Diary of a Country Priest

I have been rereading Georges Bernanos' classic The Diary of a Country Priest. Around October 1st's feast of Therese of Lisieux, I was reminded of how much Bernanos was inspired by her life, even borrowing her words "all is grace." The book's character marvels "Oh, miracle--thus to be able to give what we ourselves do not possess, sweet miracle of our empty hands! Hope which was shrivelling in my heart flowered again in hers; the spirit of prayer which I thought lost in me for ever was given back to her by God" (157).

And isn't it mysterious that it can happen that way? How can Therese of Lisieux inspire such childlike confidence in God--when her own confidence was stretched to the limit--to believe there was something after death, to hang on through the suffocating agony of her tuberculosis? She begged her sisters not to keep lethal pain-killers within her reach--she freely admitted that, but for her faith, she would have killed herself.

How can Mother Teresa convince everyone around her that God loves us, when she herself felt completely abandoned? Yet there it is--God's power "made perfect in weakness." Mother Teresa, Therese of Lisieux, and the Cure of Bernanos' novel demonstrate the mysterious role of desire. Cut off completely from the experience of God, what did they have left but desire, even desire for the desire for God? While they burned in that, they lit the lives of others. Here's the book and here's the beautiful film.



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