Venerable Emmanuel D’Alzon – Letter to Alphonse de Vignamont – 28 March 1835

Venerable Emmanuel-Maurice d'AlzonDear friend,

I wonder if, when I have the pleasure of seeing you again, you will find that I have changed. I frankly think that a revolution is going on inside me, not from evil to good, but in the sense that I’m seeing things from a different point of view. As I study religion, I discover, in the depths of Catholic dogma, such a great wealth, such a rich vein, a life so powerful that, on the one hand, I do not see how a priest who wants to renew society can find a better way than the truth itself and, on the other hand, I think the only way to strengthen flagging spirits or heal the moral fatigue that everyone laments today, is to expose society to the brilliant light that guides all people coming into this world, to warm them all with the rays of the eternal Word.

Also, the more I look at the world from this point of view, the more I am disgusted with politics, which I consider to be a dead end. There is no life there, only death convulsions, powerless attempts to organize, vain efforts, unless Catholic thought penetrates it with charity, justice, and the spirit of Christian liberty, which regardless of what they say is completely suffocated in our day. I have made up my mind, and it is confirmed each day as I read the second psalm, which I urge you to meditate. I am convinced that both the people and the kings are at fault; let them chasten each other. It is clear to me that what the priest must do is work with whatever strength he has to establish the reign of Christ without getting lost in useless arguments. His king is Jesus of Nazareth; his tribunal, Calvary; his flag, the cross. Attach no color to this flag; the cross that Jesus hung upon, the one that appeared to Constantine was neither red nor white, and yet the former saved the world, and the latter conquered it. The most intimate thought of my soul is that the world needs to be penetrated through and through by a Christian idea; otherwise it will fall apart. And the world will not receive this idea but from men who will be taken up with it before all else in order to proclaim it in every form that it might assume. They say the world is evil. No doubt, passion turns it away from what is good. But I believe most of all that the world is ignorant. Therefore we need to teach it and to do so in words it can understand.