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still life painting with fruit

Insights on Mercy

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Graham Greene, Julian of Norwich, and Eberhard Arnold

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Fyodor DostoyevskyEvery day and whenever you can, repeat to yourself, “Lord, have mercy on all who appear before you today.” For every hour and every moment thousands of men leave life on this earth, and their souls appear before God. And how many of them depart in solitude, unknown, sad, dejected that no one mourns for them or even knows whether they have lived or not? Behold, from the other end of the earth, perhaps, your prayer for their rest will rise up to God, though you knew them not nor they you. How must it feel to a soul standing in dread before the Lord to sense at such an instant that for him too there is one to pray, that there is a fellow creature left on earth to love him too? God will look on you both more graciously, for if you have had pity on him, how much more will he have pity, who is infinitely more loving and merciful than you? And he will forgive him for your sake.
The Brothers Karamazov, trans. C. Garnett (Macmillan, 1922), 339.

Graham GreeneThere was a man, a good man, a holy man, and he lived in sin all through his life, because he couldn’t bear the idea that any soul could suffer damnation. This man decided that if any soul was going to be damned, he would be damned too. He never took the sacraments, he never married his wife in church. I don’t know, my child, but some people think he was – well, a saint. I think he died in what we are told is mortal sin – I’m not sure…You can’t conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.
Brighton Rock (Penguin, 1991), 246 (abridged)

Julian of NorwichMercy is a sweet, ­gracious working in love, mingled with plenteous pity: for mercy works in keeping us, and mercy works turning for us all things to good. Mercy, by love, suffers us to fail in measure and inasmuch as we fail, in so much we fall; and inasmuch as we fall, in so much we die: for it needs must be that we die in so much as we fail of the sight and feeling of God that is our life. Our failing is dreadful, our falling is shameful, and our dying is sorrowful: but in all this the sweet eye of pity and love is lifted never off us, nor does the working of mercy cease.
Revelations of Divine Love, ed. G. Warrack (Methuen and Co., 1901), 101.

Eberhard ArnoldYou must give yourself up totally so as to win back your life made utterly new, with unsuspected abilities and powers. Have the patience and courage to begin anew each day, and trust in God’s help; his mercy is new every morning. Then you will understand that life is always a matter of becoming or growing, and that you must always look forward to greater things. Even though you stand in battle with dark powers, the victory will be yours, since in Christ every evil is overcome.
June 10, 1921, in Seeking Peace Johann Christoph Arnold, (Plough, 1998), 162.

still life painting with fruit William Harnett, Still Life with Ginger Jar
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