MISSING MASS IN ORDER TO FULFIL AN IMPORTANT CIVIC DUTY

On the Sunday of the General Elections, the faithful will do their utmost to reconcile the duty of hearing Mass with that of casting their vote; those for whom this would be impossible are exempt from the obligation to hear Mass, on the grounds of the paramount importance of their electoral duty. The parish priests will explain this article to them, and will schedule Mass at the most favorable times.

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

Fr. René Motte OMI commented on this:

“The elections were held in the chief town of the canton. This obliged the inhabitants of the villages to spend a lot of time going to the voting center and returning home, by cart or on foot. This is why Bishop de Mazenod exempted from Sunday Mass those who could not observe the double obligation, Sunday Mass and voting. Now this Sunday, April 23, 1848, was Easter Sunday. And we know that for Bishop de Mazenod Easter is the center of the liturgical year.

We can admire the freedom of St. Eugene who puts the responsibility for the poor, and thus their dignity, before the observance of a religious rite, even if that rite is of primary importance, the Easter Sunday Mass. This example is also an invitation to reflect on the scale of values that directs our lives: the dignity of the poor before a serious law. One must be truly free to make this choice.” (Unpublished writing)

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VOTERS MUST LISTEN TO THEIR CONSCIENCE

We urge you all to do so, confident that this great act of your social life will be performed in the sight of the Lord, with a spirit of duty and according to the impulses of a conscience strongly dominated by a brotherly love for one another, without exception.

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

Bishop Eugene did not suggest any candidate to be voted for; the choice was a matter of personal conscience. But what enlightens and guides the conscience is the call to charity.

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” (Lyndon B. Johnson)

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PRAYER MUST BE CONVERTED INTO CIVIC ACTION AT THE BALLOT BOX

We continue to read Bishop Eugene’s Pastoral Letter to the people of Marseilles on the forthcoming elections:

You will therefore strive, our dear brothers, to implore heaven by your most fervent supplications, but you will not restrict yourselves to expressing a feeling of piety and trust at the foot of the altars, you will also not neglect the obligations of another kind which are imposed on you in the name of France; you will exercise the legal action which belongs to you, and you will cast your vote in the ballot box, from which, humanly speaking, the salvation of the fatherland must emerge.

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

“A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” (Thomas Jefferson)

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JUSTICE TO INSPIRE

Religion, whose interests are above those of this world, as much as the soul is above the body, also shows us its sacred cause closely linked to that of the country…

May the Lord grant his Church that justice may inspire all the resolutions to which she will be subject! Then, in her contact with new institutions, or in her confident attitude towards them, she will be able to communicate to them something of that vital virtue which springs from her bosom. Then, what is sick in society will be healed, and divine approval will be granted to what must last. Then, but only then, will God’s eyes rest with complacency on the work of His mercy, as they once did when He saw that the work of His creative word was good, “and God saw that it was good”»,(Gen 1:10), and the heavenly blessing will descend powerful and unceasing to make peace reign among us in strength, as well as abundance of prosperity under the protection of our laws: ” Peace be within your walls and security within your towers.” (Ed Psalm 122:7)!

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

In a world that might say one vote doesn’t matter…it does matter because each person is of infinite worth and value to God… Your vote is a declaration of importance as a person and a citizen.” (Dr. James Dobson)

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PRAY FOR THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THOSE CHOSEN TO REPRESENT THE NATION

Eugene saw the positive train of events taking place in France as contributing to a participation God’s plan of salvation for all.

But in order for the Almighty hand, that has designed these divine plans from all eternity, to unfold them before our eyes and ensure their perfect realization, we must ensure that “the Creator Spirit, who is sent from on High and works here below as a second creation”, who in the days of the Apostles “renewed the face of the earth” (Ps 103-104,30), is poured out on the men elected to represent the nation, and gives them the wisdom and strength of which He is the source.

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

“Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in the desert.” (Khalil Gibran)

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PRAY FOR THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THOSE CHOSEN TO REPRESENT THE NATION

Eugene saw the positive train of events taking place in France as contributing to a participation God’s plan of salvation for all.

But in order for the Almighty hand, that has designed these divine plans from all eternity, to unfold them before our eyes and ensure their perfect realization, we must ensure that “the Creator Spirit, who is sent from on High and works here below as a second creation”, who in the days of the Apostles “renewed the face of the earth” (Ps 103-104,30), is poured out on the men elected to represent the nation, and gives them the wisdom and strength of which He is the source.

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

“Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in the desert.” (Khalil Gibran)

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POLITICIANS ARE CALLED TO BE COOPERATORS OF GOD

The National Assembly would construct a new constitution, which Eugene portrayed as an invisible building encompassing all the citizens of France. Its builders and protectors would be the politicians in the National Assembly.  He invited the people of Marseilles to see God’s role in this building process

A new structure is to be erected, bringing the children of France under its roof as one family. Could we not ask the Lord “to build this house himself, which men would build in vain without him” (Ps 126-127,1)? If a new city is to be built, and we are to be its inhabitants, is it not necessary that, after inspiring and empowering the builders, “he himself should guard this city, over which without him those who guard it would watch in vain” (Ps 126-127,2).

Yes, our dearest brothers, those who are sent to work on the constitution of France are called to become, if they faithfully and holily fulfill their mandate, the very cooperators of a merciful Providence, the visible instruments of its invisible action. They will then truly be “God’s ministers for good” (Rom 13:1). What an important mission! And how interested we are in their unreserved dedication to it, animated by the most sincere and generous zeal for the fatherland! May they happily fulfill this glorious mission, according to the loving plans of “our Father in heaven” (Mt 6:9)!

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote…that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” (Samuel Adams)

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THE NEW POLITICAL SITUATION DEMANDS DIVINE GUIDANCE

The new provisional government in France decided to establish a constituent assembly which would govern the new Republic of France. It was decided that the members would be elected by a universal vote in which all the men of France were invited to vote. For the first time all men, no matter how poor and insignificant, would be able to participate in a privilege that had only been for the wealthy privileged class before.

Bishop Eugene wrote a pastoral letter to the people of Marseilles stressing their responsibility to vote – but that they had to ask for God’s guidance in the process.

In the midst of the grave preoccupations that trouble our minds, the Christian today feels the need for heaven’s assistance to the fullest. In the hearts of religious men and women, there is an urgent call to Divine Providence, which makes human advice fruitful or ineffective, which brings into being and brings to completion all events, the most vast and the smallest, the most probable and the most unforeseen.

Certainly, there has never been a more solemn occasion to invoke the Almighty’s help with greater fervor. Our nation’s destiny is in our own hands, but “God holds us in his” (Ps 30-31,16). How can we fail to beg him to support us, to guide us, to ensure that the great and difficult work that is about to take place succeeds for the good of all?

Pastoral letter from the Bishop of Marseilles, on the occasion of the general elections and the forthcoming opening of the National Assembly, March 20, 1848

REFLECTION

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for rulers and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and acceptable before God our Savior” (I Timothy 12:1-3)

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A FRATERNAL MEAL, TAKING THE SYMBOL OF CHARITY AND OF UNION WHICH MUST REIGN IN EVERY HEART FOR THE HAPPINESS AND THE GLORY OF THE NATION AND THE PROSPERITY OF THE REPUBLIC

The new Republic seemed to bode well for the Church. Eugene noted in his diary:

It appeared that, in this revolution, it was being said that homage be given to religion and to its clergy; that’s a reason for lending oneself to certain demands which present a good side, as strange as they appear from the other side.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 15 April 1848, EO XXI

One of the demands was that the Bishop attend an open-air meal for the inhabitants of Marseilles to celebrate the Republic

I thus went to this huge gathering. I barely entered the enclosure when thousands of voices lifted up as they cried out: “Long live Monsignor! Long live religion!” Everywhere I passed these cries were repeated, and they accompanied me up to the place which had been prepared for me…

There were many speeches, and Eugene opted not to make one, but he wrote:

I would have said only a few words: more or less these: “It’s with happiness that I consented to the invitation made to me to be in your midst during this family feast. It’s consoling for a father to sit at the table of his children, especially when he sees at his sides this young and intelligent commissioner of the government who knew how to win over the sympathies, the esteem and the affection of all of our people, and these magistrates gathered here, those to whom the city owes so much gratitude, and this national guard so admirable in dedication and these soldiers, pride of the native land, etc.” I wanted to consider my allocution as a type of table blessing in this sense that I would have been able to add: “My well-loved brothers, so that on this solemn day no one may be exposed to violating the holy laws of the Church, I grant to all Christians seated at this banquet (there was for each a portion composed of a slice of ham and a slice of sausage, a piece of bread and a bottle of wine) a dispensation from quadragesimal abstinence (Ed: Lent – Palm Sunday). And I ask God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to pour forth his blessings on this fraternal agape, taking the symbol of charity and of union which must reign in every heart for the happiness and the glory of the nation and the prosperity of the Republic.”

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 16 April 1848, EO XXI

REFLECTION

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” (Vaclav Havel)

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IT WOULD TAKE NOTHING LESS THAN BAYONETS TO MAKE ME RETREAT EVER SO SLIGHTLY. OUR PLACE IS IN THE MIDST OF THE FLOCK

March 2. Here all is calm. I have been able to continue my functions by crossing the city without the least inconvenience.

Yesterday the Commissioner of the provisional Government came to proclaim the Republic and to settle matters in this department. This morning, he came to see me so as to be the first to make his call. He asked me to order a religious service for the victims of these latter days, a request that was easy for me to grant.

Our population has been admirable under these delicate conditions. You would have been touched by the concern that has been shown me. The other day, I was crossing on foot all the older quarters to give confirmation to a sick person. Well, people called others to come and see me pass by and to ask for my blessing. I saw a filial affection on all these faces, a kind of joy that made me believe they were convinced that I could have been implicated in this business or that I had withdrawn from it completely. Surely it would take nothing less than bayonets to make me retreat ever so slightly. Our place is in the midst of the flock.

Letter to Fr Hippolyte Courtès in Limoges, France, 2 March 1848, EO X n 968

I made a visit to the Commissioner of the government, who received me with the most respectful overtures. He appeared very satisfied with my initiative, as well as his father, present at our meeting. To hear them, the government wishes to respect religion, and they assured me that they were disposed to assist me in everything which would depend on them

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 3 March 1848, EO XXI

REFLECTION

“It is necessary to heal the wounds of the past If you are going to build your country and to have unity. I am working with people who fought me very bitterly before the elections. It was my responsibility as the man who is leading the majority party, my responsibility to heal the wounds of the past and to work with people who were my opponents.”

Nelson Mandela

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