Part of the reason why I love books is because they contain so many fascinating characters. There's a man in Around the World in Eighty Days named Phineas Fogg. Fogg is an appropriate surname because nobody quite knows how he functions; however, he always seems to be perfectly at ease, acting like he has the world under control, even under the most absurd of circumstances.

Far From the Madding Crowd contains a man named Gabriel Oake, a character whom I was attracted to because of his simplicity, honesty, and unassuming nature. He works hard and with patience, and his virtue is what brings him out on top in the end.

O Pioneers! is a story about a woman named Alexandra, whose fortitude and strength makes everyone around her depend on her.

Le Morte D'arthur tells the legends of King Arthur. Who can resist stories of a noble king, especially one who will be cut up in battle for the love of his people?


Edmond Dantes wasn't an interesting character until he was unjustly locked up in the Chateau d'If for 17 years. His suffering created him, and he in turn created one of the most intricate plots that has ever been twisted through my brain - The Count of Monte Cristo.

In The House of Seven Gables, all is darkness until Phoebe Pyncheon arrives. She spreads light wherever she goes, not being suffocated by the ghostly death all around her, but permeating the house with new life.

The main character of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett, isn't afraid to say what requires saying, no matter how unconventional or bold it may be.

And one of my favorite literary characters is Alyosha from The Brothers Karamazov. I love him because he has such sensitivity and gentleness, incredibly evident in the way he sees and interacts with children. The love he spoke to them in the final chapter resonated with me so deeply that I wept. And the children couldn't help but love him back.

These are unrelated characters from unrelated books, but they all have qualities about them that make their stories worth reading and remembering. Now of all the books I've read, there's one that stands above the rest--and that is because its main character is the most fascinating one I've ever encountered. Phineas Fogg doesn't hold a candle to the man who walked calmly across the thunderous sea. Gabriel Oake was a meek man, but he didn't bend down to wash the feet of his friends. Did anyone ever say to Alexandra Bergson, "to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"?

Arthur Pendragon was a mighty king, but this man's kingdom "is not of this world." And out of love for his people he was cut up by a crown of thorns. The Count of Monte Cristo had a tragic, mysterious past, but what does it compare to the "man of sorrows...acquainted with griefs"? Betrayed by his friend with a kiss.

Phoebe Pyncheon brought light to a dark place, this man was called "the true light that gives light to every man." Lizzie Bennett had a sharp tongue, but she never turned the tables of the marketplace, accusing the people of making a "den of robbers."

Alyosha Karamazov is only a shadow of the man who said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Every trait I have ever loved in any character is found in This One.

What if you fell in love with a literary character and found out that He was real, and that He loved you back?

Tactility

The simplest way to say this is: Catholicism has blown open my spiritual life.

I tend to rationalize through my temptations; reconciling my mind to the sin. Imagine the weak mind and flesh reaching for some forbidden fruit, but then making the Sign of the Cross. It's a powerful, physical, paralyzing symbol. When I make it over myself I remember to whom I've entrusted body, and it saves me.

When I enter into the church to pray, I often come feeling foolish and ashamed for my selfish failings. Imagine entering, bent with the weight of self, but then seeing the font filled with Baptismal water. Immersing my hand and raising it dripping, I remember who washes me, and how He leads me to pass from old to new.

I hold a rosary and finger the beads; I walk between the 14 images of the stations of the cross; I touch a relic of the bone of a saint; I smell the chrism; I light the candle; I stand and bow and sit and kneel; I fast before every Mass to eat the Eucharistic meal.

Catholicism has captivated me with its corporeal symbols - its sacraments.

A sacrament is a visible sign of God's grace. The Blessed Sacrament is the ultimate sign of God's grace - Christ's tactile, physical body sacrificed for us. This is our Salvation! The Catholic Church constantly presents this Salvation over and over again through its sacraments.

It amazes me how such a huge, complicated thing like the Church can one single point to which everything leads. It's Jesus Christ, the man, the world's Salvation. And He is so real and tangible that we can feed on His saving flesh.

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