Sure, Diary of a Country Priest didn’t roll off the press in August (unless it was August 1937), but the book continues to resonate and stands as a crucial addition to the literary canon—at least for anyone interested in wonder, faith, and art (and if you aren’t interested in one of those, you may be on the wrong site).
Through the diary of a young priest in 1930’s France, we see tussles with parishioners, constant fixation on poverty and money, and an insistent physical pain which will not let go. More than this, we see a supposedly faith-filled man at odds with his God, struggling in the dark.
Reminiscent of Mother Theresa’s letters revealed after her death, we are reminded that faith is less about belief and more about centering your life on something, that agony is innate in all humanity (he writes: “I believe that ever since the fall, man’s condition is such that neither around him nor within him can he perceive anything, except in the form of agony”), but that pain might actually force us to stumble into the light.
While not for the faint of heart (did you see the quote?) DoaCP gives us all we could want: the anti-hero at odds with others, with God, with himself, and yet someone whom you are glad to know. Whether you agree with him or not, the world needs more people like the country priest—a man who wrestles with faith, with pain, and yet manages to uncover grace.