The White-Hot Dangerous Presence
My pious Abbé Fillion suggests that, when we are stumped and cannot find out the meaning of a passage of Scripture, we ought to pray to the “sacred author,” that is, to whomever it was that served as God’s instrument in writing the work. The suggestion appeals to me, for I have a great though confused affection for the writers of the Bible. I feel closer to them than to almost any other writers that I know of. Isaias, Job, Moses, David, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all part of my life. They are always about me. They look over my shoulder, earnest men, belonging to the façade of a medieval cathedral. I feel that they are very concerned about me and that they want me to understand what God told them to write down, that they have always surrounded me with solicitous prayers, and that they love and protect me.
They are more part of my world than most of the people actually living in the world. I “see” them sometimes more really than I see the monks I live with. I know well the burnt faces of the Prophets and the Evangelists, transformed by the white-hot dangerous presence of inspiration, for they looked at God as into a furnace and the Seraphim flew down and purified their lips with fire. They are solemn and dreadful and holy men humbled by the revelation they wrote down. They are my Fathers. They are the “burnt men” in the last line of The Seven Storey Mountain. I am more and more possessed by their vision of God’s Kingdom, and wonder at the futility of seeking anything on earth but the truth revealed in them and in tradition—the Church’s treasure to which she holds the keys.
August 26, 1949, II.362