Paray-le-Monial (Sometimes Saying Yes Really Does Mean Saying No)


Paray-le-Monial - France.

Relics of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, visionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, at the Chapel of the Apparitions, Paray-le-Monial, France.


At this weblog, I regularly say I like to not be too personal – before posting something personal!

And here I go, again. Various factors have prevented me blogging as much as I want and, in this absence of posts, I post something I wrote for Facebook recently.

Posting this remains a little uncomfortable for me and I will appreciate it, if readers keep in mind that it was originally written for Facebook and is reproduced here almost entirely without editing.

I really do need to get periodically away from not just Facebook, but the internet completely.

For truly I find the internet such a double-edged sword that wielding it, without harming oneself is – for me at least – a constant challenge.

Of course, I am also concerned for others, especially many young people today who seem almost symbiotically (antibiotically?) connected to their various internet devices.

At any rate, how much I appreciated the near-absence of internet activity these last two to three weeks. How still and silent I was able to be over Christmastide.

This, along with the wonder of daily Mass, has led to the richest period of prayer I have experienced, I think, since my life-changing time in Paray-le-Monial, during twenty plus pilgrimages there from 2006-2008.

I write about this time in Paray somewhat in my new book. And some of you know more about it from my blog.

But for those who do not know, Paray-le-Monial, is a small town in Eastern France where Christ appeared in 1673 revealing His Sacred Heart.

And for me personally it is the most astonishing place I have ever encountered in this world. In two different chapels there, I experienced depths of prayer that totally reoriented my life.

Among other things, I realised in the deep silence of prayer that, although I had converted to Catholicism at Easter 2000, truly I had been resisting the Faith. I was still something of a “New Age Anthroposophical Catholic” as I actually jokingly once referred to myself, before Paray changed everything.

Thus, at Paray in 2008, I went to a priest and confessed my resistance to the Church, with my intention to truly commit to the Church. For the first time in my life, I felt truly Catholic. This has led to the deepest joys of my life.

And there was more at Paray, including grasping the real depths of Counter-Revolutionary France which I go into in my book. Also I grasped at a far deeper level than I had before, the radical Counter Revolutionary thrust of Tomberg’s work, including his legal political works.

Now, these works I only discovered after Paray, but they served to confirm so much that I had understood beforehand in the profound silence of those Paray chapels.

And what has all this to do with today?

Well, as I said, the silence this Christmastide felt deeper than it has done for many years. I may have let some of you friends down – again – by not responding.

But I felt almost paralysed – yet richly and meaningfully so – needing to be very, very still.

And out of that stillness, much has emerged for me. This includes very much a deepened sense of my life’s priorities – where I most need to orient my energies in the last years or decades of my life. (I’m 53 now and who knows how long I have or any of us have?)

Just as my very special time at Paray changed my life, I do feel this very special Christmastide will as well.

It is far too early to say how, but I will say that as a result of this Christmastide, I am more determined than ever to finally master French. I can read French and converse somewhat, especially with Francophones who are patient with me – but I was never able to become completely fluent. Rectifying that now seems a pressing task (although my accent seems beyond all hope!).

Many, many things emerging for me about France, about Ireland in a post-Brexit Europe … mais, d’abord, il faut maitriser le Francais.

Really, a large part of me would like to be a monk, except I am outrageously blessed by a very beautiful marriage and I know my path is not meant to be simply contemplation, but also engaged with the modern world, which inevitably means the world of the internet.

So I am back online again, with a stack of unanswered correspondence … again.

And I pray my friends can tolerate my dual existence, half-hermit needing silence, half-very much needing to be engaged with the world and engaged with you friends …

Finally, I will just add that I am most encouraged by the response to my big book, although I well understand most people will not have finished it.

But among those who have read it, I got an astonishing letter from Italy. Someone there was so taken with the book that there is a firm intent to translate it and a process has already started with an Italian publisher who seems keen … !

Astonishing times.


End of Facebook post.

Much more about these themes can be found in my book, which explores things as varied as the New Age scene, Counter-Revolutionary France, the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the materialistic ethos of the Anglosphere.

If you are interested, the global links are for Amazon worldwide and will take you to where you can see the book or buy it.

Click to see the book at your local Amazon:


OR – for the Hardback Edition:



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  1. Michel Vander Straet
    Posted 18 January 2017 at 14:03 | Permalink

    Just picked up your book at the Post office, an hour ago and already touched deeply by your prologue (“One of us”)…
    Maybe I can help in improving your ‘Français’? There are Skype and other tools to help.

  2. Mar
    Posted 7 February 2017 at 01:15 | Permalink

    Thank you for a lovely post. It has inspired me to want to visit Paray-le-Monial, since I’ve had a love of the Sacred Heart for many years.
    One question, who is Tomberg, whose work you mention?

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