The chief miracle ever recurring on earth

‘I, educated in the conception of God, as a Christian, having filled my life with the spiritual blessings Christianity gave me, brimful of these blessings and living by them, I, like a child, not understanding them, destroy them–that is, I wish to destroy that by which I live. But as soon as an important moment of life comes, like children when they are cold and hungry, I go to Him, and even less than the children whose mother scolds them for their childish mischief do I feel that my childish attempts to kick because I am filled should be reckoned against me.

‘Yes, what I know, I know not by my reason but because it has been given to me, revealed to me, and I know it in my heart by faith in the chief thing which the Church proclaims.

‘The Church? The Church?’ Levin repeated to himself. He turned over, and leaning on his elbows began looking at the herd of cattle in the distance approaching the river on the other side.

‘But can I believe in all that the Church professes?’ he asked himself, testing himself by everything which might destroy his present peace of mind. He purposely thought of those teachings of the Church which always seemed to strange to him, and that tried him. ‘The Creation.–But how do I account for existence? By existence! By nothing!–The devil and sin?–And how do I explain evil? . . . A Saviour? . . .

‘But I know nothing, nothing! And can know nothing but what is told me and to everybody.’

And it now seemed to him that there was not one of the dogmas of the Church which could disturb the principal thing–faith in God, in goodness, as the sole vocation of man.

Each of the Church’s doctrines might be represented by faith in serving truth rather than serving one’s personal needs. And each of them not only did not infringe that belief but was necessary for the fulfillment of the chief miracle ever recurring on earth: the possibility of every one, millions of most diverse people, sages and idiots, children and old men, peasants, Lvov, Kitty, beggars and kings, indubitably understanding one and the same thing, and forming that life of the spirit which alone is worth living for and which alone we prize.

–Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, part VIII, chapter 13

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