Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Milton, Dostoyevsky and the Temptation of Christ

I recently began attending Mass at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco, a beautiful and large cathedral-like church on the campus of the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco. Last Sunday, Feb. 20th, the Gospel reading was about the three temptations of Christ by the Devil -- you know, "Turn these stones into bread", whereupon Christ says, "Man does not live by bread alone." And the second one, where the Devil tells Christ to throw himself down from the parapet of the Temple, because "It is written, He shall send his angels to minister to you, so that you shall not dash your foot against a stone" -- prompting the familiar saying ever-after, that "even the Devil can quote Scripture." The third temptation is the Devil offering to give Christ the power over all the earth, if he would only bow down and worship the Devil. Anyway, after this impressive reading, the presiding priest, a resident Jesuit, commented that there have been many paintings depicting this biblical event, as well as several literary presentations -- to whit, Milton's Paradise Regained and Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov, the Grand Inquisitor section.

Well, I sat there nearly open-mouthed with awe and delight as a delicious feeling swept through my brain (can one 'feel' with one's brain? no matter!) -- it was like being at a mini-graduate seminar! like being back at college, listening to a favorite professor open up the mysteries of great literature. I looked around me at the members of the congregration, and saw people nodding their heads knowingly and appreciatively. This would never have happened at the homey parish church I had been going to previously -- as good and as nice as those people were, I'm sure they'd be scratching their heads at the mention of Dostoyevsky and Milton! At the end of the sermon, I gave a little sigh of satisfaction and joy. Man, I love those Jesuits.

1 comment:

  1. It will be interesting to see if St. Ignatius implements all the word changes Pope Benedict has asked for in the Mass Liturgy... I just became aware of this - this is all scheduled to take place in 2011. I like the idea!
    Here's one site I found: