Suppose gentle reader has found a five-franc piece, while rooting through his garbage. This would occasion some surprise, though short of a miracle. A five-franc piece! “L’Hercule,” as it is called by numismatists, was minted from the time the French currency was first decimated, during the Revolution, until it was totally debased in the 1960s.

But once it was a large silver coin, about the size of our silver dollar (also utterly debased). If you found one, perhaps tarnished, among your vegetable scraps, it would, almost certainly, brighten your day. You would clean it up, and try to polish it, and find a place to keep it where it would be safe.

Compare, if you will, what you do with God. If you find him, you spit. This is because he has made the universe so intensely beautiful, that He has left nothing else for you to spit upon. Though like a five-franc coin, the effect of spitting can only be to polish, as perhaps the pope was hinting, by honouring Andres Serrano, the artist of the “Piss Christ.”

Léon Bloy is my source for these observations, except this last (for I fail to understand Pope Francis). An anonymous reader in Scotland has sent me a selection of Bloy’s works, entitled The Pilgrim of the Absolute (ed. Raissa Maritain). It was a wonderful thing to find in my “snailmail”; Bloy (1846-1917) is a hero to me. He was a Catholic apologist entirely free of feelgood sentimentality. He had been a pain to live with: look him up.

Now suppose gentle reader, immediately upon reading this, were to root in his compost bin, and find a five-franc piece. Now, that would be a miracle.