Copyright © 2006 Michael Dubruiel
"Every heresy is a forgotten truth seeking revenge."
It was 1982 and I was a student at a small Catholic College in the Midwest--the site of the first meeting of the famous Jesus Seminar. On this night everyone was gathered in the cavernous chapel, that had been gutted after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. There was expectancy in the air that hung like the clouds of incense and fog produced by dry ice as the great drama in front of us unfolded.
Over the course of the next two hours I would witness monks donning white leotards prancing in the air, angels of gloom and doom announcing plagues and terror from balconies above and then finally the appearance of the bride--the bride of Christ!
Now the great mystery leading up to this dramatic presentation of the Book of the Apocalypse or Revelation was who was going to play the bride?
After all we were an all male school run by monks.
There were women who worked in the cafeteria, administrative office and janitorial staff--but these were all rather serious women who didn't usually participate in school plays. Perhaps it would be someone from outside. The actress Florence Henderson had made her acting debut at this school years before when she was recruited by one of the monks who said Mass on Sundays in her parish in a nearby town. Perhaps another future Mrs. Brady would play the part!
The music and singing of the schola reached a fever pitch as more incense and dry ice fog filled the raised sanctuary, obscuring the moving figures taking their places: "Veni, et ostendam tibi sponsam, uxorem Agni." Latin for "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb" a passage from the Book of Revelations found in chapter 21, verse 9.
Suddenly she emerged, at first only her leg covered in a white bridal gown breaking through the incense and fog--in unison with one of the white leotard clad monks on whom her arm rested in a courtly manor.
I looked around at my fellow students and some of the guests present for the drama. All faces were rapt toward the unfolding revelation as to who was the bride. Then she was revealed. It was Sister Mary John the Baptist who looked everyday of her sixty-seven years, although her religious life made her truly a bride of Christ, she didn't quite fit the part.
In a bridal gown as glorious as the one worn by Princess Diana wore on her wedding day she descended the steps carefully. She was a faculty member, one who liked to lead her classes in guided meditations. Up until this point the dramatic presentation had been like one of these, albeit more engaging, but now it had taken an even harsher turn in the road.
I am sure that the image of a sixty seven year old woman in that beautiful white wedding gown would haunt the dreams of many of my classmates for years to come. It reminded me of one of Sister Mary John the Baptist's first classes where after forty minutes of imagining that we were on a mountaintop, by a brook, at a beach and finally Jesus was there and we were to imagine "What do you say to him?"
Amador, a young student from Texas blurted out "Take me with you!" This was quickly followed by an anonymous passing of gas by another student that was loud (when everyone is silent--everything is loud)--which caused uncontrollable laughter that quickly broke the spell we had been under. Not daring to fully open my eyes, wet with tears from the laughter, I spied a peak at Sister who was not amused. Now this...
I heard chuckles behind me. But who could play this role?
No one person, I realized, for the Bride of Christ was not one person - but the Church.