Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Guardini explores many Christian themes in these evocative meditations, including the reality of sin and evil in the world, which come not from God but from the darkened intellects, weak wills, and disordered hearts of human beings, made ultimately to know, love, and serve God. However, sin separates humans from God, and this wound festers under the temptation of Satan, who hates humans and tempts them to evil. Only God can repair humankind’s estrangement from God, and this is the mission of Jesus, who enters human history to restore spiritual life to human souls and to reveal the fullness of God’s love for humankind. Jesus reveals God as the true desire of every human heart.

For Guardini, this makes Jesus unique among religious figures. He is not just another human guide to truth and goodness like Buddha or Socrates, but rather he is truth and goodness personified. He is not a seeker of truth, but the truth, the way, and the life of every person. Nonetheless, he is mysteriously and fully human, more fully human than any other figure in history. All humanity, and each person individually, is called to conversion in Christ, and this conversion demands a decision to embrace the beatitudes he preached and the values of humility, well-ordered love, and justice fulfilled in mercy—which alone lead to purity and peace of heart—and the ability to love and bless enemies as wayward children of the Father desperately in need of redemption.

These are not, manifestly, the values of the world, nor of the Nazi system whose dark ideology was already threatening the world in which Guardini lived. Instead, Guardini says, they are the values that even in the midst of persecution and trial will sustain and nurture the heart in the midst of suffering, leading to a personal encounter with the God who willingly took on human flesh to suffer, to forgive in the midst of suffering, to die, and in so doing, to open the doors to eternal life and true bliss.