A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
How we cite our quotes:
– Heavenly God! cried Stephen's soul, in an outburst of profane joy. (4.3.28)
What a perfect sentence! The seeming contradiction of "Heavenly God" with "profane joy" demonstrates Stephen’s new sense of the spiritual.
To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life! A wild angel had appeared to him, the angel of mortal youth and beauty, an envoy from the fair courts of life, to throw open before him in an instant of ecstasy the gates of all the ways of error and glory. On and on and on and on! (4.3.30)
This is a total subversion of Catholic moments of epiphany – here, a mortal angel appears to Stephen, an envoy from life, not heaven.
He felt above him the vast indifferent dome and the calm processes of the heavenly bodies; and the earth beneath him, the earth that had borne him, had taken him to her breast. (4.3.33)
Again, this description rebels against traditionally Catholic views of earth and heaven. Here, the heavens (and perhaps God?) are indifferent, whereas the earth, embodied in a maternal and mythological way, nurtures him.