“A single piece of bread
given to a hungry person
is enough to save a soul
— if it is given in the right way.”
Simone Weil, French philosopher, died of tuberculosis in England on August 24, 1943. Her life was one of solidarity with workers, with the poor, and with those suffering during the Second World War. As Robert Ellsberg writes, “Weil’s life was marked by many instances of her impulse to sacrifice and to share the sufferings of others.”
Though she was deeply moved by the Catholic faith she kept herself, to the end of her life, on the threshold of the Church. She was in some sense a mystic at the church’s doorstep.
The Need for Roots is a book that I first read in the early 1970s that exerted a deep influence on my thought. Her identification with the poor and with the working class, as well as her mystic bent, show her as a woman searching to God.
In 1938, spending Holy Week at the Benedictine monastery of Solesmes, France, she was moved while praying the poem “Love” by George Herbert. You can find that poem at my March 1, 2011 entry here.