devotionBrother Cyril the monk was tone deaf, and couldn’t sing. After five years singing Vespers together every evening Brother Sebastianus could contain himself no longer and said to him, “Lord, forgive my blasphemy, but God damn, you can’t sing for shit.”

“I have prayed to Him to relieve me of this affliction,” replied his colleague.

“He’s probably got his fingers in his ears,” said Sebastianus.

Father Haroldus, the Head of the Order, had overheard the exchange and gently admonished him.

“There is so much ugliness in the world, young Sebastianus,” he sighed.

“Cyril’s not helping,” Sebastianus pointed out.

“And yet he lives in poverty and humility in service to the Lord.”

“Whatever,” replied Sebastianus. “As long as he stops singing.” And he grumbled to himself that if God was truly Almighty he’d teach the useless bastard how to sing.

“Tend to the pigs now, my son,” said Father Haroldus, “And be penitent.”

“Shit,” said Brother Sebastianus.

“Yes, indeed,” replied Haroldus.

So he tended to the pigs. For ten years. He ate and slept alone, and was not permitted to join in the sacraments or sing Vespers. When Father Haroldus allowed him to return, there was useless Cyril, standing in the front row of the choir warbling away in a beautiful, rich baritone.

“Wow,” said Brother Sebastianus, and was truly penitent.

“The Lord moves in mysterious ways,” smiled Father Haroldus. The choir had a new conductor, Sister Suzy, and she also moved in mysterious ways. Sebastianus watched.

“He’s been taking lessons,” smiled Haroldus.

“Sure he has,” quipped Sebastianus.

When rehearsal started Sebastian croaked and snorted, being out of practice. He sounded somewhat like a pig, which wasn’t surprising given he’d been talking to them for ten years. Resplendent Cyril wrinkled his nose in disdain, but Brother Pippinus in the back remarked that the Saint Francis could also talk to animals, and maybe it was a sign of divine grace.

“I’ll need lessons,” said Sebastianus.

“May the Lord have mercy on your soul,” said Cyril, who looked rather upset.

“You have to relax,” urged Sister Suzy during their first lesson. It was a hot day so she took off her robe. “I must feel your spirit move within me.”

“I don’t know how,” Sebastianus replied.

“Sure you do,” she said. (…)

© andrew wheeler