At supper tonight I was sitting with some of my fellow language secretaries. The brothers were making fun of the Secretary for Portuguese, because, as much as I can gather, he has been at the work for a long time and had announced previously that he would be finished on a certain date. So of course the friars then never cease to remind him that the date has passed and he is still here working away.
In the midst of this fun, the Secretary for French said,
"Let's not scare Charles. He's new."
To which I protested that I in the explanatory letter from the Minister General accompanying my letter of obedience, it was explained to me that I was to come here to Rome for a year of prova, a testing out of things, after which there would be a conversation about what to do next. I was here for a year, I said, and then we would see.
The Secretary for French continued,
"We all received that same letter. And this one has been here for five years, this one for fifteen..."
Another younger friar of the curia, from Poland, concurred.
I protested again. I have a letter, I said, and this is what it says.
The table turned to a slightly older, more experienced friar at an adjacent table, and asked him what he thought of this business of the letter.
"The letter kills," he said.