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Articles tagged "Catholicism"

White Angel

Gabriel died three times. Some insist that even his third and last passing away was no genuine death since his papier-mâché souls still decorate countless streets during the village fiestas: statues of angelswith spread-open wings, angels in fluttering robes, smiling angels, angels with blue glass eyes, angels with arms cast toward the heavens; some holding a palm leaf, some a lily, a trumpet, while others hold nothing and simply curl their fingers in an elegant pose. Streets...

Blessed Margaret

Translator’s Note: Daughter of King Béla of Hungary and his wife Maria Laskaris, Princess Margaret (1242–70) was pledged to the Church by her father if the country survived the Mongolian invasion. Margaret entered a Dominican convent at the age of three, and at the age of ten entered a convent on the island on the Danube between Pest-Buda that now bears her name. Here she was soon revered for her humility, renunciation, and good works, which later became the stuff of...

The May Crowning

For five years, Berenice waited for a chance to dematerialize her cousin, an objective she almost fulfilled the first time Dorotéia took part in the May Crowning, in the church on the square. It was an event staged on several tiers of wooden bleachers, where blue, pink, and white angels were arranged according to the vicar’s whim. The latter were the elite. Only elegant, fair-skinned, well-behaved girls got to wear white. On the top tier, suspended only by the Virgin...

An Odd Story

I glanced at the wreath against the tombstone and was amazed to read my own name on it: TO MY SECOND MOTHER—FROM KAREL HRABĚ. In our family there had never been anybody by that name. My father, Abraham Grafi, was the owner of a fairly respectable fabric store located on the oblong main square of a district town near Moravská Ostrava. There my mother, Sarah, spent her days in the cashier's booth. Every crown of the daily gross sales passed through her short...

from The Book of Words

One. Two. And three. During the first three years of school, we are required to cross our arms if we wish to rest them on our desktops when we aren't writing. Only when we are older, the teachers say, will we be permitted to lay one arm smooth and straight atop the other. When we pray, each hand rests flat against the other, no interlocking of fingers allowed. When it's time for recess, we exit the classroom one behind the other in single file, nice and slow, the teachers say....

from “Senselessness”

ONE I am not complete in the mind, said the sentence I highlighted with the yellow marker and even copied into my personal notebook, because this wasn't just any old sentence, much less some wisecrack, not by any means, but rather the sentence that stunned me most of all the sentences I read that first day on the job, the sentence that left me dumbfounded during that, my first incursion into those one thousand one hundred almost single-spaced printed pages placed on what would be my...

from Shaba Deux: Les Carnets de Mère Marie-Gertrude

Sister Marie-Gertrude is the only black nun from Kolwezi in a French-run Franciscan convent in Zaire (now once again the Democratic Republic of Congo). The time period is that of the May 1978 uprisings in Shaba after independence. The slender novel consists of entries in her journal dated from 28 May to 29 June during a particularly violent period in the region that closely resembles the beginnings of a civil war. Although the setting and the existence of numerous convents and monasteries...

Last Rites

The maid whispers, "It's Sixto, he wants to know if you can come out to see his boss, says the poor old woman won't last until morning." I listen to the news with a feigned serenity, the languidness of one who knows too well that death comes to each of us in time, while holding back the cry of HALLELUJAH that jumps to the back of my throat and stifling the joyful itch in my sex, in my prominent belly, resisting the war drums that echo in my temples which have gone gray with years...

The Devil in the Decanter

In the noble city of Burgfarrubach, a small, malicious spirit had been playing a curious prank for quite some time. Whenever a priest was called in to expel him from the house he was turning topsy-turvy, he would dupe the exorcist by fleeing the premises before his exorcism was complete. And no sooner was he in a new location when another priest would arrive with benedictions, maledictions, and conjurations, then—poof!—he played the same trick. So it was that no one had ever...

The Oracles of the Virgin

Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.--Oscar Wilde Buried inside us were the sounds of the words our parents managed to utter in the moment of intercourse before they fell silent at the wonder of budding life. Buried inside us were the sounds of the songs we heard in the cradle before our mothers had forgotten the oracles of the Virgin. Buried inside us were the sounds of the grinding of bones that blossomed as the...

from Picture, Icon, Old Testament

The story began for me when I fled a family marriage arranged by my mother's brother. In rebellion, I accepted a post in a forgotten village at the city's far perimeter. But my troubled conscience, and the longing I felt for my artist uncle, yielded the uneasy feeling that I must hold myself responsible for his sorrows, his disappointment and his pleas. He had invested all his hopes in me, having seen my attentiveness-mouth hanging open-to his projections and sketches and his...
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