The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Charles Péguy

In my spare time I've been reading Charles Péguy's long poem, "The Portal of the Mystery of Hope." Even in translation, it's a remarkable poem and the poet's beautiful, life-giving words are an antidote to the despair that so plagues the world.

Written in the first years of the twentieth century, the poem is quite long. The text itself is over 130 pages, and so I've been reading only a few pages each day.

This evening I came across some particularly moving verses on the parable of the prodigal son which I'd like to share with you.

A man had two sons. Of all God's parables
This one has awakened the deepest echo.
The most ancient echo.
The oldest, the newest echo.
The freshest echo.
Believer or unbeliever.
Known or unknown.
A unique point of resonance.
The only one that the sinner has never been able to silence in his heart.
Once this word of hope has bitten into his heart
Into his believing or unbelieving heart,
No pleasure will ever more be able to erase
Its teeth marks.
Such is this word. She's a word that stays with you.
She follows like a dog
That remains even though you beat it.
Like a mistreated dog who always comes back.
She remains faithfully, she comes back like a faithful dog.
There's no use kicking her or beating her with a stick.
She's faithful
With a special fidelity,
She thus accompanies man into his greatest
She is the one who teaches that all is not lost.
It is not God's will
That a single one of these little ones should perish.
She's a faithful dog
Who bites and who licks
And by both sustains
The inconstant heart.
When the sinner turns away from God, my child,
As he turns away, as he buries himself in lost countries, as he loves himself.
He tosses along the way his most precious goods,
Among the stones and bramble, as things useless and heavy and which hinder him. His most sacred possessions.
The word of God. His purest treasures.
But there is one word of God that he does not throw away.
Over which every man has cried so many times.
Over which, because of which. By which.
And he's like the others, he too has cried.
There is one of God's treasures, when the sinner turns away
To the growing darkness,
When the shadows
The lengthening shadows
Veil his eyes, there is one of God's treasures that he will not toss among the bramble at the side of the road.
Because she's a mystery that follws, she's a word that follows
Into the most extreme
There's no need to look after her, and to carry her.
      It's she.
Who looks after you and who carries herself and who makes sure she is carried.
It's she who follows, she's a word that stays with you, a treasure that accompanies.
The other words of God don't dare accompany man
Into his greatest
But in truth she is shameless.
She holds man by the heart, at a point that only she knows, and does not let him go.
She's not afraid. She's not ashamed.
And as far as man might stary, this man who loses himself,
In whatever country,
In whatever darkness,
Far from the hearth, far from the heart,
And whatever shadows he may have buried himself in,
The shadows that veil his eyes,
A spark will always keep watch, a flame will always keep watch, a tongue of flame.
Always a light that will keep watch and that will never be placed under a bushel basket. Always a lamp.
Always a simmering pang. A man had two sons. A pang he knows well.
A source of anxiety within false contentedness, a source of hope. All the other words of God are modest. They don't dare accompany man into the shamefulness of sin.
They aren't forward enough.
Into his heart, into the shamefulness of his heart.
But she in truth is not shameful.
You could say that she is rather adventurous.
She's a little sister of charity who's not afraid to handle a sick person or a poor person.
She has, as it were,
And even truly, delivered a challenge to the sinner.
She has told him: Wherever you go, I'll follow.
You'll see.
With me you will havce no peace.
I will not leave you in peace.
And it's true and he knows it. And ultimately he loves his persecutor.
In the depths of his heart, secretly.
Because at the very bottom of his heart, at the bottom of his shame and of his sin he loves (better) not having peace. It's kind of reassuring.

A point of suffering remains, a point of thought, a pont of anxiety. A bud of hope.
One light will not go out and it's
the third Parable,
the third word of hope. A man had two sons.


God's peace...

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