INTO THE VORTEX
Before the throne of God stood all the saints who were helping the cats with their humble and apparently hopeless mission. That very serious mission is the mission, usually assigned to great saints, to help the World to convert, and the Church to periodically reform herself, so that she once again may adorn herself with the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is not something, however, that we associate with cats. But God who is all powerful can do anything. If he could make Balaam’s ass talk, he can make cats do the apparently impossible, with a little aid from their canine companions, and with the infinite aid of the Holy Spirit.
The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, in wordless communication, gave the saints their orders, and as they did this, the entire court of Heaven burst into the most beautiful singing. The singing gave the cats great hope, though they did not know anything about it, and it is good to know that the dogs, who were with them, benefited as well, for they were now their partners in this strange mission. The saints also were to be with all the different groups of humans scattered at the same time, even though these men were scattered in different times and places. It was not so much a question of the saints bilocating, but being in several different places at the same time, but that is not a problem with saints or angels.
“It’s so dark.” said Dolly, “I really don’t know where we at all”. “There’s a terrible feeling I’ve got” said Lizzie. “I know exactly what you mean. There’s a cold pit in the bottom of my stomach and it’s getting worse all the time.” muttered Bushy “You’re hearing’s perfect now. What has happened?”asked Molly. “I don’t know” replied Bushy, “perhaps I was meant to be deaf for that incredible journey. I would rather prefer to be deaf now, and blind too; it’s terrible.” At this point Lily began to whimper, Sammy began trembling, and Freddie crouched down his ears laid back, and he had a look of fear, but there was no growling and no hissing. Contessina sat bolt upright, rigidly looking horrified into the blackness. “Can you hear a man groaning?” asked Tommy. “Yes” said Molly. In the darkness came a comforting voice. “Now you must be very brave.” “Is that you St. Francis?” asked Dolly. “Yes. Now all of you come with me. Can you see me at the top of these steps?” “Yes” all the cats replied, still very frightened. “Well just walk up them. You have nothing to fear. Just keep close to me.”The cats walked up the steps, and realized why they had been in pitch dark, for the path way, where they had found themselves was completely covered by vegetation, and it was night.
At the top of the steps was St. Francis. He was giving off a gentle light that somewhat illuminated the darkness of that dreadful night. The cats found that they were in, what seemed to be, some type of olive grove. “What was that sound of a man groaning?” asked Sammy. “Hush Sammy, none of you may speak yet.” whispered St. Francis “Come” he continued. They walked a few yards past some sleeping men, and came to a slight opening in the trees, and there on the ground was a man, groaning and weeping. None of them needed to be told who it was. It was Jesus, and this was his terrible"Agony in the Garden". Lizzie thought to herself, “What have we done to deserve to be here, this is surely the right of human beings?" A voice answered her thoughts, “Grace has nothing to do with deserving. God created you and loves you. Why should you not be a witness to his Son’s redemption of the human race.?” She looked up and there was St. Benedict, his wonderful warm voice softened the pain somewhat. At this point the dogs appeared, who came with a saint that no-one had seen, but who had been with St. Francis throughout the great adventure, but only now made his presence felt. It was St. Dominic, his face was radiating a great light, but even that could not dispel the feeling that all the animals felt. It was a fear that made the animals feel as if their insides, and everything that was themselves, were being sucked out, and was being replaced with a fear that was beyond all fear, and that was what they had become, their fear.
“Look up!” said St. Dominic. They all looked up and the whole sky was full of millions of devils, and full of damned souls. Though there were millions of beings filling the night sky, the cats were able to see each individual all at once, and see the hate with which they looked at Jesus. In their own limited way, the cats and the dogs were allowed to feel a minute part of the hate, and all began to whimper and moan and then writhe about on the ground as if they were in terrible pain, which they were. This all took place in a split second, and then they found themselves sweating and shaking. “You may approach your Lord and God.” It was the gentle voice of St. Colette. "He has need of you.”
The vision of demonic and human hatred had vanished, and there was for the animals just a leaden exhaustion. Jesus, still stretched out on the ground, was groaning. It was as if he was dying. As the animals were wondering how they could help Jesus, and also just feeling that all they wanted to do was to weep, the night was suddenly illuminated by the appearance of a beautiful angel, who gently floated down from the black night, and lifting Jesus to his knees, with his left arm, presented him with a crystal chalice full of some dark liquid. Jesus tasted it and then drank; then the angel and the chalice were gone. Jesus knelt in intense prayer. He no longer groaned but his face was a terrible whitish grey. Suddenly the moon appeared as if from nowhere, and the animals could see to their horror great drops of blood falling down Jesus’ hair and face. The agony was visible and terrifyingly real. The sweat of blood oozed through Jesus’ tunic. The poor animals could not restrain their tears, but did not know what to do. It was then that Bushy and Koni simultaneously went up and pressed themselves against Jesus’ side. The others very gingerly and tenderly followed suit. Still crying and desperately sad, they felt that though they were doing next to nothing, they were offering their Lord their small and insubstantial love.
Jesus seemed to be in a trance of suffering. He was present to the cats and dogs, but would not allow himself to be deflected from the suffering that he must endure for all the sins of the human race. The animals, in their own way, understood the enormity of it all. It seemed that as they pressed against their Lord’s body, they were sharing in some of that universe of pain, and they were able to give vent to it in their tears. Little Lily, and Dolly were especially overcome, so much so, that Koni felt that she had to try and comfort them. Poor Contessina was almost hysterical. The tears streamed from Sammy’s eyes as if they were waterfalls and Lizzie did her best to comfort him. Freddie’s great jade green eyes were red with weeping and Tommy could not stop making heartrendingly gulping sounds. Buffy and Yume kept rubbing themselves up against Jesus back to give him warmth, as he was shivering terribly. Francis, Dominic, Benedict and Colette looked on, as only the saints can do, with a look of intense compassion and deep peace. It was as it had to be, there was no other way. They were standing behind Peter, James, and John who were sleeping fitfully and uneasily.
The animals suddenly felt a strength emanating from their beloved Lord. They immediately moved away from Jesus, with a sense of reverence. They longed for him to touch them and speak to them, but they knew that it was too serious and sacred occasion for them to feel his compassionate love for them. They had their part to play in the passion, which required what must be called a cauterizing of the heart. They had to be brave. They followed Jesus with their eyes. He went over to the apostles and spoke to them gently, but they did not hear what he said. Peter jumped to his feet his eyes staring at Jesus with horror, and James and John simply sat looking utterly lost. The dogs started barking, and then there was pandemonium. The cats looked up and saw soldiers with spears and swords,their cruel faces lit up by lanterns surrounding Jesus. They looked like devils. The cats all then did the same thing, they tried to defend Jesus. They somehow knew that they must not attack the soldiers. If they were trampled to death it would not matter. Before they could do anything they found themselves caught up in the arms of the saints who withdrew them from the mayhem. Then the cats had a better view, as did the dogs who had been called to heel by St. Francis, of what was happening.
The animals then saw a man kiss Jesus, and the coldness invaded their hearts yet again. They knew that they could now talk, and Molly said softly in her velvety voice, “Doesn’t he remind you of Satan?” ( Throughout Jesus’ agony Molly felt that she could not comfort Jesus by joining the others, and had placed herself directly in front of him. She would never forget the beauty, the suffering, and the majesty that flowed from Jesus. All she was able to say in her heart was the prayer of St. Thérèse’s, which of course she had never come across, “I long to love you and make you loved.” For a brief instant Jesus, who had been praying with his eyes closed, looked at her with such a look of love, that she felt a warmth embrace her like the warmth that only the most perfect happiness could produce. It lasted no time at all, and Molly wondered greatly at it, for Jesus’ sufferings were so awful that she felt that she could not feel anything but the most terrible desolation.) All the cats whispered their agreement, but as the dogs had not seen the Devil they were somewhat at a loss as to how to respond. However the animals looked on as Jesus was bound and dragged off. “Give his captors a few minutes, and then we will follow!” said St. Dominic who was holding Sammy and Freddie and Lizzie in his arms. St. Francis was holding Tommy and Bushy and St. Colette had her hands full with Dolly and Lily. St. Benedict was holding a very excitable Contessina and a very calm Molly.
“Now my dear friends” said Colette, “We can follow Jesus safely at a distance. “But they can’t see us can they?” asked Contessina, who was now recovered enough to talk. “Oh but they can.” said St. Francis, “It’s us they can’t see.” With that the saints put the cats down on the ground and then they all followed the soldiers, who were dragging Jesus along with a rope, manhandling him, and laughing all the while. The animals could not hear what was being said, but they knew it was horrible.
They followed the soldiers and crossed over a stream on a small bridge; then they climbed along a somewhat steep path, and followed the soldiers’ procession through a gate into Jerusalem. The dogs, being quite large, were trying to hide themselves in the shadows, which was somewhat difficult, because of a brilliant moon that illuminated that saddest of nights. Apart from a few people passing by, the streets were deserted, and the cats, being cats, were quite able to disappear into the shadows, when they found them. The animals all kept their eyes glued on the soldiers.
Suddenly the soldiers’ procession turned sharp right through the gateway of a very large looking house. The cats, followed by the dogs, discreetly entered the entrance to what was a large courtyard, full of people. However, to the animals great relief, there were quite a few shrubs and bushes growing alongside the walls to their right and their left. Before them there was a large doorway out of which torchlight streamed. Taking a route behind the bushes beside the left hand wall, they made their way stealthily towards the lighted entrance. The saints followed on.