Greetings from Pittsburgh! A few weeks ago, Joe and I were dining with my parents at our favorite neighborhood restaurant, which happens to be a French bistro. (Paris 66) We frequent the restaurant enough that we have become very friendly with the staff. On this particular night I couldn’t help but notice that the table across from us seemed to be full of men and women speaking beautiful French. I asked about the group and it turns out the Honorary Consul as well as the current Consul of France in Pittsburgh were dining with a group of people from France living in Pittsburgh. Never one to be shy about sharing the work we are doing on Elisabeth, I asked if our waiter would introduce me to the table. But first Joe ran over to our apartment to gather some EL business cards, prayer cards and books for me to share. With the help of the Holy Spirit I found courage and bravery to introduce myself and all the work we are doing on Elisabeth. I am happy to share that they were extremely friendly and seemed interested in our work. We plan to have dinner with the Honorary Consul in the next few weeks. We hope we might be invited to speak about Elisabeth at one their events promoting French culture in Pittsburgh.
We again express our gratitude to our supporters, especially in the United States, who have increased the number of masses to be said on or around May 3rd to 13! All masses have been posted at the following link.
When we visited Paris last fall we were blessed to spend an afternoon with Claude Menesguen and his son Nicolas. (Claude is the author of the book, “Cent pensées d’Élisabeth Leseur” and was one of the featured speakers at the Saint-Germain-des-Pres conference on October 16, 2018.) One of the highlights, besides wonderful wine from St. Emilion at lunch, was a visit to the magnificent Sainte-Chapelle. We have kept in touch with Claude over these last few months, exchanging emails on many topics including the unrest in Paris. We asked Claude if he would write a reflection we might share in early spring.
Claude Menesguen, 2019
The choice of this theme for a woman whose main characteristic is an intense spirituality may seem unusual. Moreover, she lived at a time when women in France were systematically removed from politics. The 3rd Republic refused until the end of the regime in 1940 to confer the right to vote on women. The nineteenth century, unlike the eighteenth century, experienced the triumph of machismo.
Despite this unfavorable context, Elisabeth was still interested in political issues. And one finds in her stories the trace of her opinions. Intelligent, she was rooted in her time. Moreover, through her husband, she was close to men of power and very well placed to judge their ideas and actions. Thus, while the majority of practicing Catholics dreamed of a return from the monarchy, she realized that the Republic was firmly established in the country. In a letter, she is dismayed at the end of a dinner by the naivety of friends convinced of the chances of ascending the throne of Bonaparte. She supports without any problem the policy of rallying to the Republic advocated by Pope Leo XIII. She does not believe in the eternity of an anticlerical government: “The future will be what we will make of it.” In fact, as early as the 1914-1918 war, governments abandoned their destructive attitudes in this area.
On the other hand, her knowledge of misery leads her – which is rare among women of that time who were confined to female patronesses – to attach importance to the social question. “The social question is, in essence, the Christian question since it is that of the situation of every man in this world, and of his material, intellectual and moral improvement.”
Knowing politicians well, is Elisabeth without illusions about the sincerity of their generous speeches? “Let us think less about humanity and more about man.” The socialists of the moment do not find favor in her eyes. She knows that their achievements in France are meager, inferior to those that could be observed in the Germany of William II. “Socialism claims to secure and transform the future, Christianity transforms the present.”
Liberalism does not seduce her either. “Practical materialism is as dangerous as philosophical materialism. It invades people’s homes every day and, through the game of evil instincts, it settles in our democracy. ” Here too she reveals herself prophetic. It precedes a century of criticism of the West by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “The Western system is in a state of spiritual exhaustion.”
To conclude, I would say that the text that best expresses Elisabeth Leseur’s state of mind is the shortest: “I am anti-anti.” I admit that this sentence often serves me as a reference for judging the speeches of politicians. Written at the time of the Dreyfus Affair where in France everyone is anti: anti-Semitic, anti-clerical, anti-republican, antimilitarist, etc … It retains a perpetual value.
Ways You Can Help
We are asking that you consider having a mass offered at your local parish for Elisabeth on (or around) the anniversary of her death: 3-May. We’d also love for you to let us know if you do (parish name & location).
We are looking to extend our reach by adding additional languages to ELCause.org and the monthly reflection. We are particularly interested in finding help for Polish and Japanese translations. If you know anyone who might be interested please contact us at email@example.com.
We continue to receive prayer requests and periodically update the Prayer Requests page. If you would like to add a prayer request, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With our prayers,
Jennifer and Joe MacNeil