When Veitena arrived home after the meeting, she could hardly control her anger. She would have to subdue it; otherwise, it would be impossible to act rationally and design strategies to implement the required actions. So much time worrying with Elena and there is someone else operating in the shadows right under my nose! I have to find out who is the woman doing those things to Lorenzo!
The anger pulsated in cycles: against Father Joseph, against Lorenzo, against the unknown woman, back to Father Joseph and so on, impairing her reasoning. She could never expect to feel such rage against the priest. He humiliated me in front of Lorenzo!
Veitena Marces perceived what she considered a humiliation from him. But she had been completely blind to how she had insulted Father Joseph in the first place.
When Father Joseph returned to his modest home, an outbuilding of the church that comprised a bedroom, a bathroom, a small kitchen and a living room that he nearly transformed in a library, he felt his usual vitality drained. Under profound reflection, he noticed he would have to prepare the homily for the next Sunday with mindfulness, in order not to allow the humanity in him to speak louder than the priest he was. Disappointment with a churchgoer could not affect his faith in people who stepped into his church every day, Sundays only or once in a while. If I preach a homily without faith in my religion or in the people who come to listen to me, then, in the following day, I shall abandon priesthood!
Veitena’s words after those verses declaimed by Lorenzo had shocked him and the worse was that she did not seem to have noticed it. And she attends church every day... At the moment in which Lorenzo finished to declaim ‘do not stir up, nor awaken love, until it so desires…’ he was truly amazed by Lorenzo’s expression. Something is beautifully different in that man… Afterwards, the comment of Veitena came as a dagger:
“Well, from what I see here it seems that the Parish of Candles of Green Palms soon will modernize its catechesis with a guide to oral sex from the Bible itself! If you include it in the Sunday homilies, it will be a success, Father Joseph, a new building three times as big won’t be enough…”
The men looked at Veitena in shock. Lorenzo was incapable of saying anything. Father Joseph, pale, looked at her in disbelief. The silence in the room felt even worse than when Lorenzo left to fetch the Bible.
After those minutes of astonishment, Father Joseph politely answered:
“Dona Veitena, you were raised Catholic and you attend church service every single day for at least fifty years, even when you travel to Europe in countries whose language you do not speak; you married, you had one daughter and later, one son. Let me ask you, how many times you heard directions or guidance on how to conceive your babies inside any church building, including the church itself, layperson teaching rooms or church auditoriums?”
He stared her. She thought it was a rhetorical question. He made clear it was not:
“I have all night, I believe Lorenzo too and I’ll give you all the time you need to answer.” he said patiently.
Those minutes had become unbearable. Veitena had to control herself in order not to stand up and run from that place. But if she ran, she would acknowledge her failure in recovering what was hers under the authority of God. She had to resist and think on some way out of that nightmare. Seconds later, she had droplets of sweat on her forehead. Finally, she said:
“I never had such kind of guidance in any church room, Father.”
Tenderly, the priest replied:
“You see? The Church helps people in many different manners without the need to enter in details. It is enough for the church to reinforce ties of true love and commitment; how each couple will operationalize their life falls in the sphere of private decisions. The same applies to the Song of Songs: the book exists, it is a masterpiece, it is not used in liturgies very much, but the messages of wisdom for those who want to learn from it do exist.” he made a brief pause to look to Lorenzo and back to her before he proceeded, “Worldwide, babies come to this world: some, in a nest of love and tenderness with or without religion; other ones, though, come in a setting of vulgarity, violence, abuses and addictions that impair judgement and planning, with or without religion. It is the same case for the messages that you had hacked: there are too few elements to determine whether they are or are not pornography from the outside! Particularly, Dona Veitena, I’d add that the only absurd I saw here tonight was in the way by which messages that do not belong to you have been obtained. I know a minimum of civil rights and I tell you: don’t you ever use a sacrament of the Catholic Church to justify a crime against any person! From what I saw here, there are felonies I can name if you wish. Lorenzo has the right to seek a better life as you have the right to try to fix your marriage, but do it honestly under the rules of your faith, whatever it is!”
Late that night, while expecting for Elena to arrive, Lorenzo had the words of Father Joseph vividly in his mind in reply to the insult from Veitena. He wondered why Father Joseph said ‘…do it honestly under the rules of your faith, WHATEVER it is’. Did Veitena confess to make use of witchcraft to Father Joseph!?
Macumba is the Brazilian name for any witchcraft intended to achieve personal gains. Lorenzo suspected Veitena made use of it again a year ago to keep him married when, for the first time, Lorenzo mentioned divorce, a complete disaster. Veitena asked what did she do wrong and he only summarized many of the things he had told her over the last twenty years. Crying copiously, she asked if there was other woman and he mentioned the friendship that had become very important in his life during the last year because he was unable to lie. Veitena acted as an understanding humble woman and he told everything about Elena. Veitena begged him to stay and she would fix everything, while he answered he wanted to leave.
The following day, the whole family of Lorenzo in São Paulo knew that he was in love with a 'marriage wrecking woman without religion'. From his mother to his sister, son and daughter, almost everybody disapproved it, making a hell of his life, calling him every day in the middle of working days threatening to prohibit Lorenzo’s visits to his grandchildren if he insisted in having a relationship with an atheist. Before love with Elena, there was friendship. When he opened himself to her about the hell his life had become, Elena was the first to tell that family was more important and she could not feel fine being responsible for Lorenzo’s banishment from his grandchildren’s lives. He decided to continue married and no more contact had been made for some time.
After some weeks, Lorenzo was deeply unhappy and it was impossible to disguise it. It was when weird requests of Veitena started, under outbursts of screaming if he refused: Lorenzo had to delete all e-mails and close the account used for contacting Elena even without further contacts; he had to drive to the coast with Veitena to throw at the sea some of their printed e-mails, the most beautiful ones that he kept in paper version. Suddenly, Veitena started expressing innuendos that soon the woman who tried to separate them would not bother anymore. In one of his confessions to Father Joseph, Lorenzo expressed his suspicions of witchcraft and his fear of it, to which the priest answered:
“Your true faith will determine if you will believe in God or in witchcraft; one cannot believe truly in both, Lorenzo.”
The next such innuendo of Veitena was that Elena would be seriously sick and dead within thirty days. Lorenzo did not resist such strike. Desperate, he had to help Elena, save her, take her to doctors. Immediately, he informed Veitena about his irrevocable decision to divorce, leaving the house immediately, staying with Elena until the first separation.
The doorbell rang, dissipating Lorenzo’s memories of the last day as a married man. Magic, all my fears vanish as soon as Elena is here!
Concern was a constant in Elena’s life over the last twelve months. But whenever she heard the click, opening the main entrance of that building, any worry immediately became a slight level of noise underlying a huge happiness.