Last time, I spoke of a dream I had living 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 approached the military to stop the student riots and strikes in May 1968. Although in the end, the military was not used, this 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 . . .
To be Continued
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.
To Navigate through these Odd Entries:
Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck
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