Fr Ian writes
On the evening of 23rd November 1623 the great French mathematician and philosopher Blase Pascal had a profound mystical experience which changed his life for ever. So profound was the experience of the certainty of joy given by God that Pascal wrote notes of the experience on parchment and had it sown into his garments until his death.
Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement . . . from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. “My God and your God.” . . . Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy. . . Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. May I never be separated from him.
With great conviction Pascal sought to weave together his thought, his religion and his experience in prayer, into an understanding of God and God’s life permeating creation. So often Christianity in its public expression seems to fail to grasp the results of cosmology, biology, and other sciences, and compartmentalises itself into a small area.
At St Chrysostom’s with great joy we recently celebrated the glorious feast of Christ the King.
The full title of this feast – Our Lord Jesus Christ the Universal King challenges us to look beyond the earthly life of Jesus Christ to reflect on, and worship the eternal logos, the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity whose energy and life permeates all creation through all time.
Another Frenchman, a priest and scientist of more recent times, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, had a document similar to Pascal’s parchment, he wrote a litany on a prayer card of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In his ‘litany’ Teilhard wrote:
Focus of ultimate and universal energy, Centre of the cosmos … Heart of Jesus, heart of evolution, unite me to yourself.