God was number one for 17th-century mathematician

Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican June 3, 2020. During the audience, the pope prayed for George Floyd and said, "We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism." (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See POPE-US-FLOYD and POPE-AUDIENCE-ABRAHAM June 3,2020.

Pope Francis has pointed to an experience of 17th-century mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal as an important testimony of how one can sense God’s presence in prayer. Source: CNA.

The Pope called a small handwritten note that was discovered sewn into Pascal’s coat at the time of his death “one of the most original texts in the history of spirituality.”

“It begins thus,” Pope Francis said. “‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob not of the philosophers and of the learned. Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ’.”

Pope Francis said yesterday that in these lines from Pascal’s “Memorial,” the philosopher “expresses not an intellectual reflection that a wise man like him could conceive of God, but the living, experienced sense of his presence.”

“Pascal even notes the precise moment in which he felt that reality, having finally met it: on the evening of November 23, 1654,” Pope Francis said.

The experience of Pascal, who was known in his time as a mathematician and a scientist, on that night in 1654 led him to more fervently practice his Catholic faith with asceticism and written apologetics.

For Pascal, Pope Francis said, God is not an abstract cosmic concept: “No, he is the God of a person, of a call, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, the God who is certainty, who is feeling, who is joy.”

“The God of Abraham becomes ‘my God,’ the God of my personal history, who guides my steps, who does not abandon me; the God of my days, the companion of my adventures,” the Pope said.

He said that Abraham was so familiar with God that he was capable of arguing with him, while remaining faithful.

“I wonder and I ask you: do we have this experience of God?” the Pope asked in his weekly catechesis offered via livestream.

“‘My God,’ the God who accompanies me, the God of my personal history, the God who guides my steps, who does not abandon me, the God of my days. Do we have this experience? Let’s think about it,” he said.


Pope Francis on what we can learn about prayer from Blaise Pascal (CNA

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