<div align="center">20-th of February 1792, late morning
-continued from <a href='http://mementomori1792.jcink.net/index. ... wtopic=675' rel='nofollow noopener' target='_blank'>here</a> &#8211; </div>

It was one more day of Carnival left, tomorrow. Then, the peace of Lent would come over urbi et orbi, letting people spend more time for spiritual pursuits. Fra&#8217;Agustin was ready for it. Two days ago, his world had been shaken a little by the revelation that there was much more to the concrete world than he could know and understand. That poverty and hunger were more widespread than he thought, and worse, and they didn&#8217;t have much to do with laziness or stupidity, how he had thought before.

He hoped Gabriella would pass by and keep her promise to help him serve the poor in the true Christian way, how a deacon should. And should he only care for his devoted flock? Not also for the stray sheep who got away, without knowing the Scripture&#8217;s words and God&#8217;s power?

Yesterday he had been up to another shock, that his sister's wedding, that he was waiting for so anxiously, wasn't happening anymore, and a family feud had broken down. IIlaria had cancelled the wedding, in a nervous fit, quarrelling with her mother-in-law, right the evening before the marriage, and she refused adamantly anything to do with the Venturis. She gave back the engagement ring (or threw it in someone's face, if Agustin knew her at all - most likely the mother-in-law's) and she was conveniently shipped to one of the family estates, as far away from Venice as possible, until the scandal calmed down. Because surely these days the cancelled wedding and whose blame it allegedly was, would be the discussion of the whole city. He felt pity for his favourite little sister, and he had prayed for her yesterday and this morning extensively.

The Mass was over for an hour already, and he was walking through the garden. Meditation did him good, and now the first flowers of spring, violets and crocs, had bloomed, giving hail to God in their own way. Thurenza had advised him to spend more time outside when possible, even if it meant studying, praying or any other of his regular activities.
word count: 392

It was late morning, after the Mass, when Fernand, going around with errands, had the time to pass by San Giorgio Maggiore. According to his promise, he didn&#8217;t hesitate to drop by, to visit his new friend, Fra&#8217;Agustin. He was heading to the church when the young deacon was descending its steps, so they met already outside.

&#8221;I am glad to see you before I could have even found someone to ask about you.&#8221; Fernand said. &#8221;How are you?&#8221;

He hadn&#8217;t come for the promised gift. He had come just to see the famous monastery for himself, to see his new friend and to get some spiritual help as well.

&#8221;I am just passing around, with errands, and I thought to drop by. Maybe I get to confess my sins&#8230;&#8221;

He had said whenever in need of spiritual help two days before, hadn&#8217;t he?
word count: 159

Fra’Agustin offered him a blessing, before shaking his hand in a friendly manner.

”I am fine. I have prayed yesterday and today for you and for Gabriella, adding you two to my long list of people I am praying for,” he said.

Besides his family and his fellows here in San Giorgio Maggiore, he was praying for Michela, for Thurenza and for a few others.

”And the gift I intend to offer you is a rosary with a cross, to protect you from all evil. Do you prefer one blessed in Jerusalem, or one blessed in Compostela?”

Hearing that he wanted to confess, Fra’Agustin replied immediately, with a bit of regret that he couldn’t help his new friend:

”For confessions, you would need to come again in the afternoon. I can’t take confessions, I am only a deacon.”

In the afternoon he;d find Giuseppe.
word count: 149

Fernand smiled as the priest said he had prayed for him.

”May I dare to kindly ask you to add another name on your list? Please pray for the health, safety and happiness of Margareta too.”

There had been a subtle change in his voice when pronouncing her name. He was ready to further tell Fra’Agustin about her, if he wanted to know. He was grateful hearing about the gift. He would have liked receiving any of them, but if asked for a preference, he openly told it:

”Given that my name is not Jacques, I’d say one blessed in Jerusalem, because Jesus Christ and His mother are all Christians’ protectors.”

The fact that he couldn’t take a confession didn’t disappoint Fernand too much. But it was Agustin he wanted to talk to. Besides, his afternoon would be busy aboard the ship.

”I can’t return in the afternoon. I must be aboard my ship, with all the errands done, so that others could leave as well. I had shore leave the days before, “ he explained. ”But, given that I am not necessarily into seeking absolution for my sins,” (not that he believed there would be any), ”as a deacon, can you give comfort and advice?”

He knew that confession was a Holy mystery which was given for priests only. Still, Fra’Agustin had said two days before that he’d be there for them if seeking spiritual help. If this wasn’t what Fernand was actually seeking, then what?
word count: 254

Fra’Agustin nodded approvingly, writing the name in his notebook in the same place where he had written Fernand’s and Gabriella’s. He wasn’t as curious as to ask who she was. Fernand would tell him alone if he wanted to. If not, men did keep for themselves certain things, and it was all right.

Fernand’s option about the cross and rosary made sense too. He would receive it. As he was ready to go seek it, the sailor said that he couldn’t return to meet Padre Giuseppe, and he asked Fra’Agustin a reasonable question.

”I can give comfort and advice to the best of my knowledge,” he said. ”Then go inside the church and pray until I come back with the rosary, and afterwards we’ll discuss in the garden.”

He came after a while, a simple rosary in hand, precious more through its workmanship , the place it came from and the blessings it had been through, as it was not made of silver, gold or gems.

”May God and all saints protect you at sea and on land, and keep you the same selfless knight,” he told Fernand, blessing him once more as he gave him the rosary.
word count: 205

As long as Fra’Agustin could give Fernand some advice, and help him not to get crazy, it was all good.

”This is what I need the most now, Fra’Agustin.”

The sailor followed the deacon’s advice, entering the church and praying fervently, first at the main altar, then in the adjacent chapels. He was not a fan of the Latin words of the prayers, even if he had to learn them for confirmation. He was also using plenty of words of his own, because his problems weren’t to be confined into a few learned Latin words. He prayed for the protection of the ship, for Margareta’s good health and protection, for him that God enlightened his mind and made him strong to resist to all the upcoming trials and tribulations which came with his forbidden love.

When he saw Fra’Agustin returning, he received with trembling hands the rosary, making a wide sign of the cross.

”Thank you very much, it will be cherished and kept always with me,” he said.

It wasn’t as if people really hurried to make Fernand any gifts. Besides Margareta, who had knitted him a scarf and a sweater, to be protected against cold during night watches at sea, there was the captain, with a bonus from time to time, or a free meal. Nobody else.

They went to the monastery’s garden, where the first spring flowers had started blooming, and they took a seat on a bench.

”Fra’Agustin, I don’t know even what I exactly want from you. It isn’t as if my sins could be forgiven… neither as if I can hope for anything good. I love a married woman… and I don’t know what to do about it. Not seeing her anymore would kill my interest in enjoying life. I think man should do, or want, more than work, eat and pray. I hadn’t been doing more all my life, until I met her… and she was my reason to come back. To look at her, to exchange a smile, eventually a word. I can’t wish for more, I am realistic.”

It was Fernand’s existential problem.
word count: 367

Agustin liked the way Fernand thanked him. Gratitude could have many shapes and this was one of them. He had felt a connection with the older sailor when they met, two days ago, and they talked over lunch. Now, that he came to visit, he had Agustin&#8217;s full attention. Hearing what was about, he sighed.

&#8221;How can I give you advice about a forbidden, impossible love, when I am living one too?&#8221; he wondered, for a second. Then, he realized that maybe this was exactly why God had sent Fernand to him &#8211; because he&#8217;d understand. If Agustin was of the principle to condemn the sin, not the sinner, he had known other priests who preferred to condemn the sinner louder than the sin. &#8221;The one without a sin should throw the first stone&#8230;&#8221;

He couldn&#8217;t give the advice most priests would, &#8221;You mustn&#8217;t see her again!&#8221;, because he knew well it wouldn&#8217;t help. Maybe, as Fernand said, it would help transforming a sound, strong, working man into a melancholic wreck.

&#8221;I understand,&#8221; he said. &#8221;Love is not a sin, though we are guided to pursue only those not already in wedlock... You know there is one of the ten commandments not to covet your neighbour&#8217;s wife&#8230;"

He looked into Fernand&#8217;s deep dark agate eyes, finding there a certain anguish&#8230; How did his own eyes look like, not farther than one month ago? Could HE throw the first stone?

&#8220;Unfortunately, people can&#8217;t command their hearts whom to fall in love with. I doubt falling out of love can be commanded either. It might happen in time, or not. I know these things happen. I may be preparing to be a priest, but I have not lived with my eyes closed. The important part is what you are willing to do about it, and you have said already your view. A view I can praise you for, since it doesn&#8217;t involve giving in to sin. Love can be sinful or sacred, depending what man chooses to do with his feelings. Stay away from sin, and God will protect you. The Lord has his own plans for his children, plans that you nor I can fathom."

This was exactly the advice he was following too. It had helped him to find a certain balance and peace of soul.
word count: 417

Fernand breathed a little alleviated when Fra’Agustin didn’t seem as shocked as he might have been. Well, he sort of understood that a priest had to listen to various confessions, so even if he wasn’t yet a priest, he might have heard worse things in his studies. Fra’Agustin’s words were comforting and understanding. Had he shown disgust and scolded Fernand for it, the sailor wouldn’t have held it against the deacon. He was right, he was the voice of God.

”Thank you for your understanding,” he said, deeply moved. ”I know about the Ten Commandments, but I know also that a husband shouldn’t beat his wife the sort he is doing to her,” he suddenly bursted. ”This is why I asked you to pray for God’s servant Margareta. I am not praying for love – I am praying for her good health, safety and happiness, as with such a husband one could never say when an angry blow might hit a vital place. And I know that nobody else than God can actually protect her. I saw her bruised, black eye, I saw the blue bruises at her wrists, showing how forcefully she had been grabbed and kept… maybe even tied into place. And my heart breaks.”

How else to say what was eating at him? The deacon’s next words encouraged him a little, making him throw Fra’Agustin a faint smile.

”I can only hope and pray that God’s plans involve her set free from the abuser. Otherwise, I admit I have stolen a few kisses, but nothing more. I am trying to keep away from temptation, because I don’t want to be one of the many sinners. She is too special,” he added, the said smile growing wider.
word count: 300

Fra&#8217;Agustin listened carefully. He didn&#8217;t expect thanks for understanding&#8230; and he was shocked to learn that there were husbands beating their wives so severely.

About a slap or two in a heated argument, he had heard before. That was permitted, from the head of the family, both to correct a wife and the children. But worse? He shuddered at the thought that it could happen, may God forbid it, to Ilaria or to anyone else he knew. Could it have happened to his own mother too?

&#8221;Be sure I will pray for her. And please tell her to write a reclamation, after she gets a beating with bruises that show, to the Church Tribunal, asking for legal separation. While our Church doesn&#8217;t allow a divorce, as you well know, separation is granted in such serious abuse cases,&#8221; he taught Fernand. &#8221;Until you return to me, I can further search into the books about similar trials in Venice in the past years,&#8221; he said, empathy in his voice.

Hearing the sailor&#8217;s next words, he shook his head affirmatively. How could he not sympathize with a man in somehow the same situation, albeit for different reasons?

&#8221;Keep praying. I know how it is,&#8221; he couldn&#8217;t abstain whispering. &#8221;Have you heard about courtly love? I think it is the only way for people like us, caught in such unfortunate situations, to experience something which will never be ours.&#8221;

He considered his question legitimate. He already knew about Fernand that he was French, but a fisherman&#8217;s son. Most likely he might not be able to read, Agustin assumed.
word count: 285

It was clearly a shock on the young deacon’s face when Fernand told about Margareta’s brute of a husband. He was indeed young, and in his life as a priest, especially after starting to take confessions, he’d hear a lot of things, Fernand mused. It seemed the fateful encounter with him and Gabriella a couple of days ago had been the start of losing the childish innocence for Fra’Agustin, and learning various aspects of the world which realities he had been kept away from.

He liked this kind-hearted man more and more. If all the priests were like him, there would be no injustice in the church either, he thought.

He reiterated the promise to pray for Margareta, and he taught him about the Church Courts. This could be something useful, if her sisters and him could persuade her to testify against her husband, but Margareta was terrified of the brute and he couldn’t hope much about it.

”I’ll tell her. She is terrified of him. And thank you for further looking into the matter,” he said, gratitude in his words.

Fra’Agustin’s next words surprised him greatly. If this was something he had been through, in a way or another, this was why he understood better than anyone else. And yes, love might choose someone who shouldn’t be chosen to love anybody else than God. It could happen. The difference, indeed, was what he was doing about it. And the replies were known in the world – how many priests, bishops and cardinals having godsons and female cousins of questionable relationships, against the word of God? Fortunately his friend was a honourable man, not of that kind. His lover, whom she might be, was special in her own way too. And he had thought about courtly love.

”I know. It says it was invented in Languedoc, my home. And I agree with you. I say she is my Queen Guinevere, and I am the most devoted Lancelot. I told you I am realistic that I can’t hope for anything more than a word or a smile upon return, and a meal cooked with love. Ultimately, it is more than many other men could ever get. I am lucky that I have got also her colours for the fights against the sea,” he added with a smile. ”She knitted me a sweater and a scarf, to keep me warm while at sea.”

One could read in his tone the happiness that he had got a concrete proof of her love, to hold and to cherish.
word count: 434
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