Fiction and Catholic Themes

Paul J. Contino

in Teaching the Tradition

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795307
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932894 | DOI:
Fiction and Catholic Themes

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Narrative embodiments are required by a Catholic imagination rooted in the Incarnation, the story of God who became flesh and dwelt among us, who redeemed us within the contours of a particular time and place, and who remains in relationship with us. For those hoping to hand down the Catholic intellectual tradition in narrative two great works are indispensable: Dante's Divine Comedy (1321) and Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov (1881). They have an encompassing vision embraced by Catholics, and they stand with an abundance of Catholic fiction, including works by Greene, Bernanos, Undset, Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, and Endo, all revealing and shaping a Catholic vision of abiding grace. In classic Catholic fiction the emphasis is on the portrayal of characters oriented toward sanctity. These characters reflect the variety of possible forms that “the good life” of holiness can take. Characters in Catholic fiction glimpse the promise of eternity within the contours of their limited lives. Persistently the Catholic narrative imagination suggests the presence of grace in the passage through limitation, including the limits of our human sinfulness. Also Catholic fiction frequently represents the power of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

Keywords: fiction; incarnation; sacrament; holiness; The Brothers Karamazov; The Divine Comedy; grace; Catholic; imagination; redemption

Chapter.  8872 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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