(remember these?)

I was looking for a quite different quote from Simone Weil, when I found these extracts  in an Amazon review. Now, as some of my friends have heard me say many times, it doesn’t really matter what you do so long as you do it. The Sacrament of the Present Moment. Obedience to the Moment. (I will stick up another bit of Madeleine Delbrel on this). And ecco, summarised my thought on the ascetism of living in the present moment:

When I first read the essay “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” I was having trouble picking up a case to read for law school. It seemed pointless especially since I had already decided to become a pastor rather than an attorney. But Weil showed me that “the key to a Christian conception of studies is the realization that prayer consists of attention.” (p.58). She states, “Students must therefore work without any wish to gain good marks, to pass examinations, to win school successes; without any reference to their natural abilities and tastes; applying themselves equally to all their tasks, with the idea that each one will help form in them the habit of that attention which is the substance of prayer.” (p.59) This explains why Weil mastered several languages including Sanskrit and a wide range of academic subjects: they helped her to pray more effectively. She exhorts, “Whoever goes through years of study without developing this attention within himself has lost a great treasure.” (p.64)

In another application, Weil insightfully states that studying also helps one love his neighbor. She explains, “Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.” (p.64) Hence studying helps enable the soul to “[empty] itself of all its contents in order to receive into itself the being it is looking at, just as he is, in all his truth.” (p.65) The immeasurable help that studying can bring to others is captured in this thought: “The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.” (p.64)