Introduction: St. Dominic’s is a beautiful priory on the edge of the Ouseburn Valley looking out to the Tyne river. It was my first time attending mass and the priests and parishioners at St. Dominic’s were gracious and welcoming in spite of my ignorance of the Catholic tradition. Reading the history of St. Dominic I was intrigued by his work in southern France debating with the Cathars. The Cathars were a Christian dualist movement considered heretics by the Catholic church, yet they considered the Catholic church to be “The Church of Satan”. The Cathars rejected the physical world as a creation of Satan and believed the only holy realm was the spiritual. The idea of preaching and heretics stuck.The nondenominational mega-church movement in the United States comes at Christianity from the other end of the spectrum, putting emphasis on the satisfaction and well-being of the individual’s happiness and success. I wanted to take a modern heretic and put them in St. Dominic’s, let him prowl around and take stock of a holy place. A place where tradition and liturgy, professions of faith and community are more important than monetary success or fleeting bouts of euphoria.
PREACHER is standing in the back of St. Dominic’s
Priory in front of the inner porch with a nice
suit, slick hair and a large King James Bible.
PREACHER is speaking to an unseen priest.
Would you believe this is my first time in a Catholic
PREACHER looks around the priory and takes it all
That’s old Saint Patrick over there isn’t it? Yeah I’d
recognize him anywhere. A lovely piece of stained glass
too. Was it you who got creative with the decor?
PREACHER winks and laughs.
You could really pack this place out. Get ten maybe
even twelve in the middle pews. Say five or six down
the side. What are your long term goals for attendance?
PREACHER walks up the centre aisle towards the
front of the church.
Well see that is great, thoughtful prayer is a
cornerstone of the Christian faith but what are we
talking as far as numbers? Yes sir, thing being about
numbers is that they give you drive, purpose. I’ve been
helping folks all the way up and down the Atlantic and
Pacific and I was so happy to receive the invitation to
come over here. Been up to Seattle, over to Lancaster
County in Pennsylvania, popped over to South Barrington
in Chicago. The Call. Everyone needs help. Numbers are
going up, numbers are going down and you need to know
what the best move is in the current religious
landscape. You’re a smart cookie and I know you want
what’s best for this parish. I’m just a man. Man of God
same as you. We’re all in this together which is why I
need your trust. You called me and here I am.
PREACHER stops in front of the central altar.
Ya’ll see that altar up there? I mean it’s… well it’s
just not doing it for me. Got this great studio
designer in Dallas. He’ll do an altar like you never
seen.You have to question the value of what you have
and what you want. All about goals, priorities and
value. Could use an organ too couldn’t you? Big pipes
like that would sound great with the choir. Here’s one
for you. How do you know when you’re in a Texas
The choir is called the “OK Chorale.”
PREACHER chuckles to himself as he walks up the
centre behind the high altar.
Now what I’m seeing here is a band. Big brass band,
some glitz or a string quartet until the organ gets
back up and running. Creates buzz. Creates interest.
PREACHER continues up to the high altar.
I’m a baptized, bonafide, certified, overqualified
minister ordained by the holy brethren of Lakewood
Ministries. I believe in you and in this holy place!
Got to be careful with these–
Blows out candles at the altar. PREACHER grabs a
handful of bread begins to eat but then spits it
I see big things here. It’s about the heart when you
get right down to it. What’s in here. Not to have all
this blunderbuss. It’s not what the people need. They
PREACHER lets the word hang.
They need Jesus, good food, Sundays in the park, a
smile on their baby’s face. They need to be showered
with blessings. They need to believe with all their
hearts that they’re going to get the rich happiness
they deserve. It’s the power of each soul, raising
their hands and their hearts up to almighty God and
saying YES LORD. I believe in you because you believed
in me. And how are the people going to know that? How
are they going to see that richness in their life that
wealth on their doorstep?
You. We get you a suit, a nice car, some eye candy for
the choir. Show the people what they need to aspire to,
what they want, what they know in their hearts to be
right. We get the look. We get the crowds. We get the
cash. Then we’re doing the Lord’s work.
PREACHER wears a wolfish grin as lights slowly
fade to black.
WATT Collaborative Submission
If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
– Jeremiah 20: 9 NSRV
In the winter chapel a man hands me a black coffee.
“Why does everyone kneel before entering the pews?” I ask him.
He says ’the ritual East‘ is to the south.
“What is the correct path when making the sign of the cross?”
He says the leaves and vines etched on the crucifix represent the Tree of Life.
“Why does the queue for the bread and wine move so quickly?”
He says life has conquered death and we’ll be washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.
I think hallelujah like Peter but shout hosanna like Thomas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
B. Mason Judy writes prose. Far from his native Canada, he is currently in the MA creative writing programme at Newcastle University. Check out his work at bmasonjudy.tumblr.com.