Lit review: The Diary of a Country Priest

I can’t say that I was expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. I am no Catholic, and certainly no apologist of Catholicism, but this book is truly amazing. It is, as the title may suggest, the diary of the eponymous country priest.

My first impression was of familiarity. The book reminded me much of Flowers for Algernon (a great book might I add), in its styling. The second impression was the intimacy of reading the thoughts and interactions of the priest. The caring and love in his heart for his parish were poignant representations of Jesus’ love, love that we ought to live in the same way, emblazon our hearts with. Yes, we, like the priest, will fall short of this ideal to which we climb, but in our hearts it is there, even when we force it into dormancy.

Also striking is the realness of our priest. He fails to show the love that is in his heart, but still it wars to be released, battering his spirit even as he jails it. This is, however, by and large the exception (except in his own mind). Our priest is flawed — who isn’t? — but in all he makes extraordinary sacrifices for his parishioners.

His greatest sacrifice is perhaps the sacrifice to his character. His ways are misinterpreted and the villagers become convinced he is a drunkard. In reality, he is suffering and chooses to hide it from them to instead focus on their needs.

The book is moving, spiritually and emotionally. I cannot recommend it enough. It now stands in my pantheon of favorite books, a place harder to get into than Harvard. It is one I will cherish and thank my French teacher for giving me it all the more.

I give it a 9.7/10.

I am compelled to include a few of my favorite quotes from the novel. Here you are:

“Faith is not a thing which one ‘loses,’ we merely cease to shape our lives by it.”

“The seeds of good and evil are everywhere. Our great misfortune is that human justice always intervenes too late. We only repress or brand the act, without ever being able to go back further than the culprit.”

“It is hard to be alone, and harder still to share your solitude with indifferent or ungrateful people.”

“Truth is meant to save you first, and the comfort comes afterwards.”

“You can’t go offering the truth to human beings as though it were a sort of insurance policy, or a dose of salts. It’s the Way and the Life. God’s truth is the Life. We only look as though we were bringing it to mankind, really it brings us, my lad.”


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