Nicolae Tare-ca-piatra (Steinhardt)

Nu trebuie uitat în definiții că „fericit” e un participiu… De asemenea, că ne putem înnobila:

Jilava Political Prison, February 1962

…It may be sheer blasphemy, but I have a theory according to which Christ does not appear from the Gospels only as kind, good, just, sinless, merciful, strong, etc.

From the Gospels—without exception—he also appears in possession of all the amazing qualities of a chivalrous gentleman.

First, he stands at the door and knocks; he is discreet. Then, he trusts people and is not suspicious. And trust is the foremost quality of the nobleman, the knight, the gentleman, whereas suspicion is the fundamental trait of the knave and the scoundrel. Gentleman is he who—up to incontrovertible proof otherwise—trusts anyone and is in no covetous rush to give credence to defamations smuggled through by others about any of his friends. The immediate reaction of scoundrels and knaves is always suspicion—and the supreme satisfaction is the ability to find out that their fellow human being is just as corrupt as they are.

Further, Christ forgives easily and fully. The scoundrel never forgives; or, if he does relent (without forgiving), he does it with great difficulty, loathing every bit of it, in tiny drops, little by little. Whereas the Lord: “neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more.” Neither do I condemn you…”

He is always ready to help; he looks forward to it. He is merciful. The widow of Nain, the blind, the infirm woman—they all receive his mercy without even asking. He knows to give to each his own. To the Canaanite woman, who proves her perseverance and courage, he says more than to the other ones he delivered and uses a complimentary formulation: “O, woman! Great is your faith.” (Only to her; only to her both the exclamatory “O!” and the qualifier “great!”)

He is always—and takes special care to this point—attentive and polite: “friend,” he says to Judas. Not ever an insult or a word of contempt towards sinners. There is no verse to support any kind of stiff and smug moralism or some kind of offended modesty at the drop of a hat. And there is no prerequisite from the sinners, no discrimination: “he that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” He goes out to greet the prodigal son (when he was yet a great way far off…) And every time he gives, he gives abundantly, more than is deserved, aristocratically. (What can be more foreign to the bean-counting pettiness and pharisaically measured bottom-line, and a better proof of wholehearted giving, than these words from John iii, 34: “for God gives not the Spirit with measure”?) Judas’ administrative concerns about the money spent on myrrh shows that, on one hand, the betrayer was bereft of the sense of generosity and, on the other hand, that the Lord, as a matter of course—and nobly—ignores any calculation of benefits and costs, any hint of avarice (be they even dressed up as acts of charity, philanthropy or patronage) in order to taste the sheer joy of “squandering” (which is the same as sacrificing) during moments of spiritual elevation. And this is a noble gesture, of course, the nobleman being always ready to sacrifice his life or to blow away his wealth. (The nobleman will sometimes give up his life in a duel for very mundane reasons or lose his wealth at cards—but his behavior, just like all things earthly, are a pale imitation of magnanimous virtues; what else is physical love than a poor counterfeit of divine love?)

Trust in people, courage, detachment, good will  towards those distressed from whom you can expect no benefit whatsoever (the sick, the strangers, the imprisoned), a sense of confident greatness, predisposition to forgive, disdain toward the prudent and frugal: all gentlemanly and chivalrous qualities of the nobleman.

He invites all to see themselves for what they truly are: sons of the Father and Master. From this standpoint, the book closest to the Gospels is Don Quijote, since the knight of La Mancha tells those in the pub that they are nobles without knowing it and asks them to behave like the noblemen they are.

Prince Myshkin, upon seeing that Ganea’s behavior is no different than that of a lout, a cad and a usurer, does what? He is ashamed and filled with pity towards one who forgot (in anger and lust for money) that he bears the title of a child of God.

Being a Christian is the same thing as being a nobleman.

Why? Because it is grounded in the most princely of qualities: freedom and trust (faith). 

What is the nobleman, the feudal lord? Above else, a free man.

What is faith? Trust in the Lord, despite the world’s wickedness, despite injustice, against vileness and although it seems that there is only bad news coming in from every direction.

And then there are also the words of Tolstoy, in Anna Karenina (in the scene of the election of the marshal of the nobility of the province): “That’s why we are noblemen—to trust.”

(Nicolae Steinhardt, Jurnalul Fericirii (A Journal of Happiness), Dacia, Cluj-Napoca, 1991, my translation. A.V.)

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