February 17th, 1723
I was correct in my last entry, Paulo continued to ask questions, his infatuation with ideals not holding him back from questioning my directives. I have been making inroads with the natives, the key, as any church founder of Christianity could explain, is to bend the teachings of both the population in question and the faith you wish to instill until they seem indistinguishable. Give the savages the utter belief that their gods are in fact merely a mask worn by the God you wish for them to worship.
Even my gentle administrations, likening their spirits and godlings to the true glory of the Holy Mother and her King, was slower than intended, a necessary evil when working through a translator. The translator is a young Nacagdoches woman, Atohi, her mother traded in more than simple food and wares with the previous master of this mission, and now this child, within whom I can see the spark of true divinity, serves the mission by her knowledge the two worlds that created her. I have begun the work of truly converting Atohi, so that our work can attain some measure of speed.
Paulo’s approach was unsubtle. He attempted, of course, to be diplomatic and approach the topics concerning him with some delicacy.
“Father Martinez, I wish to discuss our last meeting with the natives.” I could tell from his voice he was feeling frustrated, and why not? Here he was trying to serve what he thought was a holy mission given from god to bring salvation to the savage. He must feel as powerless as he truly is. I endeavored, in this conversation, to expound on that. “It has been several weeks now and you continue to entertain the natives as though their fertility goddesses and spirits are real things, and not tricks brought by the Devil, I fear you are walking perilously close to heresy and damnation.” Serious accusations if anyone would listen to him.
“Father Paulo, you forget your place, and your standing.” I must admit, that he had risen my ire, and I could tell by the way he jumped that perhaps I had answered with more venom in my voice than intended, I sought to rectify that. “Paulo, brother, I was chosen by the Holy Masters to lead this mission, do you think this is an accident?” It was paramount that I lead him down the path where to question me was to question the church itself.
“No, but I feel that you are . . .”
“No, it was not an accident, I was chosen because of my faith, and because I understand how to bring lasting salvation to these poor savages. If it appears that I am lax in my duty if you think I, in my experience and learning, do not know what I am doing” I trailed off, letting it sink into the much younger priest’s head how foolish he was to question his elder and superior.
“Father Martinez, you must understand that I am new to the missions, I just do not understand how leading them on and encouraging the worship of” he paused and lifted a small idol that one of the Nacogdoches women had given me after I visited one night. “demons like this!” The idol was indeed demonic, an upsetting amalgamation of woman, goat, and jellyfish, combining the biological architecture in impossible ways. I kept my gaze steady, though I wanted to rip the likeness of the Holy Mother from his hand and tear at his throat with my teeth.
Instead, I gently reached out and took the idol, placing it in a drawer of my desk. It took all effort to continue to speak without gritting my teeth.
“Paulo, you are young, so I will forgive your blasphemy.” The look of idiocy on his face immediately lightened my mood. “For you to assume that you and I have any power at all, that all power does not flow through God all mighty. To assume that we are more than mere insignificant specks of dust that ebb and flow to his guidance is pure folly.” I gave him a tired sigh, as though explaining things to an infant, and indeed with his understanding of the true universe, he was but a babe suckling at the teat of sanity, yet to be weaned by the truth of unreality. “I do not seek to push them further because God has not let me to, do not question me, do not question God again.”
Paulo at this point was pale, I had successfully turned around his accusations of heresy onto him, and he left without another word.