The Painful Practice of Piety



Here’s #924 of Pascal’s Pensees followed by fascinating comments from Peter Kreeft. 


“It is true that there is something painful in beginning to practice piety, but this pain does not arise from the beginnings of piety within us, but from the impiety that is still there….  We only suffer in so far as our natural vice resists supernatural grace, but it would be very wrong to impute this violence to God, who draws us to him, instead of attributing it to the world which holds us back.  It is like a child snatched by its mother from the arms of robbers….  The cruellest war that God can wage on men in this life is to leave them without the war he came to bring.  ‘I came not to send peace but a sword,’ he said.  …Before his coming the world lived in false peace.”


“The paints of piety are like the withdrawal symptoms when an addict goes clean and sober.  God does not cause pain; sin causes pain.  But the juxtaposition of God and sin also causes pain.”

“The surgeon who does not cut out the cancer is not kind but cruel.  The God of mere kindness whom we long for, the Grandfather God who leaves us alone to enjoy ourselves rather than the Father God who constantly interrupts us and interferes with our lives is really not kind but cruel.  (He is also non-existent!)  The ‘cruel’ God of the Bible is a God of battles.  He fights a spiritual war for us against the demons of sin in us.  This God is not cruel but kind, as kind as he can possibly be.  The sword he comes to us with (Mt. 10:34) is a surgeon’s scalpel, and this Surgeon’s hands are covered with his own blood.”

Peter Kreeft, Christianity for Modern Pagans (San Fransisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 332-333.

rev shane lems


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