The Need for the Spiritual

In the early 1980’s when I was a curate at St. Peter’s Cathedral on Belfast’s Falls Road I paid an evening visit to friends. The wife was a GP and the husband a music teacher.

They happened to be babysitting their four year old nephew whose parents were both actors and taking part in a play in Belfast for a few evenings. The parents were atheists and had not told their little boy much about God nor spirituality.

The little boy was intrigued by my black suit and my clerical collar and immefiately asked me” What are you”?

I told him I was a priest.

He asked: “What do priesters do”?

I told him that we worked for God and said prayers to God and helped people.

He asked me if the key to my church was huge and I told him it was big.

We then went on to discuss Mass and Holy Communion.

After listening to my explanation he suddenly said:

“That doesn’t make sense. The bread becomes his body and the wine becomes his blood. But what do you do with his bones”?

We chatted on for a long time and then his parents arrived home. They were hostile atheists and were not happy to see a priest in the room.

The brought their little boy in his usual treat – a can of Coke and a Mars Bar.

To their amazement he refused his favourite treats.

They ask him why?

He answered: “Because I have been talking to the priester and you always give me food for my body, but you never give me food for my soul”.

There was a very hostile silence and some very hostile stares.

“Out of the mouth of babes….”.