Making Love in the Light

My column at First Things for the upcoming Feast of the Ascension:

It is this onenes Father Barron describes when he writes of the “interacting and interpenetrating fields of force” that are heaven and earth, constantly commingling, and within the church embodying a true encounter between bridegroom and bride. That is considered archaic language, I know — Flannery O’ Connor called it “a metaphor that can be dispensed with” — but the brilliant Ms. O’ Connor was uncharacteristically off the mark in her observation to Cecil Dawkins, both in her dismissiveness and in calling what is a real and daily action nothing but metaphor.

If we could reclaim the metaphor of the bride and groom we might be better able to teach the very dogmas that O’ Connor championed so passionately, and which are every day a little less comprehensible to most Christians. For that matter, if we were less prudish about acknowledging the interplay between heaven and earth as lovemaking, our over-saturated and exhausted culture of hook-ups and sterile encounters might become reopened to the true meaning of the sex act and to a re-appreciation of its light-from-light power.

If Heaven and Earth are in constant flux, then the Ascension becomes less incomprehensible and so, too, the dogmas of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception. In fact, they are even more fully understood in the light of yet another dimension of the divine spark within humanity: science.

And what does science tell us about all that? Find out here!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Manny

    My comment is not going through. I keep getting this note:

    Hmmm, your comment seems a bit spammy. We’re not real big on spam around here.

    Please go back and try again.

    What am I doing wrong? There’s nothing spamming about my comment.

    [I see nothing in the spam filter, Manny. Is it showing now? Email it to me and I'll take a look. Maybe there is a word there, it doesn't like! -admin]

  • Kathy Schiffer

    In St. Peter’s Basilica, the high altar is embraced by a great baldacchino, a bronze canopy which marks this special place within the huge cathedral. I’ve heard it compared to a canopy bed; and so it is– the place where the Bridegroom, Christ, comes to give Himself totally to his Bride, the Church.

    [I like that! - admin]

  • Mary De Voe

    The human seed, enters into his bride, the human egg and with God, the two become one, and bear much fruit. A new DNA, a new sovereign person, a new human being is brought into existence. Science. The gift of Life. I AM

  • Jennifer

    Beautiful piece.

    Do you have a source on that quote from O’Connor to Dawkins? I know she had trouble with that analogy because she preferred God as Father–and she noted it as something as specific to herself. I remember it as a quote to “A” in a long exchange of letters on gender. But she called it an analogy which is more in line with her understanding of theology.

    I looked through my Habit of Being and couldn’t find the quote–was is somewhere else? or maybe I missed it? I’d be interested to read the full context.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    It is from Flannery O’ Connor Spiritual Writings, edited by Robert Ellsberg, but I think it’s also in The Habit of Being; The Letters of Flannery O’ Connor.

  • Manny

    It’s still saying I’m spamming. I emailed my comment to you yesterday Anchoress. What’s with this spam thing?

  • Manny

    Or it might lead one to justify their carnality and reformulate Judeo-Christian morality. I did my master’s thesis on DH Lawrence and he did exactly that. He understood the holyness of sexuality but his answer was not restraint. His answer was to embrace it, not necessarily in a “love-the-one-your-with” mode, but still not segregated to marriage. Still, it’s a short step to go from where Lawrence was to where the sixties sexual revolution is. Still I think on balance you’re right. Showing the root of sexual morals is a positive thing for our culture. Today they don’t see why sexuality has any morality associated with it at all.

    A brilliant essay, I might add. I think it’s right on!

  • Manny

    Lord in heaven, it worked! You can only use sex a few times in a comment or it thinks you;re spamming. As if that would make a difference…LOL.