The New Springtime

El Indigente was a simple diocese basking in the new springtime of the Church following the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican sent the diocese two liturgical experts to update the liturgy yet again for the 60th anniversary of the Novus Ordo Missae. The diocese would never be the same again.

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chapter 9 - Angelica

The January 9 Curial meeting was supposed to start at 12:30, but it was already past 1 o’clock, and the bishop and the new Cathedral Rector had not yet come to the conference room. Father Vail also hadn’t arrived yet.
The seven remaining clerics sat around the table, playing Uno, already well into the game. Deacon Luvmuffin put down a card. He said, “Pick up four, Godfrey.” Godfrey responded, “Jackass,” as he picked up his cards.

Now it was Les’ turn. He had two cards in his hand. With a smile, he laid down one card and squealed, “Uno.”

At that moment, the bishop came into the meeting with the new pastor of St. Frannie’s, Father Benedict.

Jovial as always, Bishop Sugarloaf said, “Sorry we’re late. I hope you got a lot of work done while you were waiting.” This last sentence caused a bit of discomfort to the Curia, except for Terry, who calmly said, “I was down to three cards.”

Sugarloaf responded, “No matter. I have an exciting piece of news. George has been offered the See of San Francisco-Seattle. Rome wants to know if you’ll take it, George.”

After relaying that piece of news, the other clerics patted George on the back and congratulated him. But George looked concerned. “I don’t know, boss. Can you give me a few days to sleep on it?”

Reaching into his shirt pocket, Sugarloaf pulled out a cell phone and said, “I’ve got them on hold, George, and they need an answer.”

Immediately, Terry, Red, and Seymour started begging him to stay. “You’re indispensable, George. Don’t take it.” “The diocese can’t go on without you, George.” “You’re the bedrock of the diocese, George. Don’t go.”

George Yessman resolved, “OK, I won’t go.”

After saying that, Godfrey, Luvvy, Les, and Red chimed in that he should take the job. “George, this is a chance of a lifetime.” “They want you, George. You’re the right man for the job.” “You have to take it, George. This is a prestigious position.” “C’mon, George. You have to take it.”

The Vicar General of the diocese then resolved, “That’s it. I’m going.”

Immediately, Terry, Red, and Seymour begged him to stay. “All right, I’ll stay.”

Then the side in favor of the promotion chimed in. “I’ll take it.”

When an argument broke out, George said, “I’m so confused. What do you think, Bish?”

Sugarloaf then said, “Well, George, you are pretty indispensable here in the diocese. But still, I would say that you really should take the job, so that the good you’ve done as my right hand man for so many years, you can do along the West Coast, from Vancouver to San Francisco Bay. I think you were born for that job, George, and I’m willing to make that great sacrifice to make it possible for you.”

Standing up, George spoke firmly and with authority, “All right, I’ll take it… I think.”

Sugarloaf replied, “Atta boy, George.”

Speaking on his cell phone, the bishop said, “Hello? He’ll take it. No, Your Eminence, thank you. Grazie, prego.”

George was still receiving congratulations when the bishop extended his hand to George, saying, “Congrats, George. I don’t know how I’ll make it without you, but I’ll manage somehow. Now let’s get on to… Where’s Noah?”

Seymour responded, “We don’t know. We were expecting him to be here, just like you were.”

Sugarloaf said, “No matter. Before we start, I’d like to introduce the new Rector of Frannie’s Cathedral, Father Benedict Sheppard.” The new Rector waved shyly, “How do you do.”

Each of the veteran priests shook hands with Benny when they were introduced. “Benny, you know George. This is Red Policy, Godfrey Church, Seymour Cash, Luvmuffin, Les Manley, and Terry Long. Are we ready to start?”

They all reached into their pockets to start the meeting when Noah came in with a little girl about nine years old: very pretty, but filthy, wearing the telltale signs of extreme poverty.

Noah explained, “Sorry I’m late, guys. This here is a little girl I met in the streets. She asked if I was a priest, and then asked if she could meet the bishop.”

Sugarloaf, bending over to greet her, said, “I’m your bishop, little girl.”

At that, the girl genuflected and kissed his ring. Sugarloaf, commenting to his brother priests, said, “Now isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, fellas?”

Angelica now knelt down and said, "May I have your blessing, Your Excellency?"

Patting her head, the bishop said, “You're so cool. And what’s your name, little one?”

While getting up, apparently disappointed, she said, “My name is Angelica.”

“Angelica. Why that’s a lovely name. So… Angelic.”

At that, Bishop Sugarloaf sat down and gestured to Angelica to sit on his lap, which she did. They spoke to each other tenderly and with great ease. “I feel just like Santa Claus.”

“Well you should. St. Nicholas was a bishop, like yourself.”

“Isn’t that the sweetest thing? But I think you’re old enough to know the truth. Santa Claus is a jolly old elf, not a bishop.”

“I have two things to ask you, Your Excellency.”

“Ask me anything, Angelica.”

“First, when I go into a church, why is it that the churches make it so hard for me to pray? I can’t even find a statue where I can talk to Our Lady, or the Tabernacle, where I can talk to Our Lord.”

After a few giggles and a loud “Aw, geez” from Godfrey, trying to find the right words to say, Bishop Sugarloaf answered, “Well, Angelica… It’s just that… you know…. Now, what would Jesus say if He were to walk into a church and everyone was kneeling at a statue? We don’t worship statues - or even Saints for that matter. Shouldn’t we rather give Our Lord a joyous atmosphere to greet Him? If this is the Lord’s party, why not make it festive?

"Besides, it was He that prayed that His disciples be one. Now, there are some of His disciples who would be offended at the statues, and the genuflections, and all of that old medieval stuff. So, Jesus wouldn’t want us to offend our separated brethren, now would He?”

Angelica looked down and did not answer.

“Would He, now Angelica?”

Again, no answer.

“Well, what was the second thing, Angelica?”

Getting off his lap, she said, “Never mind.”

“No, no, Angelica. Just because your first question is silly, doesn’t mean your second question will be. I’d love to hear your second question, Angelica. Please?”

After some time, she finally spoke up. “Your Excellency, you know that the King of France was given a command to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart. He did not, and after disobeying God for one hundred years, the once invincible monarch was stripped of his authority by the Third Estate, one hundred years later to the day. That was the prelude to his execution.

“In June of 1929, Our Lady of Fatima said to Sister Lucia that the moment has come for the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, together with all the bishops of the world. Jesus told her two years later that what befell the King of France would happen to His ministers if they disobeyed Him likewise. Your Excellency, your time is very short: what are you doing to bring about the consecration of Russia?”

There was a little bit of hubbub when she was finished. Visibly trying to keep his composure, Bishop Sugarloaf said, “Well, Angelica…” Then mocking her, he said, “Look at me. I’m scared of Phantom Jesus.”

Each of the priests then mocked her and the Fatima apparitions.

“Oh, no. The Boogie Jesus is going to get us!”

“Big bad Lucia says Jesus hates us. Oh, no!”

“Look at me. I’m the Virgin Mary. ‘Pope do this; Pope do that. Popey, listen to me.'”

“Hey prophetess of doom! Didn‘t you hear? We’re in the New Springtime.”

“Nnyah! (Raspberry)”

“God wants His precious Consecration of Russia. Does He want us to wear amulets to chase off evil spirits, too?”

“Pray your Rosary. Zap! Consecrate Russia. Zap! Do what I say. Zap!”

Amidst this mockery and laughter, Angelica ran out of the room. The only priest not joining in the mockery was one Father Benedict Sheppard. Benny was confused and a bit disgusted at their behavior, but perhaps the good influence of his brother priests will help him come around eventually.


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