Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gentleness: Daughter of the Light

Today at Mass we heard some wise advice, naming us as preserving salt and healing light. (Matthew 5:13-16). Here are some words of wisdom about the nature of our light, from Louis Lavelle (+1951) Professor at the Sorbonne, Paris:

"Gentleness is so far from being the opposite of firmness that it is in fact the only true strength. It dissolves every form of opposition. The strongest man is not he that dominates passion, his or another's, with a violent effort, but he who tames it with the gentleness of reason. The will stiffens when another would bend or break it, but relaxes in the presence of gentleness. Only gentleness wins battles without fighting, and transforms foes into friends...

Some scientists [and I dare say, churchmen- PB] pursue truth as though they were going into battle. They fancy that she gives up her secrets only to those who bring her to bay by the rigor of their demonstrations, or by torturing her with their instruments.

But with this kind of violence, although truth may be taken by surprise, she will never become our ally. If the mind is to know her, the thinker must be docile and sensitive enough to follow the subtly sinuous contours of reality. Truth requires him to achieve a sort-of cooperation with the real, a sort of coincidence, even, the perfection of which will be, in fact, exactly proportionate to his gentleness. We must listen to truth's answers to our questions, holding ourselves in a sort of immobility and inner silence...

We must silence the tumult of the passions, master the blind reactions of instinct, and attain to the perfection of inward gentleness, before reality will look upon us open-eyed, as a friend... The heaven-born spirit of gentleness penetrates with light the air we breathe, and spiritualizes everything it touches. Gentlenss is daughter of the light."

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