jeudi, avril 30, 2009

A place to visit with family if you go to France

"On paper, Philippe de Villiers is an unlikely populist. A strict Catholic and father of seven, he is president of the regional council of the Vendée, the heartland of French royalism. Yet, more than anyone else, he knows how to sell a conservative message in a modern way.
His first passion is the extraordinary theme park that he has created in a village called Puy-du-Fou. It tells the story of the Vendée, dwelling on the agony of the Revolutionary repressions, when priests were hunted down and villages razed.
It is, without being too blatant, a hymn to an older, seemlier France. And it is staggeringly popular, attracting some 20,000 visitors a day in the summer. Incredibly, it is staffed by volunteers, its profits going to local charities.
Puy-du-Fou is thus a standing affront to France's cultural establishment: it is politically conservative, popular and, worst of all, it does not take a penny in subsidy."
Daniel Hanman, in
La Cinéscénie

2006 show: "Mousquetaire de Richelieu"

Visit the website:

dimanche, avril 26, 2009

Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia

"I, SONNY PERDUE, Governor of the State of Georgia, do hereby proclaim April 2009 as CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH and April 26, 2009, as CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL DAY in Georgia and encourage our citizens to observe this occasion with appropriate ceremonies. In witness thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the Executive Department to be affixed this 11th day of December in the year of our Lord two thousand eight"

The marching armies of the past
Along our Southern plains,
Are sleeping now in quiet rest
Beneath the Southern rains.
The bugle call is now in vain
To rouse them from their bed;
To arms they'll never march again--
They are sleeping with the dead.

No more will Shiloh's plains be stained
With blood our heroes shed,
Nor Chancellorsville resound again
To our noble warriors' tread.
For them no more shall reveille
Sound at the break of dawn,
But may their sleep peaceful be
Till God's great judgment morn.

We bow our heads in solemn prayer
For those who wore the gray,
And clasp again their unseen hands
On our Memorial Day.
(Unknown writer)

samedi, avril 18, 2009

Spiritual mirage

By Fénelon

Almost all who aim at serving God do so more or less for their own sake. They want to win, not to lose. They want to be comforted, not to suffer. They want to possess, not to be deprived. They want to increase, not to diminish. Yet all the while our whole interior progress consists in losing, sacrificing, decreasing, humbling, and stripping self even of God’s own gifts, so as to be more completely his. We are often like an invalid who feels his pulse fifty times in the day, and wants the doctor to be perpetually ordering some fresh treatment, or telling him how much better he is.
Some people treat their spiritual director or pastor in this way. They move round and round in a petty circle of easy virtues, never stepping beyond it heartily and generously, while they expect the director (like the physician) to soothe, comfort, encourage, and foster perfectionism, only ordering little sedative treatments that drop into mere habit and routine. As soon as they are deprived of conscious grace – grace that they can feel inwardly, grace that is like the milk of babes – such people fancy that all is lost. But this is a plain proof that they cling too much to the means and overlook the end, and that self is their main object.
Privations are the food of strong minds; they invigorate the soul, take it out to itself, and offer it as a living sacrifice to God. But weak people are in despair at the first touch of privation. They fancy that all their work is being overthrown, just when it is really beginning to be solidly fixed and thoroughly purified. They are willing to let God do what He will with them, provided always it be something great and perfect. But they have no notion of being cast down and crushed, or of being offered as a sacrifice to be consumed in the divine flames. They seek to live by pure faith, yet want to retain all their worldly wisdom, to be as children, yet great at their own eyes. But what a spiritual mirage this is!

François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon

vendredi, avril 17, 2009

The Wrath of God

"What joy, what ecstasy it is to see our Father living and overflowing with love for us, with tenderness, compassion – all the right emotions, even anger! Yes, we love Him to take us as seriously in our transgressions as in our attempts to do good. Those fools who talk about a cruel God are imbeciles. He is a jealous God, yes, as jealous as you please, but we love Him that way!"

Paul Claudel

mercredi, avril 08, 2009

dimanche, avril 05, 2009

Being a friend of the Cross

On Good Friday, we are going to ‘adore’ the Cross of Our Lord. The word seems too strong; it even seems to be heterodox as adoration is exclusively due to God. It may even have a whiff of paganism, and it would be the case without the understanding of the notion of analogy or rather of equivocality. In the strict sense adoration is the supreme act of religion offered to God by which we acknowledge His dominion over the whole creation and our submission to Him. In a looser sense, the reverence shown to any person or object possessing, inherently or by association, a sacred character or a high degree of moral excellence. (Catholic Encyclopedia)

The Cross of Jesus possesses in a highest degree the character of moral excellence as it is the instrument chosen by God to redeem us. Christ has desired to embrace it, to be nailed on it, to be one with it, so that we can be saved. It is hard to understand. The Cross is unto the Jews a stumbling block and unto the Gentiles foolishness (1 Co 1,23). In fact, there is only one way of understanding the Cross. Neither the Law or reason allow us to comprehend it. Speaking of Saint Paul, the Holy Father says that the "Gospel of grace" thus became for him the only way of understanding the Cross, not only the criterion of his new existence but also his response to those who questioned him.[1] What is true for Saint Paul is true for each one of us. I cannot understand the Cross of Jesus if I do not receive and accept in my life the “Gospel of Grace.” And if I do not understand the message of the Cross, how can I understand my life?
Our Lord has indeed performed a revolution when He incarnated. The idea that God can assume a created nature shattered the way of thinking of the Jews as well as of the Gentiles. Yet, for God it is not enough. The Man-God would suffer and die as a criminal, as the least of men, the rubbish of the society of men. The scandal is absolute! For those who, like the Greeks, see perfection in the spirit, in pure thought, it was already unacceptable that God should become man, immersing himself in all the limitations of space and time. Then for them it was definitely inconceivable to believe that a God could end on a Cross! And we see that this Greek logic is also the common logic of our time.[2]

Not only does the Cross shatter the intelligence of man, but it challenges him. Once he has bowed his intellect in front of the Divine Mystery, he still has to render himself and offer his own life. The Cross is not only a call to my reason, but is the principle of the interior renovation of my whole person. I may acknowledge the mystery of the Cross, because I am a faithful Catholic who believes, yet it does not necessarily mean that I have embraced it. Faith is not Charity! Believing in the mystery of the Passion of our Lord is one thing. Loving the Cross is another thing.

Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort echoes this reality when he says: if I am captivated by its splendour, I am no less frightened by its responsibility, for it is a title (friend of the Cross) that embraces difficult and inescapable obligations, summed up in the words of the Holy Spirit, “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people set apart.”[3] This is a verse from the Scriptures that is often used to laud the People of God. The laity, by a kind of mysterious inspiration insufflated by a mysterious spirit of the Council, has suddenly discovered that it is a royal priesthood; and since we live in a time of demands and claims, the People of God has come to fight for its rights, sometimes against a certain “old and obsolete ecclesiastical institution” incarnated by the authoritarian power that dwells in the Vatican, far from the reality of the modern world. In fact, we simply witness the class war within the Church.

But being a chosen people and a royal priesthood is not a license to enter and to jiggle into the sanctuaries. It is first a responsibility as Saint Louis de Montfort states. It is the practical acceptance of the Cross in my daily life!

A Friend of the Cross is one chosen by God, from among thousands who live only according to their reason and senses, to be wholly divine, raised above mere reason and completely opposed to material things, living in the light of pure faith, and inspired by a deep love of the Cross.
A Friend of the Cross is an all-powerful king, a champion who triumphs over the devil, the world and the flesh in their three-fold concupiscence. He crushes the pride of Satan by his love of humiliations; he overcomes the greed of the world by his love of poverty; he retrains the sensuality of the flesh by his love of suffering.
A Friend of the Cross is one who is holy and set apart from the things that are visible, for his heart is raised above all that is transient and perishable, and his homeland is in heaven; he travels through this world like a visitor and a pilgrim, and, far from setting his heart on it, he looks on it with indifference and tramples it underfoot with contempt.
A Friend of the Cross is a glorious trophy gained by the crucified Christ on Calvary, in union with his holy Mother. He is a Benoni or Benjamin, a child of sorrow and of the right hand, conceived in the suffering heart of Jesus, born from his pierced side, and baptised in his blood. True to his origin, his life embraces the cross, and death to the world, the flesh, and sin, so as to live here below a life hidden with Christ in God.
In short, a perfect Friend of the Cross is a true Christ-bearer, or rather another Christ, so that he can truly say, "I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me."

Being another Christ! This is the vocation I have received the day of my Baptism. I shall be another Christ only when I shall totally surrender myself to the will of God. This is the way of the Cross; the way of my Cross. May Our Lady of sorrows keep me safe on this way!

Father Laurent Demets, FSSP (Upon this Rock, April 2009)

[1] General audience, October 29th 2008
[2] General audience, October 29th 2008.
[3] Letter to the Friends of the Cross.

jeudi, avril 02, 2009

Sermon for the 5th Sunday of Lent....

(.. that many read or hear, but only a few - unfortunatelly - put into practice, because it is hard to change a habit of life!)
During the retreat that we had this past week, many of you told me: "Father, it is something new for me, or I have never thought about that before. I realize that I am not the saint I wanted to be." The reason is that a retreat is a meeting with Our Lord, a time when you can really look at Him and listen to Him, without the distractions of the world. When you take the time to look at Him and to listen to Him, then He can reveal to you who you are. This is what we need: to know who we are.

The contemporaries of Christ had the opportunity to meet Him face to face. They have certainly felt in the deepest of their soul the piercing gaze of the Lord who knows all about you, about your life, about your thoughts, your feelings, and who knows all your sins, especially those who remain hidden in a dark corner of your soul. Realizing who they truly were, then they fell on their knees and, as Peter did, confessed their sinfulness: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. What a grace! It is a grace to understand that you are a sinful man. It is a grace to fall on your knees and to humble yourself. It is a grace to cry for your sins and to shed tears of repentance.
Saint Ignatius had this grace in his life and he wants to share it with us. As the contemporaries of Our Lord, we can also meet Him and look in His eyes. We can let Him look in ours. It is precisely what we do in a retreat, especially with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.
They are a conquest: a conquest over yourself as the Saint put it: to conquer oneself and regulate one’s life. But in order to conquest yourself, you first have to know yourself. And that is not so common. Saint Ignatius knows this fact and this is why he wants us to ask often God the grace to know ourselves well. Then, once we begin to understand who we are, we can ask for what we need. For example, it will be to ask shame and confusion at myself. It is not the kind of petitions we usually pray for, isn’t it? We usually ask God for a success for an exam, a work or whatever. We pray for the conversion of someone or his healing if he is sick. We pray for the Church, the souls in purgatory and many other intentions and all of these prayers are good. It is rare to pray and to ask for shame, humiliation, or confusion. The reason is that we do not know ourselves and consequently we do not know what we really need for our souls. Strange as it may seem, Cardinal Newman says, multitudes called Christians go through life with no effort to obtain a correct knowledge of themselves. They are contented with general and vague impressions concerning their real state; and if they have more than this, it is merely such accidental information about themselves as the events of life force upon them. But exact systematic knowledge they have none, and do not aim at it.

It is certainly very difficult to know yourself very well. All the Doctors and Saints agree on this matter. But difficult does not mean impossible. It means that you have to make some efforts. It means that you have to perform some particular and proper acts that allow you to know yourself.

Self-knowledge does not come as a matter of course, Cardinal Newman continues. It implies an effort and a work. The very effort of steadily reflecting, is itself painful to many men; not to speak of the difficulty of reflecting correctly. To ask ourselves why do this or that, to take account of the principles which govern us, and see whether we act for conscience’ sake or from some lower inducement, is painful.

Then we have to overcome the self-esteem that we have. Because of certain good actions we do, we think that we are not so bad. Remember the danger of being a Pharisee we were talking about last week. After all, I go to Mass every Sunday; I even go to Mass during the week; I am not a criminal; I am not a thief; I do not have any big sins to confess etc… Then you end by thinking with a false air of humility that you are certainly not perfect but that you are finally not too bad. This way of thinking is very dangerous and has terrible consequences. One of them is a judgmental mind toward others and instead of displaying compassion you just show critics and judgments. You are very good at detecting the faults of your neighbor while you even do not see your own faults. Cardinal Newman says again that if the truth were known to us, we should find we had nothing but debts, and those greater than we can conceive, and ever increasing.

We also have to consider the force of habit that is a serious obstacle to self-knowledge. We all have our habits. Some are good, many are wrong. For that reason we have to reform ourselves regularly. There is a common idea that wisdom comes with time and that the older you are, the wiser and better you are. It is not always true. In fact it is true only if you have the good habit of reforming yourselves. If you do not do this at the time or your young age, it will become more and more difficult to do it as you get older. The effects of original sin do not naturally fade with time and they even can be worst. If you have lived with illusion about yourself during the time you were younger and more active in the world, there is no reason that you will suddenly become better. It is rather the opposite that is true. You get accustomed to your own way of thinking, to your own way of living and it is just become harder and harder to reform yourself. Pride is simply the cancer of the soul and, unless you use the proper treatment to heal it, it continues to develop.

Many things are against us, Cardinal Newman concludes. This is plain. Yet is not our future prize worth a struggle? Is it not worth present discomfort and pain to accomplish an escape from the fire that never shall be quenched? Can we endure the thought of going down to the grave with a load of sins on our head unknown and unrepented of? Can we content ourselves with such an unreal faith in Christ, as in no sufficient measure includes self-abasement, or thankfulness, or the desire or effort to be holy? For how can we feel our need of His help, or our dependence on Him, or the nature of His gift to us, unless we know ourselves? How can we in any sense be said to have that “mind of Christ” to which the Apostle exhorts us, if we cannot follow Him to the height above, or the depth beneath; if we do not in some measure discern the cause and meaning of His sorrows, but regard the world, and man, and the system of Providence, in a light different from that which His words and acts supply? If you receive revealed truths merely through the eyes and ears, you believe words, not things; you deceive yourselves. You may conceive yourselves sound in faith, but you know nothing in any true way. Without self-knowledge you have no root in yourselves personally.

Yes, dear brethren, unless we have a true faith, we are in danger. And as Cardinal Newman just said, we ought to have faith not only in the words – the creed – but also in the realities that are signified by the words. This includes self-knowledge. We also know that faith without the works is useless. Faith must be followed by obedience, not only in theory but in the cursus of our daily life. It means obedience to the teaching of God and to the teaching of the Church. It means obedience to our natural and legitimate superiors. It means obedience and docility to the teaching and the admonestations of a guide. As we have already seen, this is the admonition of admonitions. This is also a powerful means of acquiring self-knowledge. For that, you have to open your soul to your spiritual director. It is certainly a most difficult thing to do, but it is your safeguard against self-illusion.
Dear Brethren, we have tried to consider during this Lenten Season, what are the necessary means of sanctification we ought to use in ordre to progress in spiritual life. Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Cardinal Newman have been our guides in this meditation. We know now what we have to do in order to do the will of God, that is our sanctification. God want me to be holy; Do I?
May our Blessed Mother give us the desire of holiness.