Waiting for the Apocalypse: A Memoir of Faith and Family by Veronica Chater | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Waiting for the Apocalypse: A Memoir of Faith and Family

Waiting for the Apocalypse: A Memoir of Faith and Family

by Veronica Chater
     
 

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Growing up Catholic in a family where the reforms of Vatican II are seen as the work of Satan.

It is 1972, and Veronica Chater's parents believe that Vatican II's liberalization has corrupted the Catholic Church, inviting the Holy Chastisement—an apocalypse prophesied by three shepherds in Fatima, Portugal. To spare his family this horror, Veronica's

Overview

Growing up Catholic in a family where the reforms of Vatican II are seen as the work of Satan.

It is 1972, and Veronica Chater's parents believe that Vatican II's liberalization has corrupted the Catholic Church, inviting the Holy Chastisement—an apocalypse prophesied by three shepherds in Fatima, Portugal. To spare his family this horror, Veronica's father quits the highway patrol, sells everything, and moves the family of eight from California to an isolated village near Fatima.

But Portugal is no Catholic utopia, and the family schleps home penniless to join the nascent Catholic counterrevolution: attending the Latin Mass in truck garages and abandoned buildings, serving meals to religious soldiers, breeding a new member of the faithful every year. As Veronica comes of age on the fringes of the American Dream, she rebels against a fanaticism that forbids anything modern—clothes, movies, or music. This is the story, both sad and funny, of a family torn apart by religion and brought back together in spite of the injuries it inflicted on itself.

Editorial Reviews

Juliet Wittman
Most of the book is riveting. Chater's descriptions of their troubled voyage to Portugal, the freedom the kids found in a rural village, and the mixture of pleasure and astonishment with which they explored local customs—all these are particularly lively and evocative.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

As a young child, freelance writer Chater learned from her parents that the reforms of Vatican II brought "the Smoke of Satan" into the Roman Catholic Church. Then one day her father announced that the family would be leaving its Northern California home and moving to Portugal so they could be closer to the true faith. That trip turned out to be a disaster, and this powerful memoir becomes increasingly grimmer as the Chaters return home and become involved in increasingly conservative religious groups plotting "the Catholic counter-revolution," until being forbidden to wear "modern clothes" like blue jeans is the least of the teenage girl's problems. Chater finds plenty of dark humor in the way her father's religious obsessions blinded him to reality and led the family into financial hardship, but she never turns him into a cartoon villain. Even when he turns out to be a Confederate sympathizer and a monarchist, or after he kicks her and her sister out of the house for engaging in premarital sex, she handles his story with sensitivity and grace. Chater's memoir reminds us how easy it can be for ordinary families to get caught up in religious fervor, with emotionally devastating consequences that linger long after faith has been abandoned. (Feb.)

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Library Journal

In her first book, Chater takes readers through her childhood in the 1970s with a dogmatic father who believes the reforms of Vatican II will cause an apocalypse called the Holy Chastisement, a practical mother, and (eventually) ten siblings. In 1972, the family leaves liberal California for Fatima, Portugal, hoping for a Catholic utopia. Unfortunately, Portugal has also adopted Vatican II, and the business that would support them never materializes, so it's back to California. For the next several years, the family moves around in search of traditional Catholic schools, churches, and societies and other counterrevolutionaries against Vatican II. Chater's father is too easily persuaded by other traditional Catholics, even sending two of her brothers to a cultlike seminary and training program. Throughout the book, Chater struggles to balance her love for her family with her increasing doubts about their beliefs. A final chapter and an epilog bring resolution to the tale, summarizing the family's status today. This memoir is recommended for most public libraries.
—Erica L. Foley

Kirkus Reviews
Short-story and magazine writer Chater brings an ear for dialogue and an eye for the absurd to this tragicomic debut memoir about coming of age in the 1970s in an ultraconservative Catholic family. The ordeals of such a childhood-the nuns, the rulers, the guilt-have long provided fodder for stand-up comedians, confessional autobiographies and even musical comedies. The author, one of 11 children, contributes to the canon in this painfully funny account. Her father, a state trooper and converted Catholic, was enraged by the Church's liberalization after the 1965 Vatican II Council. He scorned shorter veils for nuns, Mass conducted in English and parishioners standing for communion as "Vatican II." In church he ordered his children to close their eyes, clench their fists and refuse the blasphemous Handshake of Peace. Chater was taught that corruption of Catholic traditions would lead to communist world domination and trigger an apocalyptic scenario called the Holy Chastisement. Her 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. The family sunk into poverty and returned to America, marginalized and disappointed. Chater's father grew ever more fanatical. He banned his daughters from wearing pants, shipped his sons to a cultlike anticommunist Brazilian monastery and dragged the ever-larger and poorer family to a series of guerrilla parishes that met in abandoned storefronts and empty garages. The kids got intermittent emotional relief from their devout but eminently practicalmother, so frugal that she chose an old mop as airplane carry-on luggage upon leaving Portugal. The memoir's tone shifts jarringly at the end, when the voice of Chater as a bemused child becomes that of an unhappy young woman. Still, that voice relates a compelling story with a dramatic climax. Affecting and unsparingly honest. Agent: Winifred Golden/The Castiglia Agency
Shelf-Awareness
Beautifully written and deeply affecting memoir…moving and, ultimately, so powerful.— Debra Ginsberg
Debra Ginsberg - Shelf-Awareness
“Beautifully written and deeply affecting memoir…moving and, ultimately, so powerful.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393073546
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/02/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
921,975
File size:
413 KB

Meet the Author

Veronica Chater has written for national women's magazines and This American Life. Her stories have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the Guardian (London), and various anthologies. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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