A turning point, an illumination, 10 August, 1969, Tübingen, Germany.
On the anniversary of my Confirmation at St Joseph’s Elsternwick
Hear what the Lord has done for me, how he has shown me his face.
For, one night, impelled by a fierce, heady Spirit I strove upwards, arching my whole body to its full height, Godwards, to be with him, wholly with him, free from all contamination of the world and from dissipation, pure to God, with God, but could not reach him.
The following day, after lamenting the failure of a life’s attempt, I sat in the garden of the church at Tubingen, in the sun beneath the plane trees, wondering how I could attain to that presence of God I had so much longed for, and for so many years, when it dawned upon me, it was given me to know that I must see him not on Mount Sinai but among the people, Emmanuel.
And in that moment, I knew how to find my Lord: it was in a world transfigured, among men, in justice and peace
Such was the gift of God and of Jean-Marc, the communist teacher at the École normale d’instituteurs, St. Cyr-sur-Loire.
And then in Rome, as I reflected once again on all this, walking down a street at night, I knew that I was with Christ. No more need now to arch up towards God. By conceiving love, I learned to find him, by turning ‘away’ from God to men I found God. And I lived with him in equality and intimate familiarity. And since then I have never been without him. Although things were dark at times and old yearnings overtook me.