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“As a young idealist, Dostoyevsky believed that political revolution was the essential route for the life God willed for him…But his efforts to create the kingdom of God by over-throwing the czar came to naught…He was imprisoned by the czar and, so he thought, sentenced to death.

But he didn’t die!

Those who challenged the czar’s totalitarian power were sometimes subjected to a cruel psychological trick designed to break their spirits. They were blindfolded and put before a firing squad. The commands of, ‘Ready! Aim! Fire!’ were given. The sound of shots would ring out. But then–nothing! The bullets were blanks. The victims had been forced to go through the agony of dying, but then there was not the deliverance that death itself can bring.

The painful process was designed to destroy the emotional life of the czar’s victims, but in the case of Dostoyevsky it ironically provided a new perception of reality and an ability to apprehend life with an appreciative passion. As the moment which he was sure would be his last approached, he found himself living life with a hitherto-unknown heightened awareness. In the face of death, each event that remained in his existence, regardless of how apparently ordinary, took on momentous importance.

As he ate his last meal, he concentrated on the taste of every bite, savoring each morsel, because he believed this would be the last food he would ever eat.

As they marched him into the courtyard where he was to be executed, he took in the sun and breathed the air with an intensive appreciation he had never known before.

To the condemned Dostoyevsky, every sensation was enjoyed with a heightened awareness. Each experience was felt with a powerful sensitivity.

He studied the face of each and every soldier charged with the grisly task of shooting him, because these, he was convinced, were the last faces he would ever see.

Dostoyevsky was *living* in the face of death. Later, he would confess that he had lived more in what he had been convinced were the last moments of his life than he had ever lived before. Each moment and each experience leading up to that mock execution had been seized with a passion, and he had tried to suck out of what remained of life all that it possibly could give. He had learned in the face of death to live out the ancient Latin admonition ‘Carpe Diem!’ (Seize the day!)”

Tony Campolo in “Carpe Diem” (Word Publishing Co.)

Seize every moment and live it for the glory of God!


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