Series Introduction 2023:
Here is the start of a strange series of posts that appeared at this website in 2010. These entries chronicle my reflections travelling through France in a van with my wife Kim—beginning with Lourdes in the South and moving slowly over eight weeks to Pontmain in the North, close to a thousand miles in all. At the time, we were relocating to Britain, but with the hope of eventually returning to Ireland.
This series remains precious to my heart—as my experiences on this trip in hallowed sites like Lourdes, Pontmain and the Vendée proved seminal for my work ever since. Whether these posts will speak to anyone else, though, is a moot point. They are deeply personal, sometimes to the point of being cryptic.
For that reason, I now offer (below) a short, explanatory foreword to each individual post, just in case anyone does care to enter with me into this intimate world of meaning for me.
Likewise, these links are provided to help navigate through this series.
- Chapter 1: France and Lourdes
- Chapter 2: On France and Ireland
- Chapter 3: Our Lady Calls
- Chapter 4: Josephin Péladan and Charles A. Coulombe
- Chapter 5: Recalling Ireland
- Chapter 6: The Enduring Presence of Catholic France
- Chapter 7: Freemasonry and France
- Chapter 8: Liberal No More
- Chapter 9: Liberal Catholicism, Like a Sieve
- Chapter 10: Pyramids on the Nile
- Chapter 11: The Vendée – Home to a Counter-Revolution
- Chapter 12: O Claire Ferchaud!
- Chapter 13: Our Lady of Pontmain
2023 Introduction to Ch. 10
Here we are again, travelling northwards in the van, my wife and I and searching hard for daily Mass—the Mass we need so much—and witnessing the devasted ruins of a former civilisation: Catholic France.
Or La Vraie France as the French used to call it: the true France.
Soon, we will come to the Vendée. Things will be different there, for reasons explained in the next chapter. For now, though, we are still surrounded by secular France where people did not resist so hard, as did the Vendeans.
Though make no mistake: the French still resisted. Catholic France did not die of its own. In the Vendée, genocide was needed. Elsewhere, a very slow process of systematic suffocation and persecution finally proved effective . . .
From 2010—Chapter Ten: Pyramids on the Nile
Like the Pyramids along the Nile …
Like the Sphinx …
These are things I have remarked to myself, privately till now, in these travels through France.
For how often it has felt like I behold the relics of a long-lost civilisation.
True, many of these weather-beaten crucifixes along the roads are barely a century old.
These worn, fading statues of Our Lady are also relatively recent…
Is my analogy not somewhat excessive then?
To compare such monuments to the remains of a civilisation from three thousand years ago?
I do not know.
Even if only one or two hundred years separate Catholic France from modern Republican France, it seems to me that the French who erected these signs of love are so very, very remote from the French of today.
I find a rural church – one of the more beautiful I have seen in my life, in fact.
It is even open, thank God.
It was only erected in 1895, but one can feel that vast, gaping chasm which separates the French of today from those who built this glorious edifice.
One can feel it particularly as one reads the inscription I see placed there above the door:
To Jesus in the Host
Their King, Their Saviour, their adored host
The inhabitants of Vaylats, making with joy all the necessary sacrifices, have erected this church
as a humble monument of their faith, their religion and their love.
Again, this is 1895. Not the Middle Ages …
But the French who sacrificed for this church are almost beyond the comprehension of the vast majority of their descendants.
The Catholic Church: Is it not still active in France?
Well yes, barely …
But it exists in a form that would be scarcely recognisable to those humble inhabitants of Vaylats …
In the churches here, when they are open, you will find the publicity for the modern Church.
And it is not so very different from the publicity for the modern world.
Much of it, indistinguishable from advertising to support a third world charity say …
To help the misery of the third world is a good thing, no doubt …
The sheer horror and misery …
But this is the Church!
None of this modern publicité is about the Vertical, the Transcendent, the Mystery …
Humble peasants of Vaylats in 1895 you would have no idea as to what happened to the Church of
Your Adored Host …
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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