Hey, Marc—dinner is now done, and we’ve done the hour of “recreation” that is mandatory after dinner. Mandatory, yes, but is it recreation? Well, if hearing the “Blessed Mother” recite the goriest passages of the Old Testament is your idea of fun, then it’s a laugh riot.
Today we got the story of Lot and his wife, and I swear, the old bitch was fairly drooling when the wife turned to salt. Well, I had gone around about this story with Father Peter, back in those days when I only went to church because of him. And we used to debate about scripture a lot, since most of what I read in the Bible turned my stomach. As did the Blessed Mother’s version, since guess what? It’s the narrowest view of what happened possible.
And so, God turned Lot’s wife to a pillar of salt for disobedience. She had been warned! She knew that it was a sin to look back! She understood that the Lord was destroying Sodom for the sins that they had practiced—I swear, the Blessed Mother looked right at me as she was saying it. So the angels led Lot and his wife and his daughters away—damn nice of them, in the Blessed Mother’s view—but was that enough? No, Lot wants to hang out at another village, so the angels say yes to that, but is even that enough? Of course not, since stupid Mrs. Lot—she never even gets a name—decides to look back. And had she been told? Didn’t she know what was in store for her? Of course, but she’s a complete ninny, so she looks back, and is it the angels fault? No—it couldn’t be clearer. And hadn’t they warned her? Of course!
Well, I’d been around and around about that with Father Peter—so I raised my hand, and asked what about the Jewish legend that states that Lot’s wife was merely concerned with the husbands of her daughters: were they to be destroyed as well?
“Of course, our little Missy has some fancy explanation for something as clear as the nose on your face! No—the wife had been given a second chance (probably more than she deserved), and she flubbed it. She had only to obey the angels, to do as God directed her, and she was too weak, too proud, too foolish to do the simple thing. For God commands us to look always forward, to point our gaze to heaven and the heavenly delights. Never to look sideways, to question, to look back in regret. As you should do: you too have been given second chances. Your children, begotten in lust and sin in unholy beds, your children will be given the grace of a Christian home. They’ll be raised in the arms of the holy mother church, and never know that their mothers and fathers rutted and groped in the back seat of the Ford. Yes—little though you deserve it—you two have been led out of Sodom to a new life in the mountains. May you have more sense than Lot’s wife! May none of you look back!”
Well, Father Peter and I had talked a lot (no pun intended) about Sodom and Gomorrah, and it was Father’s view that it had nothing to do with homosexuality. Instead, he said it was about the failure to give hospitality to strangers which, in a desert society, was more than just a sin, it was a potential life sentence. So I asked the Blessed Mother about that.
“Heresy,” she spat at me. “The meaning couldn’t be clearer. Men were lying with men, as they did with women! Unnatural acts! Filth! Crimes against nature! And you have the gall, young lady, to put some fancy interpretation on a story that couldn’t be clearer! Oh, the devil himself must be laughing in every chamber of hell, just hearing you spout such ignorant nonsense! And don’t tell me that a priest put such notions in your head! Well do I know what sort of priest that was! A priest who doesn’t even know the Tridentine mass, a priest who gives the host into the hand of the supplicant, instead of placing it on the tongue! A priest who faces the congregation during mass, instead of leading the congregation with himself facing the cross! Oh yes, every one of those ‘reforms’ of Vatican II were nothing more than the devil’s work! The Virgin weeps when she appears, for her holy church, and for the pollution that has crept into it! The priests who have gone astray, gone over to the Reds, given themselves not to Jesus and the Virgin but to Stalin and the commies! Yes, their infiltration is nearly complete—the holy church itself is toppling on the brink! Only the Virgin has stayed the wrathful hand of Jesus himself, so great is his anger, so deep his pain. She begs him, she stays his hand, but one day he will smite us, his wrath will pour down each and every one of us! Fire, brimstone, await each of us, save those who have obeyed his sacred commands, as dictated by the Blessed Virgin! She alone can save us! She alone promises eternal salvation, it we direct ourselves to her, if we pray the Rosary, if we keep the First Saturdays, if we honor the commandments, and pray for the preservation of the Holy Roman Church.
Yes, few of us will survive his wrath! Look at you—just look at you!”
Spittle had formed on the sides of her lips; I swear, if she had opened her mouth, we would see that she had been frothing. Worse, she began pacing as she spoke, and making wild movements of her arms, as if she were fighting the devil and all his demons. But just when I though nothing worse could happen, she turned to me, approached me, and bore through me with her eyes. I swear, they turned red the angrier she got.
“You!” she shrieked, “YOU DARE TO COME HERE, to lecture a woman like me about the Bible! I, who have suffered each Advent and each Holy Week the passion of the cross, just as Jesus did! Yes, they have seen me, as the nails pierce my hands, as they are driven through my feet. I writhe, I scream, but still the virgin sends this pain, this suffering, so that I never stop insisting on the truth! The truth that the church itself denies! Oh, how they have scorned me! They tell me the Virgin never appeared. They tell me it was a figment of my imagination! Hah! 100,000 people saw it for themselves, that August day in 1950! One hundred thousand people, come here to this simple farmhouse in Necedah, Wisconsin—and what did they see? The sun—it turned in the sky, it shot off flares, it dimmed and then shone brightly! The crucifixes? They turned gold, right in the plain sight of everybody. The birds fell silent in the air, and the presence of the Virgin Mary was felt by everyone! Yes, SHE had graced us with her presence, and what did the ‘church’ say? That the divine words coming out of my mouth were nothing but a simple country woman’s words! That the sun, the crucifixes, the sign that everybody felt were imaginations, hallucinations, mass hysteria. That only the priests can give us the word of God!”
She got even closer.
“Well, I can tell you where YOU are headed, little Missy! Yes, you, who rutted through the dirt like a barnyard animal—who grunted and groaned as a man you barely knew, and who would never dream of uniting with you in Holy Matrimony, you pathetic slut, you took his seed and you wallowed in the filth, and you cursed the Virgin and Jesus and all the saints in heaven, who wept for you as you flung your dirt in their faces!”
She was panting—I could hear her gasp for breath, and I could almost feel her heart racing. Her eyes had narrowed, and she spoke faster and faster. As she spoke, her voice got louder, and rose in pitch as well. At the end, she was a shrieking banshee. And then, suddenly, after feeling the terror rising in my, there was nothing. I knew what I had to do.
“You’re a fucking lunatic,” I told her. Then I slapped her, and then I went to my room.