TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS
Rocketed, not into the cold light of day, but into the almost threatening torch light, that illuminated a room crowded with angry and anxious men and hard looking soldiers, it was almost too much of a shock for the cats and dogs. They were in no doubt as to what they were watching, namely the trial of Christ by his own people. The animals, being quite different from human beings, could not fathom how such a state of affairs could be reached, namely that the created could put the Creator on trial. To them such a thing was not only terrible, but in a way illogical, though they would not have understood quite what logic meant; instead they had a sort of Divine instinct. In all their conversations with human beings, they might sound exactly like you or me, but they were most definitely not like us. It is a mystery that only God understands and that we will only understand when, God willing, we finally arrive in Heaven. The saints were still there, but now the cats and dogs could not see them, and as was noted earlier, the human beings could not either. The dogs and cats were now to face their greatest grief alone, except with a few moments of help from the saints and the angels, their only support being each other.
When they had become acclimatized to their situation, the animals crept into the shadows, as they did not wish to draw attention to themselves. They watched, as best they could, the unfolding of Christ’s trial, knowing that they could do little, for they too knew that it had all taken place nearly two thousand years ago. Standing near to the entrance they prayed and hoped that they would not be noticed, and though they were not invisible, amazingly no-one did notice them, however this was not surprising as it would seem most of the people were consumed with a fierce and terrible rage.
As the cats looked on, amid the raucous din of voices demanding Christ’s death, they became aware of thousands upon thousands of black objects floating around the Hall. They wondered what they were. “Are they spiders?” whispered Tommy to Bushy. “I don’t know.” said Bushy, “But they look pretty nasty to me.” “Perhaps they’re flying lizards.” said Dolly. “I don’t think they are anything as pleasant as that.” remarked Molly. Suddenly all these thousands of black things got bigger and bigger, they grew arms and legs, and that was the only similarity that any of these creatures had with each other. They were all revolting examples of the Satan’s kingdom. Some of the devils had heads protruding from their stomachs. Others had tails instead of heads, and eyes on their chest, or huge cavernous tooth filled mouths where their stomachs should have been. The combinations of the grotesque and ghastly were limitless, and they moved around the Hall in a terrifying darting fashion. On a semi circular dais were members of the Sanhedrin who were sitting on stone benches attached to the back wall. It looked not unlike an apse in a Romanesque Church. Almost all the members of the Sanhedrin had these devils attached to them, only about five of them did not. The onlookers, who were the most odd bunch of people, fared no better, and the temple police, with their little spiked metal helmets on their heads, were equally infested with demons. The devils kept popping out of people’s nostrils, ears, and mouths; all the time laughing hysterically and maniacally. “The things devils and men get up to” said Lizzie, sounding exasperated beyond belief. Contessina looked on in utter dismay, horrified by it all. She was dumbstruck. Sammy and Freddie were sitting bolt upright, their tales bushed up and their fur as well. There was such a din that the cats could not follow the conversation that Christ was having with Caiaphas. It was obvious that Caiaphas was delighted with all the hatred that was being directed towards Christ, either verbally or with punches. Though Christ was just in front of the semicircular steps leading up to the dais, and a few feet behind him were railings, which were hardly enough to keep onlookers at bay, and they didn’t. The hating and hateful crowd were so close to Jesus, that not only were they were able to taunt him, but they were able to hit him, before the police stopped them, which they were not inclined to do. The animals were looking on with great fear that something awful might happen. Suddenly they saw that St. Catherine was with them. “Dear friends, there is nothing that you can do to help Jesus physically, but you can give him all your love, and he will feel it, and it will comfort him”. Then St. Catherine was gone, but that short visit filled them with a certain peace in the midst of their sorrow, and so they that would not feel too alone after her all too brief appearance there was St. Seraphim of Sarov, who smiled at them with a face beaming like the Sun. "My Joys do not worry, for the Holy Spirit will fill you with the peace that surpasses all understanding". He then floated away above The Sanhedrin. Most of them looked as if they had been attacked by a swarm of bees, except for the five members, who did not have devils issuing from them, or dancing around them. These, from looking sad and worried, now looked peaceful. However the peace did not last long, for now the shouting was becoming unbearable. It was absolutely ear splitting, and the louder it got, the bigger the demons got, so much so that all the cats and dogs could see was Christ surrounded by devils. Caiaphas was obscured by a huge devil who had an enormous head with no eyes, no nose, but it had a huge mouth with an immense tongue, and ears that looked like an elephant’s, but had none of the charm of that great animal. The ears of this demon were full of horrible sores, which gave out a most revolting puss and an even worse smell. The noise was now of a different type, because it was dominated by the sounds of the devils which were truly terrible.
Then a vile sounding voice called out in the unbelievably horrible cacophony “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Suddenly there was an absolute stillness, a kind of calm before the storm. Then Jesus spoke, and the animals thought that they had never heard such a beautiful voice in all their lives: “You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” There was a flash that only the animals saw, and all the demons disappeared.
Caiaphas, who was quite a noble looking man of about fifty years old, smiled such a revolting smile, mixed with cunning and hate, that he looked as if he had turned into a demon. In a voice that sounded as if it would become a screech said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What is your judgment? You have heard his blasphemy.” The crowd shouted “He deserves death.”, but it was said in so many different ways and with so much nastiness, that the cats felt that they had almost been knocked down. The dogs just about kept upright, but they too felt something like a great wind, and the Hall was invaded yet again by the demons, looking ever more evil and terrible, and now they came as giants, or animals with human heads. So you had tarantulas the size of cats with human faces, and scorpions as big as rabbits with yellow faces that were very frightening for the cats, who hid under the dogs. It must be added that the demons were not remotely interested in the cats and dogs, if in indeed they could see them. All they were interested in was stirring up the people against Jesus, whom they hit mercilessly as Caiaphas and most of the Sanhedrin looked on either shouting themselves, or laughing. The five members who were not infested by demons, left in silence, and by thy departure showed their disgust at the illegal proceedings.St. Francis then appeared to the animals and led them out. It was amazing that none of the animals were hurt in the chaos of fury that had transformed the Hall into one great brawl, for it seemed that the maddened audience were fighting with each other in order to attack Jesus.
The animals kept looking back at Jesus, who had been forced to his knees, as countless blows rained down on him. They could not help, but all the love that they had, they gave to Jesus, and they had a lot to give. “Quick” said St. Francis, “follow these men, until they break up into groups of two and three. You must then follow the two.” As he said that he disappeared, and they found themselves not in the courtyard, but on a street, which was quite dark. Luckily the moon was still shining very brightly, and so they could hide in the shadows but still see where they were going. They had gone about four hundred yards, until there was a turning to the right. Down this street went three of the men, but the group of two continued on the street as before. “Who do you think these men are?” asked Koni, “I don’t know” said Yume, “But we will find out.” “Thank God, St. Francis took us away. I thought I was going to pass out; it was so terrible” said Buffy. “I know what you mean, it was so, so awful” said Contessina whose voice was trembling with fear. The other cats were much in the same state as Contessina, and were making their little chirping sounds which almost sounded like the terrified bleatings of lambs, being led to the slaughter house.
They had been walking a few minutes, when suddenly the two men abruptly stopped at a door on the left hand side of the street. The taller of the two knocked on the door with, what looked like, a thick ornamented stick. The door was opened, and the two men entered, but before the gate keeper had time to close it, the animals were across the threshold as quick as lightening. The two men turned around startled. “What’s this? Cats and dogs I do believe.” exclaimed the smaller of the two. The taller one looked very kindly at the animals and said “Such cats and dogs as I have never seen before. So lively and you would almost think that they can understand us.” “But we can!” said Dolly. “Yes we can.” echoed Lily. Before the animals could say anything more St. Michael appeared before them and in a voice heard only by the animals said very sternly. “You must not tell these good men, or anyone, about what will happen. They must live by Faith. They do not yet know that Jesus is God, that they will learn later. They know he is the Messiah. All you may do is tell him that you come from the 21st century and that is all, and that you are here to comfort them, and do anything to help them. You can mention unimportant things like what the world is like, but nothing about what Christ has done, or his Divinity, or the Church, Is that clear?” In unison all the cats said “Yes!”. “May God be forever blessed, are not his wonders marvellous to behold?” said the short man. The taller man said, “My dear little friends, who are you, and where do you come from and why are you here on this most tragic of nights?” “We’re from the 21st century” said Dolly, “and we are here to comfort you.” "What or when is the 21st century?" the man asked puzzled. "It is the century two thousand years after this time you are living through." Bushy replied carefully, remembering St. Michael's strictures, and looking more than ever like a wise old owl. “Then my good friends, you are most welcome, and you give us some solace in this time of great sorrow. I am sure too that you will want something to eat and drink.” He and his friend led the way to an open door, and the light which flooded out was warm and comforting. The animals began to feel their spirits lift. “It won’t be long now” said Molly in a reassuring voice. “I know” said Sammy, “but it is still so painful.” “We have to suffer it for Jesus’ sake, after all his own aren’t doing a particularly good job.” said Lizzie. “True” said Bushy “but were only cats.” “And dogs as well.” Said Buffy. “Oh I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking” said Bushy, “How rude of me.” “That’s alright, we dogs often forget cats as well.” said Koni, in her warm and kindly way. With that the animals disappeared into the house, and the door was closed.