by Father Leonard Feeney, S.J.
To My Mother, from her 'Minstrel Boy'.
So, you do not like poetry. Too many flowers and angels and stars and clouds. And too many adjectives ending in “Y”. Besides, the better the poem the less you can understand it, right? You are an ordinary Joe who prefers more solid food for his mind and you do not really care if the words rhyme anyway. Well, Joe, lighten up! Let your mind get a taste of Father Feeney’s verse. Your whole family will enjoy the new turf. It will warm the heart. In fact, every one of Father’s poems comes with that guarantee.
Angela died today and went to Heaven; We counted her summers up and they were seven. But why does that trouble you, unloosened shutter, That flap at my window in the wind's wild flutter!
Angela's eyes tonight are cold and dim, Off in the land of song and Seraphim. But what does that mean to you, O creaking stair, And mice in the wall that gnaw the plaster there!
Angela's little hands are folded white, Deep in the meadow, under the starry night. But why should an ugly gnat keep finely whining Around the candle-flame beside me shining!
And never again — and never again will she Come running across the field to welcome me. But, little sheep-bells, out on the distant hill, Why, at this hour, do you wake and tinkle still!
And not any more—alas!— and not any more, Will she climb the stairs and knock at my lonely door. But, moaning owl in the hayloft overhead, How did you come to know that she was dead!
The holy Sign of the Cross is the most important prayer and symbol of our Christian faith. It is at once the image of Christ's passion, the sign of the redemption of all mankind, the awesome testament of the destruction of the power of the devil and of his kingdom on earth. The resurrection is the promise and seal and guarantee of eternal life which consummated the work of the Cross.
Christians rejoice and the demons tremble to see the Sign of the Cross emblazoned everywhere as proof of Christ's victory over the world. Christ said "all power is given to me in heaven and on earth" and the Cross is the seat of that power. There is no place on earth where a person who makes the Sign of the Cross is not immediately recognized as a Catholic, and there is no miracle that has not been worked under this sign. It is the "nuclear bomb" of prayers and with it the faithful can clear away all enemies and temptations with the simplest of wordless gestures. Msgr. Gaumé has compiled a magnificent collection of history and commentary from the saints and fathers and doctors, as well as his own meditations and exhortations regarding this most powerful prayer. All Catholics should avail themselves of this information and make it fruitful in their own lives.
Marie Thérese Peterson - 166 Pages Paperback
Is the Holy Eucharist REALLY the Body and Blood of Christ, as the Church has taught for 2,000 years, or do we receive only a symbolic reminder of Jesus at the Last Supper? Statisticians claim that a high percentage of Catholics in our time have lost the true meaning of Holy Communion and demonstrate their unbelief by neglecting to genuflect in the presence of Christ, or by talking in Church as if it were a social hall. Our author has gone to the heart of the matter and has shown conclusively that this is the GREAT sacrament that nourishes every life that was recreated in the sacrament of baptism - making the recipient true blood brothers and sisters of Christ by sharing intimately in His very Divine nature.. Color photos show Padre Pio in ecstasy as he celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Beautifully written and thoroughly convincing. A great gift item for those who may be weak in faith or poorly instructed.
Small (3.75" by 5") abridged 1914 Edition of the Little Office - 220 pages PB
The ancient prayers in this book are shown in both Latin and English text. The left page is Latin and the right page English. This layout method is easier to read than when the English and Latin are split in two columns on the same page.
A more complete version of the Office is also available on this website.
Fr. F. J. Remler, CM - PB 180 pages - 5" x 7"
Learn how to resist temptation now — before it’s too late!
You’ve no doubt taken steps to ensure your safety — and your family’s — from various kinds of worldly calamities. But if you haven’t made sure you’re properly on guard against temptations, you’re setting yourself up for a spiritual disaster of immense proportions. No matter how devoted to Christ you are, temptations are going to come to you. That’s why How to Resist Temptation is essential reading for every serious Catholic.
The author, Fr. Francis J. Remler, C.M., helps you prepare yourself so that, when temptations begin to assail your soul, you’ll be ready. Learn from Father’s experience Fr. Remler gives you the benefit of his expertise as a confessor and shepherd of souls, as he shows you how to identify and guard against common misunderstandings of what temptation really is and what it is not — misunderstandings that can paralyze your spiritual growth. He details ways you can recognize the elements of temptation — and be on guard against often-unrecognized causes of individual temptations. He reveals how you can keep the memories of your past sins from troubling and tempting you now, and clarifies why God allows temptation to exist in the first place. He even explores the role of the demonic in day-to-day temptations — with firm faith in God’s power.
A marvelously encouraging and optimistic book, How to Resist Temptation even contains useful directions on how you can — believe it or not — actually benefit from temptation, and how you can learn from others’ examples as you fight against temptation. So the next time the siren song of temptation starts to sound in your ears, don’t try to tough out the struggle alone — call on God’s ever-plentiful grace, and go to battle against sin armed with the wisdom of How to Resist Temptation!
Also Available as Ebook
Fr. Robert Lange - 168 Pages - PB
“He is a priest forever! Father Lange’s fascinating account of his lifelong path to the priesthood and his experience of grace is intensely personal, and yet he accomplishes his purpose of reminding us about universal truths and the possibility of a permanent, loving relationship with God. This inspiring book is equally suited for Sunday afternoon reading and as a required text for students and seminarians.”Patrick J. Reilly President, The Cardinal Newman Society
Father Robert A. Lange’s engaging memoir, Windows into the Life of a Priest, supplies exactly what the book’s title indicates, namely, an anecdotal account of one man’s Catholic priesthood. While it is autobiographical in the sense that it is based largely on Father Lange’s life and experiences as a priest, the aim and purpose of the book belong more to the realm of Catholic faith and devotion generally, and, indeed, to that of Catholic apologetics, giving reasons for the faith, offering “a defense…for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet 3:13). Among other things, Father Lange turns out to be quite an effective apologist for the faith. At various times in the text, Father Lange remarks, in effect, that “It’s not about me!” Rather, it’s about faith and God’s grace, how important and indeed necessary they are, and how they literally make life worth living. Father Lange certainly shows that they have made his life worth living—and worth recounting too, for the benefit of others, especially for those he calls wayward Christians. If God could save him—and by save here is meant not only eternal salvation, but rescue from an aimless and empty life here and now—why could he not save you or me as well? That, in fact, is precisely what God wants to do for all of us; he wants to save us from ourselves—if only you and I will respond to his love, abundantly offered to everyone, and cooperate! This is an important part of the message that Father Lange never tires of repeating.Kenneth D. Whitehead
Hilaire Belloc - PB 130 Pages
Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc, 1870-1853, was born in France of a French Catholic father and an English protestant mother. His mother later converted under the influence of Cardinal Manning, a good friend and mentor of Hilaire. His only sister, Marie Lowndes, was a fairly well-known writer like her brother Hilaire. Belloc’s father died young, leaving his widow in dire financial straits with two young children to support. They moved to England, and they settled in Slindon, West Sussex, where Belloc lived for most of his life. In 1906, he married Elodi Hogan, from Napa California. Their brief. but ecstatically happy. marriage ended with her death in 1914, after she had borne him five children. He never remarried, and he wore mourning for the rest of his life. This beautiful and precisely chiseled, almost fairy-taleish narrative, subtitled A Tale of Affection in Youth and Age, must certainly have been a poignant reminder that he himself had, by the inscrutable providence of God, been granted that deep measure of affection in his youth that is so idealistically pictured in Belinda, but denied that affection in old age that is equally well-depicted. This brief novel of human love and affection idealized is a delightful and cheerful reminder that indeed, life can have its moments of beauty, if even only as a foretaste of the delights promised to those blessed with the grace of perseverance unto salvation.
The Three Pillars of Faith in the Real Presence: Ordination, Offertory, Consecration
Edward Snyder - PB-146 pages
Since the introduction of the Novus Ordo liturgy in the 1960s, Catholic belief in the Real Presence and the essential sacrificial nature of the Mass and of the priesthood has declined precipitously. In addition, the number of men entering the priesthood and the percentage of Catholics regularly attending Mass has also fallen off dramatically. When seeking answers to why these facts are so, the author of this treatise, Edward Snyder, has undertaken a substantive study of the words used in both the ancient and the new liturgy and arrived at some startling discoveries and conclusions.
Since belief in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Christ’s true presence in the consecrated host are beliefs central and essential to the Catholic religion, it is important to understand why these beliefs are no longer held by so many. Certain core doctrines believed by the first Christians were supported by the linguistic evidence they left in the New Testament. What does this linguistic evidence consist of? Specifically, about the year 325 B.C. the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek. This translation was done by seventy Hebrew scholars and it is known as the Septuagint. The Greek and Latin New Testament texts contain many semitisms—that is words that were used based on the Aramaic spoken and written by the Church when the original Christians were primarily Aramaic speaking—that can only be properly translated into English, or any other vernacular language, if the Hebrew roots are understood.
This philological study of the root of words used in the scriptures and the liturgy will be most useful as an aid to understanding why clarity of belief is disappearing so rapidly in the Church of our day.
Mario Peterson & Tom Concert — 96 Pages - PB
Searching for Fine Pearls is an easy-to-read summary of the monumental Catholic classic The Mystical City of God that was written by Venerable Mary of Agreda, a 17th century Franciscan abbess, who had mystical visions and revelations concerning many intimate details of the life of our Lord and his Blessed Mother not revealed in the Gospels. These revelations were described and published in four volumes, in Spanish, during her lifetime.For those readers who might be daunted by the thought of reading the full work of over 2,000 pages, this short summary may encourage them to make the effort. Many saints, popes, religious, and other holy men and women, as well as humble laymen from all walks of life have found great grace and consolation in the pages of The Mystical City of God.This work has received the approbation of seven popes and has been read and meditated upon by millions in the four centuries since its original publication. An English translation was produced in 1912 and has enjoyed a wide readership.Mary of Agreda’s incorrupt remains and the well documented facts of her evangelizing bilocations to the New World attest to her holy life. Fray Junipero Serra, the founder of so many of the famous California missions, and a brilliant scholar and theologian, was profoundly influenced by her inspirational writings. He always carried with him three books; his breviary, a copy of the bible, and The Mystical City of God.
Don Pietro Leone - PB 122 pages
Don Pietro Leone is the author of this most useful summary of the history of the destruction of the Roman rite and the substitution of a modern rite called the Novus ordo (new order) in its place. In his General Audience of November 9, 1969, Pope Paul VI had this to say (among many other things) about substitution of the new rite for the Roman rite of all times: “This change has something astonishing about it, something extraordinary. This is because the Mass is regarded as the traditional and untouchable expression of our religious worship and the authenticity of our faith.”No truer words were ever spoken by a pontiff, except perhaps by the high priest who once said: “You know nothing. Neither do you consider that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the sins of the people and that the whole nation perish not.”Some, upon contemplating these extraordinary changes, go so far as to think that the attempts of the Church’s enemies to eradicate once and for all “Popish superstition” from the world have made significant progress towards their goal when the Pope himself allowed the introduction of, in his own words, “a new rite” into the heart of the Church. Others seek to understand God’s will in these matters and consider that these changes and the resulting chaos in the life of the Church might be among those vague “chastisements” mentioned by Our Lady at Fatima. Still other observers of the Church in the latter half of the 20th Century and into the third millennium believe that the new mass is a great development of human progress and is the harbinger of a new “springtime” in the life of the Mystical Body, while yet others, many of the lay-faithful, struggle to maintain their faith and to live the life of faith somewhat passively in a spirit of docility in the face of the radical changes in liturgy and the life of the Church. Countless others have just dropped out of the daily life of the Church altogether.There is no question that the new rite has changed the Church. This little book seeks to serve as a scholarly and objective summation of the changes and their effects. The substance of the work is taken largely from the mouths of those who were responsible for promoting and producing the changes as well as from several lengthy and scholarly books published by those who oppose them.
Fr. Hugh P. Donlon - PB - 150 pages
Auriesville - The Martyr’s ShrineThe breathtaking view of the Mohawk river valley from the front of the Shrine of the North American Martyrs at Auriesville New York gives the visitor cause to stop and remember that one day, long ago, our martyrs “ran the gauntlet” up that hill from the riverfront to the hilltop on which he now stands. Modern day Pilgrims who have for almost 20 years now made the yearly Pilgrimage for Restoration on foot, either from the Shrine of Kateri Tekawitha at Fonda New York only seven miles away, or the three-day Pilgrimage from the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament (Lake George) 72 miles away, can attest to the energy it takes to climb that hill after their long hike—and that is without running any gauntlet of blood-thirsty Mohawks!This shrine is one of the glories of the Catholic church in North America and all who can visit it are encouraged to do so, at least once in their lives. The editor can attest to the deep spiritual peace that is present on that hallowed ground. The famous Ravine where St. René Goupil’s relics were lost (and presumably are still part of the landscape there) is hauntingly beautiful and a place where many graces have been bestowed and received.This is the story of that Shrine and of the heroes who made it a place of heavenly peace and grace—The Land of Crosses!
By M. L. Cozens - 118 pages - Paperback
This most concise and helpful reference work was first published in 1928. It was reissued in 1945 by Sheed & Ward publishers and is presented by Loreto again in 2016 because we feel it will be very useful for students, seminarians, priests, and Catholic laity of all walks of life, since so many of these heresies are once again rearing their ugly heads in these most troubling times. Therefore, we must be not only quick to recognize their manifestation in the era in which we live, but we should also be capable of the refutation of these death-dealing errors for those who would look to faithful Catholics for guidance. Saint Paul in 1Cor. 11:19 says “For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you.” Now at first impression that might seem an odd thing for Saint Paul to say— that there must be heresies? Yet the verse gives its own explanation. It is so that truth (those approved teachers and believers) may be made clear among you. It is often the case that truth or light stands out more clearly when contrasted against untruth or darkness and that is one very fine reason why those seeking the truth in more depth of understanding may wish to study heresies. It is so that truth may be made more manifest!That is exactly what the author does in this book. Not only does heexplain and state clearly the errors but he does three other things that are most helpful to the reader: 1) he describes how and why the heresy arose, and 2) he shows the true teachings in opposition, and 3) he draws out the logical conclusions and implications for thought and behavior that flow from the acceptance of the error. This is a great teaching tool for high schools, colleges and seminaries, or adult study groups.Saint Anthony - Hammer of Heretics - Pray for us!
Also Available in Print
By Dom Prosper Guéranger - PB - 404 pages
In the nineteenth century there was a concerted effort on the part of liberal revisionists to undermine the Church’s history by challenging the veracity of the Acts of the Martyrs. Some miraculous events associated with the lives of very popular saints, whose names were canonized in the Roman Missal, were treated with ridicule by scholars more concerned with documents than the living evidence of common tradition. It was righteous indignation that moved Abbot Dom Guéranger to defend the cause of Saint Cecilia, whose holy celebrity had spanned fifteen centuries. The abbot’s strategy was to validate the traditional accounts of all the martyrs’ lives by exonerating just one. He achieved this in the holy virgin Cecilia’s case by presenting in book form every morsel of factual evidence available, especially that which modern archeological excavations offered. As a result of his labor, there arose a refreshing new devotion to the young martyr, and – at least for a time — the cynical scoffs of the proud were silenced. This particular biography was written in response to the request of his co-reformer and friend, the Benedictine Abbess Cécile Bruyère.
Prospér Louis Pascal Guéranger was born in France, in 1805, at Sablé-sur-Sarthe. In the Napoleonic era, 1827, during the continued anti-clerical aftermath of the French Revolution, he was ordained a parish priest. As a young curé he authored several works on church-state relations. In 1836, having purchased an abandoned priory that was for sale in Solesmes, he and five other parish priests took solemn vows as Benedictines, with the intention of restoring the monastic life in France according to the ancient rule of Saint Benedict. Until his death there in 1875, Abbot Dom Guéranger devoted himself to restoring the cenobitical life as originally cultured thirteen centuries earlier by the father of western monasticism. He did much by his writings and prayers to keep the church in France loyal to the person of the Sovereign Pontiff and away from the dangers of both Gallicanism and Jansenism.
Father Denis Fahey - PB - 440 pages
The principal purpose of The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World is to deal, from the theological, philosophical and historical standpoint, with the modern revolt against the divine plan for the organisation of human society. Dr. Fahey writes at length of the various errors and the nefarious forces which at present menace the divinely-constituted social order. His work is a most important one. Perhaps never before, since the establishment of Christianity, has there been such an organized effort to overthrow it, to dethrone Christ, to destroy His Church, to set aside God and the order which He has established. In some countries, notably Russia, Mexico, and Spain, the veil of secrecy has been withdrawn; in many others the same Masonic and Communistic influences are at work, but their activities are to a large extent underground. An essential prerequisite for a proper preparation (to defend the Church) is a knowledge of the nature and extent of the menace, of the organization of the forces behind it, and of the diabolical hatred of Christianity and of everything supernatural with which these forces are imbued. This knowledge is to be found in Dr. Fahey’s work; in fact nowhere else, as far as we know, is there such a logical, co-ordinated treatment of the subject.
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.