Father Louis-Marie de Blignières: the beauty of the Christian pilgrimage

Père Louis-Marie de Blignières : la beauté du pèlerinage de Chrétienté

About 900 people attended the pontifical mass this morning celebrated by Dom Louis-Marie, Abbot of Barroux, in the Saint-Roch church in Paris, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté association. While waiting for the broadcast of the homily, here is the word spoken by Father de Blignières, superior of the Fraternity of Saint-Vincent Ferrier, during the anniversary dinner, which took place on Friday evening:

Dear friends,

To evoke these 40 years of adventures, a word came to me: that of beauty.

1° Our Lady of Christianity is first and foremost the beauty of a challenge. There is a chivalrous side to what the founders, organizers and chaplains of NDC have been doing for four decades. Against the current of doubt universal, ambient in society and, alas, in large sectors of the Church, proposing strong certainties is indeed a courageous challenge. Founding, in 1982, a pilgrimage based on the triptych “Christianity, tradition and mission” was a great provocation. It was the result of a righteous rebellion against the mediocrity of consumer civilization, against societal deconstruction, against immanent apostasy. I would say that the pilgrimage is an act of faith taken by young Catholics against the mediocrity of technocratic hedonism and against the spinelessness of progressive resignation. This is one of the facets of this “insurrection of free men”, who refuse to abdicate the dignity of their human nature, the grandeur of their historical heritage, the nobility of their condition as Sons of God. The pilgrimage is an astonishing equation: the deepening of the doctrine, the demands of the effort, the splendor of the liturgy… combined with the inventive professionalism of the organization! It was not obvious at all that this succeeded in motivating hundreds of tireless devotion of cadres and priests, tens of thousands of courageous pilgrims for 40 years. In fact this challenge was raised. This is a first beauty, that of a wise anti-conformism, in the school of Charles Péguy and André Charlier, who said: “You have to accept being alone, and when you have accepted, you realize that we were not”.

2° Another aspect is that of the sensitive beauty as a reflection of order and truth. The pilgrimage is well organized, with diverse and carefully coordinated services. It’s a great edification to see it function, at the cost of so many sacrifices and with accepted discipline. Chaplains, leaders, chapter leaders, support each other (without secularism and without clericalism…) in their respective tasks… The beauty of this harmony is visible in the arrangement of the column and the organization of the bivouacs. The pilgrimage goes well, by regions and organized chapters, under beautiful banners floating in the wind. It crosses the beautiful regions of the heart of our country, the Ile de France. The pilgrims sing, often just and always unanimously, which is overwhelming in a depressed society where popular song has become very rare. And they sing beautiful songs. They walk towards one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, Chartres Cathedral. They deploy a sumptuous and moving liturgy. The rite is “what makes the truth tangible”. The beauty of the liturgy of the Latin tradition is to put before the eyes of the participants, in an eloquent way, a triple aspect of the truth. The truth about God, through the acute sense of the sacred, manifested in particular in the orientation and the sacred language. The truth about the man, by the attitude of the assistants during the celebration of the mysteries and at communion. The truth about Christ through the sacrificial dimension, conveyed in an incomparable way by the oldest of Catholic rites. The testimonies of conversion are innumerable. The joyful ordering of this beautiful sacred march disposes souls to discover that there is a world beyond the sad materialistic banality. The beauty of the rite is for them the Porch which introduces to the beauty of the divine mystery.

3°. There is a third facet of beauty that the pilgrimage to Chartres evokes for me: it is moral and spiritual beauty. Make 15,000 young and old from all walks of life walk together; make adults with strong temperaments work together in the organization; doctrinally train heads of chapters and deputies often of different “sensitivities”; to give priests from various Institutes and various dioceses the possibility of exercising their ministry together. All this with respect for the “traditional pedagogies of faith”: this presupposes beautiful renunciations and beautiful charity! Yes, pilgrimage is a place of true catholicity. It is particularly beautiful that he has implemented two aspects of this catholicity without fail for forty years. Fidelity to the Gregorian Mass which constitutes the backbone of Latin Catholicity and which is part of its inadmissible and unavailable heritage. The practice of hierarchical communion with Pastors (however deficient or irritating they may be at times) which belongs by divine right to the Catholic profession. The rite of the morning masses celebrated by the chaplains underlines the first aspect. The celebration or preaching of the main masses by bishops or cardinals highlights the second.

I add a more intimate note. It has the beauty of confessions. I made about ten pilgrimages and that’s what moved me the most. As Pierre Vaquié said, we have traveling “confessionals” during the pilgrimage. Between two chapters, in an empty space on the road, the priest is isolated from the world and from noise by priestly grace as in an invisible crystal. He listens, advises, absolves for hours. The confessions, prepared by the topos of the chapters, seem facilitated by the emulation of fervor and by walking, as the thought of the Aristotelians in the Lycée was by intellectual camaraderie and wandering. They are wonderful. When the hand is raised on a face bathed in tears to absolve a pilgrim who has never confessed or has not done so for thirty years, it is difficult to hold back tears before the spiritual beauty of this rebirth!

My dear friends, let us say thank you to God, through Our Lady of the Rosary. Thank you for the beauty of the challenge taken up by the pilgrimage; thank you for the sensitive beauty that conveys the truth there; thank you for the moral beauty of a deeply catholic approach.

L.-M. from Blignieres

Prior FSVF

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