Monday, 31 May 2010


The church was packed for her funeral. She was a loving person, famed for the delicious cakes she made and sold at the supermarket. As for the icing on the wedding cakes, birthday cakes and cakes for every kind of celebration! The icing was imaginative, sometimes spectacular. When people praised and congratulated her for her wonderful cakes she simply told them that God had given her the gift.

No surprise, then, that an elegant iced cake should be carried to the altar, together with the other gifts at the Offertory Procession. This was the family's way of honouring God, the Giver of All Gifts, and of recognizing the beauty of a woman who had raised her family by using the skill her Creator had entrusted to her.

To me, the Celebrant at the Requiem Mass, this was all eminently suitable. As was the sacristan's insistence that the priest should take away the cake. Triumphant, bearing my funeral trophy on high, I entered the kitchen where my Dominican brethren were gathered. Immediately one of them, with an eye and a belly for cakes, seized a long-bladed kitchen knife and plunged it into the centre of the shimmering white surface.

Abruptly, he halted his downward thrust. The dagger-sharp point had met no resistance. The rest of us looked on, amazed and bewildered. The thwarted brother raised the feather-light cake and examined it closely. Nothing but a cardboard box, decorated with icing! A pseudo cake! A taunting cake! Such as would be on stage at a school play.

Man that he was, he howled with laughter at how he had been taken in. So did we all. Not least, myself! I, who had carried this gloriously deceptive delicacy, had never noticed how light-weight it was.
I could scarcely wait to tell the sacristan, who had dutifully, proudly, given me the cake. Not a smile from her. She was furious that anyone should have mocked and insulted the priest by presenting him with a cake -so to speak. As for God? Who would dare to present at the altar a box covered with icing instead of a genuine cake? In the Bible we hear plenty about what God thinks of those who offer Him inferior gifts.

Immediately the sacristan announced that she would tell the bereaved family that they must apologise to the priest and give him a decent cake. Perhaps he would then be placated and would forgive.

"Lord have mercy," I think to myself! The Almighty allowed all this to happen. Why? To teach us a lesson about where your heart is there is your treasure? Or to give a warning to those whose god is their belly? I would like to think that God had none of these lofty thoughts in mind.

As for myself, I admire God precisely because He is a joker, a teaser, who enjoys giving us a good laugh and is not above laughing Himself. Or perhaps God is more composed and only allows Himself a quiet chuckle. I find this a rather nice way of meeting God...mywaygodsway!

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God in "Talking to a Rabbit"

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