Jacques Maritain Center : Readings

Jacques Maritain's Notebooks

Chapter Two: Old Memories II: From After Baptism

 


1906

Raissa and I arrive in Heidelberg the 27th of August, 1906. Settle in a house on Gaisbergstrasse the 30th of August.

*

Heidelberg, 27th of September, 1906. Letter from our dear Vera, with good news. Her parents went to church (in Bures) and her father greeted the bishop. In whatever situation he finds himself, before the great of the earth or amidst the baskets of Les Halles (where he likes to go in the early morning for the family provisions) this simple, candid, and daring man is always in his place, full of ease and of nobility. He is now lord of Bures.

*

Heidelberg, 28th of October. From an Introduction to the Life of Raissa [which I wished to write only for ourselves. -- The Introduction alone was written, and I omit here an ideological jumble on "Woman," unluckily modelled on Léon Bloy. But I wish to keep the pages about Raissa herself, because I now know, much better and more profoundly than before, how true they are.]

Goodness. Purity. Raissa always goes to the bitter end, with a direct intention and an upright will. Her courage is without calculation and her pity without defence. Where there is no beauty she suffocates and cannot live. She has always lived for truth, she has never resisted truth. She has never bent her mind, nor lied to her suffering. She always gives without retaining anything. For her heart, as for her understanding, it is the essential reality which matters; nothing accessory can cause her to hesitate. Her thought, her genius, tends always to intuition. As she is wholly interior, she is wholly free. Her reason can be content only with the real, her soul only with the absolute.

In her passion for concrete certitude, in her respect for Wisdom and her love for Justice, in her indomitable humor and her vigilance in dispute, as also in the ardor of her blood and the precision of her instinct, everywhere she bears with her the nobility and the privilege of the race from which she is born, of the elder Race, in which God confided and which contemplated His Angels, which, alone familiar with Heaven, alone depositary of the promise, is everywhere in its place on the earth, will perish only with the world, and which has a right to regard all peoples as guests late come into its patrimony, uncultured and without past, heirs of the Lord by adoption, not by birth. Puella Hebraeorum! Her native pride marches before her; I have heard Jews exclaim on the purity of her type. Ecce vere Israelita, in quo dolus non est. But do we know how deep the roots of a true Jew plunge? We know well that the true Jew is not the carnal Jew, eager for dispute, chained to the pride of the world, do we know well enough that the true Jew loves Poverty and loves Tears, is Pure of heart and Merciful, is hungry and thirsty for Justice and suffers persecution and death for Justice, unyieldingly? True lineage of Abraham, indomitable and faithful people, obedient and tenacious, harsh but against ordeal, which built the temple with sword in hand and which fell by thousands in order to defend it, men patient and charitable, women pious and strong, whose Hope watered the miraculous Stem, worthy finally that God, who did not shun the womb of a Virgin, did not shun either to fashion their descendants for Himself, and to choose them for fellow-citizens.

In her there is not only beauty, but that living spiritual light which is like a glance of God above beauty, and which we call grace, that grace which adds itself to beauty, said Plotinus,{1} and without which a beautiful face cannot attract the eye. Awe-inspiring and magnificent gift, in which the primitive splendor of Eve is reflected, and which descends as a trial on a few women of this fallen world. And for her, as for all those women on whom grace was conferred, grace is not an exception which sets them apart from other women, but rather the very excellence and the mystical characteristic of their sex. There is no woman for whom anything is as desirable as grace, and is not every woman entitled to suppose herself gracious at some hour of her life?

It is this innocence of child grace, it is this perpetual effluence of the soul through the body which her great eyes magnificently proclaim.

Who will ever be able to express the freshness of her childhood, and the innocence which shines in her like the Milky Way in the depth of the sky? There is no innocence except supernatural innocence; and when this innocence perpetuates childhood through the whole of life, is it not the mark of the Spirit? -- The ingenuous world of Pifo{2} always breaths around her; her gaiety is the companion of tears, her sadness is charitable and pure; and whether she is borne by poetry or by music, or whether she meditates on the Word of Truth, one always discerns in her that innocence which plays in the rays.

Who will measure her good will? Good will was given to her without measure, even in her taste for order and classical arrangement; in her frankness, in her pity, in her aversion for all complacencies and all worldly interests, in her goodness, in her confidence, which the Angels must see while trembling with compassion. For good will makes us the brothers of the Angels.

Finally, she loves God, she has always loved God, even before knowing Him. It is because she loves God that evil horrifies her, and that there is for her no "truth of bad taste." She loved truth with her whole heart; and suddenly she said to herself: "But the truth, there it is! Where would wisdom be, if it was not with Wisdom?" It is because she loves God that she gives with joy, and "God loves a cheerful giver."{3} It is because she loves God that she "loves grandeur and that she loves the abandoned," and it is for this that "passing near the abandoned, she will recognize grandeur, if grandeur is there."{4} And because she loves God, she can rest only in Him!

This vocation is that of humanity itself, I know; but those who are marked for the glory of God are not outside humanity, they are the very characteristic and the essence of humanity.

When you are afflicted, Raissa, remember my testimony.

And You, my God, Father of the poor, without Whom nothing exists, with Whom the humblest can do everything, in Whom all Grandeur resides, support her with Your strength, spread Your grace over her, give her what you command, and command her what you will!

*

Heidelberg, 12th of November, St. Martin. Today, or at least so we hope, for we are without news, little Eveline, out niece and goddaughter, will be baptized. This day will be devoted to prayer.

Letter from Bloy, announcing the death of the son of Termier, thirteen years old, crushed by an elevator.

15th of November. Letter from Jeanne, confirming the baptism of Eveline.

Heidelberg, 25th of November. We ask God, although one can serve Him in every condition, to grant us the favor of bearing witness to His Name, and, if He wills to dispense us from misery, to help us embrace a state in which we may be in His grace, not in that of a godless world, and which keeps the simplicity, the purity and the poverty of the Gospel.

Heidelberg, 11th of December. Vera and her mother arrived this evening at half-past nine.

[From that time our little sister Vera always lived with us. The blessing of her presence was not withdrawn from us, until the day when, passing into the other life, this beloved presence became invisible and unimaginable, and when the corporeal absence broke, not the indomitable soul, but the physical forces of Raissa.]

Heidelberg, 27th of December. Saw Driesch. Welcoming, amiable, charming. He lends me many books. Seems to me very superior to the other German professors whom I have met, although he also seems to like "empirico-criticism" a little too much.

Heidelberg, 30th of December. Apropos of St. Paul, Gal. 4. -- Thus, salvation is not only paradise opened. But it is also the liberation of the world, of this world in which we live, and this is why the stones and the animals, all which is and all which lives, rejoiced over the birth of the Savior. The children of the world await the liberation as a great feast. But this liberation, and this God who came to give man the enjoyment of the earth and kingship, is Bethlehem, is Jesus Christ. Who will understand this adorable transformation of man? It is wholly hidden. Only the humble know it. And we enjoy the earth and our liberty in hope, "we are saved in hope." And how could it be otherwise? We enter by the Cross into the liberty of the sons of God. This way of feasting -- ecce homo vorax et potator vini -- is for the scandal of the proud and of the wise men of this world. Just as Incarnate Truth was also for their scandal -- that Incarnate Truth Who gathered together all contradictions, whereas in their imbecility they believe that truth "will bring about agreement" between men. . . . This triumphant truth, as also this great rapture and this final outburst of free joy, no, it is not what they think! It will be, it can only be, Jesus in His glory, and the Spirit of fire, and the devouring flames of the Judgment, of Anger and of Love.

 


1907

Heidelberg, 13th of January, 1907. Raissa is ill.

[Terrible attack of amoebic enteritis.] Began novena in common to Our Lady of La Salette.

Heidelberg, 15th of January. Raissa is very ill. She wishes to receive the Anointing of the Sick.

Heidelberg, 16th of January. Extreme weakness. The doctor sees no hope except in an operation. No, not that! I go to see Chaplain Kech. He will hear Raissa's confession this evening at six o'clock, and will bring her Holy Communion and the Anointing of the Sick tomorrow.

Heidelberg, Thursday, the 17th of January, 1907. Admirable day, which we shall always remember. The Anointing of the Sick is experienced by Raissa as a new baptism, she is suffused with grace and with peace. Ineffable grace of total abandonment to God and of the joy of suffering. Vera and I feel its victorious gushing forth; we are as it were enraptured in Paradise.

As for the body, the improvement is sudden and undeniable. The doctor is amazed. "Merkwurdig!"

Heidelberg, 18th of January. Letter of Raissa to my sister Jeanne:

"My sweet Nane, your letters have this beautiful privilege of bringing my soul nearer to our Savior. Today however your letter found my heart so near to Him that it was exhausted with joy. -- It is the state in which I have found myself since yesterday morning. In order to reassure you, I tell you immediately that my health is better. But these last days, feeling myself quite ill, I asked for the Anointing of the Sick. It was administered to me yesterday morning after Holy Communion. What to say to you, dear sister? My soul overflows with joy, with peace, with hope and with love. This has been like another baptism. My soul felt itself truly liberated from sin, wholly united with the will of God. Oh! how sweet the Lord is, His mercy is infinite. I no longer recognize my faith, it is no longer mine, it is that of the Heart of Jesus.{5} Oh, may Jesus keep me always with Him! O dear Jeanne, I am too weak to tell you everything I have learned this morning. But know only that the Lord never refuses and gives all the more as one asks Him more. I embrace you.
                                Raia"

Heidelberg, 20th of January. For two days she lived in the continual rapture of the love of God. And all three of us were in the heart of Jesus, abandoning everything to Him and glad for everything which would please Him. Yesterday morning Raissa was like the sparrow on the roof, between Heaven and earth, in a kind of starry sadness at being thus suspended. "I suffer above myself," she said, in seeing herself return to the world. And again: "I feel the weakness of the recovery, not of the illness."

It is as if it was dead for an inappreciable instant, and that now purified and strengthened this soul has retaken possession of its temple and has re-erected it without effort. How she looked at us from afar, from the other side of the world! What beatitude in her eyes, what love and what detachment! Not only was her mouth unable to refrain from smiling constantly for two days, but her eyes seem transformed, even larger, with a more pacific light; chiefly it is the absence of all curiosity in the gaze, it no longer penetrates into objects, but settles gently on them, less in order to borrow light from them than to give it to them.

From a letter to Léon Bloy in which I relate what took place: If God does not definitively cure Raissa, at least we are now sure that this illness no longer threatens her life, and is only a trial for her patience; whereas before the Anointing of the Sick death seemed certain to her. . . . Today Raissa was able to kneel in her bed, to sit up, to speak loudly, which she had been unable to do for a long time."

Heidelberg, 22nd of January. Raissa continues to improve. She tells me that before being so sick she had dreamt of seeing her dress covered with blood; and the same night, she believes, she awakened, still holding her neck as in her dream, as if suspended and gasping for a host held by two celestial hands.

During the anointings, she had only absolute happiness and perfect peace; she only prayed and told God her gratitude. Afterwards, she opened her eyes and looked at us, Vera and me, from far away, and only to show us that she was not dead. In this she understood in a sensible manner that beatitude is gaudium de veritate ("joy in the truth" edit.).

Heidelberg, 14th of February. An event in relation to the preceding state of the world. There was in the preceding state almost all the reason for the present state. But that constitutes a limit. If there had been all the reason, then this event would have taken place at this moment. Simple remark which destroys mechanism and universal mathematics. In reality, something was lacking, which took place only at the moment of the introduction of this event and which is inseparable from it, because duration is living and because God always acts.

[I note these thoughts because they were in my mind like a teething ring of the doctrine of physical premotion, of which I was then completely ignorant.]

Heidelberg, 1st of March. I leave for Paris. (Mania Vilbouchévitch wrote to us that Raissa's parents, extremely vexed by our conversion, sob all day.) I stay with them. Mania must have excited them. I succeed, not without difficulty, in appeasing them, in making it clear to them that their children have found happiness. Less luck with my mother.

The 3rd of March I have lunch at her place and tell her of our conversion; it is a catastrophe for her. Betrayal of all her hopes, and of her dream to see me carry on for Jules Favre. She answers me by her own history -- she left the Church quite young (encouraged by her father), because she was scandalized by the questions of a priest in the confessional. Later, on a train, she met another bad priest, who made shameful remarks to her.

Paris, 5th of March. Lunched with Péguy at my mother's. Overwhelmed with joy at what he tells me about himself (he has made the same journey as us). "The body of Christ is larger than one thinks."

Back again in Heidelberg the 7th of March.

Heidelberg, 11th of March. In reading the Exercises of St. Ignatius, Raissa was astonishingly moved by this passage of Baruch: Howl, weak firs, for the cedars have fallen, the powers have been overturned. These words awakened a great symphony at the bottom of her heart. During the hours which followed she was wholly absorbed in this dreamed of music. Yesterday, after fifteen or twenty days, she began to sing gently, and nothing was as touching as this plaint of the poor firs, exhaled fearfully by her pure and fresh voice.

Heidelberg, 25th of March. All three of us make the Consecration to Mary recommended by Grignion de Montfort.

Heidelberg, 2nd of April. Our dear godfather sends us as an "Easter egg" his chapter on Paradise.

Heidelberg, 11th of May. Visit of Marix and his sister, who are going to Nauheim. Péguy told him of our conversion, he comes to show his friendship to us. This touches us a great deal. And he himself is seeking.

Our friendship grows with Chaplain Kech, our confessor (who always gives each of us the same exhortation, namely, to put up with the Unannehmlichkeiten des Lebens ["annoyances of life" edit.], this cliché becomes a refrain which amuses us very much).

Heidelberg, 6th of June. Exceptionally important day for us. Raissa having gone to confession to Father Kollmann, he told her to receive Holy Communion every day. At the end of our retreat here, on the eve of our return to France, a new phase of our life is beginning.

Heidelberg, 8th of June. Letter from Jeanne, who hopes to receive Holy Communion soon. (There was sanatio in radice of her marriage.)

Heidelberg, 20th of June. Raissa takes me to the Castle, under the beautiful green trees, inexhaustibly green, whose shade is a paradise of freshness into which one plunges "like a good swimmer who abandons himself to the waves." Joy of going out this way with my beloved friend, like two good spouses who go for a walk on a holiday among this crowd of dressed-in-their-Sunday-best bourgeois. My heart trembles to see Raissa so tender and so good, and to feel her innocent soul vibrate so to speak around her like these warm rays which make the air tremble.

Vera, ailing, remained at home. We never cease to admire her progress in endurance, in patience, and her marvelous devotion.

Heidelberg, 23rd of June. Last errands and last packages. Raissa drinks and eats straight from the pans, for want of plates and of glasses. We have caused her to make admirable progress in the paths of disorder and of domestic indifference. [Illusion: this progress did not last.]

Left Heidelberg the 24th of June. Basel. Geneva. Grenoble. The 26th we go from Grenoble to La Mure, then to Corps, then to La Salette. Astonishment.

La Salette, Sunday, the 30th of June, 1907. Conversation with Abbé F., bursar. The name of Léon Bloy is mentioned. He wrinkles his brow. "Wait a bit! Have you seen him? Do you know him?" -- "He is our godfather." -- "Really! How odd that is. He came here last year. I will tell you what I think: we took him at first to be a queer character. His first act was to insult the porter. And he has such a strange style, so peculiar. He gave us a book (Le Salut par les Juifs). M. Geray, who is a licentiate in Arts, a former teacher of rhetoric, and who must be an expert in it, couldn't get over it. At the outset he greatly astonished us and we judged him badly. But at the end of a few days we retraced our steps. He is a good Christian; his wife is very nice; we shall talk again about all this. It is very interesting."

La Salette, 3rd of July. Conversation with Abbé Noirey. He speaks of Mélanie with much respect, admires her sincerity and the preciseness of her recollections; when she came here (her last pilgrimage), each time one of those who accompanied her spoke in error, she corrected unfailingly and exactly.

Mélanie told Mlle des Brulais that after the Apparition she had "prayed much," for a long time. . . . -- And what did you say? -- But nothing, I remained on my knees.

Mélanie writing on her desk: 1870, the Prussians. Her aversion for Napoleon, inexplicable except through a prophetic warning. With regard to the secret, Abbé Noirey does not at all display the hostility of Abbé F., he merely awaits the decision of Rome.

He tells us that Abbé Déléon submitted at the end of his life and resumed his life as a priest with humility, the first time that he said Mass again, the tomb of the altar collapsed. Abbé Noirey speaks of him with charity, saying only that he "was wrong-headed."

Friday, the 5th of July, departure from La Salette. It is as if we were leaving the paradise and the house of our heart. I have noted here only the external circumstances, the rest will have to be written elsewhere than on paper.

Pierre Termier takes us by car from Saint-Georges de Commiers to Varces.

Saturday, the 6th of July, 1907. All three of us are confirmed at Grenoble, by Bishop Henry.

8th of July. Arrive in Paris. Raissa's parents are waiting for us at the station and "receive us in their arms." We shall live with them, on the extension of the rue Jeanne d'Arc.

24th of August. Charged with a mission by Péguy, I arrive at the Isle of Wight, at the abbey of Appuldurcombe. Baillet. Dom Delatte. He says that Péguy must give everything, not wait. I am charged with a counter-mission, to tell him that he must have his children baptized.

(In Paris, September, or October, 1907):

From Raissa:

I am the guardian of a Kingdom which I do not see, but which I must defend, which I cannot find by myself but which I can lose; people enter and leave it without my will, but I have the power to close the door if I wish. If I keep the key I can open it again. But I can also throw away the key, and no longer find it again, and lose everything. It is indeed my kingdom, and I am responsible for all that happens in it, but nevertheless it does not belong to me. It is myself, and I belong to the great King. I am seated at the door; I do not see who enters and who leaves, but I must distinguish between those who present themselves, and let pass only him who should come. Attollite portas principes vestras, elevamini, portae aeternales. I am a very little point. My kingdom is behind me, at my back, I cannot turn my head. I see only the little point. A little point attached to an immense sun, a little point which guards this great sun and through which the sun can be penetrated. There is everything in my kingdom, the sun and the moon and the stars, and the animals and the plants -- and the Saints! -- since all this is in God and since God is in my soul. And all this is in my soul according to the reality of the divine essence, whereas in my senses and my intelligence, in what I see, this is disfigured. But what is in my soul, I do not see. I am seated at the door. When the King gives a great feast, only then the noise of it sometimes reaches me.

Second stay in Heidelberg. Raissa and I arrive there the 15th of October; 24, Blumenstrasse. Vera rejoins us the 17th.

Heidelberg, 20th of October, 1907. In November, 1906, at Heidelberg, Raissa wrote a melody for her on the Veni Sancte Spiritus, which she had never yet heard sung. Opening now the book of Gregorian chant which I have just bought, she plays the Veni Sancte; identity of the first measures (about ten).

Heidelberg, 8th of November. Our life is very monotonous on the outside, quite difficult to describe as regards the interior. I believe we are learning many things these days. But how can one express them? It is the tissue of life. . . . It belongs to Our Lord, who leads us, to know how far we have got, it does not belong to us.

Here is the ordinary practice of our days. Rising at 6 o'clock. Mass and Holy Communion, at 7:15. We return, read a little while one of us prepares breakfast. Afterwards I set to work until 11:30. -- Until 10 o'clock (the days when there is no market), Vera plays the harmonium or else reads; then prayer from 10 to 10:45. Afterwards, kitchen. -- Until 10:45, Raissa mends, arranges, reads or works. Prayer from 10:45 to 11:30. Harmonium (or kitchen!). I pray from 11:30 to 12:15. -- After lunch, Raissa and Vera rest a little, read or sew. When we can, we say a few psalms. Then work. Latin, German, diverse readings. Vera has the onus of reading a little history, and of giving us lectures. About 5 o'clock, all three of us go and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. We dine at 6:30 or 7, chat a little, tell each other the news of the day, the last conference of Father Faber or the last advice of Madame l'Abbesse (de Sainte-Cécile); we prepare the menu for the next day. -- At 8 o'clock, Raissa and Vera are in bed. Compline. Rosary. They fall asleep. I go to the kitchen, by the light of a gas lamp, and I work a little more, in the peace of a father of a family who has put his children to bed. Then an hour of dogmatic reading. Bed at 11.

We devour the Lives of Saints (many are stupidly written, so edifying that they would have us believe that by our own forces we can copy the acts of the saints).

Invasion of Father Faber into our life. Raissa reads him with passion.

For prayer we follow the plan which Raissa made at Pontaubert, and which is ordered according to the liturgy.

Heidelberg, 19th of November. My work in biology: Wasmann and Pauly. -- Our books. Raissa: St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God; Vera: Father Faber, Bethlehem; myself, Abbesse de Sainte-Cécile: La Vie Spirituelle, and the commentary of Denis the Carthusian on the fourth Gospel. All, The Liturgical Year. And, for prayer, St. Ignatius of Loyola. He seems to me less useful this year than last year. All these considerations are a hindrance. Better to have a single short text, a single verse, and to bring everything back to it while meditating.

Heidelberg, 23rd of November. The meditations on the first week of St. Ignatius are finished. Dear Vera has been terror-stricken by what he says about venial sin, particular judgment, etc. This book does not suit her at all. I advise her to take the Mother Abbess as a guide.

Heidelberg, 26th of November. On returning from church, Raissa sits down without saying anything; I question her, she answers me with difficulty that she "cannot speak," that I am not to be frightened. She comes to the kitchen to eat; we want to force her to speak, she begins to cry, and returns to the room; lies down on the lounging chair, the crucifix in her hands, her eyes shut. At the end of a half-hour or three quarters of an hour she utters a few words, says that she was not able to will to speak.

She felt like this immediately after Holy Communion, she had time to recite the Magnificat, and to think: In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum; then impossible to think or to say a single prayer, to make any voluntary movement: every effort in this direction seemed to tear her in two. She had much difficulty in returning home. She felt nothing particular, remaining as if empty. This is what she explains to us in the afternoon. In the morning, after having spoken a little, she had taken the Gospel and again became absorbed. She then had a very peaceful silent prayer, in which she understood the absolute gratuitousness of divine mercy, and that the pardon which God grants to us is a real abandonment of Himself, a gift of Himself to us. Today her eyes have an expression which recalls to mind the one which followed her Anointing of the Sick, and she feels a little in the same state.

Special examination concerning bad judgments about others. There is noticeable progress, but it is not brilliant. I have an average of seven a day; Raissa and Vera, of three or four. Those of Vera are of the aesthetic order, ours of the moralistic order.

Heidelberg, 27th of November. Raissa begins the morning feeling in the same state as yesterday. She struggles with all her might, and succeeds in keeping her will; but she remains a little vague the whole day, and again in the afternoon begins to become absorbed, while reading the Imitation.

Heidelberg, 28th of November. Raissa's eyes continue to be strangely inattentive, or rather attentive to the interior; a beautiful gaze which settles on objects without penetrating them, and seems suspended. Her voice is clear and gentle, like that of a child, but one would say that it has a kind of imperceptible hesitation, which makes one think of the short instant of waiting in the flight of a bee, very near a flower, before settling on it. Everything seems insipid to her, she cannot formulate any precise prayer, but she feels affections as it were veiled, not lively nor violent, but more continually present than certain lively sentiments that one can have in prayer and which pass afterwards. A single thing moves her desire: to hear the Imitation or the Gospel read. I read her the Gospel of St. Luke. At certain moments she seems ready to weep, and yet says she experiences no pain; she is only sad at heart, wholly moved. -- After this she emerges a little from her quiet absorption, and resumes the Treatise on the Love of God. She thinks, she tells me, that when Jesus said: "My Father, my Father, why have you abandoned me?" He was thinking of all the men who would be lost in spite of his Blood, and for whom the Pardon was of no use.

Heidelberg, 29th of November, In the morning I go to see Driesch. Charming reception. He lends me Wigand, Radl, Friedmann. . . . We speak of Bergson, whose Matter and Memory has just been translated into German, and who is preparing, according to what a young Englishman told Driesch, a book on morality. Driesch will write a review of Creative Evolution soon.

Heidelberg, 31st of December. Driesch pays a visit. I go out in the snow for a part of the atternoon, seeking a clue in all the confusions concerning science, the concept, intuition, etc.

[This meditation was to be continued in other solitary walks. Cf. the preface to the 2nd edition of La Philosophie Bergsonienne (English translation: Bergsonian Philosophy and Thomism, edit.).]

The Germans celebrate the 31st of December with loud pistol-shots.

 


1908

Heidelberg, 18th of January, 1908. Happy the poor in spirit. How can I be a philosopher, when all the happiness I desire is poverty of spirit?

I see that the world is fruitless and that death exists, and I act as if death did not exist. I see death and I do not believe in death.

But if I see, and do not believe what I see, I am sick or I am insane.

Heidelberg, 21st of January. Purchase of skates for Vera. First session on the Neckar. . . . Sunday we went for a walk on this amiable river, to the great joy of Raissa, walking on the back of this large serpent.

This same Sunday I resolved to abandon all "personal inquiry" in philosophy, all desire to know by myself, being sure to know everything essential and everything necessary by the Word of God, and trusting for the rest on the blessed night of faith. I am in the night, I know in an absolute manner what the Lord Himself has told me, and I will know also at such or such moment what it will please Him to show me for the refutation of error.

[At this time I thought that the essential task of philosophy was to refute error. I have made headway since, I have understood that refutation is only a secondary task, and one most often fruitless and useless (and which has so harmed Thomism). One must not refute, but "enlighten" and forge ahead.]

From the 25th of February to the 5th of March, sojourn in the Black Forest, at Rickenbach Amt Säckingen, where our friend Chaplain Kech is now parish priest. We stay with his two aunts, Hermine and Luise.

Back in Heidelberg the 6th of March. Raissa falls ill with an angina on Sunday the 15th (first Sunday of Lent). It is grave, a kind of diptheria. I fall ill in my turn (occasion to read Flavius Josephus and Emile Male). Cured by Dr. Ullrich and the Sisters of Niederbronn, to whom we are very grateful (Raissa becomes very attached to Sister Ingratia). Vera is marvellous, watches over everything, lavishes her attentions upon us in spite of a cruel facial neuralgia, then an influenza during which she refuses to go to bed (how could she?). Finally all three of us are ourselves again for Easter.

Since our arrival here, I do not think that three days in succession have passed in which the two sisters have been in good health at the same time.

And nevertheless the little caravan rolls along, and we do not have reason to complain. . .

Some expressions of popular German. -- I am lucky. Ich habe Schwein; It is all the same to me: Das ist mir ganz Wurst; To court: poussieren. When one speaks frankly, it comes from the liver (von der Leber weg); Das Hauskreuz, this is the nice way husbands refer to their wives.

*

We return to Paris the 4th of May.

Paris, 30th of May. I become acquainted at Saint-Sulpice with Abbé Deléage. He had noticed us, my sister Jeanne, Raissa and myself, at the Church of Saint-Marcel, the day of Jeanne's confirmation (the 27th of May).

[With much goodness he helped us for quite a long time with his advice.]

Paris, 5th of June. Exquisite evening at the Bloys', who now live rue Cortot, and whom we are going to ask for dinner.

They now have only three francs, but the peace and the fragrances of Paradise inhabit their house. Barbot, by dint of work, has finished printing Celle qui pleure; the book will appear soon with Mercure.

Paris, 10th of June. My beloved Raissa! I will know only in Paradise all I owe to her. Every good comes from God. But as earthly intermediary, everything has come to me through her, from her heart, from her reason, from her prayers, from her counsels, from her example, from her sufferings, from her virtues, from her love for God and from her tender love for miserable me.

This is what I wrote at Heidelberg the 19th of March, and I recopy it in Paris [and forty-six years later I recopy it in Princeton, because I have thought this all the days of my life.]

Paris, 11th of June, 1908. Anniversary of our baptism. Afternoon and evening at the Bloys'. This studio, in which there is a high temperature of 25 or 30 degrees, is a place of incomparable refreshment for our souls. Léon Bloy, beautiful like an old lion full of furrows, reads us the pages of L'Invendable concerning Varces and La Salette. Raissa sings us her songs, she is happy to see that she can delight the hearts of those she loves. All are happy, encourage her. Jeanne Bloy, very grave, urges her not to let the gifts which are in her be lost. Our godfather removes the absurd scruples, the fear of the seductions of art, which troubled us in Germany. Let Raissa understand the value of what has been given to her, let her keep her soul in peace, let her devote herself to music.

[It was through melody and music that her vocation as poet first began to manifest itself in her.]

After dinner, reading of the Fioretti. They are at the end of their resources, without a penny. And what have we to help them? The microscope which I pawned, and for which I expected at least 50 francs, brought me only 20 francs.

Paris, 20th of July. We rent the apartment at 11, rue des Feuillantines. Agreed with Hachette (M. Desclosières) for the orthographical Lexicon Tout en Un (Everything-in-One). I shall receive 11 francs 50 per page, plus a third for "my assistant" (Vera), plus a third for the correction of the proofs. 350 pages at the most.

Our dear Absalom (Feinberg) tells us some heart-rending things concerning Mania. Misery of false moral grandeurs (and of psychological breakdown).

26th of July. Lunched at the Péguys', in Lozère. There I meet Dr. Amieux.

[Beginning of a friendship which will be both confiding and stormy.]

5th of August. All three of us go to Saint-Pierre-en-Port, where Mme Noël (ex-Mme Rousseau, if I remember well) who was my godmother when I was baptized at my birth (by a Protestant pastor) has rented a house for us, where we shall pass the vacation.

Saint-Pierre-en-Port, 14th of August. From Raissa:

It is the privilege of poor households to transform themselves joyously for the holidays; which is impossible for rich households, always ornate.

Death of Marix, during the last days of our vacation at Saint-Pierre.

Towards the end of August we return hastily from Saint-Pierre, Raissa's health becoming very bad.

*

Paris, 15th of October. We settle in rue des Feuillantines. Vera comes with us.

Raissa's parents are still closed to any word which would allude to Christianity, but they are more and more mild. Passion of Papka for the organ.

Relations with my mother have notably improved (thanks to the extraordinary patience and charity of Raissa). Nevertheless, she remains unalterably, unshakably attached to her ideas. Angèle lives with her, Baton is at Ville-Évrard, insane.

A few days before the beginning of Advent, we made the acquaintance of Father Clérissac, to whom we paid a visit in Versailles.

*

Paris, 25th of December. Christmas morning, invention of the "Knout" (this is what we call the one of us who, by turns, will give orders to the other two). The Knout governs, has a right to punish, to impose penances of his choice, and to require us at any moment to say whatever prayer or ejaculatory prayer he wishes. He serves the others, particularly at table.

[This rotation of authority was a most useful help for our little novitiate.]

 


1909

[It was in the first months of this year that Raissa began the reading of the Summa Theologiae (in the big Commentary of Father Pègues) and was overwhelmed with joy, with light and with love. Exultation of the intellect in an intuition once given forever, and which fulfills the desire of nature under the grace of the Holy Spirit.]

Paris, 20th of March, 1909. Bloy comes to lunch at the house, and reads to us, for our joy, a great part of Sang du Pauvre.

22nd of March. Raissa has been bedridden for a month. Relapse of enteritis. She thus keeps her Lent by illness (once more). She is very weak, can hardly eat.

Two weeks ago, she composed, having the piano near her bed, a very sweet melody on the words of the Offertory of the twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost: "There was a man, in the land of Hus."

Vera, since the month of February, following a successful interview with Dr. Walter, goes to the Hôpital de la Pitié three times a week, in the morning, to study as a nurse (department of surgery).

In the afternoon, she helps me prepare the orthographical lexicon.

I wrote an article on modern science, which Raissa copied, and which I shall present to Correspondant.

Raissa, before being interrupted by this illness, was not only plunged in the Summa. She read the life of St. Francis Xavier, that of St. Catherine of Genoa, the book in which Hello translated Ruysbroeck and Angela of Foligno; and above all she reads and cherishes St. Gertrude, who is our guide in the spiritual life.

22nd of April. Concerning the beatification of Joan of Arc, we say to ourselves: It is the sign of an approaching war. God is giving France a protectress whom she will not invoke.

25th of April. A few weeks ago Jeanne Bloy reminded Raissa, who had forgotten it, that at the time of her great illness, before our baptism, when Jeanne Bloy offered her a medal of the Blessed Virgin, not only did Raissa accept it (while seeming vexed), but, thinking no one was watching, kissed it.

26th of April. Suzanne Marx comes to see Raissa. Jean and Suzanne are, among our friends before Baptism, almost the only ones to come to see us. We believe that they have a secret sympathy for the faith.

Sunday, the 16th of May. Last day of a triduum in honor of Joan of Arc, at Notre-Dame. We go to Vespers, Absalom accompanies us. Pitiful sermon.

Great health worries for Raissa and Vera.

10th of June. Bloy lunches at the house, in honor of our baptism, whose anniversary is tomorrow. He is preparing a book on Napoleon.

In the evening, departure of Absalom for Darmstadt, then for Palestine. He accepts, before leaving, as a remembrance of me, a medal of Our Lady of Victories, and promises to keep it always. Scheduled to leave for Canada. Called home by the telegrams of his parents.

All this time Raissa and Vera are helping me with the Lexicon. Very anxious about what I will be able to do afterwards.

2nd of July. I finally agree to begin the Dictionary of Practical Life next year; matter settled with Hachette (M. Desclosières). 500 francs per month; 2 1/2% after 1,500 copies sold. 300 francs of gratuity if the dictionary is completed in four years. [The gratuity and the 2 1/2%'s were to evaporate because of my delays.]

We leave the 8th of July for Sainte-Mesme, where we pass the vacation, in the village inn, and where I work a great deal on the lexicon with Vera.

When we can, we go and sit on folding chairs near the church; peaceful and delicious place. Our readings: Story of Sister Labouré Life of St. Frances of Rome, Life of St. Catherine of Bologna, St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi; Life of St. Lydwine, Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena.

Received L'Invendable at Sainte-Mesme.

Thurdsay, the 22nd of July. Visit to Mme Baudouin and to Mme Péguy. Complete failure. Returned Friday morning, after spending the night on the rue de Rennes.

Sainte-Mesme, 28th of July. Why, asks Raissa, does one fast before the great feasts? Poenitentiam agite, quoniam appropinquat regnum Dei [Do penance, because the kingdom of God is approaching]. A feast is not of the earth, it is a gift from the Jerusalem of Heaven to the Church militant.

How we would like to have, not a director (what a strange word for people who believe in the Holy Spirit!), but a spiritual Father!

5th of August. Lunched at my mother's, in Paris.

Saw Péguy before lunch. Conversation concerning my visit to Lozère, which the women had not mentioned. He promises me to see Mgr. Batiffol, asks only secrecy.

Sainte-Mesine, 14th of August. Stayed on the ground floor of 16 rue de l'Orangerie, in Versailles.

Sainte-Mesine, 16th of August. The Bloys come to settle in the Village.

Sainte-Mesine, 17th of August. From Raissa:

Like the Holy Spirit, humility can have as its symbols the dove and the tongues of fire. It makes our heart its home, it makes the simplicity and the sweetness of the Dove rise towards God. It tends upward, it causes the fire of divine love to descend. Humility is an image of the Purity of God in the soul. There is no crease in the divine Essence, it is entirely one and simple. Likewise the humble soul avoids all the creases that self love, by a return upon itself, would produce in it. It is in this sense of an absolute purity and of a simplicity of intention that one can speak of Humility as a divine attribute. This is why the Heart of Jesus is divinely gentle and humble.

Humility is not a virtue born of the fall of man. It is fundamentally different from humiliation. And it is better to acquire it by considering the purity of the divine Essence rather than our sins.

Sainte-Mesme, 22nd of August. Bloy tells us how deprived he is of all joy, without consolation and without refreshment, like a man continually under the knife, and not being able to pray, even after Holy Communion, except by saying: Our Lady of Compassion, have pity on me, I am exhausted.

Sainte-Mesme, 25th of August. From Raissa:

Man is like a ship laden with all kinds of treasures, which advances on a stormy sea. With the tempest pressing on all sides, we have to throw overboard what we can: and first we jettison our sins. But this is not sufficient: we have to throw overboard our preferences, and the conveniences of life, and a certain, even licit, use of creatures, finally, ourselves. All of these (except our sins, which are counterfeit goods) are true treasures, but we have to get rid of them, for our heart is too weak and too narrow to contain at the same time the love of God and of our neighbor and the care of ourselves. But whereas all these treasures are lost in the sea, all we throw into God He keeps and will return magnificently to us.

[How deep this image of the ship must have been in her! I think of this perfect poem, Transfiguration, written many years later:

. . . . Like a fortunate ship
Which returns to port with its cargo intact
I shall approach Heaven with my heart transfigured
Bearing human and stainless offerings.]

Sainte-Mesme, 30th of August. Yesterday, Vera told us that in spite of the admiration which she felt for St. Francis de Sales and for the Visitation, she nevertheless experienced, in reading the biography of St. Chantal, no attraction to the life of the Nuns of the Visitation; on the contrary, much attraction to the life of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul.

Sainte-Mesme, 31st of August. After dinner we go to see the Bloys. After his book on Napoleon, Bloy would like to write a book on exegesis. Noted what he told us concerning the reading of the Holy Books, and apropos of the Parables in particular:

Our Lord, he says, is not a fabulist. Each of his parables is a truth with an absolute and infinite bearing, which is valid under all aspects, dogmatic, historical, anagogical, etc., and which, visible in a succession of diverse events since the origin of the world, traverses the whole of history like a torrent of fire. Bloy says that the parables of Our Lord are all literally true, that the Prodigal Son, the poor woman who gives her alms at the Temple, all the other persons who are mentioned in the parables are historical personages, who really did the things which Christ relates.

But these parables, like all the events related in the Holy Books, are true in many other senses, and higher ones. Everything is symbolic in Scripture. And God always speaks of Himself. The moral sense, in which the Fathers delighted, is insufficient, however useful it may be for personal sanctification. It is the theological sense which is the true one, and which gives glorious lights to the soul. Ego sum Via, Veritas et Vita [I am the Way, the Truth and the Life]. Each time that you come across the word via in Scripture, read Jesus Christ. . . . All the fathers mentioned in the sacred text can signify only the Father, all the sons can signify only the Son, all the women can signify only Mary. Gospel of the lunatic. This lunatic, Bloy tells us, is Jesus, son of the Father, and son of Mary (who has her feet on the moon). He falls now into fire (on the side of the Holy Spirit), now into water (on the side of the Father). He is cured and the demon is expelled from him. Just as Jesus by his death cured all his members, and delivered them from sin -- which he had assumed, factus est peccatum pro nobis [He became sin for our sake]. . . .

Sunday, Bloy spoke to us of Herod (Luke 23:8). Herodes autem viso Jesu, gavisus est valde. Erat enim cupiens ex multo tempore videre eum, eo quod audierat multa de eo, et sperabat signum aliquod videre ab eo fieri [When Herod saw Jesus he was very glad. For he had desired to see him for a long time because he had heard many things about him, and he hoped to see some sign done by him]. These words apply textually to the waiting of the Patriarchs! To such a degree is everything figurative.

Sainte-Mesme, 2nd of September. In the evening we return to Paris; stay with Raissa's parents.

Paris, 8th of September, Nativity of Mary. I like to think of Raissa's birthday as today. She was born about this date [on the 31st of August in the Russian calendar, which corresponds to our 12th of September, the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary] on a Saturday, on the day called Erste Schlichess, the first day, always falling on a Sabbath, of the prayers the Jewish people make in preparation for the New Year.

10th of September. The system of the "Knout" is functioning quite well, at the moment, as to obedience. It is fitting to ask the Knout for permission for everything. Raissa's parents delight in this exercise. We decide to replace the name Knout by that of Captain from now on.

11th of September. Strange idle remarks of Raissa's father: "Who is a little girl of three to four years, knowing French, Russian, German, married five years?" He is thinking of Raissa, he understands without realizing it that life must be reckoned from baptism.

12th of September. Last Sunday, Raissa said to me apropos of St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi: "I too want to detach myself from myself, without this there will be no joy for me." This is as it were a sign of our vocation. It is necessary for us to be like religious of a certain special Order, having in their rule to live in the world. It is necessary to deceive the world so to speak, by seeming to lead the life of the world. How difficult, then, not to be secularized monks, rather than "regular" laymen, or rather laymen given to God. We feel that what we say here is important for us.

15th of September. End of the Lexicon.

21st of September. Saw Father Clérissac at Saint-Philippedu-Roule. He tells me that we must not hesitate to follow the way of contemplation in the world.

26th of September. Vera eagerly reads the Manuel des Infirmières, of Dr. Vincent.

Paris, 17th of October. Moved out of rue des Feuillantines. We move into a house in Versailles the next day. Very laborious move, which lasts three weeks. Every morning I go to serve the Mass of Father Clérissac. Precious conversations after Mass.

Versailles, end of October. Long conversations of Father Clérissac with the three of us. Shun the reflex spirit. Without charity there are truths which the mind is powerless to attain. Beauty of obedience, even when the order given is stupid; invisible fruit: agreement with the intentions of Providence; this is why the instinct of faith makes obedience superabound, even when it is not dogmatically required. Leo XIII was disobeyed when he advised rallying to the Republic; and however inopportune this advice may have seemed, who knows what would have happened if he had been listened to?

Versailles, 28th of October. Learned of the death of Baton. The doctors have enormous worries concerning the health of Vera. Formerly she suffered from tuberculosis. I think that God cured her at baptism, He is stronger than the doctors.

6th of November. I accompany Vera to Beaujon, where she is examined. The lung is completely healed. No active microbes in the knee.

8th of November. Bloy brings Brou, who, it seems, has gathered in the course of his life a long experience of nature and of sickness, and who comes to give his attentions to Raissa. [He will remain for weeks, with much gentleness and affection. A great deal of good advice regarding diet.]

17th of November. Ernest Psichari comes to lunch. No obstacle to grace, inclined towards faith. Péguy told him, as he told my mother, that he had sent me to the Ilse of Wight in order that I might get in touch with Catholics of better quality than Léon Bloy. Sad double play. Ernest takes The Sorrowful Passion [by Emmerich, edit.], accepts a "miraculous medal" when leaving.

19th of November. We receive Le Sang du Pauvre, inscribed by our godfather.

30th of November I receive The Philosophy of the Organism from Driesch.

2nd of December. Jeanne Bloy tells me that at Sacré-Coeur the adoring religious Sisters recite litanies before the Blessed Sacrament in which they say: "Because of your humiliations, because of your sufferings . . . we console you, Lord." Come, everything is for the better, and we are indeed reassured.

12th of December Visit of Rouault and of his friend Lehmann. Long conversation concerning art, apropos of the preface that I am to write for his Exposition. To what point it is true that the precept of St. Paul, Nolite conformari huic saeculo [Do not conform to this world], is literally true for art. I greatly admire Rouault's force and genius.

14th of December. All three of us go to see Father Clérissac. He tells us his preference for the great intellectual and contemplative saints, rather than for the affective saints, like St. Francis of Assisi.

Joinville, prisoner of the Saracens, and on the point of being put to death. "I inclined my neck, and I thought: this is the way St. Agnes died. . . ."

17th of December. Visit of Father Clérissac after lunch. Long talk afterwards with Raissa. She regrets not having a good old Father who would guide her in understanding her heart. I remember that before visiting Father Clérissac, last year, she had dreamt that believing she was going to see an old hermit, whose wrinkles showed his long and paternal experience, she suddenly found herself -- and with what surprise! -- in the presence of a beautiful young girl, of a vestal virgin. We understand that God wanted above all to give us very perfect intellectual guidance.

Worked at my preface to the catalogue of the exposition which Rouault is going to give in January or February.

22nd of December. At the hospital, this morning, there were two patients who told Vera that they preferred to have their wounds dressed by her.

Christmas. Three Masses at Father Clérissac's. Raissa and Vera arrive in the middle of the second Mass. All three of us receive Holy Communion at the third. Breakfast at the Father's, who lends us various songs. Mass at the Cathedral at 11:30. Father comes to dine with us. After dinner he sings us a poem composed by Newman after his conversion. Raissa sings him some of her songs.

29th of December. I go to the Bloys'. Bloy reads me the preface which he has written for the poems of Jeanne Termier which he admires very much ("Derniers Refuges"); he says that she has an extraordinary and magnificent feeling for the suffering of the world.

30th of December. Baillet sends us the commentary of Father Abbot on the words of St. Paul: Gaudete in Domino semper, etc. [Rejoice in the Lord, always.]

31st of December. After dinner, we sing hymn upon hymn, endlessly.

 


1910

Versailles, 7th of February, 1910. Father Clérissac tells us how he was seeking with Father Abbott (Dom Delatte), and also with Father MacNabb, what could be, in spite of the poverty of human words, the equivalent of sadness in God. He thinks that it is the necessity -- blissful in a sense, but all the same a necessity of nature -- of creating only the limited; that which God produces which is unlimited is Himself, in the bosom of the trinitarian life, but every creature is necessarily limited, and therefore naturally subject to evil.

[Father Clérissac thought that the Incarnation is like a remedy for the sadness of God. At the same time that it redeemed sin, it rectified, infinitized the created (hypostatic union, beatific vision).]

He asks Raissa: Are you ready to do anything if you are sure that it is the will of God? -- Yes, replies Raissa. -- Well, that is all that is necessary.

9th of February, Ash-Wednesday. Father Clérissac tells Raissa that he has given and consecrated us to God as St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, that we belong absolutely to God.

10th of February. I do not know what idiot wrote to my mother that he had just read a book of M. Bloy in which there is a reference to Jacques Maritain, -- "Tell me that it is not your son, the grandson of Jules Favre!" Another wrote to her beseeching her not to read L'Invendable before a year, it would cause her too much pain. Naturally, she hastened to read it. All tempests are unleashed, lamentations, reproaches, bitter accusations.

12th of February. Decision to make a little "chapter" each day, in the manner of the monks; each one in turn will be charged with making a short exhortation. Raissa begins, she speaks to us of the gentleness to be maintained between us. Poor captain (I have been kept in this office for several weeks), I very much need to galn in gentleness.

[I never cured myself of impatience. And if it were a question only of that! But in my frenzy of work what a hard life I made for the two beings whom I loved more than myself. As to others, they mattered to me at that time much less than ideas. Mad person for whom there existed only the world of truth and of falsehood. It took me time to discover men.]

17th of February. I have the very clear impression, in reading the Mother Abbess, that Raissa will never have happiness except in establishing herself in the state of contemplative souls, and in making prayer the permanent foundation of her life.

1st of March. Visit to Bergson. He speaks to me, smiling, of the book of his friend Lévy-Bruhl, which tends to establish that metaphysicians are retarded primitives. He has much esteem for Driesch. Evolutionism in biology is undemonstrable; but the onus probandi is incumbent on its adversaries, because it is a more economical hypothesis. It was on this ground that he accepted it in Creative Evolution.

He feels no repugnance for the idea of a creation (ex nihilo), and nothing opposes attaching his views to it. At the origin of the élan vital there is something superior, yes, this is true, something rational if you will, understanding by this more than our logic, an intuitive reason in the sense of Plotinus.

But how are we to understand that Being is unchangeable? The immutability of God is an idea of the ancient philosophers, a Greek prejudice. Who says life, says change. (I reply: it is because one thinks of the immobility of a stone. The divine unchangeableness is supreme life. The mystery of the Trinity reveals to us a life in God higher than anything the conceptions of the philosophers can attain.)

Even in taking evolution for granted in the kingdom of nature, there is, Bergson admits, an abyss between animals and man. It is liberty which constitutes this abyss. In this sense, there is something which comes thurathen, [from outside] as Aristotle says. Nature tries to assemble mechanisms rendering liberty possible, but only the brain of man succeeds in rendering it possible.

He complains of the English and German translations of his books. Only the author could translate his works, because it is a question of rendering the entire body of thought.

14th of March. Trogan rejects and returns my article. I am hardly surprised to have been judged unworthy of Correspondant. [This article on "La Science moderne et la Raison" will appear in June in Revue de Philosophie.]

29th of March (Easter Tuesday). Léon Bloy comes to see us. "There are no sinners in Hell," he tells us, "for sinners were the friends of Jesus. There are only the wicked."

30th of March. The Dictionary overburdens me. I am enraged at not having the time to study theology. But actually I am afraid of it. I am ensnared in my ratiocinations.

13th of April. I read the beginning of my article to Father Clérissac. He quickly managed to pulverize my little production, and my half-Kantian, half-Bergsonian vocabulary, on the intelligence (so-called wholly constructive) and reason (considered as superior and intuitive). I see clearly that I erred, because of my ignorance of Scholasticism.

15th of April. I took a new tack, having understood how shameful it is to use the word "intelligence" in the sense in which the moderns do. I bring my recantation to Father. He is satisfied with my corrected article.

20th of April. Father laughs a great deal at the horrified feelings awakened in me by the photographs of our bishops I saw yesterday at the Curé's.

Raissa continues to read St. Thomas with the same winged joy. She also does an entire work on Bergson for me [from which I greatly profited in my articles, and later in my book. If I had been less grob, this book should have appeared under our two names. And Raissa would doubtless have deterred me from many of those violences which I was to regret afterwards.]

24th of April. The Rouaults come to lunch with their little Geneviève.

About Rouault: Talent without knowledge can produce beautiful works. But as soon as knowledge begins it is necessary to persist, to push it to the last degree, in order to rediscover the liberty of inspiration. Otherwise, no mastery, one is crushed. After the forced rest caused by his exposition, he would like now to resume his work with a new spirit, to seek both a blond and transparent painting and constructions after the manner of Poussin.

30th of April, St. Catherine of Sienna. From the capitulum on Nones (in the Dominican rite): Brevis in volatilibus est apis, et initium dulcoris habet fructus illius [The bee is brief in flight, and its fruit is sweet]. Father entrusts me with bringing these lines to Raissa on his behalf.

15th of May, Pentecost. Raissa tells me that for her the sky seems to be a symbol of the Father; the earth, on which everything is founded, an image of the Son; and trees, which receive everything from the dew of the sky and from the essence of the earth, a symbol of the Holy Spirit; and that the idea of that which is most alien to the world -- peace, unction, silence, sweetness, perfectly pure love, purity, innocence, liberty in light -- is what helps one most in thinking of this divine Spirit.

20th of May. From a letter of Raissa to Father Clérissac: ". . . O my Father, how good God is! To think that He is more present to me than the things that I see. To think that I have a true thirst only for Him, and this desire is like a flower among stones, for I myself am vain and without courage. I only hope that the good God will cause this vanity to drop off like a garment; that He will give me His strength, and that He will re-establish order in me by His Love."

3rd of June. Visit to Father with Raissa. He speaks to us of Lacordaire, who was a big child, a great, sensitive romantic, but candid; intense desire for corporal mortifications, desire to feel that one has conquered nature, covetousness, etc. It is just the opposite with the saints, whose penance is "to bear with each other." St. Philip Neri: My God, help me, without this I am capable of becoming a Mohammedan. . . .

Father tells me not to be too "nice," too easy-going and childish with people.

14th of July. From Father Clérissac:

La Salette is a recall to integral Christianity, to the faith of the first centuries. Redemption is not a joke, the life of the Christian is a crucified life, priests who do not desire sanctity are cesspools of impurity. But who can understand this, except a pusillus grex [flock of little ones]? Thus the patience of God is explained. With others, He seems to content Himself with a minimum, and what a minimum! -- to treat them like the smoking wick and the bruised reed.

29th of July. In chapter, Raissa tells us that when one wishes to detach oneself from someone, one begins by leaving him, jouneying far from him; little by little one becomes indifferent to him. One does not begin by being indifferent, one journeys first. This applies to ourselves. We must begin by journeying far from ourselves, doing our daily tasks, making a start on the various things God asks. After this, but only after, we will begin to be detached from ourselves.

31st of July. From Raissa: "In all things, to always give the important time to God."

6th of August. From Bloy: "The veil is passing from the Jews to the Christians."

26th of August. Vera goes to Paris; tomorrow she will accompany the Bloys to Binic for a two weeks vacation.

Our little sister feels herself more and more clearly "unsuited for the world."

9th of September. Letter from Bloy, imploring that Vera remain another week at Binic with them. -- Of course; how can one resist him!

15th of September. Finally! Thanks to Raissa, I begin to read the Summa Theologiae. As it was for her, it is a deliverance, an inundation of light. The intellect finds its home.

17th of September. Raissa tells Father Clérissac that when her half-hour of prayer is finished, she cannot apply herself to anything, is for some time unable to read or to speak; once or twice this state continued the whole day. Father replies that it is absolutely necessary to reject this interior absorption and to struggle against it (except during the time reserved for prayer), and as soon as this time is finished to adapt oneself to one's ordinary occupations.

[Example of a certain lack of comprehension, from which Raissa suffered a great deal. In his aversion for the "reflex spirit" Father Clérissac precipitated matters, and did not recognize authentic demands of her spiritual life. After the death of Father, she prayed to him, in days of great interior trials, to come to her aid and to rectify this. A little later we met Father Dehau who, thanks to God, became our guide and liberated her. She found peace and took her flight as soon as she gave to silent prayer all the time that God asked.]

21st of September. Every human act is a judgment passed on the divine nature.

23rd of September. Mass at 7 o'clock at Father's. Today is the 22nd anniversary of his first Mass (1888).

5th of October. Idiotizing influence of the theory of grouping. Watchword of the hierarchy in France (our dear Bishop Mgr. Gibier): "Let us group!" -- Let us group souls, dogs, pigs! Let us group the dead! Let us group Christian owners! -- "Union gives strength!" This motto can have only one meaning for a Christian: union with God gives strength.

25th of October. Sent an article to L'Univers, in response to an article in Débats (on the decree concerning First Holy Communion) which Father showed me and which made my blood boil. It was Father Clérissac who launched me in this career of polemist. < 66 Old Memories II (1910) >

My article on Neo-Vitalism in Germany has appeared in Revue de Philosophie.

29th of October. It is always by an impression overwhelming reason that the devil seeks to entice the mind into error. Sentimentality of the atheists.

8th of November. Father tells us that his Prior is recalling him to Angers, without delay, as early as December. Terrible blow for us.

14th of November. Tragi-comedy of Noisiel. I go there with Bloy to see Amieux, who wrote to me yesterday: "Jacques, come with Bloy tomorrow afternoon. Leave everything in order to come" -- and who convened seven pastors to confer with us before his baptism, which will take place tomorrow at the D.'s', in Breuil. Bloy, learning of this convocation, brandishes his cane and declares that it is the only suitable argument. Amieux becomes panic-stricken and locks us up in his study. [All of this will be related by Bloy in Le Pèlerin de l'Absolu.]

17th of November. The cursed fig-tree. It was not the season for figs! No doubt; but when God approached it and asked it to refresh his thirst, it should have put forth a fruit (not it to be sure, poor vegetable, but the soul of which it was the symbol, and which can respond to grace). Nature, even if it is not defective in its own order, if it remains only nature when grace is at the door and wishes to transform it, withers, just as, figuratively, the cursed fig-tree withered.

From Raissa, apropos of the sin of the Angels, which is a sin of naturalism: Since nature, even the best, is in itself entirely different from the life of grace, and since the divine world of grace is truly for it another world, it is therefore a rigorously necessary truth that it is necessary to die first in order to live with the life of this other world; and that if we do not leave father, mother, spouse, etc., for Christ, we are not ready to follow Him. It is necessary that, at least at the hour of death, there be a voluntary sacrifice of nature.

18th of November. Thought of Father Clérissac, reported by Father Baillet: The Benedictines also have a folly -- the folly of confidence in God. 27th of November. Journey to Breuil to the D.'s', persuaded on the word of Amieux that they are ready to aid Bloy magnificently. Total refusal, I meet upon the worst and the most glacial "Catholic" bourgeoisie. [Story also related by Bloy in his journal.]

Apropos of the absurd "religious science" of the D.'s,' supposedly founded on Le Play, I note: An authentic philosophy of history must be based on theology. As Raissa recently said to me, God alone can write history.

10th of December. Raissa thinks a great deal about the conduct of Abraham with regard to Sarah, of the artifice of Rebecca and of Jacob. Scripture is not a code of morality; the supernatural flows in it fully, and nature also. Abraham was justified by his faith. Admirable candor of Abraham in all his actions. Prophetic spirit of Rebecca. . . .

[Thus began from this time the reflections which later, at the cost of great interior sufferings and in the light of prayer, were to give birth to Histoire d'Abraham (English translation: Abraham and the Ascent of Conscience).]

12th of December. Letter from M. de Gaulle, proposing that I succeed him next year in the course of Philosophy at St. Geneviève School.

[I find in my notes that I went to see M. de Gaulle in Paris, the 20th of December. I have, unfortunately, no memory of this interview with the Father of General de Gaulle. And I did not note why I did not follow up his proposal.]

17th of December. We assist at the Mass of Father Clérissac, at his place, Boulevard de la Reine, the last which he celebrates in this room, where I have served his Mass almost every morning for a year. Near us, in Versailles, he unceasingly nourished us with the treasures of his intelligence and of his heart. We are going to become orphans. (And we are as yet only little fish, as he enjoys saying.)

 


1911

Versailles, 9th of January, 1911. Raissa has undertaken to correct the proofs of the orthographical lexicon for me. Thankless task which she does with her whole heart, and which takes much of her time.

8th of February. Vera buys, for 105 francs, a statue of Our Lady of La Salette (in terra-cotta, very beautiful, must have been made a short time after the Apparition) which Father Clérissac had discovered at an antiquary's (the latter claimed that it was from the fifteenth century and asked a great deal of money for it). The next day we install this statue in our little oratory, decorated and transformed by Raissa.

13th of February. [In rereading some years later the diatribes in which I engaged in this notebook against the modern apostolate, modern Catholics, the consoling religious "manifestations" which the Religious Week at Versailles encourages, the degradation of Christian thought, etc., I wrote in the margin of a note dated February 13:] What fatuity in my zeal!

18th of February. Letter from Jeanne Bloy, announcing that they have rented a house at Bourg-la-Reine.

22nd of February. At the Bloys' (who are still in Paris) we make the acquaintance of Pierre and Christine van der Meer, and of their son Pierre, six years old. The two Pierres will be baptized the day after tomorrow. (Christine. baptized in her childhood, lost the faith, finds it again with them). Generous souls, open, in love with grandeur. Spring-like fragrances of baptism.

24th of February, St. Mathias. Raissa suffers greatly from sciatica. I go to Paris alone, to be present at the baptism of Pierre-Mathias and of Pierre-Léon, at the Church of St. Médard. The little one is radiant with joy, holds his candle firmly, answers yes with a flabbergasting vigor.

30th of March. Raissa's father and mother come to live in Versailles, rue Satory.

Father Padé gives sermons at the Cathedral which Raissa and Vera greatly admire. He becomes a friend for Vera.

20th of April (Easter Thursday). At the Bloys. He speaks of Holy Scripture. He recommends to Pierre van der Meer that he note in the Gospel all the names which are applied to Our Lord, and, once this list has been made, to read Jesus each time he comes across one of these names in Scripture. I ask him, apropos of the symbolism in Le Sang du Pauvre, in what text the name "Money" is thus applied to Christ? He answers me by Psalm 11: "Eloquia Domini, eloquia casta: argentum igne examinatum." ["The words of the Lord are pure words: like silver tried by fire.]

Spoke of my thoughts on the Jews. Just as their aberration was the salvation of the nations, will not the defection of the nations be the resurrection of Israel? Thus, we would complete the Passion of the Lord, and would suffer for them, until everything is consummated.

24th of April. From little Pierre van der Meer (he is six, be wants to become a priest): "If you love Jesus Christ, it is necessary to suffer, it is necessary to go into the cage."

He said to Raissa's mother ("Madame Kokoff"): "People think that I am playing, but I pray all the time -- above all for 'the poor disobedient ones'."

4th of May. Returned L'Ordination of Benda to Bourgeois. with this note: "My dear Bourgeois, enclosed herewith L'Ordination of M. Benda. Please spare me henceforth the little blasphemies of this jester. Cordially, J.M."

[Péguy said later that I had withdrawn my subscription to the Cahiers. Not at all; it was a question only of Benda, and of this book.]

6th of May. Saw Rouault at the Moreau Museum. This man has a gift which none of the others possess, a frankness before reality and an immediate awareness of things which nothing can replace. He reads me something very beautiful which he has written on Ingres. How, with so much freshness of impression, and so much penetration of spirit, could he be blinded in his art? No, his obstinacy will get the better of his friends. He shows me astonishing sketches, repulsive at first and which one cannot help admiring. After all, the sole criterion of the work of art is the authority with which it imposes itself, whether it pleases or not, and which depends only on the depth to which the artist has been able to descend, in his rigorously solitary exploration of the sensible world. The greater an artist is, the more he chooses, the more he admits. But also, the more that he has seen and loved will impose itself by force as more real. . . . But in order that the soul be bent by force, so to speak, before his work, it is necessary that he surrender instinctively, like a brute, to the frankness of sensibility; and this is what is lacking in Gustave Moreau. Rouault reminds one of Bernard Palissy, but with how much more extraordinary a depth.

10th of May. Father Abbott Dom Jean de Puniet comes to sees us, saying that we are a very little branch to Saint-Paul d'Oosterhout, and that St. Benedict loves all that is little. "It is not necessary to want to do anything outside of your life; your life is your work." [Today begins our year of novitiate in order to be received as oblates of the abbey of Gosterhout.]

11th of May. Abbé Serol (Revue de Philosophie) asks me for an article on the evolutionism of Bergson, for September.

14th of May. Bloy asks himself in Celle qui pleure why the "apparent failure of the Redemption."

The answer is very simple. The Redemption, fully, wholly, absolutely, perfectly succeeded, so as to satisfy God and men eternally. This perfect success of the Redemption is the Virgin Mary.

This is why she was, so to speak, necessary to God. It was necessary that the Blood of her Son not be fruitless. After this everything can come, all the crimes, the betrayals, the abominations. The Redemption succeeded once and for all and right away.

This is also why the Virgin Mary is infinitely merciful.

Vera discovers in Le Vieux de la Montagne (p. 295) a passage which alarms us, and in which Bloy speaks of our niece Eveline and of the antireligious feelings of her father in such poorly veiled terms that Charles Gamier will surely recognize himself in the "university pedant" stigmatized in these pages. Wrote to Bloy, but the evil is done.

31st of May. First Communion of Eveline.

29th of June. Profoundly discouraged by my work with Hachette and the Dictionary of Practical Life. Nourishment which insults the intellect and which it is necessary to vomit continually.

15th of July. Papka and Mamka move into their new lodgings, rue de Vieux-Versailles.

9th of August. In spite of incessant torments of health and while continuing her precious reading of St. Thomas, Raissa works with all her might at a long essay on Bergson (for "The Evolutionism of Bergson") which she began more than two months ago.

29th of August. Exhausted with fatigue, she cannot finish writing her essay. It is a great sorrow for her. "I have only one thing to do," she tells me, "which is to renounce every desire, since the good God does not permit me to realize any."

3rd of October. The whole month of September has been absorbed by the article on Bergson.

[Fear of established rules? Old masculine rudeness? It will appear only under my name. I should have demanded that Raissa sign it with me.]

15th of October. Letter from Amieux. His nine children have been baptized -- get out! -- in spite of the opposition of their mother.

18th of October. We receive, printed as a booklet, the triduum of Father Clérissac on Joan of Arc.

[The continuation of my notebook for the year 1911 is missing. This year was a year of upheaval, of continual sufferings of health for Raissa and for Vera, and of pecuniary difficulties, of odious family discussions (with my mother, with my brother-in-law). Our rule of life, however, continued after a fashion; but the novitiate was at an end, we were in open country.

Perhaps in 1911, or was it in 1912, I was suddenly assailed by violent temptations against the faith. Till then the graces of baptism had been such that what I believed I seemed to see, it was certainty itself. Now it was necessary for me to learn what the night of faith is. No longer carried in arms, I was brutally dropped to the ground. I remember long hours of interior torture, rue de l'Orangerie, alone in the room on the fourth floor where I had made a kind of retreat for work. I took care not to speak of it. I emerged from this trial, by the grace of God, very strengthened; but I had lost my childhood. I consoled myself by thinking that this had doubtless been necessary, if I was to be of some service to others.

Shortly before this, Vera, betrayed by her health, had to renounce her hope of becoming a nurse. All her inclinations were brought back little by little towards the sole desire of union with God. In the end, she made, as she told us much later, a very clear choice, which was to live with her sister and me by religious vocation. -- Princeton, 1954.]

*

[I believe that we sometimes err in imagining that the unity of a Christian community suppresses the incommunicable, and should be thought of as a sort of pious camping retreat, where effusions which supposedly would reveal all about everyone would be put on the table, in a large soup-tureen all steaming with familial gaiety.

Our experience, in any case, was very different.

I do not think that there ever was a closer and more profound union between three human beings than that which existed between us. Each was open to the other two with an entire sincerity. Each was extraordinarily sensitized to the other two, and ready to give everything for them. It was, so to speak, a single act of breathing which held us in life.

And yet, not only did the personality of each differ a great deal from that of the other two, and not only did each have a sacred respect for the liberty of the other two; but in the bosom of this marvellous union of love which the grace of God had made, each kept his solitude intact. What a mystery! The more we were united, the more each proceeded alone; the more each bore the burdens of the other two, the more each was alone in bearing his own burden. Thus the unity of the little flock only grew with the years, but the solitude of each of us only deepened at the same time, sometimes cruelly, to tell the truth. It was God's hand.

I shall not say more about it, except that the two sisters were very secret, each in her own manner, Raissa hiding her treasures and her sorrows in the brilliance of intelligence and the grace of winged words, Vera hiding hers in a silence in which the goodness, the princely vivacity and the dreams of a candid and adventurous spirit took refuge. The solitude of Raissa was that of a poet with incredibly sensitive and delicate fingers, lover of the beauties of the world and entered into the thickness of the Cross, wholly given up to the contemplative life and to the immolations of love; the solitude of Vera was that of a contemplative disguised as a sister of charity, singularly strong and compassionate to the miseries of souls, and tenderly received at the table of Jesus. And my own solitude? It seems to me that it was that of a kind of clumsy diver, advancing as best he could in the midst of the submarine fauna of captive truths and of the larvae of the time. One will never know to what temptations of black sadness and despair a philosopher can be exposed in proportion as he descends into the knowledge of himself and of the great pity which is in the world. His rest here on earth will finally be in the night, if in this night, which is nearer to God than the day, and more desolate too, an invisible hand which he loves leads him like a blind man. -- Kolbsheim, 1961.]

 


Some Dates

In my journal of 1906, at Heidelberg, I had noted a certain number of dates which were of importance to us. I transcribe them here.

Raissa was born the 31st of August (Russian date) -- the 12th of September 1883, at Nachitchivan (Rostoff-on-the-Don). Arrived in Paris at the age of ten, in July 1893. Jacques was born in Paris, the 18th of November, 1882. Vera was born at Marioupol, the 20th of June (Russian) -- 2nd of July, 1886.

First meeting of Jacques and Raissa, during the winter of 1900. Russian affairs, school year 1900-1901. First course of Bergson, followed by us, school year 1901-1902. Engagement of Jacques and Raissa, 1902. Marriage, 26th of November 1904. We live at 25, rue de Jussieu.

Our first letter to Léon Bloy, 40 rue du Chevalier de la Barre, was received by him the feast day of St. Barnabas in the year 1905 (this feast had been put back to the 20th of June). -- First visit to Bloy, 25th of June, 1905.

Visit to the cathedral of Chartres, September 1905.

30th of January, 1906. New edition of Le Salut par les Juifs (dedicated to Raissa). Illness of Raissa during the whole month of February 1906. -- From mid-April, at Bures. Relapse of Raissa. Monday, the 11th of June, 1906 (St. Barnabas), baptism of the three of us by Abbé Durantel and the sacramental marriage of Jacques and Raissa, in the Church of St. John the Evangelist. (I am baptized conditionally, and go to confession before Baptism.)

Raissa leaves the next day for Plombières and returns the 2nd of July.

First confession of Raissa and of Vera, the 22nd of July (St. Madeleine).

First Holy Communion of the three of us Friday, the 3rd of August, 1906 (Finding of the Relics of St. Stephen) at Sacré-Coeur in Paris. -- Second Holy Communion, Sunday, the 12th of August, at Bures.

Arrival of Jacques and Raissa in Heidelberg the 27th of August; settle in a house on Gaisbergstrasse the 30th of August.

*

Vacation 1904. "Cum eo salvabor." [With Him, I will be saved.]

9th of October, 1905. Words heard by Raissa (see above, p. 20).

June 1906, at Plombières. Dream of Raissa: a burning cross implanted on her back. (Vera had a similar dream the eve of the Precious Blood; someone was breaking her bones.)

Earlier dates:

First meeting with Ernest Psichari, at the Lycée Henri IV, in 1898.

In 1901, Robert Debré brings me to Péguy's, rue de la Sorbonne (he was then at Dick May's, not yet in the shop).

Death of my father, the 20th of February 1904.

*

[How many other dates important for us, since then. I indicate some of them below, for the time to which these "old memories" refer.

Baptism of Eveline, the 12th of November 1906. -- Arrival of Vera in Heidelberg, 11th of December 1906.

Anointing of the Sick and cure of Raissa, 17th of January 1907. -- Consecration to Mary (according to Grignion de Montfort) 25th of March 1907. -- Confirmation of the three of us at Grenoble, 6th of July 1907 (after first pilgrimage to La Salette).

15th of October 1908: We go to live at 11, rue des Feuillantines (near the beloved convent on rue d'Ulm). -- About the same time (a few days before the season of Advent), first visit to Father Clérissac, in Versailles.

In the first months of 1909, Raissa falls in love with the Summa Theologiae. -- 14th of October 1909: we go to live in Versailles, 16 rue de l'Orangerie.

9th of February 1910 (Ash-Wednesday): during his Mass Father C1érissac consecrates us to God. Raissa and I receive Holy Communion at the Cathedral at Versailles. . . . -- 15th of September 1910: at the urging of Raissa I begin the reading of the Summa Theologiae, with which in my turn I fall in love.

8th of February 1911: We place in our little oratory the statue of Our Lady of La Salette which Father Clérissac had discovered at an antiquary's. -- 22nd of February 1911: first meeting (at the Bloys') with Pierre and Christine van der Meer and with little Pierre, six years old. -- 24th of February 1911 (St. Mathias): Baptism of Pierre and of little Pierre-Léon, at Saint-Médard.

Baptism of Raissa's father: 21st of February 1912. -- He dies the 24th of February. -- All three of us become oblates of Saint-Paul d'Oosterhout, 29th of September 1912. -- Vow of R. and J., 2nd of October 1912. -- Began my courses at Collège Stanislas, October 1912.

Ernest Psichari received into the Church, 4th of February 1913. -- His first Holy Communion, 9th of February. -- My conferences on Bergson at the Institut Catholique, April-May 1913. -- Meeting with Charles Henrion, then with Louis Massignon, in this year 1913. -- 15th of October 1913, go to live at 53, rue Neuve (later called rue Baillet-Reviron) following a grave illness of Raissa (cured by Dr. Conan, whom Louis Pichet brings to us). -- December 1913, publication of "La Philosophie Bergsonienne."

Spring 1914, conferences on the spirit of modern philosophy, at the Institut Catholique. -- June 1914, I am named professor at the Institut Catholique, on the intervention of Cardinal Lorenzelli. -- 22nd of August 1914, death of Ernest Psichari. -- 5th of September 1914, death of Nguy. -- Night of the 15th to the 16th of November 1914, death of Father Clérissac.

1914-1915, conferences on German philosophy at the Institut Catholique. (In 1915-1916 I shall add to my course at the Institut Catholique a course at Collège Stanislas; in 1916-1917 a course at the Petit Séminaire de Versailles, in which I shall have Michel Riquet and Maurice Dejean as pupils.) -- 11th and 12th of November 1915, first meetings with Father Dehau, who attends my course at the Institut Catholique (it was Father Garrigou-Lagrange who spoke to him about me). -- 13th of November, Raissa comes to the Institut Catholique to see him.

Ever since these first meetings, Father Dehau became a providential guide for us. He understood Raissa's vocation at once. I remember that at this time she was very troubled, not knowing what God wanted of her and why He pursued her, wondering even if she ought not to throw herself into external works. Father Dehau said to her: "When you feel an interior call to recollection, never resist. Let yourself be led at the very instant. And remain with God as long as it pleases Him, without yourself interrupting (unless you are obliged to do so by a duty of charity or some other necessity)." Raissa was delivered, she had found her way.

Vera also found her way thanks to Father Dehau. They prayed at length together. She confided everything to him. It was the secret of the King. We glimpsed later what intimacy with Jesus was involved there.

As for me, I passed hours -- priceless hours -- reading John of St. Thomas to Father Dehau, and listening to his commentaries. What keys he gave me, what enlightenments I received from this brilliant intelligence! (It went more quickly with the affairs of my "interior," which moreover did not offer much that was remarkable. Is not a philosopher, moreover, intended for the common good of the republic of minds? Sometimes I bore a little grudge against this common good.)

For twenty-five years Father Dehau aided us in the great problems of our life by dispensing to us with an incomparable goodness the light of his lofty knowledge and of his rich and profound spiritual experience. He died Sunday, the 21st of October 1956, at Bouvines, where he had retired for several years. Hallowed be his memory. -- Kolbsheim, 1961.]

OUR GUIDES, COMPANIONS AND PROTECTORS

[After the greatest of our benefactors, he who engendered us to faith, our godfather Léon Bloy, we have a great debt of gratitude to many envoys of God who aided and counseled us spiritually, like Dom Delatte, Abbé of Solesmes (during the first years of our Christian life, after our return from Heidelberg; afterwards our paths diverged, and finally his attachment to the Action Française caused him to break sharply with me at the time of "Primauté du Spirituel"), Dom Jean de Puniet, Abbot of Saint-Paul d'Oosterhout, Charles Henrion, who held a unique place in our life, Louis Massignon, Abbé Millot, Mother Marie-Thérèse of the Carmelite Convent of Avignon, Mgr. Vladimir Ghika, and above all Father Garrigou-Lagrange, whose theological teaching was a light of grace and a blessing for our intelligence.

But there are some to whom our gratitude goes in an absolutely eminent manner, as to saints whom Heaven put on our road here on earth in order to assist with their charity our innermost selves and in order to load our souls with their favors:
Father Clérissac,
Father Dehau,
Abbé Journet,
Dom Florent Miège, Prior of La Valsainte,
Father Vincent Lebbe,
the holy Curé of Courneuve (Abbé Lamy).

Raissa, in Les Grandes Amitiés, spoke of Father Clérissac -- see also my preface to The Mystery of the Church -- she spoke also of Charles Henrion and of Louis Massignon. I wanted to mention all these names here out of love and devotion.

On Abbé Lamy see my preface to the book of Paul Biver.

Father Dehau did not only wrap himself in shawls and in blankets, but also in secret. Half blind, he walked among souls as a friend of God charged with awakening them to the things of their Father, it was important that men know of him only that he was without importance. He had forbidden us to speak of him. I had thought of him for the character of Theonas (in the book thus titled), but limited myself to a few quite superficial and incidental features, which did not jeopardize his incognito. -- Princeton, 1954.


{1} Enneads, VI, 7, 22: Charis epitheousa tô challei.

{2} Cf. further on, Chapter VI, p. 187.

{3} Proverbs (22:9); St. Paul, II Corinthians (9:7).

{4} Ernest Hello, L 'Homme.

{5} I did not know how to better express what I felt, and yet the Savior had vision, not faith. (Note of Riassa on the page of my diary where I had copied her letter.)

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