Political Thriller Fiction: The Rapture of Darkness

The following is an excerpt from Jack Spring’s novel, The Rapture of Darkness.  For more information about the book, please visit www.jackspring.com .
“By my lively voice, I drive away all harm.”
                                                                                                                                                                  ~ Common Inscription,
                                                                                                                                                                        English Church Bells
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
East Side, Honolulu, Hawaii
November 6, 2012 – Election Day
6:15 A.M. Local Time …
The air of the newborn morning was soft and sweet.
As the first hint of daybreak began to light up the sky, the crowd gathered at the base of the old bell tower and fixed their gaze at the top of the Romanesque-style structure.  Near the top of the tower was an octagonal bell-house with a tall spire silhouetted against the beige morning sky.
Around the bell-house, standing more than fifty feet off the ground, four monks were positioned in a line along the narrow walk-way of the blind arcade portico and railings.  They wore long white robes and red stoles crossed in front and secured by white cinctures.  The clerics then turned slowly to face the openings of the bell-house and began murmuring softly, as each made the sign of the cross.
The head-monk positioned himself in the center of the group and began to read in Latin from the missal he held in his right hand, as he steadied himself with his left hand on the bell-house.  Then he paused, nodded and the monk to his right began to sprinkle holy water on the bells through the opening of the bell-house, using the long-handled silver aspergillum.
Another nod and the monk to his left raised a gold thurible on chains filled with burning incense, which wafted toward the bell tower.  The  last monk held high a large white altar candle which flickered imperceptibly in the stillness of the early dawn. [1]
Suddenly, the sky began to brighten.  Wisps of high thin clouds overhead turned to vibrant shades of purple, yellow, green and orange as the early November sun sparkled in the clear, clean air and began to peek above the volcano ridge of Diamond Head.
From the top of the tower, the monks enjoyed unparalleled views of one of the most spectacular sights on earth — a Hawaiian sunrise.  They each smiled signing themselves and then disappeared through the small doorway at the back of the tower which led to the descending spiral staircase and past the hanging bells.
In the grassy area at the base of the tower, the parishioners began to “ooh” and “ahh” in hushed tones, as they watched the sky fill with brilliant shades of lavender, blue, green and orange-yellow.  As the clerics emerged from the small door at the bottom of the tower, the circle of gathered families opened like a gate to welcome them, and they made their way to the center, surrounded.
Then the monks began offering a canticle of prayers, sung in Latin in the form of Gregorian chant, as they continued incensing and sprinkling water.  As they finished praying, they bowed their heads, folded their hands, paused a moment, and then looked up.  It was officially sunrise.
At that moment, off in the distance, the sound of church bells could be heard coming from the west, near the old part of the city.  It was The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, founded in 1864––America’s oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use.
Our Lady of Peace had been given the honor of being the first to sound its chimes for the national bell-ringing ceremony on Election Day.
Then the bells of St. Patrick began to ring — clear, loud, and strong — pealing with a sound hopeful, noble and proud.
The re-dedication of the Bells of St. Patrick was now complete, and everyone agreed they sounded as clear and crisp as the morning itself.  Many remarked as well that the sunrise was one of the most beautiful and memorable they’d experienced — majestic, transcendent, and somehow magical.
Today was clearly not an ordinary day.  It was Election Day 2012.
And for the first time in half a century the old church bells of St. Patrick’s were heard again throughout the islands.
Originally, the bells were given to the parish as a gift from the City of Brussels.  They were believed to be quite old, though the history of the bells had been lost, or maybe it was never really known.  In value, the bells far exceeded anything the parish building budget would have allowed then, and the gift was greatly welcomed by the parishioners.
It was February, 1929–– a week before the stock market crash–– when the tower and bells were consecrated to mark the opening of Honolulu’s grand Catholic Church.  The Bishop from the Diocese presided over the dedication of the church and tower, and washed the bells in holy water using an ancient rite known as “the baptism of the bells.” [2]
That day, the Bishop dedicated the church to the late fourth century saint and bishop of Armagh, Ireland — St. Patrick.
It was a neighborhood parish, not large or wealthy, but still the grandest Catholic Church in East Honolulu.  And for 33 years, the noble sound of her bells could be heard for many miles, ringing-in the slow passage of time on the islands — that is until that fateful morning in early August, 1961, when the bells developed their mysterious cracks and were silenced.
It was a loss.  Not just of the familiar, but of the hopeful.  Those sounds, which repeated so often in the ears of the islanders, and which filled their hearts and souls for a generation, suddenly were gone.
The night after the bells had cracked, the priest and the parishioners assembled to discuss what to do, but without the funds to fix the bells, they had no choice but to yield to the reality of their loss.  Their solution was practical and cheap:  they would install a set of loudspeakers in the bell tower, hook them up to a phonograph, and play a recording of church bells instead.
How quickly the sacred is abandoned in times of need or distraction. 
Indeed, as 1961 drew to a close, the world had grown needy and distracted — eager to explore the unknown; to break free from the restrictive gravity of established traditions; to enter into the weightless orbit of a new culture of unfettered freedom.  Just as the sound of the church bells once announced the regular passage of time and called the world to prayer, and to its duties and traditions, their absence seemed to proclaim the arrival of a new modern space age, free of such restraints––a new epoch in which mankind was limited only by its imagination and the farthest reaches of the heavens.
In August 1961, the talk (even among good Catholics) was about The Pill, and of rocket ships going to the moon, and of the changes the Church might adopt with the Second Vatican Council.  Everything new excited.  The bells, old, did not.  Fixing them would have to wait.  And it did wait.
For more than a half a century, the ancient church bells of St. Patrick remained silent. [3]
Yet all that would change on November 3, 2012.
That was the day the dark-haired, blue-eyed, handsome youthful man in his early thirties approached the parish priest with an offer to restore the bells in time for the national Election Day bell-ringing ceremony planned across America.
“In less than three days!?” the parish priest exclaimed, with more skepticism than amazement. “How can you possibly repair the old bells before Tuesday?  There’s no one who moves that fast on the islands, and probably no one qualified anymore who can fix those bells!”  … to be continued …

[1] An ex-communication from the Roman Catholic Church was described in ancient times as being ”by bell, book and candle” — an indication of the utter separation of the offender from the communion of the Church.  Often, a single Church bell would toll slowly, as in a funeral, marking somberly the loss of a loved one who’d rejected God’s love and had lost the promise of Heaven.
[2] A Christian baptism is meant to wash one from the stain of original sin, and is deemed valid when it is performed with water “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  The use of water, whether by pouring or sprinkling, or immersing the body, and the use of the formulaic words are all that is required to confer the sacrament and cleanse the soul of original sin forever.  Thus, it need never be repeated.  Washing a bell at its dedication is meant to ensure it has been cleansed of impurities, and will ring out clear and true.  It is a “baptism” only in a symbolic sense, like the “christening” of a ship.
 [3] In describing his descent into the catacombs of the Vatican where he conducted his study and research, St. Jerome quoted Virgil’s description of hell:  “[it was]the horror and the silences [that]terrified their souls.”


About Author

There's a middle-aged woman who lives in a shoe, (Housing costs are high near Washington, DC) She has lots of children, so what does she do? (Besides lots and lots of laundry) She writes and takes pictures, Voice-overs, and talks, Enjoys time with her husband, And taking long walks, Teaching NFP, and making up songs, And blogging at marvelouslybeautiful.wordpress.com.