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Enchanting Lustful Lies - Part III
Faith

The Crossroads at 23rd Street

 

"For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22)

 

Errors can be corrected and trends reversed if only our faith and determination does not fail us in our earnest quest for the truth.

(Fiction)

Part III ... The Struggle for Power

The Struggle

Maahes was well pleased with his decision. It was as Caesar said when he took his armies and crossed the Rubicon river on his way to Rome on January 10, 49 BC … “Alea iacta est“ (the die is cast)! There was no turning back now. Nothing and no one would stand in the way, Maahes’s way.

Daemon was the youngest of the lay brothers within the community and was, regrettably, treated rather harshly as a candidate. The strict initiation process was adopted by the MHOSJ to test the “will and determination” of an initiate to shoulder the heavy responsibilities associated with “saving souls”.

Daemon had come from a wealthy family but had renounced the “life of luxury” he’d grown accustomed to for the rudimentary, simplistic life-style of a monastic; yearning to serve God and to directly assist in bringing others to the salvation he believed he was heading towards. It was an honorable and highly commendable desire. The intent of his heart, at the beginning, was pure.

But all that was once pure in Daemon’s heart was about to change just as the “times” themselves were changing.

The “ancient ones”, as Daemon referred to the aging monks in the community, were slow to recognize that with the advent of the internet their message, the newsletter, the “Voice Crying in the Wilderness” would reach a far larger, massive, international audience if they would but let go of “tradition” (i.e. using a printing press and snail-mail) and consider upgrading that portion of the ministry to a more modern “digital” cost effective platform.

The idea was met with stiff resistance by the “ancient ones” as not one of them possessed the required skills for creating and managing a website with an incorporated subscriber e-mailing list let alone understanding how it worked. Because of that lack of knowledge they would have to helplessly rely on the initiate, Daemon, who was not yet sufficiently tested, professed and accepted into their community.

For the “ancient ones” that was unacceptable, not to mention embarrassing. Foremost in their “fears” was having to come to grips with the stark reality that they had outlived their usefulness. The “truth” that they relished for years, that they were indeed experts in the use of “outdated dissemination tools” would come to an end. The “fame” they had enjoyed within the community would be short lived and they would find themselves relegated to a position that could be interpreted as simply being “in the way”, if Daemon’s proposal was accepted by Joseph. So they colluded in secret together not wanting or desiring such a radical change to be incorporated into their comfortable, traditional “business” plan.

The revolutionary idea was presented to Joseph who saw merit in the proposition but opted not to take an “executive” decision on the matter but rather officially present it to the community for a democratic vote. Every one appeared to listen with interest and agreed that voting on the idea was the best option. But when the ballots were submitted and counted there was only 1 vote cast in favor of bringing the ministry into the 20th century and 11 votes cast supporting maintaining the community’s traditional status quo. There was one abstention in the voting process, that being Joseph. "Tradition" had won out, once again, over “progressive change”.

Daemon couldn’t believe it and despised on his “brothers” for their inane short sightedness and lack of faith. To him, the rejection of progress was like saying that there was no need of placing plumbing into the monastery because going to the well for water and the use of an “outhouse” in the backyard, for relieve oneself, was still a proven, viable and effectively methodology.

The “ancient ones’” lack of vision was infuriating. Keeping things as they were was ridiculous, ludicrous and downright ignorant. The situation with the “ancient ones” would have to be dealt with. Either they would be convinced to “see the light”, embracing relevant change or they would be eliminated from the community one at a time, for the sake of the community and its duty to the ministry, as a whole.

Maahes was totally beside himself with pleasure at seeing the rancor, antipathy, hatred welling up in Daemon’s heart. It was an obscure, yet proud, sense of joy that rose up to see the vengeful plan taking form within the young initiate’s mind. It would be gratifying, as well as amusing, to help him remove those who now stood in the way. It would be simple. He would visit Daemon in his sleep and expose one by one the individual hidden secrets of those who had stood against the initiate. After that he would sit back and watch letting “fate” decide on the outcome.

Proverbs 6:16-19

(16) "These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him:"

(17) "A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,"

(18) "An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,"

(19) "A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."

Maahes contemplated the order he’d use in exposing the “ancient ones” who were all guilty, at one time or another, of committing at least one of “the Seven Deadly Sins”; which they had yet to confess, do penance and receive absolution for. “Oh this is going to be fun”, he mused.

Lust

"The Seven Deadly Sins" can be traced back to the 4th century when a monk named Evagrius Ponticus generated a list of sins, likely stemming from problems he saw in his own day.

His list included the following sins: gluttony, fornication/prostitution, greed, pride, sadness (i.e. envy – sadness at another’s good fortune), wrath, boasting (i.e. a verbal proclamation of inner pride), and dejection (i.e. gloominess, depression). Evagrius' list proved to have staying power in the Church and was translated from Greek into Latin and used for educational and devotional purposes.

In 590 Pope Gregory I revised Evagrius’ list, although the essence remained the same. Gregory’s list included sloth (a combination of three of the sins on Evagrius’ list), greed, pride, lust, gluttony, wrath, and added envy. Gregory also emphasized an order to the list:

(1) Lust,

(2) Gluttony,

(3) Greed,

(4) Sloth,

(5) Wrath,

(6) Envy, and

(7) Pride

Within a year’s time 5 of the 11 professed “brothers” were exposed to Joseph for the “mortal sins” they had or were still committing together or separately and they were expunged rudely and immediately from the community. 3 others left shortly after before their secrets were found out. Joseph had “zero” tolerance for the sin of “Lust”, associated with sexual misconduct, as he was physically incapable of ever understanding the unbridled “passion” associated with the sin itself.

It was amazing in itself that with only 3 professed brothers and the initiate, Daemon, left in the monastery the work continued unabated. They were now 5 in total, including Joseph, to carry out God’s will. “The Voice Crying in the Wilderness” was still being churned out, using the printing press, and distributed to their subscribers on time. That part of the ministry remained intact and was flourishing, bringing into the community more funds than ever before.

Yet, news of the reduction in the number of professed brothers within the community quickly reached the eyes and ears of the community’s parishioners. A multitude of vicious rumors circulated, none of them good, and as a result the number of regular parishioners declined. Their absence from the Sunday service was not only noticeable in attendance numbers but also in donations associated with the passing of the collection box. Quick and immediate action had to be taken; Joseph thought and shared his concern overtly with Maahes in his prayers seeking guidance on what should be done.

“The flock” was scattering once again; which pleased Maahes to no end though he kept that exhilarating realization all to himself. Instead he laid the groundwork for the next phase which was replacing Joseph once and for all. Pastoral Care needed to be eliminated altogether from the community and the crippled Superior would never agree to such a drastic change in the MHOSJ.

“The parishioners need a sign, Joseph. They need reassurance that you’re the chosen one set apart to care for and lead them to salvation. They have been poisoned with the idea that the seeds of Satan have somehow been sown and are taking root within the spiritual soil of the community. You must reassert yourself as Christ’s anointed. I suggested that we take a page out of the book on the life of Saint Benedict and use it in order to restore the calm, the faith, the trust of the existing parishioners as well as increase your notoriety which will, without a doubt, result in a substantial increase in the size of your flock.”

Dialogues – Pope Gregory I

Chapter III: How Benedict, by the sign of the Holy Cross, broke a drinking glass in pieces

… Not far from the place where he remained there was a monastery, the Abbot whereof was dead; whereupon the whole Convent came unto the venerable man Benedict, entreating him the very earnestly that he would vouchsafe to take upon him the charge and government pf their Abbey; long time he denied them, saying that their manners were divers from his, and therefore that they should never agree together; yet at length, overcome with their entreaty, he gave his consent.

Having now taken upon him the charge of the Abbey, he took order that regular life should be observed, so that none of them could, as before they used, through unlawful acts decline from the path of holy conversation, either on the one side or on the other; which the monks perceiving, they fell into a great rage, accusing themselves that ever they desired him to be their Abbot, seeing their crooked conditions could not endure his virtuous kind of government; and therefore when they saw that under him they could not live in unlawful sort, and were loath to leave their former conversation, and found it hard to be enforced with old minds to meditate and think upon new things, and because the life of virtuous men is always grievous to those that be of wicked conditions, some of them began to devise, how they might rid him out of the way; and therefore, taking counsel together, they agreed to poison his wine; which being done, and the glass wherein that wine was, according to the custom, offered to the Abbot to bless, he, putting forth his hand, made the sign of the cross and straightway the glass, that was holden far off, brake in pieces, as though the sign of the cross had been a stone thrown against it; upon which accident the man of God by and by perceived that the glass had in it the drink of death …

The enactment of the ruse, whispered into the receptive ears of a couple of renowned local area “chitchats”, did the trick. The “skill of deceit” was masterfully executed obtaining the desired results. The plan worked like magic. The rumors surrounding why 8 “brothers” had left the community were transfigured into a palpable legend of how Joseph had be saved from being poisoned by the miraculous shattering of a wine glass he’d been offered by one of the adepts.

When questioned about the rumors of the incident by his parishioners Joseph would shrug it off as petty “chitchat” declaring the story as nothing more than an exaggeration of what had actually transpired. Maahes and Joseph both knew that the parishioners and locals would nevertheless be inclined to believe that Joseph was just being his "old humble self" and that God had, in fact, directly intervened to save his life and his ministry.

Yet, Joseph was truly ashamed and aggrieved by the act of deceit he’d committed against his “flock” and solemnly prayed that God would be merciful in forgiving him the trespass. “Glory be to God”.

An Act of Contrition

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.”

Daemon found himself disenchanted, revolted, disgusted by the blatant deception orchestrated by Joseph, the MHOSJ Abbot Superior, the man entrusted with the sacred role of representing Christ in the community. He was disillusioned and suffered painfully from sadness upon hearing the story that he knew it was an outright lie. How could a man of God stoop so low as to initiate such an obvious con against Christ’s flock? The answer was clear and simple … a man of God would not, could not do such a thing.

The emotional turmoil that followed took its toll on the young initiate. The feeling of disappointment rose to the height of depression once he fully realized that the MHOSJ was little more than an enchanting lustful lie. Daemon felt betrayed, humiliated, used and abused and was justified in harboring that belief and the resentment which accompanied it, for it was true. Joseph was more than handicapped, much more. He was a charlatan, a fraud, a theological carpetbagger and he would now have hell to pay.

"For if you forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your offenses." - (Mt 6:14-15)

But, Daemon would not / could not find it in his heart to pardon Joseph for the needless shame he'd inflicted upon the "brothers" of the community as well as the ministry itself. God will not be mocked.

Maahes roared with laughter.

 

Part IV ... The Changing of the Guard

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