A few beers and some German sausages later, Michael was relaxing into the situation. It was wonderful to be a part of history. The euphoria of the crowd was contagious. Vendors and restaurants near The Wall were offering specials as people milled through Berlin on their way to or from the Brandenburg Gate.
Gabe and Michael had eaten and shared several beers with the crowd and were now again swept to the gate, where they stood to cheer the East German cars entering the free world for the first time.
* * *
In Rome, Chris had gathered with Vinnie and several other priests to have silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Their intent was to thank the Lord for the rupture in The Wall, to pray for the continued safety of East Germans wishing to cross to the West and to ask the Lord to further dismantle the communist machine in Eastern Europe.
Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is a ceremony without ceremony. The priests gathered in silence and knelt in reflective prayer. While corporate in their number, each was engaged in his personal relationship with the Lord.
Vinnie shifted uncomfortably, sighed, and opted to be seated for the event, mouthing the word “gout” to Chris as if Chris wouldn’t have known. An elderly friar came to the meeting dressed in a brown tunic and a hood that, even pushed back from his head, was thick enough to go around the bottom of his face like Joe Bazooka’s turtleneck. He knelt next to Chris and began to pray. Sensing something familiar, Chris looked over to the man at his left. On close inspection, the man's brown hair appeared to be a toupee. The man turned to Chris, who immediately recognized the blue eyes of the Pontiff, who in turn leaned in to whisper in Chris’ ear. “Thankfully, I was an actor in my youth,” he smiled. “Don’t tell the Swiss Guard that I sneaked out. It makes them nervous.”
Vinnie reached behind Chris to pat the monk on the shoulder as if welcoming an old friend. Then the three men of God joined their brothers in honest, contemplative prayer.
At first, Chris’ mind wandered. What if someone recognized The Pope? Would he be safe? Someone could harm him and the Swiss Guard wouldn’t even know where he was! Chris surveyed the chapel, which was lit only by candles. He strained to see every man in the room, looking for a potential threat to the Pontiff. He knew most of these men, and the ones that he didn’t know certainly didn’t look like a threat.
As he settled into prayer, Chris could feel the Holy Spirit tugging at him. There was a sense of disquiet as if his name were being called. Speak, Lord. I’m your servant. I am listening. As Chris closed his eyes, he was assaulted by a vision, a sort of movie that played on the screen of his eyelids. In it he saw Michael and Gabe, drunk, high or both. They were lying unconscious in an alley near The Wall, hidden from a sea of people around them.
Chris gasped and jumped suddenly. There were slight titters of laughter throughout the chapel. Chris wouldn’t be the first to drift off to sleep in silent, contemplative prayer, but those closest to him knew different.
“The Lord is calling you to action,” the Pontiff whispered into Chris’ left ear.
“Holy Father, Michael and Gabe are in danger. I need to go to Germany.”
“My camerlegno will arrange it for you. Tell him that I have sent you.”
Chris genuflected toward the altar and rushed out of the chapel. Vinnie looked after Chris with concern and began to whisper in The Pope’s ear.
* * *
No answer. Kim was getting increasingly concerned. If she couldn’t get hold of Chris, she would have to go to Germany herself, but Chris was so much closer! She made up her mind to keep trying to get hold of him. If she didn’t reach him by morning, she would go to Germany herself.
* * *
“Not a problem, Chris. I can get you on a flight to Germany that will get you into Berlin at 3 a.m.”
“I guess that will do. Thank you so much.”
“The Holy Father wouldn’t have sent you if he didn’t think that the Lord had told you to go.”
“One question,” Chris said. “Why did you believe me when I said that the Pontiff sent me?”
The camerlegno pushed a button on his phone. It sent an intercom message to the head of the Swiss Guard.
“Can you please tell me where the Pontiff is right now?” the camerlegno asked in English.
Responding in English, the head of security said, “He is still at the Chapel of Saint Martha, disguised as a monk.” He sighed as if to say, “Do you believe this?”
The camerlegno chuckled softly. “Make sure he gets home safely.”
* * *
Chris rushed into his apartment to grab his passport and a change of clothes. As he turned the key, he heard his phone ringing. Quickly opening the apartment, he ran to the phone.
“Pronto,” he said slightly out of breath.
“Chris, I’ve had a really bad dream about the boys.”
“I’m on it, Kim. I think that the Lord gave me the same dream.”
“Where are you now?”
“Grabbing my passport. I have a flight to Berlin in an hour.”
“Oh, thank you, Chris! I wanted to go myself, but I’m thinking that it will be too late to help them by the time I get there.”
“No need to thank me. I love them, too.”
“I know you do. Does Benny know that you are going?”
“I haven’t told him, and I don’t have the time. You can tell him if you like.”
“Will do. Call me the moment you know anything. And Chris?”
“I will. You keep praying.”