The Monk Downstairs: Faith and Love

In the final scene of the book, Rebecca and Mike sit talking and she asks him how this feeling of peace and love she feels compares with the contemplative life of prayer Mike led at the monastery.

He refers to Filippo Lippi’s “Predella of the Barbadori Altarpiece” in which St. Augustine, bearing three arrows in his chest, beholds the Trinity. He says he used to want that experience, figuring that the arrows were “an occupational hazard.” And then he continues, “And now I know that the moments of vision come and go — ‘no man shall see My face and live.’ We’re not equipped to live in that light all the time. The vision fades and life goes on and all we’re left with is the arrows.”

Do you agree or disagree with Mike’s point of view and why? How much does what Mike says about faith hold true for love?

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One response to “The Monk Downstairs: Faith and Love

  1. Tim Farrington

    The payoff point of the scene, in the context of the novel, is actually after “… all we’re left with is the arrows.” The conversation continues:

    “A cheerful thought,” Rebecca murmured glumly.
    “In a way, I think it is,” Mike said. “I think the arrows are so that we don’t forget.”

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