Sunday, April 22, 2012


My generation in the Abbey grew up on the poems of Charles Peguy, not known to many Americans, at least not in the early 70s. But our Abbess was raised in France and  so brought many things French with her, including literature, such as François Mauriac and Paul Claudel.

Charles Péguy (1873-1914) was a noted French poet, essayist, and editor. His two main philosophies were socialism and nationalism, but, after years of uneasy agnosticism, he become a devout but non-practicing Roman Catholic in 1908. He seemed at times to be a "tortured"soul yet never lost his faith in the power of prayer. A year before he died one of his sons was ill with typhoid fever and there seemed to be no hope of saving him. But Charles prayed to the Virgin Mother:
                     You must do something for my children. I place them in your lap. I give them to you...

He died in battle, shot in the forehead, in Villeroy, Seine-et-Marne during World War I, on the day before the beginning of the Battle of the Marne.

Every year on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, the Community makes a Commitment to “take on” a work for the year.  This year:  TO LIVING MORE DEEPLY INTO THE GIFT AND MYSTERY OF HOPE, HOPE IN ALL THAT IS UNSEEN, UNKNOWN.  Mother Prioress quoted Charles Peguy’s poem on hope:
              But hope, says God, that is some
              Thing that surprises even me...
              That these poor children see how
              Things are going and believe that
              Tomorrow things will go better.
              That is surprising and it’s by
              Far the greatest marvel of our
              Grace...My grace must indeed be
              An incredible force.

Charles Péguy wrote this poem on hope, which he saw symbolized by his nine-year old daughter.

             Faith is a faithful wife.
             Charity is an ardent mother,
             But hope is a tiny girl...

             But my little hope is she   
             who goes to sleep every night,
             in that child crib of hers,
             after having said her prayers properly
             and who every morning wakes up and rises
         and says her  prayers with a new look in her  eyes…


This simple but very long poem is a great meditation on the virtue of hope, which makes one ponder the word HOPE which we too often use without thought of its true meaning.

Hope answers our desire for happiness, a desire that God has implanted in every heart. It gives us strength so we will not become discouraged. It supports us when we feel deserted.

"Let us put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the HOPE of salvation." (1 Thess. 5:8)


  1. Gorgeous commentary and pictures

  2. We spoke about HOPE this morning in our WOMEN'S Bible Study as the one virtue we seem to discount as adults. It occurs to me that HOPE is not just some fleeting grace that, maybe, is flung down upon us and which we grasp at. Rather it begins IN US as a result of our Faith. If we say we believe, we can generate HOPE and live like we have it.