Father Morelli was in the sanctuary, earnestly praying and beseeching God to forgive him. “In Your Word, it says that no temptation has overtaken a person that is not common to everyone. You are faithful, and You will not let anyone be tempted beyond his or her strength, but with the temptation You will also provide the way out so that the person may be able to endure it. That’s what you did, Father. You provided a way out for me but I didn’t take it. You told me to extricate myself from her, say goodbye and leave but I didn’t. Instead, I gave into the temptation. I allowed my feelings and desire for her to overrule my moral responsibility. I allowed the flesh to take over. I shouldn’t have gone to her apartment. That was my mistake. I should have met her in a public place instead. Father, please forgive me for my sinning against You and for disobeying Your Word.”
He continued praying for a long time. For days and weeks after that, he fasted and prayed. Then, he spoke to Father Felice, an older priest whom he could trust and confide in. His advice to him was to cut all ties with Genet. And he quoted, 1 Corinthians 6:18 which said, “Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself.” Father Felice encouraged him to say the Prayer of Deliverance. “In order to fight and overcome the spirit of fornication, you must constantly be in prayer and you must avoid the young woman with whom you committed the act of fornication at all costs.”
To be honest, it pained him that he would have to end his relationship with Genet. They had been friends for just over twelve years. He was going to miss seeing her, talking to her, doing things and going places together. How was he going to fill the void which cutting ties with her would leave? He would have to spend more time in prayer, ministering to others and perhaps find other interests. He had to keep busy so that he wouldn’t think about her or yearn for her. He closed his eyes.
“Are you all right, Father?” Sister Caterina asked him one Sunday afternoon when he was finished praying and was sitting in the pew.
He looked up at her. She thought he looked slightly pale and drawn. “Yes, I’m all right, Sister.”
“I expect you’re feeling badly about ending your friendship with the young woman but it’s for the best.”
“Yes, I suppose it is. She should have gotten my letter by now.”
“It was wise of you to write her instead of visiting her.”
“Yes.” He wondered what the nun would say if she only knew what happened the last time he visited Genet.
“I will continue to pray for you, Father.”
“Thank you, Sister.” He rose from the pew. “I’ve to change and then, head over to the orphanage. Excuse me, Sister.” He blessed himself and then, walked out of the sanctuary.
Sister Caterina remained there. She sensed that something was gravely wrong but hadn’t wanted to pry. God knew and He would be able to sort it out. She had been praying daily for the young priest because she feared that he was being led astray by his non-Catholic friend. They had been seeing too much of each other and she feared that it was having a negative impact on the priest. She always cautioned other Catholics about associating with other denominations. As far as she was concerned Protestants were heretics because they had broken away from the Mother Church. And, it didn’t help that the current Pope was so cozy with them. They were apostates. What had he, the Vicar of Christ to do with them?
Her thoughts were interrupted when the door opened. She turned and stiffened when she saw who it was. Her expression was one of disdain as she watched the young woman slowly approach her. “Hello, Sister Caterina.”
“Why are you here?” The nun asked her.
“I came to see Father Morelli.”
“Father Morelli isn’t here. He’s on the Lord’s business.”
“Do you know when he will be back?”
“No. Have you received his letter?”
“Yes. I-I got it yesterday. That’s why I’m here to see him.”
“I’m sure he was very clear in his letter that his friendship with you is over.”
“Yes, he did.”
“Then, I don’t see any reason why you should be here now. You can’t hope to change his mind. He has decided to put his love for God and the Church above everything and everyone else. If you truly care about him, you would respect his decision.”
“Then, I don’t expect that you will be visiting the parish anymore,” the nun said, her eyes cold as they met Genet’s. “There’s nothing here for you now.”
“You’re right. There’s no reason for me to come here anymore,” Genet replied. “Goodbye, Sister Caterina.” She turned and walked out of the sanctuary.
Outside, she went to the area where Roberto and she first kissed. She leaned against the wall and blinked back the tears. The letter was in her bag. She had read it several times and each time, the tears fell afresh. She knew it by heart.
It’s with a very heavy heart that I write you this letter. After 12+ years of a very close friendship, I have no other choice but to end it. What happened between us the last time we saw each other made it painfully clear that we can’t be friends.
I once told you that I can’t offer you anything more than friendship because I’m a priest for life. And now, even friendship is out of the question because my feelings for you are not platonic. They never were. I as much as admitted that to you when I let it slip that I was available before you started dating Fabrizio.
I didn’t want you to date Fabrizio, not only because I didn’t think he was right for you but because of my feelings for you. I would have felt the same way if it had been another guy. I have no right to feel that way because of my vocation. I knew that it wasn’t a good idea for us to spend so much time together, especially after you made it clear that you wanted to be more than friends, but I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing and being with you.
I tried to convince myself that we could be just friends and that nothing would jeopardize that. I was wrong. First, we kissed and then, we ended up making love. I know that if we continue seeing each other, we will be tempted to make love again and I can’t let that happen. I’m supposed to be a man of God. I can’t allow myself to continue to commit fornication which is a mortal sin. So, after much fasting and prayer, I have decided to end our friendship. This is the last time you will hear from me. Please don’t visit me at the parish anymore. And if we should run into each other, we will of course, exchange greetings but nothing more. I hope you understand why I’m doing this and will in time, come to see the wisdom in it.
Take care of yourself. I will always cherish our years of friendship. May God continue to watch over you.
The page was worn and tear stained. Before she got the letter, she hadn’t heard a word from him. Days and weeks had passed and nothing. Many times, she had been tempted to call or to visit but had decided against it. She thought that perhaps, he needed time to deal with what had happened between them and that when he was ready, he would be in touch. While, the letter was him getting in touch. She shouldn’t even be here. He had told her not to visit. As the nun said, if she really cared for Roberto, she would respect his decision. Well, the last thing she wanted to do was to cause any problems for him. She would respect his decision and stay away.
Brushing the tears away from her cheeks, she moved away from the wall and walked slowly out of the garden.
Source: Ugochi Jolomi