I’m delighted to welcome Fra’ Roberto to the blog today. He comes from the pages of The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard and is sharing an excerpt from his diary. Take it away, Fra’.
FRA’ ROBERTO’S DIARY
Today we welcomed two new postulants to the friary.
As always, I instructed Fra’ Amadeo that I wanted to meet them in person before I learned anything about their backgrounds. I prefer to form my initial opinions of people purely on their own merits, and this is much easier if my mind is not cluttered by any preconceptions.
The new postulants are called Gianni and Sebastiano. From their appearance, I divined that they are both around twenty years of age. Gianni is short and slight, and despite his cheerful demeanour, he looked (to my mind at least) as though he bore the signs of a deprived and impoverished past. Sebastiano, by contrast, is tall, solid in frame, and appeared well-nourished and well-cared-for, yet I discerned in him traces of an indefinable sadness. These differences aside, both of them looked nervous and bewildered as they stood before me in their postulants’ robes. But perhaps this is only to be expected; they stand on the threshold of a whole new mode of life, completely different from whatever they might have previously known.
One reason for such nervousness became evident during our brief conversation. It transpired that Sebastiano had his own preconceptions about life in holy orders. He was familiar with the Rule of Saint Benedict and the principles of poverty, chastity and obedience, but like so many postulants before him, he appeared to hold the belief that this would entail long periods of discomfort and self-denial.
It continues to trouble me that those outside the cloister should have this unfavourable (and incorrect) perception of monastic life. Sebastiano appeared genuinely surprised when I explained that we in the Order of Saint Francis do not condone unnecessary fasting, sleep deprivation or self-chastisement. As our founder has decreed, our purpose is to serve – and none of these practices are conducive to full and proper service to God or to our fellow men.
I sense that both of these young men, but especially Sebastiano, have come to us under difficult, perchance even troubled, circumstances. Tomorrow I shall ask Fra’ Amadeo to tell me what he knows of their stories. In the meantime, I shall say an extra prayer for each of them at Completorium. May the Lord Almighty grant them a quiet night. Amen.
I’ve read your story, Fra’. It’s so much more satisfying than Shakespeare’s version. I’ll never understand why the Bard thought to change it as he did…
About The Ghostly Father
Romeo & Juliet – was this what really happened?
When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome…
A favourite classic story with a major new twist.
About Sue Barnard
Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.
Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.
Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. This was followed in July 2014 by her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t. Her third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All (a murder mystery set in a theatre), was released in June 2015.