Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why Dragons?

I like dragons, and have for a long time. Well, not in the same way that I like chocolate, or reading a good book, but it is correct to say that I like them. I would also have to say that I believe that "dragons" once existed. Maybe they were some creature that is now extinct, or maybe they were some breed of lizard that no one alive today has ever seen; I do not know for sure--and neither does anyone else, for none of us were around in the days when people claimed to have seen them. Yet, I like to believe that they did (or maybe "do") exist.

One of the reasons that I like them is that there is so much fascinating mythology about them (even excluding the demonic confusion that shows its ugly head in so many places). That is, however, only a small reason for my appreciation of dragons. I like dragons because they symbolize the victory of Christ. In the New Testament we are told often that Jesus conquered all the principalities and powers (e.g. Col 2:15), and that He overcame the devil and his demons (Heb 2:14, 1 Jn 3:8). Dragons (especially as seen in the beautiful paintings of St. George slaying the dragon), and gargoyles as well, were both used as symbols of that victorious power of Christ.

Many ask what the reason is that we see so many medieval Churches with these images on them. After all, the Church is supposed to be for the faithful people of God, and not for conquered demons; right? This is true, but the question we need to ask first is "what does Jesus do with the demons once He fully conquers them?" The reason that we see gargoyles and dragon-like statues on medieval Churches is because they were placed there to show that Jesus not only conquered them, He also used them as slaves (cf. 1 Peter 3:22), or "guard dogs" to protect His people and the Churches that they worshipped in ("you serve Me now, and here is your job from here on out").

Although dragons symbolize the ugly enemies of Christ, after they are conquered, they are used for Jesus' own purposes to bring glory to God. The entire idea is redemption. Either we are converted and become God's people, or not; yet we always serve His purpose in some way. Even Judas Iscariot, in all his betrayal, was still serving the purposes of a sovereign God. In Jesus plan of things, no one (and no "thing") is ever a complete waste.

Even C.S. Lewis (one of my favorite Anglican authors) used this same kind of symbolism. If you are one of the few that have actually not read his book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (no, the Hollywood corruption of the story does not count), then you simply must remedy that as soon as possible. The situation where Eustace Scrubb encounters a dragon, and what happens as a result follows this same theme of corruption and redemption that I have been speaking about (and it does so in a remarkably picturesque manner!).

So there you are. That is my explanation of why I like dragons. It should make even the casual observer see the providence of God in the fact that I was assigned as the priest for St. George Catholic Church. Currently in my living room there is a beautiful bronze 14 inch statue of St. George conquering the dragon; a reminder for all who visit that this is our calling as the baptized people of God. So what "dragons" have you conquered lately; either for your own good, or the good of someone else? What "dragons" has the Lord put in your life that you need to be dealing with? The Christian life (and most especially the Catholic life) is not for sissies who are unwilling to "fight the good fight of the soldier of the Lord".

This is what my ministry is all about: helping the people of God to slay their "dragons". This is what I pray that the parish of St. George Catholic Church will be about as well. This is why I have titled my blog "Beware Yon Dragons" (best said with a slight British accent). I write to point out "dragons", tell you to "beware of them" and help you to fight them off and conquer them. Finally, if you ever decide to come by my office sometime, I do not want you to be shocked--you may see a dragon or two there who have been conquered and subjected to Christ--but remember, I warned you beforehand.