Simone Weil (pronounced “Vay”)
Born in Paris, she died in Kent, England (1909-1943) during World War II---she died of tuberculosis and starvation, the starvation was self-inflicted as people were dying in her beloved France from starvation under the Nazi occupation of France and so she ate little in solidarity with them. She died as she lived, filled with commitment to the truth, to justice, to understanding the place of God in her life and in the world. She was born a Jew yet felt herself to be a Christian in part due to her love of St. Francis. She became a teacher and was fired when she took the side of unemployed workers. She went to Spain to fight on the side of right and justice during their civil war. In short, she was a risk taker, a person unwilling to just live and let live, a concerned citizen of the world willing to risk all to help others. The following quotes capture some of the vigor and rigor of her feelings and thoughts:
As soon as I reached adolescence, I saw the problem of God as a problem the data of which could not be obtained here below, and I decided that the only way of being sure not to reach a wrong solution, which seemed to me the greatest possible evil, was to leave it alone. So I left it alone. I neither affirmed nor denied anything. It seemed to me useless to solve the problem, for I thought that, being in this world, our business was to adopt the best attitude with regard to the problems of this world, and that such an attitude did not depend upon the solution of the problem of God.
Don’t misunderstand her, she is not rejecting God. Quite the opposite. She is not dealing with the problem. Instead she is setting out to live a life consistent with Christian principles within the shadow of God. For Simone Weil it is more important what you do than whether God exists or not.
From my earliest childhood I always had the Christian idea of love for one’s neighbor, to which I gave the name of justice---a name it bears in many passages of the gospel and which is so beautiful.
Above all else, like in the teachings of the Buddha, Simone Weil is concerned about truth.
Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.
What an interesting way of praising the value of truth. Simone believes that Christ wants us to pursue truth at any cost. And Christ doesn’t worry that you prefer truth because our God is an omniscient God, and all knowing God, that sees that a quest for truth leads back to Him. Simone Weil makes for a wonderful role model---but not an easy one to follow! She was, like St. Francis, willing to give up anything and everything for her commitment to justice, her commitment to God as she saw and felt God in the depth of her immortal soul.
Every time I think of the crucifixion of Christ I commit the sin of envy.