I wouldn’t say that I’m obsessed with vampires. It’s more like I’m…fascinated. They’re a strange kind of supernatural creature because they reflect a lot of different aspects of humanity. During my high school years, women of all ages were swooning over Edward Cullen, the rich, immortal vampire from Twilight. Back in the 80s and 90s, the hottest vampires were Louis and Lestat from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. And a few years ago, there were shows like True Blood with vampires like Bill and Eric and The Vampire Diaries with Stefan and Damon Salvatore.
Why are vampires so popular? Well, one obvious reason is because they’re hot, they’re usually portrayed as wealthy aristocrats, and they live forever. Who wouldn’t want to be good-looking, rich, and immortal? There are a lot of tempting wish-fulfillment fantasies behind these fangèd fables. But of course, there’s other reasons why vampires resonate with people, like sexual exploration. Did you know that 26 years before Bram Stoker published Dracula, a lesbian vampire named Carmilla engaged readers in the London literary magazine The Dark Blue? The vampires from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were also praised for their laissez-faire approach to relationships.
The problem with these vampires is that as people are seduced by their glamour, they forget the deadly nature beneath the pale skin. These vampires are beautiful, but they also represent a personification of an unnatural life. All vampires have to feed off of blood to sustain themselves and 9 times out of 10, only human blood will do. Now we all know that vampires aren’t real…but let’s be honest, we’re not altogether that different from them. Let me explain what I mean.
My friend Karen Ullo, who wrote a young adult novel about a teenage vampire, said: “There is only one true horror, and that is being separated from the love of God. Which is also the only reason people are separated from love of neighbor.” Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble of the Daughters of St. Paul wrote in her Memento Mori devotional that “We close ourselves into a casket when we stumble into serious sin and choose not to get up…We may appear young, healthy, and beautiful, but it’s just a facade…When this happens, we cannot rise on our own strength. Only God can exhume us from our self-imposed graves.” When we linger in sin or seek fulfillment in things that aren’t from God, we become like vampires. In that sense, vampires can represent the temptations and sins we struggle with, especially ones that appeal to our vanity.
Think about the weaknesses of vampires–Even when vampires don’t flinch at the sight of a cross or a crucifix, they can still be vulnerable to things that represent God, like sunlight. In some storytelling traditions, vampires can’t cross running water, which is a symbol of baptism. And if you have read Dracula, you would remember that a Communion Host was used to keep Dracula at bay. What’s especially ironic and hilarious is that vampires feed off of the blood of people and yet the Eucharist is right there, promising eternal life. I’m telling you–having a close relationship with God and the Sacraments can help us slay our inner vampires.
I think the reason I find myself fascinated with vampires is because it’s through them that I am able to better understand those who identify with them, even though I may not know the journey each individual has. Vampire lore, in a significant way, connects me to my neighbor. And it’s also through vampires that I see the darkest parts of myself, the wounds that I need Christ to heal.
My personal favorite vampire is Spike from the 90s cult classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though his storyline is problematic in significant ways, he gets put on an unexpected road to redemption. His twisted love for Buffy eventually leads to him embracing a cross, which he does even though he knows it will burn him. His selfishness is turned outward in an authentic and real love for Buffy.
So what can we take from all of this? Allow me to end this reflection with a verse from Sirach, chapter 7, verse 36: “In Whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin.” Vampires not only help us understand the neighbors who feel like they don’t belong, they remind us that nobody is beyond redemption, not even the worst of humanity. Vampires also remind us to embrace our Cross, whether it be vanity, a desire for luxury, or living at the expense of others. If we walk in close relationship with Christ and receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist frequently, Jesus will give us the strength to slay our inner vampires.
I hope that in this Lenten season or whenever you listen to this, you can make time to go to Confession and offer your struggles to Him. Then receive Communion with abundant joy. Let us live for Heaven and leave our inner vampires in the dust.
Monique Ocampo is an English tutor from Houston, Texas who loves finding connections between her Catholic faith and her many fandoms. She sees God as the Divine Artist and considers herself an apprentice with the written word. You can find her blog at msocampowrites.com and check out her podcast Tales, Rambles, and Reactions where she talks about shows she’s watching. Feel free to follow her on Twitter and Instagram @msocampowrites.