Archive for the ‘Peter Maurin’ Tag

Feast of Leon Bloy, Jacques Maritain, and Raissa Maritain (November 4)   4 comments

Above:  The Flag of the French Republic

Image in the Public Domain

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LÉON BLOY (JULY 11, 1846-NOVEMBER 3, 1917)

French Roman Catholic Novelist and Social Critic

godfather of

JACQUES MARITAIN (NOVEMBER 18, 1882-APRIL 28, 1973)

French Roman Catholic Philosopher

husband of

RAÏSSA OUMANSOV MARITAIN (1883-NOVEMBER 4, 1960)

Russian-French Roman Catholic Contemplative

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The worst evil is not to commit crimes, but to have failed to do the good one might have done.

–Léon Bloy, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 477

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If Christians were to renounce…the desire for sanctity, this would be an ultimate betrayal against God and against the world.

–Jacques Maritain, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 503

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It is an error to isolate oneself from men….If God does not call one to solitude, one must live with God in the multitude, must make him known there and make him loved.

–Raïssa Maritain, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 480

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Alors il leva les yeux sur ses disciples et dit:

Heureux vous les pauvres, car le royaume de Dieu à vous!…

Mais malheur à vous, les riches, car vous avez votre consolation.

Luc 6: 20 et 24, La Sainte Bible, Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée (1976)

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As Léon Bloy understood, Jesus said,

Blessed are the poor

and

Woe to you who are rich.

The novelist, who internalized that value system, railed against the dominant social value that says

Woe to you who are poor

and

Blessed are the rich.

Bloy, born in Notre-Dame-de-Sanihac, France, on July 11, 1846, grew up an agnostic hostile to Roman Catholicism.  His father was Jean-Baptiste Bloy; our saint’s mother was Anne-Marie Carreau.  In 1869 Bloy converted to Roman Catholicism, however.  He was a frequently controversial figure with a temper, which he brought to bear on social ills, including greed, injustice, materialism, and anti-Semitism.  Our saint also led a difficult, impoverished life.  His writings did not sell well, and poverty contributed to the deaths of two of his children.  The self-critical novelist died at the age of 71 years on November 3, 1917, in Bourg-la-Reine, France.

Bloy did, despite his self-recriminations for having done too little for God, help to bring the Maritains to faith.

Jacques Maritan, born in Paris, France, on November 11, 1882, became a prominent philosopher.  He, raised in a Protestant family, had lost his faith by the time he matriculated at the Sorbonne in 1899.  Yet the search for the truth still mattered to Maritain.  At the Sorbonne he met and fell in love with another troubled seeker, Raïssa Oumansov.

The Oumansov family, formerly of Rostov and Mariupol, the Russian Empire, was Jewish.  The family, with daughters Raïssa and Vera, had moved to Paris in 1893, to escape official anti-Semitism and to provide better educational opportunities for the daughters.  Raïssa, as an adolescent, lost her faith.  She sought the truth in vain at the Sorbonne (1900f).  She did, however, meet Jacques Maritain when he asked her to sign a petition protesting the Czarist government’s treatment of socialist students.

The Maritains, married in 1904, eventually became despondent over having not found the truth that they made a suicide pact.  They agreed that they would take their lives if, within a year, they did discover the meaning of life.  Bloy befriended them, though, and led them, as well as Vera Oumansov, into the Roman Catholic Church.  He stood as their godfather in 1906.  Jacques, Raïssa, and Vera eventually chose to become Oblates of St. Benedict, and to make vows of perpetual chastity.

Jacques immersed himself in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and spent much of his life applying Thomism to the modern world.  He, a professor at the Institut Catholique, Paris, from 1914 to 1939, offended many conservative Roman Catholics by favoring constitutional government and opposing the Spanish fascist leader Francisco Franco.  Jacques, with Raïssa acquainted with Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, also favored what he called “Integral Humanism,” or the infusion of Christian values into the world via what he called “Lay Spirituality.”  Jacques, an opponent of the Vichy government, taught in the United States and Canada from 1940 to 1945.  After World War II he served as the French Ambassador to the Vatican.  During that period (1945-1948), he befriended Angelo Roncalli, the Nuncio to France.  Roncalli went on to become St. John XXIII, Bishop of Rome, in 1958.  Jacques taught at Princeton University from 1948 to 1960.

Raïssa became a poet and a contemplative.  She understood that God was calling her to share in divine suffering, and kept a spiritual journal.  She died on November 4, 1960.  Jacques had her spiritual journal published posthumously.

Jacques, as a widower, joined the Little Brothers of Jesus, the order Blessed Charles de Foucauld founded in the Algerian desert in 1933.  Jacques became a notice at Toulousse in 1961; he made his vows nine years later.  Pope St. Paul VI recognized our saint in person at the Vatican in 1965.  The Supreme Pontiff presented our saint with a copy of the Vatican II document on the Church and the Modern World.  Jacques, aged 90 years, died in Toulousse on April 28, 1973.

Part of the meaning of life is to help each other live faithfully, to glorify God, to enjoy God, and to show the light of Christ in our lives.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CASPAR NEUMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin (May 9)   6 comments

Above:  Dorothy Day, 1934

Image in the Public Domain

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DOROTHY DAY (NOVEMBER 8, 1897-NOVEMBER 29, 1980)

ARISTODE PIERRE MAURIN (MAY 9, 1877-MAY 15, 1949)

Cofounders of the Catholic Worker Movement

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Don’t call me a saint.  I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.

–Dorothy Day

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People who are in need and are not afraid to beg give to people not in need the occasion to do good for goodness’ sake.  Modern society calls the beggar bum and panhandler and gives him the bum’s rush.  But the Greeks used to say that people in need are ambassadors of the gods.  Although you may be called bums and panhandlers, yo are in fact the ambassadors of God.  As God’s ambassadors you should be given good, clothing, and shelter by those who are able to give it.

–Peter Maurin on Christian hospitality

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Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin were radicals, even according to the standards of many other radicals.  Their radicalism was consistent with their Christian faith.

Peter Maurin lived according the reality that all of us depend entirely on God.  Aristode Pierre Maurin, born in Oultet, in the Lanquedoc region of France, on May 9, 1877, joined the Christian Brothers when he was 16 years old.  Mandatory military service in 1898 and 1899 highlighted sense of the conflict between civil and religious duties.

Maurin preferred his religious responsibilities.  The government of the French Third Republic closed many religious schools in 1902.  At that time our saint left the Christian Brothers and joined Sillon, a left-wing Roman Catholic movement.  He departed that movement in 1908, for he disagreed with Sillon’s increasingly political nature.  Maurin emigrated to Canada in 1909.  After two unsuccessful years as a homesteader in Saskatchewan, our saint worked a series of jobs in the United States and Canada.  He was, for example, a wheat harvester, a track layer, and a coal miner.  In 1932 Maurin, who never married, was working as a handyman at a Roman Catholic boys’ school in upstate New York.  When time permitted he travelled to New York City, where he spent time in branches of the public library and spoke on street corners.  He met Dorothy Day in the city in December 1932.

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other.  We know Him in the breaking of the bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore.  Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.

–Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day, born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 8, 1897, made a roundabout journey to faith.  She, baptized in The Episcopal Church when young, had rejected the Christian faith by the time she was a college student.  Day dropped out of college to become a journalist for radical publications in New York City.  In 1926 our saint, in a common-law marriage on Staten Island, gave birth to a daughter, Tamar Teresa Day (Batterham Hennessy), who lived until 2008.  Day had her daughter baptized in the Roman Catholic Church.  The following year our saint converted to Roman Catholic Church, thereby ending her common-law marriage.

Day became dissatisfied with the church’s support for the status quo.  She channeled this attitude into The Catholic Worker, the first issue of which debuted on May 1, 1933.  The publication, which Maurin suggested calling The Catholic Radical, was pro-labor and critical of both Marxism and capitalism.  The Catholic Worker, rooted in the Gospels, advocated not for reform, but for school revolution of a nonviolent variety.  She preferred an agricultural and decentralized society grounded in faith.  Toward this end the movement founded farms.  Also, the newspaper offices became a “house of hospitality” for providing food and shelter.

Maurin suffered a stroke in 1944.  He spent his final years, during which he struggled with memory loss, at the retreat center near Newburgh, New York.  There he died on May 15, 1949, aged 72 years.  His corpse, buried in a borrowed grave, wore a secondhand suit.

Day, radical politically–to the point of being a professing anarchist–was conservative in her piety.  Our saint, a pacifist–even during World War II–opposed wars consistently and argued against nuclear proliferation.  She also committed acts of civil disobedience, for which authorities arrested her repeatedly.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated her, as if she were a threat or a criminal.  Director J. Edgar Hoover was a reactionary and an unrepentant racist who opposed social change (especially the Civil Rights Movement any antiwar movement), kept his job as long as he did by blackmailing politicians, trampled civil liberties, and presided over an agency that attempted to blackmail the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., into committing suicide.  Of course Day had an F.B.I. file.  If Jesus of Nazareth had lived in the U.S.A. at the time, Hoover would have labeled him a subversive and ordered surveillance of him.  Our Lord and Savior’s F.B.I. file would have been thicker than a large-print Bible.

Day died, aged 93 years, in New York City on November 29, 1980.  The Roman Catholic Church, having begun to consider her for recognition as a saint, has labeled her a Servant of God.

Day and Maurin were indeed subversives–for Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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