Professor Skridlov

‘Father Giovanni! I cannot understand how you can calmly stay here instead of returning to Europe, at least to your own country Italy, to give the people there if only a thousandth part of this all-penetrating faith which you are now inspiring in me.’
‘Eh! my dear Professor,’ replied Father Giovanni, ‘it is evident that you do not understand man’s psyche as well as you understand archaeology.

‘Faith cannot be given to man. Faith arises in a man and increases in its action in him not as the result of automatic learning, that is, not from any automatic ascertainment of height, breadth, thickness, form and weight, or from the perception of anything by sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste, but from understanding.

‘Understanding is the essence obtained from information intentionally learned and from all kinds of experiences personally experienced.

‘For example, if my own beloved brother were to come to me here at this moment and urgently entreat me to give him merely a tenth part of my understanding, and if I myself wished with my whole being to do so, yet I could not, in spite of my most ardent desire, give him even the thousandth part of this understanding, as he has neither the knowledge nor the experience which I have quite accidentally acquired and lived through in my life.

‘No, Professor, it is a hundred times easier, as it is said in the Gospels, “for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle” than for anyone to give to another the understanding formed in him about anything whatsoever.

‘I formerly also thought as you do and even chose the activity of a missionary in order to teach everyone faith in Christ. I wanted to make everyone as happy as I myself felt from faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ. But to wish to do that by, so to say, grafting faith on by words is just like wishing to fill someone with bread merely by looking at him.