It is not a coincidence that my reading of Raissa's Journal, with selections written in France at the outbreak of WWII should occur this week.
The anxiety and terror of two women, Raissa and her sister, Vera, both Jewish converts to Catholicism, bubbled up at the beginning of war in 1939. Vera was given by God several consoling messages regarding the fact that they would be safe and that Paris would not burn.
Seeing the Seine for the first time in my life allowed me a glimpse of the love the Parisians have for their city. I hope to go back and have time for the usual touristy things, which I did not in my travels during the past few days.
Vera's words from God encouraged all of those who lived in the house, but sadly, the three, Vera, Jacques and Raissa were to go to Toronto, into exile, for safety.
Raissa knew that the war was a direct result of man's sins. That God gave men and women free will and that some used it against Christ and His Reign on Earth could not be denied.
I understand what it feels like, the intense suffering of having to leave one's home and go into exile. Raissa lost Meudon, where she had been given the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, where she felt safe and able to carry on her deep prayer. Jacques notes in the Journal that at some point, God denies the person called to contemplation, the place where this is easily done.
I understand this perfectly. Jacques writes this, “She was flung into the hazards of the swirling waters of the world and found herself henchforth having to contend, and in particularly hostile circumstances, with the relentless energy of things which make man dispersed. She had to wrench by sheer force from the malevolent hours whatever time she could, however scrappy, for that contemplative prayer without which it impossible for her to live.”
The huge difference between Raissa and myself, flung into increasingly hostile places, is that she was already in the Illuminative and then Unitive States. Because of her high level of contemplation, Raissa kept this mode of being constantly, underneath all that she did and endured.
This, my Dear Readers, is what to which God is calling all of us in order to be able to endure what is coming.
Raissa writes this: “My own life, my very imperfect life, has reached that maturity of soul which is acquired only at the price of extra-ordinary misfortune, personal or otherwise; that age at which nothing is let of childhood or of happiness of living. My life comes to this climax much less because of the trials that I myself have endured, than because of the misfortune which has fallen upon all humanity. For justice wears mourning, the afflicted are not—cannot--be consoled, the persecuted are not succoured, because God's truth is not spoken, and suddenly the world has become to little, so narrowed for the spirit , by the monotony of that lie which rules it and which almost alone make itself heard.”
This is from another book I have, We Have Been Friends Together.
Is this not the call of all today who are in the remnant?
For many years, I have, like Raissa, been without a dwelling of my own, without my own things, and in exile. Raissa calls this “the divine bitterness of living and dying.” As soon as the Gestapo entered Paris, they began looking for Jacques, now safely in America for however long the occupation would last. Raissa suffered terribly not only from this exile, but from the worry of her loved friends in Poland and other places. She also suffered from those enemies of Jacques, who were in the Vatican undermining his important work of neo-Thomism.
Sadly, a bit later than this time, their great friend Henri Bergson died without baptism. This was his desire in wanting to identify with the Jews being persecuted under the Nazis. Raissa was finally, in December of 1940, given the knowledge that Jesus was her only place of peace in the world, and from this knowledge, she came into some peace.
For those who have never been forced to give up their homes, and all the things they love, this message must seem unreal. However, we are on the edge of those times again, and I am merely the lighthouse, showing others what is to come in the darkness.
We are on the edge of that darkness.