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A book is a literary compass that has the potential to direct our thoughts and actions:

"Everything we read stimulates our mind to think, and what we think determines what we desire, and desires are the seedbed of our actions. Given this iron law of human nature--from reading to thinking, to desiring, to acting--we are shaping our destiny by the ideas we choose to have enter our minds through print." - Fr. John Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan

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"Every soul that uplifts itself uplifts the world." --Elisabeth Leseur

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Two Tales of Redemption for First Line Friday

It's First Line Friday, and because I missed last week I'll offer two opening paragraphs for your consideration. Both are from autobiographies by a pair of Catholics that some consider 20th century saints, though neither of them has been canonized.

The first comes from Dorothy Day's autobiography, The Long Loneliness. Day co-founded the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930s. Here is how Day begins her story:
When you go to confession on a Saturday night, you go into a warm, dimly lit vastness, with the smell of wax and incense in the air, the smell of burning candles, and if it is a hot summer night there is the sound of a great electric fan, and the noise of the streets coming in to emphasize the stillness. There is another sound too, besides that of the quiet movements of the people from pew to confession to altar rail; there is the sliding of the shutters of the little window between you and the priest in his "box."
Next comes the opening paragraph of The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. Merton became a Trappist monk in the early 1940s and went on to be one of the 20th century's most influential Catholic writers and thinkers.
On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God and yet hating Him; born to love Him, living instead in fear and hopeless self-contradictory hungers.
Both Merton and Day offer the modern reader an honest and moving account of how one moves from selfishness to selflessness, from materialism to spirituality, and from earth to heaven. Both are well worth reading.

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posted by Nick Senger at 5:51 AM

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