Sunday, June 16, 2013

"Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it."

"Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend.  Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the 'most portable' person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one.  I then said, in a very shaky voice, 'Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.'  That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable."

     Flannery O'Connor, letter to "A." dated 16 December 1955.  The habit of being:  letters edited and with an introduction by Sally Fitzgerald (New York:  Random House, 1979), 125; Flannery O'Connor:  collected works (New York:  The Library of America, 1988), 977.