Updated: Jul 18, 2022
Not everything about the faith I ponder is always seriously minded, though the truths of Catholicism I always mind seriously. What follows below began with a silly line to rest from yesterday's heady discussion.
Ballad of a Ride to Hell
(Kind of a Johnny Cash rhythm)
By Fr. Jonathan Atchley
I called my friends together the other day
And said, “I hear there’s a train to Hell, going all the way.
Now I don’t believe in God but if you help me pay,
I’ll make a visit there and tell y’all about my stay.”
Well, they laughed and joked but then agreed,
“We’ll get your ticket if that’s what you really need.
But here’s a rosary, just in case, you see,
‘Cause getting in is easy, but they don’t let you leave.”
So I went to the station, which wasn’t hard to find,
I just asked directions from Satan in my mind.
I gave the Conductor my ticket but he said--
“Not so fast..you can’t just board and ride--
You have to do something to be worthy: I wanna see your pride.”
That weren’t so hard, so I showed him what I got,
And he smiled weird-like, said, here’s the ticket you bought!
He gave me that, and soon we’re on the tracks
Relaxing, smoking a cigar and just kicking back.
Folks around me seemed to enjoy the ride,
But I felt a little sleepy so I stepped outside.
When, with a whoop, holler and terrible din
We hit a storm, and I felt the train reeled in.
We stopped at the gates, massive, doors standing wide,
With a sign over top that read: Abandon All Hope Inside!
I began to dread my choice going on this trip,
Thinking maybe I’d made a mistake, a fatal, frightful slip.
There stood, too, a three-headed dog, massive as can be,
Satan tossed him a passenger and then we sailed through, free
From that mangy mutt; though all this made me feel
We’d not be leaving soon, and my dread became quite real.
We zipped past souls, shriveled, shrouded in the dark,
Though now and again, you could clearly see the spark
From demons giving chase, with pitchforks aflame,
Cursing everyone they zapped, calling out their name.
The train then slowed and stopped, sorry souls pressed in close,
Drained and wafer thin, looking more like ghosts.
“Give us a ride!” One person begged and pled,
Till a devil sunk a pitchfork in and he fell back, dead.
But the dead can’t die, and I realized the truth,
So slow, but always there from when I first lost a tooth.
My parents warned me good, “the devil will get your hide,
If you aren’t humble, kind, and freely choose God’s side!”
This place didn’t seem so fun, contrary to what I was told,
And demons weren’t there to please, but only there to scold.
Now too late that misery and hate were on full display,
I felt sick at heart, desperately wanting to get away.
But Satan sidled up to me, and snarled more than spoke:
“There ain’t no getting’ away from here, for your kind of folk!”
With that I yelled, and hollered loud as I could, in fear:
And with a jolt, woke from sleep…and this frightful nightmare.
God in His goodness, gives us chances…choices to serve,
Many more, I now admit, more than we deserve.
So if you’re feeling ornery, and wanting to commit a sin—
Remember where this train will go, and that you really don’t want in!
(Distant wail: Whoo Whoo)