My Vampiric Spirit, Confession, and Conversion

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Author note: This is a guest post written by my friend Kristin from Austin and edited by me. Kristin will be received into the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday.  Please pray for her and all others who will be coming Home.

At the time I encountered Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was fresh out of college, having laid aside my checkered Protestant past for a relativistic agnosticism layered in a pleasant self-deception.  I figured, if any action helped me out within the simple constraint of “not committing murder”, it was certainly without reproach, and I could still consider myself a “good person”.  Then, a pivotal episode in Buffy Season 7’s “Beneath You” tilted my worldview enough to make me uncomfortable—uncomfortable enough to eventually become a Catholic.

In the closing scene of the episode, Spike and Buffy are in an empty, lovely, moonlit church together, and Buffy is concerned that Spike has lost his sanity. Up until this point, the rakish ne’er-do-well vampire was forced by an implanted chip in his brain to do no harm to Buffy Summers, leading him to try and do good out of his love for the Slayer. Unfortunately, his attempts at being good were also mixed in with his complicated, tumultuous affair with Buffy throughout the latter half of Season 6, culminating in him attempting to rape Buffy in “Seeing Red.” His shock at what he was about to do led to him going on a quest to receive his soul so that he can be the man he thinks Buffy deserves. Now ensouled, Spike is uncomfortably, completely conscious and guilt-ridden over his innumerable sins. I realized that there was something true there being spoken about sin and the need for redemption.

It would take me several more years to make my way to the Catholic Church and the lesson I gained from watching “Beneath You” was a crucial reason to why I was becoming Catholic. However, I didn’t fully understand the importance of this scene until I went to my first Confession to prepare for receiving the rest of the Sacraments at Easter. For some inexplicable reason, I found myself terrified of this sacrament.

We are born vampires due to original sin.  Like vampires, we are driven into the black night of our sins and transgressions, subconsciously terrified of being burned alive by the pure light of Christ. Like vampires, we’re driven away from pain and toward hedonistic pleasure, largely propelled by the forces of fear, anger, hate, lust, and greed. We live entirely for ourselves and see others only as a source of food for us—emotional affirmation, physical pleasure, and social recognition—and we’d best eat them before we’re consumed ourselves. We drive our greedy jaws into others without a thought, a care, or a twinge of remorse, and suck them dry, all in a desire to quench our endless thirst, our neverending desire to fill the emptiness within ourselves with something.

In the midst of all this, the deep terribleness of the human heart, Christ the Slayer wants to kill our vampiric selves and ensoul us, which He does so well through the Sacraments. He calls us out of the darkness, and He watches us as we pathetically stagger out from the shadows, crouching, cringing away from the Light.

I spent my first Confession, sitting in very comfortable chair in a cheery, bright, well-lit office, feeling with every fiber of my being that I was about to go up in smoke as I rattled off my list of sins before the priest. And go up in smoke, my ego did. Like the newly ensouled Spike, I stumbled around, slowly realizing for the first time the depths of what I’ve done to Christ and Christ in others. My scarred heart, rife with manipulation, greed, carelessness, and selfishness, was laid bare before me in the harsh Light, no longer fancied up by the clever illumination of the night.

The priest gave me my penance, a single Our Father, and instructed me to meditate on the mercy of God. Not only did I meditate, I was sucker-punched by this overwhelming Divine Mercy toward me.  The emptiness inside of me was filled with the infinite waters that gushed from His Sacred Heart. It’ll be a lifelong process of torching my ego, repairing my heart, and fighting for my soul. I know that even after I am received into the Church, I’ll be in Confession again and again.  But like Spike at the end of “Beneath You,” I embrace the Cross which burns away my sins, and ask “Can we rest?”

Though the episode doesn’t answer the question, Saint Augustine does: “For You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”

We can rest, brothers and sisters, in the arms of our Lord. As we celebrate Good Friday, let us hide ourselves in His wounds and fill ourselves with the endless fountain of His love and mercy.

Author’s note: If you want to know more about how the theme of forgiveness is seen in the Buffyverse, check out my post from last year.

The Longest Night In History: Act 1, Scene 1

INT. THE UPPER ROOM, JERUSALEM — NIGHT

PETER is standing alone, crying. He is burdened with guilt and regret. He keeps repeating something to himself

Peter

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

A knock on the door. Peter gets up to answer the door. MARK enters. He is a young boy whose parents are disciples of Christ.

MARK

Hello.

PETER

Hello, Mark.

MARK

I’m sorry for disturbing you, but your friend Magdalene was asking me to look for you.

PETER

Let her come in.

Mark nods and lets Magdalene enter the room before exiting. She is obviously distraught and frantic, but trying to hide it. She goes about the room, holding back her tears as she’s preparing for the Sabbath. Peter steps aside. She finds an oil lamp and lights it. She looks around the room and sees Peter.

MAGDALENE

Hello, Peter.

PETER

Good evening.

MAGDALENE

Were you here all this time?

PETER

No…

MAGDALENE

Where’s everyone else?

PETER

I don’t know.

MAGDALENE

Weren’t you at the temple when I last saw you? When he was being put on trial by those…those Pharisees?

PETER

Maybe.

MAGDALENE

(Suddenly frantic)

You didn’t see how they treated him, Peter. The whips on his back striking in such unnecessary pain
The bones tear his skin, all for the fickle crowd’s gain.

PETER

That’s the punishment, Magdalene. You-

MAGDALENE

Three times he fell on the path to the hill
A man had to help lead the lamb to the kill.

Peter shudders and tries to step away. Magdalene grabs Peter’s shoulders and stares him straight in the eyes, like she’s possessed.

MAGDALENE (con’t)

The sound of the nails…They used nails, Peter! Nails! And those soldiers gambling for his robe. They were as callous as those horrible Pharisees.

Peter turns away. Magdalene drops down to her knees and looks out at a distance.

MAGDALENE (CON’T)

Do you know what he said when he was on the cross, Peter? “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

PETER

I think they knew exactly what they were doing.

MAGDALENE

And what exactly were you doing?

A knock on the door. Magdalene opens the door. James and Andrew walk in.

ANDREW

Magdalene. We were looking for you.

JAMES

Were you here this whole time?

PETER

Where else would I be?

ANDREW

You should’ve been where Magdalene was.

PETER

Why weren’t you there, then?!

ANDREW

I was! I was in the crowd. I may not have followed him to the hill, but I heard everything.

PETER

Then why didn’t you follow him? You were the ones who introduced me to him in the first place!

ANDREW

At least I didn’t hide away! Last time I saw you, you and everyone else was running away.

MAGDALENE

You should’ve been up there, too, all of you. They were mocking him, saying that they would believe it if he came down from the cross. I couldn’t stand them!

JAMES

Nothing could’ve convinced them, Magdalene. You know that. I think I heard him calling for Elijah.

PETER

What are you talking about?

JAMES

I was too far to really know, but he said something along the lines of “Eli Eli lama sabachthani.”

ANDREW

He was probably praying.

MAGDALENE

John and Mary were closer. I wish I could remember.

A knock on the door.

MARK (O.S.)

They’re in here.

JOHN enters with MARY. Mary is quiet, her face worn from tears and grief.

JOHN

There you are, Magdalene. Mother and I were looking for you.

MAGDALENE

I was looking for everyone else. Peter was here. Oh, John, why did this have to happen?

JOHN

Rabbi told us he had to.

PETER

And all we did was run away.

JOHN

I was there the whole way! Don’t lump me in with the rest.

JAMES

You and your need to stick out.

PETER

Like you saw anything different from what Magdalene was crying about.

JOHN

But I did! Rabbi talked to me. Mother, if you please?

Mary nods.

PETER

Wait, why are you calling her ‘Mother?’

JOHN

I was just about to say. I was standing with Mother by the cross. Rabbi looked at me and said, “Woman behold your son. Son, behold your mother.” For whatever reason, he’s letting me take care of Mary.

MAGDALENE

Do you remember when he said “Eli Eli lama sabachthani”? Was he really calling for Elijah?

JOHN

No. He was quoting a psalm. I think it was Psalm 22.

MAGDALENE

“My God, my God. Why have you abandoned me?”

ANDREW

Even God has abandoned our master. I can’t believe it.

JOHN

Peter, weren’t you at the temple the last time I saw you?

Peter grumbles and goes to the center of the room, making sure he has everyone’s attention.

PETER

Enough speculation. We have to make sure we’re all together. Do you know where everyone else is, James?

JAMES

I think Nathaniel told me that he’s staying with a cousin before going to Emmaus after the Sabbath is over.

ANDREW

I didn’t see anyone else after we all fled Gethsemane, but given that it’s the Sabbath, they should still be in town.

JAMES

I wish we could get everyone here. I hate sitting around, doing nothing!

PETER

Well as long as they’re close by, we can get them after the Sabbath is over and think about what we’re gonna do next.

Everyone in the room glares at Peter.

PETER (CON’T)

For now, we have to get the meal started.

MAGDALENE

I don’t feel so hungry.

MARY

Well, we have to.

Mary and Magdalene gather the food laid around and set up a meal. Someone knocks on the door.

MARY

Who could that be?

Mark enters the room.

MARK

Hello again. Your friend Thomas said that he wants to come in.

JOHN

Why is he here?

PETER

It doesn’t matter. (To Mark) Let him in. We’re just about to eat.

Mark opens the door and leaves as Thomas enters.

MARY

Hello, Thomas.

THOMAS

Hmph.

JAMES

Where were you?

THOMAS

Hiding in the crowd like everyone else was. Did you hear what he was saying? I heard that he was promising one of the thieves that they’d be together in paradise!

JOHN

I can actually confirm that he said that, believe it or not.

THOMAS

Well, I don’t believe it! I honestly think our master has lost his sanity while he was hanging there.

MAGDALENE

How could you say that? I was a lot closer to the cross that you were!

THOMAS

You don’t count and you know it.

JOHN

Thomas!

THOMAS

Sorry. I can’t help that I know we’re all gonna die as soon as the Sabbath is over.

MAGDALENE

I can’t believe what you’re saying. You have got to be the most cynical, pessimistic, doubtful

THOMAS

And you’re a former madwoman. You look far more possessed now than when seven demons were trapped in you.

Magdalene cries out loud and turns to Mary for comfort. Mary hold Magdalene in her arms.

JOHN

I guess you can now add insensitive to your list, Thomas.

THOMAS

It doesn’t matter, John. I just want her to stay quiet.

ANDREW

John is right. Have some compassion.

MAGDALENE

(Aside)

It’s like we women were the only ones crying there.

JAMES

Thomas, get your priorities straight. What matters-

PETER

Is that our Rabbi is dead.

Everyone is silent. Thunder and lightning are heard in the background.

PETER (CON’T)

I guess we have to sit and eat. Come on, everyone.

JOHN

Let’s pray, first.

Everyone sits down to eat.

JOHN (Con’t)

Lord, we thank you for the meal that you have given us. Alright, everyone. Let’s eat.

Everyone picks at their food.

JAMES

I can’t believe that it was only yesterday when we were sitting like this. Remember how he offered up wine and said that it was his blood?

THOMAS

Never made any sense to me.

MAGDALENE

Things never make sense unless you can see it, Thomas.

JOHN

I remember how he asked for a drink before he died. One of the soldiers dipped a sponge into some vinegar. And then he said “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit. It is finished.” Then he took a breath and…he was gone.

PETER

The Romans made certain that he was dead, didn’t they?

JOHN

Yes. One of them pierced the side of our Rabbi with a lance. Blood and water came spilling out.

THOMAS

They didn’t break his legs?

JOHN

No, they didn’t.

ANDREW

They probably saw that he went through a lot as it was. No need to beat up a dead horse.

JAMES

What did he mean when he said “It is finished” John?

JOHN

I wish I knew.

THOMAS

He probably lost all hope.

MAGDALENE

That can’t be true. The man I saw on the cross may have felt like God has abandoned him, but he would never lose hope!

THOMAS

You delusional-

MAGDALENE

You insensitive-

PETER

Would you please be quiet?!

A loud thunderclap roars. Lightning flashes. The sound of pouring rain surrounds them.

ANDREW

I remember how the sky darkened and the earth shook-I can’t believe the thunderstorm is still going on.

JAMES

It was raining like this since around the ninth hour.

JOHN

The ninth hour? That’s when Rabbi died.

MAGDALENE

It’s as if the whole world knew how much our Rabbi meant to us.

THOMAS

I doubt it.

MAGDALENE

Keep your doubts to yourself, if you please.

JOHN

I wonder if this rain will keep going until the third day.

ANDREW

Rabbi did always say something about coming back on the third day.

MARK

I wonder what that meant.

JAMES

Maybe he means coming back when time ends.

THOMAS

You guys are crazy! When people die, they die. If Rabbi is lucky, he’ll rise with the dead, but given the way that he died, he’s more likely in that Underworld that the Greeks speak about. Let’s face it. The Pharisees and Romans won. And then they’re gonna get us next.

PETER

You’ll probably be the first to beg for mercy.

THOMAS

At least I’ll be alive! For whatever reason, our master appointed you to lead us and what did you do? Cut off a soldier’s ear and ran away. That sword was meant for Judas, wasn’t it?

PETER

Like any of you would have done differently.

JAMES

Well you should’ve done something other than using your sword.

JOHN

Would you stop acting like you’re the only ones in the room? Mother and I had to watch him carry that cross, had to watch him suffer, had to watch him be nailed to the cross, had to watch him die.

PETER

He would. You were always the favorite.

JOHN

Be silent or I swear!

MAGDALENE

WOULD YOU STOP FIGHTING!?

The men are silent. Another thunderclap. Magdalene brings the apostles’ attention to Mary, who is crying quietly, huddled in a corner. It’s not until now that they realize how small she is. John goes over to comfort Mary.

JOHN

Mother…

MARY

It’s alright. I was just…remembering…

Mary looks off at a distance, contemplating her first sorrow.

MARY

When I went to the temple to circumcise my son, a man named Simeon told me that a sword would pierce my heart. Until now, I had no idea what such pain would feel like. I know that all of you loved my son. And I apologize if I am speaking out of turn, but I don’t think my son would like the fact that you’re still fighting. I beg your pardon and ask that you stop. For His sake.

The room is silent. Peter approaches Mary and kneels at her feet.

PETER

Mary?

MARY

What is it?

PETER

I didn’t want to say this. Rabbi…Rabbi told me that when the cock crowed twice, I would deny him. I didn’t think of it when the soldiers came, when I cut off the servant’s ear, hoping that I would somehow kill Judas or someone, hoping to stop everything. Then I was standing by a fire while Rabbi was on trial. A servant girl recognized me, and I denied him. Someone else in the crowd by the fire recognized me again and I denied him again. And then someone else said that I was a Galilean. I cursed and swore I didn’t know Rabbi…and I heard the cock crow. I’ve never felt so low in my life.

Peter cries.

PETER (CON’T)

I’m so sorry, everyone. I didn’t want anyone to know this.

MARY

Dearest Peter. I’m certain that my Son forgave you when he died. But you have to let go of this regret and pain. Something good will come from this.

Mary holds Peter and they cry together. John holds Mary and cries with her. Andrew and James look at each other, not knowing what to do. Magdalene cries, joining the group. Thomas grumbles and leaves.

Lent Day 41: Blood Moon

It’s no coincidence that Passover and Holy Week take place around the same time. Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his apostles the night before his death, after all.

But what if I told you that there was another connection between Passover of this year and the day that Jesus died?

EWTN sometimes airs this documentary called Star of Bethlehem around the time of Advent or Christmas because it talks about whether or not the Star of Bethlehem was real and if so, what exactly it was. (Spoilers: The Star of Bethlehem was real. Watch the documentary and find out how.)

But this documentary also shows something else: what the sky looked like (astronomically speaking) on the day that Jesus died. It’s revealed that on the day Jesus died, a lunar eclipse occurred.

A lunar eclipse occurring shortly after the start of Passover. The blood of the lamb washing over a pure white surface. Sounds familiar.

God’s timing can be seriously uncanny sometimes.