There are a lot of people in the world like Jonah, full of zeal and devotion to their cause. Many dismiss them as crazy. Priests are inundated and end up spending copious amounts of time listening to bizarre stories of people who tell stories almost as outlandish as the reading we have today about Jonah.
I am usually a cynic, but there was something different about Terry. I met Terry in the Catholic bookstore where I worked. He was milling around as usual- handing out free books and explaining to a woman who was stuffing unpaid for Padre Pio medals into her purse that larceny was a sin. Then, he described the effects of venial sin like a nun from back in the day and finally, He quoted the Catechism’s teaching on sin word for word from memory. The woman’s face turned white. I looked at my priest friend and said, “He knows stuff…” We laughed.
I knew that my priest friend didn’t believe that Terry was a “visionary”, but I did. Terry once told me that he was in a coma for ten years, and that the coma was a result of being sprayed with “Agent Orange” in Vietnam. That was when Terry saw the “Shining Glory” of God, and according to him, “I fell asleep a Protestant, met God, and woke up a Catholic.”
Terry said that he had met all of the Saints. When he played the piano at night, he and his wife would dance with them. Each Saint had a different move. One had the twist, and Terry showed us how the saint danced.
Terry was certain that we were in “The Last Days.” Terry would tell people that the world would not last much longer and made a point of advertising it on his automobile. He carefully taped every Holy Card in existence to the side of his car. But the crown of his “advertisements” were the two eleven by fourteen full color portraits of the “two hearts”. Father would chide me for being so gullible. I told Father that even if he was crazy I knew when God looked down at him and his car,that all God could see in Terry was his love. Terry was unaffected by the standards of the world. He was received into the Church at Easter, and told me that he saw all of his friends (the Saints) at the altar when he received the Eucharist. I believed him.
When I met Terry’s wife a few months later, she arrived with some bad news. Terry had had a massive heart attack and died suddenly. Terry had an account at the store, and she had come to be sure that his bill was paid. I said, “Yes…it was paid two days ago…” and Terry’s wife said, “Wow, that was the day he died”.
As odd as it all sounds, Terry was right, the world was ending, as it will for each of us in the next 50 years or so. Much like Jonah, he was a witness to the supernatural, and especially to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. He was a witness to the doubting Thomases, and lived out his baptismal promises, as priest, king, and “prophet”.
I went to Terry’s beautiful funeral and entered into a Church that was nearly full of his Protestant relatives. I knew they were non- catholic because they did not know how to answer the prayers. I am certain that Terry was interceding for each of them, all while dancing with his friends, the Saints.