06 March, 2005

A moving Gospel, a blinder blindness, an aroma pleasing to God's divine nostrils

For some reason, I decided today to translate two more chapters of The Spiritual Combat. This may be getting out of hand.

Part of it was prompted by this morning's Gospel reading. I have heard St. John's telling of the blind man and the pool of Siloam many times before. Today, however, I found the story moving in the same way that I found Shatov's kindness to Marie moving in Demons, or the death of Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov, or the death of Stefano in The Red Horse. These episodes are the only ones in literature that have reduced me to blubbering idiocy. What's worse is that I realize I'm emotional, so I start laughing at myself at the same time that I'm crying. It's very embarassing, yet I consider it proof that these are three of the world's best novels.

Maybe I'm just too emotional lately. Maybe it's the stress of the thesis. Or maybe it's John's Gospel becoming more and more effective on me; in the past I have also found several other stories in that Gospel profoundly disconcerting: the woman caught in adultery, or Mary Magdalene's meeting the resurrected Jesus, or the whole crucifixion bit in any Gospel.

Whatever the cause, I find that I don't retain much manliness in the presence of St. John's Gospel. I hope he's happy.

And then, the Eucharistic prayer the priest used today!

When we were lost and could not find the way to you, you loved us more than ever; Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross.
Oof. Yessir, ladies and gentlemen, this is what sin does to us: God gives himself to us, and we nail him to a cross. It was almost enough to make me forget how the organist's experimentation with dissonance ruined the last verse of Amazing Grace. ("...was blind, but now I see!")

Anyway, the point of mentioning John's Gospel reading is that it's about a blind man. Today's chapters from The Spiritual Combat are also about blindness, one of them explicitly so.

Enjoy, if it interests you; otherwise, go find some quality literature that will reduce you to a blubbering idiot; curl up with it and read it. I've already mentioned three; the floor is open to nominations for others.

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