June 2011 - Crisis of Paternity

The French Revolution attacked the Throne to destroy the Altar. Indeed, the devil knows very well that the supernatural must exist incarnated. And as the supernatural completely escapes his power, he manages to undermine what is natural, bringing down the supernatural as if it were a fragile house of cards.

Dear friends and benefactors,

The French Revolution attacked the Throne to destroy the Altar. Indeed, the devil knows very well that the supernatural must exist incarnated. And as the supernatural completely escapes his power, he manages to undermine what is natural, bringing down the supernatural as if it were a fragile house of cards.

Perhaps we do not take the trouble of reflecting on the proverb which tells us that “the supernatural does not destroy nature, but crowns it”. In fact, we must reflect with great care on the destruction of nature characteristic of our times, last avatar of the Revolution. It is now a question of destroying the image of God in man, reducing him to the level of a brute animal, led only by a wild instinct for pleasure. How can we restore the altar of the supernatural if we do not first rebuild the throne of nature?

The rupture of the Church’s tradition, serious as it is, is not enough to explain the current disaster. The astonishing deficiencies that we notice in education oblige us to take into account another rupture which also relates to tradition, but on the natural level. In general, even in the bosom of their own families, children do not receive an education in which affection and firmness, that essential alliance, unite to help them to develop fully. The present decadence is the fruit of these two painful ruptures, each of which entails dire consequences. Permit me to dwell for a moment upon the crisis of authority from which we are presently suffering. It seems to me that an examination of this problem will help us to come to a better understanding of the profound evil which corrupts us and thereby to avoid the errors of judgment which we too frequently fall into when considering the present disaster.

It would be dangerous to make a merely superficial study of the crisis of authority, reducing it to a few general considerations. By so doing, we risk being satisfied with lofty speeches devoid of action. It is insufficient simply to declare that the problem of today is above all a crisis of authority – we cannot continue repeating this now trite formula without doing something to correct the situation. The contempt of the authority is, in fact, one of the most certain causes of our loss. We must deal carefully with this problem and seek its cause, in order to be able to find a remedy for it which will restore to modern man the sense of authority, which is so vital.

Today the very notion of authority is vilified: authority is considered, even by good men, as a more or less hidden expression of tyranny. But the truth is that authority is a sacred reality, an essential condition for the balance and development of man. Authority is a sacred reality because it is a participation in the divine Paternity. Modern man, child of the Revolution, does not know what divine Paternity is: he lives in a world marked with the seal of the Beast, a world in which the imprint of the divine attributes is no longer discernible. The Revolution, offspring of Satan, inevitably bears the traces of its filiation. Thus, it has made us brand every authority with the character of that pitiless tyranny of the Prince of Darkness. Modern man, living under this diabolical yoke, sees even legitimate authority as an infernal burden to be distrusted and opposed.

Our times have so deeply wounded souls that it is insufficient to preach the divine Paternity: man cannot know the divine Paternity because he no longer acknowledges the paternity of the Church, of the forms of government, and of the father in the family. This is a terrible state, because earthly paternity must be a visible and tangible reality, obvious and visible, which leads man to the higher reality, which is the divine paternity. Man is dying because he is orphaned. The true crisis of today is a crisis of paternity. A few pages of history will help us to understand this problem more deeply.

1 - In “The Ancient City”, Fustel de Coulanges shows very clearly that the strength of pagan Rome rested upon its notion of the family and, particularly, upon the sacred role of the paterfamilias. Fustel considers that the major reason for Rome’s decline was the loss of this sacral sense of the paterfamilias.

2 - After the fall of the Roman Empire, men gathered around the abbeys and beneath the walls of the castles. This is easy to understand: to overcome the chaos of the Barbarian invasions, men put themselves under the paternal and supernatural benevolence of religious Abbots or acknowledged, by feudal allegiance, the natural paternity of their suzerains.

3 – At his consecration, the king of France became the lieutenant of God for the Realm, the image of the heavenly Father and His temporal representative. Looked at in this light, the assassination of Louis XVI was much more than a simple regicide: it was parricide. The Catholics of the Vendée instinctively understood this. France is dying, if she is not already dead, from this crime, which expressed the Revolution’s fundamental rejection of the paternity of God.

4 - The Revolution understood that its work would be null and void if it did not replace the father whom it had removed. Napoleon was the replacement necessary for strengthening the roots of the revolutionary principles. His soldiers had a filial affection for him and were even ready to make the supreme sacrifice of their lives for him.

5 - The Republic itself sacralized the state to survive. The very notion of State-Providence, the welfare state, is a ridiculous, if not odious, answer to the necessary search for filiation.

6 - Stalin obliged the Ukrainian peasants, whom he had cruelly starved before, to recite the Lord’s Prayer in their churches. His henchmen claimed that the divine silence which followed their requests for daily bread was a proof that God did not exist and that His paternity was a lie. They then proposed a new version of the Lord’s Prayer, addressed now to the “Little Father of the People”, Stalin himself! But, this time, the doors opened, bringing an immense quantity of bread sent by the “Little Father”!

This brief – and inevitably incomplete – historical review may help us to realize how much man needs a father to live: a man without a father is a being without defense, destined to disappear – he is a being without roots, without balance. Today, alas, we have the tangible proof of this. We live in a world in permanent revolution, a world born of Protestantism, which has profoundly distorted human nature, to the devil’s profit. Once the supernatural is deprived of a foundation, of a subject in which to be incarnated, nothing remains but a hideous mask – an appearance, but not the reality of the supernatural.

Youth is particularly endangered. I had a surprising and painful demonstration of this during a summer camp in Europe. After a few days of camp, during which we attended ordinations at Écône, visited some monasteries, admired the Great Charterhouse amidst the splendid mountains, and made a pilgrimage to the shrine of La Salette, we met together to make a first assessment of the camp. To my great surprise, the young campers had been especially impressed by the two families who had received us. The intimacy existing between the parents and the children, although quite ordinary in itself, had been for them an extraordinary discovery. A boy in the camp, with whom the other participants were entirely in agreement, stated concisely the conclusion of our discussion: “The truth is, we do not have parents.”

During the following two weeks I brought up this delicate subject again, with the group and with individuals. I realized that these young people could not count absolutely on their parents, who were nonetheless of a rare good will. Puritanism had devastated them, and these parents, unconsciously affected by this evil, did not know how to surround their children with a legitimate and necessary affection. The souls of these teenagers were painfully handicapped because they had never known a true love – that love which gives to one’s personality the balance required to confront this modern world, which is itself founded upon an adulterated love.

I was like a cook who fails to make a sauce. The essential ingredients were not lacking. The problem was very different: quite simply, there was no bowl in which to make the sauce! The young people were unable to receive and to retain because of a defect of soul. Their qualities, which were in fact many, were only superficial, without roots. Nor was this due to any personal hypocrisy; rather, Protestantism had profoundly distorted their nature, leaving only the external appearances.

The short sentence of our camper is accurate indeed, and the consequences of this absence of paternity and maternity are immense. As long as our children do not experience true affection, they will never become men. Even if they experience it, it is to be feared that they will not recognize or receive it, because they have not known it as children. To try to build a future without providing for this tragic deficiency would be like building a house on sand. The absence of a well-formed nature nullifies every effort of the will, no matter how much “goodwill” there is. The essential pre-requisite for any supernatural formation is to rebuild nature by opening the soul with true affection.

The lack of true affection – usually replaced, in the best of cases, by a nebulous and sporadic sentimentalism – makes it impossible for the father to exercise his authority: he uses it by fits and starts, according to his moods and whims, and this makes it difficult for the child to respect it, to recognize its need and to subject himself to it with intelligence. In this way, the teenager becomes a rebel, unwillingly obliged to yield before force, but secretly desiring to enjoy his freedom! He will perceive any form of authority as a personal attack, and this will provoke an internal reaction of rebellion.

The children are the first to be marked by this spirit of permanent and hidden rebellion, a spirit which creates future revolutionaries. It is difficult to grasp the true extent of this catastrophe because this Puritanical error slips surreptitiously into souls wounded by original sin. Externally, the twenty year-old man of today seems hardly different from his predecessors. This appearance is misleading: behind the facade is a great but unnoticed misery – and, unfortunately, too often it remains unnoticed! The schools do not compensate entirely for this absence of foundations. To supply for the absence, it would be necessary to begin education again at its base. The child must be taught that life is a combat against self; that this combat, however hard, is the key to his happiness; that the spirit of sacrifice is an elevation of the soul; that details should not be neglected because they are the subject in which the virtues are incarnated. But today, souls are lulled to sleep by the lies of materialism. They neglect the realm of being and focus on the realm of having. Parents no longer realize that the education of their children is only born of their own willingly accepted sacrifices. Thus, they fail to arm their children for tomorrow’s combat. They aim only for material success, so they can live in comfort and ease. Preoccupied with themselves and with their own comfort, these parents cannot love their children with a love of benevolence, a love comprising both affection and severity.

Due to these major deficiencies which disfigure the soul of the youth, very few children today have had the grace to learn at their mothers’ knees to admire their fathers and to respect them with a filial love. This is for us a cause of keen sorrow, because it is only this first education which makes it possible for man to receive a real formation (which itself is nothing more than the harmonious completion of this first impression).
Puritanism is the apex of Revolution – it is Revolution victorious. Revolution can only destroy the elite by its violence, but it cannot prevent future restorations: in spite of everything, nature and its imprescriptible laws remain. But Puritanism creates a new race of men. It chokes the profound nature of man by imposing on him an artificial nature in which truth is replaced by sincerity, happiness by pleasure, and charity by a sentimental philanthropy. Puritanism, because of the natural deficiencies that it causes, destroys any hope of restoration, but not any hope of resurrection!
Nature is, indeed, unable to restore itself. Only the supernatural can help it effectively. It is certain that nature will rediscover its harmony only by the presence of grace in the soul. This presence, to be efficacious, must be royal – that is, our life must be subject to the empire of grace. The training for this submission is the work of the priest. We can only repeat the words of Rev. Fr. de Chivré: “To remake a people, priests should be remade. And priests will be remade only by penance or martyrdom.”

Our first effort must, therefore, be addressed to the Seminary. To remake these priests, whom we really need, it is necessary for us to take into account the deficiencies of our times. It seems to us that the way to engage ourselves in this task is to reinforce nature by subjecting the candidate to a human formation. But to avoid any confusion, let us specify that this human formation – even if it includes classical studies and certain rudiments of good manners, so as to teach our candidate to the priesthood that he must not be dominated by his flesh – is concerned above all with giving a major spiritual formation based on the spirit of faith. To quote Rev. Fr. de Chivré again: “Nothing humanizes life like the supernatural”. The young Giuseppe Sarto, the future St. Pius X, had to follow two years of Humanities at the beginning of his seminary years, and considering this, one can only be impressed by a comparison of the level of the studies, the balance of the respective generations and the Christian spirit of these two eras…

Our hope remains intact because it is certain that the grace of God will raise up from the youth of our times – and is already raising up – a generation of priests ready to give to this world the sense of God, of His divine Paternity. Oremus. We greatly need prayers, your prayers for the young Levites who tomorrow will receive the grace of the priestly unction.
In Christo sacerdote et Maria.

Fr. Yves le Roux