Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chapter 1

(Note--can I really write a novel?)

There are those who revile me, who battle day and night to discredit me. I, a lone Wisconsin woman who has been blessed and cursed by the gift of seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary several times.

Yes, cursed, I say. For each time, I dread it: the effort of each visit will drain me for days, so much so that I will repair to my bed. But am I allowed any rest? No, for there are the faithful, yearning for a word with me, a prayer, a touch on the forehead. They travel from all parts of the country—am I to turn them away?

Only yesterday, the doorbell rang: there stood on the stoop an almost impossibly old woman, with her grandson. They had come from Nevada, or one of those Western states.

We keep the coffee on the stove; there are always cookies at hand. Because the one sure thing is that the faithful will come, and must be fed for their efforts.

Is there any thirst as great as a spiritual thirst? For surely, every last person in need seems to come to my door! And does it occur to them that they might, if they were able, bring their own food, or even some food for the staff who work so tirelessly here? No, they appear, as if their need was some sort of blessing on the house, as if I and everyone else had nothing to do all day but await their arrival.

Well, we brought them in, the old lady and her grandson, and then it became clear—what were we to do with them? For their one plan had been to get to me, here in Necedah, Wisconsin, in the year of our Lord 1972. Yes, word had reached them that we were here, and that the Virgin had graced this place, and had chosen it to receive her divine message.

A message that few can hear, apparently, in the established Roman Catholic Church. Yes, our mother church has gone astray, just as our great nation has fallen into temptation. The sanctity of the marriage vows means nothing—and woman and men grunt and cavort like barnyard animals! And so it had been with the old lady—her daughter had had a hard life. The husband drank and beat her; they moved often, never settling down, always hoping for the best, always getting poorer. The children drifted off as soon as they were able to make messes of their own lives; they returned home when the wolf was howling at the door. And one of them, a daughter, had arrived with a baby in her arms. Tired of the responsibility that a child brings, she left alone one night. Neither grandmother nor grandson ever saw her again.

Is this the land for which our founding fathers fought? For surely, the Virgin had been by their sides, as they battled the godless British, as they carved out nation—state by state—which we would become. But we have betrayed her, yes, and we have betrayed ourselves! What woman abandons a child?

Ah, I can tell you, for my work has led me to meet many of them. They are young—nothing more than children themselves—and their mother hasn’t the will or the wit to tell them some hard truths.

Boys will be boys. If you wear that tiny, tight skirt, you’re telling him that you’re nothing better than a common slut. Shun drink, which clouds the mind and allows the devil to do his mischief. Never accept a ride alone: always have a girl friend who will go with you.

My mother made sure she knew who I was with, on those rare times I was allowed out alone with a young man. Yes, and she knew their parents, and she saw them at church, and she knew who was upstanding in the eyes of the Lord, and she knew who were trash. And was she afraid to make that distinction, and act on it! Hell no, she was as likely to tell them to their face!

She wasn’t my friend: she was my mother, and she acted on it and expected me to as well. But today? Mother is off working, since there’s no man around the place to do his duty as the Lord has seen fit to appoint it. No, the man is off somewhere—doing what men do—and the woman is alone and working and tired. And so when a girl is thirteen or fourteen, and hasn’t the sense of a week old chick, well, where is the mother?

Ah, because I know where the girl is! She has been to a bar, or a party, or maybe has just been hanging out at the soda fountain. But there are plenty of men, always! Oh yes, men are everywhere, and doing nothing, it seems, but thinking about carnal pleasure. Yes, men think of nothing else, and if there is some young fresh girl who will put out, will they say no?

Of course, they are careful, very careful never to put it like that. No, they tell the girl, they have never met a woman like her, and woman who understands them, who cares for him like she does! Not like their wives, who have settled down to become nags and let themselves go. Yes, after twenty years of marriage, a woman wants nothing more than to sit down with a piece of pie, a scoop of ice cream, and a good cup of coffee. But men! Hah, any man would give up all the food in the world to lie in sin with a thirteen-year-old girl!

Well, they are fathers themselves, most of them, but does that stop them? No, no, because their daughters are not that sort. No, their daughters would never do what some other man’s daughter is doing, which is falling for a load of bull-crap about love and a rosy future. Because always the girl will believe that the man will dump his wife, will throw everything away to get married.

But why should he? Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Ah, my mother made sure that I knew that! She never minced words, or let me think that a man was any better than an animal!

Yes, men are animals!

And like animals, they grunt and groan and they think—if they think at all—of sex, pure sex. And so the girl ends up exactly where you knew she’d end up, which is to say knocked up and crying in her mother’s arms.

My mother! She would have slapped me into the middle of next Tuesday if I had come and told her any such thing! But not these mothers, because they are kissing the child and consoling her and asking themselves what they did wrong!

Well, I could tell them that!

If they’re lucky, they come to me. For we have turned to the gravest of sins in our country, we are killing our unborn children!

Yes, slaughter, it is no less than slaughter! Millions of unborn babes, sacrificed so that girls can continue to lie in sin and fornicate in front of the eyes of the Virgin herself. Each death is a knife in the womb of the Virgin herself: she gasps in horror, she doubles in pain, she experiences each abortion as if it were She who womb was being violated! Yes, they tear the child out of the womb of the Virgin herself, as she has revealed to me countless times! She suffers, she is wracked in agony, but can she turn her back? No, like me, she has no choice, no choice but to bear the unendurable agony of seeing and feeling sin scorch her very soul!

It is no privilege, let me tell you, to receive these visitations! No, I pay dearly for them, as does the Virgin herself! For all of the sins that daily are committed in this country as it turns its back on the Lord and his commandment—every one of those sins is borne by the Virgin! Yes, and the Virgin, when she reveals herself to me, brings her grief with her. For she sorrows mightily, and cannot hide it. And so I too am cast into a pit of grief! I too suffer like the Virgin! And I, too, can do nothing but watch in horror!

Yes, if they are lucky, they come to me, these girls who are just beginning to show. These girls whose mother, if she didn’t have the backbone to keep her daughter in line, at least had the gumption to get her out of town, safe in my hands, and safe from the knives of greedy doctors who make money from killing the unborn!

Yes, they come here, to the Seven Sorrows of our Sorrowful Mother for Unwanted Infants—and yes, you can laugh all you want! Laugh, laugh! But sorrowful she is indeed, and sorrowful should you be—you who laugh at the name! And if you are fourteen and pregnant, well, you can bet you’ll be sorrowful enough to have the name the word repeated a thousand-fold, one day when you break your water, and the pains start!

For I’ll have none of that business! No, a child is not some bit of tissue to be flung away into a garbage can so that you can continue your wicked life! No, the Virgin has compelled me to stand up and be counted. To start the orphanage with the name that you scoff at! To save those children who come into the world, and to give them to good families who will raise them in the light of the Lord!

I am nothing—the merest speck of sand pressed into service in the wall that cannot hold back the rising tide of filth and sin and degradation that will soon overcome us all! But pressed into service I am, and ever shall be, and like the Virgin, I suffer for every sin and every abuse ever committed!

I cannot look the other way! No, daily I must endure it. My heart rages wildly in my breast, my breath grows shallow and gasping, the energy flees my limbs, and I am left limp and near death in my bed! But is that enough?

No, because still they come, they come in buses, on foot, by car. But the doorbell clangs on, and a new face is there—hungry for love, for enlightenment. They must meet the woman whom the Virgin has chosen to reveal herself! And they must bring their sorrows, and put them on my shoulders! I, who haven’t enough to bear!

Can I turn them from my door?

No, I must greet them; I must help them, if I can. I must give them coffee and something sweet, and I must listen to their troubles, and I must send them away. Yes, I must get them out of my living room or out of my bedroom, because you can be sure—another is on the way.


A woman from Detroit, who wants to know if the lump in her breast is cancer, and if so, should she go to the doctor? Because if I could put in a word….


A salesman from New Jersey is worried: business is down and he’s on the road a lot, and now when he comes home his wife is angry at him.


She’s a good girl, Mother, but she made a mistake. She’s not really like that, but it would kill her father if he knew….

So they come day and night, as if there were no place in the world except for Necedah, Wisconsin! As if there were a huge star hanging over my house, and the lost and troubled and afflicted could see only that the world over in the night sky! As if, like lemmings, there was nothing to do BUT come to me!

I tell you, it is unbearable. To have received the Virgin itself is almost more than can be borne, but to have to receive, to hear, to give aid to every lost soul is more than I, or any lone woman, can bear!

But bear it I must, and if the Virgin can stand unflinching in agony, so can I. I go talk to the ancient woman and the 7-year-old boy. They are dirty, their clothes are nothing but rags, and they are hungry. They have gotten here by busses, when they had the money, and then by the occasional lift, when the money ran out. They slept in fields, or knocked on farmhouse doors and asked to spend the night in the barn. They smell, and not pleasantly. And now, they are here, and they have, they think, arrived.

And what am I to do with them?