Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent Women 2

Christianity should contain all vocations without exception since it is catholic. In consequence the Church should also. But in my eyes Christianity is catholic by right but not in fact. So many things are outside it, so many things that I love and do not want to give up, so many things that God loves, otherwise they would not be in existence... Christianity being catholic by right but not in fact, I regard it as legitimate on my part to be a member of the Church by right but not in fact, not only for a time, but for my whole life if need be...
(Simone Weil, Spiritual Autobiography)

As T. S. Eliot said, while everything Weil writes is worth reading, we might not always follow her arguments to their conclusions. What defines her work though is a honesty that is as sharp as a quadro-blade Gilette razor ("The Best a Man Can Get"). Absolutely everything is cut through - ideology, politics, pragmatism, doctrine, received wisdom - even if it seems pretty or pleasant or just necessary to get along, it is tested, whittled, sliced until every inch of paradox, hypocrisy and superstition is filed to a stump. But you can still hear the love. The desire for total inclusion. The solidarity with any misshapen lump that might have been overlooked. 

It's unclear whether she was baptised. If so, like Gillian Rose, a similar figure, it was a death-bed baptism. But what more powerful sign of Christian redemption could there be than a refusal of a sacrament in solidarity with those whom the Church has not recognised but are full of the grace of God?

It's an interesting conundrum. Whatever you think, though, Weil is a prophetic voice of truth that dared to cut itself against doctrine and it's voices like these that continue to call the Church to account and make it anywhere close to being worthy of the name.

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