Blaise Pascal’s “Night of Fire”



In the Year of Grace 1654,

Monday, the 23rd of November

Feast of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr,

and others in the Martyrology.

Vigil of St. Chrysogonus, Martyr, and others.

From about half past ten in the evening

until about half past twelve,


God of Abraham,

God of Isaac,

God of Jacob

Not of the philosophers and scholars.

Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.

God of Jesus-Christ,

Deum meum et Deum vestrum.

(“My God and Your God,” John 20:17)

” Your God will be my God ”

Forgetfulness of the world and of everything,

except God.

He is to be found only by the ways

taught in the Gospel.

Greatness of the human soul.

“Righteous Father, the world has not known Thee,

but I have known Thee.

Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of Joy,

I have separated myself from Him

Dereliquerunt me fontem aquae vivae

(They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters,” Jer. 2:13)

” My God, wilt Thou leave me? ”

Let me not be separated from him eternally .

This is the eternal life,

that they might know Thee,

the only true God,

and the one whom Thou has sent, Jesus Christ ”



I have separated  myself from Him:

I have fled from Him, denied Him, crucified Him.

Let me never be separated from Him.

We keep hold of Him only by the ways

taught in the Gospel.

Renunciation. total and sweet

Submission. total and sweet

Total submission to Jesus-Christ

and to my director

Eternally in joy

for a day’s training on earth.

Non obliviscar sermones tuos.

(“I will not forget Thy words,” Psalm 118:16)


From Conversions, Hugh T. Kerr and John M. Mulder

On the night of November 23, 1654, Pascal met his Seeker in dramatic encounter, and with him he found wholeness. Evidence of his great night of revelation was discovered quite by accident. A servant going through his effects after his death felt a lump in the lining of his coat. Investigating, he found written on a parchment and also copied on a piece of worn but carefully preserved paper the record in Pascal’s own handwriting of the central, crucial event of his life. In the true scientific spirit of submission to the facts, the elements and facets of that divine visitation were carefully logged. It is apparent that he had been reading the Scriptures, probably the passage describing God’s appearance to Moses in the burning bush, and it was through this Scripture that he too met God. For two hours the FIRE of God’s holiness and love enveloped him. All else was forgotten – science, mathematics, the world of man and affairs, the achievements of the mind – in the intense realism of this personal meeting with the living God. No longer was God a carefully codified theological dogma, no longer a vague and shadowy intuition just beyond his grasp; he was a thrilling, enrapturing Presence, a burning FIRE. (Pascal’s Recovery of Man’s Wholeness, Albert N. Wells, pp. 94-95)

Excerpts from Pensees

277 The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know…

278 It is the heart which experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by reason.

279 Faith is a gift of God; do not believe that we said it was a gift of reasoning…

282 Therefore, those to whom God has imparted religion by intuition are very fortunate, and justly convinced. But to those who do not have it, we can give it only by reasoning, waiting for God to give them spiritual insight, without which faith is only human, and useless for salvation.

286 They feel that a God has made them; they desire only to love God; they desire to hate themselves only. They feel that they have no strength in themselves; that they are incapable of coming to God; and that if God does not come to them. they can have no communion with Him. And they hear our religion and say that men must love God only, and hate self only; but that all being corrupt and unworthy of God, God made Himself man to unite Himself to us. No more is required to persuade men who have this disposition in their heart, and who have this knowledge of their duty and their inefficiency.

194 …(Christianity) says that men are in darkness and estranged from God, that He has hidden Himself from their knowledge,…that God has set up in the Church visible signs to make himself known to those who should seek Him sincerely, and that He has nevertheless so disguised them that He will only be perceived by those who seek Him with all their heart…

…there are two kinds of people one can call reasonable; those who serve God with all their heart because they know Him, and those who seek Him with all their heart because they do not know Him.

At the end of his introduction to an edition of the Pensees, T. S. Eliot wrote,

“I can think of no Christian writer, not Newman even, more to be commended than Pascal to those who doubt, but who have the mind to conceive, and the sensibility to feel, the disorder, the futility, the meaninglessness, the mystery of life and suffering, and who can only find peace through a satisfaction of the whole being.”

Comments, questions, are always welcome!

BMC @ Manifest propensity, 2013

2 thoughts on “Blaise Pascal’s “Night of Fire”

  1. lilyboat says:

    Pascal for me is one of the most balanced thinkers, who not only knew the Truth, but experienced the Truth. He got me when he came up with the wonderful depiction of man as “thinking reed”.

  2. Bryan says:

    Thanks for stopping by! I agree that Pascal is one of the most balanced thinkers because he knew the infinite weight of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in comparison to the empty weight of the “God of the philosophers”. He knew that seeking philosophical understanding of God and creation, by “reason alone,” is destined to fail, because sinful man is essentially un-reasonable. I am glad you know of Pascal and appreciate how he learned to submit his great intellect to God to humbly serve Him.

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