Saturday, November 10, 2018

Into Great Silence, or: "silent prayer can center a life more than the liturgy"

"It is also necessary to safeguard without let-up the essential contemplative function of the liturgy, which demands an appreciation for [(le sens de)] sacred silence.  Silence and song are the privileged expressions of human communion.  A liturgical celebration that culminates [(s'achever)] spontaneously in silence gives proof of its religious quality.  Monastic wisdom knows how to effect [(sait)] this, for it always mixes silent prayer into the divine office".
     "It is necessary to respect profoundly the freedom of the Holy Spirit.  If there is no Church, are no Christians without sacraments; if there is no fundamental spiritual formation without incorporation into Christ dead and risen—[an incorporation] accomplished organically via the sacraments and the grace of Pasch experienced in the liturgy—, there are, however, very different ways and degrees of leading the life of the liturgy.  In fact, practically [speaking], silent prayer can center a life more than the liturgy.  There is no spiritual formation that does not aim at the one as well as the other.  Meanwhile a grave deficiency in liturgical life [such as a lack of silence] would be a fundamental omission in spiritual formation".

     Bernard-Marie Chevignard, O.P., "Formation spirituelle," Dictionnaire de spiritualité 5 (1964), cols. 710-711 (cols. 699-716).

"there is no serious spiritual formation that is not devoted to looking life straight in the face"

"The spiritual Christian is thus a man objectively formed [('objectivement formé' or 'ordonné')] for real life.  The theological virtues center him on God himself and render him docile to him.  By them he is able to live and breathe in God [(sait respirer en Dieu)].  Under the inspiration of God, the moral virtues govern his human steps along [(dans)] the difficult paths of life.  Whatever the words employed by the spiritual [writers]—discretion, prudence, strength [(force)], etc.—there is no serious spiritual formation that is not devoted to looking life straight in the face [(regarder la vie en face)] and taking it up with the grace of God and under [(dans)] the inspiration [(souffle, also breath or blast)] of the theological virtues.  Supernatural prudence and Christian strength are its pivots; lucidity, courage, a sense of one's responsibilities, even confrontation are its conditions."

     Bernard-Marie Chevignard, O.P. on how "The grace of Christ forges in the soul the courageous virtues of life," "Formation spirituelle," Dictionaire de spiritualité 5 (1964), col. 702 (cols. 699-716).  According to Chevignard, the supernatural virtues tend to "wed" themselves to (épouser, to marry, wed, espouse; take up, assume) the natural structures of the soul.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Simone Weil on St. John Vianney


"Never in any case whatever is a genuine effort of the attention wasted.  It always has its effect on the spiritual plane and in consequence on the lower one of the intelligence, for all spiritual light lightens the mind.
     "If we concentrate our attention on trying to solve a problem of geometry, and if at the end of an hour we are no nearer to doing so than at the beginning, we have nevertheless been making progress each minute of that hour in another more mysterious dimension.  Without our knowing or feeling it, this apparently barren effort has brought more light into the soul.  The result will one day be discovered in prayer. . . . it may very likely be felt in some [other] department of the intelligence[, too]. . . . But it is certain that this effort will bear its fruit in prayer.  There is no doubt whatever about that. . . .
". . . Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul. . . .  The useless efforts made by the Curé d'Ars, for long and painful years, in his attempt to learn Latin bore fruit in the marvelous discernment that enabled  him to see the very soul of his penitents behind their words and even their silences."

     Simone Weil, "Reflections on the right use of school studies with a view to the love of God," in Waiting for God, trans. Emma Craufurd (New York:  G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1951), 106-108.  Note, however, this qualification:  "If there is a real desire, if the thing desired is really light" (107).
     Cf. Hilary of Poitiers.