A catholic man's lifelong dream was to meet the pope.
For years and years, he scrimped, scrounged, and planned his lavish trip to Italy.
Wanting to look his best for the pontiff, he had a custom-fitted suit tailored to his exact measurements and bought the finest Italian leather boots money could buy.
The next morning he awoke before the dawn to make his way to Vatican City to meet the pope on his morning walk through his crowd of devout followers. He pushed his way to the front of the crowd, wanting to get as close to the Holy Father as possible.
The grand doors opened and the pope emerged, greeting his followers, shaking hands, and offering blessings. The man caught the pope's eye, and the pope smiled and started walking towards him. This was it! He was finally going to get to share words with God's representative on Earth!
Just as he was approaching the man, the pope noticed a downtrodden beggar lying in the ditch opposite the man. The pope changed course, made way for the beggar, bent down, and whispered something in the poor man's ear. The beggar nodded, got up, and walked off. The pope, now on the other side of the crowd, continued on away from the man.
The man was devastated. He had missed his only chance to fulfill his ultimate dream. As the crowd dispersed, he noticed the beggar in the distance. A plan emerged in his mind.
He made his way up to the beggar and said, "Sir, I would like to offer you a trade. I will give you my suit, my boots, and all of the cash in my wallet in exchange for your rags and tattered shoes. I believe this act of humility is my best chance to finally meet the pope." The poor man quickly agreed, of course, and the two men traded clothes.
The next morning, the man made his way back to the Vatican and proceeded to lie down in the exact spot the beggar was the day before. The grand doors opened once again, and the pontiff emerged to meet his people. As the pope was walking through the crowd, the man saw that the pope was heading his way! His plan was going to work!
Sure enough, the pope came over to him, knelt down and whispered,
"I thought I told you yesterday to get the heck out of here!"
One day while he was at the track playing the ponies and all but losing his shirt, Mitch noticed a priest who stepped out onto the track and blessed the forehead of one of the horses lining up for the 4th race. Lo and behold, that horse - a very long shot - won the race!
Before the next race, as the horses began lining up, Mitch watched with interest the old priest step onto the track. Sure enough, as the 5th race horses came to the starting gate the priest made a blessing on the forehead of one of the horses.
Mitch made a beeline for a betting window and placed a small bet on the horse. Again, even though it was another long shot, the horse the priest had blessed won the race. Mitch collected his winnings, and anxiously waited to see which horse the priest would bless for the 6th race. The priest again blessed a horse. Mitch bet big on it, and it won. Mitch was elated.. As the races continued the priest kept blessing long shot horses, and each one ended up coming in first. By and by, Mitch was pulling in some serious money. By the last race, he knew his wildest dreams were going to come true. He made a quick dash to the ATM, withdrew all his savings, and awaited the priest's blessing that would tell him which horse to bet on.
True to his pattern, the priest stepped onto the track for the last race and blessed the forehead of an old nag that was the longest shot of the day. Mitch also observed the priest blessing the eyes, ears, and hooves of the old nag.
Mitch knew he had a winner and bet every cent he owned on the old nag. He then watched dumbfounded as the old nag come in dead last. Mitch, in a state of shock, made his way down to the track area where the priest was.
Confronting the old priest he demanded, 'Father! What happened? All day long you blessed horses and they all won. Then in the last race, the horse you blessed lost by a Kentucky mile. Now, thanks to you I've lost every cent of my savings -- all of it!'.
The priest nodded wisely and with sympathy. 'Son,' he said, 'that's the problem with most people, you can't tell the difference between a simple blessing and last rites.'