The Cardinal’s Bible
When Cardinal Fratelli returned home, he removed his cold, wet garments, took a hot bath and went downstairs to eat diner. He felt warm and comfortable in a dry cassock and his dull red house-slippers, almost sleepy, but knew there was some work he had to do yet before resting. After finishing his plate of chicken and roasted potatoes, Fratelli went into his office to read over several documents that arrived that afternoon.
One of these documents a theological treatise, something he had to examine and approve. If the book taught in accordance with church teachings and correct Christian doctrine, it would be granted an “imprimatur”, official approval from the Church. Fratelli sat down reading the book for a few hours then grew tired of it. So he set this down and worked on something else. After a while, he stood up, paced for a bit then considered going into the other room and fetching his Bible. Certainly, reading Scripture would inspire him…
Going into his rather small library, Fratelli carefully took from the nearby shelf an old, tattered, leather-bound bible. He handled the tearing book delicately and brought it back to his office where he rested in a chair and slowly opened it. The weathered, ancient pages slipped through the torn binding, began falling out, and cascaded onto the floor.
“Oh no!” Fratelli cried, trying to catch them.
Hearing his lament, Father Rodrigo entered. Seeing the floor littered with old, yellow pages, he explained, “Your Eminence, perhaps it is time you bought a new bible?”
“But,” the cardinal stammered, “I’ve had this one since seminary. It is so dear to me. I will just pick these up and put them in order so they can be rebound.”
“Your Eminence, that will take days…just get a new one.”
Fratelli furled his brows, pondering and laid one exasperated arm on the desk. Rodrigo bent over scooping up the fragile pages gathering them into a sloppy pile. He said, “I’ll go to the printer tomorrow afternoon…would you like the new bible bound in red leather?
“No, I do not like red.”
“No, it is my least favorite color, you know that.”
Observing the frustrated cardinal, leaning in his chair, bright scarlet robes draping, Rodrigo didn’t mention it. He left as Fratelli sighed and hesitantly continued working. Some days were just difficult…
~ ~ ~
Thin sunlight streamed through windows, delicately brushing Fratelli’s face as he lay sleeping in bed. He lifted the covers over his eyes and groaned.
Fratelli ignored the voice, wanting badly to go back asleep. Father Rodrigo stood by his bedside. At once, he tiptoed closer then shouted:
Crying out, startled, Fratelli jumped throwing the covers off himself and stared back irately.
Ignoring the anger, Rodrigo calmly said, “We are late for morning prayer...”
The cardinal forgot his crankiness knowing that God demanded his utmost attention and efforts. He dressed and rushed downstairs into the chapel, kneeling for prayer, sleepily uttering:
“Lord open my lips…and my mouth shall declare your praise.”
There were not truer words for this moment.