Twilight of the Idols, Part II: A Conversation at the Pearly Gates

St. Peter: Next up.

C.S. Lewis: Hmm . . . hello. Are you . . . St. Peter?

St. Peter: Yes, don’t the keys and the papal tiara indicate that?

Lewis: Erm, yes. <Starts to turn pale.>

St. Peter: Well, time for the standard questions. First question: At the moment of your death, did you believe with divine faith in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary?

Lewis: Pardon?

St. Peter: It’s a simple question with a Yes or No answer. Yes or No?

Lewis: No, but I didn’t realize that that was a dogma that I was required to believe.

St. Peter: My successor, Pope Pius IX, said so.

Lewis: Well, I suppose that’s rather putting the cart before the horse. I didn’t follow the Pope, amongst other reasons, because my perception was that papal authority had been brought to bear on such trivi . . . on such non-essential points of religion.

St. Peter: Okay, even apart from papal authority, what about the miracles proving the Immaculate Conception? I mean, you’d be a fool not to believe in the Immaculate Conception given all of the recent miracles.

Lewis (starting to get frustrated): Miracles? *What* miracles?!

St. Peter: Lourdes, you moron. Don’t you read the newspaper? Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous and identified herself as the Immaculate Conception. For decades before your birth, and all through your lifetime, the faithful went to Lourdes and God healed them miraculously, through the intercession of Our Lady. They even made a Hollywood movie about it. Every Catholic peasant in France, Italy, your native Ireland — they all know that Lourdes proves the Immaculate Conception. Why not you?

Lewis: I guess I never really studied such miracles in the modern world.

St. Peter: You wrote an *entire book* about miracles and never bothered to investigate all of the miracles that go on all the time in the Catholic Church through the intercession of saints? What about Fatima? The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima took place when you were a young man.

Lewis: Fatima?

St. Peter: The stigmata of Padre Pio?

Lewis: Never heard of him.

St. Peter: How did you manage to live your life so impervious to public, common knowledge? As a so-called Christian apologist, you should have made it your business to know the most public and best documented miracles of Christian history.

Lewis: There were limits to what I could reasonably be expected to know.

St. Peter: Really? You could have just asked Elizabeth Anscombe after she debated you at the Oxford Socratic Club. After she bested you, you could have sought her guidance as someone more knowledgeable in Christian doctrine than yourself. She knew all about Lourdes, and Fatima, and the Immaculate Conception. The knowledge was there for the asking.

Lewis: <grits his teeth at the name> *Ans*-combe?

St. Peter: You limited your world to what you were comfortable with, and much of divine truth would have made you uncomfortable. I’ll tell you one of the people who is behind these Pearly Gates — the Immaculate Mother of God. Had you bothered to get to know her on earth, where she went out of her way at Lourdes and Fatima to make herself known to as many millions of people as possible, then she might have intervened with God on your behalf when it still would have done you some good. It’s too late for that, though. Heaven, too, has limits.

Note: A coda is coming to this series, in which I plan to address my point with this post and the preceding one.

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