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#187: The Children's Crusade
M.G. Alderman

Taedet animam meam vitae meae,
dimittam adversum me eloquium meum,
loquar in amaritudine animae meae.
Dicam Deo: Noli me condemnare:
indica mihi cur me ita iudices.
Numquid bonum tibi videtur,
si calumnieris et opprimas me,
opus manuum tuarum, et consilium impiorum adiuves?
Numquid oculi carnei tibi sunt:
aut sicut videt homo, et tu vides?
Numquid sicut dies hominis dies tui,
et anni tui, sicut humana sunt tempora,
ut quaeras iniquitatem meam,
et peccatum meum scruteris?
Et scias quia nihil impium fecerim,
cum sit nemo qui de manu tua possit eruere.
--Second Lesson, Matins of the Office of the Dead (Job x, 1-7)

Draft of a letter, unsent

University of New Orleans
January 16, 1975

Dear Mum,

I know you're always envious of me down in Georgia where "brightly
o'er the
bayou shines thy gold and blue," as our Alma Mater puts it, but trust
me,
right now I'd sooner be with you and Dadda up in Radisson [1], and no,
it's
not just because I could kill for some decent peerogeys, since the
grub down here makes for good eating. I've got jamby coming out of my
ears. Or giambalagna, as Mario down the hall insists the real New
Orleans chaps call it. He should know. But I'd sooner be up there with
you.

It's simply frustrating--everything is.

We had a Mass in Time of War at the Basilica the first day of classes.
His
Eminence presided, and you could feel the uncertainty crackling
through the
air as he mounted the pulpit for the homily. He spoke of prayers for
peace,
and the whole war business slipped in pretty subtly... I don't know.
We hear
a good bit about peace at all the masses nowadays, but I'm getting a
bit tired
of it. I'd sooner they prayed for victory, though sometimes I'm not
sure
whose. Whoever's right. It's hard to forget Ferdie was a Zahmer [2]
like me;
I remember him down the hall from me. They used to say he spent the
whole night
on the 'phone home. I used to think he was just homesick but now I
guess he
was simply busy.

Marie-Claire, ah, sweet, dark-eyed M-C, she asks me in her high,
accented voice, what can one do? [3] It's not like you can get up on
the church steps and call for the crusade. Those days are over; times
and armies and wars are a lot grayer, though I sometimes wish we were
back at Clermont, like we learned in Fr. Salzmann's church history
class. The defense of New Granada, like the siege of Old Granada. I
can't leave off being a military history student long enough even to
keep it out of my letters home...

On the other hand, Pope Adrian has called for all civilized nations to
respect
the sovereignty of their neighbors. Awfully vague, but I think he
knows what
he means. On the other hand, the older priests here aren't too keen on
us
young Cadets dashing off to help the Neogranadians. Some of the
younger ones are, though, but, of course, they haven't known war. And
Cardinal Miceli, you know, grew up back during the days of the Global
War. He has good reason to be
worried and not go barreling over the wall.

On the other hand, I wish I could, stupid romantic fool that I am, do
something for God's sake. Marie, I think, in those deep brown eyes of
hers,
she wants to do something too. Not fight, of course; she wants to do
something more worthwhile. Heal or help, something strong and
feminine. It's
a long way from here to Trois-Rivieres, but I have a feeling she's
already
switched her major to pre-Med. She was here, you know, when she heard
the
news, here, all alone, away from her parents. Lord, she's pretty, with
that
chocolate-brown hair and her olive skin, the Sacred Heart medal at her
neck...
So pure, like an angel in that white sweater of hers. You know, she's
the
only reason I joined the Knights of the Imm., though I've got plenty
more now [4].

The natives, as they say, are restless down here. Of course, we're
bristling
with would-be politicos to begin with, most of them barking mad.
Liberals,
PC, PJP, RJP, whatever all those silly initials mean. Same players as
at
home, but--lunacy seems to rise to the surface quicker. There's quite
a few
Mason fellows (I think they're the ones who like all those letters),
for
better or worse, and then there's the Nats, who haven't got a brain
between
the lot of them. A fist or two, and some silly uniforms that make them
look
like flicker-house ushers, yes. You know about Cadet Spode. Remember
him? I
think he likes them. Figures.

And then it gets even stranger. Some of the more daring students have
started
chalking the pavement with pro-war slogans, and more of them seem to
be
directed at Sir Geoffrey Gold than Mercator. The "Mexicans"--well, I
call
them Mexicans, what can one call them? I've mentioned them before,
Veronica's one of them, sort-of, though she tends to walk the line,
you know. The Confraternity of the Holy Ghost is what one group calls
themselves, the sandal-wearing minority that pins pictures of Our Lady
of Guadalupe to their
denim jackets and interrupt dorm masses with speaking in tongues as if
they're
in Jefferson or something. You know, the Cuawatawhatever Smith types
[5].
But I'm being unfair to them; they're good people, really. They may be
loopy,
but they're our loops. They simply want to stay out of the whole
thing; I
don't know if they expect to march down to Bogota
and lay down like Inder Nehru before the German troops in Hyderabad,
or simply
sit and be peaceful up here.

The "Mexie" Marianists (the Confraternity is trying to start a group
in town called Pax Mariae, I think), though, they've started chalking
their own slogans, crossing out "Protect Small Nations!" and putting
"Protect Students' Lives!" I don't know what they'll say to "Remember
Fernando," though. I don't think they've got an answer to that, not
yet. They may never.

Yesterday a fight broke out when some of the Cadets (not me, I swear,
and
Anne-Marie and Dave and Marie-Claire will vouch for me!) came back
from drill
practice and found a couple of Paxers chalking in something in front
of the
West Refectory, or at least they thought they had found some. Soon the
whole
quadrangle was in chaos, and they had to call in the University
Constabulary
to restore order. Turns out the "Mexie" was just some normalburger
from
O'Neill Hall putting "Happy Birthday Ted" in blue chalk. No "send
guns, not
boys," no "beads and bombs." Happy Birthday Ted. Oh Lord.

Life's strange. I don't know about this...I have this fear the next
thing
I'll know I'll wake up and everyone will have gone off to New Granada
for the
war, and I don't know whether I'll feel more sorry for them or for
myself. I
can't help feeling something's in the air, though. At the opening
mass, for
the offertory, the choir did a piece that M-C informs me was written
by
Tomasso Luigi de Vittoria [6]. The translation runs something like
this:

My soul is weary of my life;
I will leave my complaint upon myself;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say unto God, Do not condemn me;
show me wherefore thou contendest with me.
Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress,
that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands,
and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?
Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?
Are thy days as the days of man?
are thy years as man's days,
that thou inquirest after mine iniquity,
and searchest after my sin?
Thou knowest that I am not wicked;
and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.

M-C tells me it comes from the office of the Matins for the Dead, not
from the
mass in time of war. For a funeral, and I sometimes wonder if maybe
that's
where this is all headed.

Your son,

Hugh

[1]. Fort Radisson, capital of Indiana, and on the site of OTL
Sandusky, OH.

[2]. Slang for a resident of Zahm Hall dormitory at UNO, named for
Albert Zahm, C.S.C., a priest and a noted evolutionary biologist of
the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was later made a
Cardinal and Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Discernment of
the Divine Plan, the Vatican's science ministry. Zahm is considered
one of the most prestigious dorms on the UNO campus, which is not the
case for its OTL counterpart at Notre Dame, the less said the better.
See FAN #80.

[3]. See FAN #91-a. The lovely Marie-Claire Reynard is the hapless
Lucien's daughter.

[4]. For the Knights of the Immaculata, see FAN #80 and #115.

[5]. For Father Cuauhtemotzin Smith, a deceased Mexican priest and
stigmatic mystic, the object of a folk cult among certain sectors of
Mexican
Catholicism, see FAN #91-a, where his name was misspelled possibly due
to a passing reference to him as "Father Cuatemoc" [sic] in
"Personalism and the Modern Mexican Church(es)" by Prof. R. Sobel in
_The Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society_, January
1973.

[6]. Tomasso Luigi de Vittoria, also called Tomás Luis de Victoria
(1548?-1611), was one of the most noted composers of the Renaissance,
and
succeeded Palestrina as choirmaster of the Collegium Romanum. He was
later
appointed court chaplain to the dowager Empress María, for whom he
composed a
Requiem on her death in 1601. This particular piece was the Third
Lesson for
the Matins service which would have preceded the funeral and derives
from the
book of Job. More on the Requiem can be found at
http://www.magnificat.org.uk/vic_note.htm. The Gabrieli Consort has
also put
out a very fine historically-accurate recording of the whole work,
including
_Taedet Animam Meam_ and the _Libera Me Domine_ or Great Absolution
that would
have followed the mass. The ethnic background of the faculty at UNO
doubtlessly leads Hugo to call Victoria by the Italian form of his
name.