Tuesday adoration….Fire and nothingness


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.

Descending Fire
The Journal of a Soul Aflame
By Jean Petit
Sophia Institute Press
English translation, Copyright 2000, Sister Mary Grace, CSE


11 thoughts on “Tuesday adoration….Fire and nothingness

  1. OOohhhh…very good Patricia! (don’t look, don’t look)…I have to control book gluttony haha.

    I love the quote your shared and that could carry you away for days reflecting on it…consumed in Him…nothingness…I love it.

    Have blessed days this week.

    • Theresa, too late…I know you caved and found the book 🙂 But, so true what you said about reflecting on just those few passages for days. I love those kind of books, where you never really come to the end of reading them, but just keep somehow “growing” into them. Do you really have the complete Merton library? I thought I read that somewhere on your blog. Well, it’s not so bad…we could be addicted to chocolate instead. In fact, one of us is! 🙂

      • I found it through the ILL loan but it seems it’s just one of those books one must have often to refer to LOL! And on St. Therese…really…who could resist?

        No, I do not have Merton’s entire library…he wrote over 30 books so I would be definitely categorized as a glutton then! I have most of his earlier works…maybe about nine books.

  2. Well, I gave in to the book gluttony 🙂 I just found a used edition on Barnes & Noble. Thanks for sharing about this one Patricia. I can’t wait to read the entire book.
    God bless.

    • Good for you, Karin! No time to exercise restraint when there’s an awesome book in limited supply. I hope you didn’t buy the $5,000.00 copy through Amazon:) I wonder what’s up with that. It’s so interesting to shop for used books and see the wild variation in prices. Anyway, so glad you ordered it. Let me know what you think, after you’ve read it….if you ever stop reading it. How is it going with He and I? Have a great weekend!

  3. This is wonderful! I find much pleasure in your well written and thoughtful entries. I’ve seeking something else to read, and it seems like I’ve found it. Going to the Monastery bookstore to find this! Thanks and God bless you!

    • Thank you for your kind words, David. Were you able to find the book at the Monastery bookstore? It’s out of print, so if you can’t find a new copy, there are used copies available at Amazon, etc. Good luck. Let me know if you like it. Blessings always to you and your family.

  4. Patricia, I won’t even concern myself with book gluttony…I’ll just get it ..that’s all : )

    If ever there was a time needful of “Descending Fire” it’s now. We need to read the wisdom of these great soldiers for Christ who can ‘pervade our being with their passion’. They say passion is what makes a great cook…and if that is so for such a carnal need imagine what it is for the soul and spirit?

    I’m so glad you got the computer working again.
    Love and Blessings always +

    • LOL! All of you with your book gluttony haha. You make a very good point Caroline about passion…very good.

      I will be giving in too…well…at least the library has it through ILL so I can get it…but there are some used copies on Amazon for under a $1.00 …just a note to those who can’t control themselves : )

      • Theresa, looks like we need a support group for all of us book gluttons…but who could we trust to lead us? Not you 😉 I think we are a hopeless bunch. Too bad we don’t all live in the same town; we could pass the books around. But then, how would we highlight? Oh dear!

        I saw those used copies on Amazon…too bad the postage is more than the books! Seriously, I don’t think any of you will regret reading this one. It’s quite unique. I actually found another post I wrote about it (who knew? not me!) Anyway, there are a few other excerpts in that post, probably enough to send any hold-out gluttons straight to Amazon! 🙂 Here’s a link: https://theholyfaceofjesus.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/leave-in-me-only-fire-fr-jean-petit/

        Thanks for the smiles 🙂

        • Oooh, Caroline! I love your comment about passion! I didn’t know that they say passion makes a great cook, but I definiitely think passion helps to make Saints. They certainly don’t just “simmer” along through life, do they?

          I laughed about you not even trying to resist “book gluttony.” What can be expected from a girl who read her cereal boxes? Ahhh, I see the angels are busy stocking the library in Heaven this very minute…… lol.

          Hope you love the book! Yes…so great computer is working again….but for how lolng?! They practically remade it, so hopefully I won’t mess it up again for a while. Love you xoxo

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