The Feast of Sts Peter and Paul

A reader writes and asks:

John, convince me not to turn to Islam after what just happened earlier today with the Supreme Court ruling, because right now, I’m trying to think of ways to commit something that I know is heinous while minimizing my digital fingerprint.

Sir, I cannot convince you, but I can tell you what convinced me. Here is the tale:

I was in Chattanooga, visiting a science fiction convention, when, on the Christian Sabbath, I went to a basilica which was all of four blocks away.

The nave was decorated with solemn beauty, and was sublime. Thanks to the miracle of the Information Age, I can find and show you a picture. Imagine you have just stepped off of a hot street in a warehouse district whose wealth and beauty sagged and departed around the turn of the century, and you see this:

ss peter paul

I sat in the front pew, as is my wont, and saw the stained glass window to my left showing the martyrdom of Saint Peter, crucified upside down on the Saint Peter’s Cross which foolish satanists imagine to be an image belonging to them, not to us. The window to my right showed a haloed head rolling from the supine corpse of Saint Paul, and in the window above, the three fountains tradition says erupted as living waters from the ground where the falling head bounced three times.

The priest, a Reverend Carter, spoke his homily from the raised pulpit. He mentioned the Supreme Court ruling in his opening paragraph, as well as the beheading of Christians in the Middle East, and the gunman who shot down Christians at a prayer meeting in cold blood.

Would that I could capture the light in his eyes, the timber and tone of his voice, his simple and direct way of speech that somehow was more majestic than the pomp of kings! I will not say this priest was a born orator, but I will say the spirit was moving in him, and it touched my heart.

He said we lived in a world of darkness.

This world is ruled by the Prince of Darkness, and the world does not love us. But neither can it expunge Christian joy, because our joy is what the world calls suffering. Our joy is sacrifice.

Reverend Carter then mentioned that this was the 125th anniversary day that the Basilica was erected. It was not raised by the rich and powerful families in Chattanooga (who would not have been Catholic in that day and place) but by the meager contributions, but heartfelt and many, from poor Irish immigrants and other Catholics, men of humble means.

He said that the very day was the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul.

Full title: Christ appearing to Saint Peter on the Appian Way Artist: Annibale Carracci Date made: 1601-2 Source: Contact: Copyright © The National Gallery, London

Christ appearing to Saint Peter on the Appian Way
Annibale Carracci

Saint Peter was walking away from Rome when the warning reached him that authorities were seeking his life. He met the risen Christ on the road, walking the other way. Quo vadis, Domine? “Where are you going, Lord?” the saint and fisherman asked. Christ answered, Eo Romam iterum crucifigi. “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” And Peter turned and walked with his eyes open into the embrace of a lingering and grisly death, following where the master trod.

Reverend Carter then said that this basilica had raised its pillars and towers and walls in silent praise to Christ over a century ago. The parish had seen civil war and great war, world war and cold war, desert war and culture war. It had seen races riots and civil unrest. And in one hundred twenty five more years from now, the walls and towers of the church would witness more darkness, more suffering, and more woe.

The Church cannot be defeated because she stands for sacrifice. Christ died to save all men, even Supreme Court Justices who make evil and unlawful rulings from the bench, even Islamic terrorists who cut off the heads, or gunmen who gun down, the innocent at prayer. Even the worst enemies of all that is holy and good and right and just Christ loves with an unimaginable, supreme, perfect love, and He still carries the scars.

Those who suffer from same sex attraction are called by the Church to embrace that same spirit of sacrifice as we are, and to merge the suffering their condition brings them to the cross of the savior. She calls on us to do the same with our sufferings, yes, even the humiliations brought on by the mocking triumph of the darkness in this world.

We are not to pray for the destruction of evil men who wound us, but for their conversion.

We are to pray for the salvation of our enemies.

My cold and angry heart was touched, and, as if by a miracle, there was no coldness left in it, and no anger. Christ was willing to die a grisly and humiliating death for these men. Was I unwilling to pray for them?

* * *

So the Reverend Carter spoke. And I ate and drank what to the world looked like a wafer of bread and a sip of wine, and Christ was within, unseen by the world.

ss peter paul 02

When he was shaking hands after the mass with parishioners, Reverend Carter called the people ahead of me in line by name, talking about one parishioner’s upcoming deployment and new haircut, or what another parishioner had written on Facebook. That was one good priest!

* * *

As to your question:

In one hundred years, when this ruling is only an historical curio, like the Dred Scott Decision, studied by law students, or in five hundred years, when the Padishah-Emperor of the Americas finally converts to Christianity and makes the worship of the God of Abraham legal once again, or in fifty million years, when human beings are half forgotten legends in books written by the Coleopterous Race that rules earth after mankind has passed away, the One, True, Apostolic and Catholic Church will still be in business, still preaching and teaching the same truths that she has always taught.

And the Church will still speaking the language of sacrifice and self-denying love to a race of fallen beings (whatever they are like) who are so selfish and self-centered that this language is folly and a stumblingblock to them.

Selfishness cannot understand selflessness. The darkness cannot comprehend the light, cannot surround and cannot besiege it, cannot defeat it, even in their hour of victory.

Because when we pray for the souls of our deadly enemy, our prayers are answered.

How can they fight that? By changing manmade law? With stake and sword? Torture? Fear? Fire? Good luck with that.

The modern enemy are limp and wavering amateurs compared to the Romans, who elevated sadism to a fine art and a popular entertainment. They can persecute us, if they have the stomach for it. To us, persecution is blessing.

So before anyone thinks to fly to the enemy and use his worldly tools to achieve otherworldly aims, stop, pause, pray, and consider. For no man builds a tower without contemplating the price.

What price is exacted from you,  O my beloved brother, if you convert to a military religion, and commit an act of angry horror? What damage do you do to the beautiful and glorious temple called your soul, so much more bright and fair than any silly building made by the hand of man?

Do you think the Prince of Darkness will be shocked by your magnificent evil, and leave off deceiving the world? Do you think the deceived will be cured of their blindness?

Does history remember the name of the soldier who cut off the head of Saint Paul? Neither do I.

But I know the name of the man who cured his blindness, despite that Saul of Tarsus was a deadly enemy to him: Ananias of Damascus.

I pray this same peace which came to me on this dark day finds you.