Monday, October 23, 2006

The only form of revolt...

‘The saints,’ said [French author George] Bernanos [most famous for his Diary of A Country Priest], ‘are not resigned, at least in the sense that the world thinks. If they suffer in silence those injustices which upset the mediocre, it is in order better to turn against injustice, against its face of brass, all the strength of their great souls. Angers, daughters of despair, creep and twist like worms. Prayer is, all things considered, the only form of revolt that stays standing up.’

This is very true from all points of view. A spirituality that preaches resignation under official brutalities, servile acquiescence in frustration and sterility, and total submission to organized injustice is one which has lost interest in holiness and remains concerned only with a spurious notion of ‘order.’ On the other hand, it is so easy to waste oneself in the futilities of that ‘anger, the daughter of despair,’ the vain recrimination that takes a perverse joy in blaming everyone else for our failure. We may certainly fail to accomplish what we believed was God's will for us and for the Church: but simply to take revenge by resentment against those who blocked the way is not to turn the strength of one's soul (if any) against the ‘brass face of injustice.’ It is another way of yielding to it.

There may be a touch of stoicism in Bernanos' wording here, but that does not matter. A little more stoic strength would not hurt us, and would not necessarily get in the way of grace!


Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton,
New York: Doubleday & Co, Inc., 1968 edition, p. 165


With the world in its present turmoil, I don't think any of us can afford not to think about what we would do were we to be faced with clear and present injustice among our own communities. We need to take Bernanos' words very seriously: 'Prayer is, all things considered, the only form of revolt that stays standing up.'

Prayer is no easy option, no coward's way out. Prayer is sometimes the hardest option, far harder than anger, harder than subversion or terrorism. Prayer remains standing in the face of the worst that man can do, that the enemy of our souls can do with man, bringing it into the very presence of God. '
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.' (John 1:5)

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