Three More Middlemarch Quotes

George EliotBad enough that the doors shut on the Holy Father with nightfall in Italy. I also came to the end of the best novel I have ever read–on the same daggone day! Pray that I will find a reason for living tomorrow.

It was one of those moments in which both the busy and the idle pause with a certain awe. (Chapter 83)

We are on a perilous margin when we begin to look passively at our future selves, and see our own figures led with dull consent into insipid misdoing and shabby achievement. (Chapter 79)

Not too many novels can compete with The Great Gatsby for most-powerful moralizing final paragraph. But Middlemarch wins. Eliot writes of her heroine, who has gone on to live an unremarkable life as the wife of a small-time politician:

Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength,* spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

* One of Cyrus’ prize horses drowned in a river which fed the Tigris. Enraged and bent on “revenge,” he ordered his entire army to spend the summer digging trenches on the river banks, to turn the swelling river into a marshland of rivulets. Then, the following spring, he went on to conquer Babylon.

George Eliot Quote of the Day

George Eliot

There are natures in which, if they love us, we are conscious of having a sort of baptism and consecration: they bind us over to rectitude and purity by their pure belief about us; and our sins become that worst kind of sacrilege which tears down the invisible altar of trust. (Middlemarch, chapter 87)

I daresay this laser-like insight into our souls makes many of us think of our dear mothers. And the Blessed Mother, of course. Thank you, Lord, for putting such true hearts into our lives, to help keep us true.

Work of Ministry + Middlemarch Humor

The Lord gave us Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry. (Ephesians 4:12)

To equip the people for the work of ministry. Ergon diakonias. The diaconal work, the work of serving.

Aimed at what? Building up the Body of Christ.

We serve Christ to build up Christ.

Christ our King, Whom we serve as ministers—He Himself needs no building up. He reigns eternally in heaven, having conquered death and evil by His perfect work of ministering to the Father.

We build ourselves up by serving Him. He needs nothing from us. But what He desires, what He wills—that is clear. He wills that everyone would reign with Him, that everyone would share His eternal peace.

How? By serving the Father just as the Christ has served Him. Christ, by serving the Father in us, builds us up into fullness—the fullness that He has had with the Father since before the world began.

At the holy altar, the Lord gives us Himself, His Body, Blood, soul, divinity. He instituted the sacrament so that His will could be fulfilled: that He and we would become one holy, immortal, blessed Body.

We priests of Christ, we sacred ministers, have the unique privilege of ministering to Christ by standing in His place, speaking His words, receiving His Body from heaven through the holy offering we make on behalf of the people.

From this sacred ministry–which we priests do, in spite of our manifest unworthiness–from this, all the ministry of the Church flows. So what can our ministry together be, then, other than zealous love, aimed at fostering the true communion that we can have with God in His Church?

Jonathan Firth as Fred Vincy
The dutiful minister always runs the risk of letting familiarity with the master lull us into taking things for granted. We’re faithful Catholics, sure. Ho. Hum. Mass every Sunday. Ho hum.

But what if we tried to recite the Nicene Creed this Sunday, as if we had never recited it before? What if we tried to make an act of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, as if this were the first time we ever prayed at a Catholic Mass?

Then maybe we could behold again the fact that the Holy Mass is the most important, most wonderful thing that anyone could ever do. The Mass is where heaven and earth meet.

And the most loving act of kindness anyone could ever do for someone else would be to help him or her share in this.

ADDED BONUS! Line of the day from young Mr. Fred Vincy, as to why he prefers not to enter the clergy:

I don’t like divinity, and preaching, and feeling obliged to look serious.

PS. The funniest thing I have seen in a long time: The facebook-wall version of Middlemarch (by Ms. George Eliot). Click HERE.