The Basilica of Saint Patrick's Old Cathedral, or Old St. Patrick's, is a church in New York City.
Penance and Forgiveness
Matt Murdock went to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in order to confess his sins with Father Lantom. Murdock started his confession apologizing for waiting too long since his last confession, and explained that his father, Jack Murdock, used to come there when Matt was only a kid.
Murdock explained his father was an old school boxer that lost more matches than he won, but he was strong and could take the hits of his opponents, to the point his opponents said hitting him was like hitting oak and sometimes his strategies were only to let them hit until they broke their hands. Murdock admired his father for the way he was never knocked out, as every time he was knocked down, he always got back up, and was always on his feet when he lost.
Murdock continued explaining that his grandmother was the real Catholic in his family, and she had a saying of her own: "Be careful of the Murdock boys. They got the devil in 'em." Sometimes, Murdock's father displayed that in the ring, with a way of moving and looking that made his opponents afraid, and he seized the opportunity to trap them in the corner, letting the devil out. Murdock explained how he recently began to understand what his father felt, something he did not understand when he was a kid.
Lantom did not understand what Murdock was trying to say, and asked him to tell what he had done. Murdock put his glasses on, and answered he was not seeking penance for something he had done before, he was asking forgiveness for what he was about to do. Lantom told him that a confession did not work that way, and asked Murdock what was he going to do before he left the cathedral.
Matt Murdock was sitting in a bank right outside the cathedral when Father Lantom spotted him. Lantom approached Murdock, recognizing him as Jack Murdock's son. Murdock was about to leave, but Lantom sat beside him, dissuading him by saying that he was bonded by the Seal of Confession, and anything Murdock said during the sacrament of penance would stay between them.
Lantom told him that even if he had confessed killing 10 people, he could not tell, prompting Murdock to ask if Lantom thought it was fair. Father Lantom did not answer, simply saying that that was how it was.
Murdock remained silent for a second before saying that he had to leave and go to work, though Lantom offered him a cup of coffee. Lantom explained that the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce donated him an espresso machines for the meetings at the cathedral, and he prepared a very good latte.
Murdock refused, saying that maybe another time. Lantom tried to reach him, saying that he seemingly had many things in his mind the last time he visited the cathedral, and offered him to have a latte for a second time. Murdock, not wanting to speak anymore, wished Lantom to take care of himself before leaving.
Matt Murdock waited outside Saint Patrick's Cathedral until Father Lantom arrived. Lantom was pleased to see Murdock, saying that he had started to wonder if he would come to the church again. Murdock simply said that he had been busy, so Lantom told him that he would be inside in case he wanted to take confession. However, Murdock asked if it was too late to accept Lantom's previous offer of talking while taking a cup of latte.
Lantom prepared two cups of latte for Murdock and himself, and then asked Murdock what was happening, calling him by his first name despite Murdock had never introduced himself to Lantom. Lantom explained that he was easy to figure who he was, as there were people in Hell's Kitchen that still remembered his father, Jack Murdock, and what happened to his son while being a child.
Lantom also reminded Murdock that the seal of confession would still apply in that conversation, so Murdock went on and asked Lantom if he believed that the Devil existed, but not just as a mere concept, but as a real entity in the world among them. Lantom then told Murdock if he wanted a short answer or a long one, but Murdock said that he simply wanted the truth.
Lantom began to explain that when he was in seminary, he was more studious than pious, and more skeptical than most of his colleagues. In his studies, he concluded that the Devil was inconsequential, and just a minor figure in the grand scheme. Lantom based this hypothesis in the earlier meaning of the word "Satan" in the scriptures, which meant "adversary" and was applied to any antagonist. However, Medieval theologians reinterpreted many passages to be about a single enemy, the Devil, with believing that the reason was propaganda, to drive the people into the church out of fear.
However, all this changed when, many years later, Lantom traveled to Rwanda in order to help local churches in providing aid and sanctuary to refugees. Lantom became closer to the elder of the nearby village, named Gahiji, who had the respect of everyone, Hutu and Tutsi alike, having helped their village through famines, disease and other calamities.
Lantom explained how militias liked to force Hutu villagers to brutally murder their neighbors, but how nobody dared to raise a hand against Gahiji, being such a holy man. One of the militia commanders sent soldiers to kill Gahiji, ordering them to behead him in front of the entire village. But when the soldiers came, he did not try to fight, he only asked for a chance to say goodbye to his family, and in the end even the soldiers did not wanted to kill him.
The soldiers asked the commander for permission to simply shoot Gahiji and give him a quick death instead, but the commander wanted to meet him. The commander and Gahiji talked for many hours, but in the end, that same commander dragged Gahiji and his entire family out in front of the whole village and hacked them to pieces.
Lantom said that in that man, he saw saw the Devil himself. So in the end, Lantom's answer to Murdocks's question was that he actually that the Devil walked among men, taking many forms. Murdock asked what would have he done if he could have stopped him from hurting anyone again, but Lantom asked how would have him stopped.
Matt Murdock returned to the Saint Patrick's Cathedral seeking Father Lantom's advice, finding him in the church hall. Upon entering, the first thing Murdock did was to cross himself in front of Christ's image, and sat behind Lantom without saying anything.
Lantom explained he liked to have a moment at the end of each day alone with Jesus, and Murdock asked him to speak to Him in his behalf. Lantom asked Murdock how did he know that he was sitting right there, given Murdock could not see and Lantom did not make any noise, and Murdock, paraphrasing Lantom's words, asked if he wanted the short answer or the long one.
Lantom then told him that he was worried that Murdock may have done something foolish after the talk they had that morning, though Murdock told Lantom he had not done anything, yet. Murdock explained he went to visit a person close to the Devil, but not with the intention of hurting her, only to get to know that man better, about who he was or what it would take to do what Murdock felt he had to do.
Lantom asked what did he learn, and Murdock told him that there was a person who loved that man and would mourn his loss. Lantom pointed that very few things were absolute, and even Lucifer was once an angel, so it was better to leave judgment and vengeance to God, especially if murder was not in his heart. Murdock asked how could he know that, but Lantom pointed that Murdock was there, and that was a sign.
They were interrupted by a phonecall from Foggy Nelson, but Murdock simply dismissed it, and resumed the subject. He explained that he knew his soul ws damned if he killed that man, but if he did nothing, many people would suffer and die.
However, Lantom explained that there was a very wide gulf between inaction and murder, and another man's evil would not make his actions good. It was something that many men had done throughout history, to use the atrocities of their enemies to justify their own.
Lantom told him that the question Murdock needed to ask himself is what was he struggling with, not wanting to kill that man but having to, or not having to kill him but wanting to. Lantom quoted the Bible saying "Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is the righteous man who gives way before the wicked", though he could not remember the exact verse.
Murdock knew its meaning, that righteous men had a duty to stand up to evil, but Lantom said it was an easy interpretation, and another was that if a righteous man succumbed to sin, it was as harmful as if a public well was poisoned, because the darkness of an act such as taking a life would spread to friends, neighbors and the entire community.
Murdock asked what would happen if had already spread, but Lantom acknowledged that they would not be sitting at the church. Finally, Lantom voiced his belief that Murdock did not go to visit that woman for insight into how to kill a man, instead, he went looking for a reason not to do it.
Symbol of Fear
Matt Murdock went again to Saint Patrick's Cathedral, waiting inside until Father Lantom arrived. Upon seeing Murdock, Lantom told him that the morning service had been hours before, and asked if he wanted to take confession, or maybe a cup of latte, but Murdock refused. Lantom casually commented that it was maybe for the best, given that he already had four cups that morning, and though it was decaf, it still had a bit of caffeine as there things too ingrained to be completely removed.
Lantom then asked what happened with the thing that brought him to the church last time and about the man he talked about. To Lantom's relief, Murdock said that he had not killed that man, but he admitted that he tried to. Lantom asked if he was disappointed for not succeeding or relieved for not doing it, but he did not answered
Murdock repeated what Claire Temple told him, that she believed if he did not, he would end up bloody and alone and Lantom asked if he actually believed that. Murdock explained he was not afraid of dying, but Lantom pointed that many people were not, instead, living was what scared them.
Murdock asked Lantom if he was aware of what he did, and who he actually was. Lantom assured him he did not have to worry, as he was under the sacrament of Penance. Murdock insisted, saying that was not what he was asking, and Lantom revealed he knew, telling him he was not an idiot, however, Lantom did not have a clue of how Murdock actually did it.
Murdock told him that it was due to the accident he suffered when he was a kid, and that he used to think that it was God's will, as He made each and every person with a purpose and a reason for being. Murdock asked why God put the Devil inside him, feeling it in his heart and soul trying to let out.
Lantom then told him that maybe he was being called to summon the angels of his own nature, and that could be the struggle he was feeling within him. Murdock asked him how to know that those angels and the Devil were not the same thing, and though Lantom was not sure, he pointed that the thing that drove people to the church faster than anything else was thought that the Devil was pursuing them.
Lantom even theorized that it may have been God's plan, by creating the Devil and allowing him to fall from grace, so that the Devil could become a symbol to be feared and warning mankind they needed to follow the path of the righteous.
In chronological order:
- The Defenders