You were wrong, priest. My several weeks in this facility have granted me serenity, quite the opposite of what even I expected to happen. On my way here I feared the forever restlessness of my soul debating the correctness of my position on the matter of my conviction. You were quick to confirm it when we spoke right after my confinement. You said my only salvation lay in repentance. I told you I was blameless. I still admit to no sin, that I say without compunction, and God knows I have been damned and condemned to hell by many a man, even by you in your questionable adherence to the faith you preach. But I have found peace.

The companionship of the dank shadows of this cell has mollified my anger, as well as my grief at society’s enraging lack of understanding. They stink, but they stink of home, welcoming me as the father did his prodigal son.

True, I have lost everything that men would consider of value—well regard, a free existence, the love of a woman… they all left upon the rendition of the judgment. But there is peace, Father, in being free from the fines of the squeamish morality that most men are possessed, not having to think about whether an act is acceptable, if it is with reason. You will admit that a reasonable act should by all means be righteous—I noted when we spoke that you are a man of deep thought yourself, as should all men of the Church be—but don’t you see? Faith has become a tool for control. It has transformed the unlearned into automatons performing pompous but empty rituals. They call them solemn and sacred, but oh the vulgar profanity!

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Fr. De la Rosa quits Ched

I pray you do not think me evil. I meant and mean harm to no one, but think without qualm that man has been dimwitted by his own desperate quest for answers. I maintain that I am not a murderer. Not even of dreams. But society defines what it wants to see as right and just, and I was unfortunate to have been caught by its fickle conscience.

I suspect they are rejoicing now, feasting sumptuously at my defeat—my jailers, including them in whom I reposed trust but who were consumed by their own ambitions, corrupted further by engagements with infernal leeches.

I forgive them, but I also pity them.

Did I say I was at peace? Call it a resignation if you wish—a sadness that I will be erased from this life without succeeding in my goal to effect change. And if there is a reason for which God will judge my soul unfavorably, let it be for my inefficiency rather than the crime I was convicted with.

I am aware that it is the time of Advent, old priest; I have not lost my learning of the seasons. You must be busied by your ministry, but do come to see me again when you are free, if you so please. Consider this arrogant letter a plea for your indulgence. I will require only your ear and your open mind for discourse. For I trust that I have not changed in your sight as in others’, that you think I am merely misguided in my thoughts. I would like to prove you wrong, but for now, let your mission to save souls be enough reason for a visit.

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But I have one request. Tell her whom I regard so dearly that she remains to be my strength, even as I am right now content with darkness’ embrace. That I understand her repugnance when she saw who the man really was that lavished upon her such attention and care—a self-absorbed, sorry excuse for a friend, if not a lover. She was right to turn away, as I would have certainly shamed her genteel birth. It is my hope, however, that even in another lifetime we will yet walk that path between the trees majestically lit by the lanterns of the season, and enjoy, as if nothing of these woeful events has come to pass, what truly let bloom the love between us that we did not recognize—each other’s company.

I shall wait for you, priest. In the meantime, may your Christmas be meaningful.

I remain respectfully yours.

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