What Grace Cannot Prevent

The spirit of the Gospels has not been handed down in a pure state from one Christian generation to the next. To undergo suffering and death joyfully was from the very beginning considered a sign of grace in the Christian martyrs—but grace cannot do more for a human being than it could for Christ.

Those who believe that God himself, once he became a man, could not face the harshness of destiny without a long tremor of anguish, should understand that those who give the impression of having risen to a higher plane, who seem superior to ordinary human misery, are those who resort to the aids of illusion, exaltation, and fanaticism to conceal the harshness of destiny from their own eyes.

The person who does not wear the armor of the lie cannot experience force without being touched by it to the very soul. Grace can prevent this touch from corrupting him, but it cannot spare him the wound. Having forgotten this all too well, Christian tradition only rarely recovers that simplicity that renders so poignant every sentence in the story of the Passion.

— Simone Weil, from “The Iliad: or the Poem of Force”  <link>