A dozen writers testify to the three days and three nights they spent in the abbey of Lagrasse

9:00 a.m., December 16, 2021

Ah if I were a man… “We would not be captain of a green and white boat like in the song of Diane Tell, but we would be invited, us too, poor woman, to spend Three days and three nights confined at the very heart of the space reserved for the canons, “in enclosure”, according to consecrated terminology, with the Augustinians of the abbey of Lagrasse, in the Corbières, south of Narbonne.

This is what were invited, in turn, the dozen writers who testify in a disturbing book making the words of people of faith heard as men of doubt: the agnostics Pascal Bruckner and Jean-Paul Enthoven, who “another kind of complicity with transcendence” – the exquisite expression is signed Enthoven; the desperate atheist Boualem Sansal, who confides that The Confessions of Saint Augustine, on which our canons in the white habit have chosen to regulate their steps, were the cause of the “loss” of his brother: first wanting to become a Christian like the Bishop of Hippo, he ended up throwing himself into the arms of Jehovah’s Witnesses and his family never saw him again: “Desperate atheists like me are deep down great believers, at least stubborn seekers of the sacred and the truth.

Do not believe that this is a collection of witticisms from writers who like to titillate the idea of ​​God

They live for a long time and with passion the religions and philosophies which they question during their life. But from failure to disappointment, they fall back into atheism as a solution of waiting or as a definitive achievement when their despair reaches the breaking point “, attests Sansal; Sylvain Tesson, who has the religion of malice:” We gains a lot from receiving from a priest the sign of a cross on his forehead, even if it is a forehead streaked with disbelieving thoughts, a bone box full of erotic memories “; Jean-Marie Rouart who admits that the choice” the most difficult to understand, it is this arid path of abstinence “; Franz-Olivier Giesbert who wants to believe that” Christianity can still raise its head and wake up our tired consciences “; Frédéric Beigbeder who” seeks a sign “:” A stain on the stone would be like an SMS from God. Why don’t You guide me, Lord? Without You I feel like a decapitated duck in the barnyard of life. Maybe I should have cut that sentence out, but it amuses me a lot. “

Read also – “The Devoted”: Viet Thanh Nguyen gives a follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize

But do not believe that this work is a collection of witticisms from good writers who like to titillate the idea of ​​God. It is, for each of them, the opportunity – missed or seized – of a meeting with oneself: on hearing “God alone is enough”, Beigbeder… cried! “The hypothetical heaven does not help me live, but the principles of the Church do. Share, welcome, help. Love. Keep calm. Silence and Gregorian chants. Accept to be overtaken by higher than Self. Genuflection cures pretension, ”he writes with a seriousness that suits him well, contrary to what he thinks.

“I grew up in the forced indiscipline of my parents. It is possible that I fantasized about a rigorous life, with benchmarks, values, prohibitions and strict schedules.” We learn that his stay at the Abbey of Lagrasse is his third retreat. The first dates from 1978, before its confirmation! “What this first retreat taught me at the age of twelve is that writing accelerates the passage of time, helps to think, takes you to unforeseen areas. By filling my notebook, I explored my skull”, relates with the same seriousness which is his new genre (time to write these pages) “the bad boy of French letters” – such is the invisible calling card that he likes to brandish in all circumstances.

Beigbeder considers that they “live in a spelling error”

In this text, hay of ecstasy, vodka or cocaine. Long live the grace of Lagrasse! Beigbeder moreover nicely considers that they “live in a spelling error: why not assume to live in La Grâce en deux mots?”

Even in a single word, Lagrasse touched the author of The man who cries with laughter : “With the monks, I am so easily influenced that he pushes a hood over my back. Sing me vespers in Gregorian and I kneel; the fervor is contagious. In three days, I return to the Grand Hotel – Love with zizis drawn on the carpet and I become an erotomaniac again. When you don’t have a spine, I imagine that the soul walks alternately between the heart and the cock. This sentence could be Bossuet 2.0. ” In any case, she is the true Beigbeder. Moving. Yes, sorry dear Frédéric Beigbeder, we know it’s an insult …

Simon Liberati, whose “all the books without exception” are only “the words of [s]es sins “- it is he who says it -, he succeeded in moving… Father Abbot Emmanuel-Marie Le Fébure du Bus. In his afterword, the latter mentions only one of the writers’ testimonies: that of the author of Demons. And it is not because the canons have all read this novel written in ink of debauchery – confidence of Jean-Paul Enthoven. No, it is because the way in which Liberati recounts his first night in Lagrasse, “the night of the Corbières”, bottle of whiskey by his bedside, made the Father Abbot the effect of a “dialogue with his deep heart” , “an overwhelming encounter in silence, beyond words and light”.

Seeker of the absolute, this is the most spiritual definition of the writer

Judge for yourself: Liberati came out of his cell and found himself in the podium of the church, on the wooden bench, in the semi-darkness. “It was the first time I had stood in a church in the low hours of the night, when I wake up in anguish and remorse. […] It is at this time that the demon has always suggested that I hang myself without ever getting tired. “He who says that he no longer really believes in the eternal law asks himself:” What is my moral law? I do not know.”

Which refers to these heartbreaking pages of Confessions quoted by Thibault de Montaigu in another chapter of the book: “I did not arrive, and I did not reach, and I did not hold anything; hesitating to die to death, to live to life, I rather dominated myself by evil, that childhood companion. ” And Thibault de Montaigu to ask: “Who, tortured by the enigma of God, does not recognize himself in these words? Augustine illustrates with genius the spiritual procrastination with which any seeker of the absolute is confronted. And the moment at last when the darkness recedes. dissipate to make room for blinding clarity. ” Seeker of the absolute, this is the most spiritual definition of the writer.

Three days and three nights – The great journey of writers to Lagrasse Abbey, collective, Fayard-Julliard, 360 pages, 23 euros.

We wish to say thanks to the writer of this write-up for this remarkable material

A dozen writers testify to the three days and three nights they spent in the abbey of Lagrasse