Re: Joyeuses Paques!

So Kai liked puppies and he wanted to see Michela the wolfie. He received a big smile from Agustin as a reply. How wouldn’t such a kind man be a friend?

The French Revolution was so bloody that surely it was the Devil’s work, not God’s. The fact that many of the revolutionaries were atheists and priests had been persecuted for their faith were the most eloquent arguments. So, better focus on the holiday today, and on the traditions…

Agustin wished for Michela’s happiness – this time his human beloved, not the affectionate puppy bearing her name – and his egg came to receive the other’s. Both eggs had cracked, so none of them had their wish actually happen.

”Mine cracked too, so… it counts that Easter was received well, even if our wishes might not happen. Let’s peel them off and eat them. Put here the peeled coloured shell,” he showed a piece of paper wrapping on the bottom of the basket. "And here is the salt."

It seemed the eggs were boiled well. When at home, his nurse sometimes got a few pasty ones on long gone Easter holidays. Probably having something to do with the boiling technique.

@[Killakee Cat]
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Re: Joyeuses Paques!

"Oh well-- we'll just have to make our wishes come true on our own," Kai declared with a shrug, and began peeling the shell off his egg. He was fortunate -- this shell came off in a strip, not like the shells of the eggs from the chickens at home, which came away reluctantly, often taking huge chunks of egg with it.

"Can you keep dogs here at the Monastery? Is that allowed?" he asked, sprinkling a pinch of salt onto the egg. He seemed to be warming to the priest's company, emerging out of the somber shell even as he had divested the egg of its own protective casing. "I found a dog once, back home-- I was much younger then, and the other monks and I decided to keep it."

He neglected to mention that he had been instrumental in the decision to keep the dog, which he had dubbed Scrumpy the Elder and kept in his dormitory, in a pile of straw he'd strewn with dried herbs from the monastery garden to mask the smell of unwashed fur and the dog's annoying propensity for bringing home hunks of its own excrement.

Scrumpy the Elder had not, he reflected, been the most intelligent of dogs.

The dog had been discovered a mere two days after he'd been informally adopted by the order, and the monks had ultimately been compelled to find a home for it on a nearby dairy.

"It didn't end particularly well," he said, placing the discarded eggshell in the paper the priest had indicated.
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Re: Joyeuses Paques!

Agustin smiled and nodded approvingly:

”You are right.”

It was no way to be able to make it happen on HIS own, but prayer was the best – and the most usual – way. Something he did anyway.

He took a bite from his egg, replying that he could keep dogs.

”Yes, it is allowed to have… animals in the animals’ yard. This involves dogs too, because my Michela isn’t the only one, there are two mature ones as well.”

The Benedictines were allowed milk and eggs in their meals, in moderation, except the fast days. This meant a few goats – way more economical to keep than cows, and more resistant - and some poultry were kept. Moderation was ensured by their limited number, as there could never be too much dairy or too many eggs for the whole community. There were some cats and a couple of dogs, in charge with keeping the rodent community as small as possible – because everybody knew they couldn’t be entirely exterminated.

”There is a novice, Fra’Nunziato, who takes care of the animals and he accepted her in his care too, as she is a sweetie. I am visiting her twice a day, and playing with her, because I don’t want her to forget me. I’ll bring you with me tomorrow morning. Why your attempt didn’t end well?” he further asked. ”Didn’t your monastery have any animals in the novices’ care?”

This made him ask directly something else:

”Have you joined the Benedictine order, or are you just under the elders’ observation, following a recent ordination? When have you been ordained?”

The question made him realize, before even being given the reply, that in case he hadn’t joined the Benedictine order, but was like him, waiting for a parish, the French Revolution made it impossible for him to receive such a parish in France. And if he was interested in getting roots here in Venice, Agustin could introduce him to the Patriarch and speak for him.

@Killakee Cat
word count: 339

Re: Joyeuses Paques!

"They did, but not many," Kai explained, when the other priest asked him whether there were any animals in the novices' care. "And only ones the monastery considered, ah-- functional, I suppose, to the workings of the monastery. I grew up among people for whom it was quite natural to keep pets as companions, not just sources of food. I suppose it's not very practical."

At Agustin's next question Kai nodded, halfway through chewing a mouthful of cooked egg. "Yes-- I've been ordained. Must have been more than a year ago now," he added reflectively. He'd been ordained not much sooner than the Civil Constitution of the Clergy had, according to the French government, technically defrocked him of any right to claim the title. Of course, Kai paid little attention to that -- he considered himself, as did the others who refused to take the oath, a better priest than the ones who bent the knee to bureaucrats who claimed to take precedence over God.

"Why do you ask? Is it unusual for priests to be ordained so early?" It occurred to Kai that he did not know when was the proper age to take one's vows... he, certainly, had been eager to do so as early as possible. Even as a child, he'd aspired to little else.
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Re: Joyeuses Paques!

Kai told him that the monastery leaders didn’t consider a dog to be functional. Agustin just smirked.

”Dogs, once taught properly, are protectors of the food animals,” he said. ”Together with cats, they also keep rodents at bay. My little one is learning, more playing with the poultry than actually guarding them, but I saw her mother, a good shepherd dog. So they can be practical too.”

He didn’t state openly the opinion nobody wanted to hear – that most likely that Abbott either didn’t like Kai, or he didn’t like dogs in general.

The next reply, that he was ordained about one year ago, so he must be approximately Giusseppe’s age, was followed by a question in turn. Agustin had learnt what he wanted to – including the sure fact that Kai was a Benedictine monk.

”I don’t think it is early, but the right age,” Agustin replied. ”I got ordained today. I wanted to understand if you are like me or not, and I understood it. You are a Benedictine priest, so you’ll most likely remain here forever, and I’ll visit you from time to time after I’ll get a parish to take care of. If you were recently ordained, like me, and the Benedictines were only supervising and teaching you in your first steps as a priest, I could have helped you by speaking to the Patriarch about you, because I had the honour to be acquainted to him.”

In his case, it was more about family connections. A rather common thing not only in Venice. Nobility had more ramifications which counted.

@Killakee Cat
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Re: Joyeuses Paques!

"That's true..." Kai murmured, his eyes drifting reflectively to the ceiling. It did not, indeed had never, occurred to him that the Abbott might simply have not liked him. Kai built his life around the principal that everyone liked him -- or, at least, that he could convince anyone to like him with the proper application. He didn't see why they should not. The idea that a man could dislike another man simply out of principle, out of generalized misanthropy, was utterly alien to him.

Kai listened to Agustin's explanation, a small furrow creasing his brow. He appreciated Agustin's offer to speak to the Patriarch on his behalf, and a flicker of a smile attested to it, but his eyes were pensive. "Forever?" he repeated, as though tasting the word on his tongue, and finding it bitter. "I hadn't expected to..." He trailed off uncertainly. He didn't want to offend the priest by implying he disliked San Giorgio. He didn't dislike it -- not exactly. But how could he be expected to make a home for himself in Venice, when he still considered France to be his home? He felt like a displaced rosebush trying to draw sustenance from calcified soil, slowly suffocating in the alien atmosphere.

"It's kind of you to offer -- I do appreciate it," he said, with a ghost of a smile, his eyes darting toward the priest's face and away, almost timidly, as though embarrassed to imply he didn't mean to stay in Venice any longer than he had to.

He changed the subject, his eyes brightening. "You were ordained only today? Congratulations are in order, then." He lifted his partially-eaten egg as though in a toast. "Why so late, if you don't mind my asking?"
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Re: Joyeuses Paques!

They were discussing as if they had been knowing each other for a lifetime. Agustin was always glad to make new friends, to communicate, and today more than ever he felt the need to be… less alone, to share his joy with somebody. Preferrably somebody like Kai, who understood.

The shock of a man who hoped that the revolution would be overthrown in short time was seen on his face, while he confessed that he didn't expect his exile to be forever.

"All right, it has chances to not be forever. But better expect the worse, get accustomed to it and take the steps needed to get integrated here, while hoping and praying for the best. Nobody can know if they would be ever overthrown, or, assuming it will happen, if it will happen in three months, three years or fifteen…"

He might have seemed a bit heartless when telling these bluntly to the Frenchman, but in truth he was, for one of his rare moments of not daydreaming, realistic and practical. Provisorate was a state of mind; once that overcome, the integration, the calmer state of mind, focusing on properly serving God like any priest should do, no matter where, would come.

"If it is too difficult to you to accept this, maybe thinking it like a missionary endeavour abroad would help," he suggested.

Definitely, the Venetians were not savages and not heathens, but anywhere a priest could find plenty of God's work. Especially one like Kai, who was a Benedictine. And it was the same idea: leaving one's country, in the service of God, for several years, knowing that one might return some far away day. Agustin was just trying to help Kai the best he could… and obviously he didn't succeed.

Agustin looked at him when asked why so late, without understanding.

"Easter is a big holiday and it was considered by the Patriarch of Venice as being the best opportunity for receiving new ordinations. And why do you consider it is late? I am 25, I served as a deacon here after graduating the seminary, while undertaking further theology studies. Now I am working at my dissertation for a PhD."

He wasn't to be just a country priest in a village, to content only with seminary studies. He was a Barbaro; his ascendency had given bishops and rectors of theological universities and he could be no less. The moment of vacilation inherent to many people, when he had been ready to leave everything behind and to content with the life of a countryside deacon, also teaching the parish school, was long gone and he was on the right path. A path on which he had just made a new friend today.
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