Re: Lazarus

#11
Alessandro wasn’t sure why he needed all these lectures – he was just going to marry the person he loved most in the world, so why tell him all these things? Agustin said that this talk was to make sure couples knew what they were getting into and how to make the marriage work. The priest then spoke of God and how humans were not meant to live alone. Alessandro wasn’t sure he understood the next part, about how marriage was a sacrament and how it was like how Christ gave himself to the Church. It was a little more philosophical than what he was used to, and he knew he wasn’t the best Christian in the world anyway. But he wanted to marry Vittoria properly and this was the best way to do it, he knew that.

They spoke briefly about children then, but Alessandro didn’t mind them, he just wasn’t sure they’d ever have any. Vittoria might feel like a woman, but she had manly genitals and they’d have to adopt or something, to have a child. And Alessandro wasn’t sure about that yet. Life without children just appeared easier at the moment.

Next Agustin asked him to think about married couples he knew, and how he could admire them. But the few he knew, he couldn’t really admire. Not like that anyway. Not even his parents loved each other, and his brother Andrea definitely mistreated his wife. Alberto was kinder to his wife, he knew that, but it was still marriage for an alliance, not for love. Agustin said there were lessons to draw from them too though, so he wouldn’t do as they had done. The priest still thought he should befriend happily married couples and Alessandro nodded quietly.

The priest wanted Alessandro to think about another thing then… what made a marriage strong, despite the flaws in the spouses… and how could their marriage become a gift to others?

“I suppose… a marriage is strong if the partners stick together, no matter what. Support each other, are there for each other, whenever there are troubles.” Alessandro said thoughtfully. Vittoria had certainly been there for him, so she would be a good wife. Alessandro though? What had he done for her? He thought about the next question then, “And… I don’t know… a gift? I suppose we could show in public too, how we support each other and enjoy being together. That will inspire others, won’t it? If we can though… since it’s supposed to be a secret, but we can still go out together, I suppose.” He continued, hoping he’d said all the right things. He felt like he was being questioned and it felt a bit strange.

@Elena
word count: 467

Re: Lazarus

#12
In Agustin’s perception, which was the same the Church was teaching, a marriage meant, in most cases, children. A family to raise in respect for God and in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic faith. Families who didn’t have children were rare, albeit not unheard of since Bible times. But they definitely weren’t the majority. And prenuptial discussions had as purpose understanding what marriage meant, so that separations and petitions for annulment be few, and even fewer cases of abuse for the Church Courts to judge.

Of course, this was the theory, and in practice many people said at these discussions what the priests or deacons wanted to hear, forgetting it completely afterwards and behaving as naturally as possible for them. Which in some cases could mean rather beastly. Agustin didn’t fear this would happen to Alessandro and his future bride, because he didn’t seem the violent type, and his answers proved once again that their marriage was built on the right foundation.

”I like your replies and they show you’ll have a happy marriage – at least most of the times. And when it won’t be happy, you’ll succeed together to overpass any problems,” he said, with an encouraging smile. ”You will be able to go out together, especially after a while,” he said, thinking about other kinds of secret marriages than the one he couldn’t suspect. ”And once your wife will be with child, then the marriage couldn’t be hidden anyway, but it would be too late for anyone to contest it either, as long as both of you are Catholic, never married before and never having made any vow of chastity.”

These were the conditions to match for a marriage to be legal – of course, adding the detail Agustin deemed uncontestable that the marriage should have been between a man and a woman…

”Are there any details of the wedding ceremony you want to talk about? Or other aspects of your life that I can help you with?” he further asked. ”I have sensed a darkness which isn’t compatible with yourself, but it seems to surround you. Do you want that, besides praying together for your happy marriage, which we will do in the next minutes, we can get a prayer more, for a specific thing that is troubling you?”

He wasn’t sure how to help Alessandro, but he wanted to. Both for the man’s own soul and for Michela’s sake, as he was one of her friends.

@Atrice
word count: 426

Re: Lazarus

#13
Alessandro was almost happy to hear that the priest liked his replies and he thought the marriage would happy – at least most of the times. Not all of the times? It wouldn’t be a… happy marriage, always? Alessandro wasn’t quite sure what he’d expected, but he had not expected to hear it said like that. The priest went on though, about how they would be able to go out together and said the marriage could not be hidden if his wife became pregnant.

“I’m sure you’re right. I mean… if she becomes pregnant, of course. Some are barren. And I won’t fault her for not giving me a child. It won’t be a problem. I just want to love her.” Alessandro said with a smile, thinking about Vittoria and about how she’d never have a child with him. And he didn’t care too much, because love mattered more and he always kind of knew he might not have children of his own. It wasn’t something he longed for, like most other men. Alessandro was fine with being who he was; and with marrying someone who’d never be pregnant.

Agustin then wondered if there were other details Alessandro wanted to talk about, about the wedding or about his life in general. He added that he’d sensed a darkness in Alessandro and suggested praying for Alessandro’s problems. Beppin had said he should try something like that, and he nodded slowly.

“There is a darkness.” He confirmed, “I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t like to think about it. But it is there… it happened. I can’t go back. But I do want to move on.” Was that enough for a priest? He knew he should probably be entirely honest and that the priest wouldn’t tell on him, but still… he didn’t like talking about what happened. He just wanted to move on, “How do you move on from something horrible that happened, that you’d rather forget and never think about again?”

@Elena
word count: 351

Re: Lazarus

#14
Agustin wished for their marriage to be exempt of troubles. He gave his last explanations about the powers of a Christian marriage:

“There is another way to look at growth in marriage: namely, as growth in virtue," he explained how the Church was seeing this sacrament. "As a couple grows in virtue, they grow in holiness. By prayer and discipline, the family acquires those qualities that open them to God‘s love and allow them to share in his love more deeply. Couples instinctively understand this when they speak about their marriage being a means of leading each other to heaven.”

Being not among those who condemned a woman for God's will was commendable. He smiled and nodded appreciatively at Alessandro's words of not faulting her for not giving him a child. He seemed a good man. And exactly for this reason, the darkness around him didn't suit him at all. And he wanted to help him – he would have wanted to help him even if he didn’t promise it to Michela.

"You don’t like to talk about it, neither to think about it, but for not talking about your problem, it doesn't mean it disappears. It claws its place into your soul, eating it piece by piece, and the darkness grows, while your usual self changes and diminishes. If it is nothing you have done wrong, in order to need absolution for, I don't want a confession from you. I want only to help you move on. And it can be done in a few ways – each of them contributing to this."

He chose his words carefully, to apply to any situation it might be about:

"First and foremost, you may not talk about it if you don't like it. But you have to think about it and write on a paper what conclusions or lessons for life you have drawn from what happened. Be aware that if there has remained something to solve after it and you want to avoid this specifically, you can't. You won't find peace until you solve it. You can add on that paper any disjointed thought about that matter, including ideas how to go on and leave that behind you. Think about it as long as you want, but when you write it on paper, make it in one shot, as long as you need it to be. Then burn the paper as soon as you finished it, and see your past problem burning with it. Afterwards, you may never think about it."

Maybe a discussion, an encouragement, an opinion would have helped too if he wanted to talk about it. But he would definitely not be forced to. There were good results he could reach on his own, with the help of some introspection, of actively solving something resulted from that, if it was the case, and with prayers.

"I don't want to know if you don't want to tell me what it is about. It is all right. But God knows everything, and prayers do help. Besides praying together for the happiness of your marriage, which was the next thing to do anyway, lay at the feet of your patron saint and of Our Lady of the Perpetual Help your worries and your prayers to overcome the hardships you have got through. Tell her like to an understanding mother, which She is, and to your patron saint like your protecting older brother. God can test your strength in certain moments, to find you worthy, but He also gives you the means to resist temptations and overcome problems," he further added. "I think you should start, today together with me, a novena addressed to these two saints. After nine days of prayer, you will feel alleviated."

@Atrice
word count: 637

Re: Lazarus

#15
Alessandro listened quietly to Agustin, as the priest spoke of growth in marriage and growth in virtue and holiness. He rather doubted they’d grow in any such way; they weren’t all that holy or virtuous at all. But he nodded in silence at the words and then he had also told Agustin that he’d not fault his wife if she did not give him a child. Really he wouldn’t, not even if it had been an actual woman he was about to marry, but Vittoria was born a male and they’d never have children. And he didn’t mind, not at the present moment anyway.

Then Agustin had asked into Alessandro’s other problems, and he tried telling a little without telling too much… because he didn’t like to talk about or even think about it. But Agustin was right; it would not disappear just because he didn’t want to talk or think about it. It had always worked like that in the past, but this time had been worse than any time before, and he could not just not think about it. Agustin described it perfectly; that it clawed its way into his soul and ate it piece by piece. Alessio shuddered, as he had a mental image of it being Umberto that ate his soul. He was the Devil himself, that’s what he was!

Agustin said he did want Alessandro to move on and he wanted to help. He suggested to write down what lessons he might have learned and any other thought. And then he should burn it. That sounded kind of like witchcraft to Alessandro, but if it worked, he might be willing to try it. Alessandro wanted to feel better. He didn’t want to live in the dark and be alone forever. He wanted to go out. He wanted to have fun. He just… needed to get back to that. He gave Agustin a small smile after that idea, “It sounds good, the idea with writing it down and burning it. I’ll try that.” Burn the bridges and the issues. Move on, don’t look back. That’s how he thought about it.

The priest also didn’t want to ask what it was about, but said that God knew everything and that prayers could help too. He suggested prayers to a certain saint and telling his worries to them. Agustin said it might be God testing his strength, but that God would also help Alessandro overcome the problems.

“If you believe it may work, I’ll go ahead and try it. I never prayed much before though, Padre… I’m not so used to it. But I’m willing to try anything. I want to feel better.” He said, looking up at the priest; his words were practically written in his eyes. He desperately wanted to feel better and move on. And he really would do all that was asked of him to reach that goal.

@Elena
word count: 503

Re: Lazarus

#16
Agustin would never condone witchcraft. This was sure, and he would never recommend anything like this. These were ways to deal with feelings, though, which involved a mute paper when secrets were too dangerous to be conveyed to a friendly ear. Some places – not the church, of course – had additional ears and eyes where they weren’t supposed to. The same kinds of eyes and ears which fed the Venetian mouths of truth, just for a different, less Christian use. So this was the best solution, and not having spells and not invoking anyone else than, eventually, God and His saints, made it surely not be a witchcraft.

He was also practicing something slightly different than what he had recommended to Alessandro, because this replied to different needs than his: he was writing letters to Michela when he missed her the most or when he had free time and something to tell her – be it something exciting in his simple life or something he had read or heard and he had an insight about. Unlike in Alessandro’s case, these letters were meant to arrive to their recipient, sooner or later.

”Indeed, it will help. And I’d tell you to do it some time during the nine days of our novena,” he encouraged the younger man. ”Not in the last day, but before, so that the last prayers come afterwards.”

Alessandro confessed that he hadn’t prayed much before. It was up to Agustin to help him remedy this.

”You’ll have to get accustomed to praying, Alessandro. You don’t have any better friend and support than God, in any problems you may ever face. And I’ll help you by praying together, and by the fact that the novena has, besides the parts you can pray alone for, standard prayers to which I’ll give you the text. Let’s go inside the church and start praying!”
– THE END –
word count: 322
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