BACK TO FANFIC LIBRARY | HOME

 
       

"Modern Day Job"...

 
       
       
       
        by Sherri - CQZT07A@prodigy.com

The young man pulled into a parking area that was alongside the road he had been driving down for the last 30 minutes. The parking area offered a beautiful overview of the beach below and the ocean stretching out before him; however, he was in no mood or state of mind to enjoy the view. He sat still in the car, debating whether to stop here or not and then decided that 'here was as good a place as any' to get out and do what he came to do.

He grabbed the whiskey bottle he had stopped to purchase (which now laid unopened on the seat next to him) and got out of the car. He looked down the steep embankment and thought about getting in the car and driving to someplace different -- someplace closer to the water -- and then decided against it. He began down the embankment, but his usual sure-footedness escaped him several times and he not only lost his balance, but nearly lost his bottle.

He reached the bottom with several new bruises and scraps and knew he'd regret this decision in the morning; Hell, he regretted it already -- the bloody cuts stung! He walked out by the waters edge, sat down on the nice cool sand, and opened the bottle. He smelled the contents appreciatively and then took three quick swallows. As the liquid burned going down his throat, he caught his breath and sighed.

'How did I get here,' he wondered. No, not to this particular location, but to this particular place in his life. Things had not turned out at all like he had anticipated. Living under tremendous stress and pressure as a child, he had determined early in his life what he wanted to do and who he had wanted to be. Now, sitting on this beach alone tonight, all of that was in doubt -- in question as to which way he should turn.

He had followed his heart while growing up and had made the choices he thought were right for him. He had been obedient (as nearly as he could be!) while doing his duty and had combined that sense of righteousness and duty by joining "The Legacy". Recently, he struggled with the question of what was right -- continue being a Priest, continue as a member of the Legacy or continue doing both (which at times felt like doing "both" was tearing him apart!) -- but never had everything seemed as wrong as it did tonight.

He took another swallow of the whiskey and then threw the remainder of the bottle into the ocean; he had not come here to get drunk but to confront God.

He had questions and wanted answers; he was lost and needed guidance; he was hurt and angry and required comforting. He shifted onto his knees and looked to the Heavens. "Why're ya doin' this, God?" he voiced aloud. "I've tried t'serve ya as best I could. I've tried t'do good works and follow yer path, but you've never made yerself exactly clear t'me. What d'you want o'me? I've paid the price of indecision so many times, Lord. Does m'friend have t'pay it now, too?"

Tears filled his eyes as he remembered his friend, Nick, lying in Mercy General hooked to a life support machine. He remembered that it was because of him -- Philip! -- that his friend laid there struggling for his life. And he remembered that it was God who was ultimately in charge of life and death matters!

"Where've I failed ya, Father?" Philip asked imploringly. "Does m'friend have t'suffer for whatever it 'tis that I did -- or failed t'do?!" His emotions overcame Philip and he lost the ability to speak for several minutes. Suddenly, he implored at the top of his lungs, "Spare him, Father, I beg of you. Take me instead! I'm the one who's failed you!!" With that, Philip's emotions overcame him once again and he put his head to the sandy beach and sobbed.

As he knelt in the sand, he felt a warmth begin to spread over his back and throughout his body. This shocked and startled Philip for he had driven out here at dusk and it had been growing darker -- not lighter! He lifted his head and immediately felt a searing pain in his eyes from the light that shone all around him. 'He's heard m'prayer,' his mind screamed at him. 'I'm in Heaven and He'll spare Nick.' "Thank you, God," he said aloud.

In his mind, Philip heard a quiet, gentle Voice respond. "Your friend's life lies in the balance; it is you who will help decide his fate. God hears all prayers, my Brother, and He answers all prayers; just not always with the outcome you would like."

"Where am I?" Philip asked, alarmed. "What's happening? If I can decide Nick's fate, than I choose fer him t'live. Tell me what you want -- what He wants -- and I'll gladly do it!"

"It's not that simple, my Brother," the gentle Voice replied. "As to where you are ... you're still physically on the beach where you'd come to confront God. But you are also here -- in a dream-like state between Heaven and Earth. God has been testing you, Brother, and your friend's life is in the balance because you have chosen not to continue the test. Your friend is paying for that decision you made."

"I don't understand," Philip stated. "What test? Tell me what t'do ... I'll do it -- fer Nick and fer God!"

"But that's the problem, Philip," the voice continued. "Neither I nor anyone else can tell you what you must do. The test has been a complex and ongoing one. From the time you were born, it was destined that you would enter the service of our Lord; you have been a 'test case for humanity' if you will -- a modern-day 'JOB'."

Dawning and realization struck Philip and he responded, "So, what yer sayin' is, the indecision in m'life -- the conflict between servin' God through the Catholic Church or through the Legacy or through both ... that this has all been a test?"

"In a manner of speaking," the Voice replied, "Yes. It's far more complicated than that, but you seem to have an understanding of what I'm saying."

"Yes, I do," Philip answered. "But why me? Why did God choose me for this 'test of humanity'? I'm no one important."

The Voice made a sound that could be equated with a human sigh as a it responded, "Well, my Brother, in that case, God's Word is filled with 'no one important' also. All the men and women in God's Word -- the Holy Bible -- were everyday people at the time He chose them for their works. Most of these people were righteous souls such as yourself. Some of them failed Him; most did not. Like those others, Philip, you were chosen long before you were born. Every choice you have made in your life has been at His direction. Now, you have one final choice -- and it will determine not only the rest of your life ... and the life of your injured friend ... but it may also determine how God deals with humanity in general."

'But this isn't right,' Philip's mind wanted to scream. 'How can He be holding me ... ME ... as a judgment of mankind.' Having been born with too much respect for God to actually voice these thoughts, he struggled with what he might say next.

Before he could compose anything in his mind, he heard the gentle Voice say, "You have been chosen, Philip -- by God and Lucifer -- and it is not a task you can beg out of or escape from. If you choose not to 'choose', then that is your choice and God will act accordingly."

"Well, if yer here t'help me," Philip stated, "which obviously you are, why did you say you can't tell me what t'decide? If yer truly here t'guide me, then do so, Brother, because I'm lost and don't know what t'do."

The Voice was soft and soothing as it replied, "Your heart knows what to do, Philip. You need only listen carefully to it. Yes, I can guide you -- that is what I am here to do -- but I cannot make the decision for you. And you do already know in your heart what that decision is regarding, don't you, Philip?"

Philip searched his heart and knew. "It's whether t'remain a Priest or t'leave the church and remain a member of the Legacy, isn't it?" he replied. This had been a decision he had been struggling with shortly after joining the Legacy and never more so than in the past year. 'Why now is it imperative that I choose,' he wondered.

Again, his thought was answered. "You have spread yourself too thin, My Brother, by trying to serve the Lord in too many areas. You have tried to devote yourself to the Parishioners that have needed your counseling while wishing you were with your friends. You have tried to fight Satan head-on with your friends at the Legacy while worrying about the souls of your Parishioners. And, in thinking this way, you have helped neither. Your Parishioners need your full attention if they are to be led in the ways of the scripture. And, your friends at the Legacy need your body as well as your spirit if you are to help them on their missions. Satan has tempted you, Philip and you have fallen for his temptation."

Immediately Philip felt ashamed and embarrassed. He remembered his sexual slip with Eileen many years ago and the price that it had cost her. He had never forgiven himself -- and still didn't! -- for that betrayal of God's trust and for his role in her death. 'Yes,' he thought, 'I did fall fer Satan's temptation.'

"No, Brother," the Voice responded. "Breaking your vow of celibacy was not your failure. You're failure has been not trusting God, but 'playing God' instead. You have struggled with your own Earthly wishes of wanting to serve God by helping mankind versus wanting to serve Him by fighting evil. You haven't stopped very often, my Brother, to find out where God would like you to serve. And so, just as Job was offered up for temptation to Lucifer by God, you have been also. And, although He's tried to guide you time and again, you've chosen to make decisions without Him. You have tried to choose between the Priesthood and the Legacy without truly listening to where He wishes you to serve. THAT is your failure!"

"So," Philip began, "if I choose t'remain a member of the Priesthood, will I be able t'better serve God and mankind? Will I have defeated Satan's temptations and overcome the trials and tribulations of m'life as Job did?? Or should I fight Satan on his ground -- using the skills I've learned and mastered within the Legacy? Which would better serve God? Can't you tell me what t'choose -- which choice will save m'friend's life?"

The Voice sighed once again, "Your choice is the choice, Philip. Only you can choose how best to serve our Lord. But, if you choose not to make a decision; to continue to falter between both lifestyles, your friend will die. He will be God's sacrifice ... and Lucifer's prize. Think now, my Brother, how your life has been pre-ordained. God has been pleading with your heart to listen to Him; to willingly choose what He has directed in your heart; to follow His will and not your own. That has been your greatest failure, Philip."

Job 1:8; 22 - And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast though considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

The words of the Voice echoed in Philip's mind as he thought back over his lifetime. He remembered an incident that occurred within his family shortly after taking his final vows as a Priest and leaving for his first assignment for the Catholic Church.

The week had been a busy one for the young Priest. He had had the excitement of taking his final vows -- which were both joyous and awe-inspiring -- and the joyous celebrations his family and friends had thrown for him.

He was well-loved and well-respected in the neighborhood and many people stopped by his home during the week as he prepared to leave ... ready to go wherever God sent him (which for now was to a small Catholic Church just starting up outside of the San Francisco area) ... and begin his new life. Everyone stopped by offering warm wishes for the young man.

But, no one's opinion mattered more to Philip than that of his brother, Michael's. Michael and Philip had been close all during their "growing up" years and it was Michael that Philip turned to now as he stood packing his belongings.

"Well, Brother, what'd ya think?" he asked as he held up his soccer ball. "Should I be takin' m'most prized possession or d'ya think the Parishioner's wouldn't understand that even a man o'God has t'have at least one vice?"

Both brothers laughed and Michael quickly knocked the ball out of Philip's hands. "I don't think y'll be needin' this where yer goin'. I'll just hang on to it fer ya, Brother."

"Well," Philip commented back with laughter, "just don't be gettin' to use t'havin' it, Michael. Ya know, I could just get this church started and be right back here in yer face after a few weeks. And remember, Brother, ya don't want t'be playin' on the other side o'the soccer field from me, do ya now?!"

Philip gave his brother a slight jab as Michael put the soccer ball that they had used -- and used successfully on many occasions! -- on the bed next to Philip's duffel bags. "I guess ya better be takin' it with ya then t'keep up yer skills." He smiled as he left the room to leave Philip with the rest of his packing.

A sadness came over Philip after Michael left the room. While growing up, Michael had always been the "good" one -- the one who never got into fights or brawls, who never lied, and who was loved by all; whereas Philip ... well, Philip had been the one who, on occasion, would lead a friendly discussion (particularly while on the soccer field) with his "right" and follow quickly with his "left". He didn't lie and always tried to do what was right, but often Philip found that the truth and what was right were in conflict. This made him a quiet, more reflective individual.

Michael had married his high school sweetheart -- Kathleen -- right after graduation and they were already working on their third child; son, Sean, and daughter, Laura, had made their "grand entrance" several years ago. Although Philip had been popular with the ladies all through school, his heart and soul were drawn to the Church and he knew early on that he had received "the calling". He entered the Priesthood and hadn't regretted any of the sacrifices he had been called on to make -- until now.

Now, he was being called away to the United States of America -- "a sinful land t'be sure!" his father had said -- and there he was to help an elderly Priest establish a new church in an area just outside of San Francisco. The land had been purchased, the Church had been built, but now "the gatherin' o'the flock" was needed and the elderly Priest needed some youthful legs to assist him.

Philip didn't mind traveling to America; in fact, part of him actually looked forward to the adventure. If there was any extra time, he hoped to study in the Universities there. But he did mind leaving Michael behind. He felt blessed to have such a brother as Michael and knew that he would miss him very much.

After packing the last of his things -- which included the game-winning soccer ball -- Philip walked into the living room of the Callaghan's small and modest home. His mother was sitting with a hanky to her eyes. He could have sworn she'd been crying since the day he told her he was entering the Priesthood.

His father stood solidly against the fireplace. Upon seeing his son enter the room, Patrick Callaghan poured three glasses of whiskey and passed them out to Michael, Philip and kept one for himself. "A toast," he said, as he raised the glass high. "To m'son -- 'the Father'". The three glasses clinked in honor of the toast and the liquid quickly poured down the three men's throats.

"Ah," Philip said, as he put the glass down on the table. "That was good."

"Well, Son," Patrick stated matter-of-factly, "don't be thinkin' yer gonna be gettin' anything near as fine as this Irish whiskey in the States, Lad."

"No, Sir," Philip replied. "I don't imagine so." With that he shook his father's hand -- strong and true. Although they were a tight-knit family, affection wasn't always displayed amongst the men in the household.

But, when it came to saying his good-byes to Michael ... well, that was different. Philip turned to his brother and their eyes locked. Each wanted to say a wealth of things that was in their heart, but they held themselves back. Philip bent and hugged his mother, who once again buried her face in her hanky.

Before Michael or Philip could make a move, Kathleen, Sean and Laura each walked up to Philip and gave him a warm embrace, wishing him a safe journey. "Write me from America, Uncle Philip," Laura said. "Please."

"I sure will, Angel," he commented giving her one last embrace. He began to load the duffel bags on his shoulders and rose to meet his brothers outstretched arms.

"Here," Michael said. "Let me give ya a hand with yer bags. It's the least I could be doin' for 'Father Callaghan' now, isn't it?!" With that, he took one of the duffel bags and headed outside. Once the bags had been loaded in Philip's rented vehicle, the two brothers stood face to face.

"Well," Philip said at last, "I guess that's it. Yer finally gonna be rid o'me now."

"'bout damn time of it too, Brother," Michael responded playfully, but with a twinge of sadness moving into his voice.

"Guess y'll be the big soccer star in town ... for now that is," Philip continued. "Remember, I'm only goin' there t'start the new Parish and then I'll be home before ya know it."

Turning suddenly serious, Michael embraced his brother with a strong, solid hug. "Ya take care o'yerself, Philip. Trust yer instincts ... they won't let ya down, Brother. Yer a good man; ya always were. Now, go make the world a better place for m'children t'live in, hear?"

Philip was lost for words and simply nodded his head, knowing Michael understood what his heart couldn't find words to say. He broke the embrace, nodded once more and got in his car. Taking a deep breath with one final glance at Michael on the roadside, he headed to the airport.

During the entire flight, Philip replayed those last days -- those last moments -- at home over and over and over again in his head, savoring the images and feeling homesick already. The flight (which actually consisted of three transfers and multiple delays) was long and time-consuming and his sleep during it was fitful.

At long last, the cab that he had hailed at San Francisco's airport pulled in front of his new home -- a small outbuilding connected to the newly-founded Church. The key that had been sent to him fit neatly in the door. While he began to slowly unpack his bags, he became aware of others' presence in the room. He turned and was met by an elderly man (which he knew must be Father O'Bryan) and three elderly women -- one of which was a nun.

"Hello, there," Philip greeted them warmly. "I'm Phil ... I'm Father Philip Callaghan. I'm the new Priest here t'be helpin' ya with yer Parish. I've just come over from Ireland; this is where I'm suppose t'be stayin', right?"

Solemnly, the elderly man stepped forward. 'I can see why he's gonna be needin' my help t'gather in the flock,' Philip thought. The man put his hand on Philip's shoulder and gently said, "Father Callaghan, I'm Father O'Bryan. I hate to be meeting you under such circumstances, but it can't be helped."

From behind Father O'Bryan, Philip realized that one of the women had begun to cry. Alarmed, he looked at the elderly Priest and asked, "Is somethin' wrong, Father? Is there somethin' I can do fer ya?"

"I'm sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, my Son," Father O'Bryan replied, "but several hours ago I received a call from your father. Apparently, there's been some kind of accident since you left home. Your brother's been killed in a bombing incident near his home. I'm so sorry."

Grief and shock overwhelmed Philip as the words slowly began to sink in. But it couldn't be! He had only just left Michael and he was fine. They had stood together at the car in that warm embrace. 'This can't be,' his mind cried out. "No," he voiced aloud. "Dear God, not Michael! It can't be!!"

The other women began crying and he could feel his body being pulled into a comforting embrace by the others in the room with him, but his mind and heart could not absorb what was being said. His brother was a good and decent man who had a wife and children. He was always careful to stay out of the restless, political parts of town. There had to be some mistake!

But as these thoughts crossed his mind, sorrow began to cross his heart. Within himself, Philip knew it was true; he knew Michael was gone -- he could feel it. A phone call to his parents a few minutes later only confirmed what God had already confirmed within him.

During the entire flight home to be present for the burial of his brother, Philip reflected on their childhood, on the last moments he had seen his brother, and how he was going to get through the rest of his life without Michael in it. He felt angry and lashed out (in his mind) at God asking Him why

-- why -- he had taken such a good and decent man such as Michael. But, even in his hurt, confusion and anger, he never once truly blamed God in his heart for Michael's death. He had learned too much in the Seminary to even think of such a thing.

"Do you understand now, Philip," the gentle Voice said calling him back from his waning thoughts, "how righteously you served God? Even when your dear brother was taken from you and you felt angry and hurt, you never sinned against God or charged him foolishly for taking Michael from you. Now do you understand why God has chosen you as an example of mankind against Lucifer, Philip? You have been a good servant to him throughout your lifetime."

"But," Philip protested, "if that's the case, then why is m'friend lyin' fightin' fer his life? Why is it God is makin' me make a choice between the Priesthood and the Legacy? If I've failed him now, why isn't it me lyin' in that bed strugglin' for m'life? If I've served God so well, why is He doin' this t'me?"

The Voice made it's sighing sound yet again and answered, "My dear Brother, He's not 'doing' this to you -- he's 'testing' you. You need only trust Him and you'll pass the test. But time and again, you take the burden onto your own shoulders rather than allowing God to carry it. You have always accepted God's blessings as well as His punishments. Think on it now, my Brother, and you will recall."

Job 2:10 - But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Philip's mind drifted to a time shortly after he had become a member of the Legacy. It wasn't the first case he had ever worked on with the Legacy -- he had been called on in the past for either light field work or to do research and language transcriptions. This time, however, he was called on to assist in an exorcism that had not been sanctioned by the Catholic Church but was sorely needed.

As Derek and Philip drove to the residence of the young girl who was being plagued (possessed?) by a demon, Philip turned to Derek and inquired. "Are ya sure this is gonna be absolutely necessary, Derek? If the Church the family has talked to about an exorcism has refused, I'm not sure I should be doin' this."

"When you see the girl, you'll be sure," Derek replied. They drove the rest of the way in silence. However, Philip continually prayed that he was doing the right thing. He had joined the Legacy expecting that he could further his service to God by fighting evil and protecting the innocent head-on; but this time, it seemed to conflict with his 'Church' duties.

Everything he had been asked to do for the Legacy up to now had been translations, research and occasionally accompanying Derek or Alex on investigations; this was the first time he was being asked to take some kind of overt action against Satan -- and he was nervous. He felt a sense of conflict (for the first time) within him over his decision to join the Legacy and it made him extremely uncomfortable.

Derek seemed to sense Philip's unease and, as they drove into the driveway of the residence, he turned to Philip and said, "I know you must feel torn about this, Philip, but we need you ... this girl needs you."

"I'm sure you're right, Derek," Philip responded, "but yer also askin' me t'go against the teachings o'the Church -- in this case against the Church's wishes -- an' I'm not at all comfortable with it."

"I understand that," Derek commented, "but there's no choice, Philip. When you joined the Legacy, you were told that there are times when our cases can be in direct conflict with the Roman Catholic Church ... or any religion. You're still serving God, Philip," he said more gently. "just in another way."

Philip was unconvinced, but he nodded his head in acknowledgment of Derek's statement and the two proceeded into the house. Upon entering, they were greeted by the parents of the little girl they were there to help. The long, pale and drawn faces of the parents comforted Philip a little and he asked, "Where is she?"

"Thank you, Father," Jim Simmons said, "Thank you for coming to help, Adriana."

"She's up in her room," Joanna Simmons answered. "I think she -- It -- knows you were coming, because she -- It -- has been howling and yelling for about 20 minutes now. In fact, the noise just stopped as the car pulled in the driveway.

Derek took immediate charge by stating, "Listen, things are probably going to get worse -- at least sound worse -- before they get better. We still don't know exactly what kind of demon possession we're dealing with here. I think it would be best if you two left the house ... went someplace to wait for us ... until this is over. Can you do that?"

"I don't want to leave her," Joanna quickly responded. "She's just a little girl!"

Before Derek could respond, Philip grasped Joanna's hands and held them tightly. "I know yer worried about yer little girl, Mrs. Simmons," he calmly replied. "But you need t'trust us ... trust God ... and let us do what we're here t'do. The demon'll use ya against us if you remain here."

"He's right," Jim joined in. He looked at Derek and replied, "We'll go to the Riverside Inn -- it's just down the road a few miles. You'll call us when it's over ... when we can come home, right?"

"Of course," Derek responded. He was pleased he had brought Philip and that Philip had been able to defuse a potentially dangerous situation already. "Of course," he repeated.

Derek and Philip watched the Simmons drive off and then looked at one another. All the lights in the house suddenly blazed brightly and then, just as suddenly, the house was thrown into pitch blackness. Derek reached in his pocket for the two flashlights he had put in there and turned them on.

"Well," he said to Philip, "guess we should get started. Are you ready?"

Philip opened his bag, uncertainty once again beginning to plague him. He was already wearing his vestment, but he donned the stole, preparing himself for battle with the demon. He then took the aspergill -- which held the Holy Water -- out of his bag, said a quick prayer for strength and guidance and answered Derek with a confident-sounding "Ready."

Entering the young child's bedroom, both men were shocked. "My Gott," Derek exclaimed upon seeing Adriana Simmons' tiny form restrained to the bed and struggling violently against those restraints. "The demon is getting stronger, Philip. We must hurry."

Philip did not feel nearly as confident as he had sounded downstairs. He had never actually performed an exorcism ... he had only studied the mechanics of them in the Seminary as other Priests have. He knew the fundamentals, but he didn't know exactly what to expect. However, one look at young Adriana did convince him that he needed to do something ... anything ... he could do to help her.

A fierce wind began to howl within the room and both men felt themselves forcefully pushed back (as though some unseen hand was pushing their bodies). At that point, the creature that was living within 8-year-old Adriana began to laugh. "You're not a real Priest," It said, directing It's comments in Philip's direction. "You're a pretender to the throne of Jehovah. You have no power over me."

Philip was stunned at the demon's comments. 'Could it be true?' he wondered in his mind. 'Am I really not a fit Priest t'take on the devil like this?'

Seeing Philip's hesitancy, Derek asserted his authority. The Precept grabbed Philip's arm in order to get his attention. He then shouted, "Don't listen to it. It's trying to deceive you. If it weren't afraid of you, it wouldn't bother to attack like this. You must begin the ritual, Philip. Do it now!"

Nodding at Derek and steeling himself against the words of the demon -- and against his own doubts -- Philip began the incantations he had been taught at the Seminary. He sprinkled the Holy Water at the little girl's form and watched her writhe beneath the droplets as they left scorching marks on her skin. An inhuman scream escaped the creature's lips and again, the rush of wind knocked the two men across the room.

Philip looked at Derek's still form as it laid against the wall and panic filled his heart. 'What am I doin'?' his mind screamed. 'I'm not capable o'this kind of thing! And now, not only will it cost this little girl her life, but it may cost m'friend his as well.' "Derek," he yelled aloud as he rushed to his friends side, "Are you alright?"

Derek turned and nodded as he replied, "You must keep going, Philip! It will try everything it can to stop you, but you must not let it!"

Father Callaghan touched his friend's shoulder. It was obvious to him that the blow into the wall had somehow injured his friend and associate, but he knew what his priority must be -- he knew what he had to do: he must destroy this demon. It was the only way to save Adriana -- and, the only way to save himself and Derek as well!

He began again, approaching the bed that held the little girl possessed by a demon from Hell. The wind pushed against his body, but he also felt a rush of power -- a push from behind -- as he held his Bible in one hand and the aspergill in the other. He loudly shouted out the invocations to cast out the demon as he shook the Holy Water over the child's body.

This time, the scream that escaped the creatures lips was bloodcurdling, but it no longer had the power to move Philip. Encouraged, he continued the incantations until, at last, he placed his hand on the child's forehead and shouted, "Begone from this child, demon from Hell, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost!"

One final scream erupted from the child and then, just as suddenly as it began, the howling, forceful wind died. The room was plunged into darkness and Philip was so stunned, he continued to stand next to Adriana's bedside with his hand still placed on her forehead, ready to defend and protect her against another assault.

The lights suddenly flickered in the room and then shone brightly as he saw Derek approach. Together, they leaned over the small girl's still body and Derek checked for signs of life. "She's breathing," he said with a sigh, "Thank Gott!"

And Philip did. At that very moment, Philip fell to his knees and thanked God for giving him the strength to banish the demon, for allowing him to take such an active role in fighting evil and for bringing him to the Legacy. Although both he and Derek were going to be nursing bruised bodies for the next several days, he knew that -- as a servant of God -- you must always take the bad with the good.

As Derek went in the next room to call the Simmons to tell them to come home, Philip sat by Adriana's bedside and stroked her hair. Without warning, the little girl suddenly opened her eyes and focused on the man in front of her. "Thank you," she softly said. "Thank you for making me all better."

During the drive back to the Legacy, Philip felt peace. Although his body already began to ache from the punishment it had taken, he felt enriched and blessed by God. This was one of the first times since he had joined the Priesthood, that he felt he truly did have a focus and a purpose ... and now he felt that it was definitely with the Legacy!

"So that's it," Philip said, with triumph in his voice. "That must be the decision I'm t'be makin' ... the decision t'remain with the Legacy. The Church wouldn't've allowed me t'do that exorcism and it saved that little girl's life. Is that my answer? Can ya at least tell me if I'm right?"

The soft, gentle Voice replied, "Don't be making your decision lightly, my Brother. Remember that your friend's life does hang in the balance." Even more gently, he asked, "Philip, are you making your decision because your heart is telling you to, or because you're mind is telling you to. God speaks to your heart and soul if you'd only once again take the time to listen. You've recalled a time when being a member of the Legacy was very important. But think now, my Brother, and you will recall a time when your skills as a Priest served you best.

Maureen and her fiancÚ, Stephen, were sitting in Philip's office at the Parish he was residing over on the outskirts of Lismore. He had been conducting their pre-marital counseling for the past few weeks, but could not shake the feeling that something was wrong ... terribly wrong with this "couple". He found himself stalling the counseling and coming up with additional reasons to meet with them; he just didn't feel right about marrying them yet.

He smiled at the young couple as he continued his lecture to them. "Well, we're gonna need t'be schedulin' our next meeting; we still haven't covered the subject o' children, now have we? So, let's set it for the end of the week, if that fits in yer schedules."

He could see Maureen blush and Stephen shift in his chair when the subject of children was brought up. This was always the part of the counseling that seemed to make couple's nervous, Philip recalled. Abruptly, Stephen said, "Is all this really necessary, Father? I mean, it seems t'me that friends of ours who've had counseling by other Priests were done after a few visits. This is our third one. Not that I'm complainin' mind ya; but I do have other things t'do."

Something about Stephen bothered Philip, but he just couldn't put his finger on what. At first, he had thought that Stephen was a very arrogant and headstrong individual -- much like his friend, Nick, back in San Francisco. But, as he got to know the couple better, there was an unease growing within him that seemed to say these two people just didn't belong together. And he wasn't about to end the counseling until he was convinced that they did!

Sounding more patient than he actually felt, Philip replied, "I feel it 'tis necessary, Stephen. There's a lot t'be considerin' when yer thinkin' about marriage. It's not a subject t'be handled lightly ya know." He could see Stephen's irritation growing and saw how uncomfortable this discussion was making Maureen, but he continued, "A woman such as Maureen here deserves a man who's willin' t'put in the time fer this kind of counseling."

"What would you know about what a woman needs, Father!" Stephen snapped. "I don't think you're really in the position t'be givin' out such advice."

"Stephen!" Maureen cried, obviously embarrassed. "That's not what Father Callaghan is talkin' about and ya know it! How could ya be sayin' such a thing!"

Philip didn't feel much like helping this obviously-troubled couple mend their fences but, since it was his stalling tactics that caused this argument, he felt that it was his place. "Listen," he said gently, "I know ya love Maureen, Stephen, and you'd do anything for her. I don't mean t'be puttin' you off so much, but it's just such a big step yer takin'."

Stephen could see that the Priest was trying to make peace -- with him and between him and Maureen -- so he nodded and replied, "I'm sorry, Father. I get a bit frustrated, ya know. Any day at the end o'the week'll be fine t'meet again."

"Fine, then," Philip replied. "Friday at 4:00?" The couple nodded as they rose to leave and Philip shut the door behind them feeling more convinced then ever that he had to find a way to help Maureen -- a way to get her away from Stephen before it was too late!

That evening, as Philip was trying to sleep, Maureen's image kept coming to mind. He tried to dismiss it as merely being due to the fact that counseling she and Stephen was the last "official" duty he had did that day, but a place in his heart told him there was something more to it.

He remembered how they had warned all the prospective candidates for the Priesthood that they would face a multitude of temptation during their lifetime as a Priest -- the greatest of which was the temptation of women! But Philip had never found himself in that particular position ... until now.

Now, the images of Maureen that came to him were not merely images of a young woman and her fiancÚ, but of a young woman with a beautiful smile, a musical laugh and eyes that burned right though him to the core of his soul. He imagined the soft, gentle feel of her skin; the way her hair danced in the wind; the way she moved across the room -- and felt himself drifting to thoughts he hadn't had since he first discovered "girls".

Quickly he got up out of bed and went into the bathroom to splash his face with cold water. 'What're ya thinkin', man?' he thought at the image he saw before him in the mirror. 'The woman's gonna be married.' And, with that thought another came to him ... 'And what're ya thinkin' of a woman like that at all for?!' He dropped to his knees and cried out, "Father, help me; I don't want t'betray you, but t'do your Will. Show me what t'do!"

Again, Maureen's eyes -- brown, soft and haunting -- came to his mind and he realized that it wasn't merely an attraction he felt for the young woman, but a need within her that he sensed as well. Whether that need was to help her adjust to her impending marriage, or to help her out of it, he couldn't be sure. But, God spoke to his heart at that moment and he knew that he must find a way to help her ... at any cost!

The next morning, Philip found himself drawn to the tiny little bookstore located in the village at which Maureen worked part-time as a clerk. The rest of the time, he knew, she did volunteer work at the Home for the Elderly located about 15 miles away. She was indeed a remarkable woman -- the same woman who haunted his dreams last night.

He looked around the bookstore as he entered and noticed Maureen right away in a far off corner, bending down talking to a little boy. She was dressed in a very becoming yellow slacksuit and Philip found that he had to remind himself that he was here to help her, not to make her his. The sound of the bell on the door as it swung shut drew her attention and she glanced over at the young, attractive Priest and smiled. She continued helping the child find what he was looking for and then approached Philip with a warm and welcoming smile.

"Well, good mornin' t'ya, Father," she said in a cheery tone. "I wasn't expectin' t'be seein' you today!" She blushed quickly (a beautiful shade of dark pink, Philip noticed!) and added, "I'm sure yer here fer some obscure publication. What can I help ya find, Father?"

Philip felt amazed because, at the instant of Maureen's blush, he realized that she just might be attracted to him! The thought scared and excited him at the same moment, and he found he had to clear his throat before he could speak, "Actually, Maureen, I'm here t'see you. I'd like t'talk t'ya for a few minutes when ya have some time."

Maureen looked immediately embarrassed and said in a soft and gentle voice, "Oh, Father, I'm so embarrassed about what Stephen said t'ya yesterday. He didn't mean it; he truly didn't. He's been a little outta sorts lately what with workin' them long, awful ours at the Mill. He's normally a verra good man, Father Callaghan -- truly he is."

This plea on behalf of the man she was planning to marry moved Philip in two different ways: he was instantly moved by the beautiful young woman's heartfelt message and repulsed at her words that stuck up for such a stubborn and angry man. 'Stephen doesn't deserve her,' he thought with all his heart. He smiled at her warmly and touched her arm reassuringly. He noticed, however, that the touch seemed to send a shiver through both their bodies; the slight tremor against her skin at his touch was undeniable.

He took his hand away as he replied, "Don't worry about that, my child; I wasn't truly offended." As an after thought, he added, "In fact, I just considered the source."

Maureen appeared somewhat shocked at this off-handed comment by the young Priest that stood before her. She trusted his judgment very much and she quickly asked, "Is somethin' wrong, Father? Are ya havin' doubts about marrying Stephen and I?"

This was his chance and Philip knew it. He cleared his throat as searched his heart. 'Tell 'er,' he heard from the depths of his soul. 'Tell 'er now before it's too late.' He once again touched her, ignoring the tremor that again passed between them and quietly asked, "Is there somewhere we can go t'talk?"

She nodded and led the way to the back room. She pulled the curtain shut behind them and turned to face him. Her face was pale and her voice quivered as she said, "Tell me, Father. Somethin's troublin' ya about Stephen and I, isn't it?"

"Yes, Maureen," he replied quietly. "I can't quite put m'finger on what's botherin' me ... maybe it's nothin' more than the fact that he doesn't seem t'be interested in learnin' about marriage and the difficulties the two o'ya might encounter. I don't know what it 'tis, but I've come t'tell ya that I won't be able t'perform the ceremony. I just don't feel right about this union."

Maureen's face grew paler and Philip reached out to help her to a chair. She sat for several seconds in silence, absorbing his words. As he began to pull away from her, she reached out and threw her arms around him. "Tell me what t'do, Father," she pleaded with him. "I'm so scared. I know Stephen's not been actin' right ... an' I've really not been verra happy with him lately ... but I thought it 'twas God's Will that I go ahead with the marriage. Now, I don't know what t'do."

Philip resisted with all his strength to pull Maureen from the gentle hug into a passionate embrace. This woman was good ... a truly kind and gentle soul whose beauty laid not merely on the surface, but transcended into the depth of her soul. It took every ounce of will power he had to break the embrace. He took her by the arms and said firmly, "Maureen, ya must call it off. If yer at all havin' doubts -- and I am too, child ... simply because'o the way he's behavin' -- well, ya must call it off."

She nodded in agreement and he found himself once again holding her against his body ... this time comforting the sobs that escaped out of her. Though his mind and body were tempted by the sensual curves he could feel beneath her form-fitting slacksuit; though he could smell her sweet, provocative perfume radiating off her skin; and though he could feel the softness of her hair and skin as he held her, God's strength flowed through him and he was able to resist the urge to place his lips to her and kiss her with all the passion stored within him. Instead, he held her as a father would hold a child ... as a Priest should hold a Parishioner ... and he felt truly blessed by God!

A few weeks later, Philip learned that Stephen had been married. But, thankfully, he knew it wasn't to Maureen. He had married Lorelei Brennan from the next county. Theirs had been a whirlwind romance on the rebound from his break-up with Maureen. He had been humiliated and embarrassed -- Philip knew this for a fact because he wore the symbol of that humiliation in the form of a black eye for a few days! But, Stephen had quickly turned to another young lass and married her (outside the sanction of the Catholic Church no less!) before anyone could talk her out of it.

Philip saw Maureen on a regular basis -- both as a friend and as a Counselor. Dealing with breaking her engagement in such a small village where everyone knew everyone else's business was difficult enough without having a confidante to turn to! So, Philip made sure he was always available whenever Maureen needed to talk. He found that, although he was still attracted to the captivating young woman, the urge to break his Priestly vows had waned considerably. God had given him the strength to resist Satan's -- and Maureen's! -- temptation.

Although the village seemed to glance sideways at Father Callaghan as he passed by -- and, occasionally, at Maureen herself -- no one ever verbally accused them of wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior. Life went on as Philip believed God intended it to. He knew that he would probably be forced into leaving the Parish soon due to this "silent scandal", but it was a price he had been willing to pay.

It wasn't long after learning of Stephen's marriage that the news of his and his new bride's death arrived in the village. It seemed that Stephen had a bit of a drinking problem -- something that even Philip hadn't realized during his counseling sessions with them -- and he must have had too much to drink one evening. He drove the vehicle carrying he and his wife to their next honeymoon location into a grove of trees and the car burst in flames on impact.

During Mass the following Sunday morning, Father Callaghan said a prayer for Stephen and Lorelei Shanahan. He watched from the pulpit as Maureen cried into her handkerchief and, although he knew he should have felt sadness and pity in his heart, he mainly felt relief. The woman who might have been beside Stephen Shanahan when he died a few days ago could have been this glorious child of God sitting before him. No, he was thankful for the role he played in protecting Maureen's life. His prayer of thanks to god after Mass that day were very heartfelt ... very heartfelt, indeed!

As Philip recalled the incident in Lismore, Ireland, he realized that, had he not been a Priest and been there on assignment, Maureen would be dead today instead of going on and starting her own Home for the Elderly. "So, I've made a difference as a Priest," Philip said aloud to the Voice. "Is it God's Will I remain as one? Surely, I've served Him well in that capacity too."

The Voice was silent for a long time, but before Philip could ask his question again, It spoke, "My Brother, you ask me time and again to make the decision for you; a decision you've been torn apart about for years now. You want your Earthly companions to tell you -- you seek Dr. Derek Rayne's counsel continually on what you should do; you want God to tell you -- you pray to Him but choose to act rather than listen for a response; you want to make the decision yourself -- and in that area alone, Philip, are you falling for Satan's greatest temptation."

Philip was tired, angry and frustrated. Nick was lying in a hospital bed with machine's assisting his breathing. He could have died by now for all Philip knew! And all this Voice could do was talk in riddles ... point out all the things his own heart and mind have been saying for years now ... and still there was no resolution -- he was no closer to understanding what he was suppose to do than when he first arrived at the beach! The Being sensed Philip's frustration and a light shone all around him, blinding him temporarily.

Frightened and yet exhilarated, Philip cried out, "What're ya doin'? Has God decided t'spare m'friend and take me instead?! Please God, let it be! I'm ready Father!"

"No," the Voice said firmly. "You are not ready, Philip. So long as you hold resentment in your heart you will never be ready." The Voice sighed a mournful sound, "I didn't think you would fail, my Brother. But it seems like you may after all. You've recalled in your past that by trusting God while as a member of the Legacy, you helped to save someone's soul and how serving God as a Priest, you helped save someone's life ... can you not now see the choice you must make to save your friend?!"

The little bit of whiskey Philip had drank before throwing the bottle out to sea began to affect him. This night had been so wrought with turmoil that he replied angrily, "No! If I could see a way t'be savin' Nick's life, I'd be doin' it!! That's what I came here fer ... t'plead with God t'spare 'im and take me! I'm willin' t'die fer God -- and I'm willin' t'die fer m'friend. So, let's just get on with it! Father, take me now, I pray!"

Job 10:14 - If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.

Job 21:7 - Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.

Philip had laid his body on the ground after making his heartfelt plea to God and wept openly. He wept for Nick, for the Legacy, for the Priesthood and for himself. He had tried everything he knew to live a good, decent, God-filled life, but had failed somehow. He knew that now beyond a doubt. God had tested him ... offered him up to Satan as a "modern-day job" and he had failed Him. Now his chosen brother -- Nick, the Legacy and mankind itself would pay the price of his failure. The agony of this was too much for him to bare.

He heard the Voice sound much gentler than the last time It spoke. "Weep not, my Brother," It said, "for all is not yet lost. You have not yet made the choice for your life. It is only in failing to make it, or making the incorrect one, in which you can fail. You so earnestly are ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice by giving your life. But in your memory and in your heart, Philip, you know that there are greater sacrifices humans can make other than losing a life. Recall now, my Brother, of another such sacrifice."

Continued on the next page...