The Brothers Karamazov

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The Third Trial: Father Zosima

The Lady-Who-Gave-an-Onion is ready to present her final case, against the Elder Zosima.

 

“The elder was the worst of all sinners:  he was an unrighteous man posing as a saint.  ‘He was not strict in fasting, allowed himself sweets, had cherry preserve with his tea, and liked it very much, ladies used to send it to him…He sat in pride…he considered himself a saint; when people knelt before him, he took it as his due…He abused the sacrament of confession…”  (333)  And perhaps worst of all, “he taught unrighteousness; he taught that life is great joy and not some tearful humility…”  (333).

 

The virgin lowers her eyes.  “But Christ taught this, too.  Remember the first miracle, at the wedding in Galilee, when He turned the water into wine.  I was there, and I can tell you: ‘He came down then not just for His great and awful deed, but that His heart was also open to the simple, artless merrymaking of some uncouth…but guileless beings, who lovingly invited him to their poor marriage feast…’ (360).  How can you then judge the good elder?”

 

Suddenly, the women evaporate, and you sit up with a start.  You look around the moonlit room and see the empty bottle of champagne sitting beside you on the table.  So many questions hang in the air.  Was it all a dream, then?  Or was it a miracle?  Are you drunk, or are you the most blessed of humans?

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