A few nights ago I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details.
I am seated in the front pew by the middle aisle of a small chapel. The walls are painted bordello red. There are stained glass windows with images of snakes intertwined under a golden sun. Each of the snakes has a halo over his head. There is the same Latin script on each of the stained glass windows: “Factum fieri infectum non potest.”
There are a handful of parishioners in the pews. I cannot see them directly, but I can see that they are trembling in expectation of a verbal lashing.
At the front of the chapel is a small altar table. It is lit by a tabernacle candle as bright as a spotlight, though there is no tabernacle in view. A heavyset priest stands on the other side of the altar table facing the parishioners. He looks like Paul Blart from “Mall Cop.” Instead of a traditional chasuble, he is wearing an ornamented black kimono which is open down the middle of his torso. Because his kimono is open, we can see his chest hairs and his blubbery belly whenever he lifts his arms to his side. He wears over his head a traditional gyoji’s black eboshi hat. His pudgy, mustached face is animated with anger as he practically spits out his condemnation.
The priest is angry that we parishioners are screwing up when we recite the following words after the Elevation of the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.” He steps around the altar and stands closer to us in the aisle. He lifts his arms to the side, and he demands that we recite this line word for word after him. As we struggle to do so, the priest’s face gets redder, and his eyes appear darker and more serpentine. He closes his hands into fists, and he shakes his arms erratically, because we are unable to recite the words properly after him. He repeats the line over and over again. Eventually, he is so consumed with anger that he is a blur of indignation and his words are indecipherable.