|Chapter 1||Bishop Martin|
THE END OF OLD BISHOP MARTIN'S TEMPORAL EXISTENCE, AND HIS ARRIVAL IN THE BEYOND.
1. A bishop who had always been very conscious of his dignity as well as his dogma fell ill for the last time.
2. He, who even still as an assistant priest, had been wont to paint the joys of heaven in the oddest colors and to describe the delights and bliss in the realm of the angels with great enthusiasm, not forgetting to mention hell and purgatory, did not yet desire, even as an old man of almost eighty, to take possession of his much praised heaven. He would have preferred another thousand years on this earth to a future heaven with all its delights and bliss.
3. Therefore, our sick bishop did everything in his power to restore his health. He had to be surrounded by the best physicians. Powerful masses had to be celebrated in all the churches of his diocese; all the sheep of his flock were asked to pray for his life. In his sick-room an altar had been erected at which mass had to be celebrated three times every morning to help restore his health, whereas, in the afternoon, three of the most pious monks had to keep praying the breviary in front of the consecrated host.
4. He himself kept uttering: "Oh, Lord, have mercy upon me! Holy Mary, beloved mother, help me! Have mercy upon my dignity and grace as prince-bishop for your Son's glory! Oh, do not forsake your most faithful servant, you helper in need, you sole support of the afflicted."
5. But all this did not help. Our man fell into a coma from which he did not awaken again in this world.
6. You know of the "highly important" ceremonial for a deceased bishop, and we need not waste any time with its description. Instead, let us look around in the spirit world to see what our man will be doing there.
7. Look, here we are - and there our man can be seen still lying on his bed; while the heart is still warm the angel does not sever the soul from the body. This warmth constitutes the nerve spirit which has to be wholly absorbed by the soul before complete severance can be undertaken.
8. At last this man's soul has completely absorbed the nerve spirit and the angel is severing it from bis body with the words: "Ephetha - arise thou soul, but thou dust revert to thy decomposition through the kingdom of vermin and decay. Amen."
9. Already you see our bishop rising in his full bishop's robes, just as during his lifetime, and he opens his eyes. He looks around in astonishment, not seeing anybody, not even the angel who awakened him. The surroundings are visible only in a fading light, as of late dusk, and the ground seems to be covered with dry alpine moss.
10. Our man is not a little astonished at this unusual situation, and says to himself: "What is this? Where am I? Am I still alive, or have I died? I must have been seriously ill, and it is quite possible that I am already among the deceased! Oh, for God's sake, this must be so! Oh, Holy Mary, St. Joseph, St. Ann - you, my three most powerful helpers, come and help me into the Kingdom of Heaven!"
11. He waits for a while, looking around carefully to see from which direction the three will be coming, but they do not come.
12. He calls once more, this time louder, and waits; but still nobody approaches.
13. For the third time he calls, louder still, but again in vain.
14. Now our man begins to feel very scared. He realizes his desperate situation and says: "Oh, for God's sake, Lord, help me! (This is only his habitual phrase.) What does this mean? I have called three times and no response!
15. Am I damned? How can that be, for I do not see any fire nor any devil?
16. Oh, Oh, Oh [trembling]. It is truly terrible! So alone! Oh, God, if one of these devils turned up now while I'm without a consecrated font or crucifix - what will I do?
17. And the devil is said to be particularly keen on bishops! Oh, what a desperate situation! I believe the 'howling and gnashing of teeth' is already upon me!'
18. I will discard my bishop's robe so the devil will not recognize me. But maybe that would give him even more power over me? Oh, what a terrible thing death is!
19. If at least I were quite dead, then I wouldn't be afraid; but this being alive after death is so terrible!
20. "I wonder what would happen if I walked on? No, no, I'd rather stay here. What consequences a step in the dark might have only God knows. Therefore, I would rather remain here until Doomsday, in the name of God and the Blessed Virgin!"
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