“I doubtless hate pious language worse than you because I believe the realities it hides.” – The Habit of Being, (28 June 57)
I write entirely by smell …
What offends my taste in fiction is when right is held up as wrong, or wrong as right. Fiction is the concrete expression of of mystery–mystery that is lived. Catholics believe that all creation is good and that evil is the wrong use of good and that without Grace we use it wrong most of the time. It’s almost impossible to write about supernatural Grace in fiction. We almost have to approach it negatively. As to natural Grace, we have to take that the way it comes–through nature. In any case, it operates surrounded by evil. ~ from the Habit of Being, pg. 144
The best fiction and the best preaching include a kind of ambush. Approaching the subject sidewise and seemingly accidental. Seeing the truth for what it isn’t is often the only place we can start. It’s usually the only believable one.
O’Conner is anything but sentimental when it comes to her Christian faith. Hers is a faith that started early in life and was formed in the context of personal loss and physical suffering. Her father died when she was a teen and she would die at 39 of lupus, the same disease that took her father. For Flannery, faith was not generated through a life of ease as much as frustration. Doubt was not an enemy and pain was preferable to no feeling at all.
When I made my First Communion I was six and it seemed as natural to me and about as startling as brushing my teeth. Having been a Protestant, you may have the feeling that you must feel you believe; perhaps feeling belief is not always an illusion but I imagine it is most of the time; but I can understand the feeling of pain on going to Communion and it seems a more reliable feeling than joy. – The Habit of Being
I’m struck by the fact that in our formation as Christian people our pain can become a part of what makes us more like Christ. Christians have always understood this as illustrated by our identification with Christ crucified. When was the last time we accepted light and momentary pain as a means of discipleship? Can the truly debilitating experiences of life serve a similar purpose?
“I don’t deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it … ” – The Habit of Being, pg. 86
As I understand it, the Church teaches that our resurrected bodies will be intact as to personality, that is, intact with all the contradictions beautiful to you, except the contradiction of sin; sin is the contradiction, the interference, of a greater good by a lesser good. I look for all variety in that unity but not for a choice: for when all you see will be God, all you will want will be God. – The Habit of Being, 124.
The resurrection of Christ is not the easiest thing to believe. The resurrection of the righteous that those in Christ anticipate, or should, isn’t so easy to believe either. Trusting in the history of the resurrection of Christ is important but recognizing the jaw dropping beauty of what it all means is just as important. If we contemplate the beauty of the resurrection, both Christ’s and ours, we might find ourselves digging a bit deeper.
To see Christ as God and man is probably no more difficult today than it has always been, even if today there seem to be more reasons to doubt. For you it may be a matter of not being able to accept what you call a suspension of the laws of the flesh and the physical, but for my part I think that when I know what the laws of the flesh and the physical really are, then I will know what God is. We know them as we see them, not as God sees them. For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul she says that will rise but the body, glorified. I have always thought that purity was the most mysterious of the virtues, but it occurs to me that it would never have entered the human consciousness to conceive of purity if we were not to look forward to a resurrection of the body, which will be flesh and spirit united in peace, in the way they were in Christ. The resurrection of Christ seems the high point in the law of nature… – The Habit of Being, pg. 100