A ROYAL INTERLUDE
“I can’t keep up” gasped Bushy, “I’m not as young as the other’s; in fact in human terms I must be about sixty.” “Nonsense” said Lizzie, “I think that you must be the equivalent of forty in human reckoning”. The reason for the huffing and puffing is that the cats were having to walk up this enormous flight of steps, and they seemed to have been walking up them for ages, but it was only about ten minutes at the most.
You will be wondering what had happened to the cats since they left the White House, and even how they got to the White House in the first place. The cats did not remember disembarking from the Halcyon, at all. They slept all the way from England to America, and when they did wake up, they were utterly wide awake, and were amazed that they had become literally gigantic. What had happened is that the angels had made the Halcyon invisible, and as soon as the Halcyon reached the oval office it disappeared, leaving the cats to grow in the blinding blue light, along with the celestial animals. As soon as the animals left the room, they found themselves back on the Halcyon under another night sky, but what was quite different from there previous journey on the flying boat was that when they looked down beneath them there were no clouds, and no earth. Momentarily the cats were very afraid, and Dolly began making bleating noises, and Sammy and Freddie howled. Lilly looked appalled, Molly had a very apprehensive look in her eyes, and Lizzie just tried to take it all in. Bushy and Tommy were sound asleep, already! The angel, the same one who had welcomed the animals on to the ship in Corby, said “Don’t panic, we are almost there”.
Suddenly it was as if a crack of light appeared in the sky, like a slit, which then was torn right open and the voyagers found themselves about to dock on this great stairway, which seemed to be emerging from a great bank of clouds.
“Oh, I think we’re back home” explained Hans. “Yes we are indeed” said Grigio. “Yes” said the angel, “but only for a short time, as you have to look after the cats”. “But surely” said Lorenzo, if they’ve got saints and angels to look after them, why do they need us?” “Because” replied the angel, “God’s ways are not ours, and we do not question God when it is a question of a mission. So this is where you disembark.”, and with that very no-nonsense approach, the angel moored the ship to the great stairway, and the animals disembarked.
“It looks an awfully long way up to that huge gate!” said Dolly. “Now my dear”, said Lizzie, it’s only about a quarter of a mile.” “A quarter of a mile” shrieked Lily. “Now Lily. I think you are being somewhat melodramatic”, said Molly, “And so do I” . The cats wondered who the beautiful voice belonged to, and there, when they turned round they saw that it was St. Bridget of Sweden. Her face was wreathed with smiles, and she was dressed much more richly than when she appeared in the garden with the other female saints. Her face was set off beautifully by a shimmering blue veil., and she wore a dress of the most beautiful violet colour; it was ornamented with precious stones. The cats thought that she looked much younger than when they had met her before. “You are wondering why I am looking so young, aren’t you?”. All the cats nodded in agreement, but said nothing. “That” continued Bridget, “ is because I am in Heaven, and we all look, not so much young, here, but ageless. Come we must hurry, as we have a meeting in the Palace of the Kings and Queens”. Leading the way, the Saint moved swiftly up the marble stairway to the gate, which of course was the gate of the watch tower.
They got to the ruby gate much quicker than they thought, and Bushy’s huffing and puffing and feeling tired was more imaginary than physical. He just thought he was the oldest of the cats, which he was, and therefore should be huffing and puffing. Tommy was feeling much the same, and he was definitely, after Bushy, the next eldest of the cats.
Once past the gates, the cats suddenly found that there energy had returned, and they were positively gliding over the ground. The feeling was wonderful. The cats were not remotely put out that the great avenue which emerged from the ruby gate, was crammed with people, because everyone was moving in a wonderfully ordered fashion, and no-one was stepping on peoples’ toes, and certainly no-one was stepping on the cats. “Aren’t they magnificent looking people?” whispered Lily to Dolly. Dolly just nodded as she was mesmerized by what she saw. People from every age and country, people from near the beginning of the World and people of the present day thronged forward. “It is the feast of All Saints on earth said St. Bridge and I think that as we are in a hurry, we will have to fly. Here in heaven it is, in a way, always the feast of All Saints, for they spend their time gazing upon God, and singing his praises continuously.
Suddenly as the crowds burst into the most wonderful song of praise, the cats found that they were flying through the air, and the experience was rather like swimming, and the air rather like water. As they all soared up into the air, with the other animals, the scene was breathtaking. They were flying at no more than three hundred feet above the ground, and so they had a wonderful view of things. The great river looked even more spectacular than when St. Bridget, had been at the meeting, with St. Hildegard, St. Colette, and St. Catherine. On that occasion the river was calm, but now there were huge flying fish, and porpoises and dolphins jumping out of the water. There were the most magnificent coloured fish, and sea creatures that one had never seen before. Overhead flew great pterodactyls that would occasionally alight on some tower, or on a great silvery spire. Eagles soared into the far distance, and doves and flamingos made the sky look like a golden sea with white and pink waves. Beneath them the cats saw the beautifully colonnaded avenues, the great parks, the numberless fountains, and the incredible variety of greens, from the green lawns, to the dark green of great cedars, and all the greens between, moss greens and emerald greens. The flowers erupted everywhere on the lawns, from flower beds lining the avenues, and the air was heavy with the smell of honeysuckle, lilies, roses, orange flowers, and a thousand other flowers; most of them unknown to Earth.
Our little group now found themselves flying upwards to the top of a large flat hill, and then they came to a summit. When they reached the summit, they found themselves not flying any longer, but back on the ground, just like that.
Before them was a great palace, which looked both quite restrained in style and yet very exotic at the same time. When asked later what the palace was like, the cats said that it rather reminded them of a massive Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Domes were everywhere, and the great archway of the main doorway was covered in glistening mosaics. The whole building gleamed white, and gold in the Heavenly light, and the numerous domes, where like so many different jewels, which they might well have been. “I hope we’re not late.” Said Dolly tentatively. “One can never be late in Heaven” replied St. Bridget with a sparkle in her eye. Two giants were guarding the entrance to the palace. They bowed low to the cats, and other animals, and gave a very low bow to St. Bridget.
The company entered a large entrance hall way, which was surprisingly dark, and then climbed another set of stairs, and entered a great round Hall, whose domed ceiling was pierced with light coming from a round skylight window in the centre of the dome. In the centre of this hall that was lined with green marble pillars and yellow marble capitals, and whose floor was lapis lazuli, stood a group of wonderful looking people, men, and women, some crowned, and some not, but they were obviously all saintly kings and queens. The cats were somewhat overawed, not only by the sight of such noble looking beings, but by the magnificent peacocks that were moving around about in the corridor that surrounded the great hall, and where most of the light flooded in from great round arched windows. An occasional ostrich could be seen milling around with the peacocks. All was very quiet; very peaceful.
Suddenly two ladies in Tudor costume walked gracefully over to the cats, and smiled warmly at them. The older of the two, for they were obviously a mother and daughter, said in a delightful Spanish accent while bending down to the cats, and gently touching each of them“We are all so delighted that you have come”. “Indeed we are”. said her daughter, who then continued “It was so good of our sister Bridget to bring you to us, for she, who is one of the patron saints of Europe, along with our beloved sister Catherine of Siena, and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, know the plight of the world, and the Church. Our hearts go out to the people of, what was once, Christendom, for they have lost their way. They have begun to lose hope, and if they are not careful many, many, far too many will lose their souls.” The mother then took over, and said “Sadly we saw the breaking up of Christendom, which has led to the present terrible world, for I am Catherine of Aragon, and this is my daughter Mary Tudor. In the storm that assailed England, and destroyed the ancient Church in that land, Satan began his great strategy of destroying Europe. He had hoped to have achieved his purposes with the terrible wars of the 20th century, but Our Lady at Fatima began to turn the tide. Our beloved Pope Francis, who is trying so much to bring the gospel to the peoples of our day, is hemmed in on every side. He needs your help dear little cats, because in many ways he is alone. It is a terrible thing being Pope as Pope Benedict realized. You must see what you can do. So we are sending you to him.”
“Do you want us to say anything in particular?” asked Lizzie “No. God will inspire you.” Queen Catherine said. The cats noticed that she and her daughter, had been joined by four kings, all magnificently arrayed. They were Alfred The Great, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Louis of France, and St. Stephen of Hungary. They did not say anything to the cats, but they did what the cats had been missing for some time; they dropped to their haunches, and began to stroke them. Bushy who had been missing a lap to sit on, managed to coax King Alfred into a sitting position, and then jumped onto his lap. He was not only in Heaven, he was in his seventh heaven. Tommy managed to get hold of St. Stephen’s hand and vigorously lick it. The others were quite content simply to be stroked. The other animals looked on at this scene with great delight. Time seemed to stand still, and then with a thrilling voice, St. Bridget literally sang “We must be going now, for Peter awaits us, and to Rome we must go”
Suddenly the cats found themselves surrounded in blue light, the palace hall vanished, and there they all were in the piazza in front of St. Peter’s. “My that was quick!” said Sammy, “And there was no boat!” exclaimed Sammy. “One does not need a celestial ship to reach one’s destination, faith is just as good” said a happy laughing voice. Turning round the cats saw that it was St. Catherine, who was standing among the celestial animals. “Do you think” asked Bushy, looking at Grigio “that the Pope will know who you are?” “Well he jolly well ought to as I thought the Curia was awash with Salesians, and after all his recent secretary of state, Cardinal Bertone, was a Salesian. “Anyway” said Lizzie somewhat authoritatively “I am sure Pope Benedict will recognize St. Corbinian’s bear”. At this, the kindly and modest bear would have blushed, if he could, which he couldn’t, as his face was covered with fur.
“Come on my dear little ones” said Catherine “we can’t be loitering around here, we have work to do, and we don’t want the police arresting us. “Aren’t we invisible?” piped up Lily. “No! this time we are not!” “Oh!" said Dolly, and looked nervously around.