“Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us to be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified because of them, for the Lord your god goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“Ahem,” came the chorus below his pulpit.
“In closing, I wish everyone to say a prayer to Martha McCally and her family. She is a constant presence in our church, volunteers graciously, and she is going through a serious illness at this time. Please think of her and her family during these trying times. Give a donation if you can. Let her know we are thinking of her every day.”
There were nodding of heads and reaching for purses and wallets.
Father Harrietha beamed as the church organ began playing and the service ended. He stepped down and started shaking hands and wishing people the best; prayers were extended both ways and twenty minutes later, Father Steven Harrietha waved goodbye to the last parishioner on the ancient stones steps of St. Michaels Catholic Church.
It was October and while it wasn’t bitterly cold, it sent people inside after ten minutes outside. He shut the door, the sound echoing inside the massive chapel; one which the ceiling towered above him at fifty feet. He started for his office in the back of the church when he noticed someone sitting in the furthest pew. A man, yes, but he seemed to be hiding himself. Bundled in jeans and a jacket, Father Harrietha approached. He tilted his head to get a better look at the man. White, hollow cheeks, scrubby beard. It wasn’t the first time he had seen someone struggling through the crisis of the opioid addiction that was spreading like hell fire through their small mid-western community.
Another soul that needed saving.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
The man didn’t respond, still facing the front.
“Are you hungry?”
Again, no response.
“Do you need shelter?”
The man turned to him for the first time. This was a person who needed help no doubt. The man shook his head.
“No food. No shelter,” the man said.
“How can I help you?”
“I want to make a confession, Father.”