Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chaplain General

Everyone knows that priests aren't supposed to go around shooting people, except in World War II when the French clergy were given a dispensation by the Pope, allowing them to join the military as combatants. Perhaps the most remarkable of these recruits was a Dominican priest, Fr. Bruckberger.

Bruckberger served in the French Commandos at the start of the war, was seriously wounded, captured, escaped and served with the Resistance, over which he was appointed Chaplain. A fierce patriot and cineast(!), he welcomed De Gualle into Notre Dame de Paris as sniper fire rang out within the Cathedral.

After the war his superiors transferred him to the Sahara, where he became Chaplain General of the French Foreign Legion. Bruckberger later went on to America and wrote a series of reflections, One Sky to Share.

Here's an excerpt, on the Land in America.

"Here, the land has not yet entered into communion with man, and man has not penetrated the mystery of the immense natural forces that shelter him. This land is terribly in need of blessing. The land is perhaps the promised bride of man, but she is not yet his. Most often she refuses to give herself or submits against her will. The land and man do not know each other in the flesh and in the spirit."

I love that.



Lukeya said...

As you may know Parson my father was also in the resistance..he spent the entire war in the maquis around Grenoble and suffered accordingly for his troubles. (Grateful for a word in the ear of the old man on that score if you don't mind.)

They were a brave bunch, especially when their own countrymen and women were at best ambivalent to their struggle. Their struggle in the end built modern France with a sense of honour and also moderation. A much maligned virtue in these dark days.

LSP said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Lukeya, and I'll be sure to say a prayer for your Guv'nor.

God bless.