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Church Ladies

Seth Samuel; December 12, 2008


Hearing a number of church-oriented terms applied to the Sabbat members in New York City, Seth strikes up a conversation with one of the apparently more knowledgeable people at the Give to Get center regarding Catholic church hierarchy, so that he gets a better idea of what a "bishop" is relative to a "priest" or "ductus."

Being around these Christians makes Seth uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Professionally, these are the people who oppose his lobby and make his job tough. On a personal note, though, Seth keeps thinking how satisfying it would be to get with one of these virgin-before-I-married-at-twenty women; just to get them off their morally high horse, just to knock them down a peg. And how easy it would be...

Influence Response:

Well then.

You hit up some G2G charity workers that you think swing toward the Catholicy end of things. They are generally chubby, good-natured, graying matrons with names like Gladys and Margery who wear hand knit cable-sweaters and occasionally call you 'hon.' This is not precisely what you had fantasized about when you thought of goodly Christian wives to defile. Still, you think Gladys is giving you the eye...

In any event, lacking any Theology on your sheet, you make the hideous faux pas of mistakenly consulting a Lutheran on your questions as to the clerical hierarchy first time around. This proves hideously awkward as you get a lengthy accounting of what Anita (red-head, ring on her finger, still foxy at 57 years young) thinks of her Catholic brethren and how "inflexible" they are, and how -God knows she's ecumenical and open-minded and all- but praying to the Virgin Mary? That rubs her the wrong way. Not that she's anyone to judge, mind you. Christ said judge not lest ye be judged.

Somehow the conversation derails itself from there and you spend half an hour listening to a mix of tacky feel-good quotations from e-mail forwards her sister sends her, concern over her nephew who's in the military, and venomous gossip as to the politics of the September bake sale - all before you at last have the name of a Catholic cohort come up. You see, Mary who works with the freezer pulls for the soup kitchen apparently would know more about that sort of thing than she would, bless her soul. She also allegedly makes a slightly better-than-mediocre rocky-road brownie dessert.

You track down Mary and after agreeing to help her re-shelve fifteen bags of frozen doughnuts, you get a crash course in what retired lay-people know regarding Vatican hierarchy. This sadly isn't an awful lot. She tells you that she's very happy that you're interested in the Church, however, and extends an invitation to come to an Advent Mass down at her church. There's going to be a pageant afterward and her new granddaughter gets to be the baby Jesus!

You try your best to decline and indicate that Christianity isn't your cup of tea and eventually escape back home and look over your new handy Catholicism notes. Congratulations! You now know the following fun Catholicism facts:

  • A Bishop is a clergyman in charge of a diocese, which is a geographical district of church territory. Some particularly big diocese (like New York!) are called Archdiocese, and they get Archbishops with some regular bishops underneath them. The Archbishop of New York is Cardinal Edward Egan.

  • Above Bishops are Cardinals. They wear red robes and elect the Pope. Mary doesn't know how it works that Egan is both a Cardinal and an Arch Bishop, but assumes that you can "double dip"

  • Then there's the Pope - He likes cats and has an ipod! He seems much more bookish than JP and writes a lot. Shame. Everyone loved JP. Not that there's anything wrong with Benedict, it's just, well... he's not pushing Vatican III any time soon.

  • Oh yes, JP stands for John Paul II. Everyone loved John Paul II.

  • A priest? They're the basic religious leaders of church services. There's a few priests to each parish (There being several parishes to each diocese). The priests at my church are Father McGranahan, Father Stevens and Father Reeher. Father Stevens is a total softie. He gives light penances to boot!

  • Only men can join the clergy. Isn't that silly? If they're not going to ordain us I don't see why they bother baptizing us, especially with the shortage of priests nowadays.

  • Ductus? No clue there, hon. Where'd you hear about them?

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