Advanced Study Group of Spiritism
Founded on October 15th 1992
The Spiritist Messenger - Monthly Electronic Report of the GEAE Group
GEAE 8th year - Number 42 - distributed: September 2003
"I have always strenuously supported the right of every man [and woman] to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it. "
THE ASTRAL CITY
A STORY OF A DOCTOR'S ODYSSEY IN THE SPIRIT WORLD
(Translated from the 25th Portuguese edition entitled "Nosso Lar". First Portuguese edition published in 1944 by Federação Espírita Brasileira, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.)
Chapter 31 - THE VAMPIRE
It was nine o'clock in the evening, and we had not yet had a moment's rest except for the short consultations necessary for the solution of spiritual problems. Here I saw a patient begging for help, over there another in need of magnetic passes. On our way to assist two patients in Pavilion Eleven, I heard screams in a nearby ward. I would have run in that direction, if Narcisa had not held me back.
"Please don't go," she warned, "the sexually unbalanced patients are lodged there. The picture would be too painful to your eyes. Wait until you are better prepared."
I did not insist, but thousands of questions rushed to my mind. A new world was unfolding itself and my curiosity was great. I had to concentrate on Lysias' mother's advice so as not to become distracted from my legitimate duties. Soon after nine, a quaint little man, to all appearances a humble worker emerged from amidst the trees of the enormous park. I later learned that he belonged to the sentinel corps of the Chambers of Rectification. Narcisa greeted him and asked:
"What is the matter, Justin? What is your message?"
"I've come to inform you that an unfortunate woman is begging for help at the large gate that leads to the tilling fields. I believe she must have escaped the attention of the front line sentinels." He answered, anxiously.
"And why don't you help her?" Asked the nurse.
The guard gestured and hastened to explain:
"According to our regulations, we are forbidden to. The poor creature is surrounded by black spots."
"Really!" She exclaimed, taken aback.
"Yes, nurse. It's just as I tell you."
"Then it's a very serious cause."
I was filled with curiosity, and followed her for a considerable distance across the moonlit fields. We were surrounded by the silent park its shady trees rustling gently in the soft breeze. After walking for well over a mile, we came to the gate. There stood the pitiful figure of a woman begging for mercy from the other side. I saw nothing but a squalid creature dressed in rags with a hideous face, and legs covered with raw sores, but, judging from her startled expression, I realized that Narcisa saw many more details, still imperceptible to me.
"Children of God," she cried on seeing us, "please give shelter to my wary soul! Where is the paradise of the elect, that I may enjoy the peace I long for?"
I was filled with compassion at her tearful voice. Narcisa, though also sorry for the unfortunate beggar, whispered to me:
"Can't you see the black spots?"
"No, I can't."
"Your spirit vision isn't sufficiently trained. If it depended on me, I would let her in at once, but on dealing with creatures in this condition, I can't decide for myself. I must apply to the Chief Warden on duty."
She approached the poor woman, and said kindly:
"Please, just wait a few minutes."
We hurried back to the house, where for the first time I came into contact with the Chief of Sentinels of the Chambers of Rectification. Narcisa introduced us and then rapidly reported the occurrence.
"You were right to have come to me." He replied, "Let's go see her."
We were soon back at the gate. The Chief Warden carefully examined the newcomer from the Lower Zone and declared:
"For the time being, this woman can't receive our assistance. She is one of the strongest vampires . I have ever come across. She must be left to herself."
I could not help but shocked at those words. Wouldn't it be neglecting our Christian duty to abandon this unhappy sister to her fate? Narcisa seemed to think likewise, and tried to plead with the Chief Warden:
"But, Brother Paul, wouldn't it be possible to shelter this poor creature in the Chambers?" Pointing to the beggar who was impatient at the delay and complaining loudly, he addressed the nurse.
"To allow her to enter would be to neglect my responsibility as a warden. Narcisa, have you noticed anything else besides the black spots:" Narcisa had not, and he continued.
"Well, I have. Count the black spots."
Narcisa looked intently at the woman, and, after a few moments, replied that there were fifty-eight. Brother Paul continued, patiently:
"Those fifty-eight dark spots represent so many children killed at birth. On each of these spots I can perceive the mental image of one of the little children whose life she extinguished, some by crushing blows, others by suffocation. This unhappy creature was a gynecologist who exploited inexperienced young women, committing heinous crimes under the pretext of easing the conscience of others. She is in a worse position than cases of suicide or murders who may, at times, show mitigating circumstances."
I recalled the numerous cases in my practice when, to save the mother's life, the unborn child had to be sacrificed. But, reading my thoughts, Brother Paul added:
"Of course, I'm not referring to legitimate measures which are forms of redeeming trials, but to the crime of killing those who have obtained the sublime right to live and are about to begin their sojourn on the physical plane."
Yielding to the feelings of compassion inherent in noble souls, Narcisa again attempted to intercede on her behalf:
"Brother Paul, I was also a great sinner in the past. Please, let's take in this unhappy woman. I promise to make her my special concern."
"My friend," he answered, I know we are all greatly indebted spirits. However, we have improved enough to acknowledge our own weaknesses and work to redeem our errors. All this woman wants, for the time being, is to create disturbance and confusion among our workers of good will. Those who haven't yet freed themselves from the bonds of hypocrisy emit destructive forces. Now, what would be the use of our vigilance if it were not to keep out dangerous influences?"
"Let's prove what I have said." He added, with a meaningful smile. He then approached the beggar and asked her:
"Sister, what do you ask of our brotherly cooperation?"
"Help, help…." She replied, dolefully.
"But, my friend," he reasoned, "we must learn to accept expiatory suffering. Why did you so often cut the life thread of helpless little infants, who, with God's permission, were about to begin their redeeming struggle on Earth?"
At these words she looked around apprehensively, assumed a hateful expression and shouted:
"Who is accusing me of this infamy? My conscience is at peace! I spent my whole life on Earth working on behalf of motherhood. I was charitable and pious, good and pure!"
"I am sorry, but the record of your thoughts and actions tell a different story. I believe, sister, that you haven't yet received the benefit of remorse. When you open your soul to the blessings of God, acknowledging your own needs, then you may come to us.
"Devil, Wizard!" She yelled furiously at him, "Satan's own follower! I'll never come here again! I am waiting for the promised heaven, which I hope to find."
"Then please go your own way. Your heaven isn't here. This is a place of work, where patients are aware of their infirmity and are assisted by brothers and sisters of good will to struggle back to health."
"I haven't asked for any remedy of assistance." She retorted angrily. "All I want is the Paradise my good works entitle me to enter."
Shooting us a parting look of hatred, she discarded the assumed appearance of a wandering beggar and walked away defiantly, with firm steps and a haughty gait. Brother Paul gazed at the retreating figure for quite a while, then turned to us and added:
"Did you observe the vampire? She has crime written all over her and pleads innocence. She is obviously wicked and yet declares herself good and pure. She suffers desperately and feigns tranquility. She has created a hell for herself, yet pretends to be looking for heaven."
We listened respectfully to the Chief Warden, who closed his valuable lesson by saying:
"We must always be aware of appearances, either good of bad. Divine Providence never forsakes anybody. Therefore, that unfortunate creature will find aid elsewhere. But for the sake of legitimate charity, in the position I hold here, I couldn't possibly open our doors to her."
8 - By “vampire” the spirit author refers to one who extinguishes life for personal advantage. (Translator’s note.)
Chapter 32 - LEARNING ABOUT VENERANDA
Returning across the moonlit park, I experienced a strange sense of fascination. Those big, shady trees and flourishing patches of greenery held my admiring attention. As we walked, I questioned her about the surroundings:
"This great park," she said, "not only contains the paths to the Lower Zone and the plants we cultivate for nutricious juices, but Minister Veneranda has also created delightful areas used for educational purposes."
Noting my curiosity she continued:
"They are known as the 'green halls', and are situated in the midst of the trees. They are perfectly suited for the lectures given by the Ministers of Regeneration. The most beautiful is reserved for the Governor's lectures when he visits us. Others are used for visiting Ministers and students in general. Their elegant trees blossom periodically, looking like small, colorful towers of natural charm. The sky is our sheltering roof, allowing us to enjoy the blessings of the sun and of distant stars."
"How marvelous these natural places must be!" I exclaimed.
"They certainly are." She continued, "Forty years ago Minister Veneranda's idea aroused great enthusiasm all over the Colony, and a campaign was begun to build a 'natural hall'. Every Ministry, including the Ministry of Divine Union, worked, with Veneranda's cooperation, to build delightful arbors all over the Water Park. I think the ones they built in the schools are the most interesting. They vary greatly in size and shape. One of them, which Veneranda built in the Educational Park of the Ministry of Elucidation, is star shaped, contains prodigious vegetation, and is ample enough for five large classes taught by five different instructors. In its center is an enormous apparatus, similar to a projector, which can simultaneously show five different projections. Their initiative improved the city, providing areas which unite useful service, practicality, and spiritual beauty."
"How are the halls furnished?" I inquired as she paused, "In the same style as earthly ones?"
Narcisa smiled and continued:
"No, it's different. Thinking of Gospel scenes of Jesus' passage on Earth, Veneranda suggested that all building materials be taken directly from nature. Each hall has benches and chairs carved out of the ground and covered with soft, sweet smelling grass, lending it a restful and distinctive beauty. Declaring that it would be fitting to recall the Master's sermons on the open beach during his travels along the Sea of Tiberias, she introduced the idea of natural furnishings. The halls require constant care, but they return so much in the way of beauty and lovely scenery.
The kind nurse fell silent for a moment, and then continued again:
"As I have already told you, most beautiful hall in our Ministry is reserved for the Governor's talks. Veneranda learned that he had always ancient Hellenic landscapes, and decorated it accordingly, shady bowers and seats composed of the interlaced branches of trees. Every thirty days the flowers change in species, and each month presents a new color scheme. The loveliest one is reserved for December, in honor of Jesus' birth when our Colony receives beautiful thoughts and earnest promises from our incarnate brothers, and we, in turn, send our hopes and service to the higher spheres in homage to the Master of masters.
"Perhaps you already know that the Governor visits us nearly every week, on Sundays. He stays for hours, conferring with the Ministers of Regeneration and talking to workers, offering valuable suggestions, examining our border lines with the Lower Zone, receiving our visits and good wishes, and comforting convalescents. Sometimes, when he has time in the evenings, he stays to listen to music and to attend shows staged by the youth of our schools. Most visitors in the Astral City come to our Ministry just to see that 'natural place' which comfortably seats over thirty thousand people."
Listening to Narcisa, I experienced a pleasant sensation, half joy, half curiosity.
"Minister Veneranda's hall," she added, enthusiastically, "is also magnificent. We give its upkeep special care and attention. All we can do in recognition of her great devotion is nothing compared to the outstanding service she has given us. This servant of the Lord has introduced numerous beneficial measures on behalf of the city's most unfortunate inhabitants. Her service record at the Astral City is considered by the Government as one of the most praiseworthy. She has the greatest number of working hours in our Colony, and is the oldest officer in the Government and in the Ministry. She has been in active service here for over two hundred years."
"How venerable she must be!" I exclaimed.
"You are right." She answered. "She is one of the most highly evolved beings in our Spirit Colony. The eleven ministers who share the direction of the Ministry of Regeneration with her always seek her advice before making any important decision. Even the Governor himself often consults her for her enlightened opinion. Only she and the Governor have seen the Master Jesus in the Resplendent Spheres. Yet she never mentions that distinction of her spirit life – she avoids all reference to it.
"I can tell you of another significant incident. One day, four years ago, the Astral City prepared to entertain the Fraternities of Light who rule the Christian destinies of America. They were coming to pay their respects to Veneranda and to bestow the 'Service Merit' medal on her for having completed one million consecutive hours of useful service with admirable devotion, perseverance and self-effacement. She is the first in the Colony to be awarded with such an honor. When presented with the medal, she only wept in silence. Afterwards, she donated it to the town archives, and transferred the honor to the Colony as a collective group, saying that she was unworthy of it. Despite the Governor's protests, she requested that all the celebrations be cancelled. She never again alluded to this incident."
"What an extraordinary woman!" I said, "I wonder why she doesn't inhabit some higher sphere."
"Spiritually, she lives in planes far superior to ours, and only remains in the Astral City out of a great spirit of love and abnegation. I have heard that our sublime benefactress has been working for a thousand years to help a group of loved ones still on Earth. Meanwhile, she waits for them with untiring patience."
"How might I come to know her?" I asked earnestly.
Pleased at my interest, she answered:
Electronic weekly report - Boletim do GEAE
Monthly English report: "The Spiritist Messenger"
Home page - "The Spiritism Web" - contains Spiritist information in general: electronic books, newspapers reports, info on the Spiritist movement worldwide, institutions, events and Spiritist links.
Collection in Portuguese (Boletim do GEAE)
Collection in English (The Spiritist Messenger)
Collection in Spanish (El Mensajero Espírita)