Goddess Murder, 36: The Holy Apostle Mary Sings of Her Husband; Dante II

XL. The Holy Apostle Mary Sings of Her Husband

[An excerpt from the Gaulish Chronicles as translated by S. Dugan and A. Verrazano]

When I was young, I waited for him, not knowing when he would come, or even if he would come.

I did not know what he would look like; I had forgotten his appearance after I left our Father’s house.

I dreamed of him, knowing that I loved him.

On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not.

Then he came to do his Father’s will, came to me in the bridal chamber he had prepared and beautified, saying to me, “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”

Our marriage was not merely physical, for our lovemaking was a glory that joined us into a single mind and soul,

As Moses wrote of the first man and woman, “They will become a single being,” for we were originally one being in one another when we dwelt with our Father and our Mother.

My self has become one with my true love.

When I adorned myself in beauty, I enjoyed my beloved and he loved me in our joy.

As we made love I received the seed of the life-giving spirit; so I bear good children and raise them with love.

Such is the great and perfect marvel of birth, for our marriage was made perfect by the will of the Father.

It was good to regenerate myself, to become again what I was before.

I received my divine nature from our Father for my rejuvenation, my restoration to where I had originally been.

This is the resurrection of the dead.

This is the ransom from captivity.

This is the ascent to our Father in Heaven.

Becoming young again, I will ascend, praising our Father and the brother who has rescued me.

By being born again I will be saved, not by repeated words or learned skills or knowledge in books, but by the grace of the gift of the Father.

XLI. Dante 2

Soon we were back on 101. “Dante,” I said, “what do you think is going on here? How could whoever this is know so much about these papers?”

“You’ve got a mole, probably someone you would never suspect.”

“Why do you think that?”

“You already found out that your friend, acquaintance, at that Aquinas thing was alerted instantly about the papers. So I suspect your mole is a devout Catholic, maybe a good friend of yours, but still in alliance with the right wing of the Church. He or she was contacted backstage by someone whose authority they would respect and asked to feed them information about the situation here.”

“You think this is coming from theVatican?” I asked.

“I have suspicions, not certainties. Interpol has been investigating an international drug smuggling ring. Some of the connections lead to theVatican.

“Drugs and theVatican! I find that hard to imagine!” I exclaimed.

Andy exploded with laughter. “I don’t, but we’ve been cynical about theVatican since before it was built.”

Dante gave a deep sigh. “Look, theVaticanis just a bureaucracy, no better and no worse than any other. It has its strengths and weaknesses, its saints and sinners, its triumphs and failures. We don’t have any evidence that this conspiracy goes very high up in its organization. A lot of people who work at the Vatican don’t live there.”

“You mean it’s not the Church itself that’s involved in this,” I said.

“No, I don’t think so,” Dante replied.

“What can heretical gospels have to do with drug smuggling?” I asked.

“It’s not the contents. It’s the paper. That’s why they are trying to get the originals back. Probably whoever chose the documents—I’d guess using them as a drop to transfer information—couldn’t imagine that anyone would be interested in them. What do you know about European politics?”

“That’s not one of my specialties,” I admitted.

“I figured,” he said with a snort. “How about church politics?”

“I’m supposed to know something about that—it’s my job—maybe I’m not as au courant as I’d like to think.”

“No, you’re probably not. Americans don’t see how reactionary most of the Roman church is. Most Europeans find the stability of your political party system awe-inspiring. You don’t have proportional voting. There’s no way for a third party to upset the balance of your system. In Europe, we have a plethora of tiny parties. All they need is 5 percent of the vote at any level to get a seat in a legislature. As a result, every conceivable political opinion gets represented, from the far left to the far right. Communists, Socialists, moderates, liberals, conservatives, reactionaries, crypto-Fascists, all in the same Parliament. And we have Monarchists, whose ambition is to restore the monarchy in every European nation that ever had a king or queen. We also have Catholics as one of the biggest political blocs in their own right, as well as parties that represent the largest Protestant denominations.”

“Fine,” I said. “I have heard about all that. What does it have to do with drug smuggling?”

“I think some Vatican insiders are trading services for drug money to finance their political ambitions, maybe a reactionary Catholic Monarchist party, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint which one. This Marlowe glitch has forced them out from cover, so maybe I can identify them.”

“The term ‘church politics’ means something different in Europe from what it means here,” I said. “Here it has to do with trying to finally get Vatican II fully implemented.”

“Really?” he asked. “I thought American Catholics rebelled against Vatican II and resigned en masse.”

“No, not at all.” I shook my head. “Americans generally loved the Vatican II reforms. There’s a noisy minority, the Fonzarellis, who are trying to get them rolled back.“

“And who therefore are hand in hand with the reactionary parties inEurope,” Dante added.

“Which probably helps explain what’s happening,” I said. “Vatican II decimated the hierarchy here. With the role of the laity elevated, the traditional reasons and rewards for the religious evaporated. Only a small percentage of the ordained priests resigned, but vocations dried up. All the minor seminaries closed, and many of the majors. The remaining majors function as graduate schools, not four-year colleges. When this generation of priests dies out, I don’t foresee that there will be anyone to replace them. As for sisters—almost all of them resigned. Entire orders became extinct. So however the church decides to replace the priests, they won’t be able to call on the sisters.”

“Then what are American Catholics fighting with Rome about?” Dante asked.

“Birth control,” I said.

“Oh, right,” he said. “Your problem is that you Americans are just too focused on due process.”

“We’re used to constitutional law,” I said. “When the new Constitution of the Church provided that the sexual fulfillment of the married couple is a second purpose for having sex . . .”

“Oh, God, you’d swear they’d just discovered the Earth isn’t flat,” Andy crowed.

“Yeah, that finally provided a theological justification for birth control. By about 1967 the new policies had all been worked out. The laity, the hierarchy, the theologians all expected Paul VI to issue an encyclical approving at least some form of birth control.”

“Which he didn’t do,” Dante stated.

“No, instead he decided on his own authority to continue the ban, and then he had the gall to claim that his personal opinion was infallible! At that point most American Catholics began treating the Pope as if he were a heretic, started using birth control, and ignored any other orders they disagreed with. Probably few knew that it’s been church doctrine for centuries that a Pope who ignores an edict of an ecumenical council is in a state of heresy.”

“Isn’t the definition of being a Catholic that you must do whatever the Pope says?” Andy asked.

“A belief that was specifically defined as a heresy byVaticanI,” I replied. “It never was true of all Catholics and became less so after the 60s. The Vatican II documents met the Vatican I requirements for infallibility. American Catholics regard those documents as definitive and ignore any Papal or other orders that contradict them.”

“Surely the Pope isn’t just tolerating this situation,” Dante said.

“What I’ve heard is that every year the Holy See sends a letter to the National Council of Catholic Bishops, demanding that they order all American Catholics to obey Vatican policies. And every year the bishops write back, saying that, in their professional opinion, if they tried to do that, the entire population of the American Catholic church would walk out. They conclude by saying, “We don’t believe this is the outcome you want. Please advise.”

Dante glanced into the rearview mirror. “There’s a black car behind us, coming up fast. Too fast.”

Dante sped up. The black car sped up even more, swung left, and pulled up beside us. Dante jammed on the brakes. Bullets screamed over the hood of the car. Dante pulled in behind the black car and shouted, “Get down on the floor. Now!”

Andy and I both slide down as much as possible. I could feel the car swerving right and left. Suddenly we leaped forward; there was a crash on the right side of the car, then another crash behind us.

“You can get up now,” Dante said calmly.

We sat up and looked around.

“Where are they?” I asked.

“There was a convenient railing back there. They’re down in a gulley,” Dante replied.

“Jesus, Dante, was that an Italian police trick?”

“No, that’s just how we drive in Italy. Good thing you two weren’t driving back by yourselves.”

“Thank you, Gabriel,” Andy said.

“I prefer Dante,” he said.

“No, I mean Gabriel,” she replied. “He’s in charge of transportation.”

Dante gave her a puzzled look.

“Who the hell was that?” I asked.

“Like Marcello said, you have no idea who you’ve pissed off, Edwards,” he replied

“I have some idea,” she said.

“Yeah?” Dante said.

“It’s an old vendetta,” she said.

“Italian politics always have a history dragging along,” he agreed.

“What vendetta?” I asked.

“My family has been involved in Italian politics for centuries, going back at least through the Renaissance. The Peregrinos have been fighting with the Medicis, the Borgias, and so on ever since then. Recently it has settled down to economic warfare rather than assassination, but one never knows. Some of those people are la cosa nostra, even though Toscani and Sicilians generally don’t have much use for each other. I suspect what’s happening here is connected to one of those factions, though I can’t figure out yet which one.”

“Is that why you were frightened when you realized that they knew who you were?”

“Yes, we try to keep a low profile, but sometimes they can figure out where we are. Of course, we do have some advantages now in dealing with them.”

“What are those?”

“I’ll have to explain that later.”


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