The Act of Hubris
Sins of the Father
SINS OF THE FATHER
On the intractable Caritas, the house divided, and the Stations of the Thirteenth Apostle
Cian O’Callaghan Ph.D, Th.D, S.J.
I. On the Sacramental Principle and the Substance of Divinity
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.
I BELIEVE in the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, who raised humanity from the dust in His image. I believe in the Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Word made flesh, whose death on the cross shattered the old covenants and ushered in a new and transformative era of humankind’s relationship to God. I believed, once, that they were one in the same. I believed, once, in the house undivided.
I came to the Lancea et Sanctum late in life, and late in my spiritual development. I was sired into a theological world as hidebound as it was rudimentary. The naked hunger for stasis that the Testament of Longinus preaches is matched only by the unsophistication of its message. It is facile, it is hopeless, and it is universally accepted. Even Holy Mother Church has a more nuanced doctrine than the Church of Longinus.
The doctrine is simple: we are God’s damned monsters, wolves among the flock. Salvation is lost to us, forgiveness a fantasy. We are called, instead, to keep the wayward kine on the path of righteousness, to tempt them to virtue by hounding them with sin. In furtherance of this grim vocation, we received revelation – the Theban miracles are irrefutable proof of the righteousness of our mandate. It is not so.
In accepting this undertaking, we forego that in us which is most precious, that in us which is most honorable — our bonds of love to our fellow human beings. For it was God’s love, in Christ, that freed us from damnation. And it is our love, our very own, that binds us together tonight. We must understand this love as a pervasive truth of the world, and so we must understand it as sacrament.
Sacrament is the act of acknowledging and celebrating that which is always and forever true. And if we consider the ultimate sacrament – the Eucharist – we see in it a celebration of Christ’s gift of himself to humanity. But what shape does that gift take? To answer this, I was driven to the blood.
Research on the physicality of blood magic transcends covenant and history. From ancient texts such as the original Theban Scrolls up to more modern scholarship (Vasilescu, 1997) we are made to understand that the power of the blood, its primal energy, emerges from lack. It is that which the blood and soul of Kindred do not possess which gives these substances their energy. And it is the shape they impose on the world in pursuit of satisfying that lack that is the source of its ultimate power. Vampirism is corrosive; its power is fundamentally destructive. We are, each of us, agents of ruin.
From whence, then, does this lack emerge? It is manifestly the case that the powers of the blood cannot inhabit human blood (Beaugriand, 1814) or human flesh (Davies, 1981). The lack is a consequence of the Embrace. Something is taken from us. Something is lost. I turned, as I did in my mortal studies (O’Callaghan, 1975) to the sacramental principle for illumination.
The Eucharist is an expression of Christ’s sacrifice. We eat His flesh and drink His blood to commemorate his love for us and to respond with love in kind. But even setting aside the metaphysics of transsubantiation, the sacrament is not the thing itself. Christ’s sacrifice happened once, and it echoes down through time. He made an offering of his own humanity and his own divinity to redeem us of our sin. It is this offering, I believe, which is lost in translation at the moment of Embrace. I conducted research in this vein (Vitae and Caritas: Love in Form and Essence, 1999) and established what I believe to be a demonstrable dialectic between the divinity of Christ and the pernicious ruin of Vitae.
Without restating previous findings in full: there exists an axis of redemptive potential along which humanity falls, identifiable through ritual within human blood itself. This potential is present to varying degrees in humans, with some correlation to factors such as age and personal righteousness, but it is only utterly absent in the Vitae of the Kin. I posit, then, that human blood possesses, in itself, the substance commemorated in the Eucharist – the divinity Christ sacrificed is His gift to all humankind. The Embrace strips it away, leaving us definitionally damned. But where, then, does it go?
Vampires are creatures of impulse and atavism: we fear, we hunger, we hate. It is these impulses that drive us, often to evil and seldom to good. But these impulses are not moral or immoral in themselves. Mere appetite is not sufficient to condemn the soul, and salvation married with good works can elevate even the darkest sins to forgiveness. Further, when a vampire feeds on the blood of a human, no vital principle is lost – it’s simply consumed more quickly than time can heal it. And divinity itself is not so fragile a thing as to simply be cast aside as ephemera. My thesis, whose findings I will detail, is this: that divinity remains, undigested, and can be bidden forth forcefully from the flesh in which it accumulates.
[procedural theory which is too dry to recreate]
We can see, by analogy – by sympathy – the echoes of Christ in these disruptions of the flesh. And we can see the fact of our findings borne out by examining the necessity of its untrammeled substance in reconciling the harm. To draw forth the divinity, in all its glory, rends the flesh and subjects the mendicant to his own peculiar Passion. To mend those wounds asks us to put that divinity back, to forego the sustenance the living blood affords us to make our bodies whole again.
This is merely the most elementary principle, the expression and demonstration of concept. The question, as ever, is this: what next?