Category Archives: Simone Weil

The name

Through the name of God we can orient our attention towards the true God, situated beyond our reach, not conceived. Without this gift, we would only have a false earthly God, conceivable by us. Only this name allows us to have a Father who is in a heaven that we know nothing about.

Weil (via here)

I am outside the truth; nothing human can take me there.

– Simone Weil (via here)

Like madmen

‘He will laugh at the trials of the innocent.’ Silence of God. The noises here below imitate this silence. They mean nothing.
   It is when from the innermost depths of our being we need a sound which does mean something — when we cry out for an answer and it is not given us — it is then that we touch the silence of God.
   As a rule our imagination puts words into the sounds in the same way as we idly play at making out shapes in wreaths of smoke; but when we are too exhausted, when we no longer have the courage to play, then we must have real words. We cry out for them. The cry tears our very entrails. All we get is silence.
   After having gone through that, some begin to talk to themselves like madmen. Whatever they may do afterwards, we must have nothing but pity for them. The others, and they are not numerous, give their whole heart to silence.

– Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace (trans. E. Craufurd)

Revisions

The belief that a man can be saved outside the visible Church requires that all the elements of faith should be pondered afresh, under pain of complete incoherence. For the entire edifice is built around the contrary affirmation, which scarcely anybody today would venture to support.
   No one has yet wanted to recognise the need for such a revision. One gets out of the difficulty by having recourse to miserable expedients. The cracks are plastered over with ersatz cement, shocking mistakes in logic.
   Unless the Church recognises this need soon, it is to be feared that it will not be able to accomplish its mission.
   There is no salvation without a ‘new birth’, without an inward illumination, without the presence of Christ and of the Holy Spirit in the soul. If, therefore, salvation is possible outside the Church, individual or collective revelations are also possible outside Christianity. In that case, true faith constitutes a very different form of adhesion from that which consists in believing such-and-such an opinion. The whole notion of faith then needs to be thought out anew.

*

The dogmas of the faith are not things to be affirmed. They are things to be regarded from a certain distance, with attention, respect and love. They are like the bronze serpent whose virtue is such that whoever looks upon it shall live. This attentive and loving gaze, by a shock on the rebound, causes a source of light to flash in the soul which illuminates all aspects of human life on this earth. Dogmas lose this virtue as soon as they are affirmed.
   The propositions ‘Jesus Christ is God’ or ‘The consecrated bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ’, enunciated as facts, have strictly speaking no meaning whatever.
   The value of these proposition is totally different from the truth contained in the correct enunciation of a fact (for example: Salazar is head of the Portuguese Government) or of a geometrical theorem.
   This value does not strictly speaking belong to the order of truth, but to a higher order; for it is a value impossible for the intelligence to grasp, except indirectly, though the effects produced. And truth, in the strict sense, belongs to the domain of the intelligence.

– Simone Weil, Letter to a Priest (trans. A.F. Wills)

Question mark

The opinions which follow have for me various degrees of probability or certainty, but all go accompanied in my mind by a question mark. If I express them in the indicative mood it is only because of the poverty of language; my needs would require that that the conjugation should contain a supplementary tense. In the domain of holy things I affirm nothing categorically. But such of my opinions as are in conformity with the teaching of the Church also go accompanied in my mind by the same question mark. I look upon a certain suspension of judgement with regard to all thoughts whatever they may be, without any exception, as constituting the virtue of humility in the domain of intelligence.

– Simone Weil, Letter to a Priest (trans. A.F. Wills)

Contradiction

The contradictions the mind comes up against — these are the only realities: they are the criterion of the real. There is no contradiction in what is imaginary. Contradiction is the test of necessity.

Contradiction experienced to the very depths of the being tears us heart and soul: it is the cross.

When the attention has revealed the contradiction in something on which it has been fixed, a kind of loosening takes place. By persevering in this course we attain detachment.

The demonstrable correlation of opposites is an image of the transcendental correlation of contradictories.

All true good carries with it conditions which are contradictory and as a consequence is impossible. He who keeps his attention really fixed on this impossibility and acts will do what is good. In the same way all truth contains a contradiction. Contradiction is the point of the pyramid.

The word good does not have the same meaning when it is a term of the correlation good-evil as when it describes the very being of God.

The existence of opposite virtues in the souls of the saints: the metaphor of climbing corresponds to this. If I am walking on the side of a mountain I can see first a lake, then, after a few steps, a forest. I have to choose either the lake or the forest. If I want to see both lake and forest at once, I have to climb higher. Except the mountain does not exist. It is made of air. One cannot go up: one must be drawn.

– Simone Weil