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Pensée #1: Pascal’s Fire

I thought I would start to share some of my favorite thoughts (pensées) from some of my favorite writers.  Since I have blatantly ripped off the title for this series from Blaise Pascal, I thought it would be appropriate to begin with a very special word from him.  After his death, a piece of parchment was discovered which Pascal, the brilliant French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher, had sown into the inside of his jacket.  Apparently he wrote these words, rapt in ecstasy, on the night of his conversion and kept them on his person at all times:

Year of grace 1654
Monday, 23 November, feast of Saint Clement, Pope and Martyr, and of others in the Martyrology.
Eve of Saint Chrysoganus, Martyr and others.
From about half past ten in the evening until half past midnight
Fire
‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,’ not of philosophers and scholars.
Certainty, certainty, heartfelt, joy, peace.
God of Jesus Christ.
God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
‘Thy God shall be my God.’
The world forgotten, and everything except God.
He can only be found by the ways taught in the Gospels.
Greatness of human soul.
‘O righteous Father, the world had not known thee, but I have known thee.’
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have cut myself off from him.
They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.
‘My God wilt thou forsake me?’
Let me not be cut off from him for ever!
‘And this is eternal life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’
Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
I have cut myself off from him, shunned him, denied him, crucified him.
Let me never be cut off from him!
He can only be kept by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Sweet and total renunciation.
Total submission to Jesus Christ and my director.
Everlasting joy in return for one day’s effort on earth.
I will not forget thy word.  Amen
(from the Penguin edition of Pascal’s Pensées)

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Pensée #1: Pascal’s Fire

  1. And as with so many lesser-known spiritual experiences, near-death experiences, exceptional human experiences–call them what we will–it changed the direction of his life forever. They disrupt *everything.*

    Posted by nanbush | April 2, 2012, 4:06 pm

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NCSU Graduate Christian Fellowship

Hi! I'm David, the campus minister for InterVarsity's graduate and faculty ministries at NC State and Meredith College. I hope you'll join me as I learn to "practice resurrection" in the City of Oaks, in her universities, and in the wider world. You can contact me at dmwilliams83@gmail.com

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