Reviews of Theology, Broadly Understood

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

10 Nuggets I found in Bernanos' "Diary of a Country Priest"

from The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos
1. “My Holy Child is too much of a baby to be taken up with music or books. And I think he should probably start to bellow at folk who’d stand around casting their eyes up to heaven instead of bringing fresh straw for his ox, or giving the ass a rubdown.” - M. le Cure de Torcy, p. 17
2. Sometimes I think of Satan as trying to get hold of the mind of God, and not merely hating it without understanding, but understanding it in the wrong way round; thus unknowingly struggling against the current of life, instead of swimming with it; wearing himself out in absurd terrifying attempts to reconstruct in the opposite direction, the whole work of the Creator. -the country priest (the nameless Cure of Ambricourt), p. 71
3. In defining sin as a failure to obey God’s law, I feel there is a risk of conveying too abstract an idea of it. People say such foolish things about sin, and as usual they never take the trouble to think. For centuries now doctors have been discussing disease. If they had been content to define it as a failure to obey the rules of health, they would long since have been in agreement. But they study it in the individual patient in the hope of curing him. -the country priest (cp), p. 107
4. Satan is too hard a master. He would never command, as did the Other with divine simplicity: “Do likewise.” The devil will have no victims resemble him. He permits only a rough caricature…does the Monster care that there should be one criminal more or less? Immediately he sucks the crime into himself, makes it one with his own horrible substance, digests without once rising from his terrifying eternal lethargy. Yet historians, moralists, even philosophers refuse to see anything but the criminal, they re-create evil in the image and likeness of humanity. They form no idea of essential evil…and the moralist will dissertate on passions, the statesman redouble his police, the educationalist draw up new courses of study - treasures will be squandered wholesale for the useless moulding of a dough which contains no leaven. -cp, p. 144
5. 'Christian!’ I cried. The word was like a bullet in my chest. It scorched. ‘You may bid Christ welcome, but what do you do when He comes? He was also welcomed by Caiaphas.’ -cp, p. 159
6. ‘…nobody can see in advance what one bad thought may have as its consequence. Evil thoughts are like good ones: thousands may be scattered by the wind, or overgrown or dried up by the sun. Only one takes root. The seeds of good and evil are everywhere. Our great misfortune is that human justice always intervenes too late. We only repress or brand the act without ever being able to go back further than the culprit. But hidden sins poison the air which others breathe, and without such corruption at the source, many a wretched man, tainted unconsciously, would never have become a criminal.’ - cp, p. 166
7. “But you know that our God came to be among us. Shake your fist at Him, spit in His face, scourge Him, and finally crucify Him; what does it matter? My daughter, it’s already been done to Him.” -cp, p. 171
8. ‘Hell is not to love anymore. As long as we remain in this life we can still deceive ourselves, think that we love by our own will, that we love independently of God. But we’re like madmen stretching our hands to clasp the moon reflected in the water.’ – cp, p. 171
9. Keep silent. What a strange expression. Silence keeps us. (You wished me to be silent. I knew Your hand as it closed my lips.) -cp, p. 259
10.“Does it matter? Grace is everywhere…” - the dying words of the country priest, p. 298