Truth and Comfort

Teaching is no joke, sonny!  I’m not talking of those who get out of it with a lot of eyewash: you’ll knock up against plenty of them in the course of your life, and get to know ’em.  Comforting truths, they call it!  Truth is meant to save you first, and the comfort comes afterward.  Besides, you’ve no right to call that sort of thing comfort.  Might as well talk about condolences!  The Word of God is a red-hot iron.  And you who preach it ‘ud go picking it up with a pair of tongs, for fear of burning yourself, you daren’t get hold of it with both hands.  It’s too funny!  Why, the priest who descends from the pulpit of Truth, with a mouth like a hen’s vent, a little hot but pleased with himself, he’s not been preaching: at best he’s been purring like a tabby-cat.  Mind you that can happen to us all, we’re all half asleep, it’s the devil to wake us up, sometimes–the apostles slept all right at Gethsemane.  Still, there’s a difference….And mind you many a fellow who waves his arms and sweats like a furniture-remover isn’t necessarily more awakened than the rest.  On the contrary.  I simply mean that when the Lord has drawn from me some word for the good of souls, I know, because of the pain of it.

[Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest, 42]

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