Georges de Nantes.
The Mystical Doctor of the Catholic Faith.
12. THE PROJECT OF A FOUNDATION
“ IN the evening of life, only one thing is left : love. Everything must be done through love. Reflect on this maxim from the Carmel ; it will be a soothing light for you in the trials of your life, ” Fr. de Nantes wrote in his first “ Letter, ” sent to about sixty friends on October 1st, 1956. What does this maxim teach us ? A truth that was the grace of the first eight years of his priesthood :
“ God is good when He breaks one’s career. All false grandeur and all false worldly riches are thereby taken away, and if one receives the grace of losing all hope of ever regaining them, then room will be found in him for the true wealth of contemplation. To all of you, I wish such a break ” Really ? Then we can understand why the recipients of these letters were never very numerous. “ No one will lose by it, I assure you, neither your nearest and dearest, nor your country nor the Church, ” our Father added. The monumental work to which this Letter to My Friends no. 1 was the preface, provides overabundant proof of it today.
In this summer of 1955, after having been refused entry into the Carmelite Fathers’ noviciate, Fr. Georges de Nantes once again experienced “ the anxiety of not knowing what to do with his priesthood in an ever more hostile clerical corporation. ” 1 With the help of his friend, Henri Boegner, he found refuge in October at the Collège de Normandie, a subsidiary of the École des Roches, directed by André Charlier. He held the post of philosophy professor.
“ At the same time, I was in charge of Anceaumeville, a small rural parish near-by with families that were still profoundly Christian. It was for these farmers, for a few former students, and for several convents of sisters where I used to go to preach that I wrote my first Letter to My Friends. 2 ”
It was at Anceaumeville that he exercised and appreciated for the first time the ministry of a country parish priest :
“ Like my elders, I wanted to be the minister of worship, the dispenser of the Truth and the Life, the steward of Christ’s sacraments to the best of my ability, constantly unworthy but devoted. Day after day this familiarity in toil kindles or develops harmony in love, such as St. John of the Cross expresses it in his Poems which, for twenty years, were my only song. ‘ When You looked at me, Your eyes imprinted their grace in me. Then You cherished me with tenderness, and my own eyes merited in return to adore what they saw in You ! ’ (Spir. Cant., vs. 24) […]. We know it better since the time of the holy Curé d’Ars and Charles de Foucauld, or St. Pius X, the simple-hearted Pontiff : were Jesus to come back on earth, undoubtedly he would become a country parish priest and no priest is great unless he resembles the humblest of them. Ceremonies, catechism, sick calls, confessions, silent adoration in a deserted church : this is the honour, the responsibility of the priest who is the servant and friend of the Saviour. This is where our first and most profound life lies, and nowhere else. 3 ”
in the parish of Anceaumeville, near Clères, in Normandy.
A SLOW MATURING.
Fr. de Nantes, however, did not limit his priestly zeal to this parish or to the few pupils who had been entrusted to him. He continued to attend to the Servite Sisters in Groslay, to whom he preached a retreat on the Canticle of Canticles 4 in December 1956; he also contributed to the Cahiers du Cercle Fustel de Coulanges 5 that were edited by Henri Boegner, the saint of Action française. With a few friends, Fr. de Nantes founded a monthly for Action française students : ‘ Amitiés françaises universitaires ’ in an attempt to thwart the scission brought about by Pierre Boutang, who had joined the Gaullist camp with his ‘ Nation française. ’
He also kept a close and demanding watch, the look of a true Father on his disciples, presiding over the progress of our vocation, that desire come from Above of seeking God and serving Him.
In this autumn of 1955, while Gérard Cousin was doing the first of a two-year programme of literary studies at Louis-le-Grand to prepare for the French Grandes Écoles entry exams, I was beginning political science. We lived in the Marist Fathers’ student residence at 104 rue de Vaugirard, where our Father came occasionally to see us. On Sundays we sold the reviews Aspects de la France and Amitiés françaises universitaires at subway entrances.
As far as his deeply-rooted, inmost vocation was concerned, our Father waited for God to light his way : “ I would like to let myself be led by God, ” he confided to us, “ free of preoccupations and torments that are too human. May God strip us of ourselves, may He attach us to Him and may His service be carried out in accordance with His Will alone. ” 6
He was under no illusions concerning future difficulties : “ We are engaged in a terrible and tough combat, the outcome of which is uncertain […]. Thus we must remain silent, pray and prepare ourselves for a long time. It is for this reason that for ten years I have been cast out, purged and sent into exile. Each time I offered no resistance ; I did not think that an open conflict was possible just then. It was too serious and it was best to wait for the Hour of God to come […]. Ultimately, our political action in favour of France might prove to be pointless. Nevertheless, if the soul accepts it all as being a religious action, we no longer fear anything for the future. The worst, which is martyrdom, is the best for us. ” 7
Fr. de Nantes wrote to Gérard Cousin : “ Always choose the low path of humility, of prosaic service of God. If you love our Lord as I do, you will detest diversion, distraction, however elegant, however humanistic, however witty it may be ! You will go gently and powerfully against the tide, towards the menial tasks, the exiles, the fights that bring no glory. Look at my life ! Year after year I am thrown from where I am into a deep pit still less honourable. That is good and it is how we are good workers for the Kingdom of God. ” 8
Armed with such advice, we returned to the seminary in October 1956, Gérard Cousin at Issy-les-Moulineaux, and I at the Carmelite seminary in Paris. As for our Father, he continued to the drive his two-horse team – mysticism and politics. “ Providence is drawing me to the sidelines, without allowing me to renounce my share in the just fight ! ” 9
AMITIÉS FRANÇAISES UNIVERSITAIRES.
His first article in Amitiés françaises universitaires (A. F. U.) reminded the students who were preparing to go to Chartres of the intentions of a Christian pilgrimage : “ it associates the Virgin and the faith that saves with concern for the salvation of France and with the human order that must be restored. ” Here is the prayer that he formulated : “ Our Lady of France, banish from this country that is entrusted to You anarchy and hatred. Restore in it the justice, order and authority of a legitimate leader in order that France may continue its work of civilising and evangelising . Preserve Christian nations from perverse Communism and grant us integrity of faith in the perils of the moment. ” 10
Our Father wrote about twenty articles for A. F. U. from May 1955 to July 1958, using the pseudonyms of Euphorion and Roland Desprée. The former presented himself as a political philosophy professor, a young, zealous master with a passion for transmitting and serving truth :
“ For Christians, the Truth is the creative Word, and for philosophers it is the very substance of forms. It is not a useless, beautiful statue. It is implicated in every human debate, however trivial it may be. It is neither a mathematical axiom nor a metaphysical principle ; it is the coherence of ideas and beings, the binder and the cement of the universe. It is the continuity of history […]. The ultimate greatness that is offered to you, French students, is ‘ to think clearly, ’ as the royalist hymn says. It is one of your seniors who will help you here this year. At each stage, he will have you choose and love the whole truth. After so many others, he won liberty of mind, joy of independence, an inclination to serve and, in addition, persecutions. Perhaps, instead of persecutions, you will gain the victory ? ” 11
We are able to recognise in Euphorion’s articles, Amicus’ reasoning, although even more energetic. It commits the whole being to the service of “ holy truths, ” in particular this sacred reality that physical and spiritual France forms :
“ Idealists find France carnal, uninteresting and tedious, and delight in dreaming of brilliant systems and of political generosity. That is nothing but smoke. If we contemplate France with her countryside, her factories, her cradles, her old people’s homes, her schools and her churches, she teaches her truths to our minds. They represent centuries of labour begun by the ancestors and awaiting greater care and effort on our part. They are imperfected entities that require our devotion in order to succeed and survive in turn, without the warp of their history ever being cut. The myriad works forever of the past that lie dormant in libraries and museums are eternal truths, yet their fragrance can still delight a hundred generations. For my Christian soul all these things are an incarnate divine Presence which, through grace and election, remains peacefully and safely in our Catholic France, held in store for all those men who are still languishing in the shadow of death, within our borders and beyond.
“ What guard must be mounted around so many incomparable blessings ! ” 12
His love commands his reason and his action : what a master he was for a generation that was left to its own devices ! What political wisdom ! It is Euphorion. It is under this signature that Georges de Nantes sought to ally himself with all those who were in the service of the same truth.
“ The prime goal of ‘ Amitiés françaises ’ is this quest for truth, this decisive education of the mind and the heart that will lead us to choose and serve the holy truths, the genuine goods, from among the forces that make the world go round. ” 13
When using the pseudonym of Roland Desprée, Georges de Nantes played the role of a literary critique and an experienced historian. Under his pen, contemporary history regained its function as mistress of life, drawing lessons from the ups and downs of the hour : the disaster of 1940, the Suez Affair, Algiers’ patriotic reawakening, etc. He diagnosed the unavoidable crisis of the regime and foresaw dictatorship : if this dictatorship is not the endeavour of the nation as a whole, it will be the work of the worst, he announced. Soon it would be the return of de Gaulle.
For “ democracy is the evil, democracy is death ”, he repeated, following his master Charles Maurras : “ I hate democracy with utter hatred. There can be no compromise between this baneful idea, this bloodthirsty idol and us. A tree does not stop the wind that blows in the plain, nor does a sail on the ocean ; undoubtedly the proverb is wise. Yet if each of us bears within himself the hatred of these harmful imaginings we will be a strong, protective wall for the State that we love. ” 14
It is not only fear for the salvation of metropolitan France that gripped him, but uncertainty concerning the fate in store for our beautiful French Algeria, threatened, after Indochina, by revolutionary terrorism, which prompted him to take its defence publicly.
A HISTORIC COMMUNITY TO BE SAVED.
By signing his real name in L’Ordre français, another nationalist review, Fr. de Nantes took a stand to support the French army struggling against the rebels of Algeria and, what is worse, the defamation of the army by appalling campaigns carried out by self-styled moralists.
In a first article entitled “ Betrayal by the Moralists ”, he observed :
“ When the French Army fights against a handful of ‘ outlaws ’ who kill, rape, commit arson and murder, there are intellectuals who morally justify the bandits and incite us to pity their fate. It is well known that God has condemned homicide, and this is enough to condemn the ‘ repression ’ carried out by the regular army ! This is the same sentimentalism, – we do not dare speak here of mischievousness –, that aims at inciting the unsuspecting reader to pity the real assassin and to wax indignant in the name of morality against the one who corrects and represses him. ”
Classical Christian morality not only respects the established, traditional, legitimate order – in this case the colonial order – but it also needs to refer to this order, to be able to correct in its name the abuses and faults committed within it.
In Algeria of 1956, there existed important shortcomings, flagrant and even scandalous injustices due to underemployment and the lack of local governance in certain parts of the hinterland, but every sensible man, especially the majority of the Muslims, expected the remedy to come from the French State within the context of the more than century-old administration of French Algeria. For it is in the name of order within the framework of institutions that the failings and injustices of individuals can be redressed.
As for the progressivist, he has invented a morality made to suit himself :
“ He declares himself a ‘ universal brother ’ and claims to dominate the contending parties. To this end, he does not fear to invoke divine paternity and the equality of men before God. He is intoxicated by the lofty-mindedness to which he has risen ! The fact that the rebels kill, plunder, overturn an age-old order is not unjust, since these are the only means for establishing the new system that the popular masses want. He once again reverts to his classical moralist conscience in order to stigmatise so many immoral and unjust acts committed by the adherents of Christian Order. It is important to denounce these acts that allow him condemn civilisation as a whole. This man does not see that he is the slave of a revolution that scorns him, since it no longer has any need of moralists. ” 15
As a true disciple of Fr. de Foucauld, Fr. de Nantes leaped to the defence of threatened Christendom. As he wrote to me in October 1956 : “ Every day, the vanity of worldly agitation is more and more obvious to me. Blissful immortality is to be found only in love of God, and love of neighbour for the sake of God. Thus, politics is nothingness if it is not based on this foundation. I am beginning to wrangle again. I am preparing my second article for L’Ordre français, but I can assure you that this fight is a work of love. ” 16
This second article forcefully recalls what was at stake in this fight, which was both political and mystical, – the two are connected – ; its title is quite explicit : “ A Historical Community to Be Saved ”. One community should exist, not two, where there would be Europeans on one side and Muslims on the other ; the colonial institution had united them over five or six generations, forging a thousand different bonds between them in an admirable reciprocity of services. There is still much progress to be made, but already a concrete, living and historical order has been established, an order that is not debatable, and that must be saved, inasmuch as forces of evil are desperately working to destroy it, from the inside as well as from the outside.
“ The institution alone – and perhaps rather poorly, yet perhaps extremely well – made them live with and for one another. The abdication of the State, of public opinion and of the body of moralists suddenly made them strangers to one another. As long as the institution remained undisputed, the moralist could call them all back to this duty of mutual aid, to this mutual justice that is its underlying law ; from the day that the institution was subject to the opinions and wishes of individuals, having started to falter, it lost its strength ; morality has left these uninhabitable places in order to let fratricide and hatred prowl there […].
“ France does not have the right to abandon the colonists or the natives, and her strictest moral duty is to safeguard order and justice within the community that they form without calling the principle into question. ”
A “ just repression ” is therefore legitimate : it must be military, for order needs armed strength to impose itself ; political, in order to prevent casual politicians from sacrificing a heritage that does not belong to them ; finally ideological, for “ the fight against falsehood, against evil, even and above all when they are concealed under sacred vestments, ” is a duty. In short, an entire programme of public security was expounded that would have saved Algeria, if it had been recalled by the Church and applied by the civil authorities.
Alas ! “ The Gospel has become, in the hands of clever propagandists, the best mental auxiliary of revolution. In France, it alone was able to erode the national morale to this extent. In the colonies, it combines its authority with that of the Qur’an. As for me, a docile Catholic, I know that it is a question of a Gospel that is poorly understood and distorted. What authority today, however, can rise above the various religious affiliations in order to decide irrevocably ? ” 17
In September 1957, Fr. de Nantes made a decisive statement on the question of torture 18, always with the intention of replying to the intelligentsia of the theologians who were the friends or accomplices of the fellaghas, in order to defend the honour of the French Army and the validity of its tough fight in Algeria, particularly during the Battle of Algiers (January-September 1957.) It is not true that the principles of Catholic morality condemn torture as intrinsically perverse. We should have done without it, yes, provided that the Republic not give amnesty to criminals and negotiate with rebels.
Thus, he continued with us, his future brothers [Brother Bruno and Brother Gérard], this “ fine work of support, as companions and guides of this small troop of good servants of the country and the Church, ” 19 a work that he wanted to become ours.
ISLAM UNDER SCRUTINITY.
The most decisive part of his contribution to L’Ordre français, however, was his review of the book that Fr. Théry, a learned medievalist who belonged to the Order of St. Dominic, had just published under the pseudonym of Hanna Zakarias. Fr. de Nantes immediately understood its capital importance : it was the first work to break with “ the age-old ingenuousness of the East and the West regarding Islam. A man has taken the liberty of reading the Qur’an as a document of the past and of seeking to explain it by the simplest laws of the historical method, long in use even within Catholicism in the study of the Bible ” 20.
Fr. Théry was won over by the clarty and understanding of this book review : “ You have rendered my thought in a most exact manner ; you have drawn conclusions from it that I had barely glimpsed ”, he wrote to our Father even before having revealed to him his true identity.
While Fr. de Nantes was pursuing a long and spectacular campaign on this subject – which still remains a burning question ! – he instructed me in autumn 1957, when I was entering into my second year at the Carmelite Seminary, to begin the linguistic and historical studies required for undertaking the task that was the most urgent in this field : a truly scientific translation of the Qur’an. 21 The rules of the historical and critical method, “ which have long been in use in the study of the Bible, ” demand that the fanciful legends of the Sirah on the life of Mohamed be disregarded, because they date from a much later era and have no historical basis. The result is a new understanding of the text of the Qur’an itself, the origins of which are biblical. It reveals that its author had the pretension of founding a perfect religion, i.e. ‘ Muslim. ’.
Fr. de Nantes met Fr. Théry on March 2, 1957. Very quickly, a friendly relationship was formed between this old Dominican scholar and the young priest who had understood him so well, and who was still hearing Charles de Foucauld’s call to come to the help of the souls of the infidels for whom France had taken the responsibility of colonisation. The concern for scientific, exegetic and historical “ truth ” was more important than ever, since it would be the preliminary to any missionary project in Islamic countries. His failure to enter Carmel had not made him abandon the desire of becoming a monk : a monk-missionary in imitation of Father de Foucauld. He confided this desire to Fr. Théry, who fully agreed, all the more so, he said, because Fr. de Foucauld was still awaiting true disciples : “ The place remains vacant, on account of the very questionable orientation, in any case very far removed from the original aim, of the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus, ” founded by Fr. Voillaume.
A doorway of light opened after years of maturing and inner purification, like a new call to the vocation that had been heard right from childhood. The Dominican Father advised him to write a Rule that he would take upon himself to submit for approval to a bishop from among his friends.
MONK-MISSIONARIES IN THE SPIRIT OF FR. DE FOUCAULD.
This is what in fact happened. During the following week, our Father wrote “ effortlessly and as it were in one go, without deletions ” the one hundred and twenty articles of a “ Provisional Rule ”, under which, ever since then, we, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, accomplish our noviciate while awaiting the day when it will obtain canonical recognition, at the hour that God will choose. This hour has not yet arrived. How could that be surprising ? In December of that same year 1957, Sister Lucy of Fatima confided to Fr. Fuentes that we were “ in the last times of the world ”, but that in the “ decisive battle that the Devil was currently waging against the Virgin ” – oh, what a mystery – the hierarchy was no longer fulfilling its duties :
“ Father, we should not wait for an appeal to come from Rome, on behalf of the Holy Father, calling on the whole world to do penance. Nor should we wait for it to come from our bishops in their dioceses or from the religious congregations. No. Our Lord has already made frequent use of these means and the world has taken no notice. That is why each of us must now begin his own spiritual reform. Each person must not only save his own soul, but also all the souls that God has placed on his path. ” 22
Our Rule is ‘ provisional, ’ as is all that is earthly, while awaiting the return of the Lord. Such is the vocation proper to this “ new religious family that is turned towards the end of time in order to welcome Christ with lit lamps in their hands and with inflamed hearts, when He returns. ” 23 This had been the concern of the author of the Letters to My Friends, for already over a year :
“ Conserve, however, the inner serenity that confidence in the victory of the Lord of Glory confers. He will return at the moment when all seems lost, when the elect themselves may be seduced […]. The profound life of humanity is the prayer of the Church. ” 24
“ A soul hidden in God, whose will is fully united to the divine Will in mutual love, is recognisable by his peace […]. His whole life is the touching adventure of a lost child who has found the road back home. ” 25
Our Father himself was this soul hidden in God, entirely abandoned to His divine will and fully occupied with glorifying God, as is revealed by the letter that he wrote to his spiritual director, 26 on All Saints’ Day 1957, of which this is a long excerpt :
“ 1° I am ready to do what God wants, indifferently. If I have been attached to political action, this no longer remains in me except in the form of a (weighty) duty. This is the result of ten years – or almost – of priesthood, from failure to dismissal, from dismissal to failure. How I thank God for having saved me in this way !
“ 2° I have recently received great insights concerning the doctrine of St. John of the Cross. I see in it the way that remains for me to follow : that of the desire of the most perfect union with my God, my Lord and my All that can be conceived. This desire produces, as far as I am concerned, continual acts of self-sacrifice, and as far as God is concerned, graces of contemplation. Thus, presently I really only think of living on mortification in order to die really to myself, to the world and to the Devil. Love lifts me up. This is possible to my feebleness only by the excessive gentleness and solitude of my present life ; I am thus able to pray constantly in the chapel and work on holy things.
“ A swarm of holy souls around me assist me with their prayers and their fervour, which is such an exhorting example !
“ 3° This being so, what about the future ? There is no worry ! If someone were to tell me on behalf of God : go there, I would go. Life is of so little importance that I would spend it doing anything in order to please someone. ”
On March 3, 1957, our Father wrote to Brother Gérard and me : “ We could call ourselves ‘ the Brothers of the Glory of God, ’ not thinking that we ought to be His glory, but desiring to be the happy cantors of the acquired Glory, thus happy contemplatives. ” Finally, our Father decided that we would be the ‘ Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart. ’ In his letter to Fr. Marc, his spiritual director, he continued :
“ Thus, for me, the Order of the Glory of God is this possible work, so great that it goes a thousand times beyond my life but to which it is good and holy to dispose and devote myself. Not that it might be my dream, my will : you know that I have no attachment to this apparent creation of my mind. Nevertheless, the content of this Rule is the richest treasure of our religion : the Glory of God, the Coming of Christ, etc., and that appeals to me ! Even if it were only a very small service of the Glory of God, for me it is immediately a sacred duty that is worth a thousand lives.
“ ‘ … and if I do not succeed ? ’ The objection haunts me, but only in order to gladden me delightfully. Jesus has brought me more through failures than through my successes ; therefore I know that among the three ways that open before me, His Majesty will spare me the first one because He loves me. He has already shown me this and will continue to do so : He will always save me from the success towards which my nature impetuously strives. Then, will He give me human failure and, concealed within it, the prosperity of the Order, or will He give me both human failure and total failure as He did to Fr. de Foucauld ? Ah, my Beloved, give me whatever You want, for Your Will is adorable and one way or the other I see what delights me : annihilation, the Cross, i.e., supernatural work carried out, and I see beyond this fragment of life, Heaven – Your Glory sung by myriads of angels and saints.
“ Do you understand my thinking ? To be jostled about from right to left because of this Rule, this Order, and seeing it come to nothing is for me a blessing, the best blessing of suffering imposed by God for the sake of His Name – since I no longer want anything but the Praise of His Glory, and I no longer see any life for me other than to celebrate it […].
“ To apply myself to this Rule is to devote myself to the perfect life according to the teaching of the holy Fathers, and in a way that stirs me in the substance of my being and that corresponds to the most constant and profound movement of my soul. So, whether it succeeds or not, by fostering this ideal, it is to the best of myself that I am giving place. I am unable to want anything else !
“ Here I insist. I see that there is no hope of holiness except along this line, on this well-lit path, no hope of service that is pleasing to God except according to these views, since, once again, they have nothing that is personal to me, nothing original, and are only a repetition according to my personal understanding of the Admirable and Adorable Wisdom of Jesus Christ.
“ In the past, I used to see the Glory of God through the clouds of the earth, my plans, my desires and my tendencies. Now, I see the Praise of the Glory of God as a powerful longing in our hearts and, through it, the things of the earth as so many occasions for this Praise.
“ Perhaps I am very unfaithful to this view of the soul, but there are demands so well conformed to His Will that God cannot fail to satisfy them. Well ! All day and all night, my entire being summarises its prayer in the Pater. In my life, the Rule of the Brothers of the Glory of God and the other projects or desires are only the extension of this one, beatifying prayer. In all conscience, I believe that, assisted by God’s grace, I have nothing but these demands of the Pater in my mind and heart. Amen.
“ Your son. ” 27
The Letter that celebrated the tenth anniversary of his priesthood, on March 27, 1958, bore as an epigraph these words of St. Augustine : “ Give me souls and take away the rest ! ” and ended with these words : “ What do the disaffections, the failures and even the persecutions that each of us may suffer, matter ! The only thing that counts is the Church and her Truth. In the coming struggles and misfortunes, may we have no other concern. ” 28
On November 22, 1957, our Father went on pilgrimage to Lisieux to entrust his plans to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and to the sisters of the Carmel. 29 Thanks to an exceptional privilege, he served the Mass of Dom Hondet, the Father Abbot of Belloc, in the small infirmary where St. Thérèse died. From Lisieux, he sent this short letter to Brother Gérard :
“ What a lesson of humility, purity, solitude for the love and imitation of Jesus she [St. Thérèse] gives us. We are far from it, but I am confident that if you become well attached to me like beloved brothers and if I become well attached to Fr. de Foucauld as he was to Jesus, then we will all fulfil God’s marvellous Will. The whole Church invisibly helps us, in Heaven and even already on earth by a kind of divine plot ! ” 30
He did not know how right he was, for the following day, Rev. Fr. Coudray, a White Father, vice-postulator of Fr. de Foucauld’s cause of beatification, wrote to him after having read our ‘ Provisional Rule ’ :
“ I think I could say that the spirit is indeed that of Fr. de Foucauld, in particular for all that concerns the Eucharist and adoration, submission to and filial membership in the Church, the concern for orthodoxy, for avoiding everything that could be an imprudent novelty, all that could divide, separation from the world, solitude, etc., and many other things. It seems to me if Fr. de Foucauld were alive, he would fully approve the spirit that animates these rules. ” 31
In the meanwhile, Bishop Le Couëdic, of Troyes, to whom Fr. Théry had transmitted the text of the Rule, offered Fr. de Nantes the possibility of undertaking the planned foundation in his diocese : “ You will bury yourselves there and later on something will sprout. ”
On September 1, 1958, our Father said his farewells to his parishioners of Anceaumeville who, in gratitude for his ministry, offered him a chasuble “ on which is summarised all the love of my life and my vocation : there is a Cross surrounded by a crown of thorns, for nothing great and good takes place on earth except in sacrifice and sorrow, and on the breast you see a Heart surmounted by a Cross, for the mystery of our whole religion and of our life is summarised in this sign : the Heart of Jesus beat only for us. He gave us His love, His mercy and His forgiveness in advance. The red, like a bloodstain, recalls that there is no greater love than to give one’s life for those whom one loves ; the white, liliaceous, immaculate, evokes the light of Heaven, the infinite joy of life given to God and united to Him. ” 32
When our Father took leave of Madeleine Saucé, the daughter of the sacristan of Anceaumeville, who wanted to follow the luminous trail of Brother Charles of Jesus in our Father’s footsteps, he traced this project of life for her : “ You are in your vocation in Anceaumeville ; the real temptations here do not exceed your strength and God’s assistance. By your sacrifice and your fidelity, you can merit many graces for this village that we love so much […]. In solitude, try to live this life of perfection in the love of God and self-renunciation. Therein will be your joy. When God wills, we will form a little association and then you will find your home. Until then, pray 1° that I may resolutely take the path of perfection, 2° that others may follow us and that the Church accept our Order, 3° that thereafter ‘ pious laymen ’ may want to lead a more perfect life like us and that you may be one of them. ”
This was how our first ‘ familiar, ’ who remained faithful throughout her life to the vocation that her good Shepherd had outlined for her, was recruited.
(1) CRC no. 110, October 1976, p. 4.
(2) CRC no. 110, October 1976, p. 4.
(3) CRC no. 6, March 1968, p. 19.
(4) This is the first tape recording of our Father that we possess.
(5) A brilliant circle of professors in all subjects and at all levels. It was created by Henri Boegner at the end of the 1920’s in order to defend the interests of the teaching profession and French intelligence.
(6) Letter to Brother Bruno, 1956. Archives of the Community.
(7) Letter of January 1, Archives of the Community.
(8) Letter of June 11, 1956. Archives of the Community.
(9) Letter to Brother Bruno, 1955. Archives of the Community.
(10) A. F. U. no. 3, May 1955.
(11) “ The Quest for the Truth ”, A. F. U. no. 6, October 1955.
(12) “ Develop la Philosophy of French Nationalism ”, A. F. U. no. 14, June 1956.
(13) “ The Quest for the Truth ”, A. F. U. no. 6, October 1956.
(14) “ Democracy Is the Evil, Democracy Is Death ”, A. F. U. no. 17, November 1956.
(15) “ Letter of a Theologian : the Betrayal of the Moralists, ” L’Ordre français no. 5, September 1956. Extensive excerpts of this article have been published inHe is Risen, no. 53, February 2007.
(16) Letter of October 7, 1956. Archives of the Community.
(17) “ A Historical Community to Be Saved ”, L’Ordre français no. 6, November 1956 ; cf.He is Risen, no. 53, February 2007.
(18) “ Morality and Torture ”, L’Ordre français nos. 14-15, September – October 1957 ; cf.He is Risen, no. 54, March 2007.
(19) Letter of May 8, 1957. Archives of the Community.
(20) Islam under Scrutiny, L’Ordre française no. 8, January 1957.
(21) Three volumes have already been published :The Qur’an, Translation and Systematic Commentary, éd. CRC. The most recent archeological research converges with the results of our scientific exegesis of the Qur’an : From Islamophobia to Islamology, He is Risen no. 105, June 2011.
(22) Cf. Brother François de Marie des Anges, Fatima Salvation of the World, éd. CRC, p. 280.
(23) Personal letter of October 5, 1957. Archives of the Community.
(24) Letter to My Friends no. 2 of November 4, 1956.
(25) Letter to My Friends no. 24, October 1957.
(26) Fr. Marc, Priest of the Maison Marie-Thérèse.
(27) Letter to Fr. Marc, All Saint’s Day 1957, Archives of the Community.
(28) Letter to My Friends no. 31.
(29) He gave an account of it in Letter to My Friends no. 25.
(30) Letter of November 22, 1957. Archives of the Community.
(31) Letter of November 23, 1957, quoted in For the Church, Vol. I, p. 61.
(32) Sermon of September 1, 1958 : “ A Servant Is not Greater than his Master ”.