The Black Robes
I found a very interesting quote in "Parish Priest" the biography of Fr Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, by Douglas Brinkley and Julie M. Fenster.
Old Wolf a Cheyenne Chief in Montana during the !880s told this story
“In the land of the Cheyenne, there is a mountain higher than all the mountains around him. All the Cheyenne know that mountain; even our forefathers knew him. When children, we ran around wheresoever we wanted. We were never afraid to lose our way so long as we could see that mountain, which would show us home again. When grown up, we followed the buffalo and the elk; we cared not where we pursued the running deer, so long as the mountain was in sight; for we knew he was ever a safe guide, and never failed in his duty. When men, we fought the Sioux, the Crows, the white men. We went after the enemy, though the way ran high up, and low down. Our hearts trembled not on account of the road; for as long as we could see the mountain, we felt sure of finding our home again. When far away, our hearts leaped for joy on seeing him, because he told us that our home came nearer.
During the winter, the snow covered all the earth with a mantle of white; we could no longer distinguish him from other mountains except by his height, which told us he was the mountain. Sometimes dark clouds gathered above. They hid his head from our view, and out of them flew fiery darts, boring holes in his sides. The thunder shook him from head to foot; but the storm passed away and the mountain stood forever.
This mountain is the Black-robe. His heart is firm as a rock. He changes not. He speaks to us the words of truth. We are always sure of our path, when we look to him for guidance. He is the mountain that leads us up to God”.
It was in order to stand as firm as Old Wolf's mountain that the parish priest made his vows and his sacrifices. Without any turbulence in his own heart, he might just be as dependable and as strong. That was the ideal and in nineteenth-century America, the ideal of the priestly life was as strong as ever it has been. The high regard for the priest as a sacral figure set apart did not arise from mere naivete on the part of the flock.
I truly believe in the priesthood as found in the Catholic and Apostolic Church. I believe in it without the adulation and superstition it is generally treated in today’s Church. Often as I pray for the Church and Her priests it comes to mind that there are amongst them many who do not truly comprehend what the role of the will of God is in their lives. One priest, whom I hold dear as a friend, tells me that there is a belief in those who helped form him of how special they are in a way. This teaching does not contribute to humility. How unfortunate that these brave men, and they are brave if we consider the responsibility they take on before our God who chose them or did He? Never the less it suffices to write, “Of those who have been given much, so much is expected”. Oh Dear.
Locally, I have met and talked with the hereditary chief of the Coastal Salish. He told me with reluctance of two episodes in the life of his people. Reluctantly because it is or was not customary for the Salish people to speak outside their community of their history, although it has become commonplace. This man was present as a young boy at meetings between his father and the federal government in New Westminster as was his father and grandfather before him.
In his peoples history, it is known that two people known as Elijah and Moses met many years ago with some of their ancestors and taught them on one occasion the Sign of the Cross and later made them aware of the Black Robes who would be coming.