Paris: All Saints 2004

Source: FSSPX News


After Vienna last year and before Lisbon in 2005, then Brussels and Budapest, the International Congress of Evangelization will be held in Paris on the theme “Who will bring us happiness?”, inspired by the Beatitudes. 450 religious and artistic events will take place in the capital from October 23 to November 1, among which are: the opening Mass welcoming the young coming from the suburbs to the cathedral of Notre-Dame (Sunday the 24th). The day of pardon and reconciliation in some forty churches where priests will be at the disposition of those desiring confession (Friday the 29th). “Holy wins”, a response to Halloween, where children are changed into “bearers of happiness” to the passers-by, giving them their own message of happiness, on Saturday the 30th; and in the evening, on the plaza of St. Sulpice church, a pop-rock concert “for the youth to celebrate the feast of all saints”. Monday, November 1st will be the Mass of All Saints at Notre-Dame “with the people of the street”. During the entire week, there will be “anti-loneliness breakfasts”, “theological restaurants”, “happy hours for singles”, “good noon plans, expositions, conferences and even a “happy rally”…

Parisians in search of a visible Church

La Croix of October 22 interviewed several people in the streets. Romain, a 28 year old artist, said he was annoyed by the campaign of the Church announcing to Parisians “Jesus Christ, source of happiness”: “That’s a bit too commercial, don’t you think?”, but he felt, along with Corinne, a medical student, and Pierre, a retired man, that “the Church is trying too hard to adapt itself to the changing world”. However Corinne, a self-proclaimed unbeliever, added: “the Church has to perpetuate moral values and respect for others. I expect her to promote the power of beauty, not that of money. I don’t think she has to adapt to changing morals. She should remain an anchor”. Pierre who was not hiding his faith, said: “Even if I don’t walk at the slow pace of the Church, I feel she doesn’t defend herself enough. Let’s stop putting a handkerchief over our convictions. Why didn’t the Church insist more on the recognition of our Christian origins in the European Constitution?” For her part, Helene, 48 years old and a non-practicing Jew, doesn’t understand the current choices of the Catholic Church: “Do you think it would ever occur to us Jews to change the Sabbath day? Well, to make life easier for Catholics, they allow them to go to Mass on Saturday instead of Sunday! As for fasting [actually abstinence], what Catholics still eat fish on Fridays? Making it easier hasn’t brought more people into the Church. Just the opposite!” Zora, 50 years old: “The Church needs to pay more attention to adolescents. The youth aren’t motivated any more. The Church can show them a way. Islam is doing it in the suburbs. Why doesn’t the Church do it in Paris?” Renato, a 50-year-old photographer: “The priests and the mediators, instead of staying locked up in the Church, are starting to go out. It was time. For today, there’s a big void, a lack of ideas. The ideologies have all collapsed. What’s left?” Christian, a video specialist, says however: “More than ‘happiness’ which could make people think of a crook’s sales pitch, it’s hope we need to escape the forces of death.”

The cardinal and the Titanic

The cardinal and the Titanic

In the same issue of La Croix, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger gives the reasons which led him to organize this Operation All Saints 2004 in Paris: “The rapid changes in living conditions blunt the convictions which allow people to live and organize their lives. Many have a confused desire for an interior discipline which will help them to know what they are doing and why they want it. The emotional life is constantly being destabilized by the staging and imaging of emotions; a huge uncertainty weighs on relations between men and women, on their fidelity and the possibility for them to build a common destiny. There has never been so much confusion about sexuality, never so much uncertainty about good and evil, people do not know whom to trust any more, and many of them have never received the Good News, the Gospel, which their grand parents lived on. (…)

“The truth must be spoken, even if it is difficult to accept: our society no longer knows where it’s going and is not mastering the perspectives of its future. At the root of this incertitude, which touches on all morals and rules of social behavior, I see a source of anguish which is bringing much disorder in its wake. It is difficult to say if this phenomenon is passing or not…because of the enormous difficulty in transmitting, from one generation to the next, the human capital which allows a people to face crises by finding a well-spring of courage along with, in the case of believers, the strength of the faith.

“The system of education finds itself in a state of confusion: young parents, who often have not had a share in the experiences of the preceding generations, do not know what to do with their children: access to violence, commercial influence of fads, etc. Is it fair to blame the youth? Who is responsible? The spiritual situation is marked by this confusion and by immense needs where we have to listen to the call of a silent cry. People often say that we need to “give meaning” but what does that mean? Meaning cannot be given like an object (no one asks another “Would you happen to have a little sense?”). It’s like an objective: for what, for whom will I give my life? It’s a question of reasons for living. (…)

“The real problem of the society is a little like the Titanic: it’s not because everybody’s dancing that the boat is not sinking…Our mission is to go to the place where our civilization is rocking toward its true destiny or its self-destruction. And we cannot fulfill this mission other than by the very mystery of the Savior! (…)

The main thing is that Christians do their “work”. Above all we must not consider public opinion like a mirror in which we contemplate ourselves… If the Church (and her leaders, priests and laymen) seek first of all to give a good impression, it would be better to go off to the desert. Their image matters little. What matters is the courage and the rightness of their attitude, even if they are ridiculed: the truth always ends up touching hearts; “the truth will make you free”, Jesus said (John 8:32)”.