Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Feast of Christ the King ~ Dorothy Day and Antoine Leiris




In addressing Congress in the United States recently, Pope Francis extensively referenced, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King. Here is a quote from Dorothy Day by which in a sentence she gets to the essential thing, not just for religion but for all of human life.

The biggest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart; a revolution that has to start with each one of us.

But what might that look like? Antoine Leiris' wife was killed in the November 13th terrorist attack of the Bataclan theater in Paris. The couple have a 17 month old baby boy named Melvil. The evening of seeing his wife in the morgue for the first time after her murder, Antoine wrote a letter to the men who killed her. It lays open for us the heart-revolution of which Dorothy Day speaks. 

Here is the English translation text of Antoine's letter.


Friday night, you took an exceptional life - the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I don't know who you are and I don't want to know; you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in his heart. 

So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You're asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost.

I saw her this morning, finally after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in the paradise of free love to which you have no access.

We are just two now, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don't have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17 months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.

11 comments:

  1. Jesus Christ is King and all things come through him including mercy and forgiveness.

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  2. A strong man and good example for his son. It takes courage and faith to not be crippled by anger and fear.

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  3. There are many blog posts today about the Feast of Christ the King, but none like this. You always give us a different perspective to add to the normal rhetoric. Thank you.

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    1. It should be a priest's joy to find and announce the different perspective. I remember the precise moment - even the angle of the sun in our classroom in 1964 when a nun handed me a holy card of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This lovely gift - an icon - a different perspective! Thank you for following the posts. Bless you on this happy feast!

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  4. Father Stephen,
    I read your blog often and all the comments and see the wonderful work you are doing. As this liturgical year comes to an end, I just want to express my sincere gratitude for writing and sharing your thoughts for all of us. It was very moving to read Antoine's letter this morning. I feel a certain level of shame for keeping hate in my heart when all I have done is see the news. I haven't even lived through these atrocities. Yet this man in all he has just experienced has put forth these strong words for all of us. A leader through his example. Jesus must be happy with him.

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    1. What a dad! And he will teach baby Melvil not to hate. I used to think fear was spiritual enemy number one. No more: hate is spiritual enemy number one. There is so much hate. Everything we do should be an antidote to hate. Thank you for following the posts. God bless you as we step into a new liturgical year.

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  5. I don't know who Dorothy Day is, but her quote captures the spirit of a healing nation. It is hard not to be moved by Antoine's love letter. To hear him speak of his wife and child with steadfast determination not to let hatred wind is the most inspirational thing to come out of this disaster. God bless all who mourn a loss at this time, that they will focus on healing and life and not hatred and resentment. God is with us!

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  6. I laugh a little when I hear someone say, 'I don't know..." - so your first words here are refreshing. The best introduction to Dorothy Day is her autobiography, The Long Loneliness." Easily gotten hold of and a very fine read. The story of her conversion and her long journey to the best of Catholicism. Thank you for writing. Happy Feast of Christ the King.

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    1. I have been a fan of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton for a few years now. They have brought me into a new phase of spiritual awareness. Hearing Pope Francis refer to them during his visit was so exciting for me. What a heart breaking story but filled with love and an understanding of the real message of Jesus Christ. This is one of your more inspiring Posts.

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  7. I think a lot of people will be sharing Leiris' letter with others this week. Better than a sermon. Bless him - and baby Melvil. And all the children.

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  8. This letter is circulating everywhere. I have seen video footage of Mr. Leiris speaking about his wife and why he wrote the letter. It sends chills down my spine and makes me so thankful for the gifts God has given me. We should never take what we have for granted for we can lose them in a second.

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