Valentin Tomberg, Catholic France and the Sacred Heart – More Very Personal Reflexions Part II

Last time, I spoke of a dream I had in France, in which the figure of Valentin Tomberg appeared, warning me of a temptation.

That temptation was a ’60’s head’ – as in 1960s.

And as I suggested last time, so many of us simply subscribe – subscribe without thinking – to the liberal, post 1960’s values, hardly considering that these same values were actually deeply disturbing to many people, who lived prior to the 1960s.

With my very poor German, I stumble through Tomberg’s German-only biographies sometimes. And I stumble through the private correspondence, he wrote about events during the 1960s.

There I see how relieved Tomberg was by the public invocation of the ‘Father principle’ in 1968. And what does Tomberg mean by the ‘Father principle’?

He appears very much to mean what a ’60’s head’ would regard as highly repressive, authoritarian tactics …

For he praises President Charles De Gaulle of France and Pope Paul VI for their courage in expressing this ‘Father Principle’.

De Gaulle summoned the military to stop the student riots and strikes in May 1968. Although in the end, the military was not used, the appearance of troops and tanks on the move amply illustrated De Gaulle’s firm resolve to not cave in.   De Gaulle’s actions in 1968 have long been considered notorious by the Left.

1968 – to this day, the French speak of May 1968 as a defining moment in their history. French people are characterised as soixante huitards – 68ers – or anti-soixante huitards – anti-68ers – according to whether they accept or reject the liberal values, behind the riots and chaos that so transformed French society.

And 1968 was also the year Pope Paul VI finally said no to artificial contraception in Humanae Vitae.

The liberal ’60’s head’ raged at Humanae Vitae – but Tomberg saluted both the Holy Father and De Gaulle for standing firm.

As I said last time, I found Tomberg’s traditional Catholicism so, so hard to digest for so many years. For example, I could never understand his wholly negative public comments regarding Vatican II.

It did not occur to me that I was trapped in the 60’s. And still caught in WASP assumptions – even if I was by now a White Anglo Saxon Catholic.

But here I was in Paray-le-Monial, in fear and suffering and yet bathed, bathed, bathed in the love of His Heart, which still pours through Paray-le-Monial …

There in France, I understood more clearly why Tomberg, even while he lived in England, felt that his magnum opus could never be written in English.

I understood so much more of that Catholic French Counter Revolutionary culture which informs Meditations on the Tarot, but which previously I was blinded to, caught in my decidedly Anglophone ’60’s head.

In Ireland, in France, in Spain – I repeat – I saw cultures that offered such different cultural possibilities than the WASP culture I came from.

Protestant culture separated itself from the Catholic Church prior to the Revelation of the Sacred Heart in France.

As I have said before, Tomberg believed this revelation to be a special intervention from heaven to prevent us from falling ever more deeply into a rationalistic animality, a clever bestiality.

But English and American culture was closed to that culture of the Sacred Heart.

Indeed St Margaret Mary had a Jesuit confessor, St Claude La Colombière.

And St Claude tried to bring the Sacred Heart to England – but he was persecuted and thrown in prison, where he became fatally ill. (Although before he died, he managed to get to France, where he died in 1682 in Paray-le-Monial.)

His relics are there in a chapel in Paray. And the chapel of those relics is one of the most astonishing places on this earth for me. The kind of prayer and silence that can be found there is extraordinary.

Suffering in Paray, praying next to the relics of St Claude, I began to free myself from the 60’s head ..

This will be continued soon, though other weblog entries may come first.

Postscript: Those interested in what I mean by the ‘Catholic French Counter Revolutionary culture that informs Meditations on the Tarot‘ might wish to see a recent book review here. I have quoted a fair amount from the book and what I have quoted seems to me resonant indeed with the positions the later Catholic Tomberg adopted. At least such positions are very much expressed in Tomberg’s legal theses, which feature both an unswerving condemnation of the French Revolution – and the call for the State to support the Church.

In Our Book Stores (Numerous New Titles)

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If you appreciate this website and shop through Amazon, please consider supporting us by clicking on our Amazon links. It will cost you nothing and will help us. You can either click on the links for recommended books or you can use the Amazon buttons found in the left hand column.

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Prints, Posters, Imagery and More

The world is awash with materialistic imagery, designed to stimulate consumer desire. Yet once, Christendom was awash with imagery of the Christian Mystery. Whatever can redress this imbalance is most needed. With such thoughts, we present this small selection also available from Amazon:

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  1. Materlaeta
    Posted 30 April 2012 at 13:38 | Permalink

    I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in this series as well as the completion of the long Tomberg series (I have read all 9).

    As we discussed in e-mail, I ibelieve that the Sacred Heart will be a part of my healing, guiding me into a faith ;more from the heart as opposed to a rationalistic faith.

    I have found 2 things that are helping me – 1) a book from TAN publishers called Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and 2) a 30 day at home Igntaian retreat book. I am going to be discussing with a priest this week an at home retreat for the month of May. I am hoping it will help me to develop a proper, Catholic understanding of sin, concupiscence, and grace, that I may throw off the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” thinking so prevalent in the US that denies the necessity of God and grace. I struggle with this, thinking I must do it all on my own, and then wonder why I fail so in making spiritual progress. God will never allow me to do it on my own, lest I become ever more prideful, that I mey learn to depend on Him.

    I know this probably is rather all over the place and doesn’t make much sense. I hope you understand part of what I am getting at.

    Take Care & God Bless you Roger.


  2. Posted 1 May 2012 at 17:04 | Permalink

    Dear MaterLaeta,

    First, in regards to you saying:

    ‘I know this probably is rather all over the place and doesn’t make much sense.’

    Not at all! I really am very moved by this and very moved by you expressing it here.

    I think you must mean the beautiful book by Croiset – and your reference to it gives me a certain pang that we have not devoted more attention to this classic work at the site. Too many things we are trying to do here …

    But the 30 day Ignatian home retreat book I do not know – and would like details when you have time.

    I feel like repeating that there really is something very moving for me about what you are expressing. At one level, I think that has to do with the sincerity that evidently comes through regarding your personal quest. At another level, my feeling involves a global dimension.

    We are suffering as a culture from hyper-rationalism, generally with men most especially I think. Devotion to the Sacred Heart withered after the 1960s. I’m obviously deeply concerned with its revival globally. And your testimony here also speaks to that global concern I have. I also suspect that women will have much to with global revival, the greatest share amongst the laity. A lot is compressed in this paragraph, including my concern for the growing hyper-rationalism of men in particular. But I had better stop …

    Thank you also for your comments re the Tomberg series. The 9 part beginning is going to take time, I am afraid. As I said, so much we need to attend to at this site – Croiset is only one instance – but I am deeply committed to the series.

    • Materlaeta
      Posted 1 May 2012 at 20:46 | Permalink

      It is a very personal quest and one I have been on ever since I became Catholic.

      I will get you the info on the at home Ignatian retreat as soon as I can.

      In the mean time, I want to direct you to an article by Peter Kreeft that seems to get at the heart of what you are saying. I would be very interested in your commentary on this.

      Here is the link:

      Take Care & God Bless,

      • Materlaeta
        Posted 2 May 2012 at 02:19 | Permalink


        Here is the book I am speaking of: “A Do.It.At.Home Retreat: The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola” by Andre Ravier, S.J. It is published by Ignatius press and can be found here at this link:

        Hope this helpsl


        • Posted 2 May 2012 at 21:38 | Permalink

          Thank you for all of this, MaterLaeta.

          I found this Kreeft piece impressive indeed. I have been vaguely aware of this author before – but I see I must look into him more now.

          In this piece, he would seem to be approaching the development of materialism through an eschatological perspective: the loss of the sense of Heaven or Hell.

          This certainly seems very true to me and yet materialism – in the sense of seeing the world in mainly or purely material terms – has affected everything, the loss of eschatology and so much more.

          I tend to feel that not only was medieval humanity deeply aware of these realities, but others as well: the intercession of Saints, Angels, Sacraments

          I tend to think for example that Protestantism arose because even by the 16th century it was less possible for people to feel, perceive the Transubstantiation.

          Admittedly I have little to back this up. But one may ask: why did Christianity revere the Sacraments for nearly 15 centuries in the Catholic West and the Orthodox East alike – and only then – after 15 centuries – did this huge movement happen to dispense with the Sacraments?

          Why do we find nothing like Protestantism – on a large scale at least – before the 16th century?

          I really do suspect that pre-modern humanity could see and feel the work of the Sacraments in a way that began to be lost as early as the 15th century, with the emergence of so many factors. The printing press being a major one, among countless others.

          So huge, huge topics here. Kreeft’s eschatological approach here is very key and important and others are important as well, I think.

          I also very much like what he says about medieval imagery, art and much more that he says. But I had better stop.

          Well actually not … I am going to reiterate my opinion earlier than in general I think men are more sucked into this closed down rationalist-materialist worldview than women.

          I have known numerous women in my life who had it seemed to me, real appreciation for the world beyond this world.

          Unfortunately – and here is a grave problem – many of these women were sucked into New Age visions of Angels and such. They had a certain sensitivity that was genuine, but it had been formed and educated in a milieu/culture completely deprived of the Church. I really had better stop!

          God bless you, MaterLaeta.

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