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Thursday 22 May 2014

Excellent Work and Analysis from John Smeaton

I draw to your attention SPUC’s analysis of the draft document Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations which has recently been prepared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship. It can be found in full here:

The draft document aims to give guidance to “dioceses and to Catholic individuals and organisations” and is out for consultation until 31st May 2014. Archbishop Peter Smith, the Chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, has expressed his desire for feedback to ensure that it meets the needs of Catholics.

SPUC’s analysis raises concerns about the content of the bishops’ draft document and challenges the claim that it offers “informed advice and guidance” which will prove to be “a resource which can be referred to when a particular issue arises”.

You may wish to consider sending your comments on Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations to Archbishop Peter Smith, Chairman of the CBCEW’s Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship at 150 St George’s Road, London, SE1 6HX or write to his email

You may also wish to send a copy of your comments to the Catholic bishop of the diocese in which you live. Although the purpose of the consultation is “to ensure that [the draft document] meets the needs of Catholics”, it clearly has important implications for non-Catholics too.

There follows an executive summary of SPUC’s analysis which can be found in full here:

Executive Summary of SPUC’s analysis of  Applying Equality Law in Practice
This paper is an analysis of Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations[1]Applying Equality Law in Practice,  (which, it says, is approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales), aims to “provide an accurate overview of equality law as it stands... with a focus on religious issues”. The legislation under discussion is the Equality Act 2010 and subsequent amendments to it. Applying Equality Law in Practice is out for consultation until 31st May 2014.

This paper raises concerns about the content of Applying Equality Law in Practice and challenges the claim that it offers “informed advice and guidance”, which will prove to be “a resource which can be referred to when a particular issue arises”.
In particular this paper argues that Applying Equality Law in Practice:
-          Fails to place the Equality Act 2010 in its social and political context
-          Incorrectly claims that the “framework” of the Equality Act 2010 “is in line with Catholic teaching”
-          Provides a distorted interpretation of the law by failing to distinguish acceptable definitions/usage of key terms from the distorted definitions/usage of key terms used by proponents of equality law
-          Urges conformity to the Equality Act, and promotion of it, without adequate consideration of the moral dimensions of the law
-          Fails to enunciate Catholic teaching on the questions under discussion and thus fails to offer real guidance to those seeking assistance “when a particular issue arises”
-          Confuses “religious rights” and the natural moral law in such a way as to undermine claims to objective truth in moral matters
-          Fails to uphold the rights of non-Catholics by retreating from the natural moral law to “religious rights”
-          Fails to uphold the authentic dignity of those falling under the protected characteristics of “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment” by acquiescing in the false ideology which underpins the law and by failing either to share the truth in love or to encourage others to do so  
-          Fails to offer moral support or encouragement to those who are concerned that the law poses a risk to their authentic rights
In short Applying Equality Law in Practice as currently drafted is inadequate as guidance for Catholic dioceses and “Catholic individuals and organisations” who need advice “when a particular issue arises” relating to current equality law.

Many people in our country today are growing ever more concerned about the increasing pressures placed on them, particularly in their places of work, to conform to ideological positions which stand in opposition to the natural moral law and the teaching of the Catholic Church. The range of opportunities open to those who continue to adhere to authentic moral values is at risk of becoming ever more restricted as society grows ever more intolerant of dissenting views on questions relating to sexuality and the family. This is our experience in SPUC as SPUC’s support for the Glasgow midwives, defending their right to conscientious objection to involvement in abortions, shows.

What is urgently needed is for the Church to speak out firmly and courageously in defence of the basic rights and freedoms of us all and tirelessly to give witness to the moral values which are the bedrock of a society in which everyone can truly flourish. It is my opinion both professionally, in my role in SPUC, and as a Catholic husband and father, that Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations undermines rather than furthers that goal.

A Huge Scandal?

I am looking into this legally. There is a difference in America and Great Britain regarding the term "civil partnership", a term used since the Domesday Book not to mean marriage. The problem is that in America, civil partnership means civil union. I would like both English civil lawyers and Canon Lawyers to make comments.

Many Catholics see this old law, which has been on the books, regarding civil partnerships, as a new acceptance by the Catholic Church in England and Wales. It apparently is not. Since 1974 or so, the Catholic Church has recognized civil partnerships but not as marriages or unions.

More like business agreements...but if the law morphs, the CC is in big trouble.

Because the Anglicans are the established church and come under a different legal standing than Catholics, the attorney below, an Anglican, would have a different view. Can others help clear this up, please?

John Smeaton is correct in stating that the confusion lies in the giving of marriage rights to those in civil partnerships. But, if this were the case, why was the truly EVIL ssm bill passed last year, which is separate from the older law?

Need legal help on this one..
Thursday, 22 May 2014

Archbishop Smith/CBCEW defends homosexual civil partnerships, despite Catholic teaching to the contrary

Archbishop Peter Smith, in a statement on behalf of theCatholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), has defended homosexual civil partnerships. In aresponse to the government's review of civil partnershipsfollowing legal approval of same-sex marriages, Archbishop Smith/CBCEW say (inter alia):
  • "Some lesbian and gay Catholics do not wish to enter into civil same sex marriage because of their deeply held belief that marriage is between a man and a woman only, but still wish to have the legal rights that are contained in a civil partnership. The removal of the option for same sex couples to enter into civil partnerships could cause great harm to those Catholics and others."
  • "In terms of the Equality Act framework, it is important that those who share the protected characteristics of sexuality and religion continue to be able to manifest their religious beliefs whilst not being denied the legal protections that are offered by a civil partnership."
  • "We are opposed to any automatic conversion of civil partnerships into same sex marriages. The two realities were established differently in law with distinct meanings. Same sex couples who entered into civil partnerships may not wish to have their relationship labelled in this way."
  •  "[T]he continued legal right of lesbian and gay couples to enter into civil partnerships is important to them. Preventing new civil partnerships from being entered would deny them those rights and provide little or no benefit elsewhere."
My comments:

In the above response, Archbishop Smith/CBCEW defends homosexual civil partnerships despite Catholic teaching to the contrary. In 2003, Pope John Paul II* approved a document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, entitled "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons", signed by Cardinal Ratzinger and published on the feast-day of the Ugandan martyrs, who died rather than submit to homosexual acts. Here are some relevant extracts from that document, marked "CDF" and with my emphases in bold, followed by my comments:
CDF: "In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage,clear and emphatic opposition is a duty." (no.5)
As civil partnerships in English law are legally exclusive to same-sex couples and in practice are used only by homosexual couples, they therefore fall squarely under the document's condemnation of homosexual unions. By the use of the word "or", the CDF made clear that the Catholic Church condemns civil partnerships between homosexuals per se and not only "[i]n those situations where homosexual unions...have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage." (And in any case, civil partnerships in English law have already been given many of the "rights belonging to marriage" in English law, so they are doubly condemned.) Archbishop Smith/CBCEW has not only failed in their "duty" to manifest "clear and emphatic opposition" to homosexual civil partnerships, they have endorsed and defended them.
CDF: "The homosexual inclination is...'objectively disordered' and homosexual practices are 'sins gravely contrary to chastity'." (no.4)
There is no mention in the Archbishop Smith/CBCEW response to homosexuality as a disorder nor to the wrongness of homosexual acts. This omission is squarely contrary to the next paragraph of the CDF's document which says:
"Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, [for example] stating clearly the immoral nature of [homosexual] unions..." (no.5)
The Archbishop Smith/CBCEW response refers to:
“lesbian and gay Catholics who have entered into civil partnerships in order to secure important and necessary legal rights”.
Yet the CDF explicitly rejected that argument:
CDF: "Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens." (no.9)
The final paragraph of the CDF's document said:
"Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean...the approval of deviant behaviour..." (no.11)
Again, by the use of the word "or", the CDF made clear that the Catholic Church condemns civil partnerships between homosexuals per se and not only where such unions are "plac[ed] on the same level as marriage." One of the bases of this condemnation is "the approval of deviant behaviour", about which Archbishop Smith/CBCEW is silent.

When the Civil Partnerships Bill was passed in 2004, Archbishop Smith, again on behalf of the CBCEW, said the opposite of this latest CBCEW response, arguing that:
"The government has effectively established same-sex marriage in all but name"
and warning of the damage that would cause.

Background: Legal nature of civil partnerships

Jacqueline Humphreys, an Anglican barrister, has said:
"[T]here can be no ambiguity that [UK civil partnerships] are intended to be sexual ... [T]he fact that some people do not engage in genital sexual activity within their marriage does not prevent marriage from being the legal regulation of an essentially sexual relationship. The same applies to civil partnerships ... [C]ivil partnerships are in all important respects the same as marriage in terms of practical legal effect. Civil partnerships also share the overwhelming majority of the conceptual understandings of marriage that exist within English law"
Ms Humphreys has explained in detail how the Civil Partnerships Act has numerous aspects which mirror UK marriage law. There are so many of these aspects, so I won't list them all here, but here are some of the main ones [my emphases in bold]:
  • "Like marriage, a civil partnership ends only on death, dissolution or annulment"
  • "[C]ivil partners are to be treated by law in the same way as married couples in respect to property disputes" etc.
  • "Civil partnerships are also designed to be monogamous ...  This mutual exclusivity of marriage and civil partnership has the effect of putting civil partnerships firmly in a position equivalent to marriage."
  • "[T]he range of persons within prohibited degrees of relationship with whom it is not possible to enter a civil the equivalent to that for marriage ... If civil partnerships are not assumed to be sexual, there can be no reason to restrict close family members from entering them. But because they are presumed to be sexual, it would not be appropriate for the law to legitimise 'incestuous' relationships."
  • "[T]he term 'in-law' where it appears in legislation also includes relationship by reason of civil partnership in addition to relationship by marriage and that `step-parent' and 'step­child' relationships are also recognised for civil partners as they would be for spouses."
  • "A civil partnership is voidable on the ground that at the time of its formation the respondent was pregnant by some person other than the applicant."
  • "[M]any of the details of the 2004 Act anticipate that children will be a feature of the family life of some civil partnerships"
  • [T]he Act recognises same-sex marriages in other countries as civil partnerships.
Ms Humphreys explained that it is for technical legal reasons that adultery is absent as a ground for dissolution, and not because civil partnerships are not intended to be sexual.

Civil partnerships are in practice celebrated like civil marriages:
  • conducted at registry offices, witnessed and registered by the same government officials who witness and register marriages
  • celebrated with much of the traditional panoply of weddings (rings, kisses, formal attire, receptions etc)
  • referred to in common parlance as "weddings" and the partners referred to as "husbands" or "wives".
* Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught (Evangelium Vitae, 1995, para.97) it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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The idiocy of the left-now denying science!

Novella Three Christine Part Eight

The Ordination Mass seemed to be a dream to Christine. Uncle Jay, Tom, Marcus and Sam sat in the small pews, looking like giants in a nursery. Christine did not realize how small the dimensions of the chapel were until the men came in earlier. This place would only hold maybe twenty people, but the large room could hold a hundred.

Father James turned to the group and all the men went up to the Communion rail to kiss his hands. He blessed each one individually as well. Christine felt prouder than ever. She could hardly contain her newfound joy when looking at Father James.

The small group ate a small dinner with Bishop Seamus in the large room and then dispersed. Uncle Jay knew that Bishop Seamus' heart could not take the stress of being in hiding. Jay wanted to bring the Bishop back to the Big House, but he was overruled by all the others. Bishop Seamus asked them to come back in the evening. Christine promised another hot meal. Bishop Seamus had given Father James permission never to wear blacks unless he knew he was facing death. "Then, do what you want to do, Father." Bishop Seamus said he needed some rest, and they all left. Father James followed up in the rear, ever watchful. Christine could trust her soldier-priest.

At the Big House, Uncle Jay decided to listen to the news. The main stations came out of Omaha. He wanted any news, today.  He heard what he wanted to hear. All the Catholic churches and some Protestant ones in Omaha were now closed. All the priests and dissenting ministers had either disappeared or been put into jail. The Bishop of the diocese was missing. The governor of the state of Nebraska had signed a bill authorizing the use of firing squads for the death penalty. The University of Nebraska football team has won another game.

The newscaster exclaimed that this was a day of freedom for all who had suffered under the prejudices of the Catholic Church, called one of the most evil institutions of the 21st century and now becoming extinct in the Land of the Free. Uncle Jay turned off the switch.

He wondered how long they could stay here having the Mass and the sacraments. Fancy going to Confession to your nephew, he chuckled.

At about seven in the evening, as it was already dark, Tom escorted Christine to the cave with the hot food. As they walked, a huge buzzard with a four foot wing-span flew past them. Not a good omen, thought Tom.

They were cautious and did not speak in the fields or woods or the copse. Finally, down in large room, they sought out the Bishop. Indeed, they found him on the floor of the dark chapel. The good, old priest was dead. Christine gratefully thanked God that the Bishop died in the chapel from natural causes, his old worn-out heart taking him from the earth, and not a firing squad. Tom picked up the small body and carefully, after Christine finished locking up everything in the cave, took the Bishop back to the Big House. There, in the dark, Father James anointed him, just in case, and before dawn, Marcus had  buried the body in a secret corner of the far woods, as far away from the cavern as possible. That night, the first snow covered the farm and the place of burial. No one would notice the newly turned ground now. The inhabitants of the Big House said a rosary together. Father James announced that he would hear confessions later in the morning, before work began. He would work alongside the men. Then, they trailed off to their beds.

Christine ate the hot meal herself, and with Addie at her heels, went back to the cottage for the night. She wondered if there were any bishops left in the three state area. She wondered if there would ever be any ordinations in the area for years to come. Such were the thoughts of the descendant of a remnant, recusant Lady, thoughts which most likely echoed back to similar thoughts in 1581.

Novella Three Christine Part Seven

Addie stood by the door of Sunset Cottage, growling and snarling. Christine rushed to the door. It was early in the morning about a week after James returned to the farm. In the distance and in the fog, Christine could make out several men out in the barnyard. One was Jay and one was Sam, but the others were strangers.

Christine could not hear any of the conversation, but the tones sounded argumentative. She quickly dressed and ran, with Addie, to the Big House. The rest of the men were putting on their boots in the mud-room.

"Stay away, Christine, this is nasty business."  Christine waited for more explanation but got none. Marcus grabbed a rifle he had previously laid against the mud-room wall. Christine noticed that Tom had his gun as well. While Christine and Addie stood by the Big House door, the two men raced over to the barnyard. Tom's two dogs, Chase and Black, ran after the big man. Christine could hear angry voices.

She went into the kitchen and saw James sitting at the table. "Coffee? I am restricted to quarters," he said lamely.

"What is going on out there?" Christine put her sweater around her and sat down. Addie laid down under the table. "Is it Carl?"

"No, this is not cattle business. This is Catholic business. Someone got word that Bishop Seamus has been seen around here and three men from Omaha came up this morning and demanded to see him. Uncle Jay denied any knowledge of the priest, while Marcus took him out back to the cavern and raced back. Bishop Seamus has keys. Then, the men insisted on searching the house and the barn. Uncle Jay demanded a search warrant and the fight began. I was told to stay in here, after I came downstairs, when Uncle Jay and the men moved to the barnyard."

"Is the Bishop under arrest? I mean, what is the big deal?"

Christine drank the hot coffee too fast and burned her tongue. She grabbed a bun and ate a quick breakfast.

But, she was scared, more for Uncle Jay and James than for the others. And, why the guns?

"Don't you think the guns are a bit threatening?" She asked the soldier.

"Nah, a little bit of weaponry is a good thing. Causes caution."

Christine wondered if the old priest had time to eat before going underground. She would bring him hot food later.

"Hey, they are breaking up. Get in the pantry, James."  Christine stood up and started to make more coffee. Addie walked over to the door and growled. "Easy, boy," Christine said quietly.

The men got into an SUV and drove away. Uncle Jay, Marcus and Tom walked back to the Big House.

"Are you making coffee, Christine?" Uncle Jay seemed calm.

"Yes, and there are the buns you made, Uncle Jay." She poured coffee while the men changed their shoes.

All three came in and James walked out of the pantry. They sat down and ate in silence. Christine cooked some eggs and friend some potatoes. She served them, but none of them said a word.

Uncle Jay finally spoke. "Well, I wonder who spilled the beans? I wonder who talked? Maybe we should not have had the Mass open to all those people last Sunday."

Christine spoke first. "Mass needs to be for whoever wants to come. I mean, we can't stop people from coming and there were only sixteen people there."

Tom slammed his fork on the table. "It's got to be Carl and his folk. They have been envious of this farm for years after his dad sold up to the corporations. He came to Mass with his wife, and daughter, Kitty, but he has a mean spirit."

"Now, Tom, don't go judging anyone. Carl and I have had words for years but that is different than purposefully getting someone in trouble with the law."

Tom said nothing. Yes, there were strangers at the Mass, but no one minded then. This confrontation would make them all more cautious. Thankfully, Mass was being held in the Big House and not in the cave.

"Christine, wait two hours and then take hot food to the Bishop. James, go with her and stay clear of the farm. We shall go about our work as usual today." Uncle Jay got up and whispered something to Marcus. He smiled a big toothy smile. The two men left and Tom put the guns away in the locked cabinet. "Weren't loaded, anyway," he muttered.

Christine made a large pot pie, a smaller fruit pie and two large thermoses of tea. The Bishop did not drink coffee. Then, she and James waited for the alloted time. They did not talk. James suggested a rosary. So, in the orange dawn, the two prayed to Mary, the Mother of all, and then took the food to the cavern.

The farm lands seemed extraordinarily beautiful this morning. The fog lifted and left silver drops on the grass and bare trees. No snow had yet fallen, but the air was cold and the fog freezing. Christine knew that snow would come soon. Addie bounded away before them, chasing a male pheasant. James knew how to be "on patrol" and looked about himself carefully. He softly called to Addie and told the dog to go home. Addie obeyed. The dog at the door of the cave would be a give-away sign.

Addie ran back the way they came as the two lowered themselves into the darkness. Christine's wrist, completely healed, without bandage or brace, proved a useful aid to her scrambling down the path and rough stairs. The two had decided not to use flashlights until absolutely necessary. Finally, as the first white iron door, they unlocked the tracery and went into the large room. The Bishop was not there, so the brother and sister went into the chapel. There, in the front of the small pews, knelt the old priest. He was hunched over and breathing with difficulty. James went up to him. "Your excellency, are you alright?"

Bishop Seamus turned to the younger man. The Bishop's face was white and pained. "My heart, James. Tomorrow, I shall ordain you. There is not much time."

"But, I am not ready," replied James. "You are more ready than most, James and I may not have much time. We can talk about it now." Christine indicated that she had brought food and the three went back to the large room. There, in comfort and in style, she laid a table fit for a Bishop. As she did this, she smiled to herself, thinking of Lady Elizabeth Christine Magdalen Thatcham. Whether the Lady had a cave or not, Christine imagined she laid a table now and then for a hiding bishop.

After dinner, the two men talked of the necessary details of the Ordination. Then, they went back to the chapel for a while. Christine sat down and picked up a book which was on one of the end tables. It was Edmund Campion: A Life, by Evelyn Waugh. Not being a romantic, Christine shivered at the reality of martyrdom. What would have happened to Bishop Seamus is the men would have found him and taken him away? What would have happened to Uncle Jay, and Tom, and Marcus? What would happen to James and herself?

As she was thinking, the two men came out into the large room. After a cup of tea, the two siblings said goodbye Bishop Seamus. Tomorrow, at dawn, James was summoned for ordination. All the household was invited. It would be the first Mass in sixty years in the cavern chapel.

to be continued...

Popular American Saint

American Catholic churches in the Midwest, which have not been wreckovated, frequently include a statue of St. Rita Cascia. I am not sure why, except that she was canonized at the time when many of these churches were built and furnished with statues. Her popularity, also, stems from the fact that she was declared the Saint of Impossible Causes.

Rita was a popular name in my generation as well, parents giving homage to this saint through the baptisms of their girls. I hope the name sees a renewal.
St. Rita gives us an unusual example of a woman who had to deal with an extremely difficult husband and sons, who followed in the dad's footsteps. However, they died of illness before they could commit mortal sin through vendettas. Rita prayed for them and her husband, who did convert in the end to peace and forgiveness of his enemies. She is an example of heroic virtue.

Eventually, she was allowed to join a convent, (sadly, too many today deny older women entrance,which is unfortunate for the Church), where the saint experienced the sharing in the Passion of Christ through a festering wound in her forehead, as part of the Crown of Thorns.

If you have an impossible situation in your family, or feuding families or any type of rancor, pray to St. Rita.

She is an appropriate saint for Americans. Her feast day is today.

Novella Three Christine Part Six

Christine had work to do. Her job at the insurance company in Kansas City has ended abruptly. The company did not want to give her any more time off, and she knew she could not go back as of yet. Her wrist was taking a long time healing. Now, she was looking for another job on line, but nothing was "coming up."

Uncle Jay had sold well this year. Father Corrigan had moved into the Big House, with the understanding that if things got really bad, he would move to the underground apartment. All Jay's men were Catholic and fully supported the priest in hiding. Sam made a vow to protect the priest with his life. This made Christine really nervous.

Just as Jay had predicted, the Supreme Court decision caused the closing of fifty percent of the churches in the Midwest. Most bishops had been fined for refusing to have their priests cooperate with the new ruling, and two bishops were actually under house arrest, including the bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Christine watched the farm settle into autumn, and then early winter. In the beginning of November, James showed up in the kitchen one morning when Christine walked in for breakfast.

"Hey, Lady, you look great." He gave his sister a big bear hug. James looked ten years younger than his age. He was one of these guys who was always upbeat and energetic. He would always be "boyish".

"Have some grits, eggs and coffee and I shall tell you a story." He pulled out a chair for Christine. Addie, of course, begged.

"Go away, Addie, this is private," James laughed.

But the dog plopped down under the table near Christine's feet.

"Now, Lady, two years ago, when I was stationed in Israel, something wonderful happened. Guess what?"

"You met a girl, finally, " said Christine between bites of toast.

"Nope, I fell in love with God in a new way. I am going to study for the priesthood."

Christine stared at her older brother. She was scared. "Not now, James, not with all the churches closing and Fr. Corrigan here in hiding."

"You mean Bishop Corrigan, My Lady."  James sat on the chair backwards, with his hands on the top of the rounded back.

"Bishop?" Christine put down her fork. "Yeppie, he is the new bishop, auxiliary, because the other one is in jail." James spoke as if such things were normal, expected.

Christine just stared. She could not say anything. James laughed, "Well, I never thought I would see you so dumb-struck. I can study under him privately and when he thinks I am ready, Bishop Seamus Corrigan will ordain me, even right here in the chapel. So, what do you think?"

"I think you are crazy and foolhardy," she said. "You will get killed."

James poured out more coffee for the two of them. "Maybe, maybe not. Priest have survived worst times."

"But, you are, I mean, you are older than I am." Christine began to fish for excuses.

"Age does not matter anymore, Lady. You can see that."

Both siblings dropped into their own thoughts. Christine felt like she had to rest in silence.

She wanted to ask James many questions about his spiritual experience in Israel, but she could not.

He offered some hints. "I was standing in the Garden of Gethsemane, Lady, and I had my Bible. I decided to read the part about Christ in the Garden, the Agony in the Garden, when suddenly I felt this tremendous love. I mean, I was overwhelmed by peace and love. I knew I had to do whatever Christ asked of me."

James paused. He was watching Christine's face. "Then, I met some Franciscan priests at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I talked to one every day I was in Jerusalem, which was six weeks. At the end, I knew what I had to do. Be a priest, one told me, and I knew he was absolutely right."

Christine looked at James. She had never seen him happier or, well, so mature. He seemed more manly than she had ever known him to be. His decisiveness convinced her. "I understand and I am happy for you, but I am also afraid for you, James."

"I know, Lady, but pray for me. Things will be OK."

Jay came into the kitchen after changing his shoes. He came over and shook James' hand. No one said anything for a moment. "I could use some help in the barn, today James. One of the beams needs replacing."

"Sure, Uncle. It would be great to do some hard work."

Christine said goodbye and went back to Sunset Cottage. She went into her bedroom and lay on the bed. She wanted to cry, but could not. Things were happening too fast, too roughly for her sensitive spirit. She rolled over on one side and saw the painting of Lady Elizabeth Christine Magdalen Thatcham.

Christine sighed. She figured that she had a new vocation as well. She did not have to apply for jobs... she had one in the making.

Suddenly, she felt tired. She fell asleep and in a dream she saw people in the underground house, priests, deacons, subdeacons, with candles, walking past beautiful statues, and columns with flower arrangments. In the midst of the chapel, Christ sat with His Head in His Hands, praying, weeping, as in the Garden of Gethsemane. She knew He had wept for His Church and those who hated the Church and Her priests.

More people came and filled the cavern room. Bishop Seamus was saying the Tridentine Mass and then, she saw James, assisting, as a priest.

A chant grew, surrounding all with joy and sorrow mixed. The suffering Christ was in their midst. But, all were raising their voices in praise for the Mass, for the Real Presence.

Christine saw Fr. James put the Host in a Monstrance and from the Host flowed peace and love.

She slept, and when she awoke, for the first time in months, Christine felt no pain in her wrist.

She knew she was healed. She knew she could be strong. Addie jumped up next to her, and as she petted the dog, Christine heard the call for dinner.

to be continued...

Novella Three Christine Part Five

Christine woke up with a start. Addie lie next the bed on the floor on a small rug. The young women realized that she had been dreaming. She looked at the clock. It was two in the morning. Wrapping up in a black robe, Christine opened the only door to the cottage and stood on the small porch. Thousands of stars shone out of the dark sky. The usual late August haze had lifted and the sky was clear. Addie came up behind Christine, like the good guard dog it was. She bent down and petted its head. Addie followed Christine into the yard. She could not believe the number of stars. Yet, her attention was brought back to her dream. She shuddered a bit and walked back to sit own on the porch rocker for a bit. Addie followed her and curled up at her feet. Immediately, the dog fell asleep.

Christine could not understand why she had dreamt of Michael after all these years. She did not even know where he lived now. The last letter she had received from him, or rather, an email, indicated that he was living in Germany with an old friend. He wrote that he would never see her again, as his old friend was female. Christine had put him out of her mind until tonight. How odd that he would seem so real to her in this dream. They were together again and in Sicily, where they had become engaged. They were walking in the rocky semi-desert land which lay behind Michael's new farm near Enna. He planned to turn it into a holiday farmhouse, but live there part of the year. The two were making plans when Christine found out about the "other woman".

Christine looked up at the sky again, but the sky was silent. No messages from God, or Michael or anyone called from the depths of the Milky Way. She turned back into the house, again, followed by Addie. The dog had awakened as soon as she stood up.

In her bedroom, Christine said three Hail Marys for her old flame. Then, she laid down and fell immediately asleep. Addie curled up on the floor again.

Christine fell into another dream. This time, she was not in the dream, but saw Michael walking on a small cliff by the sea. He was calling out to her.

She woke up again and decided to say a rosary. Perhaps he was in trouble somewhere. After all, he was her brother in Christ. Christine fell asleep again before finishing the fifth decade. Her soul felt strangely moved by the dreams.

The next morning, after a huge breakfast and after the men were in the fields again, Uncle Jay gathered up ropes and lanterns. "One should always be prepared," he noted. He grabbed two large flashlights, and a thermos of water.

"I would like to show you all the rooms plus the chapel," he said as the two walked the short distance to the copse. Scullery Maid was not under the trees this morning. The goldfinches were gone for the season, as many birds were leaving the area, both in noisy flocks and silently.

Christine and Jay walked to the larger of the two openings. Jay led the way and helped Christine, who was not as agile with her injury. Then, they began the long climb down. Christine noticed that here and there in the wall on one side hand-sized iron "handles" for handing on to had been driven into the sides.

After about fifteen minutes, with Jay leading with the largest flashlight, the two entered a huge underground cavern. Then, Christine saw something she would not have believed possible.  In the cool air, a gate of white lattice work made out of some type of metal filled a large hole, making it into a gate to the room. This gate spanned a natural rock arch, through which one could see a room furnished like a house of sorts. Jay took out a large key and opened the gate. The two walked into a magical setting of white iron lattice work which resembled the ruins of an English abbey. This workmanship surrounded the open area, which included wooden, iron, and wicker chairs, tables, armoires, small cabinets, and boxes the size of chests.

Jay cautioned Christine to walk on the right side of the room as they were entering another room to the right, a room slightly lower and down a stone ramp. One entered this smaller room through another stone arch guarded by another white iron gate. Jay unlocked that gate and the two stepped into the chapel.

Christine gasped. There, before her, was a complete chapel in the French style, with a rounded back, which was hidden by the free standing wooden reredos carved with vines and wheat sheafs. The chapel lacked nothing, and every was in place for Mass.

Credence tables, golden candlesticks, Mass cards, were all in place.

Then, Jay beckoned her to go to yet another room to the left of the chapel. He opened a small wooden door and stood to the side. In that smallish room was an apartment for a priest, complete with vestments hanging in another armoire, breviaries, and other books.

Christine could not believe it, but there was a complete set of the Summa in Latin on top of a large chest of drawers. A bookcase held many of the writings of St. Augustine and other Doctors of the Church. Christine sat down on a wooden chair.

"Did you do all of this, Uncle Jay?"  Jay paused a moment. "No, your father did most of this, but I helped. It was all the idea of John and Iona. They had something in mind."

The two grew silent in their own thoughts. Christine stood up. "Can we see the streams?" Jay led her back to the main room, locking doors behind him. There in the middle of the huge cavern room, two streams burbled out of the rock. In the back, a waterfall fell into a pool. Yet, the air was dry, and no mold or dampness touched any of the items. It was as if the entire place had perfect temperature and humidity control.

Christine had seen all she wanted to see. Her mind could not take in the wonder of the place or the planning behind this oasis of peace and security. Jay and she walked through the gate which Jay locked and climbed up the rough stairs. Addie was waiting at the opening of the cave, and Scullery Maid was eating grass in the copse. But, Christine had a hard time adjusting to the reality of the "upper world". She felt like she had been awake in a dream.

"What is this all for, Uncle Jay," she asked, timidly.

"Hard times ahead, I think, which are coming soon." He said nothing until they walked back to the Big House and sat down for coffee. Christine could not understand what hard times Uncle Jay meant.

She waited, as she knew he would tell her."Iona and John saw the signs of the times. They both felt that the Church would not be tolerated in another one or two generations. So, they started to gather things for an underground church. They thought, maybe, priests would have to hide and say Mass in private sort of."

Jay got up for a cookie tin. He laid it on the table. Addie begged for a dog biscuit.

"The Supreme Court has decided, finally, that all ministers and priests have to abide by federal laws regarding marriages. Anyone can get married to anyone and no cleric can say no. Iona and John did not know what would cause the crisis, but they wanted to be ready for it. I have already spoken with Father Corrigan at the Latin Mass parish, which will be closed after next Sunday. He will come here. He is too old to change and he is a good priest."

"You mean he will live here?" Christine felt a cold shock.

"Yes, and no one will know except the men and us."

"And James?"

Jay said of course, and drank his coffee. "It is a stop-gap solution, I know, but better than nothing. The bishop will not cooperate with the feds and will probably be arrested or fined or both. This has already happened in Nebraska in one diocese. The entire seminary at Denton is empty of priests and seminarians who are all in hiding."

Christine could not take all this news in..."How do you know all of this, Uncle?"

"I helped move them with the men and don't you go asking me where they are, because I won't tell you."

Christine realized how stupid she had been. She knew that her time in the hospital had kept here away from many newsy events. But, this news caused her to suddenly feel old.

Jay washed the mugs and gave Addie another biscuit. "I do not want to get you involved for your own safety. What you do not know won't hurt you. Now, I have to go out and meet Sam about the wheat sale tomorrow. I shall see you at dinner."

Christine felt more love for Uncle Jay than she could express. She merely went over and kissed his old forehead.

"I know. I know," he said and patted her good hand.

to be continued....

Novella Three Christine Part Four

Five days later, the evening sky painted a yellow line above the black line of the horizon. Addie and Christine sat on the tiny porch in front of the cottage. The men had been super busy with business and crops, giving Christine time to read and rest. She could not write, yet. but she could study and pray. She had also heard from James, via snail mail, that he would be arriving soon to see her and Uncle Jay. He had a secret to share, he wrote. Christine wondered if he had finally decided to get married, but at his age, of forty-seven, she thought that would be difficult.

The yellow sky matched the hue of the golden hills Christine could just make out in the distance. She knew each hill, each little hidden vale and each stream. She loved the gorse bushes Iona had planted almost a half century ago, which also bloomed yellow. In fact, the cottage had been named, "Sunset Cottage" after the golden colors of the farmlands and sky. Also, as both Jay and Iona had known she would die there, the reference to the sunset of her brief life seemed apt.

Christine, as a young girl, wanted to rename it Sunrise Cottage, but Uncle Jay said "No."

Christine's favorite colors were sunrise and sunset colors, especially the pinky orange and duck-egg blue. In fact, she had decorated the inside of the cottage, with permission from Uncle Jay, who did not mind, in those colors. Her tiny rooms looked like old photographs from England of the dawn and dusk of her ancestors from East Anglia. She had been named after an ancestor, Elizabeth Christine Magdalen Thatcham, a lady from Ipswich, who hid priests in recusant times. Christine thought of the strange connection to Uncle Jay's underground chapel, which she still had not seen, and old Lady Elizabeth's vocation of saving priests.

Christine's German ancestors had not been from the same class as the Thatchams. The Brunderbergs and the Grosemans had come from farm-stock in Bavaria. But, American was the old melting pot, wherein those high and those low could fall in love and make new families of sturdy people.

Iona's family had also come from England, from Cornwall, all staunch Methodists, until she converted.

The Brunderbergs had died out, as Jay had no children and James was not married. The line was ending with Christine's generation. The Grosemans had done better and Christine has thirty-one cousins scattered across the Midwest, mostly in Kansas City. but they were not close. .

The Thatchams were also dying out. There was one older man still in England, a second cousin once removed to somebody, but he had never married. Once, as teenagers, after her high school graduation, James and Christine had traveled to England and found old Edward Thatcham in Eye, Suffolk. He showed them old papers and photos of the Thatchams, and gave Christine a beautiful old painting of Lady Elizabeth. It was worth a mint, Old Edward, as they all called him, remarked, but it was in Christine's bedroom, on the duck-egg blue wall. Christine did look like her ancestor. James,     from that trip, gave Christine the nickname of "Lady" and it stuck. James even addressed his letters to "Lady" instead of Christine.

Old Edward died the next year and his estate went to a person unknown to the family. Christine rejoiced in having the painting.

Addie, curled up in a crescent at Christine's feet, actually snored. The yellow line of sky changed to turquoise blue. The night would be calm.  Uncle Jay came over to the porch. It was now dark.

"Do you want to look inside the cave house tomorrow, Christine? I have time in the morning."

"Sure," she replied eagerly.

And, he walked back to the Big House.  Christine nudged Addie and the dog followed her inside. She wanted to think about tomorrow and savor the moment of anticipation.

to be continued....

Novella Three Christine Part Three

"We found the stairs in 1985 because of a note in Iona's dad's diary. Your grandfather John had made the stairs and set up rooms in the caves in 1945 when he got back from Japan. He wanted shelters in case of a nuclear war. In the fifties, people were building bomb shelters in some parts of the country, but John had his own caves.  Iona was born in 1939, so she did not know about the cave rooms until we found the diary after Grandpa John died in 1974, and, as you know, Grandma had died long before that of cancer, after your dad was born.  Well, Iona and I decided to go down into the caves and check out the rooms."

Uncle Jay ate another ham sandwich. His whole wheat bread, made from his own wheat, graced the table.

"We both were shocked at what we found-a complete underground house, with furniture, clothing, gas lights, and provisions to last ten years or more. Everything needed for survival filled the many shelves of the pantries. Ten people would easily live in the cave rooms comfortably. But, the most astounding thing of all was an underground fresh water stream. It was like God had put together a place for emergencies."

Christine poured water for both of them. Uncle Jay had many streams on his thousand acres, and the water was good and clear.

"Then, Iona got this idea. She was convinced that hard times were coming for the Church, so she asked me if  we could add a little chapel in the cave rooms, where the air was fresh. At that time, she was really ill and failing, so I wanted her to have everything she asked for..and she only wanted the chapel. So, I built an altar, and carved a small wooden reredos in a wine and wheat pattern, collected vestments when the small churches closed like dominoes in this diocese, and even got altar ware. Then, we asked old Father Simon from St. Joseph to come up and bless our little chapel. There was no bishop then, as one had died and we were waiting for the other new one."

"So, there is a bona fide chapel under the ground, in the cave house."

Christine looked at Uncle Jay. She knew he was pious, but this story showed him to be more than pious. He was prophetic. Or, at least Aunt Iona had been.

"No one knows of this except James and the men, who are all Catholic now, after Sam finally converted. We had Mass down there once on the twentieth anniversary of Iona's death-a real "black Mass".

Uncle Jay stopped talking. Christine felt as if they had traveled back in time to the days of persecution in Europe, when her German ancestors in Bavaria fought for the one, true Church, and when her English ancestors had either perished or maintained safe houses in East Anglia.

She looked down at the red and white aging yellow pvc tablecloth. Uncle Jay seemed like a prophet from older times, and the air in the room seemed like it whispered of ancient days when Catholics gathered around  houses safe for Mass.

A barn owl hooted in the distance as darkness covered the land. Christine loved the night, and she had planned on taking out her large telescope, to set it up on the permanent base Uncle Jay had made for her years ago. But, indeed, a storm was moving in fast.

Large raindrops hit the windows and Christine got up to close them clumsily with her bandage hand and wrist. "Let me do that," said Uncle Jay quietly. Sam came up to the back porch.

"Jay, I am moving Scullery Maid into the barn. This is going to be a whopper."

Jay nodded. "And, what about the milk-cow?"

Sam answered while practically running away, "Sarah's in the barn already."

Sarah was the only cow on the farm. Years ago, Jay had been talked into a herd of Black Angus, but he did not like tending to them, so he just rented out space to the neighbor down the road, to the agent Carl Link, whose cows ate Jay's field grass.

It would be Carl's duty to bring in the cattle, but rarely in storms did he do so. He mostly let them stay out and find trees for shelter. Jay did not like this arrangement, as he felt for the cattle, but these beasts would be sold within the next two weeks anyway. Not his business to keep them dry.

Lightning lit up the western sky, as Jay finished closing the windows. He could just make out Sam leading the horse into the barn out back. The other men had come in and were moving into the part of the house which was built like a large dorm. All the men stayed on the farm all year round, which was unusual these days, as most workers liked to live with their own families in _____City, but Jay's men were too old to change.

Besides, they were all related and good buddies. Christine's room was not in the farmhouse, but in a little cottage Jay had built for Iona in the year she was dying so that she did not have to walk up the steps to the main bedroom. Aunt Iona had died in the room Christine used, but the young woman did not mind. Iona had been a living saint, as everyone had said at her funeral, the biggest ever in _____City. Christine loved the little cottage and had decorated it to suit her tastes. Uncle Jay basically gave it to her for privacy.

"Maybe you should stay in the Big House until we know is the storm is going to be really bad. As you know, the cottage has no basement." Uncle Jay was thinking of the microburst, or the opposite, a tornado.

"Uncle Jay, you know I have stayed in the cottage in storms before tonight. Please do not worry."

"Well, take the portable weather radio and if there is a warning, you get back here pronto."

Christine smiled. She had lived through five tornadoes and understood the routine. All the men now crowded into the kitchen with their "inside shoes" on and were taking drinks out of the fridge.

"We can talk more tomorrow, Christine. The men and I have to discuss farm stuff."

That was the signal to leave. Christine left her inside slippers on the rack and put her heavy shoes back on. Just then, Addie, the farm dog, a large Sheltie, ran up into the mud-room. It licked at Christine's unbandaged hand as she tied her shoes. "Addie is back, Uncle Jay."

Jay shouted back, "Good thing, He has been gone all day. Take him with you."

"Come on, Addie, come with me," said Christine softly, as she loved this dog.

And the dog followed her to the cottage, as the rain pelted down on the farm.

To be continued....

Novella Three Christine Part Two

Blackbirds still sang in the dusk, and this evening's dusk covered the sky in glorious shades of purple, orange with duck-egg blue peeking out between the clouds. Soon, it would rain again, as some of the clouds in the west were "mackerel sky-not long wet, not long dry." Christine carefully walked up the wooden steps into the mud-room, sat on a small stool and took off her walking shoes. Uncle Jay had always been particular about his men and all guests not walking into the kitchen with "outside shoes". Everyone who visited had a special pair of inside shoes on a shoe-rack in the mud-room. Christine's were red slippers brought back from Japan years ago by James, when his stay there in the air-force ended. That was in 2019, the year after the Chino-Russian War, which had ended in a truce. An over-enthusiastic Chinese general had decided to invade Russia in Kyrgyzstan, opening up over a century of border disputes and diverting Russia's attention from taking over Lithuania and Poland again in the west. The war continued for two years, with one huge nuclear accident, causing the death of thousands of Chinese soldiers, virtually ending the war. American forces gathered in eastern Europe for the possible take-over by Russian of the old Soviet territories, moved as far east as possible during the conflict, but wisely stayed out of the war.

Deaths from both sides were estimated at 200,000, owing to the nuclear mishap, and China slunk back east, licking wounds and facing terrible financial depression, which ended all Chinese wealth across the world. James had been sent to Japan, just in case, as it were. But, Japan managed to stay out of any conflicts.

Christine walked into the large kitchen just as Marcus, Sam and Tom were leaving the table. These were Uncle Jay's "men", who had worked for him since Christine was a little girl. "Hi, kiddo," greeted Sam. "Blackbirds are leaving already. We are in for a cold winter. Saw flocks of geese flying south today, a full two months early." Sam bent over the table for one more sticky bun and left the room, not waiting for the young woman's reply. The three men had work to do. Christine knew the routine.

Uncle Jay did all the cooking since he lost his cook five years ago. Marianne had been a great cook, but even at the age of fifty-five, she "got up and got married" to a man from Omaha. Jay decided he could do just as well, and did. His fried chicken was famous, and he even won some blue ribbons for pies at the county fair. Jay loved to cook and his men loved to eat, so everyone was happy.

Tonight, as it was Saturday, and Jay always began Sunday brunch the night before, the meal was made up of left-overs from Thursday. Ham, potatoes, kale and lettuce salad, green beans and sticky buns for dessert served with love and care suited Christine just fine. She noticed that the wind had picked up and that maybe a storm was moving into the area.

Jay read her mind, "Storm warnings in this county until eleven." He added. "I am glad the men got the wheat in today."

Christine understood. Last year, a rare wind shear activity, a microburst, has ruined most of Jay's wheat. He had insurance, of course, but such things are a tragedy for hard-working men who rejoice in the harvest. Jay lost twenty-plus trees in the microburst, which is why the copse became almost mythical to both Christine and the uncle.

But, the early wheat harvest had begun, as Jay would begin planting winter wheat two weeks into September, or earlier this year, if the cold was settling in early. Jay's Protestant ancestors had brought winter wheat from Germany. When his father converted to Catholicism, those neighbors came over and wished him well, but never talked to him again. Those days were gone, as most of the farms around Jay were owned by corporations. Jay only knew the agents, and not the owners. In fact, one farm, about sixteen miles away, had been owned by a Chinese businessman who went broke in the war. Now, it belonged to another, American corporation. Jay knew his farm was a rarity.

Jay's heritage farm was the pride and joy of many families in the county, who could still remember the old family farms and were grateful for the one left. Christine was proud as well, and grateful, as well, that James was going to take over soon. Continuity was important to this family, in farming and in religion.

Uncle Jay drove twelve miles every Sunday to the only Tridentine Mass in the county. Most of the parishes were run by a rather liberal order, and Jay needed his "fix", as he said, of good, old time religion. James, too, was a Latin Mass person. The Latin Mass was not advertised, although most local people knew about it. It was a "secret". Christine could not get to one in the city where she had lived until her accident, but she wanted to learn about the most beautiful thing in the world, the Tridentine Mass. But, that is part of this story...

Novella Three-Christine

Christine walked slowly, with deliberation over her uncle's hills, the golden hills of loess, near ____City in Western Iowa. The hills nestled between two sets of large flatlands, where her uncle tended the heritage farm. Christine was visiting, two weeks into a six week period where she could not work. She had fallen off Scullery Maid and broke her right wrist. For a writer, this accident caused a great difficulty. Christine had to take time off for two operations and now, the rest of the four weeks of healing, as the bones had not set correctly, had to be re-broken and set again.

She tried to forget the pain. Today, the sunshine made the hills look even more golden and flocks of geese moved towards Kansas and Missouri, flying ever more south for the seasonal changes.

Christine watched cattle on the hillside, and made a mental note that these great beasts' days were numbered. Autumn would fall upon the area within weeks, leaving bare hillocks, those of the green grass the cattle favored.

Even today, a cooler wind brushed up against Christine's face. The swallows would soon leave, and the night jars, a sign of summer, would move southwards as well. This year, a frost could come earlier than the date written in The Farmer's Almanac. Christine brushed blond hair away from her face and walked towards Scullery Maid's field. The horse was nowhere to be seen, but Christine knew from experience that the mare liked to hide in the shade of the small oaks which lined the creek.

Suddenly, Christine was surprised by a flash of yellow, then another, then another. Three goldfinches flew past her face. She was absolutely shocked at three of these birds flying among the trees in late August. Then, she noticed a chuck hole. She did not want to fall again. Slowly, Christine made her way past several holes, walking deeper into the copse. Scullery Maid saw her from about twenty-feet away, saluted her with a lazy neigh and continued munching grass. Then, beyond the holes, Christine saw something she had never noticed on the farm, although she had spent all her summers here for fourteen years, back to when she was twelve, when her dad died.

Uncle Jay had become a part-time surrogate dad for Christine and her brother, James. But, James did not have time to visit after he entered the army. His time to retire was coming up next July and Christine was glad that he had decided to come back to Iowa to help old Uncle Jay on the farm. James had never married.

Neither had Christine ever married. There was one man, a long time ago, who was interested, but she discovered a huge flaw in his character which demanded that she break their engagement. He was unfaithful by nature. That was eight years ago, and at forty-six, although beautiful, Christine assumed she was doomed to spinsterhood.

But, now, on this late summer day, the holes in the ground under the copse led to a larger hole in the side of one of the smaller glacial hills covered in grass. Christine could not imagine why she had never noticed this large hole before today. She approached it carefully, and balanced herself with a walking stick in her left hand.

Standing now in front of the hole, Christine met a mystery. Cold air flowed out of the hole. It was a cave.

Now, the neighbor's farm, nearer _______City was full of caves. One of the farmers grew mushrooms in one. But, until today, Christine had not realized that there was a cave on her uncle's property. The three goldfinches flew up over her head and finally, perched in a linden tree, just above Christine's head.

The linden tree, or lime, or basswood, as it is called in Iowa, had been planted by Uncle Jay the day of his marriage to Aunt Iona, who had died a long time ago. Sadly, Iona spent most of her married days battling illnesses, which prevented her and Jay from having a family and caused her to die young at thirty-five. The linden, old and grand, was a favorite of Uncle Jay's, but today, Christine's attention focused on the small cavern entrance.

She carefully sat down on the grass in front of the opening and felt the cold air on her left arm, as she held herself up half-way to look in. Christine sat up. Stairs, small and then larger, had been made about five feet into the cave and led down into the darkness. The stairs clearly had been hewn by the same rock of the interior.

The goldfinches flew over her head. Christine looked up. Coming over the hill was Uncle Jay. Good, she thought, I can ask him about this mystery. She stood up, leaning on the stick.

"Well, you found one opening, I see," said Jay. "If your are curious, there is another one over here, in the center of the copse. Can you walk over here? Be careful of the holes."

Uncle Jay walked ahead of Christine, into the middle of the small bunch of trees. There, on the slope of the hill which ran down to the line of trees, was a huge opening, big enough for a man to walk into without stooping.

"Here is the main entrance. The grade down into the main cave's hall is much easier to follow. The small entrance is steep, with a jump at the end into the same hall."

Christine looked in amazement at Uncle Jay. "You mean you know about this cave and all these years you never told me about it?"

"Wasn't time yet," drawled Uncle Jay. "One has to find things out when one is ready and not before. Now that you found this, it is time."

"Uncle Jay, stop being so mysterious." Christine felt a little hurt and put-out. What could be so special about a Midwest cave?

"Well, it is almost seven and time for dinner. Let's talk about this over ham and cheese and a little of Cousin Bill's beer."

Christine said nothing, but walked slowly back to the farmhouse, about a quarter mile away. The goldfinches disappeared, and another flock of geese flew overhead. Christine knew these birds were only going as far as the wetlands around the Missouri River.

to be continued.....