Book II: Chapter 24
I successfully stopped myself from revealing my secret vision about Pope Benedict and Dr. Ma’bus to Alan and Miriam by chugging my beer and then going to the kitchen for more.
Yet before I could even sit back down in my chair, Miriam was on to me, “Do you realize that you are proposing that a Head of the Catholic Church is part and parcel to a pawn of Satan? Shame on you, John. Even if Francis is the official head, we all know Benedict is still running the show right? So how can y–”
“John, does your vehemence against Benedict have anything to do with your grudge against The Catholics?” Alan interrupted. “Are you still bitter about the fact that they tried to martyr you for leading a sect of the Cathars? Good God, man, but that was hundreds of years ago.”
“It might as well have been yesterday to me.” I replied, remembering the events of 1235 A.D – when I was sentenced to death as part of Gregory IX’s Inquisition.
(Yet I’ll have you know, his Dominican lackeys succeeded in murdering me only because I wanted them to — unfortunately, their efforts didn’t succeed).
“John, why did you ever get mixed up in that cult?” Miriam inquired. “Did you really believe what you wrote in the Gospel of the Secret Supper?”
(Wow! The Gospel of the Secret Supper – now that’s a classic! If you can find that text, give it a good read — for entertainment purposes only, of course).
“What kind of a question is that?” I exploded on Miriam. “And coming from YOU of all people, Mary? Aren’t you little Miss I’m Tolerant of Everybody’s Beliefs?” And before she could reply, I continued, “Of course I believed the Secret Supper Gospel – hell, I believe what I wrote there more than what’s credited to me in the Christian Bible. After all, what’s so wrong about what we Cathars held to be true – namely that ‘the earth was created by Satan as a prison for souls, and that Jesus was sent by God to show us how to escape back to Heaven?’ Ha, the real problem, as you both well remember, was that my Cathars were growing in such popularity in Europe that we were replacing Catholicism! Obviously the Vatican had to do something about that – thus their creation of the Dominican order and the ruthless Inquisition.”
“John, let’s be reasonable,” Alan rebutted. “You didn’t give Pope Gregory much choice — you rejected all the sacraments, and you came up with two very sacrilegious rituals of your own. What did you expect?”
I wouldn’t give in, “Every group has its rank and file. The Rite of Consolamentum allowed us to advance our key members into the class of Perfecti. The Vatican didn’t really give a crap about that. It was Endura they hated.”
“Well, who would approve of encouraging people to deliberately commit suicide?” Miriam questioned. “Obviously YOU thought it was a shortcut to get yourself back to the spirit world. And obviously it didn’t work.” (She was right there). “Oh, John, why must you always pursue your own designs? Why can’t you delight yourself in the Lord, for if you do, He will give you the desires of your heart.” And then she looked at me with eyes that seemed to bore into my brain. “Is it because of the guilt for your sins? You make no effort to hide it; why you wear it as if it is a badge of courage! But why? Surely The Lord will punish you with the rod, but He will never take his love from you. Why not turn back to Him? Say to the Lord ‘I confess my transgressions to you.’ And He will reply, ‘You are forg—“
I could take it no more, “That’s enough! How can I dispute God’s judgment for me, you ask? Well, all He ever does is overwhelm me with misery! Justice? What is justice to Him who makes all the rules? Go take your—“
“OK! OK!” Alan tried to restore order. “John, regardless of what happened back then, and regardless of any guilt you are still dealing with, this is not the time for an intervention. We’re getting way off the subject at hand NOW. Do either of you have anything constructive to share about Benedict?”
I gave no reply – knowing I had already said too much. Instead I merely took a long pull on my drink – finishing it in a giant gulp. Then I let out a loud belch. After that, I got up, went into my kitchen, and grabbed what was left of a six pack of Sam Adams Summer Ale. (It’s not the best summertime brew, but it will do in a pinch).
When I finally returned to the living room, I could see that Alan and Miriam were still waiting on me to respond. (Oh why does this have to be so tiring all the time? I could feel every bit of my 2,000 years of age. Thanks, Lord!)
Seeing that my ‘friends’ weren’t leaving, I realized that I was going to have to play hardball. So, taking a big swig of my drink, I said after another belch, “You know, I just realized I forget to tell you something — it seems to me there IS more to Benedict than meets the eye. As it turns out, I recently had a vision about our Pope. Now, now, don’t get all excited because I can’t remember much – after all, I’m an old man.” And although I knew they didn’t buy that excuse, I pressed on before they could comment. “In any case, in my dream, I saw Benedict holding our Nails in his hands as he approached Ma’bus.”
“You saw Benedict and Ma’bus together?” Miriam asked.
“What was the event?” Alan inquired. “Were they friends or foes?”
“You’re both missing the point!” I stopped their questions. “It doesn’t matter why they were together. The important thing is that Benedict was holding the nails…” I reeled them in, “Don’t you listen?
“The Pope was HOLDING the nails… in his hands.”
Alan and Miriam looked at one another, astonished.
(Ah, the sweet taste of victory! Gee, this Summer Ale really IS good.)