Fr. James' story was long and sad.
"The little parish sat in small town near Nevada, toward the south of the state. Weekly, about three hundred people, mostly young families, came to the Tridentine Mass I had there. The congregation seemed friendly and content. Then, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, as I was driving up to the church with the family with which I had been staying, we saw four state police cars outside the main gate which leads into the church parking lot. Martin Lutin, my driver just kept going past the church as if he going someplace else, and no one who was standing outside looked up to see us go by.
Then, Martin pulled into a gas station and filled up his tank. He told me he would drop his little family back home and take me all the way up to the farm. We started up the main highway. Martin could see barriers in the distance, so he veered off into a side road and we drove until he practically ran out of gas near the border of Andrew County. He then called a friend of his, Charlie Manly, who has a farm near the county line to bring him gas and food. We waited only a half hour for Charlie. Then, Charlie gave us some bad news. All the people who had been at the church already had been taken in for questioning as to the whereabouts of the visiting priest. Martin's wife called Charlie and told him that she wanted Martin back as soon as possible. Then, Mrs. Lutin told Charlie that I should not come back, ever.
We three discussed what to do. Charlie has a sister in Maryville and he offered to take me a bit out of the way and told me to stay there for a few weeks before making my way back to the hills and the farm.
This I did, staying with one of the bravest women I have ever met, who pretended I was a long lost brother from the past. I waited until after Christmas, and then, I just walked the rest of the way. I must have traveled over 600 miles. But, here I am. I can never go back to the Nevada area and I have no idea where all those good people are today."
Uncle Jay, who was up and fixing food again, nodded. "You are going nowhere. Your bishop made a mistake to put you in such an obvious place. But, does anyone know where you are from?"
Father James answered no and all in the room sighed. "But, I am having problems with my feet," noted Fr. James. "I think I have frostbite in some of the toes."
Uncle Jay went into action. He knew something about frostbite, having helped John years ago with two fingers.
Fr. James patiently let Uncle Jay attend to his feet, which looked bad, indeed. Christine actually felt sick looking at the black toes.
"You will be alright. This is topical damage and some skin will peel off, but don't worry. I can make something out of horsetail as a remedy. Here have some coffee and wait a bit."
Christine sat down next to Fr. James. She was beginning to have little sister adoration for her brave brother. She knew that what he had to endure hinted at more and even worse to come. She decided to talk about her "visions" later. They would have enough time.
Uncle Jay spoke softly, "Fr. James, I want you to move into the cavern house for a month or so, just in case. There are enough provisions for four months at least. You need to seem dead to the world right now."
Fr. James laughed, "Well, I sure could sleep like the dead tonight. I am bushed. But, before I go into hiding, I want to talk to My Lady for a bit, in private, so can I hobble over to the cottage or do you want me to stay here?"
Uncle Jay said he would wrap up the feet in cloth soaked in hazel. Fr. James could wear old Sam's gigantic boots over the cloths. Then, Uncle Jay said he would bring sage tea to both of them over in the cottage.
Christine led the injured priest to Sunset Cottage and Addie decided to brave the snow and join them in the tiny rooms there.
Once in the cottage, Fr. James added to the story, "Do not tell Uncle Jay this, but some people were shot at the church. I did not want to cause him distress. Three men were wounded or died to distract the sheriff's men from our car. We are in the age of martyrs, My Lady."
Christine put her hands on her lap. "I know this, Fr. James, I know this." The two became silent for many minutes, then Uncle Jay came in with the sage tea. "I think you should go over to the cave before the next snow, which is supposed to happen tonight. I shall come back for you in an hour."
Leaving the mugs and pot on the small table, Uncle Jay walked back to the Big House. Addie stayed with the brother and sister. Then, Christine asked if she could share something she needed discernment about-her two visions and the person calling her name. Fr. James encouraged her to share all the details. After Christine told him the calls she had heard, Fr. James became pensive. Then, he began to tell her what he discerned about the visions.
to be continued...