15 April 2019
The Edge of Elfland
Today I have been in full communion with the Catholic church for 2 full years. Much has happened in those 2 years. Last year on this very day saw my wife receive the sacrament of confirmation, in December of 2018 my twin boys were finally baptized. There has been much to celebrate. And yet, in the last two years news of various sexual abuses have been brought to light, in this country and in others. Many of my friends and acquaintances have found themselves so burned by the Church that they have, for now, at least left. These last two years have been filled with immense beauty and immense pain. How am I, how is anyone, supposed to make sense of the mess and the beauty?
In truth, I don’t have a full answer to this. I have never been tempted, never felt the desire to leave the Church. My faith in Christ has not been shaken and I see and feel no desire to leave the bark of Peter. Only here have I finally felt alive, finally felt as though I belong. And yet, I cannot bring myself to blame those whose faith has been shaken. Christ does tell us that those who cause his little ones to sin would have been better off cast into the ocean with a millstone tied around their neck. Even as I write this the cathedral, Notre Dame, in Paris, is on fire. Could there be a more apt image for the state of the Church today?And yet, fire does more than consume. It refines. As light banishes darkness, so too does fire banish impurities. I don’t know what caused this fire. I hadn’t even intended to write about it. But it happened, is happening, as I stepped away from this piece to teach my students about the death of Christ. Christ is our pelican, feeding us blood from his heart, but he is also our phoenix, the dying and rising bird of Egypt. Perhaps this fire in Paris, whatever its cause, is also a wake up call to all of us. Perhaps we are being reminded that the darkness of the Church (who on earth is both Virgin and Whore of Babylon) is being purged. Perhaps the darkness that cannot comprehend the light is being expelled. Perhaps, amongst the wreckage, there is hope. Vita ex morte, life from death.
Two years a Catholic, and I have felt wonder and joy, heartache and woe. I have been spurned and rejected by those I hoped to call brothers and sisters. And I have been accepted in a way I had never hoped to find. I pray to God we may all find peace in the ashes, that we will not be swallowed up by death, but that death will be swallowed up in Christ’s victory. This is my passion week prayer for you and for me.
David Russell Mosley