Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jesuit On Carmel And George Bernanos

The spirit of Carmel has been more notable in Chile over these last days.  And despite my loyalty to my Jesuit confreres, I have to admit that there is a special urgency to the holiness of Carmel.  For attention to the Church’s esteem for “unaccomplished,” contemplative lives helps to disambiguate two ideals so easily confused in our age: Christian holiness and philanthropic moralism—with the latter being understood more or less as the duty to reduce human human suffering whenever possible. The Chilean Church’s seemingly disproportionate joy over these feasts of Carmel reminded me of a letter written by Georges Bernanos (pictured) that I ran across some years back (and that has haunted me ever since). Therein the French Catholic novelist explains why he made Fr. Donissan, the saintly protagonist of Sous le Soleil de Satan, so humanly unimpressive.  For Bernanos, the human “foolishness” of this “saint of Lumbres” was necessary precisely to expose the attempted reduction of Christianity to philanthropic moralism
Link (here) to read  the full post by scholastic Aaron Pidel, S.J.


shadowlands said...

Diary of a Country Priest is one of my favourite books. I managed to catch a bit of the 1951 film (Journal d'un curé de campagne) on youtube aswell, but the whoe film is not subtitled, just excerpts ( well it wasn't when I last looked, it might be now!).

Joseph Fromm said...

This was the first time I had heard of him. Seems like I missed the boat.

Jean-Francois Thomas S.J said...

Georges Bernanos is certainly the greatest French writer of the XX th century (it is what Andre Malraux, coming from Communism, stated), a period, between the two World Wars which was very rich for the litterature, poetry, philosophy, theology, written by French catholics. Bernanos was a legitimist royalist, very close to Maurras for many years, more distant later on. He was influenced by the master of all, Leon Bloy and influenced, still does, so many writers and thinkers after him. His word is fire and he always tried to fight mediocrity in the Church. He was friend with some Jesuits, like Father Victor Poucel who was a profific writer himself, while being very critical about some others, especially because of their political stand during the Spanish civil war (Bernanos was in Spain at the time)and the German occupation of France (Bernanos was in Brazil then) The movie made par Bresson on the Journal d'un cure de campagne is magnificent.
We need such voices in the Church today!

Joseph Fromm said...

Thank You Father Thomas for the helping me catch up.