Friday, February 11, 2011

Mothers and Sons XVII

“Ah, here is my novice,” Father Roberto purred, as Servi carried the boy into the rectory. The old priest had the milk and cookies out. Servi gently placed the sleeping boy on a bench.

“An American?” the priest asked, and Servi introduced himself. “Your name is an old Jewish-Italian name, I’m sure you are aware. It’s been found on inscriptions on the via Antica Appia. So odd that you are a friend of Senora Sacredotte. There is another Italian-Jewish name… a translation of priest, kohen, in Hebrew. Our little Paulo’s ancestors administered to God in the Temple in Jerusalem,” the Father pointed to the sleeping boy. His finger trembled.

Servi began to tell the priest little Paulo’s story of Cosmo Ricchetti. The priest listened in grave silence.

“The boy has never told me such a thing,” he said when Servi was finished. “And he is too young to go to confession. He must be telling fibs to impress you.” Then the priest removed his glasses. All around his eyes were webs of wrinkles. “Of course, Claudia has told me about her life. I don’t doubt it’s taken its toll on the little fellow. Perhaps it’s what the psychologists call wish-fulfillment. He’d rather be Cosmo Ricchetti than Paulo Sacredotti. It is probably his way of coping…”

“No one copes…” a woman’s voice interrupted them. It was Claudia Sacerdotte, standing behind with her arms akimbo. “We all move from crisis to crisis and no one copes with it and God doesn’t give a damn.”

“It is you who doesn’t give a damn, Claudia,” Father Roberto answered softly. “If you don’t care about how you live, then how can God help you? If you don’t do the things that you can do to fix your life, how can you expect God to do the work for you? How can God fix what is in His control if you don’t fix what is in your own?”

“I hear you two boys played the truants today,” Claudia said, addressing Servi, ignoring Father Roberto. “Where did you go, on some adolescent rite of passage? To a dirty movie? Or did you go to one of those filthy whores on the via Salaria to lose your virginity?”

“No,” Servi answered. “I took him to the Sistine Chapel.”

“Well,” Claudia grimaced, “that is nearly the same. All those nude mannerist bodies writhing around in either ecstasy or torture, who can tell the difference. Certainly not me… Paulo,” she said in a raised voice. “Get up… we’re going home.”

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