« Les Bons Chrétiens », by Jean de Saint-Cheron: midnight, Catholics

“Les Bons Chrétiens”, by Jean de Saint-Cheron, Salvator, “Forum”, 204 p., € 18, digital € 13.

It had been a long time since I had read such a joyful book on the situation of Catholicism – which has nothing to boast about: percentage of the faithful in free fall, death of God, etc.

Good Christians takes the pamphlet (Léon Bloy) and the apology (Blaise Pascal), rough like the first, player like the second. But fervent like the two. Either the barker of the Desperate from Bloy: « Strengthen yourself at the thought that I have the ambition to displease you and let me hope to achieve it » ; and the very serious tongue-in-cheek abyss of Thoughts by Pascal: « There is enough light for those who want only to see, and enough darkness for those who have a contrary disposition. « 

Jean de Saint-Cheron, the young author, who spent five years at the seminary (and now heads the office of the rector of the Catholic Institute), says that « Christianity is the purest of realisms ». Bloy and Pascal are there in overalls. Realism is good-natured, if the thought is cutting. Style is embodied, since the verb has become flesh.

The old alliance of the arts with Catholicism

The book leans against the three pillars of the Law: Love, Sin, Resurrection. Love, first of all, one of the manifestations of which is beauty. Supported by Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Bernanos, O’Connor, the author recalls the old alliance of the arts with Catholicism; then he settled accounts with the different counter-cultures, the postmoderns like the Sulpician Catholic. Putting in the same bag the works unpacked in the cultural complexes and the fetishes of Lourdes is a hilarious idea, not so false.

But all the same, Christians have one prescribed beauty, the liturgy. It is an art in its own right. « Simone Weil said the urgency there was to find what we owe “To Romanesque art, to Gregorian chant, at liturgical poetry. There one can drink streams of absolutely pure beauty in all respects ” », Saint-Cheron notes. Myself, a child, I was taken on a country pilgrimage with a bishop, in the summer: the purple in all these greens, the archaic dance of incense casseroles with the thuriferae leaping like fauns had as much brilliance as ‘a Sex Pistols concert, although it has been heard more often « Alleluia » that « No future ». Criticism at length of paper basins us with « the admirable liturgical effect » of such and such a spectacle. You know what the liturgy is, bananas? The liturgy is not a show, it is the Ark of the Covenant carried out with great pomp between man and God.

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