|Photo Credit: Madison Busick|
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On the day when a novice makes her profession, she is dressed in herhandsomest attire, she is crowned with white roses, her hair isbrushed until it shines, and curled. Then she prostrates herself;a great black veil is thrown over her, and the office for the deadis sung. Then the nuns separate into two files; one file passesclose to her, saying in plaintive accents, "Our sister is dead";and the other file responds in a voice of ecstasy, "Our sister isalive in Jesus Christ!"
To pray to God,--what is the meaning of these words?
Is there an infinite beyond us? Is that infinite there, inherent,
permanent; necessarily substantial, since it is infinite; and because,
if it lacked matter it would be bounded; necessarily intelligent,
since it is infinite, and because, if it lacked intelligence, it would
end there? Does this infinite awaken in us the idea of essence,
while we can attribute to ourselves only the idea of existence?
In other terms, is it not the absolute, of which we are only the relative?
At the same time that there is an infinite without us, is there
not an infinite within us? Are not these two infinites (what an
alarming plural!) superposed, the one upon the other? Is not this
second infinite, so to speak, subjacent to the first? Is it not
the latter's mirror, reflection, echo, an abyss which is concentric
with another abyss? Is this second infinity intelligent also?
Does it think? Does it love? Does it will? If these two infinities
are intelligent, each of them has a will principle, and there is an
I in the upper infinity as there is an I in the lower infinity.
The I below is the soul; the I on high is God.
To place the infinity here below in contact, by the medium of thought,
with the infinity on high, is called praying.
Let us take nothing from the human mind; to suppress is bad.
We must reform and transform. Certain faculties in man are directed
towards the Unknown; thought, revery, prayer. The Unknown is
an ocean. What is conscience? It is the compass of the Unknown.
Thought, revery, prayer,--these are great and mysterious radiations.
Let us respect them. Whither go these majestic irradiations
of the soul? Into the shadow; that is to say, to the light.
The grandeur of democracy is to disown nothing and to deny nothing
of humanity. Close to the right of the man, beside it, at the least,
there exists the right of the soul.
To crush fanaticism and to venerate the infinite, such is the law.
Let us not confine ourselves to prostrating ourselves before the tree
of creation, and to the contemplation of its branches full of stars.
We have a duty to labor over the human soul, to defend the mystery
against the miracle, to adore the incomprehensible and reject
the absurd, to admit, as an inexplicable fact, only what is necessary,
to purify belief, to remove superstitions from above religion;
to clear God of caterpillars.