1 II L.
,e1 itItEI I
A Communist ex-priest, who has gained possession of the pyx belonging to a priest in prison, is about to desecrate the Sacred Host it contains when he is felled by a strange power. The devil commands him to resist God's grace but the repentant man's only thought is to save the young priest whom he caused, by a trick, to be imprisoned. Now read on. .
'D RING in the accused!" or the political commissar. Fat, bald, and flanked by two other anonymous functionaries, he was seated behind the white table in the same windowless room where Gerard had undergone his interrogation
The secretary switched on the recording machine just as the door opened on the prisoner. She sent a Furtive look in the direction of the priest with grey hair who had until recently been her chief and was now escorted by two militiamen.
"Please state your identity," said the commissar, drily, as though he were seeing this man., with whom he had dined the night before, for the first time.
"Put. down, if you please, mademoiselle: 'A Catholic priest,' that will he enough. They will find the rest on my index card."
"I see that you have not yet quite understood the situation!" exploded the commissar. You think, no doubt, that you are going to conduct this interrogation in your own way?"
"Don't lose your temper, Mr. Coins niissar," replied the priest, gently.
"I am not here to be trifled with. Did you, yes or no, help a spy to escape from the prison in which he was held?"
"What! You dare deny it? We have witnesses!"
"These witneeses saw me leading out of the prison a priest from whom I had extorted false witnesa." "Where is this spying priest?" "He is not a spy."
"Where is this priest?" shouted the commissar, banging his fist on the table.
"God alone knows."
"You went to his cell in the middle of the night, using a pretext."
"I made use of no pretext I told the gaoler that I needed to see the prisoner, and that was true."
"Why did you want to see him, when his statement was already recorded?"
"To ask him to hear my confeedon."
"Your confession? And whet did you tell him?"
-That concerns no one but myself."
"Dld you &mime to him any of those state secrets to which you were
privy while you were in the discharge of your duties?"
"Those secrets were the crimes I had committed. I confessed them to him."
"Do you realise that that alone makes you deserve death?"
"I do not know if, in the eyes of God, I yet deserve to die."
"And the priest gave you absolution, as they call it, I believe, in this language of yours?"
TIM commissar saw the man with I grey hair bow his head slightly as though to signify assent, while a happy and humble smile hovered about his lips.
"After that absolution there was nothing else for you to do but receive Communion, I think?" asked the other, jestingly.
'That is what occurred. The prisoner had a consecrated Host. We shared it and made our Communion together."
"Splendid. And is it indiscreet to enquire what the result was?"
"I assure you that the result was extraordinary." answered the priest.
"And afterwards you got the spy away?"
"You told the gaoler that you were taking him away to make him undergo a fresh interrogation?"
"I note, in passing, that you did not hesitate to tie, although coming from Communion. I suppose you are keeping this sin for your next confession, if such an occasion should ever present itself?"
"I did not lie. I did have further questions to put to the priest" "What questions?"
"They were to do with the carrying out of his minion."
"His mission as a spy?"
"The priest's mission is to bring the word of Christ to Christians who have been deprived of it, and nothing else."
"For what purpose did you put these questions?"
"I wanted to help this priest, who is my brother in (lod, to fulfil his mission."
"You put him into a police car?" "Yes."
"You parted with him and Left him with the car so that he could continue his journey?"
"Where did you leave him?"
"At the outskirts of the town."
"You are aware that you have committed a theft in divesting this car, which was the property of the People's Republic?" "lt was not diverted. Your men will find it in Roumanian territory." "Where is the chauffeur?"
"The chauffeur is a Catholic. Which is why I chose him."
"Where is he?"
"If I knew where -my brother is, I could tell you where he is."
.IN any case you are not ignorant of the direction be has taken, since he told you where he was ordered to carry out his mission?"
"Yes, I do, in fact, know the direction."
"Where is it?"
"I will not answer you."
"Where is this spying priest going?"
"I have already told you. I shall not answer you on that point" "We'll return to it In the deposition which he signed . . ."
"He did not sign it."
"What? He didn't sign it! But I have it here, under my eyes!"
"This false deposition is signed Inn Martin.' That is not his name."
"What does that matter? We shall publish this deposition. By the way, I must compliment you; it's a smashing indictment of the spy centre which camouflages itself under the name of the Vatican. Come! What have you got to say about that?"
"The only thing I have to say is that the priest who was imprisoned here will not be embarrassed by the publication of this statement; rather to the contrary."
"And why, if you please?"
"It will not be difficult for those concerned to prove that Jean Martin is nothing but a myth. Your propaganda will recoil upon yourselves."
"We shall see. At the close of this interrogation yothdemanded that this spy should give you his real name. Did he do it?"
'Since I was being watched, you should know that he kept silent." "And later, did he give it to you?" "Yes."
"After we bal received Communion together."
"What is his name?"
"I will not answer you."
"We shall recall that point to you at a suitable time," said the commissar, with a wicked smile. "Now, let's go on to the other business. Where have you been hiding these last eight days? To what country did you plan to escape?"
"I did not plan to escape. I gave myself up of my own free will." "Why did you hide?"
"I felt the need to be alone so that I could pray and meditate."
"Pray? What can you expect from your God?"
"That is an affair between Him and me. I will sum it up in a phrase: have found God again and no one will henceforth separate me from Him."
"U/ASN'T it your real intention V V to go to Rome and impart to the Pope the secrets you hold?"
"Who am I that I should dare to present myself before the Holy Father?"
"Would you have refused to be presented to Marshal Stalin if the opportunity had been offered to you?"
"I don't see any connection."
"Do you dare to claim that Comrade Stalin is less great than the Pope?"
"Who would dare to compare the most powerful prince with the Vicar of Christ?"
'The Vicar of Christ? Do you know what our great Stalin replied to Roosevelt, who was talking on about the Pope's power? 'The Pope? How many divisions has be?'" "I am sorry for Comrade Stalin:, that thought won't be written down on the credit side of his intelligence!'
"Be silent! Stalin is the greatest genius the world has ever known."
"Others, long before Stalin, made use of his methods, and their empires have vanished. Christ's empire is of another order."
"Are you now going to prophesy to me the return of Christ upon earth?"
"Why prophesy it to you when Christ dwells in the midst of us?"
"Then was the priest-spy, whom you helped to escape, the Messiah?"
An expression of profound tenderness spread over the priest's features, while he smiled at the inward vision that came into his mind : "This priest, like all other priests, has the power to bring the Messiah every day to those who await Him."
"You, do you talk like this, when I know the circumstances in which you denied your priestly calling? Do you imagine you can make me think you have gone back to this farce which they call the Mass?"
HAVE gone back to the Mass, -land you will realise that, after reaching the end of so long a road, I wish now to stay there.
"Listen, Mr. Commissar, the political system which we agree to call 'Communism' has understood, far better than any other. the strength of the Christian religion and, for that very reaeon, hates it.
"In more than one point it has tried to imitate its outward forms. You, too, recite litanies; you strict!) observe certain rites. You even have renegades; always with this differ
Continued at foot of next column Continued from previous column enee from our constant experience, that no renegade of yours has ever returned to the bosom of your 'Church.'
"Ours has had its schisms and heretics; they have only served to strengthen the foundations of that atone which Christ laid once and for all, while the foundations of your party are already cracking after thirty years!
"Need I tell you we have the essential thing that you lack? With us, God never dies."
The commissar did not answer. One of his assistants bent over and whispered a few words in his ear. With a nod he agreed and, in an icy voice, asked the prisoner : "You have nothing to add?"
"The man who opened my eyes said to me, when I believed I had him in my power : 'I will pray for you.' It is his example that I wish to follow," The commissar raised his hand. One of the militiamen touched the man with grey hair on the shoulder. And he, unprotesting, quietly let himself be conducted through the corridors which led to the cellars, where the inquisition was to continue in a less courteous manner.
(Adapted from the translation by Viola Gerrard Garvin) THE END
"God's Secret Agent" was published In bane 1n Arthur Barker Ltd., under the titk of "The Messenger."