“Joy Is In the Gift of the Church”

I’d say: I can’t help wearing an outfit like an undertaker’s man.  After all, the Pope rigs himself up in white and the cardinals in red, so what’s the odds?  But I’d have the right to go around adorned like the Queen of Sheba because I’m bringing you joy.  I’ll give it to you for nothing, you have only to ask.  Joy is in the gift of the Church, whatever joy is possible for this sad world to share.  Whatever you did against the Church, has been done against joy.  I’m not stopping you from calculating the procession of the equinoxes or splitting the atom.  But what would it profit you even to create life itself, when you have lost all sense of what life really is?  Might as well blow your brains out among your test-tubes.  Manufacture “life” as much as you like, I say!  It’s the vision you give us of death that poisons the thoughts of poor devils bit by bit, that gradually clouds and dulls their last happiness.  You’ll be able to keep it up so long as your industries and capital permit you to turn the world into a fair-ground of mechanical roundabouts, twirling madly in a perpetual din of brass and crackling fireworks.  But just you wait.  Wait for the first quarter-of-an-hour’s silence.  Then the Word will be heard of men–not the voice they rejected, which spoke so quietly: “I am the way, the Resurrection and the Life”–but the voice from the depths: “I am the door for ever locked, the road which leads nowhere, the lie, the everlasting dark.”

He said these last words so gloomily that I must have grown paler–or rather yellower, which has been my way, alas, of turning pale during the last few months–for he poured me out a second glass of gin and we changed the subject.

[Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest, 16]

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