Simon looked at JJ, “Could you tell us what St. Martin Luther did to heal East and West and correct the errors of Rome?”
JJ nodded to Auggie. “You want to field this one?”
Auggie eagerly smiled at the opportunity to contribute. “Yes, please! Thank you, John Joseph.”
“Wait,” interrupted Ida, “Why did you call him John Joseph so formally there instead of JJ, as we and you have been doing all along in our conversation?”
“Easy,” Auggie replied with a smile. “That’s how we recognize God’s authority over us flowing to us through another person who has just authority over us and is speaking with that authority. We use their title or their full Catholic name. It shifts something in us, orienting us in humble obedience to the love of God. Regular conversation doesn’t require it, unless he’s talking as my boss or my big brother. We call it flow of authority and it is an entire branch of theology that encompasses everything from marriage and parenting relationship to labor relations, monarchy, nobles and subjects and law and . . . ”
“Thank you, Auggie. Note that your audience has gone from engaged to glazed over. What does that tell you?”
“That I went past my window of advancement?”
“Exactly. Each of us has to be open and engaged in order to learn — a form of humility, and then we can only hear so much before we have to integrate it with what we think we know. You overfilled your audience’s capacity for integration. How do you correct that?”
“Uh, return back to the main big point I saw them understand, repeat it, and get them to affirm it, then back off and give them time to integrate, following their cues going forward.”
“Excellent. Show me.”
Auggie looked Ida, then Simon, in the eye. Lost in thoughts they weren’t able to process well, they refocused on him and he said, “So, when JJ speaks to me with God’s authority I acknowledge that by respecting that authority using his proper name or position or title. It is a form of humble obedience.
Ida stared at Auggie in extended silence, then said, “Thank you, Augustine.” She perked up, surprised by how the simple act of acknowledging God’s authority justly flowing through another felt as she tried it on. She’d expected it to diminish her, yet quite the opposite happened. A part of her, a very unfamiliar part, felt emboldened and joyous and free. Outwardly her face quirked sideways, deeply puzzled.
Simon asked again, “Augustine, could you tell us about what St. Martin Luther did to heal East and West and correct the errors of Rome?”
I forgot, thought Ida, how much I love his “dog with a bone” when he’s single minded in cracking open the marrow. He’s returning to his own here in this nutty vision.
Auggie stood and moved to the center of the lounge. Hands behind his back and standing straight and stiff as a board, he said, “Every child learns about the great journey . . .” he stopped, noticing Simon wasn’t listening at all, rather he was gazing at the surreal view out their window. A sliver-thin crescent Jupiter dominated the sky above the dark, shadowed crater wall surrounding the cave opening into which they’d snugged. Not a single pursuer or hunter had been seen since they’d lost them round the curve of Europa.
“Simon?” he asked gently.
Simon took several seconds to stir. “Huh? Oh. Right. I’m sorry. It’s just that I needed a few moments to appreciate this. We’re in a spaceship, hiding in a crevice of a crack in a crater on Io with Jupiter rising in crescent, being hunted by space invaders while we sit in a lounge chatting about history that may or may not have ever happened. I just need a few moments to appreciate that.”
They all sat in silence several minutes until Simon nodded and whispered, “I’m good.”
As if no interruption had occurred, Auggie resumed his school boy stance. “Every child learns of the great journey Saint Martin Luther took to heal the Church of its rending wound between East and West.
“He did not nail his demands for reform on the Wittenberg Church door, though in his per-sonal writing we found various piecemeal forms of it. Our Martin Luther instead went to Rome and asked permission to go to Constantinople as an emissary of Rome and seek to heal the schism.
“St. Pope Leo X nearly fell off the Chair of Peter he laughed so hard. Undaunted, not having been told not to, and answering his call from God, St. Martin took off his shoes and began walking with only a cloak to sleep in and shelter him from storms and a walking staff.
“His journey from Rome to Constantinople wended 2,400 kilometers through Europe and took him four months. He encountered some of the many gangs of thieves who normally beat travelers and took all they had — more so if they had nothing. Yet none of these waylaid St. Martin and some gave him food and shelter, inviting in his many hale and hearty companions, who simply insisted on waiting outside. St. Martin never saw his companions, though he described always feeling God’s presence with him, giving him warmth when he was cold and stamina when he was exhausted. He found and returned hundreds of lost souls to the flock along his way.
“He arrived in Constantinople in tatters. Passing through the city gates he was overcome with the weight of his burden and fell to his knees. Unable to get up, he crawled through the streets to the Patriarch’s Gate, where he was refused entry for being a bloodied beggar in tatters, to which he replied, ‘I am a bloody beggar in tatters whom God has sent to reunite the family of God torn asunder by arrogance and pride.’
“The guards sneered and introduced St. Martin to the hospitality of the gutters and their warming sewage for the night.
“Next morning, St. Martin again crawled beneath his burden to the Patriarch’s Gate, now wrapped in tatters of his former cloak and bathed in an astonishing perfume.
“‘I am a bloody beggar in stinking tatters bearing the stench of hundreds of years of the sin of pride that has torn our family apart. Receive me that I might deliver the healing balm of Christ.’
“Unwilling to approach him more than they must, the guards used whips to herd Saint Martin out past the city gates. Many of the whip lashes left their mark and St. Martin was left for dead in the dust beside the road outside the city gates of Constantinople. Dusk turned to yet another night.
“Dawn came, casting light on a wretched man huddled beneath a few remaining threads of cloak, naked and bleeding beneath, eye swollen nearly shut, face bruised and bloody. A priest nearly passed him by, as did all others that morning, but the first rays of light cast a heavenly glow upon St. Martin and caught the priest’s eye. Where the light touched St. Martin, the priest saw him as God saw him — robed in fine cloth with fine golden trim and in vibrant health. Moved with pity for God’s poor and reminded of the sin of the priest who passed the wounded man by in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest wrapped his arms around St. Martin, heedless he soiled and bloodied his best robes, in which he was to appear before the Patriarch. St. John of Constantinople (for he became the emissary of Constantinople to Rome and a great Saint) carried the barely conscious St. Martin through the city gates and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, bore him not to the healers but to his own audience with the Patriarch. Ignoring the guard’s protests and having a glow and strength and size about him that brokered no argument, St. John of Constantinople bore the broken St. Martin through the Patriarch’s gates and into the Patriarch’s chambers where Saint John lay him at the feet of his bishop.
“The Patriarch, Saint Theoleptus I, rose from his chair and demanded, ‘John! Who is this filth and why have you placed him at my feet where I cannot ignore him?’
“Having heard the guards speak, and further inspired by the Holy Spirit, St. John of Constantinople said, ‘Your Eminence, he is become the schism which tears asunder the Body of Christ, which must be healed! Refused entry to your home twice, if he is rejected a third time though we now know to do so is to reject God’s own will, we will bear his burden thrice over on our own souls. Yet embrace him and these wounds will be healed, and more yet besides.’
“The Patriarch gazed on the wretched pile of a man flopped before him and nearly retched himself. But sorrow welled in his heart, and just enough humility awoke and stirred and grew within him that he descended the dais, knelt over Saint Martin and placed his hands gently over the worst of his wounds.
“Light streamed through the far windows of the chamber and poured into St. Martin, who gasped as he woke. There, before the eyes of Sts. Theoleptus I, Leo X, and John of Constantinople, under the ministrations of the light, St. Martin Luther was fully healed, cleaned, and clothed in finest white robes trimmed with gold.
“Rejuvenated, yet without saying a word, St. Martin rose, turned toward the far wall facing Rome and raised his arms. The wall dissolved, revealing one very astonished Pope in his chambers in Rome. Patriarch and Pope slowly approached each other, covering centuries of separation with each step. God dissolves all schism if we but allow him.
“Pausing before his brother the Patriarch, the Pope said, ‘What a fool I have been. The separation caused by my sin is far greater than the distance between us. Forgive me, brother!’
“The Patriarch responded, ‘Brother, my sin trebled our distance and pain. Forgive me!’
“The two embraced, shared a meal and worked out the differences dividing them. It was later learned that St. Pope Leo X had been working alone in his chambers when he heard voices, one angry, one beautiful. Rising he walked toward them and the wall of his chamber vanished. There he saw the servant he had laughed out of Rome, now bloodied and near death, and heard this servant was the wound-of-division in Christ’s body, perpetuated by his own stubbornness. The breath of the Holy Spirit transformed the Pope’s heart of stone into a heart of flesh. The Pope watched helplessly, unable to be seen or heard as events unfolded in his brother’s chambers in Constantinople. He stepped back in horror, stood and watched. As he did, he saw clearly the sins of greed and pride which had become embraced by the Church of Rome, and he vowed to reform them regardless of what happened to St. Martin Luther.
“The Patriarch and the Pope met throughout the day and at dinner the two men exchanged chalices. The wall of the chambers sealed at sunset. When the men subsequently met, they confirmed the miracle, as though it needed confirming, after St. Martin returned to Rome through the wall, by the chalices. To this day, the Pope and the Patriarch celebrate Mass with their brother’s cup of communion.”
Editor’s note: This issue of the Herald features a third installment of “Ecsodus Vision,” a novella by Deacon Patrick Jones. The complete book is available in e-book format at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C7LJN15/.