To: the Purposed of Rues
From: Sister Maribeth Pargeter of the Chappelarie
Brothers and Sisters,
The missive that I write to you now may be the hardest thing I have ever written. I write even as I wrestle with the Revelation of the Ten and all its myriad implications. Brother Godrick Dwyre of the Chappelarie has written of the Revelation itself, and I see no need to touch again on information that has flown – in some cases literally – on the wings of Angels across the face of Rues. Rather, I write to parse out what this means for the Faithful.
The first time I wrote to you, it was to encourage you, my brothers and sisters, not to run from Holy Doubt, and I will state again with conviction that there are doubts that are indeed Holy. Now more than ever, I believe that doubt is the way forward, and that certainty is a trap that will turn the faithful on one another in ways destructive and antithetical to the Genesori’s hopes and plans for us.
So let us reflect briefly on something I believed with complete certainty, a thing that has been turned on its head in the past season’s revelations, as well as what this thing will mean for our faith. I am speaking of the Blasphemy of Sabira Venopoulous and her recent elevation to Sainthood.
My friends, I will be completely honest. When I learned that the reawakened Lady of Mystery had chosen Professor Venopoulos for Her Saint, I was beyond incredulous. I was furious. Here was a woman who was regarded unanimously as a blasphemer. She shattered a holy relic of Jormic. Surely nothing could be more unambiguously sinful and deserving of swift retribution. How, how, how could she now be elevated to Sainthood?
It has taken me long hours of prayer and meditation to make peace with this. In making my peace, I have come to accept the following: first, that I could allow myself time to feel angry, betrayed, and confused. Is this not what I have been counseling Church and Chappelarie to do with their parishioners? I needed to give myself the same grace. Second, that I need to recognize that in matters of faith, there will always be things outside my ken. My certainty could quickly become willful ignorance and arrogance. Did I really think I knew better than a God? Now that there are ten Gods, do I really expect everything to be as it was? As I have counseled my brothers and sisters through their own struggles with the Revelation of the Ten, a recurring theme has been that a mortal cannot ever fully understand the motivations of the Divine. I must approach the new churches and their teachings with an open mind and an open heart. Third, that because this is a time of change, I should feel no shame in my past certainty; I was not wrong at the time. This is precisely what we must be open to — a Blasphemy against Jormic can be an act of great faith to Thiacris. Our churches will have to come together to recalibrate how we deal with such contradictions, and also remember that the Genesori, in their wisdom, have already created an arbiter far more impartial than any ecclesiastical body, Lady Death.
In the course of these reflections, I found myself surprised at how life may give you the tools you need to get through difficult times, often long before you need those tools. My first conversation with Brother Dwyre touched on Death as the Genesori’s arbiter. This conversation happened over five years ago, but my recollection of it brought clarity and comfort as I thought through the challenges before me. In the conversation we had, we posited that should the need arise, if, for example, Garioch felt it a person’s time to depart life, but Severrin felt their presence was still needed, Death’s judgement would be necessary, and her decision binding.
I wish to be extremely clear that I believe asking Death to settle disputes should be the Churches’ last recourse in any internecine disagreements. Among the many fears I have wrestled with over the past few months is that some differences between faiths may be irreconcilable. When that anxiety creeps in, I recall that the five gods we knew held the mantles of the five gods we will come to learn for centuries. If our gods could protect these aspects — so different from their primary purviews for so long, surely the churches can find ways to respect the practices of each god, even when conflicts arise, and I would offer the Chappelarie’s assistance in negotiating agreements between the churches as they move to new understandings of ecclesiastical law.
More than ever, beloved, we must be flexible in our faith, both as individuals and institutions; saplings who sway in the storm and are nourished by the rain, rather than stauch old trees uprooted in the gale. The True Chappelarie is with you.
Yours in Faith,