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 Resurrection; 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



In Switzerland


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 lawyerNo 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.



Highland Dream

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




Jean-Luc awoke 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

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