Pascal's Night of Fire

Over the last year or so on this blog, I've been talking more and more about our need to encounter God, experientially. We need to "bump into God from time to time" is often how I've put it.

The argument I've made is that in our age of disenchantment, it's this experiential aspect of faith that is increasingly our biggest struggle. Without direct encounters and experiences of God, faith dries up, and reduces to moralism or politics.

In short, as I've said before, we need our faith to become more mystical.

One of the famous mystical experiences I've written about before is Thomas Merton's epiphany on 4th and Walnut. Another famous mystical experience is Blaise Pascal's Night of Fire.

Pascal, you'll recall, was a famous mathematician, scientist, and inventor. He converted to Christianity and became one of the great apologists for the faith.

Pascal's vision of God occurred on November 23, 1654. It lasted two hours, beginning at 10:30 pm and ending at 12:30 am. We know this because when Pascal died, it was discovered that he had sewn his account of that vision inside his jacket, so as to always have it with him. This is what Pascal experienced that night, in his words:
The year of grace 1654,

Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology.
Vigil of St. Chrysogonus, martyr, and others.
From about half past ten at night until about half past midnight,


GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob
not of the philosophers and of the learned.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
GOD of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
Your GOD will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Grandeur of the human soul.
Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have departed from him:
They have forsaken me, the fount of living water.
My God, will you leave me?
Let me not be separated from him forever.
This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one that you sent, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified.
Let me never be separated from him.
He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel:
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Complete submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day’s exercise on the earth.
May I not forget your words. Amen.

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