Where are the others?

We must be saved together.
We cannot go to God alone;
else He would ask
“Where are the others?”
Charles Péguy

One hundred years ago today, on September 5, 1914, French Catholic playwright and poet Charles Péguy was killed in the battle of the Marne.

Péguy is one of the French Catholic writers who initiated a resurgence of Catholic life and thought in France. I don’t recall ever having read one of his plays or poems but he deserves to be remembered for who he was and what he tried to do.

Born poor, he was a socialist who had a deep fascination with Saint Joan of Arc. In the early years of his married life, he and his wife ran a book store and a salon for discussions in Paris’ Left Bank.

He was an ardent supporter of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French officer who was accused falsely of espionage and treason. He continued supporting Dreyfus long after others had abandoned him.

Eventually Péguy regained his Catholic faith – to the astonishment of his political friends and the disdain of his wife. But Péguy retained his convictions of concern for the poor and his disdain of bourgeois Catholicism.

But his was a faith that was both traditional and revolutionary.

In 1911 he walked to the shrine of Mary at the Cathedral of Chartres, pleading for his son who was ill of diphtheria. The pilgrimage continues to this day.

What strikes me is that he maintained his radical sense of solidarity with the poor as he sought to follow God in the Church.

As Robert Ellsberg notes in All Saints, his was “a spirit of solidarity informed not only by his socialist convictions, but in a peculiar sense by his understanding of the communion of saints.”

“We cannot go to God alone.”

 

Being a disciple is not an individualistic pursuit of my individual salvation. It is a call to be with others and, with them, to approach the “throne of grace.”

 

“Where are the others?”

 

Where are they – in our lives now and in our journey to God?

 

Do we walk with them?

 

Will we find ourselves before God with others – especially the poor and outcast?

 

That’s for me the challenge of Charles Péguy.

 

 

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One response to “Where are the others?

  1. Hi John, I may be in Central America for 2 mths this Nov and Dec. If I go, I’d like to visit you for a couple days, if that’s alright. It’d be sometime late Nov/early Dec. Will you be around? Date: Fri, 5 Sep 2014 13:36:46 +0000 To: jeffcolledge@hotmail.com

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