A Devotion to Defend Against ‘Revolutionary Men’

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Regardless of who wins the presidency, the more “centrist” wing of the Democratic Party has taken a substantial hit in the third Congressional election year in a row. Against all media expectations, Republicans picked up congressional seats. So did the Democrats’ radical, socialistic wing that is now trying to push Joe Biden to the left of his already extreme positions under the leadership of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the latter’s accomplices in the so-called Squad. This after a summer of protests, riots, and calls to abolish police departments and even the prison system by a Marxist-led movement whose adherents marched through the streets giving the clenched fist communist salute and chant, “This is revolution.”

Revolution. That’s exactly what they want. It’s no longer a question of contracting or expanding welfare programs but of class warfare. Debate over whether law enforcement agencies have positive value has replaced that over whether racism is a marginal or a widespread problem within them. Gone are the days when the Left supported the Defense of Marriage Act, content with legal tolerance of homosexual behavior. Promises to reduce abortion while keeping it “safe, legal, and rare” have been replaced by calls for “abortion on demand and without apology.” It’s a complete inversion of reality. Good is treated as evil, and evil as good.

If calls for revolution now provoke fairly limited concern, their gravity is severe enough for them to have been the subject of heavenly warnings as long ago as the 1840s, when the private revelations that made the devotion to the Holy Face known to the Servant of God Sister Mary of Saint Peter called attention to the threat posed by “revolutionary men,” including communists, whom she called by name—this, before The Communist Manifesto was published.

It’s probably fair to assume that even devout, orthodox Catholics tend not to be familiar with the Holy Face devotion. And this might not seem too unusual. Only a rare Catholic would be able to keep informed about all the devotions authorized by the Church or all saintly individuals whose claims to have received private revelations have been viewed favorably by ecclesial authorities without being granted “final” formal approval. In the case of the devotion to the Holy Face this lack of awareness is a bit more remarkable for two reasons. Firstly, Sister Mary of Saint Peter claimed to receive messages calling attention to the same danger later highlighted at the well-known and influential Marian apparitions at Fatima. Secondly, the life, writings and spirituality of Sister Mary of Saint Peter strongly influenced one of the most important members of her Discalced Carmelite order: Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whose full religious name was Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

Those who want complete information about the devotion to the Holy Face and the full story of Sister Mary of Saint Peter’s life would do well to read The Golden Arrow, which includes her autobiography and the brief summaries she wrote of her revelations. Biographies of the devotion’s primary promoter, Venerable Leo Dupont, are quite useful and provide a useful example of sanctity in the law state. The best of these is Pierre Janvier’s The Life of Leon Papin-Dupont; it’s still in print and can easily be found online. It’s more thorough than Dorothy Scallan’s youth-oriented The Holy Man of Tours, a work that’s also marked by some literary embellishment. The most basic facts can, however, be briefly summarized.

Born in October 1816, Sister Mary of Saint Peter entered the Carmelite convent in the French city of Tours in 1839 and died a holy death in 1848. Her life, therefore, overlapped with the aftermath of the French Revolution and the collapse of the monarchy. The Battle of Waterloo and the Bourbon Restoration took place the year before her birth. The pious King Charles X was overthrown in favor of his liberal cousin Louis Philippe when she was thirteen, and her life ended as France’s Second Republic was coming into existence.

In 1844, Sister Mary began receiving revelations about devotion to the Holy Face, which continued until the year before her death. The two primary intentions of the devotion—mentioned in most introductory accounts—are reparation for blasphemy, as well as the profanation of Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Sister Mary’s writings make clear, however, that according to her revelations, “blasphemy” is intended to cover “all attacks against religion and against holy Church,” rather than only the verbal offenses against God to which the term is commonly applied. This, it must be remembered, was a time when the Church in France had only recently undergone persecution. Secularist hostility was again coming to the fore in French politics, so much so that the “ungrateful nation” was threatened with chastisement if its people did not repent.

Clearly, the people of France did not repent. Some of the subsequent calamities are well known: ignominious defeat in in the Franco-Prussian War, massive loss of life during World War I and, finally, Nazi occupation. But, according to Sister Mary’s account, Christ also told her that “the malice of revolutionary men” would itself serve as a form of chastisement for those who, without embracing revolution, were nevertheless indifferent to God. And not only are revolutionary men and communists (again, whom Sister Mary asserted Christ mentioned by name) guilty of “malice”; they are also, in the words of Christ, “wolfish men” and “enemies of the Church and of Christ” whose plots are “diabolical.”

It’s not surprising, then, that Sister Mary wrote that “Our Lord commanded me to make war on the Communists” and that “to arm you for the battle ahead, I give you the weapons of My Passion, that is My Cross which these enemies dread, and also the other instruments of my tortures.” He also provided a prayer, called “The Golden Arrow,” to be said for this intention. We will end by praying it together:

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Amen.

[Image: The Veil of Saint Veronica by El Greco]

James Baresel

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James Baresel earned a Master of Arts in philosophy from Franciscan University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Cincinnati. He has taught high school classes in English, Latin and the history of art and now works as a freelance writer. His writing has appeared in Catholic Herald, University Bookman, Claremont Review of Books, Southern Literary Review, American History and New Oxford Review.

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