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  • For the Profession of Madame de La Vallière1
  • Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (bio)
    Translated by Christopher O. Blum

Et dixit qui sedebat in throno: Ecce nova facio omnia

RV 21:5


Great shall be the spectacle when the one seated on the throne upon which the universe is established, the one to whom it costs no more to do a thing than to say it because he acts by his word alone, will say at the end of the ages that he makes all things new. In that very instant, all nature shall be changed and a new world will appear for the elect. Yet the change is no less new and no less wonderful when, in order to prepare us for the astounding new things of the world to come, he acts secretly in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, when he changes and renews them, and, stirring them in their depths, breathes into them hitherto unknown desires. Surely, there is nothing more marvelous than changes such as these. What have we seen, and what do we now see? What a condition then, and what a condition now? There is no need for me to speak: the things themselves say enough. [End Page 171]

Here, Madame, is an object worthy of the presence and consideration of so pious a queen. Your Majesty does not come here to bring worldly display into solitude; your humility bids you partake of the abasement of the religious life. It is fitting that, as your own person is such a great part of the world's grandeur, you should at times assist at those ceremonies in which we learn to hold that grandeur for naught. Admire with us, then, these great changes brought about by the hand of God. Nothing remains here of the old form; all is changed without. Within, what happens is still more new. To celebrate this holy renewal, I myself break a silence of many years and make heard a voice that the pulpits no longer remember.

So that all may be new in this pious ceremony, O God, give me once more that new style of the Holy Spirit, which began to make its all-powerful force felt in the mouths of the apostles. Let me preach like a Saint Peter the glory of Jesus Christ crucified; let me make an ungrateful world see the impiety with which it still crucifies him today. Let me crucify the world in its turn and wipe away all traces of worldly glory. Let me entomb it, bury it with Jesus Christ, so that I may reveal that everything in this world is death, and that Jesus Christ alone lives.

My sisters, beg that this grace be given to me. The audience makes the preacher; through his ministers, God gives to those of a holy disposition the teachings they require. Let your prayers, therefore, gain you the discourse that you deserve, and obtain for me the light of the Holy Spirit through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. [Ave Maria]

We should not be curious to know exactly what the marvelous new things of the world to come shall be. God will accomplish them without our help, and we should rest in his power and wisdom. Yet the same is not true of the holy renewals that he brings about in the depths of our hearts. It is written: "I will give you a new heart," and it is also written: "Make yourself a new heart" (Ez 36:26; Ez 18:31). The new heart that is given to us is to be made by ourselves. As we [End Page 172] must agree to it by the assent of our will, it must be the case that this movement can be foreseen by our intellect.

Let us then consider in what this renewal of heart consists and what is the condition from which the Holy Spirit draws us forth. Is there anything as old as self-love? Is there anything more new than to be one's own persecutor? Yet the one who persecutes himself must have seen something that he loves more than himself. And so there are two...


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pp. 171-189
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