Facism

Vichy France, Blog 3, The Tide Turns, Resistance and Collaboration

Now that Russia was again an enemy of Germany, the Communists in France faced greater pressure, causing more Communists to join the Resistance which actively opposed the Germans and the Vichy French, and also greater cooperation between Catholics and Communists in France that would last into the post-war years. Terrorism and assassinations of German officials increased, and the Vichy officials were drawn into the struggle against the Resistance, which was now a civil war.

Now the Vichy officials heard a new excuse when they urged the Germans to see them as partners rather than as conquered, the Germans were now far too busy on the Eastern front to attend to matters in Europe, the French would have to wait until the end of the war to negotiate a permanent peace.

The German persecution of the Jews in France increased in 1942, Jews were required to wear yellow stars, and Himmler ordered that 100,000 Jews from all of France be deported to the Auschwitz death camps, foreign born Jews first. The Vichy officials offered token resistance.[3] This persecution extended to clergy who assisted the Jews, many French priests would be murdered in the Dachau concentration camp, many of the faithful would become martyrs in their defense of the Jews. One nun commented as she sent to the death camp in Ravensbruk, “I am leaving for Heaven.” […]

Facism

Vichy France, Blog 2, Collaborating with the Germans in the Early Years, 1940-1942

The war in France seemed over in 1940, with Germany in control of the continent, the French were asking, how would it be possible for England to fight back? Hitler was quite willing to accept a lenient armistice, lenient on his terms, Hitler did not want the French government to flee to continue the war from Algeria.

Marshall Petain announced over the radio, “With a heavy heart, I tell you that it is necessary to stop the fighting.” Charles de Gaulle remembered bitterly, “Not a single public figure raised his voice to condemn the armistice.” In hindsight we all know the Nazis lost the war, but in 1940 most French expected a final peace conference in a matter of months. Marshal Petain won the gratitude of most French who thought he had saved them from the abyss of another war in the trenches of France.

The Nazis occupied the northeast two-thirds of France, including Paris, but left the French Vichy regime to govern the rest France in relative autonomy. Soon the borders hardened between the occupied France and Vichy France. Although the Vichy leaders technically had jurisdiction over all of France, they were not even allowed to travel to Paris. Although some were eventually released, two million French POW’s were held in prison camps in Germany throughout the war, and the French had to pay most of their taxes to Germany as reparations to pay for the occupation forces. The German speaking provinces of Alsace-Lorraine were annexed by Germany. The French were eager to negotiate a permanent peace, but Hitler was not so eager. Again and again Hitler would tell the Vichy leaders that they needed to wait for the end of the war to end for a settlement. […]

Facism

Vichy France Regime, Blog 1, Pro-Life, Pro-Catholic, and Fascist

Was the reputation of the Catholic Church harmed by the collaboration of the Vichy regime? There is no single clear-cut answer to this question. The study of the Vichy regime is most valuable when used as a study on how Christians should live their lives under a secular and ungodly regime. Most of the bishops were compromised in their dealings with the Nazis and the Vichy regime, only one Vichy bishop spoke out against collaboration, many bishops were forced to resign at the war’s end. However, many Catholic clergy and laymen opposed the anti-Semitism of the war years. Communists and Catholics jointly fought against the Nazis in the French Resistance, and much pro-Catholic legislation introduced by the Vichy regime was retained after the war. We can be cautiously optimistic in our views, many Catholics and priests lived out their faith in difficult times, although many Catholics and priests collaborated with the Nazis. […]

Morality

St Mark the Ascetic, No Righteousness By Works

We should always search our heart for upright and humble motives. St Mark the Ascetic warns that “some, without keeping the commandments, think they are keeping the faith, while others, keeping the commandments, expect to receive the kingdom as a reward owed to them. Both are deprived of the kingdom.” Our reward lies in our humble obedience, our salvation is our striving to live a more godly life.

Salvation is not a transaction, salvation is not bartering, salvation is a gift by grace, unearned. St Mark the Ascetic teaches us, “when the Scriptures say, ‘God will reward each person according to his works,’ the Scriptures are not saying that works deserve hell or the kingdom, but rather that works are done out of faith or lack of faith in Him. Christ repays each person not as a businessman fulfilling his contracts but as God, our Creator and Redeemer,” out of love for us, not out of bartered obligations. […]

Morality

St. Mark the Ascetic, Writings on the Spiritual Law

You cannot cherry-pick which commandments you should follow and which ones you should ignore. Little sins vs whoppers, scrupulously avoiding small penny sins to save up for the whoppers you need to be forgiven for when you hide thousands of dollars of defects when selling your house or when you need to ruin someone financially to steal their business. St Mark the Ascetic teaches us, “Those who do not consider themselves under obligation to perform all of Christ’s commandments study the law of God in a literal manner, ‘understanding neither what they say nor what they affirm.’ (1 Tim 1:7) Therefore the think they can fulfill the law by their own works.”(34)
“Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues. . . Perfection is hidden in the Cross of Christ.(31) The law of freedom by true knowledge, and is understood through the practice of the commandments, and is fulfilled through the mercy of Christ.”(32)
“Fulfilling a commandment is one thing, and virtue is another, although each promotes the other.(193) Fulfilling a commandment means doing what we are enjoined to do; but virtue to do it in a manner that conforms to the truth.”(194) […]

History

History of the Jesuits

The Jesuits shares with the medieval orders the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but in addition the Jesuits take a fourth vow. O’Malley emphasizes this fourth vow is not a vow of loyalty to the pope, as many think it, but rather the fourth vow is a vow to go on “mission anywhere in the world, to be ready to travel among the Turks, or to the New World, or to the Lutherans, or to any others whether infidels or faithful.” They looked to the pope to send them out on mission, or to the superior general of the Jesuit order. The Jesuits also differed from the older religious orders in that they did not wear a distinctive habit, they did not give up their family name, and they were not be required to meet for group prayer several times a day.

The Jesuits started a modern ministry, the RETREAT, based on Loyola’s major work, the Spiritual Exercises. Weekend retreats today are common, Jesuit retreats can be longer, and are times of self-reflection similar to Loyola’s time of self-reflection when he asked for God’s guidance. Many in the sixteenth century criticized these retreats for under emphasizing the sacramental and penitential life and over emphasizing the direct communication of the individual believer with God, which many felt was a false mysticism. Indeed, Loyola’s Constitutions, the rule for Jesuits, does not prescribe penances or austerities for the brothers. […]

Morality

St Diadochos of Photiki, Blog 2, On Spiritual Knowledge

St Diadochos teaches that when “the energy of the Holy Spirit is within us,” “the soul is kindled into Love for God and, free from all fantasy and image, moves untroubled by doubt towards Him, drawing the body with it into the depths of that ineffable love. The Love which comes from the Holy Spirit so inflames the soul that all its parts cleave ineffably and with utter simplicity to the delight of its love and longing for the divine.” […]

Morality

St Diadochos of Photiki, Blog 1, On Spiritual Knowledge

Like the Didache, this beatitude by St Diadochos begins with love. St Diadochos teaches us, “All spiritual contemplation should be governed by faith, hope, and love, but most of all by love. Faith and hope teach us to detach ourselves from visible delights, but love unites the soul with the excellence of God, searching out the Invisible by means of intellectual perception.” […]

Facism

Mandela Talking with the Enemy and Freedom, Blog 4

This chapter Mandela titles “Talking with the enemy.” Indeed, the ruling National Party was starting to realize that majority rule was inevitable. They were coming under increasing political and financial pressure, new sanctions were imposed by the UN, US, and other countries, more companies closed their operations in South Africa, banks and investors decreased their holdings in the country, ANC acts of sabotage increased, protests and riots and bloodshed on both sides kept increasing, the days of apartheid were numbered. […]

Facism

Mandela, Decades Spent In Prison, blog 3

Prison made Mandela a living martyr. Mandela had the good fortune to be the first military director of the ANC just as it started its campaign of sabotage, which meant he was that rarest of generals, the general who had no blood on his hands. His blood free hands allowed him to successfully make the transition to majority rule after apartheid was abandoned.
Mandela was a stoic. He echoes Epictetus when he writes, “prison and the authorities conspire to rob each man of his dignity. No man or institution can rob me of my dignity because I refuse to part with it for any price or pressure. I never seriously considered the possibility that I would not emerge from prison one day.” […]