Who still reads the great French prophets of the 20th century?
Who still reads Peguy, Claudel, Bernanos, Saint-Exupery? Each, from his viewpoint, railed against the coming of the same abomination: "their" civilization was dying. While this civilization ought to have been perfected, so that the Kingdom of God on earth could truly grow, all that had constituted its genius was soon to vanish. Materialism, hedonism, self-preoccupation (today it would be called "personal development") was about to submerge beauty, goodness, and truth, along with the true Faith and the ancient virtues.
The sign of the coming of the end of this world was that terrifying metropolises were already reducing rural, pastoral civilization to objects fit to fill their museums. Since then, this prophecy has been fulfilled. The fertile ground that nurtured our civilization has gone.
Villages have been deserted. Human relationships have been virtualized. Faith and devotion are fading. The moral compass that, far from constraining free men, once guided them, has been distorted. The poor, humble and proud, with that magnificent nobility celebrated by Thomton Wilder, have disappeared from the social landscape.
The charming pastoral scene on MAGNIFICAT'S cover was painted by Dutchman Jozef lsraels in 1864. It highlights an anguishing and mysterious aspect of this prophecy: in the coming new civilization — meaning ours now — the Word of God would no longer immediately touch hearts and minds.
He who, directly or indirectly, has never worked the good earth by the sweat of his brow, never experienced seedtimes and harvests, never tended sheep or saved a stray lamb, finds himself de facto distanced from the Gospel and its parables.
Let us not be saddened: we find ourselves spurred on to deepen our understanding of the Word of God, to improve our prayerful reading of it — and let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ remains present to the world even until his return in glory. But why not take advantage of our vacations in the countryside to rediscover, with a touch of nostalgia, a drop of the sap that nourished the fervor of our fathers in faith?
Pierre-Marie Dumont. "The Prophecy Fulfilled before Our Eyes." Magnificat (July, 2016).
Reprinted with permission of Magnificat.
The AuthorPierre-Marie Dumont is the Founding Publisher of the monthly magazine Magnificat. He is a married layman and the father of a large family. Copyright © 2016 Magnificat
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