Friday, April 8, 2016

№ 261. Babette's Feast and the Joy of Love

Babette's Feast after the lottery win.

"The joy of this contemplative love needs to be cultivated. Since we were made for love, we know that there is no greater joy than that of sharing good things: “Give, take, and treat yourself well” (Sir 14:16). The most intense joys in life arise when we are able to elicit joy in others, as a foretaste of heaven. We can think of the lovely scene in the film Babette’s Feast, when the generous cook receives a grateful hug and praise: “Ah, how you will delight the angels!” It is a joy and a great consolation to bring delight to others, to see them enjoying themselves. This joy, the fruit of fraternal love, is not that of the vain and self-centred, but of lovers who delight in the good of those whom they love, who give freely to them and thus bear good fruit."


Antonius Block: Is it so hard to conceive God with one's senses? Why must He hide in a midst of vague promises and invisible miracles? How are we to believe the believers when we don't believe ourselves? What will become of us who want to believe but cannot? And what of those who neither will nor can believe? Why can I not kill God within me? Why does He go on living in a painful, humiliating way? I want to tear Him out of my heart, but He remains a mocking reality which I cannot get rid of. Do you hear me?

Priest/Death: I hear you.

[Block turns to kneel before the priest behind the confessional screen.]

Block: I want knowledge. Not belief. Not surmise. But knowledge. I want God to put out His hand, show His face, speak to me.

Priest/Death: But He is silent.

Block: I cry to Him in the dark, but there seems to be no one there.

Priest/Death: Perhaps there is no one there.

Block: Then life is a senseless terror. No man can live with Death and know that everything is nothing.

Priest/Death: Most people think neither of Death nor nothingness.

Block: Until they stand on the edge of life and see the Darkness.

Priest/Death: Ah, that day.

Block: [laughs bitterly] I see. We must make an idol of our fear, and call it God.

Priest/Death: You are uneasy.

Block: Death visited me this morning. We are playing chess. This respite enables me to perform a vital errand.

Priest/Death: What errand?Block: My whole life has been a meaningless search. I say it without bitterness or self-reproach. I know it is the same for all. But I want to use my respite for one significant action.

Priest/Death: So you play chess with Death?

Block: He is a skillful tactician, [smiling] but I have not yet lost one piece.

Priest/Death: How can you outwit Death?

Block: [smiling] By a combination of bishop and knight. I will break his flank.

[The "priest" turns to face Block through the screen.]

Priest/Death: I shall remember that.

[Block stands up, startled.]

Block: Traitor! You have tricked me! But I'll find a way out.

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