Meaning of Life
There a God?
of Christ
Catholic Faith

Chapter Five - Out of Bounds

      DON CAMILLO USED to go back and measure the famous crack in the church tower, and every morning his inspection met with the same result: the crack got no wider but neither did it get smaller. Finally he lost his temper, and the day came when he sent the sacristan to the Town Hall. "Go and tell the Mayor to come at once and look at this damage. Explain that the matter is serious."
     The sacristan went and returned.
     "Peppone says that he will take your word for it that it is a serious matter. He also said that if you really want to show him the crack, you had better take the tower to him in his office. He will be there until five o'clock."
     Don Camillo didn't bat an eye; all he said was, "If Peppone or any member of his gang has the courage to turn up at Mass tomorrow morning, I'll fix them. But they know it and probably not one of them will come."
     The next morning there was not a sign of a "red" in church, but five minutes before Mass was due to begin the sound of marching was heard outside the church. In perfect formation all the "reds," not only those of the village but also those of the neighboring cells, including the cobbler, Bilo, who had a wooden leg and Roldo dei Prati who was shivering with fever, came marching proudly toward the church led by Peppone. They took their places in the church, sitting in a solid phalanx with faces as ferocious as Russian generals.
     Don Camillo finished his sermon on the parable of the good Samaritan, with a brief plea to the faithful.
     "As you all know, a most dangerous crack is threatening the church tower. I therefore appeal to you, my dear brethren, to come to the assistance of the house of God. In using the term 'brethren,' I am addressing those who came here with a desire to draw near to God, and not certain people who come only in order to parade their militarism. To such as these, it can matter nothing should the tower fall to the ground."
     The Mass over, Don Camillo settled himself at a table near the door, and the congregation filed past him. Each one, after making the expected donation, joined the crowd in the little square in front of the church to watch developments. And last of all came Peppone, followed by his battalion in perfect formation. They drew to a defiant halt before the table.
     Peppone stepped forward proudly.
     "From this tower, in the past, the bells have hailed the dawn of freedom and from it, tomorrow, they shall welcome the glorious dawn of the proletarian revolution," Peppone said to Don Camillo, as he laid on the table three large red handkerchiefs full of money.
     Then he turned on his heel and marched away, followed by his gang. And Roldo dei Prati was shaking with fever and could scarcely remain on his feet, but he held his head erect, and the crippled Bilo as he passed Don Camillo stamped his wooden leg defiantly in perfect step with his comrades.
     When Don Camillo went to the Lord to show Him the basket containing the money and told Him that there was more than enough for the repair of the tower, Christ smiled in astonishment.
     "I guess your sermon did the trick, Don Camillo."
     "Naturally," replied Don Camillo. "You see You understand humanity, but I know Italians."
     Up to that point Don Camillo had behaved pretty well. But he made a mistake when he sent a message to Peppone saying that he admired the military smartness of the men but advising Peppone to give them more intensive drilling in the rightabout-face and the double, which they would need badly on the day of the proletarian revolution.
     This was deplorable and Peppone planned to retaliate.
     Don Camillo was an honest man, but in addition to an overwhelming passion for hunting, he possessed a splendid double-barreled gun and a good supply of cartridges. Moreover, Baron Stocco's private preserve lay only three miles from the village. It presented a permanent temptation, because not only game but even the neighborhood poultry had learned that they were in safety behind the fence of wire netting.
     It was therefore not astonishing that on a certain evening Don Camillo, his cassock bundled into an enormous pair of breeches and his face partly concealed beneath the brim of an old felt hat, should find himself actually on the business side of the Baron's fence. The flesh is weak and the flesh of the sportsman particularly so.
     Nor was it surprising, since Don Camillo was a good shot, that he brought down a fine rabbit almost under his nose. He stuffed it into his game bag and was making a getaway when he suddenly came face to face with another trespasser. There was no alternative but to butt the stranger in the stomach with the hope of knocking him out and thereby saving the countryside the embarrassment of learning that their parish priest had been caught poaching.
     Unfortunately, the stranger conceived the same idea at the same moment. The two heads met with a crack that left both men side by side on the ground seeing stars.
     "A skull as hard as that can only belong to our beloved Mayor," muttered Don Camillo, as his vision began to clear.
     "A skull as hard as that can only belong to our beloved priest," replied Peppone, scratching his head. For Peppone, too, was poaching on forbidden ground and he, too, had a fine rabbit in his game bag. His eyes gleamed as he observed Don Camillo.
     "Never would I have believed that the very man who preaches respect for other people's property would be found breaking through the fences of a preserve to go poaching," said Peppone.
     "Nor would I have believed that our chief citizen, our
     comrade Mayor---"
     "Citizen, yes, but also comrade," Peppone interrupted, "and therefore perverted by those diabolical theories of the fair distribution of all property, and therefore acting
     more in accordance with his known views than the reverend Don Camillo, who, for his part . . ."
     This ideological analysis was suddenly interrupted. Someone was approaching them and was so near that it was quite impossible to escape without the risk of stopping a bullet, for the intruder happened to be a gamekeeper.
     "We've got to do something!" whispered Don Camillo. "Think of the scandal if we are recognized!"
     "Personally, I don't care," replied Peppone with composure. "I am always ready to answer for my actions."
     The steps drew nearer, and Don Camillo crouched against a large tree trunk. Peppone made no attempt to move, and when the gamekeeper appeared with his gun over his arm, Peppone greeted him: "Good evening."
     "What are you doing here?" inquired the gamekeeper. "Looking for mushrooms." "With a gun?" "As good a way as another."
      The means whereby a gamekeeper can be rendered innocuous are fairly simple. If one happens to be standing behind him, it suffices to muffle his head unexpectedly in an overcoat and give him a good crack on the head. Then advantage can be taken of his momentary unconsciousness to reach the fence and scramble over it. Once over, all is well.
     Don Camillo and Peppone found themselves sitting behind a bush a good mile away from the Baron's estate.
     "Don Camillo!" sighed Peppone. "We have committed a serious offense. We have raised our hands against one in authority!"
     Don Camillo, who had actually been the one to raise them, broke out into a cold sweat.
     "My conscience troubles me," continued Peppone, watching his companion closely. "I shall have no peace. How can I go before a priest of God to ask forgiveness for such a misdeed? It was an evil day when I listened to the infamous 'Muscovite doctrine,' forgetting the holy precepts of Christian charity!"
     Don Camillo was so deeply humiliated that he wanted to cry. On the other hand, he also wanted to land one good crack on the skull of his perverted adversary. As Peppone was well aware of this, he stopped talking for the moment. Then suddenly he shouted, "Accursed temptation!" and pulled the rabbit out of his bag and threw it on the ground.
     "Accursed indeed!" shouted Don Camillo, and hauling out his own rabbit he flung it far into the snow and walked away with bent head. Peppone followed him as far as the crossroad and then turned to the right.
     "By the way," he said, pausing for a moment, "could you tell me of a reputable parish priest in this neighborhood to whom I could go and confess this sin?"
     Don Camillo clenched his fists and walked straight ahead.
     When he had gathered sufficient courage, Don Camillo went before the main altar of the church. "I didn't do it to save myself, Lord," he said. "I did it simply because, if it were known that I go poaching, the Church would have been the chief sufferer from the scandal."
     But Christ remained silent. Now whenever this happened Don Camillo acquired a fever and put himself on a diet of bread and water for days and days, until Christ felt sorry for him and said: "Enough."
     This time, Christ said nothing until the bread and water diet had continued for seven days. Don Camillo was so weak that he could remain standing only by leaning against a wall, and his stomach was rumbling from hunger.
     Then Peppone came to confession.
     "I have sinned against the law and against Christian charity," said Peppone.
     "I know it," replied Don Camillo.
     "What you don't know is that, as soon as you were out of sight, I went back and collected both the rabbits. I have roasted one and stewed the other."
     "Just what I supposed you would do," murmured Don Camillo. And when he passed the altar a little later, Christ smiled at him, not so much because of the prolonged fast as because Don Camillo, when he murmured "Just what I supposed you would do," had felt no desire to hit Peppone. Instead he had felt profound shame, recalling that on that same evening he himself had had a momentary temptation to do exactly the same thing.
     "Poor Don Camillo," whispered Christ tenderly. And Don Camillo spread out his arms as though he wished to say that he did his best and that if he sometimes made mistakes it was not deliberately.
     "I know, I know, Don Camillo," replied the Lord. "And now get along and eat your rabbit—for Peppone has left it for you, nicely cooked, in your kitchen."
     Go on to chapter six, The Treasure     on the meaning of life website.


An index of inspirational articles and helpful tips for your daily life can be found on our
Main Index Home Page

      Please take the time to see it. Thanks.


Don Camillo 4 | Don Camillo 5 | Don Camillo 6 | Don Camillo 7 | Don Camillo 8 | Don Camillo 9 | Don Camillo 10 | Don Camillo 12 | Don Camillo 13 | Don Camillo 14 | Don Camillo 15 | Don Camillo 16 | Don Camillo 17 | Don Camillo 18 | Don Camillo 19 | Don Camillo 20 | Don Camillo 21 | Don Camillo and his Flock 2 | Don Camillo and his Flock 3 | Don Camillo and his Flock 4 | Don Camillo and his Flock 5 | Don Camillo and his Flock 6 | Don Camillo and his Flock 7 | Don Camillo and his Flock 8 | Don Camillo and his Flock 9 | Don Camillo and his Flock 10 | Don Camillo and his Flock 11 | Don Camillo and his Flock 12 | Don Camillo and his Flock 13 | Don Camillo and his Flock 14 | Don Camillo and his Flock 15 | Don Camillo and his Flock 16 | Don Camillo and his Flock 17 | Don Camillo and his Flock 18 | Don Camillo and his Flock 19 | Don Camillo and his Flock 20 | Don Camillo and his Flock 21 | Don Camillo and his Flock 22 | Don Camillo and his Flock 23 | Don Camillo and his Flock 24 | Don Camillo and his Flock 25 | Don Camillo and his Flock 26 | Don Camillo and his Flock 27 | Don Camillo and his Flock 28 | Don Camillo and his Flock 29 | Don Camillo and his Flock 30 | Don Camillo and his Flock 31 | Don Camillo and his Flock 32 |
| Don Camillo | Siterightnow Page |
| Return Home | The Meaning of Life | Is There a God? | Prayer | Teachings of Christ | Our Catholic Faith | Music |

Copyright © 2019, American Life Helping Institute. All rights reserved.