A few days ago my daughter Alexandra asked me if I don’t feel the presence of my departed Rosemary. I quickly answered that I do not believe in ghosts.
I have been reflecting on my quick answer. I believe that my views on religion and politics are private especially in these divisive times of the 21st century.
But I do believe that religious doctrines (without opining on believing or following them) can offer intelligent exercises in thought.
Because I went to a Roman Catholic boarding school in Austin, Texas in the late 50s I received a very good education on what exactly Roman Catholic doctrine is all about.
Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C., my friend and mentor, taught us religion without us being aware that his focus was on theology and he brought Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas and St, Augustine into his class mix.
As an example he told us that the least understood of the seven sacraments was the one that usually follows baptism and is called Confirmation. It is too bad that this sacrament goes to young children as it makes the receiver a defender of the faith which we must know was one of the titles of the English King James of King James Bible fame.
This sacrament makes the person able to explain their faith to anybody who might ask. It is not a sword and guns defense.
In my reflection last night of my quick answer to Alexandra I came up with an idea that is based on my knowledge of Roman Catholic doctrine. This is transubstantiation in which believers, upon taking a bread wafer during Mass at Communion, understand and believe that the bread has converted into the body of Christ.
I like this word. I was thinking of what happens if I go in reverse? What if I go from body to an opposite direction? What if I go from the real, live body of Rosemary and untransubstanciate? Do I arrive at some spirit? Is this why I feel her absent presence on her side of the bed or when I walk around the block with Niño using Rosemary’s route?
Is untransubstantiation and method of believing in the existence of spirits?
Of interest to anybody who may have read up to here there is a not too well-known jazz standard called Confirmation by Charlie Parker. My friend, Vancouver saxophonist Gavin Walker explained to me that in his youth Parker sang in a Roman Catholic church choir and indeed the title of the song is about that almost forgotten second sacrament.