Excerpt from “The Suspended Vocation”

C’est l’affaire de Dieu. Tous ont été appelés—ils n’ont pas tous reçu les mêmes dons. Chez Jérôme le don d’intelligence, contaminé par l’indéracinable orgueil, est devenu une simulation de la piété. C’est que la gourmandise du vieil homme, chez lui comme chez cet illuminé de La Montagne, savoure les mystères au lieu que l’intelligence les contemple et s’en réjouisse. Certes, la gourmandise et son besoin de saveur ne sont qu’une forme dégradée de l’appétit de Dieu ; il faut donc que le besoin de savourer soit naturellement satisfait, pour que l’appétit soit pur, il faut que Jérôme consente à s’humilier en revenant aux conditions d’abord naturelles de l’existence.

This is God’s business. We all may have been called—but not all have received the same gifts. In Jérôme, the gift of intelligence, contaminated by an ineradicable pride, has been warped into a simulation of piety. In this state, it’s in danger of becoming something more akin to a decrepit debauchee’s gluttony for sheer sensation—as we see in that old eccentric La Montaigne, wanting to roll God’s mysteries around in his mouth merely to savor their flavor!—whereas an uncorrupted intelligence knows how to content itself with contemplating and finding joy in them. Granted, even this sort of spiritual gluttony and its lust for new and exciting flavors are a degraded form of the appetite for God—but we must find a way to satisfy the desire according to nature, not in violation of it. For his appetites to be purified, Jérôme must consent to humble himself by returning to the natural, original conditions of his existence.

Sometimes in this translation, the English turned out to be longer than the French and hence an exception to the rule.