“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.” Lewis, C. S. (2009). Weight of Glory (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis) [Kindle iOS version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com at page 47, location 444.
. . . to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. (Col. 1:27*)
I first read The Weight of Glory long ago. Since then, I’ve re-read it many times. C.S. Lewis’s words quoted above are the culmination of his sermon preached June 8, 1941 at the twelfth-century Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Walter Hooper, an Anglican who served briefly as Lewis’s private secretary and later as literary advisor to the Estate of C.S. Lewis (and who converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1988), remarked that this sermon may deserve place among the Church Fathers (18/182). For my part, I agree with Mr. Hooper. The Weight of Glory may be the heaviest thing (pun intended) I’ve ever read outside of Sacred Scripture.
Truth seeps in imperceptibly, slowly replacing error. I don’t recall ever reading T.W.O.G. focussed on the Blessed Sacrament. However, C.S. Lewis’s treatment of our Lord’s Body and Blood was quite foreign to our low-church Protestant understanding. Indeed, our Baptist-tradition’s Lord’s Supper was merely symbolic; no real sacrament. Later, in the Presbyterian Church of America, it was more negation than sacrament. In fact, this sermon really is not about Christ in the Eucharist. Over many years, however, the reality of the Blessed Sacrament began to weigh upon me. Eventually, the truth of our Lord’s Body and Blood outweighed our Reformed, negative spirituality that surrounded the celebration of this eternal-yet-immanent mystery.
In T.W.O.G., Lewis invites us to dwell on true Christ hidden in each believer; especially Christ hidden in our neighbor. As exiles and strangers making our way through a broken but beautiful world, we will do well to keep this profound truth before our eyes. How can we go wrong living in the reality of Christ vere latitat (in ourselves and in our neighbor) as we press on toward the hope of seeing God face to face, “that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe” (39/366)?
ONE LORD. ONE FAITH. ONE BAPTISM.
AS FOR ME, I KNOW THAT MY VINDICATOR LIVES, AND THAT HE WILL AT LAST STAND FORTH UPON THE DUST. THIS WILL HAPPEN WHEN MY SKIN HAS BEEN STRIPPED OFF, AND FROM MY FLESH I WILL SEE GOD: I WILL SEE FOR MYSELF, MY OWN EYES, NOT ANOTHER’S, WILL BEHOLD HIM: MY INMOST BEING IS CONSUMED WITH LONGING. JOB 19:25-27
*New American Bible Revised Edition