Charles Péguy and Pope Francis

“The privileged place for an encounter with Christ are our sins,” Pope Francis said at yesterday’s morning mass in St. Martha’s House.

“It is the power of God’s Word that brings about a true change of heart.”

The “encounter between [our] sins and the blood of Christ is the only salvific encounter there is.”

The Jesuit Pope’s words would not have slipped past Charles Péguy, the great poet from Orléans who passed away a hundred years ago.

It was 5 September 1914 and the Battle of the Marne had only just began when a bullet went straight through his head.

He became one of the early victims of the First World War after volunteering for military service. He was enrolled as a reserve lieutenant.

Towards the end of his life, his unusual journey as an “irregular” Christian led him to experience the things Francis described in yesterday’s homily on a number of occasions.

In fact he described this experience in his work Descartes and Cartesian Philosophy published after his death, in 1924.

An Italian translation of the text was recently published by Edizioni Studium.

The translation, by Cristiana Lardo, a researcher in Italian literature, reads: “The healings, the successes and the rescuing acts of grace are extraordinary; it brought victory and salvaged what was or seemed to have been lost.”

“The most terrible miseries, miserliness, turpitudes and crimes, including sin, are often chinks in human armour which grace can penetrate through, overcoming human toughness.”

Meanwhile, “everything slides over the inorganic armour of habit, the tip every sword is blunt.”

Over a century ago, Péguy wrote: “the do-gooders, those who like to be called as such, have no chinks in their armour. They have no wounds.”

“There is no way in for grace, sin is essentially the way in.” Continue reading


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