Patience is a virtue, but essential for priests...
He was dressed in grungy grey clothing and he looked as if an inch of dirt clung to him. Grey curly hair straggled around his face, but I could see an obvious sneer as he brushed past the Oratory father who was leading us in prayer. A small group of us (the Confraternity of the Precious Blood) were assembled in the Our Lady of Sorrow chapel to pray. Before passing us, the grubby grey man scoffed gruffly and cleared his throat. Then he leered at the priest. What’s he doing in this church? Is he a down-and-out?
Several minutes passed, and the man came back with a lighting candle in one hand, and a large white and black lump in the other. We kept praying The Seven Offerings of the Precious Blood. Grubby grey one giggled under his breath, and then put the lighting candle into one of the confession boxes. A woman quickly went into the box and blew out the candle. The priest’s attention was no doubt distracted, but more so when the man strutted up to him, and standing very close to his face, in fact he was about ten inches away, pointed this large lump of melted wax at the priest. Lump?
Really, it was a ball of congealing wax that the man had no doubt gathered in the church. The church had been full, and the candle trays overflowing and it would have only taken him minutes to make this ball. Looking at us with a painful grin, he pointed the ball at the priest and held it there for about seven seconds. The priest was reading the written prayer intentions from green sheets of paper, but whilst this man was goading him elfishly with this wax thing, he never lost concentration. He kept reading the intentions, without so much as a tension in his voice. The priest was calm and collected. The man turned the dirty wax article. Whatever next?
Looking at the ball of wax, I saw that there was an old camera stuck in the middle of it with wax surrounding it. The grubby grey one strutted away and we continued praying.
PS - There are those who say that the man should have been more carefully supervised in the church and when he was assembling the ball of wax should have been stopped. But if all of us, when before a beloved saint or Our Lady are ‘supervised’ when we light candles (for fear we will gather balls of wax and aim them at priests?) does that not take away from the closeness and privacy of personal acts of devotion?