Rolling Hills of Mid Devon, England, by Simon Ward.
Showing posts with label French Revolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French Revolution. Show all posts

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Father Rutler: Three Revolutions

Father George W. Rutler
It may be the seasonal heat that incubates revolutionary sentiments, since both Independence Day and Bastille Day occurred in the feverish days of July. One admires the temperance of our Founding Fathers meeting in Philadelphia in un-airconditioned rooms. The other revolution unleashed more violent passions against a devout monarch who, like Charles I and later Nicholas II, inherited the consequences of less benign forebears. There were excesses in the American colonies, but pulling down the statue of George III was unlike the French actually beheading their king and queen.
 
Inasmuch as the “infamy” that excited the tarring and feathering by Americans was a matter of parliamentary representation and taxation, it was genteel compared to the “infâme” in Paris which meant destruction of the Christian social order. In Philadelphia, no Goddess of Reason was enthroned on the communion table of Christ Church, nor was George Washington drenched in blood when he prayed in Saint Paul’s Chapel before his inauguration. I say this not in a pejorative spirit, for I think many Frenchmen would agree with me, and I have been exhilarated by several Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, with their unsurpassed elegance, albeit absent the concomitant enormities of the Reign of Terror.
 
What differentiates the two revolutions, is the invocation versus the rejection of God. In one sense, the American Revolution was not a revolution at all, for it asserted the historic claims of citizens as Englishmen mantled with the protestations of the Magna Carta, which had been neglected by more recent German occupiers of the throne. My prejudices are compromised by the fact that my French paternal antecedents were compatriots with Rochambeau and Lafayette, and my English maternal ancestors in their Cheshire regiment may even have taken aim at the Massachusetts militiaman who fired the shot heard round the world.
 
In America, there were fanatics like Sam Adams, whose eponymous beer should be a caution to God-fearing men, and Tom Paine, who disdained religion. But many more thoughtful American patriots invoked John Locke and, with a few unmeasured exceptions, would have found zealots like the Jacobins ridiculous.
 
French Revolutionaries tried to substitute the Catholic Church with a mockery of it, rather like what is going on in today’s China. The Constitutional Church would have no pope and its clergy would be compliant state agents, and so forth. The Devil knows how to choreograph religious anarchy. Because Washington did not contradict divine order, he did not end up on the chopping block like Robespierre.
 
All of that pales in comparison with the only revolution that truly counts, for it changed the world permanently: when Christ rose from the dead, he set free vital germs of human rights, social progress, philanthropy, the philosophical matrix for science, universities, the consciousness of a Creator who made the world a channel of grace strengthened by moral order, and, finally—shown by a mercy divine—the prospect of life eternal.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Father Rutler: The Russian Revolution

Fr. George Rutler
Celebrating the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989 was awkward and unlike our nation’s festivities of 1976, because the American Revolution did not have a Reign of Terror. The Russian people are in a situation even more perplexing when it comes to the one-hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution on November 7. (The dating confusion is because Russia was still on the old Julian calendar in 1917.) The Russian Revolution unleashed the horrors of Communism that led to the deaths of at least 94 million people in various countries, by genocide, execution, purges and famines caused by collectivization. 

History is not ardently pursued in our schools these days, and when it is modified as Social Science, it often distorts historical reality. In a survey of youths between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, twenty-eight per cent had never heard of Lenin, and fully half had never heard of Stalin, while nearly two-thirds were unaware of the existence of history’s worst mass murderer (65 million deaths), Mao Tse-Tung. The death of Fidel Castro was marked by many media commentators as something to be mourned, and Che Guevara appears on t-shirts as a chic hero.

In countries at least nominally Christian, the assaults on the Church by revolutionaries took a more subtle form through subversion. There is the witness of Bella Dodd, an organizer of the Communist Party in the United States and head of the New York State Teachers Union. After her return to the Church in 1952 under the guidance of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, she detailed how the Communist Party in the 1920’s and 1930’s strove to infiltrate American seminaries and other church institutions, often through the exploitation of the naïve and what, according to Soviet expert Vladimir Bukovsky, Lenin had called “useful idiots.”

There still are Russians old enough to remember seeing priests nailed to the doors of their churches. Their nation remains conflicted about their revolution, and still hesitant about what to do with the repeatedly embalmed corpse of Lenin; but facing his tomb from across the great square, Krásnaya plóshchad, is the Kazan Cathedral, restored in 1993. On its façade is written in bold Cyrillic letters: “Christ is Risen.” Since the “Second Baptism of Russia” when the old Soviet Union fell in 1988, 29,000 churches have been built there, at the rate of three per day. In that period the number of seminaries has increased from three to over fifty.

That is a picture far different from many places in the West, where innocuous Christianity has failed to resist the bacillus of secularism, as churches close and seminaries shrink. People who have suffered the consequences of evil in the East have expressions more ponderous and sober than the chuckling countenances of soft spokesmen for Christ in the West. The centenary of the Russian Revolution should be a time for reflection and resolve.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Solzhenitsyn Mourned Bastille Day. So Should All Christians

The French Revolution invented radical nationalism and socialism, and launched the first modern genocide, aimed at Christians. 



Tuesday, July 14 probably passes without much fanfare in your home, but the date, Bastille Day, marks the beginning of the greatest organized persecution of Christians since the Emperor Diocletian. This day, the beginning of the French Revolution, also planted the seeds for the murderous ideologies of socialism and nationalism that would poison the next two centuries, murdering millions of believers and other innocent civilians. Between them, those two political movements racked up quite a body count: In Death By Government, scholar R. J. Rummel pointed out that

during the first 88 years of this century, almost 170,000,000 men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; or buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens or foreigners.

But the first such modern genocide in the West took place in France, beginning in 1793. It was undertaken by modern, progressive apostles of Enlightenment and aimed at pious peasants in the Vendée region of France. By its end up to 300,000 civilians had been killed by the armies of the Republic.

This story is little discussed in France. Indeed, a devout historian who teaches at a French university once told me, “We are not to mention the Vendée. Anyone who brings up what was done there has no prospect of an academic career. So we keep silent.”

Read more at The Stream >>

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Father Rutler: The Spiritual Contest of Our Time

A weekly column by Father George Rutler.

Winston Churchill said that history would treat him well since he intended to write it. Events are generally seen through the lens of the victors. That has long been the case with the French Revolution. Bastille Day, celebrated today with the elegance typical of France (I enjoyed those celebrations three times in Paris), does not mark the liberation of maltreated prisoners living in fetid conditions. The Bastille was a comfortable place, with tapestries and fine food. The psychopathic degenerate Marquis de Sade had been moved from it just ten days earlier. The Parisian rabble “liberated” an English lunatic who thought he was Julius Caesar, an equally mad Irishman, four forgers, and the Comte de Solages, an incestuous libertine incarcerated at the request of his own family. These were the “victims” freed by “The People” who went on to celebrate with orgies that included cannibalism.

While even the most biased historians have not been able to ignore the ensuing Reign of Terror, it is still deemed politically incorrect to mention the massacres of the Catholics in the Vendée who rose up against the revolutionaries. After 170,000 of them were slaughtered in the first modern genocide, the revolutionary general François-Joseph Westermann wrote to the Committee of Public Safety stating: “There is no more Vendée. . . . According to the orders that you gave me, I crushed the children under the feet of the horses, massacred the women who, at least for these, will not give birth to any more brigands.”

Consider that Orwellian term, “Committee of Public Safety.” Tyrannies tend to excuse themselves in the name of liberty, and governments justify the taking of innocent lives in the name of human rights. A cynic himself, Edward Gibbon saw such cynicism as an engine of the decline and fall of Rome. The ordinary people thought all religions were true because they did not understand truth; the philosophers thought all religions were false because they did not fit into their philosophies; and the government of Caesar and the Senate treated religions as commodities to be exploited, or to be eliminated when they could not be.

On June 5, Pope Francis, in the rare company of Benedict XVI, dedicated a statue of St. Michael the Archangel in the Vatican Gardens. The Pope knows that the only victor who gets to write history at the end of time is the Lord of History, and so he invoked St. Michael because the crisis of our time, as in all ages that have defied God, is a spiritual contest:
“Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all from his enemy par excellence, the devil. . . . Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger; it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men.”