Father Charles Klamut, a priest of the diocese of Peoria, who is currently serving at St. John’s Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign, is featured in this week’s edition of America magazine with a reflection on Les Miserables and his first reading of it as a young adult.
My husband pointed it out to me since he follows The Deacon’s Bench blog by Greg Kandra. I do too, but I can’t keep up with all the blogs that I “follow.” So thank God for a husband who keeps up on blogs and shares with me.
Here is the quote that I pulled out of Fr. Klamut’s piece. Keep in mind this was before I went to link to Deacon Greg’s post on it. It turns out we picked the same one! So it is true that great minds think alike (or at least, it’s true that bloggers like me can sometimes think like a superblogger):
I read Les Misérables in a week. It was the perfect book at the perfect time, with soul-shaking impact. For a long time afterward, I went over and over it in my mind and in my heart.
One day I had a revelation: Monseigneur Bienvenu never knew! The heroism of Valjean’s subsequent life was unknown to the bishop. Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Eponine, the Thénardiers, Gavroche, Javert, the barricades, the students, the wedding—all unknown. The bishop sent Valjean off with his silver and a promise, never to see or hear from him again. For all he knew, Valjean went back to his old ways. And yet it did not seem to matter. He treated Valjean as he treated everyone: as Christ would. Bienvenu was the unknowing mover of all that was to follow. But for his act of mercy toward Valjean, the whole beautiful story would not have been.
This was when it hit me. I thought of the bishop, and the impact he made and what his priesthood meant. I can remember praying, “Lord, if that’s what it’s about, if my life can do that…sign me up.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Fr. Klamut’s entire article is well worth reading. I also didn’t realize Fr. Klamut has a website for his music. Interesting!