Emmanuel Godo: “Literature can be one of the places of our spirituality”

The God we believe in loves questions. He is not afraid of our revolts, our laughter, our stumbles, our freedom. He does not reproach us for the criticisms that we address to his earthly representatives. It must be said that his Son is the greatest troublemaker ever to come into the world. The slightest of his words puts one of these heckles in the highest ranked knowledge. And a tornado in the thoughts that flock to the dormitory of certainties.

Speak well of God

Men are however incorrigible, they spend infinite energy trimming the wings of the verb on fire to better put it in a cage. It’s as if they sneaked water into the wine that was supposed to open our minds and hearts. Celestial foods end up having a dull taste of junk food – a shame when you know the quality of the original wheat!

In a letter of April 1671, the Marquise de Sévigné recounts the enthusiasm she felt while listening to a sermon by Father Bourdaloue on death. A rare moment that inspired this dazzling reflection: “How can you love God when you never hear much about him? »

When opening the spiritual vocation of France, I fell back on the distinction that Bernanos proposes between misery, which has no way out in God but which does not want a way out, and poverty, which is a merciful priesthood to which we are all invited. The poor is not a man who lacks the necessary but a man who lives from day to day, works and eats in the hand of God. And Bernanos to conclude that “the poor have the secret of hope”.

By reading Marie Noël, Etty Hillesum, Max Jacob, so many others, one cannot lament not having heard much about God.

Just as when reading the work of Pierrick de Chermont, limbo (Corlevour, 2022). Contrary to appearances, it is not a 600-page cobblestone, it is a garden with concerting paths, an attic where we are invited to forage, an inexhaustible banquet where we have the right to linger where we wish, in places where our faith clashes with that of our host – an indefatigable seeker who opens up his reserves to us as a friend. Like this meditation by Henri de Lubac which I am not about to have finished reading: “The more life rises, grows richer, becomes interiorized, the more the paradox gains ground. Already sovereign in simply human life, his kingdom of choice is the life of the spirit. The mystical life is his triumph” (Paradoxes, Cerf, 1999).

Quiet rooms

Limbo is a rare book because it poses and deposits, proposes without ever imposing, listen to what is going on in these silent rooms that we carry within us and where we sometimes hear an echo, a breath, almost nothing, the beginning of a song or a word. And the confidence arises, at the turn of a page, fragile signature, overwhelming because disarmed: “I have often fled from you; I would have liked to live outside the lands too plowed by your presence; but, from as far away as I have hidden myself, even under the canopy of an interior void, you have joined me. You are there, invincible, recognizable among a thousand. You make room for me. »

Literature, when it remembers that it is a quest for meaning and not a celebration of nothingness, can be one of the places of our spirituality. Reading then becomes the opposite of consuming. We spontaneously find the position of the readers of the Middle Ages who knew the close link uniting reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. In his Letter on Contemplative LifeGuigues II the Carthusian (XIIe century) reminds us how to read: “Reading brings, so to speak, solid nourishment to the mouth, meditation chews and triturates it, prayer acquires its flavor, contemplation is the very sweetness which provokes joy and comfort. »

To read
The Passors of the Absolute, by Emmanuel Godo, Artege, €18.90.
My Mother’s Bible, by Emmanuel Godo, Corlevour, €16.

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Emmanuel Godo: “Literature can be one of the places of our spirituality”

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