Archive for the ‘St. Joan of Arc’ Tag

Feast of Georges Bernanos (July 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Georges Bernanos

Image in the Public Domain

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LOUIS ÉMILIE CLÉMENT GEORGES BERNANOS (FEBRUARY 20, 1888-JULY 5, 1948)

French Roman Catholic Novelist

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God did not create the Church to ensure the prosperity of the saints, but in order that she should transmit their memory….They lived and suffered as we do.  They were tempted as we are.  The man who dares not yet accept what is sacred and divine in their example will at least learn from it the lesson of heroism and honor.

–Georges Bernanos, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 290

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Georges Bernanos was a man with a strong sense of the sacred and the divine, as well as shifting politics.  He, born in Paris, France, on February 20, 1888, grew up mostly in Fressin, a village in Pas-de-Calais.  Our saint, a soldier during World War I, studied at the Sorbonne.  Early in life Bernanos was a reactionary, not a conservative; he thought that France should be a monarchy, not a republic.  For a number of years he belonged to Action Française, a right-wing Roman Catholic organization, and even attacked a professor who had dared to criticize St. Joan of Arc.  Bernanos left Action Française in 1932, however, and accused it of valuing tradition and order more than the spirit of Christ.

Bernanos, married to a descendant of St. Joan of Arc’s brother, struggled for years to support his family with his writing.  He wrote about priests in particular.  Our saint’s first novel was Under the Star of Satan (1926), was about the battle between good and evil within a rural priest.  Bernanos, who had to walk the assistance of canes after an automobile accident in 1933, found financial security in 1936 with The Diary of a Country Priest, his masterpiece.  The main character was a pious priest who struggled with mediocrity and failure, despite much effort, while remaining unaware of his underlying sanctity.  That priest’s dying words were,

Does it matter?  Grace is everywhere.

The Bernanos family moved to Majorca, Spain, in 1936.  Our saint initially supported Francisco Franco‘s Falangist Party (Christian Fascists), supposedly fighting for the Roman Catholic Church during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).  Yet Bernanos became disillusioned with Franco, who won that war, committed many atrocities, and presided over a dictatorship until 1975.  Our saint’s Ceremonies Under the Son led to recrimination and allegations of betrayal from many of his usual allies on the Right and praise from the Left.

Bernanos left Spain in 1938.  He resided in Brazil, living on a farm, until 1945.  Our saint, openly critical of the Vichy regime, returned to France after World War II.  His final work, left incomplete, due to death, was a life of Christ.  Bernanos, aged 60 years, died at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, on July 5, 1948.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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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 Georges Bernanos 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 21:15-17, 24-25

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

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Feast of St. Joan of Arc (May 30)   1 comment

Above:  St. Joan of Arc

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOAN OF ARC (JANUARY 6, 1412-MAY 30, 1431)

Roman Catholic Mystic, Visionary, and Martyr

Also known as Saint Jeanne d’Arc

The Roman Catholic Church lists St. Joan of Arc as a virgin, not a martyr.  That is because Holy Mother Church martyred her.  The Episcopal Church, which added her feast in 2009, lists her as a mystic and a soldier.  The Church of England lists St. Joan as a visionary.

St. Joan was pious throughout her brief life.  She, born in Greux-Domremy, Lorraine, France, was an illiterate child of Jacques d’Arc, a peasant farmer.  At the age of 13 years, in the summer of 1425, she reported receiving her first vision, a voice accompanied by a blaze of light.  Over the next few years Sts. Margaret of Antioch, Catherine of Alexandria, Michael the Archangel, and other holy figures seem to have appeared and spoken to St. Joan.

Above:  France in 1422

Image scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

By May 1428 St. Joan had become convinced that God wanted her to help king and country, then suffering during the Hundred Years’ War (1437-1453).  Since 1422 the claimant to the French throne had been Charles (VII).  Our saint, after much persistence, finally reached the Dauphin at Chinon in March 1429.  She proved to be a capable military commander until May 1430, when Burgundians captured her at Compiègne.  In the meantime, St. Joan ad made the coronation of the Dauphin as King Charles VII possible. The ungrateful and probably embarrassed Charles VII did not help our saint after she became a prisoner of the English.  The verdict of the trial on the charges of being a witch and a heretic was a fait accompli as long as St. Joan refused to enter a false plea.  Our saint, convicted, burned alive at the stake at Rouen on May 30, 1431.

The Church cleared her name in 1456, beatified her in 1905, and canonized her in 1920.

Robert Ellsberg, writing in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), observed:

An illiterate peasant girl, a shepherd, a “nobody,” she heeded a religious call to save her country when all the “somebodies” of her time proved unable or unwilling to meet the challenge.  She stood up before princes of the church and state and the most learned authorities of her world and refused to compromise her conscience or deny her special vocation.  She paid the ultimate price for her stand.  And in doing so she won a prize far more valuable than the gratitude of the Dauphin or the keys of Orleans.

–Page 238

Organized religion has long had a difficult relationship with mysticism, which bypasses official channels, much to the consternation of people invested in those channels.  This was one of the points of controversy relative to St. Joan of Arc.  Another was gender; she dressed like a man.  Both of these points obsessed her dubious inquisitors, who acted in the name of God and the Church yet glorified only themselves, and only in the short term.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOWER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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Holy God, whose power is made perfect in weakness:

we honor you for the calling of Jeanne d’Arc, who, though young,

rose up in valor to bear your standard for her country,

and endured with grace and fortitude both victory and defeat;

and we pray that we, like Jeanne, may bear witness

to the truth that is in us to friends and enemies alike,

and, encouraged by the companionship of your saints,

give ourselves bravely to the struggle for justice in our time;

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

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

Judith 8:32-9:11

Psalm 144:1-12

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Matthew 12:25-30

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 395

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