Consider the lily

Lilies come in many kinds, and so came even before they were bred by horticulturalists, long before horticulturalists themselves were ever bred; and being idle, through the ages, they would neither toil nor spin. Yet all are united, in being symbols of Our Lady.

That symbolism is both simple, and complex. It begins, in art, when the angel, Gabriel, presents a lily to the Virgin, at the Annunciation. And her Son, in art, presents a spray of lilies, to a virgin Saint, in what I sometimes think of as “little annunciations.” These are symbols, too, but as I was recently insisting, we lost the ability to make sense of symbols, in the northern nominalist cultures, five centuries ago. This was when our “reformers” decreed that they were “just” symbols — dead, instead of living, things.

Being no horticulturalist myself, I often struggle to tell one lily from another. The lily-of-the-valley, I know, is our symbol through Advent; and within it, of the Immaculate Conception we might have celebrated last week, as this week we step out of its Octave. To Protestants, as to degenerated Catholics, it must humbly be explained that this feast occurs precisely nine months before the Nativity of Mary, who was, herself, immaculately conceived.

All will call this a dogma of the Church, whether they agree with it or not; but I think our conception of a dogma was also overturned, five centuries ago. Like the True Cross that was, in the title of that feast, “invented,” it is not something that someone made up, but something that was memorably discovered (when the pilgrim Saint Helena was desperately looking for it, in AD 326).

The Devil’s whole strategy here, is to supplant a Thing with an Hypothesis. By teaching us to speak of things — as if they were “beliefs,” in competition with each other — he scored twice. First, by clouding us with doubt and confusion; second, by making all faith seem like tyranny — as if it were something that the Church tries to impose. It was a way for people to become atheist, while (falsely) claiming that they are merely sceptical; thus a way to make atheism commonplace. It was proposed as a “middle way” between receiving, and refusing, Christ; when there will never be a “third option.” It was the birth of “relativism,” in our current, progressive sense; of the Lie on which the modern world is founded.

But I still insist, that a lily is a Thing; just as that Church, founded by Christ, is a Thing; and what we call Faith, in its many dimensions, is a Thing — like reality, but more real.

And was Solomon in all his glory arrayed as one of these? In the Song of Solomon, the “Canticle of Canticles,” this is all resolved. Christ, as ever, is referring back as He refers forward, in this human world that began with the first man, and the first woman, and indeed their first child. From a scientific viewpoint, it necessarily did, for species are discerned by the fact of reproduction. For species are not immortal; they must start somewhere.

And those who have seen the unfolding in spring of that lily-of-the-valley — in the purity of its scent and of its whiteness — have partaken of that mysterious divine eros, manifested in the Creation; before it was corrupted.

But through these lilies, it is constantly restored.


MEANWHILE, I see from the Washing Tun Post, that Joe Biden will “redefine” the Catholic faith for us (by turning the discussion away from hard things like abortions, towards niceness to illegal immigrants, &c). … Is he more Catholic than the pope? … Possibly; but I still think he should check the Catechism, which, like the Bible, contradicts him on every point. Perhaps his wife could read it to him, since apparently she has a Doctorate in Education. At least, I’ve been told that some of them can read.