Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday morsel: "the light of Truth"

I just finished reading Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (having heard so much about it from Adriana at Classical Quest and because it was one of those biggies I'd never read).  It's an amazing book in many ways.  The story of the doomed Anna is quite heartbreaking, but I had much more of an emotional connection to the plot line about Konstantin Levin and Kitty Shcherbatsky.

Levin (a kind man but a bit of a cranky-pants) has proposed to his beloved Kitty (a sweet, loving young woman) and been accepted -- but before he marries her he must make confession and take communion.  This makes him extremely uncomfortable because he sees himself as a doubter and an unbeliever and hates the idea of pretending to be something he is not.  This scene is from his confession, where he has just admitted his doubts.


[The priest] said to him:

"You are about to enter into matrimony, and it may be that God will reward you with offspring, is it not so?  Well, then, what sort of upbringing can you give your little ones, if you don't overcome in yourself the temptation of the devil who is drawing you into unbelief?"  he said in mild reproach.  "If you love your child, then, being a good father, you will not desire only wealth, luxury and honour for him; you will desire his salvation, his spiritual enlightenment with the light of Truth.  Is it not so?  What answer will you give when an innocent child asks you:  'Papa!  Who created everything that delights me in this world -- the earth, the waters, the sun, the flowers, the grass?'  Will you really say to him, 'I don't know'?  You cannot not know, since the Lord God in His great mercy has revealed it to you.  Or else your little one will ask you:  'What awaits me in the life beyond the grave?'  What will you tell him, if you don't know anything?  How will you answer him?  Will you leave him to the temptation of the world and the devil?  That's not good!"  he said and stopped, inclining his head to one side and looking at Levin with meek, kindly eyes.

 Levin made no reply, now not because he did not want to get into an argument with a priest, but because no one had ever asked him such questions; and before his little ones asked him such questions, there was still time to think how to answer.

"You are entering upon a time of life," the priest went on, "when one must choose a path and keep to it.  Pray to God that in His goodness He may help you and have mercy on you," he concluded.  "May our Lord and God Jesus Christ, through the grace and bounties of His love for mankind, forgive you, child..." and, having finished the prayer of absolution, the priest blessed and dismissed him.

On returning home that day, Levin experienced the joyful feeling of having ended his awkward situation and ended it in such a way that he had not needed to lie.  Apart from that, he was left with the vague recollection that what this kindly and nice old man had said was not at all as stupid as it had seemed to him at first, and that there was something in it that needed to be grasped.

8 comments:

  1. Great quote -- a foreshadowing of the moving conversion that would later come for Levin. And the priest was right -- children give us a very good reason to "chose a path and keep to it."

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    1. I really liked this scene. Levin is pretty angst-y about everything he does, and he acknowledges that over-thinking things is a barrier to his belief -- but in this case the priest really cuts to the chase and asks him to look in his heart at what he knows on a deeper level than just the mind.

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  2. Somethign that needed to be grasped - what a great outcome from such a gospel-filled conversation. That priest's dialog should be required reading for everyone in seminary.

    And by the way, is Kitty related to Robin Shcherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother?

    Tim

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    1. What?!?! (Where's that interrobang when you need it?) Wait now .... I've just completed an exhaustive, 15-second Google search, and it appears you're right: Robin IS the little-known youngest sister of Kitty, Dolly, and Natalie Shcherbatsky of "How I Met Your Matushka"! Robin enjoys going to the mall and making fun of Canadians (grrrrrrrr), and her greatest hope is for world peace!
      I bet Adriana had no idea of this connection. Thank you so much for pointing it out. (By the way, I hope no one is reading these comments expecting them to make sense .......)

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    2. Grrrrrr no more, Jeannie. Contrary to the research you found the University of Google, Robin Shcherbatsky defends all things Canadian to her teasing American friends. She does sing the praises of going to the mall, though. Literally. (Performing under her stage name Robin Sparkles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY_bhVSGKEg A boyfriend who has "hair like Gretzky" - what Canadian pop teen phenom could ask for more?)

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    3. I guess now my edumacation is complete, eh?

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    4. Sorry, I'm totally lost! I have actually never seen "How I Met Your Mother." Sounds amusing though.

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    5. Neither have I!!!!!! Once again, Google and Wikipedia save the day!

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