Notes from a parish cat and his author Julie Mackenzie

My photo
I am Father Tom Fish, esteemed member of the religious team at Temptation of Christ Parish in the novels by author Julie Mackenzie. As to my background, I was invited into the rectory as a stray, laid on the charm, and was invited to stay, even honorarily ordained and no less spiritual than my sidekick Father Will. He dotes on me to high heaven and forgives all of my street cat proclivities, whatever the hell that means.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Culpa Cabana

Hello, friends--

Since this is Lent and everything, I'm adding a new feature to my blog. You are invited in so you can enjoy the delight of sitting in judgment and I get my public humiliation in lieu of penance prayers out of the way at the same time.

"Mea culpa" is Latin for "Oopsie, I made a boo-boo and I'm sorry." There are quite a few things a church cat can put in the category of venial sins and, heaven forbid, mortal sins. I haven't done the mortal thing yet, but the venial? Let's put it this way, I have boo-booed all over the place.

My Lenten Mea Culpa Items of the Week:

1. Listened to lusty accounts of a particular man's confession and then had to peek out to see who it was.

2. Used a swear word in a post (It was h-- and I caught h-- for using it.)

3. I scooped a dollar bill out of the collection plate. Someone had folded it up like origami and I thought it was a bird.

That's it for now. I can't put everything out on the table, but this is a start.

Hope your Lenten good intentions are going well.


Friday, February 19, 2010

The Visitor and the Cat

This week I overheard someone at the rectory talking to Mary Lou, our housekeeper about how cats have a dark side. Contented dozing came to an abrupt end as I continued to listen, dander ready to fly.

What do you mean cats have a dark side? Oh, and I think the other comment was that they can turn. Oh, boy. I had a hard time breathing after that one. No, cats don't have a dark side at all, any more than anybody else. Capiche? Many times they are misunderstood, a point I have made repeatedly.

After my claws became distended and I was ready to pounce, I figured that my actions would just prove the point. So, I sat and stewed. Well, not for long. I had to go see who the heck it was since I didn't recognize the voice.

I entered the conference room across the hall from the parlor where Mary Lou and this stranger were sorting pamphlets. I waited until the subject was changed so it didn't look as if I had been cued by the insult to come and say something.

"Oh, you have a cat here at the rectory."

Great powers of observation. Let's see where this is going.

"Yes, we do," says the housekeeper. "He's been with us for years. Great cat."

"Oh, really? What kind of breed?"

The kind to claw your eyes out, my dear.

"Maine Coon."

"Oh, I think I've heard of those."

While this insightful conversation is going on, I have proceeded to jump up on the table and am now sprawled over the sorted materials as if they're not even there.

Observing my actions, the visitor is incensed. "What are we supposed to do about him?"

I love a person who adapts quickly to any situation.

"I'll get him." Mary Lou reaches down and picks me up, nuzzling my ear and whispering justifications.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice that our friend is gathering up her belongings and is proceeding to make her escape.

Mary Lou thanks her for bringing over the materials to be distributed to the parishioners on Sunday. I notice a smell that is a mix of hay and dog feces. I can't get away from this woman fast enough.

I head out of the room with my tail in the air and my backside in full view as Mary Lou straightens the piles, gathers up rubber bands and stretches them one by one around each. I hear the front door close.

"Tom, you're something else," she mutters. "And I wouldn't trade you for all the tea in China."

My acute listening skills are soothed by those kind words. I pause in the parlor. Mary Lou turns off the light and makes her way to the kitchen.

Always keeping a little room for dessert, I turn and trot right behind her, mumbling in reply, "Prove it, mama, prove it."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Soft-Hearted Beats Soft-Headed Every Time

Mary Lou's flowers. Aren't they beautiful? Oh, and the cat, too! (heh, heh)

First, the flowers. Jack gave her a bouquet yesterday for Valentine's Day, or so he said. She likes to have fresh flowers around anyway, her birthday ones becoming mere carcasses of their former selves. She took this picture of her new ones including me, undeniably sporting eyeliner.

Can you believe it? If any agency creative directors are reading this, I want them to know my beauty is not for sale. I will not nor will I ever be available for commercials or magazine ads.

It's pretty quiet here today. I think Will went home to see his parents. Something about a wedding anniversary. That will be many, many for the Tylers. I met them once. She's fussy as all get-out which explains him. His dad is the consoling one and pretty cool.

Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow to everyone, especially to my beautiful lady friends. May you only have soft centers in the chocolates of life. I'll be sleeping and dreaming....


Friday, February 5, 2010

A Place for All Reasons


I just heard that a couple of churches in the area are closing.

What the hell (oops, I forgot about the angel) happened? Oh, I know I've got my dander in a dust-up but I can't help it. What about the ceremonies, the blessings and the close community of parishioners that just won't be going to their church anymore? Are they supposed to scatter among what's left? Let's fundraise, throw bingo and pasta parties and auctions to bring in the money it takes to keep things going. And, above all, introduce a cat.

That's right. Another me. What brings people to church? What brings people anywhere? Getting something out of it. If you go and feel that you've gotten together with a community of individuals who care about each other and care about a cat, then it works. If the holy mascot goes around and purrs, sits on friendly laps and hears a confession or two, could it hurt?

By the way, if I'm in the confessional, Father Jack makes me part of the penance. Gee, thanks, boss. Actually, it's not too bad. They have to give me a thorough head scratch along with their Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Just-so Will said it would make people sin more so they could give me belly rubs. Jack just ignored him.

We're doing fine here. This parish is hanging on and doing a great job of it. Of course, it takes regular poker games, onsite counseling in hangouts and a martini or two even among non-Catholics for Jack to scrounge up money we wouldn't ordinarily get. Will is working with a public relations guy to come up with more ideas to keep the money coming in.

I think we've got it covered. And, we haven't even talked about the Sunday evening jazz Mass with piano, candlelight and hymns sung by our unofficial Lounge Lizard Choir...