strong friends

“The world is on fire”writes Thérèse at the start of her Path of perfection. “And the world needs strong friends. » The Saint of Avila then evokes the fire lit by the Wars of Religion. Its flames ignite the whole of Europe – already a fratricidal war – and many even fear that the Church, even the Gospels, will be consumed in this blaze. There is still all the diffuse anguish distilled by the Copernican revolution which has just destroyed the foundations of the ancient world, this world in which we firmly believed: The Earth, nor God are no longer the centers of an eternal and incorruptible universe gravitating around of them.

Today, it is Thérèse that I am thinking of, in this news of fires that continue to set cities and consciences ablaze, and now right up to the threshold of our homes. To her and to this injunction that she has launched over the centuries: to be strong, even unshakable friends. But from whom? Enough to ? And how? She, she had found her way, in her century, the first of the modern era – to pull herself together in her faith, to reform herself to the bone, certain that she would incarnate love and set it as an example – quite simply in her “palombière d’âmes” as she calls her little convent – ​​would have a contagious effect on her contemporaries. The remedy had its effect, far further and far wider than she could have imagined.

To achieve this, she perfected a formula for not yielding either to the dereliction that conquered all minds, or to the dubious consolations that her contemporaries obtained from the gold imported in floods from the Indies. She prays, in a withdrawal to the depths of the soul, in its center, in this interior castle, and always under the sensitive pressure of life. There alone, in this principal dwelling, she tells us, do the most secret and most luminous communions take place between God and the soul. In this center, in this center alone, God continues to dwell and to shine, and to illuminate the path that each must take when all seems to be dark and lead to despair.

And isn’t this the first of the strengths to beg, through prayer, to become this “friend of the world”: the courage to resist being overwhelmed, to find despite everything a little oxygen in the thick air of war while Hope – this “little girl from nothing at all, born on Christmas Day last year and who still plays with the January man, with his little fir trees in German wood covered with painted frost” – when this little girl Espérance, as Charles Péguy called her, drags herself on the endless roads of exile?

→ CHRONICLE. War in Ukraine: “If we disappear…”

If the eye color changes, she still looks the same – helpless, scared, incredulous. Unicef ​​has published its latest figures: every second since the beginning of the Russian invasion, a Ukrainian child becomes a refugee. That is one million and four hundred thousand children on the road, little girls and little boys all in blue and yellow with halos. Sometimes they walk alone. We do not know where their parents disappeared. Others, nobody accompanies them, nobody, on the other side of the border, waits for them, except the vultures who smelled the fresh flesh which will feed all their traffic. We know which ones. Many little Hopes, little Hopes would thus have already disappeared. So, how not to despair over these images, to collapse when listening to the figures, those of the appalling minutes published by NGO observers? How to preserve this theological virtue, the most difficult to cultivate, much more than faith, and especially that in man, much more than charity, which one sees everywhere at work, to the extent of the feeling of amazement, of sadness and compassion that hearts feel, how can we believe in this Hope when it has the face of these children?

And then, hope, of course, but what exactly? The peace ? Still it would be necessary to know it oneself, and to escape the blaze of hatred – “the world is on fire” – what arouses in us the ferocity of the belligerents? How to advance with a precise step in the dark part of humanity without it overwhelming us? Without stumbling in the ruins? Without being sucked in? Having, therefore, the strength to resist one’s own dark side, the desire to fight it out, to be right, to this fury to indoctrinate which seems to have taken hold of the entire era and that, with the insidious feeling of being in the right? All those little seeds of future violence, which I saw sown a few years ago in Sarajevo, at the height of the war.

So pray. And in the moments of doubt imposed by the fate of these children, stir up this phrase from Saint Ignatius of Antioch: “Whoever possesses the word of Jesus can hear even his silence. »


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