Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

One of the themes of this devotional commentary, according to Rossetti herself, is patience. This is the lesson she hopes to find in her study of the Apocalypse. She finds that to resist Satan and overcome temptation, we must have desire and action but also patience and endurance: “Patience,” she says, [is] “a tedious, indomitable grace.” Patience is necessary for the “Church Militant” in this world; it “goes with sorrow, not with joy”; tribulation develops patience, experience, and hope. In the end, it ushers the “Church Triumphant” into the joys of Heaven. She sees Saint John, as well as the souls of the martyrs under the heavenly altar, as examples of “patient obedience.” She reminds Christians to not be weary in well doing; tribulation should be viewed as a privilege through which patience yields perfection.

Prayer is another theme. Not only does Rossetti include numerous original prayers corresponding to the verses she examines, but also she repeatedly encourages Christians to pray for insights from the Holy Spirit, for strength against temptations, for the strengthening of others, for increased zeal among Christians, and for the repentance of the lost.

She recognizes that we are each responsible for our influence on those around us, “children, servants, less educated persons”; all of our actions influence for either preservation or destruction. The Christian is edified and sustained by the graces of the Church, “The purifying grace of Baptism, the maturing grace of Confirmation, the sustaining grace of Holy Communion.” Enlivened with these graces, Christians are able to persevere in holy living and will exert a positive influence on others.