Traces of Resurrection: The Pattern of Simone Weil’s Mysticism

Stuart Jesson read

Abstract: In her “Letter to a Priest,” Simone Weil makes the following, typically bold, assertion concerning belief in the Resurrection: “Hitler could die and return to life again fifty times, but I should still not look upon him as the Son of God. And if the gospel omitted all mention of Christ’s Resurrection, faith would be easier for me. The Cross by itself suffices me.”1 This statement has often served as an indication that Weil’s version of Christian mysticism has no place for the Resurrection. Throughout the collection of short essays, articles, and notebooks produced at the end of her life Weil reflects frequently, in profound and intriguing ways, on the significance of death, its effect on human thought, and its place in moral and spiritual life. Not only is death “the source of all untruth and of all truth for men,”2 the crucifixion of Christ becomes the center not only of her spirituality but also of her metaphysics; creation, for Weil, is the cross that crucifies God.3 In some of the more extreme formulations scattered through the notebooks, in particular, Weil gives that impression that she sees life as a cosmic mistake that it is the task of spiritual life to rectify, through acceptance of death: “Birth involves us in the original sin, death redeems us from it.”4 Death is the humiliating destiny of all finite creatures, but if one can refuse the various compulsive ways there are of evading the thought of this, and consent to, or even love this necessity, one thereby participates in the process of “decreation,” the eradication of the autonomous self.

Stuart Jesson, “Traces of Resurrection: The Pattern of Simone Weil’s Mysticism,” in T. Cattoi T. & C.M. Moreman, eds, Death, Dying, and Mysticism. Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Mysticism, New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2015), pp. 49-64.