Monday, April 14, 2014

The saintliness demanded by the present moment

This quote from Simone Weil requires some explanation or at least an attempt to correctly understand what she is seeking to communicate.  What struck me about her words was her grasp of the fact that holiness, saintliness, is a living reality; the grace of God made present in the minds and hearts of people in our day.  Every generation requires that Christ and the Gospel be embraced anew and fully - and here is what is important - in a way that is not  stilted or contrived, not archaic but also not simply conformed to modern culture.  It must speak to the needs of our day.  

Perhaps one can argue that we live in a time that is starving for genuine love.  And as it has been so often stated, a starving man or woman has no sense of taste.  They reach for the first thing that is an approximation of food - the first thing that promises to nourish.  What is needed are lives that capture beauty and truth aided and guided by divine genius, divine wisdom.  We cannot merely stand on the shoulders of the saints of the past.  We can look to them, of course, but we must allow our hearts to be captivated by Love so that our lives manifest the presence of Christ fully to our generation.  This is, Simone tells us, not only the desperate need but it is our profound obligation to seek to make it so.   

“We are living in times which have no precedent, and in our present situation universality, which could formerly be implicit, has to be fully explicit. It has to permeate our language and the whole of our way of life.

Today it is not nearly enough merely to be a saint, but we must have the saintliness demanded by the present moment, a new saintliness, itself also without precedent.

Maritain said this, but he only enumerated the aspects of saintliness of former days, which for the time being at least, have become out of date. He did not feel all the miraculous newness which the saintliness of today must contain in compensation.

A new type of sanctity is indeed a fresh spring, an invention. If all is kept in proportion and if the order of each thing is preserved, it is almost equivalent to a new revelation of the universe and of human destiny. It is the exposure of a large portion of truth and beauty hitherto concealed under a thick layer of dust. More genius is needed than was needed by Archimedes to invent mechanics and physics. A new saintliness is a still more marvellous invention.
Only a kind of perversity can oblige God’s friends to deprive themselves of having genius, since to receive it in superabundance they only need to ask their Father for it in Christ’s name.

Such a petition is legitimate, today at any rate, because it is necessary. I think that under this or any equivalent form it is the first thing we have to ask for now, we have to ask for it daily, hourly, like a famished child constantly asks for bread. The world needs saints who have genius, just as a plague-stricken town needs doctors. Where there is a need there is also an obligation."

Excerpt From: Weil, Simone. “Waiting on God