Feast of Francois Mauriac (September 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Signature of François Mauriac

Image in the Public Domain

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FRANÇOIS CHARLES MAURIAC (OCTOBER 11, 1885-SEPTEMBER 1, 1970)

French Roman Catholic Novelist, Christian Humanist, and Social Critic

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Our hidden life with Christ ought to have some bearing on our lives as citizens.  We cannot approve or practice publicly in the name of Caesar what the Lord condemns, disapproves, or curses, whether it be failure to honor our word, exploitation of the poor, police torture, or regimes of terror.

–François Mauriac, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 378

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François Mauriac joins the ranks at this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), a resource invaluable for my hobby of hagiography.

Mauriac, born in Bordeaux, France, on October 11, 1885, was a giant of French literature.  His father died when he was an infant.  Our saint’s stern, Jansenist mother inculcated a strong sense of sin within Mauriac and his four siblings.  (Jansenism, the Roman Catholic counterpart to Calvinism, is, according to Holy Mother Church, a heresy.  The official Roman Catholic position is Semi-Pelagianism.)  From grandparents Mauriac learned bourgeois values, as respectability, business, and marrying into a good family.  Another strong influence on our saint was Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).

The strong senses of sin and grace pervaded Mauriac’s novels.  Sin distorted the lives of his characters, but not one–not even the most villainous one–was beyond redemption.  Grace was never far away, and sainthood will always a possibility.

For Sartre hell is other people; but for us, others are Christ.

–Mauriac, quoted in All Saints, 377

Mauriac, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1952, recognized French capitulation (ubiquitous, not universal) to Nazi rule and willingness to deport Jews as collective moral failures.  This sense informed a later work, The Son of Man, about the humanity of Jesus.  Mauriac wrote,

All tyrannies are founded upon contempt for man.  When this temptation to contempt overcomes us, we must remember that Christ was a man like us.  If He was one of us, then every man, no matter how miserable he is, has a capacity for God.

–Mauriac, quoted in All Saints, 378

Our saint, aged 85 years, died in Paris, France, on September 1, 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring François Mauriac and all those

who with words have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 3:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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