Thursday, May 05, 2011

On a Priest and Boys' Books (and a prayer)

This morning I was in a place I was also in on this very day, 48 years ago.
While I was there I did the exact same thing... though on that day, there was but One Species, today there were Two... this was a profound moment, and deserves meditation - and while I can write many things here on this blogg, there are some things which would take more space than the world contains... and I don't mean as in world = earth, I mean the Greek sense, where world = cosmos.

Afterwards I spoke briefly to the priest, and he said how sad it is that people only think of the few (very few) bad priests, and not of the large number of good priests. He wondered why there are not many stories about good priests...

It is a challenge. Of course in my Saga I have some good priests and even a pair of good bishops. (I must not mention the Pope just now; you will learn why eventually. Oh will you be surprised!) Some of these face severe difficulties, of course, but I have no writing time to waste on bad priests.

Why, you ask?

The answer happens to belong to my own discipline, as well as to my own interests. It is also in Chesterton:
It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:306]
It is far harder to write a computer program without errors than to write one that contains errors. It is far harder to paint a picture, or compose (or play) a musical work, that contains no blemish than to achieve one without blemish... The same is true for stories. It is easy enough to write a story, but a real story must possess certain attributes... it must share somehow in the One True Story...

Our great guide in writing, indeed in Catholic writing (which is also simultaneously catholic), that is G. K. Chesterton, pointed out this important and very dramatic link - a link which suggests something:
that other great essential of the schoolboy protagonist; which is accidental and even improbable presence on a tremendous historical occasion. All who love boys' books as they should be loved know that Harry Harkaway, as well as crossing cutlasses with an individual smuggler or slaver, must also manage to be present at the Battle of Trafalgar. The young musketeer from Gascony, however engrossed by duels with masked bravos or loveletters to Marguerite de Valois, must not forget to put in an appearance at the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.
[GKC "The True Romance" taken from Daily News 1911 and quoted in A Handful of Authors]
Huh? you ask. What link is there?

Obviously, the link is that one's hero ought to be present at a tremendous historical occasion.

Well? What historical occasion was more tremendous than the crucifixion on Calvary?

Is not the priest there, like the hero in the boys' book? Is he not in persona Christi, and hence on Calvary? Is he not at once the priest, the altar, and the Lamb of sacrifice? "Yes, my son, God will provide the lamb for the sacrifice..." Was it not this that Moses (the archpriest of the Israelites) discussed with Christ when he appeared with Elijah at the Transfiguration? (As to why Elijah was there, we shall consider that at length another time.)

So now we have our formula, direct from Chesterton, and properly founded upon scripture and tradition, as well as upon common sense. (The Church, we know, is wedded to common sense; see GKC on that too.) As in the cases of software, or music, or painting, it now only requires the time and resources to synthesize it, to bring it to its completion. But it takes that initial ignition... that spark of the creation which for us is subcreation.

Let, therefore, the Spirit come, and direct His chosen writer (whoever it may be; I am not clamoring for another assignment here!) and may He inflame that one to write a modern priestly adventure according to the great tradition... good stories about a good priest. Amen.


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