Charles Ryder in the Chapel

Rev. Terrance W. Klein, S.J., a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, uses the last paragraphs of Brideshead Revisited to conclude an essay on prayer. This essay appears in the online edition of America: The National Catholic Review published by the Jesuit order:

Brideshead¬†was…¬†a great house full of loves denied and passions embraced. Evelyn Waugh ends his story with a strange little reflection about the Catholic chapel in the Brideshead home. The characters have all exited, yet the narrator, Charles Ryder, who revisits the estate, now an army post, during the Second World War, insists that one actor remains.

“There was a part of the house I had not yet visited, and I went there now. The chapel showed no ill-effects of its long neglect; the art-nouveau paint was as fresh and as bright as ever; the art-nouveau lamp burned once more before the altar. I said a prayer, an ancient, newly learned form of words, and left, turning towards the camp; and as I walked back…I thought:

‘…Something quite remote from anything the builders intended has come out of their work, and out of the fierce little human tragedy in which I played; something none of us thought about at the time: a small red flame‚ÄĒa beaten-copper lamp of deplorable design, relit before the beaten-copper doors of a tabernacle; the flame which old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones.'”

The full quotation is available in the essay at the above link. 

 

 

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