Old hatreds of the Church alive and well in Paris

07-02-2023Weekly Reflection

We don't live in a carefree society. Our lives are really part of a merciless struggle against infernal powers, all the more dangerous because they are invisible and all the more powerful because they effectively influence a certain number of people. The Word of God teaches us this through the mouth of Saint Paul: "We do not have to fight (only) against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of this dark world, against the evil spirits that are in the air" (Eph. 6:12).

NOTE: One of the signs of this is where Christ’s Name is attacked with conscious rebellious hatred. The recent beatification of five martyrs of the Commune is a timely reminder of this reality. On Holy Thursday 6 April 1871, Henri Planchat was the first to be imprisoned. Many other faithful Catholics followed. For some, it was the beginning of a real ordeal. One of the revolutionaries' hostages, Archbishop Darboy, summed up the situation for one of his companions in these words: "They don't want to kill us because I'm Archbishop Darboy and you're Mgr Soand-so, but because I'm the Archbishop of Paris and you're one of my priests".

On 22 April, Pope Francis acknowledged that, in the case of at least five of them, the reason for their deaths was their profession of faith in Christ and in the truth of the Catholic Church. In the very heart of Paris, at a time when people are declaring their respect for the freedom of all to selfdetermination, Catholics are being massacred in a manner more barbaric than in the days of the Roman emperors. The expression of this hatred has remained alive. Unshakeable fidelity to Christ therefore continues to arouse head-on opposition. Whether we like it or not, this reality is part of being Christian. Not that the Church likes suffering for suffering's sake: her ideal of life is not dolorous; but she knows that suffering is the means by which the world must be saved. The sacrifice of the Cross reveals this to us and imposes it on us. The truth is that Christ, God made man, consented to die in excruciating suffering so that we might become "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with him" (Rom 8:17). The Church cannot have an absolute repugnance to suffering, because it allows her to show her attachment to the truth of God, who is always ready to support us... (Father Hervé Mercury edited)

Some commentary and background:

The current Archbishop of Paris lamented an attack on Catholics taking part in a procession commemorating the city’s 19th-century martyrs. Archbishop Michel Aupetit deplored May 30 the “anger, contempt and violence” directed at the group of around 300 Catholics, including children and elderly people, taking part in the “March of the Martyrs.” “Last night, here, there was a demonstration of anger, contempt, and violence.” The archbishop was speaking at a Mass marking the 150th anniversary of the Catholic martyrs of the Paris Commune at the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Otages, built in honor of hostages killed on May 26, 1871. The May 29 procession started from the square de la Roquette, where Archbishop Darboy was killed on May 24, 1871, and made its way toward Notre-Dame-des-Otages. As soon as the group left the square, those in the procession were subjected to jeers and whistles, reported the French weekly Famille Chrétienne. A few minutes later, a group of around 10 men physically attacked the procession, tearing down flags and throwing projectiles. A video posted on social media showed black-clad, Antifa demonstrators punching and kicking participants in the procession. Two elderly people were reportedly knocked to the ground, with one later requiring stitches for a head injury. Around 50 demonstrators then blocked the procession near the Church of Notre-Dame de la Croix de Ménilmontant. Organizers asked those taking part in the procession to take refuge in the church, where Paris auxiliary Bishop Denis Jachiet decided that the procession should not proceed to Notre-Dame-des-Otages. “We waited and prayed until the police extracted us,” the event’s organizer told Le Figaro newspaper, adding that mothers and children were “in shock.” The end of the nineteenth century into the twentieth century was characterized in many places by nihilists, socialists, and communists causing death, destruction, and mayhem against the established order. A working definition of nihilism is the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless.

A prominent commentator on Russian nihilism is Fyodor Dostoevsky in his novel called The Demons. It’s worth reading.. An article in the New Criterion described the novel this way: …a band of young nihilists and socialists unleashes murder, riot, and arson in a provincial Russian town. Despite their ugly pranks, scandalous libertinism, and incendiary radicalism, they are until the apocalyptic denouement indulged and flattered by their elders: liberal elites who suppose that proximity to the “new ideas” will get them noticed in the highest social circles of progressivist Petersburg. This suicidal clownishness is characteristic of late modernity since the French Revolution, an epoch in which convulsions of ideological insanity have periodically torn apart physical and political bodies across the globe. The United States has long avoided such fits, but it seems our hour has come round at last. At its sesquicentennial, Dostoevsky’s novel is as fresh and urgent as it was in 1871. The essay goes on to note: “No one understands late-modern liberal oligarchs and their nihilistic children better than Dostoevsky.” A modern Dostoevsky is Alexander Solzhenitsyn and his writings and novels where he describes the horror of Soviet communism.

This horror continues in the communist government of China and its persecutions of Christians and its use of concentration camps. We see the rush of mainstream media, academe, Hollywood, politicians to bow low before Antifa and the whole panoply of so-called wokedestruction, murder, riot and arson now called “the cancel culture” whose cult is frankly destruction. The question is asked what can one feel “as the old liberal elites hoist the banner of today’s young nihilists and socialists—a sordid band of intellectual hacks, political opportunists, virtue signalers, swindlers, sociopaths, and true believers who seem to have stepped directly from the novel’s pages? What is the pathology of groups like Antifa and woke hate-groups, who claim to fight racism by being racist themselves. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Human nature was created in God’s image and likeness and made for God as St. Augustine reminds us: You have made us for yourself, Lord, and we are restless until we rest in you. When there is the rejection of God, His Christ, and true religion, there will be pseudo-religious substitutes based solely on the things of this world and/or an imagined god created by the minds of human beings, the worship of self. This “god” will always do their bidding. The list of these religion-substitutes can be quite long and can contain some good things but they cannot substitute for God. Political ideologies, the environment, new age, the occult, mediums, seers, fortune-tellers, Satanism etc. function as religion-substitutes along with money, fame, and power.

Emile Cammaerts is the author of a famous quotation (often mistakenly attributed to G. K. Chesterton) in his study on Chesterton:” When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They then become capable of believing in anything” (emphasis added) This desire to please the world and adapt to the latest political and social doctrines has infected the Church and is part of a real crisis of faith which has led to an anti-church a metastasizing cancer within the body of the Church leading to heresy and apostasy. A sad example of this is the Church in Germany where many are in heresy and in de facto schism rejecting foundational teachings of the Catholic Church. This exists in the U.S. where there is a rejection of the Church’s teachings on human sexuality, family, gender, and the natural order established by God seeking to subordinate the Church to the latest canons of political correctness, ever increasing and ever changing.