The meditation is divided into fifteen sublime strophes, reminiscent of the solemn oratorios of a contemporary of Pascal's, the great composer Marc Antoine Charpentier. In the first strophe Pascal begs God not to let him react to his illness like a pagan, but to see in his plight a sign of God's goodness. In the second strophe Pascal confesses that when he was healthy he had used his energy for secular interests; his present sickness must therefore be turned to the divine. The third strophe echoes with antiphonal lamentations of '0 Dieu'- '0 God' - recalling the Last Judgment. Pascal prays to see his sickness as a prefiguration of the hour of death, when he will be separated from all earthly things and set naked before God. The fifth strophe argues that the Church and the Sacraments, even the Crucifixion, are powerless to convert him without God's grace. 'You alone
were able to create my soul: you alone can create it again. You alone were able to form your image in it: you alone can re-form it and reimprint your defaced portrait, Jesus Christ my Savior, which is your image and the sign of your substance.' The next few strophes develop, contrapuntally, the themes of beatitude, patience, penitence, and repentance. Pascal asks God 'to re-form my corrupted reason, and to make my feelings conform to yours.' The Incarnation and Passion are invoked to interpret his own physical sufferings. In strophe r r Pascal prays that he will be able to bear his sufferings as a Christian, and will not be deprived of the Holy Spirit, 'for that is the curse of the pagans and the Jews.' In his typically paradoxical way Pascal prays for both continuing suffering and divine consolation. Strophe r 3 develops the theme of total submission to God's will. 'Lord, I know that I know only one thing: that it is good to follow you, and that it is bad to offend you.' The final strophe, a supplication to the second person of the Trinity, concludes like a paean played on an organ with full stops. A new self-image of Pascal is revealed, that of the total penitent. The incarnate oxymoron - the sinner, the saved, the finite, the infinite, the worldling, and the recluse - has found his psychic resolution.