Georges Bernanos. A prophet for our time
by Bishop Patrick Chauvet
Renaissance press, 220 p., € 15
Since the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris, Mgr Patrick Chauvet has been a “rector without a cathedral”, even if the latter continues to occupy him a great deal. In addition to monitoring restoration work, Notre-Dame needs to be brought to life. But all this activity is not enough to silence a question that a man of faith cannot fail to raise constantly: “Why, Lord? “And it was by re-reading Bernanos, to whom he had already devoted many lectures, that he found a consoling “Spiritual path filled with hope”.
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It is therefore not a biography offered by the former professor of letters, but a spiritual reading of the prophetic works of Bernanos. Because if the Catholic writer belongs to another era, he still has something to tell us “At a time when we are experiencing the end of civilization and when we are experiencing a digital revolution. He is there to give us criteria that still seem very relevant to me ”, believes Bishop Chauvet. Evidenced by France against robots, a cry of alarm launched against the civilization of machines published in 1944.
Faith and passion for the truth
“The central idea of our writer is that personal freedom, the basis of all true civilization and all authentic religion, is in real danger in its time, comments the author. Bernanos is the Christian layman who responds to the demands of his time, while looking at eternity. He has a deep view of the things of this world; he denounces the distant consequences of an evolution which it is too easy to be delighted with when one considers only the front of the stage. “
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Bernanos’ outlook on the world is inseparable from his faith, his passion for truth, his concern for human freedom, his love for the Church, his aspiration for the supernatural, his attachment to the sacraments. without which there is no holiness possible, also awareness of one’s own inadequacies.
It is from these different keys that Bishop Chauvet proposes to enter into three texts by Bernanos: the Diary of a country priest, Under Satan’s Sun, the Dialogues of the Carmelites – “The spiritual testament of our novelist”. In a simple and fairly free style, it gives access to works whose literary genre may disconcert today’s reader, but which testify to the strength of hope in the face of anguish and the great trials of life. A hope that our time badly needs.