the Germans, and they hurried to reload.

The soldier started screaming something in German, and the leader started yelling "Silencio!" over and over.

Father calmly drew his pistol and fired two shots. The assistant and then the leader went down. The leader of the two Germans lost his helmet in the fall, exposing a shock of red hair. I looked in disbelief, knowing that it was Father Smith. The subordinate Nazi was not dead, but he was in no condition to think about firing. Father had known exactly what he was doing when he fired, and had simply disabled both men. Father walked up to both men, and stood over them. The subordinate clutched his wound, and looked up at Father. As Father stood calmly over them, the leader moved quickly towards Father and made a grab towards his left leg. I thought for sure that he was making one final desparate attempt on Father's life, but he proved me wrong. He was, instead, embracing tightly, and saying the only word I had ever heard him say in the story: "Silencio." He rocked himself back and forth in his pain, but he looked imploringly up at Fr. O'Keilty's eyes, and Father looked down at him and his buddy.

Smith was crying as he was embracing Father's leg, believing that he and his buddy were dying. Father assured them that such was not the case. As tears continued to flow from the face of the red-headed German, he begged for forgiveness, because he saw that he had attempted to kill a man of God (I'm sure that by this point, he knew that Fr. was a Catholic priest). Father, of course, forgave him.

I knew that they were both in good hands.

The scene switched suddenly. The days were lighter, and Father was back in his BDU's holding the same sniper rifle. Instinctively, I knew that we were out of WWII, and were in the Vietnam War. Father advanced in this new jungle slowly, eying everything. Father waved his arm, and out came a familiar heavy-weapons soldier, but this time, with he was allied with Fr. O'Keilty. They paused for a moment, enough time for Smith to thank Fr. O'Keilty for his assistance. Father asked him what he intended to do with his life. Smith said that after this, he would be stuck in Poland until 1996, but as soon as he is able, he would enter a seminary, become a priest, and then find Fr. O'Keilty.

The time zipped back to the present. Fr. Smith had fulfilled his promises: he is now a priest, and has found Fr. O'Keilty. One part that he neglected to mention, but that was clear to me was that he didn't intend to let the simple priest who changed his life get away from him. He intended to serve Fr. O'Keilty as long as he could be, to help in the payment of a debt that could never be repaid.
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