Friday, February 22, 2019

Wayward Daughters

In Brideshead Revisited, this patient movement of God’s grace in the hearts of the characters is described by Julia’s younger, devout sister Cordelia. Discussing her many lapsed family members, she tells Charles that Julia and the others will all eventually be drawn back to their faith. She reminds him of a passage from G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories that Lady Marchmain read aloud to the family: “I caught him” (the thief) “with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.”[15] Julia and Kristin wander far from God and yet his grace is secretly present with them always. They may not be aware of this unseen and invisible grace, but it is nonetheless powerfully working in their hearts. 
Sigrid Undset uses another symbol of God’s unseen grace that has silently transformed the human heart. It is not until Kristin’s final hours (after contracting the Black Death—likely because of selflessly nursing people suffering from the plague and burying a woman who had been infected) that she fully comprehends how God in his mercy has been ever faithful to her, despite her unfaithfulness. Never abandoning her, he used every slight opening of her heart towards him as a means of filling her soul with his grace. On her deathbed when she removes her wedding ring to give it away, she realizes that the “M” for the Blessed Virgin Mary that was engraved on the inside of the ring has left a mark on her finger. She has always been Christ’s own and this truth is imprinted on her very flesh. Even while she made herself a stranger to God, he was intimately present, just hidden from her like this secret impression on her skin. (Read more.)

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