Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Inverted Narcisus

To follow up on my last post, I want to just add a reflection that came to mind. Narcisa was named by her parents after Narcisus, the early Roman martyr for the Eucharist. I grew up with a great devotion to Narcisus founded in some of the early Catholic readers that my family used. Now my younger brother has a picture of him above his bed, as the cycle of devotion to him continues in my family. What struck me as I was thinking about him and the witness to his life that the life of Narcisa expressed is the reason for which he died. He died because of his love for the Eucharist.

If we think about Narcisus, the character of the ancient myth, this presents a beautiful paradox. The original Narcisus died looking at himself in the water, longing for himself and so devouring himself in his love for himself. Narcisus the saint on the other hand and conversely died with the Eucharist to his breast, beaten by his friends because he would not expose Christ to their fun. And so the beautiful reflection of Aquinas comes out, that in the Eucharist we become who we consume. Unlike the mythical Narcisus, we don't consume ourselves and so destroy ourselves. Rather, we consume Christ and become him whom we consume. And so become ourselves. The myth is turned on its head by the saint. And so saints take up the natural and, through their iconic living, reveal the place of the birth of revelation within it. Even within pagan myth.

Markel, SJ

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