Friday, January 25, 2008

Simone Weil

I have no category for Simone Weil. I just don't know what to think of her. But at the same time, her words make my heart swell. We are kindred spirits, even though I wouldn't claim to be in her league.

You can read about her life and writings here and here.

I became indebted to her in 2002, when I read her essay on the Lord's Prayer. Her insights enabled me to work through what seemed an insurmountable obstacle in my relationship with my father, who was dying and eventually passed away that same year.

Now, I am finally reading more of her work. I am alternately confounded and moved by her. One sentence leaves me wondering if she is a mad heretic, and the next draws me closer to her heart and the heart of God.

Here are a few choice lines I have read recently:

On truth-seeking:

"Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms."

On intellectual honesty:

"Till then I had only thought of [intellectual honesty] as opposed to faith; your* words made me think that perhaps, without my knowing it, there were in me obstacles to the faith, impure obstacles, such as prejudices, habits. I felt that after having said to myself for so many years simply: 'Perhaps all that is not true,' I ought, without ceasing to say it -- I still take care to say it very often now -- to join it to the opposite formula, namely: 'Perhaps all that is true,' and to make them alternate."

On friendship:

"For nothing among human things has such power to keep our gaze fixed ever more intensely upon God, than friendship for the friends of God."

On missions/evangelism:

"[We have an] obligation so strict that we can scarcely fail in it without treason . . . to show the public the possibility of a truly incarnated Christianity. In all the history now known there has never been a period in which souls have been in such peril as they are today in every part of the globe. The bronze serpent must be lifted up again so that whoever raises his eyes to it may be saved."

* This refers to her mentor, Father Perrin.

(All quotations are from Waiting for God, letter IV, translated by Emma Craufurd, pulished by Putnam's Sons: 1951.)



Blogger Brad Jersak said...

I hear you. She once saved my life. She helped me stop ratiionalizing evil and instead, i. simply say, It is what it is, and ii. look into the abyss and gaze on the crucified One.

May she continue to confound and move you,


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