Fourteen Epochal Documents by Pope Leo XIII on the Social Teachings - EBOOK - PDF
Edited and annotated by Fr. Joseph Husslein, S. J. - Cloth Hardcover -300 Pages
Few American Catholics truly understand t he social teachings of the Catholic Church. This may be in part due to the fact that many of he best papal teachings on this subject have either been ignored or not widely read by Americans. Father Husslein tried very hard to remedy this situation with the publication of two books in 1940 dedicated to solving this problem. He gathered together all of the encylicals by the two popes who wrote most on the topic and made certain that the english translations were well organized, accurate, and easily understandable and readable in translation. He also made many notes that are helpful to the reader. The service he performed is treausred by all students of the Church's social doctrine and these two books, so long out of print, are now available agai exactly as they were originally published.
If you have not read many of the encyclicals that were published before the modernization of encyclical writing that took place after the 2nd Vatican Council you are in for a real treat! The brevity, clarity, and chastity of the language will surprise you. Leo is no phenomenological exegete. He speaks the way one would expect the Vicar of Christ to speak, in clear, unambiguous, and manly language that is full of charity and pius unction and truth. No one who reads these most important social encylicals will come away confused. Be warned however, their brevity is deceptive. They are overflowing with profound insights and exhortations, therefore, small doses properly savored and meditated upon is the best way to imbibe the true wisdom and sound doctrine found here.
Ebook (pdf, kindle, epub)
IntroductionAnonymously published in 1775, this book swept through the Catholic world and multiple editions were published in quick succession. It remained readily available to generations of Catholics in many languages. The author remains unknown to this day. In a brief preface to the 4th edition of 1778 the following advice was given: “To draw the utmost profit from this volume, mere reading will not suffice. It must be read with calm reflection, deep thought, and ardent desire to translate into action whatever is found to be beneficial to the individual soul.”Without a doubt, the Spiritual Diary is one of the most widely read works in ascetical literature. Over the centuries, countless souls have drawn part of their spiritual formation from meditation upon the saintly advice contained in these pages. Its collections of sayings and examples of saints provides a source of meditation for numerous devout souls.The meditations are arranged for the calendar year with one of twelves virtues for each month. Perfection, Humility, Mortification, Patience, Meekness, Obedience, Simplicity, Diligence, Prayer, Confidence, Charity and Union are the virtues chosen, and under each virtue are gathered pertinent sayings and examples of the saints for every day of the month. A thought may be read daily, or the reader may prefer to read the different sections according to his spiritual needs.Many have guessed that the writer was a devoteé of St. Alphonsus because of the pattern of the meditations and the numerous direct quotes from his writings. But other spiritual writers widely quoted are: St. Mary Magdalen diPazzi, St. Francis deSales, St. Vincent dePaul, and St. Theresa of Avila.Whoever compiled this treasure house of advice has earned the lasting gratitude of Loreto’s editor who has used this book almost daily for over forty years. Since it has not been readily available to the general public since the last known edition from 1962, we have decided to issue this modern edition in the hopes that a new generation of 21st century Catholics may find as much spiritual benefit herein, as this editor has.Douglas Bersaw - EditorFeast of the Annunciation 2022
Saint Benedict the Moor Mission - EBOOK - PDF
The Storm Novena, what an unusual name. The story of this novena and the instructions for offering it are to be found inside this priceless little book. As you can see from the illustration on the front over, this novena attained prominence because of the miraculous response from heaven when it was used repeatedly and prayed with great joy and fervor by an American mission to the poor colored people of Milwaukee and Chicago. Although potent for all spiritual and temporal needs, its fruitfulness is especially noted for financial and business needs.
This novena is surely one of the most unusual and powerful you have ever encountered. It is typically American, and very modern. It comports well with the up-tempo pace of our lives today. If this was true in the 1940’s it is ever more so today in the 21st century. The editor and publisher of this book can personally attest to its efficacy, having had his prayers answered more than once through the intercession of the saints invoked in this novena.
It is our hope that more people will make use of this method of storming of the gates of Heaven.
Abbot Dom Columba Marmion - PB– 280 Pages - EBOOK - PDF
Abbot Dom Columba Marmion was born in Dublin, in 1858, the year that our Lady appeared at Lourdes, and he died on January 30, 1923. That is the Feastday of Saint Martina, and it was also on January 30th that two other great founders died. It was January 30, 1875 that the Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Prosper Gueranger, passed to his eternal reward, and also, on the same day in 1978, that Father Leonard Feeney, who had a great devotion to both Abbots, departed from this vale of tears.The substance of this book was gathered together by Dom Raymond Thibaut and originally published in 1941. The material was taken from the three great spiritual classics of Dom Marmion: Christ, the Life of the Soul, Christ in his Mysteries, and Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, all published shortly before his death.Rarely will one find such great spiritual treasures as are contained herein, except from other masters of the spiritual life, such as St. Francis deSales or Saint John of the Cross.
Meditations to accompany all 15 Mysteries of the Rosary of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
FULLY ILLUSTRATED IN COLOR - Ebook - 120 pages
This book of beautiful artwork and quotations from the bible and from other holy men and women is designed to help us meditate on the life of Our Lord and Our Lady, as presented to us in Tradition and Scripture through the Holy Rosary of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Prayer is the lifting of our hearts to God and we hope that this little book will assist you in that work.The First Saturday devotions that were offered to us by Our Lady of Fatima require four actions from us as follows:1. Confession: This confession can be made before the First Saturday or afterward, provided that Holy Communion be received in the state of grace. In 1926, Christ, in a vision, explained to Lucia that this confession could be made a week before or even more, and that it should be offered in reparation.2. Holy Communion: Before receiving Holy Communion, it is likewise necessary to offer it in reparation to Our Lady. Our Lord told Lucia in 1930, “This Communion will be accepted on the following Sunday for just reasons, if my priests allow it so.” So if work or school, sickness, or another just reason prevents the Communion on a First Saturday, with this permission it may be received the following Sunday. If Communion is transferred, any or all of the other acts of the devotion may also be performed on Sunday if the person so desires.3. Rosary: The Rosary is a vocal prayer said while meditating upon the mysteries of Our Lord’s life and Passion and Our Lady’s life. To comply with the request of our Blessed Mother, it must be offered in reparation and said properly while meditating.4. Fifteen minute meditation: Also offered in reparation, the meditation may embrace one or more mysteries; it may include all, taken together or separately. This meditation should be the richest of any meditation, because Our Lady promised to be present when she said; “...those who keep me company....”To those who faithfully follow Our Lady’s requests for the five First Saturdays, she has made a wonderful promise which she, as Mediatrix of all Graces, will certainly fulfill: “I promise to assist at the hour of death with the graces necessary for salvation.” This means that our Blessed Mother will be present at the hour of death with the actual grace of final perseverance, (which after the gift/grace of Faith), is the most important grace.
Ebook (pdf)The Canons and Decrees of Trent and Vatican I - In Latin and English - PB 170 pages
Here you will find all of the essential documents and infallible teachings of these two modern councils of the Catholic Church. They are beautifully laid out in a two-column format with large readable fonts of both the original Latin and Cardinal Manning's English translation side by side.
ForewordTo say that the Catholic world is in a state of doctrinal confusion today would be an almost comical understatement, were not the issues involved—the individual salvation or damnation of every man, woman, and child on the planet—so important. Despite the wealth of defined dogmatic teaching that the Church has produced over twenty centuries, the actions of many prelates, priests, and theologians (some in the highest reaches of the hierarchy) have obscured the truths of the Faith for many, if not most, Catholics and non-Catholics.This has happened before. In the 16th century, the successive revolts of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Henry VIII and their brethren, together with pre-existing abuses and doctrinal questions that opened the door for their defections, created an enormous amount of confusion in the Church. All areas of Catholic life—pastoral, devotional, and liturgical—suffered. As kings and princes began to create their own state churches and enforce membership in these fake churches on their hapless subjects, Pope Paul III (1534–1549) decided, in concert with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, that the time had come to call a new Ecumenical Council. This was slated to air Protestant complaints, reform Catholic practices, define or redefine disputed dogmas, and reconcile Christian princes, with a view to uniting Christendom and reviving the Crusades. Pope and Emperor agreed that it would convene at Mantua on May 23, 1537. Renewed war broke out between the Emperor and the French, thus delaying the opening. Two years of delays led the Pope to cancel the whole process.Emperor Charles V, however, was very keen on the idea, and on December 13, 1545, the Council at last convened at the city of Trent. The seat of a Prince-Archbishopric of the Holy Roman Empire, it was Charles’ choice for the Council’s location. During the next few years in eighteen sessions, doctrinal decrees would be issued on the Holy Scriptures, Original sin, Justification, the Sacraments in general, Baptism, and Confirmation. An outbreak of the plague and various other things, including Paul III’s death, led to the Council being prorogued indefinitely on September 17, 1549.The new Pope, Julius III (1550–1555), agreed with Charles V that there should be no further delay. The Council Fathers gathered at Trent on May 1, 1551. The Emperor and Pope concurred that the Protestants should appear at the Council and present their case—although without being able to vote. Although some of the Reformers did set out for the Council, in the end none appeared because of their inability to vote. Nonetheless, important work was done, and decrees defining Catholic teaching on the Holy Eucharist, Penance, and Extreme Unction were passed by the delegates. Unfortunately, at this juncture, the Emperor’s war against the Protestants took a turn for the worse, and Maurice, the Elector of Saxony invaded Tyrol. The Council was broken up by the threat on April 28, 1552. As Julius III retreated ever more into his strange interests, the prospect of reconvening the Council receded, while his successor, the stern reformer Paul IV, had other fish to fry in clearing out from Rome the moral detritus left by Julius. Moreover, Charles V had abdicated in 1555; his brother and successor as Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand I, was not as interested in Council as his brother had been—at least initially.Pius IV (1559-1565) was determined that the council should be reopened and brought to a successful conclusion. From January 18, 1562 to December 4, 1563, the Council met at Santa Maria Maggiore, and continued until its final adjournment on 4 December 1563. The final doctrinal decrees were on Matrimony; Cults of Saints, Relics, and Images; and at last the very topic that had excited Luther so much way back in 1517: Indulgences. The documents were signed at last by 255 Council Fathers, and the bull of ratification was published by the Pope on January 26, 1564.The Council had asked the Pope to continue its work by publishing definitive versions of a catechism based upon its decrees; shepherded through by Pius IV’s nephew, St. Charles Borromeo, this appeared in 1566, and remains today as the most clear, unambiguous, and authoritative catechism in print. Having appeared under St. Pius V, the catechism was soon joined by revisions of the Breviary and Missal, the latter of which remained substantially unchanged until the mid-20th century.Almost two centuries later in the 18th century, the Catholic world had changed considerably. On the one hand, Latin America, the Philippines, and various other new regions had been added to the Church; but on the other Protestantism had solidified into its own bloc of nations, the Enlightenment and the French and succeeding Revolutions had toppled Monarchs, and there was no more Holy Roman Emperor. Scientism and Socialism were sapping the faith even of Catholics—and the supposedly Catholic government of the new Italian Kingdom was struggling with the Papacy for control of the remainder of the Papal States. At any moment, Bl. Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) faced an imminent invasion of his own capital, Rome.The many struggles around the world between Catholics and governments intent on usurping the rights of the Church in various ways were at once symbolized by and subsumed into the one the Pope faced. This fact, combined with the spread of the telegraph, newspapers, and steamships put the Pope very much into the forefront of the Church’s worldwide struggle. The Ultramontanist party in every Catholic land called for the closest possible unity between the national Churches and the Holy See and with each other. In the face of all of this, Bl. Pope Pius IX convoked an Ecumenical Council, Vatican I. Although they all refused in varying tones from polite to contemptuous, all of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs had been invited as full participants to the Council by the Pope as an attempt to end the Eastern Schism.Opening on December 1869 at St. Peter’s Basilica rather than the Lateran (where the prior five councils in Rome had met) and adjourned on October, 20 1870, a month after the Italians at last conducted their long-threatened seizure of Rome, Vatican I accomplished far less than Trent. Nevertheless, it did deal definitively with two important matters. The first—the pretended clash between Faith and Reason, which Liberalism had pushed to the forefront of national life in so many countries—was dealt with in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith (Dei Filius). Far more controversial and hotly debated at the time was the dogma of Papal Infallibility, at last defined in the First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ (Pastor aeternus). The Council was then prorogued. It would not be officially concluded until the eve of Vatican II.Much of course has changed since then. But what has not changed is the essential nature of these defining documents. Regardless of changes in technology, fashion, liturgy, or anything else, these pages contain the bare minimum of what it is to be Catholic: if one can read it all and agree with it all, he is a Catholic; if not, not. In the current period of confusion, a clear guide to spiritual reality such as this is utterly essential; we all owe a debt of gratitude to Loreto Publications for making it available. Charles A. Coulombe Trumau, Austria Vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist - 23 June 2022
The Council of TrentSymbol of Faith - Canonical Scriptures - Original Sin - Justification, Sin, & Merit - The Sacraments in General - Baptism - Confirmation - The Eucharist - Penance - Extreme Unction - Communion: Under both Species & of Children - The Mass - Holy Orders - Matrimony - Purgatory - Relics - Indulgences - Profession of Faith The Council of Vatican IDei FiliusDogmatic Constitution on Faith - God the Creator - Revelation - Faith - Faith & Reason — Canons: God the Creator: Revelation: Faith: Faith & Reason
Pastor ÆternusThe Church of Christ - Papal Primacy - Perpetual Papal Primacy - Nature of Papal Primacy - Papal Infallibility
By John F. McManus - 244 pages PB - EBOOK - PDF, Kindle, & EPUB
This book, written by a prominent and well known Catholic American, isthe product of almost seventy years of close observation and deep study in aturbulent world of rapid change and degradation of church and society.Recently, the courageous Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published an acknowledgmentof the problems discussed in this book in his now world famous Open Letter toPresident Trump where he spoke of Freemasonry and the ‘deep church’. Becausethat letter appeared as this book was going to press, The Deep Church Revealedwas added to the original title as a fitting description of its content.
The revealing begins with a description of the Enlightenment philosophersand their anti-Catholic hatred, and the author proceeds from there to detail inforty-one astonishing chapters the story of how those men and the organizationsthey inspired grew and and spread their pernicious doctrines throughout theworld and the Church.
The plans that these Freemasonic organizations laid were remarkably successful,even though vigorously opposed by every Pope for over 200 years. “Anenemy hath done this” Our Lord said in the parable of the wheat and the cockles.Truly, this can be said today of the situation in His Church. The holy andvigilant Padre Pio told Fr. Luigi Villa in 1963 when he assigned Fr. Villa the taskof exposing these enemies “Courage, courage, courage! For the Church is alreadyinvaded by Freemasonry that has already reached the Pope’s slippers.”We are thankful to Mr. McManus for telling this story briefly, succinctly,and with unbounded love for our Holy Mother the Church. He advises us,like Saint Peter, “Be sober and watchful, for your adversary the devil goethabout like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Whom ye shouldresist, fortes in fide.”
Don Pietro Leome - PB 246 pages - EBOOK - PDF, Kindle, & EPUB
In our days the war against God and His Church has become deeper and broader than at any time in history. No longer are the powers of darkness content to attack only the institutional Church that God founded. The truth is that the human nature that God the Father created is now the subject of the adversary’s most violent persecution, and through the undermining of the very concept of human nature and the natural law enshrined in it the enemies of God hope to make any consideration of the concept of ‘super-nature’ and super-natural life disappear from the minds of men.
The Church has always been the true guardian of not only supernatural life, but of the natural law as well. Since the natural law is the law that God put into our nature and it is discernible in the light of reason, the Church, speaking for God, is the champion of sound reasoning. With the natural law as well as supernatural law governing human sexuality and family life under attack, Don Pietro Leone has risen to defend (and to properly distinguish) those areas, so that those who wish to defend the Church and human society in our age may have sound teaching upon which to base their actions.
In the course of this treatment of these topics he makes a detailed critique of certain novel presentations of themes found in the Magisterium from the time of the Second Vatican Council onwards. Amongst these doctrines is one he terms ‘Magisterial Personalism’ and another called the ‘Theology of the Body.’ Drawing upon scholastic philosophy and the perennial teaching of the Church, Don Pietro brings light to a subject recently plunged into obscurity and darkness that is not currently being dispelled sucessfully, even by the guardians of Truth themselves.
By Fr. John J. Hugo - 176 pages - EBOOK as PDF only
Fr. John Hugo (1911–1985) was a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburg who spent much of his life giving retreats based upon those that he had participated in while still a young priest in the 1930s. Those retreats were given by Fr. Onesimus Lacouture S. J. and Fr. Hugo was one of over 6000 priests to whom the retreat was given over a course of several years. The Retreat, as it was affectionately called by its devoteés was an electrifying and life-changing experience for many of them. It was nothing more nor less than the Spiritual Excercises of Saint Ignatius. But these retreats given by Fr. Lacouture were, as the saying goes “the real deal.” They were given as St. Ignatius intended, for the proper length of time and according to the true Ignatian spirit. They got to the real “roots” of Christian living. They were, in short, radical.Fr. Hugo became a disciple of Fr. Lacouture in the sense that he experienced the fruits and saw the necessity of the retreat for Catholic Americans. He determined to continue that work as part of his priestly vocation. Fr. Hugo became the spiritual advisor of Dorothy Day (and the Catholic Worker Movement) who took the retreat more than twenty times during her life.This book, The Gospel of Peace, is one fruit of that work, and it was very controversial at the time of its publication in 1943. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is always controversial because it is “out of step” with the world.
Fr. Denis Fahey C.S.Sp. - EBOOK as PDF ONLY - 212 pages
“I repeatedly promised Saint Peter that if I ever got the chance, I would teach the truth about his Master in the way he and his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, wanted it done. That is what I have striven to do and am doing.” —Rev. Denis Fahey
No man is wise who does not think correctly about the Jews. On this subject it is very easy to be wrong, and there are many different varieties of errors into which to fall. They are a unique type of collectivity—a matter for history, not for sociology.Their election in the Old Testament, which we must accept on faith, is at least as mysterious as their rejection in the New Testament. The Jews are willing to take the first part of the bargain, which they did not deserve, but not the second, which they did. Ever since the moment of the Crucifixion, the Jews are engaged in a mystical war against the Church, but they are only effective when the Faith is weak.A true, firm, and unsentimental understanding of the Jewish problem is absolutely necessary for one who must protect the Faith and the faithful. The higher the responsibility, the greater the necessity.Fr. Fahey begs us to pray for the Conversion of the Jewish nation, but he teaches us to prudently study and to wisely understand reality in their regard.
Father Leonard Feeney - EBOOK - PDF, Kindle, & EPUB
Hardcover $34.95 PB $19.95
This collection of poems and other literary works of Father Feeney is not a complete collection, but a large one nonetheless. It includes almost all of four of his best books: Survival Till Seventeen, Fish on Friday, In Towns and Little Towns, and You’d Better Come Quietly, as well as some of his other works. You will rarely encounter another modern Catholic poet and writer with such depth of faith and dramatic power with words as Father Leonard Feeney. Frank Sheed, of Sheed & Ward, his original publisher and a well-known Catholic writer himself, once labeled him “America’s Chesterton”. Coming from a Catholic Englishman, that is a grand compliment indeed for an American Irishman!
J. J. Barry - 516 pages - EBOOK - PDF, Kindle, & EPUB
Christopher Columbus is one of the most saintly and heroic Catholic laymen in the annals of our glorious history, whose true life-story should be known by all Catholics, but especially by Catholic Americans who owe so much to him.It is very important for Catholics to have a sense of gratitude, and to express it. Columbus Day is still, in this age of secularism and hatred of the Faith, a civil holiday; one that should be celebrated with great reverence, especially by Catholic Americans.The true story of his life and the glories of his achievement (indeed all of the achievements of that great Catholic nation called Spain), have been under attack for a long time now by the Christ-haters, some of whom even pretend that it might be true that the people of the Americas would have been better off without Columbus’ discoveries and the subsequent events of conquest and evangelization due to his efforts. This book refutes those calumnies.To recognize and admit that the success of the great voyages of discovery was truly due to the special designs of the providence of God and under His direct protection, was the first impulse of the heart of Columbus. His life of faith and devotion is truly inspirational.The miraculous nature of Columbus’ life and work is the subject of this extensive biography. Here you will discover the hidden reasons and plans that propelled him on his voyage of discovery, and how God ultimately frustrated some of those plans and made others fruitful.
By Fr. Leo J. Kinsella - EBOOK - Kindle, & EPUB
168 pages Happiness does not just happen . . . It must be earned! Here is a marriage blueprint that every man can follow. Great marriages do not just happen, they are made. It takes three parties to make a good marriage: the husband, the wife, and the Lord. This book is concerned with helping the man to become ‘the man for her’. Father Kinsella had already published his famous and successful book The Wife Desired, which is also available from Loreto Publications, in 1952. The first book of advice for women was so successful that the demand for a book of marital advice for men forced Father to write this one in addition. He sat for many years on a diocesan separation court and had also successfully counseled many unhappy couples during his years in the priesthood. Both books sold over a quarter of a million copies shortly after their publication and were read by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. They are practical manuals for how to improve your chances for a happy and successful marriage. When this book was first published in 1957, one in four marriages in the USA ended in divorce. Today, half of all first marriages end in divorce, and a much higher percentage of second and third marriages find the same end. This means that the majority of Americans are unsuccessful at the most important enterprise of their life, and it follows that the resultant destruction of the happiness, mental stability, and moral character of the majority of the people is the greatest problem that we face as a nation. Of course, the dangers to the salvation and earthly happiness of these people, and to the unfortunate children born of such unions, is where the cold statistical facts become more personal and of immediate concern to each of us. The divorce rates also do not speak to the issue of those many couples who do not divorce, but who nonetheless are not living in what could be termed deeply happy and fruitful marriages. Being a party to an unhappy marriage is one of the most difficult (yet largely avoidable) situations that anyone can endure in life.
By Cardinal Manning - 72 Pages - Small book Originally published in 1861- EBOOK - PDF, Kindle, & EPUB
No, this book is not about current events. The book was written in 1861 by Cardinal Manning and dedicated to his goodfriend John Henry Newman. It is a study of the prophecies in scripture and the comments and explanations givenby the Fathers and Doctors about the Great Apostacy and the preparation for the coming of the Antichrist. The greatCardinal then comments on the prophecies relative to the circumstances of his times. This short but powerful treatise isvery much applicable to the 21st century as well as the mid-nineteenth.
“In the following pages I have endeavored, but for so great a subject most insufficiently, to show that what is passing in our times is the prelude of the anti-Christian period of the final dethronement of Christendom, and of the restoration of society without God in the world.”
With these words the great Cardinal Manning presents his study of the prophecies of scripture and the writings of the Fathers on the coming of the Great Apostacy and the advent of the Anti-Christ. No, this treatise was not written recently, but rather in 1861. Yet, it is about our times as well as his.
George J. Hill, M.A. - 360 pages - EBOOK - PDF
Few stories grip the heart and stir the soul like those tales of faithful Catholics who have risen up in arms to throw off the tyrrany of anti-Catholic oppressors. The great stories from the bible such as that of young David or Judas Macchabeus and his sons have their numerous counterparts in the history of the Church as well. What Catholic has not thrilled to such stories as that of the First Crusade, or the defense of Malta or the Battle of Lepanto—all victories for the Catholics. But even when the Catholic cause is not immediately sucessful as in such epic wars as the Jacobite rebellions, the nine-years war of Red Hugh O’Donnell and The O’Neill against Queen Elizabeth, or the fight of the Cristeros for a Catholic Mexico, the stark reality of such glorious sacrifices for the Faith inspires us down through the ages.
Such is the story of the War in LaVendée and the courage of youth displayed in the story of the Little Chouannerie by the teenage scholars of Vannes. The satanic explosion of hatred of Christ, of his Church, and of all that was decent in Catholic France that is known to history as the French Revolution was valiantly opposed in the west of France by a peasant army in both Brittany and in LaVendée. This is their story.
The names of Charette, LaRochejaquelein, Abbé Bernier, Cathelineau, Le Tiec, and Jean Chouan should be as well known to Catholics as those of Red Hugh O'Donnell, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Padre Pro, Godfrey deBouillion, Don Juan of Austria and others.
This story will break your heart…and will mend it as well.
Vive la Nation! Vive le Roi! Vive la réligion Catholique!
PrefaceIt is commonly argued by writers on the French Revolution that the state of the Church, as well as of the nation in general, must have been exceedingly corrupt, and that both clergy and people were equally destitute of religious belief and of moral principle, or so total a disruption of all the bonds of society could never have taken place, attended as it was with circumstances of unprecedented confusion and horror; and they point to the fact of priests and religious, and even bishops, openly apostatizing from Christianity, and abandoning themselves to all the infamous license of the times, and the atrocious crimes perpetrated by a people so lately, in profession at least, Catholic.
That society was radically and irretrievably corrupt especially in high places, and that many of the clergy, and in particular those about the court, were deeply infected with the taint of infidelity, is unhappily too true. But such writers seem utterly to overlook a fact equally patent and remarkable, that hundreds of ecclesiastics not merely retained and avowed their religious belief, in spite of persecution and contempt, but shed their blood for the faith; enduring the grossest insults and the most agonizing torments, not only with meekness and resignation, but with a touching piety, and a sweet and tender charity towards their murderers, such as make their constancy and fortitude differ in kind from any thing which mere natural heroism, however exalted, has at any time exhibited; while thousands risked their lives and abandoned all things for conscience sake. If a few traitors and apostates—for few they were in comparison with those who stood firm in the hour of trial, and nobly suffered all that a diabolical malice could inflict, rather than abate one tittle of their obedience to the divine law; if this wretched minority are to be taken as a proof of the inroads that vice and infidelity had made upon the Church of France, how triumphant is the demonstration afforded by her numerous martyrs and confessors that she was yet sound and pure at heart!
And as respects the people at large “To judge of a whole nation,” says Mr. Belaney in his Massacre at the Carmes, “by the conduct or manners of its populace in its capital and larger cities in times of great excitement, would lead to as false and unjust, as well as ungenerous conclusions, in respect to that nation, as it would to judge of an individual only by what he did when under the effects of delirium tremens or intoxication.” “The populace,” as he elsewhere observes, “required to be deceived, as well as bribed into the commission of acts which cause us to shudder when we look back on them, even at a distance of sixty years.” An execrable faction, devoid of every principle of morality and every feeling of humanity, had usurped the power of the state; and while over-awing the better portion of the nation by wholesale proscription and slaughter, drove the masses of the people to enact, in a frenzy of terror and fury, excesses which, left to themselves and in their sober senses, they would never have had the heart to perpetrate. That under the seething surface of vice and impiety which covered the land, there lay hid all the while, even in the worst days of the Revolution, fathomless depths of sanctity and devotion beyond the ken of the godless world, the annals of the times sufficiently testify; and that, even when the nation had passed through its fiery conflict, and a generation to whom religion was an effête superstition, and priests but tyrants and impostors, appeared upon the scene, there still remained, not only among the country populations, but among the inhabitants of the towns, a vast amount of supernatural belief, which waited only for an occasion to manifest itself, one circumstance alone would prove:—the demonstrations, not of sympathy and affection merely, but of religious veneration, with which Pius VII was everywhere received on his entrance into France, a prisoner, in the year 1809; multitudes crowding round the carriage in which he was seated, and begging his benediction on their knees as he passed along.
But if the clergy of France contributed its noble army of martyrs at Paris, Lyons, Nantes, her peasantry of Brittany and La Vendée sent forth an heroic band of veritable soldiers of the cross, as admirable and as worthy of being held in everlasting honor as their enemies are deserving of the universal reprobation of mankind. Brave, generous, honorable, merciful, and pure, in the heat of the fight resolute and undaunted as veteran soldiers, and in the hour of victory as tender-hearted as children—what a contrast do these “brigands,” as their opponents called them, present to the self-styled “patriots” of the Republican forces! Sensual, treacherous, bloodthirsty, breathing only hatred and revenge, exhibiting a cruelty and a ferocity truly satanic, their delight seemed to be only in massacre and rapine, and in the commission of the most hideous crimes. Catholic France may well be proud of her heroes of La Vendée. What but simple, supernatural faith could have produced such an army of patriot crusaders, and inspired a system of warfare so truly Christian?
For it is not possible to separate the religion and devotion of the Vendean peasants from their natural virtues and martial qualities. As they fought primarily for their Church, and only secondarily and, as it may be said, accidentally, for their king, so first and before all things they were Catholics: —to their heart’s core they were what the pseudo-philosophers of the day would call “superstitious and bigoted;” as much so as the priests who walked calmly forward to meet their assassins with their breviaries in their hands, and the names of Jesus and Mary on their lips. These men, so intrepid, so cool and yet so daring, so generous and so noble-minded, recited their rosaries on their way to the battlefield, and threw themselves on their knees before the image of the Crucified as they charged down upon the bayonets of the foe. Abstract from the Vendean his faith, and he is no longer the same man: that faith not only inspired his actions, it made him what he was.
As to the conduct and results of the war, it is unnecessary to anticipate here remarks that are made in the course of the narrative. In spite of some signal and palpable blunders, no candid mind, which considers the disadvantages under which they labored, will withhold from both generals and subordinates a very high need of praise, not only for their courage, which was undoubted, but for their strategic skill and address. Unhappily, as the contest proceeded, and their first chosen leaders perished in battle, serious evils began to show themselves; fatal jealousies were engendered, dissensions broke out amongst the new commanders, cruelties were perpetrated which rivaled in barbarity the enormities by which they were provoked, unjustifiable severities were adopted even against members of their own body, and the whole morale of the army notably degenerated. Such were but the inevitable consequences of long-continued warfare, and that of so embittered a character, the subversion of all established order, and the absence of any legitimate head. And yet to the end sufficient of the old spirit remained to excite the fears and even to elicit the admiration of their foes. Despite the terrible reverses encountered in the field, and the general disorganization that ensued, their bravery and tenacity had made themselves so effectually felt, that the Vendean insurgents succeeded finally in obtaining an honorable peace. But their greatest glory consisted in the fact, that the Catholic religion never ceased to be openly professed in La Vendée; nor did they consent to lay down their arms until liberty of worship was guaranteed to them, and their priests were recognized and protected by the laws.
Hence the moral effects of this war it is hardly possible to overrate. Not only did it prove that France never could be one and indivisible, never could be at peace with herself until religion was re-established; not only did the valor and enthusiasm which were evoked insure respect to the religion which was able to produce such sensible effects—but the multitudes whom terror had silenced and isolated, the weak, the timid, the despondent, and even they in whom the light of faith was well-nigh quenched, felt the influence of a struggle in which they took no part; it awoke and sustained a secret sympathy in their breasts, and kept them in a state of continual readiness to welcome back, even with acclamations, the religion for which they had neither the courage nor the will to suffer or to contend.What, therefore, may not the France of this day owe to La Vendée! How much of the religious revival which now fills Catholic Christendom with admiration and joy may be due to that contest, so obstinately and so fruitlessly maintained, as some may think, in that little corner of the west? And this in two ways; first, as has been intimated, by keeping the lamps burning in her sanctuaries when elsewhere they had been extinguished and the very altars themselves overthrown, and leaving them as beacons to announce to all failing and faltering hearts that an incarnate God still had worshippers, and Peter loyal subjects, among a rebellious and apostate people; and secondly, and principally, by willingly offering that sacrifice which God never fails to accept and to requite—the sacrifice of the heart’s-blood of the best and purest of her children. That blood, like the blood of the martyr-priests, has never ceased to cry out, not for vengeance, but for mercy and for blessings—the richest and the choicest, because spiritual and heavenly—on the land that poured it out as though it had been the blood of brute cattle that die unpitied in the shambles, or rather of the wild beasts of the forest whom it was a necessity to exterminate. Certain it is that nowhere has religion, so trodden down and all but exterminated as it was, had so speedy and so astonishing a resurrection as in once infidel France, and to what can this be more probably attributed, than to that spirit of immolation which animated alike the priests of the Carmes and the peasants of La Vendée? If the butcheries of Tyburn are one day to yield, as we may piously hope, a fruitful harvest of souls to the Church in our land, what might England long ere this have become, had more of her sons bled and died with the gallant Nortons around the banner of the Five Precious Wounds, and the gibbets stood tenfold thicker between Newcastle and Wetherby?
The strength and reality of the principles for which La Vendée contended, and the ardor with which the flame there enkindled burned on, despite the indifference and secularity which weighed upon the land, may be estimated by the enthusiasm excited in the breasts of the young students of Vannes, and the bravery and fortitude displayed in their defense. Singular phenomenon that some hundreds of boys should turn soldiers in sober earnest, all because the great emperor bullied the Pope, changed their catechism, and gave them Charlemagne for their patron instead of St. Catharine and St. Nicholas; but no ambiguous omen of bright and glorious days to France, that, in what with many would have passed for a mere piece of state-policy, with which they had no concern, these schoolboys and seminarians should feel to the quick that a great principle was at stake, for which they were bound, as with all their hearts they were willing, to fight and to die.
The scholars of Vannes—as many as survive—have now passed the prime of their life; but during the forty years that have gone by, what services have they not rendered, by their labors, their writings, their courageous examples, to the Church, to literature, to society! And whence had they derived their first inspirations, but from those annals of the old Chouannerie which as boys it was their delight to collect, and from those bearded men, with their bronzed countenances and thoughtful brows, who had returned to renew the studies of their youth, only that they might complete, as ministers of peace at the altar, the warfare they had begun on the battlefield? True patriots, whose patria is not of this world; though accidentally and from circumstances associated with monarchy, their Catholicism was subservient to no form of government, albeit respectful and friendly to all; upholding obedience to constituted authority as the ordinance of God, it looked, above all things, to maintaining intact the liberties of the Church and the independence of the spiritual power. To such men and such principles France owes everything; and on France at this moment hang the destinies of the world.
The story of La Vendée and of the Little Chouannerie is gathered from the various extant sources; but in the case of the latter, which is drawn principally from M. Rio’s own narrative, an endeavor has been made to assign to that gentleman the position which rightfully belonged to him, but which his modesty and humility prevented him from assuming.
The reader will find a most striking description of the old “Chouans” and the “Little Vendée” among M. Sonvestre’s Tales and Sketches of Brittany and La Vendée, published in Constable’s Miscellany of Foreign Literature. The incidents, which were taken by the author from the mouth of one of Jean’s brothers-in-arms, are related in a style as graphic and touching, as it is simple and unadorned.
The conflict in La Vendée had its counterpart in Flanders. M. Hendrik Conscience, in his spirited historical tale of the era, has described with much dramatic power the sufferings of the people, and their determined, but disastrous, and, as it turned out, fatally ineffectual resistance to the revolutionary forces, and (in the worst sense) revolutionary principles of France. The work in question has just been translated into English. Although fictitious in form, it adheres faithfully to the facts of history: the notes to the original Flemish show, by extracts from the accounts, proclamations, etc., which appeared in the Antwerp newspapers of the time, that the gatherings, skirmishes, and principal events therein depicted, down to the great battle with which the story closes, actually occurred as represented. A few resolute and courageous men, while the masses of their countrymen “looked on in dumb terror” at the destruction of all they held dear and venerable, kept up a continual harassing warfare against the invader, until they were either individually taken and shot, or mowed down in hundreds by the musketry, or hewed and hacked to pieces by the merciless sabers of the French soldiery. But though crushed, and to all outward seeming annihilated, that insurrection against the most intolerable of all despotisms, the tyranny of an impious liberalism, and in defense of altar and hearth, faith and liberty, had as in La Vendée, a most powerful moral effect at the time, and exerted doubtless, both in the natural and in the supernatural order, influences the operation of which we have still before our eyes. For we may well consider the present prosperous condition of Belgium, the freedom, both political and religious, which she enjoys, and the simple piety of her people, to be at once the result and the reward of the spirit displayed, and the sufferings endured, in that truly patriotic struggle.