Chapter 22 – Matteo Rossi
“He has a purpose, Matteo. Even for you.”
Matteo looked at his father across the dinner table. He was a good man—a righteous man. In every action and every word, he exemplified the love of Christ.
But, how could he be so sure? How could he believe so firmly in something so shrouded in mystery? How could he not wrestle with God as Matteo had been for the last year?
This latest argument had been the result of a phone call from one of his seminary teachers. His father knew all of them, of course, having once been one of the most respected priests in the St. Louis area. Matteo’s grades had been slipping and his doubts were showing in his work.
“Father, how can you know that? With so much evil in this world, how can you believe He has a purpose?”
“Faith, son.” His father reached his hand and placed it on his mother’s. “Love and faith.”
Matteo’s eyes drifted down to his food, unable to replay. They couldn’t understand. After some silence, his mother spoke.
“I talked with your uncle Marcus. We’ve arranged it so you can stay with him during your winter break.”
“You don’t have to go. But, maybe some time with him can help you find your way. Just,” she paused. “Just please consider it.”
Matteo rolled the beads of his Rosary as he prayed at the foot of his bed.
“Forgive me, Lord. I did not see. Guide me as I guide them. Amen.” He stood and looked at the clock. Almost nine. Most of the guests at the Midhaven Motel would be up, getting ready for breakfast. Now was a good time to get started. He fastened the remaining buttons of his cassock and grabbed his Bible. He walked over to the door to Bryan’s room and opened it. As he reached up to knock, his hand froze.
This was his purpose. He couldn’t fail these people, and getting cold feet was not an option. Even if they rejected him, he needed to show them that he was there and his door was open. Matteo sighed and knocked. A few seconds later, Bryan opened his door.
His hair was disheveled, and his shorts and t-shirt were wrinkled. Behind him, the sound of the shower running echoed from the bathroom. He must have woken up only a few minutes before.
“Can I help you?” His voice was groggy and irritated. He kept one hand on the door.
“I was wondering if you’d like to pray with me.”
Bryan’s eyes locked on the Bible at Matteo’s side. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry, Father. But, I’m not the praying type.” He pulled on the door.
“Please. I’m not trying to convert—”
Before he could finish, the door had shut in Matteo’s face.
Matteo walked to the loveseat and sat. He hunched over, bringing his elbows to his knees and his hands to his head. It was a bad start. How could he lead them out of the darkness when they refused to even look for the light? Maybe he could just pray for them in solitude and hope they come to him on their own.
God was calling on him to guide them. He had doubted the Will of the Lord before. He couldn’t turn his back now. He couldn’t let the fear of rejection or persecution deter him.
Matteo stood and marched to the other door—the door for the Morans. They were still grieving, which meant they’d be receptive to prayer… or indignant. It didn’t matter. He had to try. He reached his hand up and knocked without hesitation. A few seconds later, the door opened.
It was the wife, Alexandra. She was dressed, but bags sat under her eyes. She probably hadn’t been getting much sleep. Her long, red hair—a few white strands throughout—was only slightly frazzled, and her makeup and jewelry showed the effort she was putting in—more than likely for the sake of her daughter. Her strength was amazing.
Mrs. Moran surveyed Matteo’s cassock, and the furrow in her brow lifted to show her curiosity. It was a good sign.
“Good morning, Mrs. Moran. My name is Matteo Rossi. I wanted to offer my sympathy for your loss.”
Mrs. Moran’s eyes watered before they fell. She was about to start crying. Matteo couldn’t just let her suffer without offering a shoulder and the Word.
“I was wondering if you’d like to pray with me.”
She shifted her gazed to his Bible, and she paused. Matteo’s hand sweat as he gripped it tighter. Would this be another door slammed in his face?
“Please, come in.” Mrs. Moran stepped to the side and opened the door further to let Matteo through.
It was mostly relief, but there was something else Matteo was feeling. It wasn’t surprise. Was it reluctance? Was it disappointment? Was a part of him hoping for another rejection so he could have an excuse for failure—for giving up?
Excuses. Matteo could almost hear his father telling him how “excuses were just more tools for Satan to keep you from God’s work.” He was right. Matteo had almost lost another battle. God, forgive him.
“Have a seat, Father.” Mrs. Moran’s voice broke his self-admonishment. “I can only offer you water.”
“That would be fine, Mrs. Moran.”
“Please, call me Alexandra. Tara’s in the bathroom. When she gets out, I’ll pour you a cup.”
“Thank you.” Matteo sat in one of the chairs as Alexandra sat across from him.
“I have to warn you,” she said, “we’re not Catholic. We usually attend a Protestant church.”
Matteo smiled. “Different interpretations of the Word do not change the fact that we’re all children of God.”
Alexandra’s lips curved upward. It looked like it hurt for her to smile. It was all the more reason to remind her of God’s love.
The bathroom door opened, and out stepped Tara, combing her hair. As soon as she spotted Matteo, her expression turned slowly from confusion to suspicion.
“This is Father Rossi,” Alexandra said. “He came to pray with us.”
“Actually, I’m not a full priest, yet. I’m studying to be one.”
Tara kept the look of suspicion, but Alexandra continued smiling at her. Neither seemed to have heard him. Something must have been going on between them.
It didn’t matter. He was there to do the work of the Lord.
“Please, sit. Pray with us.”
Tara walked slowly to the loveseat and sat down. She didn’t object.
That was good enough. Matteo opened his Bible and began.