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FROM THE SACRED TO THE RATIONAL

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We were born in the religious, the sacred. The divinity was present in everything and everywhere. We were devout, pious, superstitious, gullible, docile and childlike. We were also mystiques. We would sublimate everything.

For us, evil, disorder, misfortunes were coming from sin, from our condition of sinners. We had to fight sin within us and, as much as possible, around us. We would fight it through sacrifice, self-will, impositions, even violence. At times, we would rebel a little, but our rebellions did not last very long.

We believed in a God infinitely good, but we believed that we did not merit anything from his goodness. We had to struggle to merit his benefits and sacrifice ourselves to give him proof of our love. Nothing was nice enough neither big enough for our God.

That is why we would give our life to him. We would bloat the ranks of the religious orders by committing ourselves to a life of austerity, of prayer, of self-giving. We considered ourselves lucky, privileged even to know that path of salvation which had been revealed to us and remained hidden from the nations...That is why we would make it our duty to reveal in our turn that secret to all human beings who had remained in ignorance through the missions that we generously supported.

We were at the stage of survival. That vision of life was at the same time reassuring and difficult. We knew the rules. We knew what to expect. We were the heirs of the joys of heaven inasmuch as we invested ourselves, that we accepted the reality which crushed us and that we would face it with resignation – and – courage. Everything that called into question that way of looking at things, that system..., was wrong.

And then slowly the reason emerged. The industrial and the scientific development, the expansion of cities, the social upheavals made us aware that there were other ways of seeing things, of doing, of thinking, that we could be in some way the masters of our destiny, that maybe it was possible to free ourselves from hard life that tied us to the soil and forced us to suffer its constraints. We opened ourselves to other ways of seeing. Was it true that man was only a powerless being, a wicked individual, a culprit, an instrument of destiny, a toy in the hands of God who does not let him get away with anything?

In fact, we simply discovered that we were all ignoramus. Then we strove to understand and to explain everything. We tried to reconcile everything, making religion and God something more reasonable, more understandable, more human. We rediscovered Jesus as a human being. We made ourselves responsible for our destiny.

The insights of reason and of science, which had always been more or less despised, became suddenly our salvation, and Jesus, a companion of our research and of our journey. He was not anymore the Savior in front of whom we would kneel.

It was spring time for freedom. A wind of liberation unfurled above us. We did not have any owner of ourselves, except ourselves.

That is where we are at the present. Should we go back to where we were? No. Remain where we are at the moment?

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