Posted by: fvbcdm | July 10, 2017

Feast of Saints Antony and Theodosius Pechersky (10 Jul 2017)

Just a few days ago, we celebrated the Fourth of July—our national independence day.  Just a few days hence, the people of France and of French heritage throughout the world will celebrate their national independence day on July 14th, which is Bastille Day.  It was on that date in 1789 that the French, inspired by the American Revolution, in which they had helped the Americans considerably, rose up against the autocratic regime of the Bourbon kings of France, stormed the royal prison of the Bastille in Paris, and set into motion a tragic series of events.

First, there was the chaos of the Reign of Terror, which sent the king and queen and many nobles, aristocrats, clergy, religious, and Catholic laity to the guillotines all over France.  Then when France was in a state of total anarchy, a young military officer by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte seized the reins of government and eventually made himself an emperor far more autocratic than even the famous Louis XIV had ever been.  Napoleon embroiled France in wars all over Europe.

We don’t have time to review all the subsequent history of the nation, but there was no real democracy until 1870, when the last emperor was chased off the throne and representative government was established.  Even after that, socialist forces took over the government and persecuted the Church, hoping to destroy it completely.  This situation reminds one of the saying, “the first daughter of the Church has become a prostitute.” For centuries, French Catholicism was the pride of Western Europe. Now, only about ten percent of the French practice their Catholic faith.

But, even in the aftermath of the antireligious, anti-Catholic French Revolution, wonderful things have come out of French Catholicism.  We’ve had saints like Catherine Laboure, Bernadette Soubirous, Therese of Lisieux, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Frederic Ozanam, Father Charles de Foucauld, the foundations of many religious communities and movements, devout Catholic laymen like Louis Pasteur, statesman like Charles de Gaulle, artists like Couturier, philosophers like Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson.

Our American Revolution was a great success in that it accomplished what it set out to accomplish with a minimum of bloodshed and violence.  The French Revolution was totally different.  So when you hear of Bastille Day on July 14th, remember that we Catholics take a dim view of what it ushered in.  Even the French admit that the century between 1789 and 1870 was a political disaster and a source of endless evil and injustice.  Thank you for allowing God to love you, God bless you.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.


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