First-time author Veronica Chater braved the winter weather to read from her book, Waiting for the Apocalypse: A Memoir of Faith and Family. Event host Pam Grange reports:
Very small audience on a cold and rainy evening, but those that attended were definitely raised Catholic. Veronica (Ronnie) lived quite a bizarre childhood, but as she tells her stories, they often come across as laugh-out-loud funny – as well as sort of horrifying!
Her parents believed that Vatican II, with its total corruption of Catholic traditions, would lead to communist world domination and trigger an apocalyptic scenario called the Holy Chastisement. Her state trooper father fantasized about moving the family to the miracle capital of Lourdes, France; when that plan fizzled, they settled for rural Portugal. Initially hopeful ("even the dogs were Catholic"), they discovered that Portugal was just as "Vatican II" as California. They returned to northern California in poverty, and her father became even more fanatical. The 11 children (!) counted on their mother for common sense and practicality.
This was only the author’s second event, and she was a little nervous and stiff in the beginning, but loosened up quickly and let the humor of it all shine through. She told me that with all she went through, resulting in her defection from the Church, she felt Portugal was one of the best times of her life, and she looks upon her entire childhood experience as adding much richness to her life. Her mother died several years ago, but she and her siblings are still close to their father – they just don’t discuss religion. Her father actually liked her book – felt it was really truthful.
Our Norton rep, Dan Christiaens, attended. He had never met Ronnie before, and they spoke for a long time afterwards. I think the book is going to do well. I found it fascinating, and I certainly learned a lot about Vatican II! Ronnie’s interview on NPR (Forum) two days later was wonderful.
The following, for anyone who wants to know a little more about Vatican II, is taken from an article by John Thavis in the Catholic News Service
“… its 16 landmark documents modernized the liturgy, renewed the priesthood and religious life, enhanced the role of lay Catholics, opened dialogue with other churches and non-Christians, and identified the church as the "people of God" attuned to the problems and hopes of the world. Although the council defined no new dogma, Catholics who lived through the Vatican II era will never forget the changes -- some of them abrupt -- that visited their church communities in the mid-1960s. Altars were turned around so that priests faced the people. The Mass in Latin gave way to Mass in the vernacular. Other sacraments were updated and simplified. Men and women religious adopted a more modern form of dress. Not all the changes were immediate, however. Church leaders began a long and sometimes contentious process of revising nearly every area of pastoral life, from the teaching of religion to lay ministries. …”