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Saturday 14 December 2013

Part 18 of The Story

"You are breaking my heart, James," shouted Carole. "So, how long has he been missing?"

James sat down. This conversation was going to be harder than he thought. "Two weeks. I did not want to alarm his friends until it was clear he was kidnapped."

Carole continued, "And, in Rome?" James could hardly answer. "Yes, he missed all his meetings, his audience with the Pope, everything. The police said they know by CTS cameras that Andrew was picked up at  Fiumicino by a cab, an ordinary cab, but with a fake license. In the opinion of the police, Andrew was kidnapped. And, they claim there was a priest already in the cab, according to the CTS."

Carole sat down sideways on one of her office chairs. She was at her small "factory". "Who would kidnap Andrew and why? I mean, he is not that important is he?"

James did not answer. He could not share information which Andrew had given him alone, about a lobby underlined with violence, connected to many priests in America and Europe, a perverted lobby. James had known of this before. It was the stuff of novels, but Andrew had followed up on some of the death threats despite the discouragement of his lawyer and uncovered, almost by accident, an entire network of political lobbyists who wore the Roman collar. Some were known Marxists. The damage was done, but Andrew knew they would be working in Europe as well. He had sent his information ahead to the Pope. Pope Francis II had Andrew's large portfolio of information, much like the one given by the late Pope Emeritus to the last Francis I. Only, this information included espionage, murders, political positioning on a global scale. Some of it was already known to the Pope, but, when he read the contents, he immediately called the young priest to Rome, for his own protection. The Pope had underestimated the danger.

Now, the papal opinion was that this was a vendetta against the very priests and bishops who had been most outspoken, those who had encouraged the laity to stand firm against the Supreme Court decision and so on.

Pope Francis II personally grieved. He felt responsible for the disappearance of this young priest. He believed that this murder and the previous one of the old bishop were done out of pure spite, pure hatred for the Catholic Church. These actions were the physical reality of spiritual warfare; not murders of those who were involved in crimes, but those who were on their way to holiness. The Pope had paved the way for the rolls of the new martyrs.

"Carole, I cannot tell you anymore. I have no other facts, but I shall be going to Rome. The press is involved. Someone in the Roman police force leaked the news. It will hit American newspapers tomorrow. But, I am leaving in just a few hours. Carole, I am going to stay in Rome."

Tears came to Carole's eyes. "James, I have known for a long time what you would do when things became impossible. God bless you in your decisions."

"Thanks, Carole. I knew you would understand. I am disentangling myself from Washington and have been for two weeks. God bless you as well. And, your work. Goodbye, Sister in Christ."

"Goodbye, James."

To be continued...

Postscript on the Dark Night

Today's Gospel reflects the necessity for the Dark Night of the Soul-the death of the sensual side of us.

The senses must be so pure that these only desire God alone and nothing else. St. John of the Cross, whose feast it is today, understood this.

God did St. John a great favor. God allowed the very brothers of St. John in his order, in his house, to imprison him and torture him.

What John discovered was an inner darkness which led to Light. 

We must all go through this. In the darkness, we see all the creepy-crawly nastiness of our senses. When the senses are purified, we are then led into the purification of the spirit.

Let God do these things in your life.....

Luke 14:25-33

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
25 And there went great multitudes with him. And turning, he said to them:
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit down, and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it:
29 Lest, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him,
30 Saying: This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, about to go to make war against another king, doth not first sit down, and think whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him that, with twenty thousand, cometh against him?
32 Or else, whilst the other is yet afar off, sending an embassy, he desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple.

St. John of the Cross

I have many, many posts referring to St. John of the Cross. Please use the tags and choose something to celebrate his day.

“Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in anything less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.” - Saint John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love, 27

Tears and Worries

Story Part 17

The Easter Vigil was celebrate by the Rector, who cheered up all the members of the congregation. Msgr. Bird's sermon was on the Resurrection of the Dead of all Catholics who believed and were faithful. The church was crowded. The Extraordinary Form was the accepted form at this place, and many of the families who lived on the grounds had come to love it. The funeral followed two days later. Anabelle and David felt like they were walking in a dream. Anabelle told her odd dream to no one. They left on the Wednesday and spent the rest of the week loving each other back into some type of normalcy. So far, the baby in the womb was growing on schedule. But, as David knew, Anabelle experienced much pain in her back from her disease, as her body changed.

James, in Washington, was doing his best to stem the ever-growing destruction of the American family.
Father Andrew was waiting for orders. His job of taking care of the Bishop now consisted of masses said for his soul. It was not until mid-May that Father Andrew heard from the Vatican. The seat of the dead Bishop would not be replaced. Seaview, now merged with another diocese, did not need Father Andrew.

The young priest was told to come and work in Rome. Pope Francis II needed someone to watch and diagnose the situation in Europe, which was changing almost as fast as that of the United States. Father Andrew's experiences would prove helpful for the Vatican, in many ways.

On June 1st, Andrew and James met in Washington. "I have a premonition, James," the young priest said. "I do not know if I shall see you again." James looked at the ground. "I feel that, too, brother, but when you went into the priesthood, I gave you to God. I assume you have given me to God as well."

The two became silent. They had dinner in James' apartment, not wanting to be in a crowded place, but Father Andrew said a private mass first. It was the Mass for the Dead for his old bishop.

After dinner, they talked for awhile. Father Andrew's flight was early in the morning. "I am now receiving death threats from some of the same addresses as the Bishop did. I spoke with my lawyer this morning. Under the new laws, as you know, threats from those who are homosexuals are ignored by the law as statements of frustrated sufferers of homophobia. Civil rights are one-sided."

James agreed. Nothing could come of the pressing for justice concerning on line or written threats. He received them as well, but this fact he did not share with Father Andrew.

"The latest one indicated that the death of the Bishop, as you and I know, was not suicide. The person wrote that I would meet the same fate as the Bishop did-a bullet in the heart. Now, I suppose with all the publicity anyone could have read the cause of death in the papers, and it was on television."

Father Andrew understood the signs of the times. Priest, bishops, cardinals were no longer protected by law.

They were the prey.

Silence filled the room in which the sun shone brightly. The Spring had introduced a gorgeous Summer in Washington, not too hot, not too cool. "Get some sleep, Andrew. I shall wake you up early in the morning. I have a cab ordered to take you to the airport."

James was worried, more than he had ever been before. Father Andrew's call to Rome provided an out for this young man, but was this move more dangerous than being in the States? James had to make a mental act of faith, of trust to Christ for his brother.

But, he knew, he would never see him again.

to be continued....

Story Part 16

Overload sent Carole into great happiness. She thought, all those years when a flatmate, that Anabelle was the work-alcholic, but this new project sent her into a tizzy of activity. Six persons had been hired, in the small work space she now rented in her town. Some were women from Cuba, who had never lost the art of embroidery and sewing. Carole understood that her move to Florida was part of a larger plan of God. Mark was happy with the logistics of getting things from Florida to California, where the kits were finished. A part of Carole's little factory was dedicated to packing and shipping things to Mark's company. Mark communicated that speed was important, but Carole would not tolerate any handiwork less than worthy for Mass. Her women cut, sewed and embroidered all the linens and the travel stoles. Carole appreciated that some of her staff were original, talented and competent enough so that she did not have to mico-manage. Within the first month, over 1,000 stoles, purificators, finger towels, and the knapsacks, etc. were made and shipped. But, at this rate, it would take four years to complete Mark's order.

Carole went into hyper-drive. In the second month, she doubled her staff. Slightly over 2,000 sets were finished. Carole now had twelve people working for her. She herself worked long hours. She also designed newer lines of the bag, which were lighter yet sturdy. Still, in one year, she could only produce a maximum of 24,000 sets. And, she wanted to keep up the quality of these linens. All these pieces would be used for the Consecration of the Holy Eucharist. Mark was insisting on the year-end deadline.

Mark did not want to use other groups of crafts-persons. He knew that a certain amount of secrecy, as much as possible, was necessary. His company in California gathered the altar ware, finished packing the bags, and sent them off to the contacts Mark had made in the dioceses. His first priority were those under the worst attacks, like in the states of Washington and Oregon, Iowa, and Hawaii.

The first sets had been sent out as soon as possible. Within two months, at least 1,500 sets were completed and sent out.

Mark had to work on the Holocaust Museum as well. He eagerly accepted that job as another focus, and he was being paid extremely well for this project. His own staff, his own company, made up of people completely devoted to him personally, supported his work, no matter what it entailed.

He was aware that his goal of 40,000 kits in one year was most likely unrealistic. But, he would not lessen the pressure. Instinctively, Mark knew that Carole would figure out how to make deadlines, and, if the mass kit project took longer, well so be it. But, with the political climate changing so quickly, Mark wanted to hasten production. But, he did not want Carole to hire too many people. Under a certain number of employees, different laws applied. Mark wanted to keep the project small and under the radar. No more than fifteen, he had told her, including herself.

May in Florida had shocked Carole, a temperate climate type of girl, but she persisted. As long as she could get linen, and the materials needed for the stoles and bags, she would press on. God called the laity to do their bit, she told herself. This activity made her five loaves and two fishes multiply in order to feed the souls of American Catholics with the graces of the Holy Eucharist. If she had time, she would have stopped to think of how amazing this project actually was, but, she did not have time to reflect on the overall picture. She embroidered many of the stoles herself. She prayed and worked, worked and prayed, and was happier than she had ever been in her young life.

To be continued...

Story Part 15

The Irish have a saying for everything, even death. If you dream that a white bird lands on your chest, you will die. If you rock an empty chair, there will be a death in the family. If you dream about birth, you will die soon. Now, Anabelle was Irish. Her ancestors, the McKenzies were Scottish, who settled in the north of Ireland when Elizabeth I gave the family some land for services done. But, ironically, the entire family converted to Catholicism, under the influence of St. Oliver Plunkett, lost their lands, and moved south. One uncle became a priest and was executed sometime in the long years of tribulation. Anabelle had been proud of a saint in the family. She did not dream of a white bird, or rock an empty chair, or dream of a birth, but she did have odd dreams. She woke up after a long sleep early Holy Saturday morning. But, just before she awoke, she saw the Bishop standing at the end of her bed, smiling, wearing white and blessing her. That was comforting, but another person was standing behind him, and that person came out from behind the white robes of the bishop and smiled as well.

Anabelle woke up, terrified. She did not want to remember who that person was with the Bishop, but she did. She did not want to talk about it.

The young woman dressed quickly and went out into the small living room area of the suite. There, on the sofa, David slept, like a baby. She smiled. He slept on the sofa so that she would not be disturbed. Bless him.

Anabelle looked out the double windows. April beauty mocked her low spirits. She was grateful to be at the old seminary college. Most of the parishes in her area in Arlington were closing down, and masses were hard to find. She had not been to confession in months. Being around so many priests was a blessing, but the days of the seminaries were numbered.

Unlike the monasteries, most of the seminaries had escaped the shut-downs demanded by the end-of-private schooling act, called the DPEA, or the Dispensing of Private Education Act. The seminaries quickly changed status from educational facilities to retreat houses and houses of prayer. They also did not accept any men under the age of 25, which was the top age the educational facility act covered. All Catholics institutions which schooled men or women from pre-school to 25 were not exempt. The monasteries had rebelled, as monks and nuns had been historically accepted from age 18, and in a joint effort had sued the government. All was lost with the decision against the institutions. All the monasteries and convents which trained young men and women were shut down, like all Catholic elementary and high schools. Some colleges had dropped any semblance of relationship with the Church and survived. With some, this had already happened de facto anyway, so the de jure status followed quickly. 

The seminary boards reacted quickly as well, and changed their status, moving, ostensibly out of education into spiritual formation only. At least temporarily, this saved most of the major seminaries in Denver, St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York. The Pontifical College Josephinum had dogged the bullet, for now. But, it was merely called the Josphinum. No pontifical degree would be granted there anymore and the men were sent to Rome.

The grounds, like those in Mundelein, had become a haven for priests hounded out of their own dioceses, or displaced by all the diocesan mergers. Dioceses could not find housing for all the displaced priests, so the old seminaries, now bereft of students, except those over 25, who were only in formation, opened their doors. This had been an order from Pope Francis II. All complied willingly, as the fines and lawsuits prevented any growth or change at this time.

Like Mundelein, Denton, and others, the Josephinum had opened it doors to lay people displaced by the rapid changes. Men and women, who had worked for chancery offices, for many ministries across the United States, and had lost jobs in the upheavals, needed work and lodging. Two of the buildings in the area looked like labor camps, with some families with children working on the grounds, planting crops and transforming the manicured lawns into communal farms. Some people called these new communities, Catholic Brudehofs. And, they were. At Mundelein alone, over 200 families had found shelter. Home schooling was still legal. But, one of the bills on James' desk determined the end of home schooling.

Anabelle had wanted to move into one of these new communities, but David did not want to leave his job. They still could get to mass by traveling to Front Royal every Sunday, as there were two priests there, but in Arlington, only a few priests said Mass, and those were joining the schismatic movement. The young couple shunned those parishes. David was not even sure the Masses were valid, as the priests had no intention of staying with Rome. He remembered the guidelines of Pope Leo XIII.

Anabelle fell so tired. But, she knew she had to face a few days of hardship. The Bishop's  funeral was on Easter Tuesday. The Rector said even though the verdict was suicide, the Church would bless the Bishop, giving the action and the mind of the person at the time the benefit of the doubt. The Bishop would be laid to rest on the grounds with full Catholic rites.

The young woman knew, for sure, the suicide verdict was wrong, wrong, wrong. But, she honestly did not have the energy to discuss this with anyone, not even Father Andrew. Anabelle shuddered.  Anabelle remembered her dream. Father Andrew would be affected if she told him this dream.

To be continued....

Story Part 14

Father Andrew's Bishop was dead. On Holy Thursday morning, he was found in his room on the floor by Andrew. The Bishop left hand held a gun and the wound to his chest was deemed as self-inflicted.

Father Andrew did not believe this good man could commit suicide. However, he was over-ruled not only by the police and the coroner, but by the Rector of the Josephinum, Msgr. Bird. This death became the big news in all the national papers and on the main stream media. Many people saw this death as a vindication of the suppression of the Seaview Diocese. Crazy men, apparently, ran the Church-homophobia and craziness went together.

Father Andrew could not stay in grief, as he had guests. Poor Anabelle was confined to her room by the college doctor. She had known the Bishop well, since childhood. David was distraught by the death and his wife's illness. Also, the fact that Senator James Longley was staying in the same building as the dead Bishop could not be kept quiet. Father Andrew tried to protect James, but the police officer interviewed at the press conference did not see any reason to omit this choice bit of news. The entire Triduum Liturgies would be interspersed with the chaos of reporters and police. Father Andrew and James were invited into the Rector's private rooms in order to get away from the confusion.

The Rector, Msgr. Drew Bird exclaimed, rather loudly, as the brothers sat down. "Father Andrew, I suggest you do not push an inquest into this unfortunate death. You would be the prime suspect, you know."

Both Andrew and James jolted. James spoke first. "You better explain yourself, Msgr. This is a serious accusation."

"I make no accusation, and I shall merely repeat information which Father Andrew gave to the police and coroner himself. That he did not hear a gunshot as he was in the chapel for two hours in prayer, between two and four, the approximate time of the suicide."

Father Andrew stood up, "Msgr., I am more concerned about the good name of the late holy Bishop and the scandal this is causing rather than my own alibi. Besides, those who know me, know I pray frequently in the night and morning."

"Sit down, Father. Your feelings towards the Bishop are understandable, but you must see your own danger in this situation. James, as a politician, I am sure you see my point."

James drank some coffee out the china cup presented to him by the Rector's secretary, who left as soon as they all sat down earlier. "I see both sides of the problem, Msgr., but do the innocent have anything to fear?"

Msgr. reacted by coming from the other side of his huge oak desk to sit in a third chair in the circle where the brothers sat. "One innocent person has died already here. Do you want to ask me that question again?"

James and Andrew looked at each other. Again, James spoke first. "So, you know it was not a suicide."

The Rector was silent. "I, too, knew this good Bishop and I believe he was a holy man. As Father Andrew knows, even here he was receiving death threats. How many death threats since Christmas, Father Andrew, would you say this good man got in the mail or on the old diocesan e-mail?"

"Dozens, maybe hundreds. I gave up counting," Father Andrew answered in a low voice. "We began to ignore these under the advice of the Bishop's lawyer. I could not continue to read the vile notes. But, are you suggesting, in this high security building, where only priests live, that we were intruded by a murderer? This seems highly unlikely."

"Which is why," continued the Rector, "I suggest you do not push for another inquiry and accept the bad press regarding a suicide."  The Rector poured more coffee into their cups and his. "Well, James, do you not, as a man of the world, as it were, advise your brother to lie low?"

James' answer was interrupted by a knock at the door. The secretary came in. "There is a phone call for the Senator. Where do you want to take it?"

James asked the Rector is the phone call could be placed in this office. "Of course, and thank you, Mrs. Waverley."

The phone call was from James' office in Washington. The president was calling an emergency session of Congress. He was to be back by Monday morning, at 10 am.

"Msgr. I shall have to leave. And, I shall talk with my brother about these possibilities before doing so."

The two brothers stood up and thanked the Rector for him time and advice. The decided to meet in James' rooms, immediately. It was Good Friday night already. The service had been at three. They had the entire evening in which to plan what to do next. But, before doing so, they stopped in to see David and Anabelle in the married couples suite. Anabelle had gone to bed very ill after the news. Her sickness was compounded by grief. David led them into the little sitting room next to the bedroom. The rooms were like a suite in a five star hotel. David knew that Anabelle needed the privacy.

"Of course, it is not suicide," exclaimed David. "We all knew this good and holy man. So, what do we do next?"

Father Andrew remarked that it was terrible that Anabelle had to be here for this shock. David nodded. "She is having a hard time. Of course, it is very early days, but I am surprised."

"David, I have to return to Washington, almost immediately. I can take a plane, but under the circumstances, and if Anabelle could travel, would you want to leave?" James was doubtful the girl could travel.

"Anabelle and I discussed leaving. The Bishop will be buried here, on the grounds. We want to stay for the funeral. And, Father Andrew, you may want company."

Father Andrew said yes to David and that he was grateful for company, especially if James was leaving.

James and Andrew walked down the long hall and stairs to the floor below. James room was near the end.

They went in and locked the door.

"Were any of these death threats credible? I mean, did your lawyer take any of these seriously?"

James sat down in a small leather chair.  Father Andrew sat on the bed.

"There were, perhaps ten percent, which were serious enough for investigation, but most of it was just anti-Catholic hate speech. And, of course, we could not prosecute for that. There were one or two which clearly showed that the writers were deranged, but the Bishop, under his lawyer's advice, just ignored these. He told me that is God had allowed David to be cursed by Shimie, who was he, a man not as holy as David, to complain. But, David, it is so unjust for all to think this man committed a crime of despair or exhibited a loss of faith at the end. These slanders are iniquitous. He was a saint. And, as a saint, should be seen as such. And, and I am angry, I fear for the repercussion. Many Catholics are confused and this may dishearten many."

James heard a knock at the door. He opened it and Mrs. Waverley apologized for the intrusion, but realizing that there were no phones on this floor in the guest rooms, would the Senator like her to make his travel plans back to Washington?

James thank her but said his office was doing all the necessary arrangements. They would e-mail him all the information and he has his tablet and phone. The middle-age, motherly-type woman left.

James wondered that women could be on this all-male floor. He also wondered why she bothered to come up now. In addition, he wondered if she had heard any of the brothers' conversations.

"I am getting more and more paranoid in my old age," he chuckled.

Father Andrew walked over to the window. Robins sang in the small apple grove, the trees laden with blossoms brought no comfort. "I honestly do not know what to do, James. I have never felt such a loss since our parents' death. And, I do not think I shall ever get over, as they say, that so-called accident. Now, another falsely defined death. These things are begging to seem like a pattern. I cannot help it, James, to have these thoughts. I have always been, as you say, paranoid."

James came over to the window and put his hand on this brother's shoulder. "I do not think we should be thinking or doing, but only praying. Let us go to the chapel together. The emptiness of the Tabernacle seems appropriate for our moods." James, who up to this time held Washington D.C. in his capable hands, felt helpless.

To be continued....

Story Part 13

"Mass kits?" Carole could not believe this discussion. Mark Levi met her at the LBB, the most popular and posh cafe on the Atlantic in her part of Florida. He had stood up when she came in the door, a perfect gentleman. Carole immediately was struck by his air. He was, well, European. He quickly entered into the reason for his desiring to meet her.

"There are about 40,000 priests in the States. Most are either going into hiding or hiding. With the closing of churches and chapels, masses will be underground. I have decided to fund 40,000 military mass kits for every priest in America. But, I need someone to design and make both the bags and the finger towels, purificators, travel stoles. I shall provide the chalices, patens, cruets, candlesticks, wine bottles, crucifixes and pixs. But, I need someone to do all the linens,and the bag. Would you do this for me, for the priests?"

Carole made a mental leap from what she thought was going to be some sort of tryst in her romantic mind to the practicalities of spiritual warfare. Obviously, this man had thought about the details of his huge project.

"I would make sure every priest had a kit. Whether he used it or not would be his business. I shall fund the entire project and pay you for your work. But, I know I am asking you to do something full time for several months, even a year."

Carole sipped on her iced tea. She looked at the table and felt ashamed. Here was one of the most famous men in America asking her for help in a project which seemed impossible. She would have to turn her business from one targeting ladies of a certain age and tourists to priests in hiding. But, he was paying for her efforts.

"I would need time to work out the details. You are wanting a soft bag, rather than the usual portfolio types?"

Mark looked out at the ocean. "I guess I was thinking of a rucksack or knapsack type of thing, with pockets and sections. Of course, we would need the linens as well and the stoles. These could be embroidered."

"40,000?" Carole had never done more than three of four of the same design. Her line was famous for one-off designs. She had never thought in terms of mass marketing. 

"Yes, I do not want to do less. I realize that not all the priests are good priests, but we could always send some abroad, if we made too many. Canada will need such kits, for example. I shall work on logistics through my own company. I have contacts with every existing diocese."

Carole could not answer right away. She calculated quickly the hours of time for sewing and embroidering the stoles alone. And the design of the bag would be tricky. This could take years.

"It would mean closing down DaisyChain," she said softly. "And, I would need to hire help."

She looked up at Mark, and she knew she could not say no. Times dictated her life now, not merely art or craftsmanship. "OK, when do we start?"

The architect smiled. "Right now. I have paper and pens." And the two began to discuss design over the iced teas.

To be continued....

Story Part 12

James examined his messages. David had sent one earlier in the day. Good news. Anabelle was pregnant. James quickly texted both of them a congratulations. For a moment, James wondered what it would be like to be a dad. But, he had made his choice to be chaste long ago. Sometimes, James wanted to make this commitment in a formal manner, but he was too busy to make such plans. He was not even sure how to go about such a semi-rite.

The laws clustered around the Supreme Court decision on the definition of marriage piled on to his desk like flies on a pecan pie. James was working with the orthodox Catholics in his party to minimize the damage. But, he was not sure he had enough support in the Senate to stem the roller coaster of laws affecting every aspect of married life in the States.

He thought of Andrew, now at the Josephinum with his Bishop. James was one of the few to know where they were. He was also one of the few to know that the Bishop had several death threats from various groups and individuals.

Amazingly, the USCCB had published the Papal letter which Father Andrew had delivered to them. Perhaps, the schism had been avoided. Perhaps. James had a week's holiday at Easter. He wanted to see his brother. James knew that Andrew would never be a bishop or hold any high office in the Church. Again, he admired his brother but knew that this quiet priest would want to end his days in a remote monastery.

James thought of all the monasteries which had been closed during the purging of the private education systems two years ago. He wondered where Andrew would go at the end of all things.

His phone rang. "David, hi, and congratulations again." David shared the fact that he and Anabelle wanted to drive to the Josephinum to spend Easter there. He said they had been invited but did not use Father's name.

David asked, "We could come and get you and we all could go together. Anabelle is not as well as we would like and this might be the last journey she makes until the baby comes in October."

The Senator loved synchronicity, one of his favorite words. He agreed. Looking out the window at the grey sky, James wondered at the fact that four out of the five friends would be together at Easter. He wondered for a minute what Carole was doing besides making beautiful things and making money. 

To be continued....

Story Part 11

Those who have lived in Rome usually love Rome passionately. The initial love is like that of a young man for his first love. Then, it changes to a love-hate relationship when the underside of the great city is discovered. Finally, like a married man getting over his "itchy" time, love settles into a day to day acceptance of both the virtues and vices of the center of Catholicism. The love becomes part of the person like daily breathing or eating. One cannot imagine not living or not visiting Rome without love.

Father Andrew felt the same way as most young priests who had spent their university lives in Rome. Those precious years of growth and change, immaturity and maturity, sensuality and spirituality, marked him in his heart as a Roman Catholic. Rome changed every one who ever lived there. Rome is a city of miracle and magic couched in the long messy history of humanity. One understands the Incarnation much better after one lives in the Church in Rome.

Today was not a miracle or a magical day for Father Andrew. It was a working day. He had to re-write his copious ideas to meet the needs of the suffering Church in America and hand this copy over for the Pope's perusal. Then, Father would wait for the Papal feedback before returning to the States. Rome in the Spring is absolutely a magical time, but the magic was lost on this energetic, but focused priest. He was all business.

He finished his paper and it was taken away to be given to Pope Francis II, a man who was born in Wisconsin, had gone to the Catholic University in America, the Pontifical Gregorian University, ordained in 1975, and the author of an encyclical in his first month as a pope. That encyclical , Consilium Dei coniugium, somewhat like Pope Pius V's Regnans in Excelsis, which excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, separated the sheep from the goats. It reiterated the long Catholic position on both marriage and homosexual sins.  All those priests, laity in any position, who supported same-sex-marriage incurred excommunication. Those bishops and priests who disagreed with this infallible document were planning the schism of the century. This Pope was already prepared for this event.

Many American and European Catholics faced one great decision. Many Catholics were relieved with the clarity, but disturbed by the reactions. Such concerns had been shared by the English Catholics in 1570. Father Andrew was dealing with the Church in crisis after the Pope's work, which was a direct answer to the Supreme Court's decision. 

If the clergy was allowed freedom to work with emergency relief of the usual rules concerning Mass, for example, and were allowed to live in families or under pseudonyms, American Catholics would be served as needed.

Father Andrew, in calm, cool Rome, felt a strange disjoint with the horror of life for the Church in America. He had a hard time concentrating with the warm air wafting through his window in the Vatican. But, now the paper was finished and handed over. He just had to wait. Msgr. Miller brought him coffee. 

"I read the paper. You are very thorough in your explanation of the needs."

Father Andrew nodded his gratitude. "I became a bit emotional on page four. Some of my friends are in jail. Our best bishops are in jail."

Msgr. Miller stirred his coffee. He liked sugar. "It will happen here, eventually. In fact, I was surprised this happened first in the States, as the EU usually moves away from morality first." 

"Yes, we thought Europe would go the way of all flesh first. I thought is would be over a different issue, however, and that is Marxism. But, I know my history and all of this is part of the kulturkampf."

Msgr. Miller smiled. He and Andrew had studied under one of the most anti-Marxist professors in Rome. They both were well-versed in the the evils of the cultural revolution. Now, they were seeing the success of that very revolution they had been warned against years ago. Those days faded away in memory, as history seemed be racing to some unknown goal. 

The two priests sat in silence, perhaps thinking of the calm past, or praying to be spared the tumultuous present. A bell rang and Msgr. Miller left quickly down the long hallway. Father Andrew decided to go for a walk in the Vatican Gardens.

The Spring Day belied the decay of the West. Father Andrew walked down the pathway into the center of the quiet greenery. Suddenly, he saw a figure in the distance, small, white, wrapped in an almost palpable silence. Then, he saw a larger figure, tall and smiling. Father Andrew gasped. Was this a vision? These persons, from a short distance looked exactly like the late Pope Emeritus, who had outlived his predessor for a few weeks,  and Pope Francis I, who had reformed the Jesuit Order before he died suddenly. He had also reconciled the Greek Orthodox Church.  The Catholic world had reeled for the death of two popes, so sudden, so unexpected. Pope Francis II, formerly the most conservative cardinal in the curia, had been elected on the first ballot. His first encyclical, published within the first month of his papacy, was the shout of a warrior. His second act was to canonize both his predecessors. His third act had been to reconcile the SSPX, under his own protection as a personal prelature.

The persons turned to Father Andrew and smiled. They then blessed Father Andrew and disappeared. Benedict XVI and France I! Father Andrew stood wondering and shocked, but also comforted. He had been blessed by two saints.

Msgr. Miller walked hurriedly up to the pensive priest. He had papers in his hands. "Come, quickly. We have to talk".

Both priests went into Father Andrew's apartment. Msgr. Miller began. "This is the approval of all your recommendations. There is also a list of diocesan mergers, plus a note that the Pope will be writing on the possible schism in America. He desires to wait and see what happens. There is one more thing."

Father Andrew waited, his hands on the papers. "Any of the clergy, bishop or priest, who die either in prison or from some other cause regarding this issue, will automatically be elevated to the altar as saint-martyrs. Each lay person who may likewise incur death will be the subject of immediate examination by the Pope personally. He has written, 'This is the Age of the Martyrs.'"

Both young priests were silent. They both remembered late night discussions in the seminary, usually with wine and cheese, when the youth talked of the Age of Martyrdom. Did they honestly believe in their own words, until now?

"And am I to return?," asked Father Andrew. Msgr. Miller said yes, immediately, to serve the old bishop until he passed on. That was a personal request of the Pope.

"I am relieved. And I am to give this document to the USCCB, which is breaking up as we speak?," he asked. Msgr. Miller answered quickly, "Yes, but you are also to publish this document independently through all the Catholic underground media sources. The Pope does not entirely trust the USCCB."

Father Andrew knew what to do. He sighed at the knowledge that the United States was now the center of conflict in the Catholic Church. He wished he could turn back the clock to some heady day of Catholic unity. But, he knew his history, and the American Church has not been united since before the great Civil War.

The heresy of Americanism had again struck at the heart of the American Catholic Church. Like the horrors in the Middle Sea, these monsters, the new, draconian laws of the land, and the coming schism in the Church, could be named Scylla and Charybdis, and the small boat of the remnant sailors, the true bishops, like Ulysses' crew, were caught in between these death-giving threats. 

Andrew left the next day and was with his old bishop by the end of the week, after fulfilling all his duties and completing all his instructions.  The first storm was to be followed by the second, and possibly a third.

To be continued....

Story Part 10

Rain in Florida is different than rain in the State of Washington, thought Carole. Carole and Mark Levi decided to meet in the restaurant next to the condo, only three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean seemed ideal. Carole's business had blossomed in Florida, for some reason. Her embroidery work was taking on a southern tone in both subject matter and color. She was "on a roll." That she was walking to meet someone she had heard about in hushed tones years ago was also exciting on a human level. Mark Levi was the leading architect of neo-Gothic and neo-Baroque churches in the States. He was the designer of numerous "new" churches made for the re-establishment of the Extraordinary Form. He was the darling of conservative colleges and bishops, and recently, he had been asked to design the new museum of the Holocaust, with an projected opening date of 2017, in, of all places, Santa Barbara.

Mark Levi's pedigree demanded that he would be the choice architect for the Museum. His paternal and maternal grandparents disappeared in the Holocaust. His parents flight to the New World allowed Mark to be born in security, wealth, success, but after they died, he converted to Catholicism. He had wanted to for years, but waited. Now, he was accepted because of his success and obvious talent. He was the golden boy of church and museum architecture, but with the new persecutions, his church work had come to a complete halt.

Carole remained mystified at Dr. Levi's seeking her out.

Mark Levi was dark, tall and almost handsome. He had a little boy smile which disturbed some people and amused others. He had no published birthday, but Carole imagined he was about 47, at the peak of his career in his field. Or just past peak. The religious and financial depression in the Church stopped his rapid progress in being one of the most famous architects ever in the States. The other thing which stopped Mark's rise to the top seemed to be a mysterious change in his focus.

Close friends and others in his office noticed that Mark was pre-occupied. But, with what? Was he moving away from architecture? His energies must be funneling into a new area of interest. Rumors in his company centered around the possibility of Mark closing down the entire operation.

Carole had heard some of these rumors through the artsy, intellectual grapevine. Perhaps, this mysterious meeting would reveal Mark Levi's new project, new focus. Originally, he said he would be in the area in June, but he changed his dates for being in Florida, and he would see Carole in April. The day had arrived. Carole began her short walk feeling like a teenager.

To be continued....

This is good.....