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Memories Past, Prayers Present, late evening, 15th September [CD]

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Given the number of Roman Catholics of importance to His Majesty, in particular the Duke of York (at whose insistence the chapel was furnished), it was a matter of time before Windsor became host to a Catholic chapel, small but well-furnished.

A rich altar cloth, richly adorned with gold thread, glittered in the candlelight. Over it a gilded figure of the Christ. Around the edges of the room were several carved marble pieces depicting the Stations of the Cross.

Set on one side was an ornately carved confessional of rich mahogany.

Lord Athenry had few memories as strong as the first time he was in this room. One was the look on his mother’s face when he walked for the first time after his childhood accident, pathetic limp though it may have been. The wave of guilt he felt upon realizing he had no true sorrow after learning of the passing of his father, perhaps. The anxiety and adrenaline at the May Ball as he asked for the hand of Portsmouth, certainly.

These few memories contended with his first time in this chapel, where that penitent baron had recruited him into Father Petre’s cause, the same cause as the assassins at the Pageant Flotilla, who wished him to help the would-be conspirators flee.

And, of course, how he agreed to it.

However, that omnipresent Catholic guilt wasn’t as strong as it could be, perhaps even ought to be, as Cadell Mortimer – who had last entered this chapel a baronet – returned to where his brief foray into Jesuit intrigues had begun. This was fortunate, as the viscount had truly just wanted to pray, to worship publicly as he had in France and in Whitehall before the mob had made it a dangerous proposition.

Athenry had started with a few standard prayers, and then began praying for those he knew. His wife, that she might find peace and acceptance within their new life. His two kings, that peace would hold. Beverley and Chichester, his closest friends, and Lady Toledo, with child as she was. One to St. Joseph for Lord Grey, as promised, and another for his sisters.

Minutes became an hour, then an hour and a half before the Welshman concluded, bags under his grey eyes growing heavy with exhaustion. A few last ones: St. Michael the Archangel was invoked for Lord Thomas Howard, “that he might have the strength to battle for the true faith”, and one for Louise’s son.

Finally, Cadell made to rise, but it occurred to him as he did so that – surprisingly light conscience or no – he owed an Act of Contrition, even if that was a matter that ought to be at the guidance of a priest. Far from the first time he prayed away the unclean knowing feeling of certain guilt for his role, however small, in that scheme, for supporting his Jesuit teachers even after university despite the harm they had done to the cause.

Glancing at the confessional and stifling a yawn, he recited:

“Deus meus, ex toto corde paenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor, quia peccando, non solum poenas a Te iuste statutas promeritus sum, sed praesertim quia offendi Te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum. Amen.”*

It was not that Athenry knew he must do better – that much he had already done. But, penance prescribed by a priest or no, it felt the only fitting way to honor the memory of his dream-like introduction to courtly life.

*O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

(*Put CD but I wouldn't mind a reply, just felt like writing something here!)

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