Priest & Pastor
This page explores the meaning of the Eucharist in terms of Catholic engagement versus Protestant detachment.
Bread & Wine - In Switzerland - Highland Dream - Champs-Élysées
Bread & Wine
From beyond the grave He brought hope
the sacred mystery of the transubstantiation
He brought not only some outward contract
to change politics
to do unto others
golden, infinite, almost inhuman
but also the inward contract
that made all the rest make sense
a divine contract to change the very nature
of human nature
as if by magic
by the incantation of these words
by the hand that dips into water
dips into wine
transforming corpuscle and vein
the magic of these words
the bread and the body
cherished by Greeks
& hallowed by Rome
But the northerners couldn't understand
it wasn't literal enough for Zwingli
or Calvin with his litigious mind and billable hours;
so they turned it into a symbol
that couldn't be penetrated
not here, not now
a mere abstraction
the wine ... turned into a symbol
the body ... transubstantiation itself ...
Jean-Luc sighed, and said to himself, That's what happens when you put theology in the hands of a repentant lawyer. No wonder the walls of their churches are bare. No wonder the Holy Ghost refuses to hover amid the gold and light of Mary's hair.
In a dream Jean-Luc wandered fields of wolfsbane, viking's pom, and long purples. He took a deep breath of cold air, which smelled like oatmeal, and then walked slowly back to his stony church in the waste land of northern Scotland.
John Luke looked at the bare grey walls and the tattered hymnal. A school of hard Knox, Geneva-bound. The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, 1558.
He no longer remembered the sound of Albinoni, deep in the cloistered chambers of the Vatican. Instead, all he could remember was the prose of Adam Smith (that other Adam) and the harrowing precision of James Hutton, who was the first to lay humanity in the bedrock of time. John Luke's bedtime reading was Hutton's Investigation of the Laws observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe, read aloud to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1785.
The pastor revolts
at the very sight of the icon
Blessed Mary, Mother of God
wrapped in golden foil
golden calf of sceptre and rote
blood and babylonian wine
as if it were anything but blood and wine
symbols, at best
and the Word garbled
in an old language
no one understands
For years John Luke castigated the Whore of Babylon
with her ermine robes
and her bread that was more than flour and water
and with her water that was more than wine
He became so drunk on his own crimson words
so embittered by the choler that coursed through his veins
that he needed a transfusion
He returned in secret to the golden altar
to drink once again the blood of his God
and feast on the flesh of his imagination
in his cave
deep in the troglodyte hills
to the sound of the bells that hovered above the gargoyles
with their cold northern sneer.
He looked out of his cell window
and could almost smell the jonquil and lavender
on the other side of the glass.
Next story: Trumpet of Doom - 1: The Political Climate