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The Meaning of the Name Karamazov

It is fairly obvious that the names Dostoevsky uses for the characters in The Brothers Karamazov are important. Names are not only labels for identifying characters, but the meaning of names also point to their type of character or role in the overall theme of the story. For example, the name of the hero Alexei […]

The Contemplator

The Meditator (or The Contemplator) by Ivan Kramskoy, 1876 In The Brothers Karamazov (Bk 3, Ch 6), Dostoevsky makes reference to the above painting in describing Smerdyakov: Yet he would sometimes stop in the house, or else in the yard or the street, fall into thought, and stand like that even for ten minutes. A physiognomist, studying him, […]

Brothers Karamazov

There are several books of fiction on the edge my radar that I may someday read. Most of these books have been repeatedly mentioned in various blogs over the years that seemed good based on comments and reviews. I’m very picky about what I read, especially fiction. I finally read one these books last month, […]

Being Present for the Dying

I occasionally venture into the blogsphere. About a week ago, I found this except posted by Julie from the book, Caring for the Dying With the Help of Your Catholic Faith by Elizabeth Scalia. I immediately copied and pasted it in an email to a friend and co-worker whose father had recently refused treatment after […]

Among All That Debris

Some quotations from Crisis of Faith, Crisis of Love by Thomas Keating that have been lanterns of hope along the path through the valley… The absence of the felt presence of The Lord is his normal means of increasing our faith and of getting us to the point of believing in the power of his […]

Antidotes to Sin

In Back to Virtue, Peter Kreeft links the virtues of the Beatitudes with the vices of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Beatitudes are the antidote to the Seven Deadly Sins, leading to life, not to death. Pride vs. Poverty of Spirit (Humility) “Pride is self-assertion, selfishness; poverty of spirit is humility, selflessness.” Avarice vs. Mercy […]

A String of Pearls

The Beatitudes are linked together. They do not stand separately. The poor in spirit, those detached from the desire for worldly goods, must necessarily also be the pure in heart, since their heart is not split and set on many things of this world, but purely on the “one thing necessary”. They love God and […]

Learning to Read

As one has to learn to read or to practice a trade, so one must learn to feel in all things, first and almost solely, the obedience of the universe to God. It is really an apprenticeship. Like every apprenticeship, it requires time and effort. He who has reached the end of his training realizes […]

Love is a Direction

Affliction is a marvel of divine technique. It is a simple and ingenious device which introduces into the soul of a finite creature the immensity of force, blind, brutal, and cold. The infinite distance separating God from the creature is entirely concentrated into one point to pierce the soul in its center. The man to […]

In My Emptiness You are Present

I’m bad about shopping for books. I cannot stop in a bookstore without rummaging through the religion/faith section. If a book looks good, I’ll purchase it in hopes of reading it some day. Sometimes, I’ll start the new book the same evening, pushing other books back in the queue, and finish the book. Sometimes, I’ll […]

River of Love

A poem from awhile ago reflects this line from Romano Guardini in The Lord: Love is a stream that flows from God to me, from me to my neighbor (and not to one only, but to all), from my neighbor back to God. “Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like […]

How It was Supposed to Be

Romano Guardini, in his book The Lord, describes how it was supposed to be: God has shaped human life mysteriously indeed. Man’s essence is meant to leap up to its God and return with the life it has [received] from him. Man should live in a downward-sweeping movement that begins in heaven, not from earth […]

Forgiveness

In The Lord, Romano Guardini reflects on God’s forgiveness: Men actually did not know that God must be as he is in order to be able to forgive, for what they formerly meant by forgiveness was no true forgiveness, but a covering up, a looking away, a gracious ignoring, cessation of anger and punishment. Genuine […]

The Devil’s Love

From James Finley’s Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, Finley quotes Thomas Merton: It is…a blindness to prayer that exposes us to the pitfalls of becoming ourselves like those, …for whom a tree has no reality until they think of cutting it down, for whom an animal has no value until it enters a slaughterhouse, men who […]

Useless

From James Finley’s Merton’s Palace of Nowhere: In prayer we are “useless.” We do not “do” anything, but rather open ourselves to be the person God calls us to be. The Moslems say, “God does nothing and therefore there is nothing God does not do.” God is beyond pragmatic functions. He is useless, yet by […]

Living Faith

I have had several people at different times tell me in counsel to “live my faith.” I was usually struggling through something at the time, a bit lost and confused about certain things, and my initial response every time was, “How? What does it mean to live out your faith?” They did their best to […]

Where is the Path?

In Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, James Finley poses a most illuminating metaphor for explaining our search for a path along a spiritual journey. Although he is specifically describing the search for the true self, it aptly applies for the spiritual journey in general. Imagine yourself standing in front of a large, freshly snow-covered field where […]

Life is like a pearl…

Life is like a pearl: it needs a grain of sand at its center—death—as the irritant, the enemy, to stimulate the production of the mother-of-pearl of life around it. But death remains at its center. At the heart of life there is death. Death is our being. Man is mortal. — Peter Kreeft, Love is […]

God Just Got Bigger

In Three Philosophies of Life, Peter Kreeft writes about three books in the Old Testament that essentially outline three ways to live and view life: Ecclesiates, life as vanity; Job, life as suffering; and Song of Songs, life as love. These are analogous to hell, purgatory, and heaven. In regards to Job, he writes about […]

Push, Carry, or Draw

From today’s entry in God Calling: Not our wills but Thine, O Lord. Man has so misunderstood Me in this. I want no will laid grudgingly upon My Altar. I want you to desire and love My Will, because therein lies your happiness and the Spirit-rest. When you feel that you cannot leave the choice […]