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The Inescapable Gravity of GraceThe Inescapable Gravity of Grace

The Inescapable Gravity of Grace

How fitting, observes Convivium contributor Terry Lisieux, that the unveiling of the first photograph of a black hole should occur just before Easter reveals again the central Moment of Christian life.

4 minute read
The Inescapable Gravity of Grace April 29, 2019  |  By Terry Lisieux
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Several weeks ago, the first picture of a black hole was released to the public. The culmination of a decade-long project that utilized a planet-scale array of telescopes to acquire an image of the much theorized, but as of that point visually unobserved, cosmic phenomena, the resulting image – fuzzy and indistinct though it may be – ignited a frenzy among not only the scientific community but the public at large. At least, I hope it has. 

The narrative underpinnings of the strange objects ought to be enough to arouse some sort of visceral emotions – terror, awe, etc. – for those viewing the image, especially if they have a base-level understanding of what they are looking at. With my perfectly inadequate and uninformed background in physics and cosmology, I will attempt a two-sentence brief on black holes. Essentially, the objects are accumulations of matter that are dense enough to create a well of gravity from which nothing, not even light, can escape. Physicists describe these phenomena as enormous bends in space and time. Any matter that enters past the event horizon – effectively an outer limit – of a black hole is drawn into a singularity, where gravity becomes infinite and the laws of physics as currently understood are tossed out the window.

I reiterate that I am no scientist, so forgive me if I have thoroughly botched my overview of black holes. Regardless, I found myself drawn to the story, having been positively giddy after seeing announcements the week before regarding the unveiling of the image. There is some narrative satisfaction to be found at the prospect of an incomprehensible something or other floating around in the cosmos to which everything in its sphere of influence tends towards. Stray too close, and its grasp is inescapable, pulling you into its fathomless depths.

A strange thing to contemplate during Easter when we witnessed the unfolding of a great liturgical drama that reverberates throughout history, past, present, and future. Every moment within the narrative of mankind tends towards this Centre. As Christ says, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” All things tend towards Christ, who proceeds forth to his death on the Cross, having sacramentally instituted His Body and Blood as a sacrifice echoing throughout eternity. 

One cannot avoid the reach of His death, as the entirety of the cosmos is oriented towards Him. To dismiss the sacramental fruit of the Cross is to reject our partaking in the history of the Moment. All of time and space bends towards the Cross, the sweetest wood and sweetest iron bearing the sweetest, eternal weight. “Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo salus mundi pepéndit.” At that Moment, everything tumbles inwards.

The Moment begs a response. The hordes hurl forth their frothing invectives, a fitting reaction to One who is bound to send all of history hurtling towards a singularity. Satan ignites the people in spectacular fashion: as the crowd is drawn helplessly inward, the multitudes avert their eyes towards precisely anything but Christ and, bucking and braying, desperately try to extricate themselves from the Centre of All Things. The crowd casts their aspersions: “If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to Thee.” 

The charges may be false, but here He is. If He is here, then it must be so. Either way, it is expedient that one man should die for the people. 

“If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend!” Turning to Caesar is contemptible, but even the most shameful alternative will do. Anything but Him.  

All else failing, we must destroy that which is drawing us. 

“Away with Him! Away with Him! Crucify Him!” 

His innocence necessarily implies our guilt. Pilate, a thoroughly post-modern man, simply covers his ears and denies all truth. Christ is certainly innocent, but what precisely does innocence mean anyways? All is satire, all is absurd. Perhaps we shall cover him with raiment of kings, for irony’s sake. Surely the wit of such a gesture will be appreciated in posterity. However, Satan’s age-old mechanism of obfuscation carries no weight at this Moment. The answer must be Yes or No. Anything in between constitutes the latter.

Following our thrice-spoken denial, the gravity of it all begins to sink in. Physicists say that, before entering the event horizon, a black hole drawing in enough matter is encircled by hot gases travelling at speeds approaching that of light. Before anything reaches the Object itself, chances are that it will be effectively incinerated. 

To see the Son for Who He Is entails the unbearable recognition of our guilt. Divine blood has been spilt, and we must answer. “O My people, what have I done to thee? Wherein have I afflicted thee? Answer me.” 

We must respond. “Because I led thee out of the land of Egypt, thou hast prepared a cross for thy Saviour.” With eyes up and watering from the Sun, we see the Innocent Lamb splayed forth on the Cross. “Agios o Théos! Agios ischyrós! Agios athánatos eléison imás!” 

There is nothing more we can say. We have fallen past the event horizon, and everything has changed. The only light left standing is the Paschal Candle, the Alpha and the Omega. Proceed onward, and you are inexorably drawn to the Centre of All Things.


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