Friday, 27 April 2007

Night of Fire

Blaise Pascal was 39 when he died, and he was a genius. His mathematical skills were proven from childhood but his theological thinking was transformed and empowered during his final eight years. After he died a scrap of paper was found sewn into the lining of his jacket with the following words:

The year of grace 1654.
Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement,
pope and martyr and others in the martyrology.
The eve of Saint Chrysogonus martyr and others.
From about half-past ten in the evening
until about half-past midnight.
Fire.
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
Not of the philosophers and intellectuals.
Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace.
The God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God [in Latin, accusative case].
Your God will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything except God.
One finds oneself only by way of the directions taught
in the gospel.
The grandeur of the human soul.
Oh just Father, the world has not known you,
but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have separated myself from him.______________
They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water [in Latin].
My God, will you leave me?
May I not be separated from him eternally.
This is eternal life, that they know you the one true God
and J.C. whom you have sent.
Jesus Christ.____________________
Jesus Christ.______________
I have separated myself from him. I have run away from him,
renounced him, crucified him.
May I never be separated from him._______________
One preserves oneself only by way of the lessons taught
in the gospel.
Renunciation total and sweet.
And so forth.

This intense experience of intimacy with God prompted Pascal to give up mathematics and instead use his abilities to engage in apologetics. It seems he had a lot of very good things to communicate (and defend). Without having read his ‘Pensées’ or anything else (yet) I can’t comment any further, but it is reassuring to me in the week that I turned 31 that God can, without warning, greatly use a person who is deeply in love with him.

What use is my learning, or indeed my spirituality, if I do not love God passionately, trust him, and allow him to direct my paths? Then my thinking and working will be more effective, and my heart will reflect his.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

It's that time of the year again...

You can tell when exams are looming close - none of us appear able to do anything particularly productive!

So this morning I was scared silly about the upcoming Hebrew class tests and exam. I really don't know enough to do well, and the fear is paralysing! The lack of doing anything is getting so bad that I just ordered a book on time management. It's called 'Do It Tomorrow', I'm sure I'll enjoy it... whenever I get round to reading it :)

Meanwhile, the blogging craze has finally caught up with some of the Edgehill peeps... Nick, Colin and Angie have all just started up. Who knows, they might make it past the six-post mark this time? To be fair, Angie's is about her book - more on that later.

And now - coffee time?

Monday, 2 April 2007

Henri Nouwen

I, like Jools, have been greatly enjoying Henri Nouwen's book of preparation for the Easter season. He challenges me and prods me to love God more, and more simply, and more actively. But following some comments on Mr H's blog, where Mr Nouwen was quoted having written something that personally I have difficulty with...

I have a question:

Can God use any and all of his creation to speak his truth to our hearts?

If so, is it ok if I am still blessed and encouraged by most of the writings of a person who, as far as I can tell, loved God and his neighbour as himself?

Is it ok to disagree with 1% of someone's work and still be blessed by the rest?

Or should it be all or nothing?