Abyssus abyssum invocat (Dennis Aubrey)


Les jugements de Dieu sont des abîmes. Les abîmes de la sagesse, de la miséricorde de Dieu.

This phrase “Abyssus abyssum invocat” is full of obscurity, of mysteries impenetrable to reason. The abyss calls to the abyss, the deep calls to the deep. For some, one hell calls for another. But in French, “L’abîme appelle l’abîme;” the judgments of God are the Deep. The deep of the wisdom, the mercy of God.

The sound of it alone whispers to me, I hear it in the night. “L’abîme appelle l’abîme“, like a chant, trying to reach through my subconscious into my soul. “L’abîme appelle l’abîme” “L’abîme appelle l’abîme”. Lying in the dark, unable to fathom the message, other questions arise. Why do we need to build churches? Why do we need God? What are we trying to express when we talk about God, or religion, or faith? Is this a need inside of us, as if we fear the abyss, fear the emptiness, fear the darkness of an eternal night?

Cathédrale Saint-Front de Périgueux

Gods lend a design to a nature that seems violent, random and destructive. How can we insignificant humans hope to understand such a force? How can we formulate thoughts too complex for our minds and spirits? For those things we need gods and mysteries. We need those gods in the long dark nights, in the shelter against a storm, and in the shattering loss of sudden death. We need to know there is something that watches over us and can give structure to the chaos. That particular something needn’t be true, only needs to be plausible, powerful, and profound. That something explains the world and orders the society around us at the same time.

Clerestory light, Basilique Sainte Madeleine, Vézelay

These churches are monumental significations of this great design. They are literal interpretations of the religion itself; often constructed in the form of the cross that represents the sacrifice upon which the religion itself is based. The church is, in fact, a book in which one reads all of the deep mysteries of the faith. Its harmonies of design are intended to represent those of heaven itself. Its plainchant harmonies echo the choirs of angels. As humans, we have a firm belief; if significations of this great design are available to us, we might be better able to choose the right course of action, to live a worthy life. For while the gods are powerful, tempestuous and capricious, like humans themselves, there is an order to the world they rule. Because they exist, we have a way to understand the mystery surrounding us.

In the long middle of the night, alone, I feel my life speeding by, tumbling and roiling into some unknown future. At the same precise time, I feel the buffeting of the moment’s wind, each clear and distinct from the next. The sensation is like falling at terminal velocity but in slow motion. I only wait to know, to understand, as the abyss slowly opens beneath me.

If you are interested in seeing more of these images, please see the Via Lucis website.

2 responses to “Abyssus abyssum invocat (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. The Abyss gapes wide. It is deeper and stranger than all our understanding. I keep looking for my own parachute.

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