‘The sickness of the West today is that it is more and more lacking creative élan.
The Reformation, rationalism, the French revolution, materialistic faith of the nineteenth century, and the Bolshevik revolution, show that everywhere mankind is turning away from the Virgin.
The consequence of this is that the sources of creative spiritual élan are drying up, one after the other, and that an increasing aridity is showing up in all domains of the spiritual life of the West.
It is said that the West is growing old. But why? Because it lacks creative élan, because it has turned away from the source of creative élan, because it has turned away from the Virgin.’
So writes Valentin Tomberg in his mysterious and deeply Catholic Meditations on the Tarot.
In doing so, he also expresses some of the deepest concerns of my heart and this website.
For this website is a cry in the arid desert of Secular Materialism.
And it is an expression of my ongoing attempt to understand how we created this aridity - and where we need to turn to restore it to a living garden of culture once more.
All my efforts to understand lead ever more in the direction that Valentin Tomberg points to as the source: the ‘turning away’ that manifested itself in “the Reformation, rationalism, the French revolution” etc.
And my years of living in France and study of French history only continually re-emphasise how much the secular sickness of the West owes to the French Revolution and the innumerable later revolutions it begat.
I have written of this much here – including in an illustrated travelogue of ‘French Fragments’ that I published here of journeys through France.
And there I have indicated how clear it became to me that modern, secular France – which personally I find so terribly materialistic – only prospered by the calculated, determined attempt to eradicate the French Catholic culture that had previously existed.
Secularism did not evolve naturally in France. It required enormous amounts of skulduggery, repression, persecution of the Church, appropriation of her property, forced exile of her priests and religious, massacre – even ‘scorched earth’ genocide in the case of those Vendée Catholics who fought on behalf of Altar and Throne.
Recently all of this came even more sharply into focus via an old out-of-copyright book I recently discovered - The Blessed Virgin in the Nineteenth Century: Apparitions, Revelations, Graces by Bernard St John.
I am so moved by this book that I very much hope to republish it – perhaps simultaneously with my own upcoming book, Cor Jesu Sacratissimum.
Because the book has great value not only for understanding ‘how we created this desert’ as I said above, but also where I feel ‘we need to turn to restore this desert to a living garden of culture.’
In the meantime, we will be publishing some extracts from the book here in our Tridentine Archive.
The extracts will have to do with the response of the Blessed Virgin to the French Revolution. For after that Revolution commenced in 1789, it is a remarkable fact that in France alone, the Blessed Virgin appeared at least four times in the following hundred years.
At least four times: I speak of the four great approved Marian Apparitions of the Nineteenth Century in France.
First in 1830, Our Lady appeared to St Catherine Labouré in the Rue du Bac, Paris, bringing the Miraculous Medal. And weeping for the world, she appeared in La Salette in 1846. Then in Lourdes she came in 1858. And the final approved apparition came in Pontmain in 1871.
Through Providence, I had the Grace of pilgrimage to all these places. And the result in my soul is that I am forever marked.
I have spoken about this before and will say more in the future. For the moment, I mainly want to recall what I once said here about La Salette:
“La Salette! I have been writing at this site about my journeys with Kim through Catholic France. And La Salette made a very, very profound impression on me.
For La Salette contrasted powerfully with the other sites graced by the Mother of God which I visited, for example the Rue du Bac in Paris where Our Lady brought instructions for the Miraculous Medal and Lourdes where Our Lady brought forth miraculous healing water.
If Lourdes then is a site evoking joy, La Salette is very, very different.
For there Our Lady appeared weeping and on the site high in the mountains where the Blessed Virgin appeared to the shepherd children, there are statues.
There is a statue of Mary Mother of God as she appeared, head bent, back bowed down in grief.
And at the base of the statue, I witnessed something I will never forget. I saw crowds of people come and go, not in the happy chatter one might see at Lourdes. But silent and solemn.
This was not within the quiet interior of a church. The statue of Our Lady is outside and there was beautiful sunshine. But the people clustered round Her statue seemed unusually sober.
I could not help but feel that many of us who gathered there felt quietly called to look solemnly at our own sin and failing.”
Now one who knows the history of the French Revolution – that ‘orgy of perverse collective intoxication’ as Tomberg called it in his Meditations – and one who studies the revelation of the weeping Virgin of La Salette through the eyes of Faith will clearly see the linkage between the Revolution and the tears of the Virgin …
But I trust Bernard St John’s book can do more to make the linkage clear. And this is why we re-publish these extracts.
For example, Bernard St John brings us these words of the Blessed Virgin heard in the Rue du Bac in 1830:
“My child, the times are evil; troubles are about to come upon France; the monarchy will be overthrown; and the whole world will be upheaved by misfortunes of every kind …
There will be victims in other communities. [Here, according to the recital, the Blessed Virgin shed tears.] There will be victims among the Paris clergy. The Archbishop will die.
My child, the cross will be despised and overthrown and men will open our Lord’s side afresh, and the whole world will be in trouble.”
Far more can and will be said in time. For now, I am writing this weblog entry to alert people to the extracts that have begun to be posted in our Tridentine Archive.
The first two can be found here:
I pray that these extracts may find careful study in some quarters.
Because through the Grace of God, I was brought to that ruined wasteland of once-Catholic France. And through the graces of Lourdes, La Salette, Paray-le-Monial and more, I was enabled to register the gravity in these further words from Tomberg:
Each revolution which has taken place in the West —that of the Reformation, the French revolution, the scientific revolution, the delirium of nationalism, the communist revolution —has advanced the process of aging in the West, because each has signified a further distancing from the principle of the Virgin.
In other words. Our Lady is Our Lady, and is not to be replaced with impunity either by the “goddess reason”, or by the “goddess biological evolution”, or by the “goddess economy”.
The adulation of all these “goddesses” bears witness to the unfaithfulness of so-called “Christian” mankind; it very much resembles the sort of spiritual adultery which the Biblical prophets gave so much utterance to.
And as I have registered ever more deeply the gravity of the sin of this spiritual adultery, I have found the opposite beginning to emerge in my soul: chastity and fidelity. At least, the tentative beginnings of fidelity: broken as I am, I know there is a long way to go …
But I try at least to turn to Thee, Weeping Lady – human and faltering as I am – in prayer and commitment: Ave Maria, gratia plena …