Whenever I hold this book in my hands, I feel like I’m holding onto fire.
The reluctant author was a priest born in the late 19th century. I presume that he was a Benedictine monk, since the brief preface was written by Dom Vincent Artus, OSB, who tells us that Father Jean Petit (pseudonym) only allowed his journal notes to be published if “we” take on full responsibility of their publication, and keep his identity unknown.
I purchased this book about ten years ago, but for the past couple of years, it is always close at hand. It is a small book, and only 155 pages, but it is stirring, passionate, surprising, bold yet humble. And, it is on fire. The words leap into sentences and the sentences pulsate with Father Petit’s burning love for God, and his ecstatic wonder and joy over God’s Love for him.
Although he mentions a few other Saints, he is utterly taken with that great Saint of Love, Therese of Lisieux. He quotes from her frequently, and includes the entire text of her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love within the notes that compose this book.
Today in adoration, I read the following paragraphs:
The immense stream of flames descending upon man from the Trinity through the union of the divinity and the humanity in the Person of Christ will bear me along by its impetuous force, will destroy in me what remains of my self, will change me little by little into Himself, will make me disappear into His unfathomable mystery and what remains of me will be fashioned into a new being that will still be me, yet no longer me, a creature swallowed up in the consuming fires of divinity.
…To what extent will divinity pervade my being? Already grace makes the substance of my soul divine. The Holy Trinity abides in me…”We will make our home with him…as in a temple: “You are God’s temple.” (John 14:23, 1Cor 3:16)
I participate in the divine nature. I live in Christ and Christ lives in me; I no longer live anything but the life of Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been given to me.
“You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.” (Ps 82:6)
“Just as fire can make an object glow with incandescent heat,” says St. Thomas (Aquinas), “so God can deify souls.”
….Therese with ingenious simplicity took on the ideal to live, not only in love, but in “an act of love.” In order that her acts of charity might be perfect, she desired to live not only in love, not only in perfect love, but in “a single act of perfect love.” She desired to live in this single act; she desired her whole life to be this single act. To live in this unique act of perfect love, she offered herself as a victim to Merciful Love.
One day you will have disappeared into the flames of the Infinite.
Nothingness…have you understood?
Nothingness…do you dare to understand?
You will live in the Unique Act of the One who is Charity.
You will be consumed in the One who is the Supreme Good.
You will shine in the One who is Being.
Have you understood?
Father Petit’s little book was first published in French in 1953. He was still living then. But surely now, he has achieved that final union with the flaming Furnace of Charity that is the Most Blessed Trinity
I only wish I knew his real name. But, I keep reading his words, praying that I too will catch fire.
The Journal of a Soul Aflame
By Jean Petit
Sophia Institute Press
English translation, Copyright 2000, Sister Mary Grace, CSE