The last days of Père Gratry









London, Oxford and Cambridge


“Testor Jesum et sanctos ejus, me nihil in gratiam, nihil more blandientium loqui, sed quid dicturus sum, pro testimonio dicere.”—S. Jerome, Ep. 108, No. 2.

Père Gratry’s many friends know that I had the mournful happiness of being with him during the last nine days of his life, of giving him the Church’s last blessings in his mortal agony, of receiving his last sigh, of closing his eyes. Many among them know likewise what Père Gratry had been to me from my youth upwards; and, therefore, I have been appealed to on all sides with earnest entreaties to put together, and share with others, the precious recollections of my intimate intercourse with that great soul. Moreover, the Archbishop of Paris (who made me the bearer of his kindly greetings to our sick friend when I departed for Montreux) has requested me to record what 1 can of those last days. In compliance therefore with the claims of authority and friendship, as well as for my own consolation and encouragement, I undertake the task. In death as in life, Père Gratry must still be the Apostle of Hope, and as I recall these precious recollections I would fain endeavour to win for myself, and impart to others, that fresh impulse of courageous hope which it was so peculiarly his gift to kindle, and which made all intercourse with him a perpetual Sursum Corda!

It is scarce needful to say that I am not pretending now to write Père Gratry’s Life, or to enter upon a literary and philosophical examination of his works or their influence upon the intellectual movement of his times. This is a task to be more deliberately performed hereafter. At this moment, having just laid him in his grave, I can only put forth my tribute of gratitude and filial affection to the venerable Priest who was used as God’s instrument for influencing my early days, and leading me to the sacred calling of the Priesthood. I can only gather together some memories which may tend to make him better known, and, remembering what was his constant aim in all he undertook, pray that by God’s Grace such memories may be profitable and helpful to some of the souls he loved.


I first knew Père Gratry in the year 1847, after his appointment to the chaplaincy of the Ecole Normale, into which I was just entering myself.1 He had recently given up the direction of the College Stanislas, in which he had succeeded Monseigneur Buquet, who but three weeks since we laid in his grave. One could almost fancy that the first of the two friends, called hence to rest for ever in the Bosom of his Lord, had beckoned to his brother, and fondly drawn him after himself.

They were indeed, close friends, and those who knew Monseigneur Buquet will appreciate the unchangeable affection which, after he became Vicar-General of Paris, and later on Bishop of Parium, continued to give strength and comfort to Père Gratry.2 No one was better able than Monseigneur Buquet, during his long and active career, to appreciate the inestimable service rendered to the cause of religion and the good of souls by one whose burning convictions were attempered by a yet more burning charity; whose most violent measures for drawing men to the faith he prized were but to teach them how deeply he loved them, who never set forth the eternal truths of Christianity without at the same time setting- forth the law of Eternal Love.

Scarcely six weeks since I was with that venerable Prelate in his modest dwelling in the Rue Férou; he was already feeling the first symptoms of the illness which was about to carry him off so rapidly. On that occasion he was speaking most affectionately of our sick friend at Montreux, and of the deep esteem in which he held him. The Bishop of Parium died Wednesday, January 17 — Père Gratry, Wednesday, February 7: the one barely preceding the other in the Kingdom of light and peace.

When I first knew Père Gratry, at the Ecole Normale, in 1847, I was nineteen, and he was forty-two. It is a remarkable fact that in this age of intellectual precocity, when too many men over-write themselves before their judgment has attained its due ripeness, Père Gratry had reached such years without having published anything; his whole life had been given up to the quiet obscurity of educational work. Yet, as a most successful pupil, both at Tours and Paris, a laureate in the Concours Généraux of 1823 and 1824, a pupil of the Ecole Polytechnique, Professor of Rhetoric at Strasburg, as deeply read in mathematical and natural science as in ancient and modern literature, and possessing a remarkably active mind, fully alive to the needs of his times; one might have anticipated that the Abbé Gratry would long ere this have taken his part in the great contest of thought and doctrine wherein at last he filled so prominent a place. But with the modesty which added so great a charm to his talents, the Abbé Gratry was in no wise eager to make himself known to the world. He waited quietly for the time when God’s Providence should open a way before him, and, meanwhile, he silently accumulated the vast stores of intellectual wealth which were destined hereafter to be poured forth for the benefit of his fellow-men, and the Glory of God.

Nevertheless, without coming before the public,3 the Abbé Gratry wielded a powerful influence in his special sphere—the Ecole Normale.4 Professors and pupils alike felt that they had to do with a man of superior calibre, and one who was admirably fitted to the responsible post assigned him by Monseigneur Affre. The most scientific recognised their equal in the former student of the Ecole Polytechnique, who was familiar with the most abstruse mathematical and astronomical problems—subjects which he was in the frequent habit of discussing with his illustrious friends Ampère and Cauchy. The most learned classical and literary scholars were not long in discovering that the modest chaplain was as well read in Aristotle and Plato as in S. Augustine and S. Thomas; and was equally familiar with the master minds of Greece and Rome’ as with our more modern authors. Above all, he possessed the gift of addressing a very critical audience in language specially calculated to inspire respect and esteem for the great principles of Christianity, even in those who had not as yet been so happy as to grasp them.

Personally, I was drawn to the Abbé Gratry by the insight given me of his own mind through his Conferences in the chapel of the Ecole Normale.5 His simple, powerful, nervous utterances,—imbued with Gospel truth, overflowing alike with science and poetry, with deep reasoning and glowing enthusiasm, eloquent without pomposity, pure and classical in diction—had a marvellous power of assimilating unchanging truths and dogmas with the thoughts and aspirations to which the needs of each successive age give birth, and which it is ever the Church’s office to use for healing, for instruction, for the salvation of men. He verily fulfilled the sacred words of Christ, and like the householder of the Gospel, “brought forth out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matt. Xiii. 52.)

I had heard our great orators, and more than once I had felt their eloquence “pierce even to the joints and marrow” of my soul (Heb. iv. 12); but in all truth, Père Gratry’s teaching, which was practically a conversation about the things of God, penetrated and stirred me more deeply. There was no need to be on one’s guard against mere rhetorical effect, he ignored or disdained all such, and for that very reason his words went straight into the depths of the heart, leaving behind them an indescribable malaise, mingled with very strong emotion, with a deep disgust for all that is common and imperfect in this life, with a need to contemplate more closely and possess more wholly Him Who is the Perfection of all Sovereign Truth, all ideal Beauty, all real Good. After listening to the Abbé, one saw Christianity in a wholly new light; one realised the harmony of revealed truth with all that is grandest in reason; and one felt irresistibly drawn to a better, purer life, thereby to enter more deeply into that Divine philosophy.

The stirring events of 1848, which speedily followed my first connection with the Abbé Gratry, had led to a remarkable religious condition in the Ecole Normale. It was the period of those endless discussions which might, like certain famous mediaeval theses, have been entitled, “De omni re scibili.” Of a truth, I know no single , question in literature, morals, politics, philosophy, religion, or social economy, which was not brought forward among that gathering of a hundred and more young men who had: all just reached the age when the vast horizons of thought and life are—often suddenly—opened to the mind, and which, while kindling a burning desire for universal knowledge, often lead to that wild excitement of which one may affirm, with equal truth, that it simultaneously seeks to doubt everything, and knows not how to doubt anything. Little need to say that the mysteries of Christianity, its history, its institutions, its customs, were not more respected than other subjects by this critical mania, or by the freedom of discussion, which might change its direction, but did not change its methods. We had at that time a Professor who devoted more than twenty somewhat tedious lectures to the demonstration that Homer’s writings were not authentic, and that he himself was but a myth! Such criticism, to classical subjects, was imitated and adopted by men who used it as a weapon of attack upon revealed Christianity and the Divine Mission of Christ, its Founder. But while eager opponents to the Gospel and its truths sprang up, many resolute defenders rose up too, and the result was a ceaseless polemical strife, upon which both sides entered with all the earnestness and audacity of youth which has not yet learned the wiles of self-interest, which abhors all cautious measures, all hypocritical reticence or half-concealed opinions, and which at least redeems its intemperance of thought and speech by its sincerity.

Amid all this world of strife, those who sought to defend the Christian faith soon felt the need of concerted measures; the need of studying deeply those mighty religious problems which we’re at stake, if they would not let the unbelievers prevail. The Abbé Gratry was willing and glad to assist us in an undertaking so congenial to his intellectual and spiritual mind. Accustomed by our collegiate training to go direct to the fountain-head of the original text, we only needed the guidance of a theologian to acquire the tactics of our sacred warfare. How ardently we plunged into those questions! with what intense delight one or other among us discovered some triumphant answer in Holy Writ, or in the Fathers, to the last raised difficulty! Not Archimedes himself could have proclaimed a more enthusiastic εύρηκα than ours, when we found some decisive text, the existence of which had been disputed. Nor was our dear Aumônier the last to whom we imparted our discoveries, or to help us in using them aright. It was at this time, thanks to this intellectual ferment, that some of us foresaw how much might be done for the development and defence of Christian science by a free association of men trained to learned research, animated by prayer; men who would join together to sift the much vexed religious and moral questions of our day, and who, strong in the blessing promised by our Saviour to “two or three gathered together in His Name,” might become a band of evangelic workers, wholly devoted to maintain and propagate the faith in word and writing.

At first this was but a vague undefined idea, which had not taken shape even in him who most of all encouraged us to keep it stedfastly before us. But it was this idea, fostered by God’s Grace, which decided the vocation and the destiny of more than one amongst us.

I must dwell awhile upon this time, in order to explain what our revered master was to us, . what powerful influence his character, his faith, his convictions, exercised over those committed to his care; to what an extent his chaplaincy became an apostolate of zeal and Christian truth; how fervently he imparted that sacred fire which burned within himself to those around him. “I am come to send fire upon earth, and what will I if it be already kindled?”

Yes indeed, it was with words as of fire that he bade us lift our thoughts and longings beyond the brittle hopes of this life; with which he told us of the strife and inward struggles wherewith he himself had passed from unbelief to faith, from the simple profession of such faith to an absolute need of conveying it to others, and with which he further described the deep ever-rising well of happiness which had been opened to him on the day of his eternal consecration to Jesus Christ, and the souls He loves, through the priesthood.

Well nigh five-and-twenty years have sped away since those days, but our beloved master’s words remain graven with ineffaceable letters in the depth of my heart, and I could yet truly say, as we said then among ourselves, like the disciples at Emmaus, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us by the way, and opened to us the Scriptures?”

But how shall I speak of the more hidden influence exercised, not by public teaching addressed to the many, but by a personal and individual instruction exactly supplying the needs of each conscience, bringing to bear that close intercourse of soul with soul, on which Christianity has cast a divine light, making it one of the strongest bulwarks of the moral world?

It was in such intercourse that the Abbé Gratry began to be, what he continued to the end for some of us, even to death—a father indeed,—not merely the surest and most sympathetic of counsellors, the firmest and tenderest of friends, but one who, by his fruitful words, raised up and developed the love of Jesus Christ in souls, leading them on to Christian manhood.

To be ever rising upwards, higher still, and yet higher;

To pass from self-love to self-sacrifice, from the natural life to the supernatural, from that which is good to that which is better;

To be ever fathoming new depths in the soul by holy recollection, and by giving more faithful heed to Divine Grace;

To learn ever-increasing self-renunciation in order to advance further in the vast life of love;

To sustain one’s powers of thought by means of God’s Own Thoughts, through daily study of Holy Scripture, especially that of the Gospels, and to give a foremost place to such study, even amid the most laborious life;

To find the infallible road to a better knowledge of the truth, and more effectual capacity of imparting it to others, in prayer, in purity of life, in closer intercourse with Jesus Christ Present in the Blessed Eucharist;

To possess a generous, tender, devoted love for all souls redeemed by God’s Own Blood;

Not to stand aloof from any of the sufferings of our fellow-men, but rather to steep one’s self in His Mind, Who “had compassion on the multitude;” – Such was the direction impressed by the Chaplain of the Ecole Normale on the young Catholics of twenty to twenty-five years old, who sought to learn the secret of their vocation from him, and to whom he frequently summed up the, whole in the Gospel words, “Amice, ascende superius;  “Friend, come up higher.”

Oh! my beloved father and master, but a little while since these words so often repeated by you in the already afar off days of youth, came forcibly to my mind. It was on the last day but one of your life, when already you had entered into the dark shadow:—I was kneeling by the bed where you were about to strive with your death agony, when I scarce know what led me to recall certain memories of our early days, and to thank you once more for all that you had done for my soul,—for it was through you that God called me to the great honour and happiness of the priesthood. Before craving your blessing, I repeated to you amid your anguish of suffering the words of our Blessed Lord, “Amice, ascende superius!” But one day more, and the words once again sounded softly on your soul, but this time they came from no mortal lips, it was the Angel sent to gather in the ripe harvest, who spake his Master’s summons, “Friend, come up higher.” And so you left us.


A few years passed on, and this dream of a united toil on behalf of Christian science ceased to be a vague notion, the mere warm-hearted aspiration of a few young men, as yet uncertain as to their definitive vocation—God permitted us to see its realisation in the Oratoire—in the foundation of which Père Gratry took so large a part in 1851 and 1852.

But here he must speak for himself. In the striking book he has written in memory of Henri Perreyve, he has related, better than I could do, the first beginnings of our undertaking. “At last one day, with a deep emotion and inexpressible joy, this little band of friends, knit together in God, took possession of their promised land, which in truth was but a humble roof, capable of affording shelter to seven people. But our dream was realised at all events to a certain extent. Here we were going to live together, pray together, and work together. Thence followed, in all the enthusiasm of a new life, some few years of true holiness, of intimate brotherly intercourse, holy friendship, real fertility of mind and soul. Our minds felt that the position was favourable for the study of true philosophy both in its theory and practice, as for that of theology with both heart and intellect.”6

Assuredly those who like myself have known Henri Perreyve and Père Gratry intimately, can imagine the real happiness of a life in which those noble souls were the bright centre. It is not possible to recall those memories without deep feeling; that blessed vision of peace, beata pacis visio; that intellectual sympathetic home where all understood and loved one another, where all had the like firm determination to become humble servants of Christian Truth, the younger looking forward to the time when, like their elders, they might be apostles of that truth. And in this close brotherhood of hearts and minds our master was indeed our father, imparting his own mental life to us, and teaching us to co-operate with his work, not as servants or workmen, but as his children. He was just then finishing his book, “Connaissance de Dieu.” Certain chapters of that book were not finally written until each of his “children” had contributed his own quota of research, authorities, or well-weighed thought. Thus it was that we studied individually the philosophical and theological questions involved in that lofty and delicate subject—the connexion between faith and reason. During several days each among us pondered the matter under consideration in silent prayer and recollected work. Then we met, we examined the different points of view from which the subject required investigation, we discussed them, and generally we agreed as to the definitive solution. After that our Father, shutting himself up during long mornings, used to write those pages, in composing which he was wont to liken his own soul and thought to a stalk of wheat, filled with the seeds of many another soul’s thought, and thus bringing forth fruit tenfold. So again his homilies in the Oratory Chapel were used to excite a united labour with reference to the leading articles of the faith; only in this case, the little band grew somewhat larger. We, his children, whether ministering at the altar, or merely listening, used greedily to drink in the earnest words which week by week renewed all the best memories and noblest enthusiasm of our first resolutions; but the faithful who assembled to listen bore their share of our united work and meditation. The Father used to press earnestly upon his congregation the importance of their reading and studying diligently during the week that portion of Holy Scripture upon which he was to comment the following Sunday. He aimed by this means at exciting a real communion of thought and feeling between himself and his congregation, and at the same time to give greater efficacy to the Word preached, by leading each individual soul to prepare by personal research and prayer. This is in truth a carrying out the fundamental rule of our great mystic writers, that we should lead souls from things without to those within, in order to raise them step by step, to that which is greater: ab exterioribus ad interiora, ab interioribus ad superiora.

These homilies were given in the Oratory Chapel for several years running,7 during which the congregation was more than crowded— every available corner, even to the very steps of the altar, was crammed. Among that élite of the Parisian intellectual and political world, M. Guizot not unfrequently might be seen, and M. de Montalembert, the chosen friend of Lacordaire, himself so great an orator—was one of those who most heartily appreciated and most diligently attended the vigorous teaching of our beloved master. On the Second Sunday in Advent, December 4th, 1853, Père Gratry treated that passage in S. Matthew’s Gospel, where our Lord speaks of S. John Baptist as “more than a prophet.” After the Abbé had returned to his own room, a card was brought to him. It was that of M. de Montalembert, on which he had written in pencil, “Plus quam prophetam!

It was on the 12th March 1854, the second Sunday in Lent, that tidings of de Lammenais’ unhappy death were received in Paris with general consternation. Père Gratry expounded the passage of Holy Scripture which records both the Transfiguration, and the story of that unhappy possessed one, who was cast one while into the fire, another into the water, whom the Apostles could not heal, and who was brought to the Saviour that He might heal him. The Abbé went on to make a most striking application of this passage to the man who, after having in 1818 well nigh denied the legitimate rights of reason under a dangerous veil of exalting the rights of faith, went on to deny the authority of faith and the very principles of reason, ending by plunging into the most perilous pantheism and the wildest socialism. “The disciples could not heal him that was possessed,” Père Gratry said, “and Jesus told them it was because they had so little faith. And so too it may be, if we had had a deeper faith, we might have healed this sick man. But who can dare to say that the Saviour Jesus may not have healed him at the very last? Surely it may have been that in his last moments Jesus touched the poor sufferer, and cast out the evil spirit, so that, loosed from his bondage, he might cleave to his strong salvation ere it was too late.”

Such an expression of living faith and tender charity is the most perfect picture of the dear Abba’s own mind.

On another occasion he had been specially addressing the young men of his congregation, imploring them to cast aside the false pleasures and prizes of this world, to seek first the Kingdom of God, to hunger and thirst after truth and justice; and some little time afterwards, to each of those who came to him with a promise that they would strive earnestly to do this, he gave, as a reminder of the pledge, a little silver cross on which he had had engraved the Saviour’s word, “Esurivi,” “I have hungered.”

Precious little cross! I doubt not it is yet faithfully worn by many a noble heart Should these lines come across any who received that pledge to a crusade of light and love from our beloved father, let them renew their vow to hunger perpetually after goodness, truth, and beauty for themselves and for the whole world, in the presence of his dying bed, of his grave.

Alas! how soon that springtime passed away! How soon that group of hearts and minds, bound together by a friendship one may call divine, whose sole passion was to set forward the reign of Jesus Christ in the world, how soon it was dispersed.8 As time I went on bright visions were sorrowfully shattered, and bitter partings borne. Henri Perreyve died, seven years ago, in all the first freshness of his life and brilliancy of his talent: Père Cambier died but a year later in China, a missionary to the heathen: Anatole de la Bastie, whose strong mind, so well fitted to grapple with great theological questions, was so valuable among us, died at Pau in 1866;— after but a few years of devoted priestly life, not to speak of others passed from this world who once were of our band. Nor is it death only which divides and disperses friends.

Life has its full share of bitterness, contention, sorrowful separations, terrible misunderstandings! Even those who are most sincere and most earnest in their desire to do right are not always exempt from these trials, the sad tokens of our natural weakness.

Even before Henri Perreyve’s death, the compact unity of our first little company had been broken, and they whom the dear Abbé loved to call his children ceased to have the happiness of living under the same roof with him, sharing his every thought, and rejoicing in his daily companionship. Not that everything was taken from us. His study in the Rue Barbet-de-Jouy, with its airy freedom, its fine view reaching as far as the côteaux of Meudon and Sevres, and its glorious sunsets behind the Dôme des Invalides; that study became a sort of “upper chamber” where the most devoted of his former disciples kept up the happy intercourse of the licole Normale and the Oratoire. There through all his varying circumstances and difficulties Père Gratry worked on unremittingly, year by year adding to the list of valuable writings which have been drawing men under the gentle yoke of Christianity, often in quarters where he little recked of it.

Philosophy in every form, pious outpourings of his devout heart, earnest and touching treatment of the questions of the day, as in his exquisite memoir of Henri Perreyve, every kind of subject was treated by that fertile pen, which never ceased to be original, and possessed pre-eminently the gift of expressing itself simply on great subjects. His language is so pure, it has such a true ring, and is so utterly unlike the pompous style with which men too often try to hide their lack of ideas, that one cannot hesitate to rank Père Gratry among the first writers of his time, or to reckon his election by the Académie Française as one of that illustrious body’s most honourable deeds.

But, above all, Père Gratry took delight in knowing (and he used to thank God for it among his intimate friends) that the simple lowly ones of the earth could enter into and find benefit from his books, and that humble souls were won by the noble thoughts he was wont to utter, in language worthy of Plato or Malebranche. Some years ago a country priest came to see Père Gratry. In his little village, strange to say, the “Connaissance de l’âme” had fallen into the hands of two work-women, whose previous lives had been anything but Christian, and God made use of this book to win those souls. Captivated by the beauty of a life faithfully following Jesus Christ as set forth therein, they were converted; and the great philosopher won the untaught peasant. In truth, he cared more to win souls than to win applause. Above all else he was a “fisher of souls.” I only mention this little fact because it came under my personal knowledge, but who can count the numberless similar instances known to God Only! Who will ever know in this, world all the souls that have been won to God still more by Père Gratry’s loving-heartedness than by his learning or his eloquence! He frequently had the happiness of seeing former companions in the Ecole Polytechnique, from whom he had been separated it may be twenty or thirty years, won back by his writings to the faith they had forsaken or neglected. Many such have sought him out, and received the healing ministry of grace at his hands. Blessed victories won at no sorer cost than tears of holy repentance and gratitude! May such victories yet be won by his books, although the hand that traced them is stilled!

That which above all else stimulated Père Gratry in his mission as a writer in behalf of Christ’s Gospel, was his ceaseless desire to touch souls, to persuade, transform, transfigure them. Such had ever been his aim, but the more he advanced in life and labour, the more he lost his interest in questions of pure speculation, and the more he concentrated himself on living practical questions,—questions which resolve themselves into certainties for the satisfaction of men’s minds, into consolation and holiness for their hearts. I have not time to seek among his writings a passage I have in my mind, where he expresses in earnest language his sense of this necessity for going straight at those truths which alone can better our fellow-men. Herein, as in many other points, Père Gratry takes the same line as the great Christian metaphysician of the seventeenth century, Malebranche—his brother alike in vocation and in genius.

“My sole master,” said that illustrious Oratorian, “I will henceforth consult you only as to the truths which are necessary to the attainment of that which is truly good. Time is short, death draws near, and I must enter upon Eternity according to the way I have prepared to meet it. The thought of death changes all my views, and disperses all my plans. Everything disappears, or changes all its aspects, before the consideration of eternity. Abstract science, however dazzling and sublime, is but vanity, I renounce it. I will study religion and morals. I will strive after perfection and happiness.”9 One may safely affirm that the more his talents developed, and the riper his love for God and man became, so much the’ more was this the mind of Père Gratry, Then came the troubled period of the Council at Rome. His own peace would assuredly have been better insured had he not been interrupted in that calm contemplative study of Christian philosophy by which he hoped to do somewhat to make his fellow-men less unhappy, less sinful. But he was urged as a matter of conscience to enter the turmoil of polemical strife, a strife more than cruel to one who retained his childlike simplicity, his love of truth, and his boundless charity to the last hour of life. Most assuredly, the trials of this period shortened his days.

The Abbé Gratry may or may not have been mistaken in historical facts, and in the expression of personal opinion, but there is one thing in which he most surely was not mistaken,— namely, the perfect patience with which he endured the revilings and insults which were continually heaped upon him in consequence. Nor was he mistaken in that faithful adherence to the precepts of gentleness and charity which had characterised his whole life, and thanks to which he never uttered one bitter word concerning those who heaped injury and abuse upon him now. Nor was he mistaken when, before loosing his hold on the things of this life for ever, he put aside his personal judgment and expressed his simple childlike obedience to his Father in God, the venerable Archbishop of Paris. A letter to one of his fellow academicians expresses his mind on this point too clearly to be passed over.

“The esteem and approbation of my colleagues in my public career as an author,” he says, “must ever be most precious to me. When the period of polemical strife was opened in the Church, I did battle according to my conscience and my rights. You approved my course, whereat I rejoiced. Now that the decision has come, you will approve of my submission, I feel certain. What would S. Francis de Sales, S. Vincent de Paul, Fénélon, Bossuet, do were they yet among us? We should all unhesitatingly affirm that they would not dream for a moment of separation from the Church. And you may be sure that neither have I; if I had, you and my other colleagues would be the first to restrain me.

“I do not wish to enter upon theological ground, but I would just observe that I have withstood the doctrine of inspired infallibility, and this the Council rejects. I have fought against the doctrine of personal infallibility- the Council decrees official infallibility. Writers of a school which I consider extreme were not content with an ex cathedra infallibility, as being too limited, but the Council decrees it. I dreaded something like a scientific, political, or governing infallibility, but the Council decrees only that which is doctrinal.

“I do not mean to say that I am free of error in my polemical views. I have made many mistakes in this, and in other matters doubtless, but, at least, l am ready to humble myself wherein I have erred.”


For some years past, Père Gratry had watched uneasily the symptoms of decay and corruption which Imperial France vainly strove to conceal beneath official panegyric and applause. The country abdicated its freedom in 1851 out of terror of a Red phantom, and thenceforth it suffered itself to be led towards another gulf by a pathway strewn with flowers. Political scepticism, which had dealt freely with liberty, involved a yet more dangerous scepticism, and boundless corruption spread rapidly through every rank of society. During his latter years, Père Gratry used freely to mourn over the dishonourable downward course which his country was taking, foreseeing its probable result in irreparable misfortune. With what energetic language he used to speak of those political sophists, whether writers or speakers, who buoyed their Sovereign up with their flatteries, and did their best by their lies to keep their country in a helpless lethargy! He was deeply moved, grievously alarmed, at the progress of those brutal doctrines which, transplanted from morals and metaphysics into the region of practical questions, resolutely deny all principle and all duty, and preach the most radical theories of atheism and social revolution with threatening cynicism.

What could he, a humble peaceful thinker, do to combat these mortal foes of his country’s glory? How could one so far removed from the world of politics withstand the torrent of iniquity and folly which was threatening France with utter devastation? All he could do was to utter a voice of warning, and this he did in his book “La Morale et la loi de l’Histoire;” a work which was both a warning and a rallying cry, but which might have been more useful if it had been briefer. Alas! it was too late. France had sowed the wind, and she was about to reap the whirlwind!

The polemical contests of 1870, in which he bore so large a share, had already seriously affected Père Gratry’s health, when the terrible Prussian war broke out. He spent that winter at Pau with the same kind friends who had before ministered so affectionately to M. Ampère and to Henri Perreyve. What need to dwell upon the sad anxiety with which he followed the course of events, as they plunged his country deeper and deeper in blood and ruin! Each battle, each disaster, each fresh humiliation, sank deeply into his heart, which yearned so fondly to see France prosperous and happy. Moreover, by natural physical constitution, as well as moral temperament, Père Gratry had all his life a special horror of violence. The sight of blood was a physical distress to him. Imagine what he endured during those months when blood flowed in rivers—the blood of his countrymen, to whom he had so often preached peace, and whom he would fain have gathered into the Kingdom of Righteousness, the Kingdom of Christ! Meanwhile he knew how to speak courage and hope to the downcast how to minister the tenderest sympathy to the many who were called upon to part with their nearest and dearest in the field of battle. I will instance a letter he wrote in February 1871 to a young girl whose grief was shared far and wide in Paris, when her betrothed husband, an artist already known to fame, fell on the fatal field of Montretout.

“My child, my very dear child, what is it I ask of you? I ask an immense heroism. I ask you not to yield to despair. Strive to live willingly; strive soon to regain your activity. Be a helper of that cause for which he died. It is no mere vain dream to die for a holy cause. It is a great deed, and one that has its results. Such an act, such a self-dedication, is a lasting reality. Nothing however small is lost, how much more nothing great? That every martyr wins his eternal life is a full and true reality.

“My child, lift up your soul very high. This world is not a mere cruel game, or an empty bubble. The triumph of all that is just and good is certain; the triumph of life over death is certain. When two human beings have joined hands, and that for ever, they will come together again, let what will intervene. ‘If two of you agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask,’ Christ says, ‘it shall be done for them of My Father Which is in Heaven.’ If you asked eternal happiness and eternal love, you will obtain them. Our Father is indeed a Father, and He is All-powerful.”

Surely such a glow of Christian faith and hope must transfigure the heaviest woes, and those who are most deeply bowed down with their own sorrow will become strongest as comforters of their fellows in grief.

At length the fearful struggle ended—the armistice was concluded, peace was at hand —a bitter peace in truth, but needful, and „at least putting an end to the hideous loss of life which had been going on. Père Gratry returned to Paris, hoping after these Weary months of interruption to resume his literary labours, as keen in pursuit of his one great aim, the one prevailing thought of his life —to teach men truth and justice—as ever. But scarcely had he returned, before the shameful revolution of March 18th broke out, and when we thought to have drained the cup of humiliation and disaster, it was again thrust upon us filled with corruption and blood. Our dear Father’s heart was well-nigh broken. He retreated first to Versailles, then to Belgium, until Paris was once more free; but the fearful deeds of May—the murder of the hostages, the burning of Paris, the degradation of France, were a very mental death agony to him. Nevertheless Père Gratry returned again to Paris, and during the month of June he resumed his lectures at the Sorbonne.

It was early in September that the first symptoms appeared of the disease which carried him off so rapidly, after intense suffering. A little lump formed beneath his left cheek, which at first appeared to be merely the swelling of a gland. On September 4th he wrote, “I am suffering a good deal from this tumour in my neck. I do not know what will be the end of all this. If you knew all my troubles and complications, you would write often to comfort me. There is one thing which becomes more and more clear to my whole being; the conviction that the One sole good, the whole Gospel, consists in supernatural Divine Love, the only remedy for all the evils of the human race. Read the seventeenth chapter of S. John continually.”

Père Gratry was advised to go for a time to Montreux on Lake Geneva, and to try the grape cure. He arrived there on October 8th. On the 12th he wrote, “I have been here four days. Rain and cold. Hotels and pensions full. Things abominably dear, a dead set at strangers. My local malady on the steady increase, and no prospect of amendment. But I try by the help of prayer to rise above it all, and to attain patience and calmness. I think of others who are more suffering than I am, who have not a friend, not a morsel of bread, not a sheltering roof, who are not even sure that they can find rest in an hospital! Courage, mon enfant! Sursum Corda!” But there was no cure for him. The tumour increased frightfully within a few weeks, and by November it had become a large hard lump, reaching towards the shoulder, dragging heavily on the lower jaw and the larynx, and causing terrible complications. The difficulty of masticating or swallowing solid food soon reduced him to liquid sustenance, and even, that had to be almost daily diminished in quantity, for fear of suffocation. Unless death came rapidly from some other cause, he was likely to die of starvation.

God’s Providence gave Père Gratry the comfort of finding some Alsacien friends at Montreux, whom he had known well at Strasburg, and they devoted themselves to him night and day with the most touching, unwearied kindness. His sister came to him early in January, and his brother-in-law, Dr. Lustreman, médecin en chef de l’armée de Versailles, went twice to Montreux in hopes that his experience might be of some avail. But not the most skilful or the tenderest care could do anything for our dear Father, or arrest the fearful disease. The tumour continued to increase, and by the middle of January it pressed upon the lower jaw so as to make articulation difficult.

My brother Charles was happy in being able to go to Montreux on January 16th. I was unable to follow until the 29th, and we were thus privileged to watch over Père Gratry’s last days. All that remains for me to do is simply to record our recollections of that solemn season. We made faithful notes of what the dear Father said and did during the last moments of his earthly life; and I feel sure that these notes will be welcome to many, for if the most needful of all sciences is that of a holy death, surely he who teaches men to die with courage, with faith, and with love, is no mean master. Père Gratry put the final stroke to all he had taught in his life by the still clearer teaching of his death.


During his stay at Montreux, Père Gratry never ceased to work as much as his rapidly increasing weakness allowed of. Amid all the disturbances of the previous summer, he had begun to write a commentary on the Gospel of S. Mark, and he worked on at this, though without being able to complete it. He might have said that with S. Augustine that he was more conscious of the pleasure than the toil: “Quum amatur, no laboratur, aut si laboratur, labor amatur.”

Père Gratry’s friends will not soon forget the New Testament in Greek and Latin which one was sure always to see open upon his table. That Testament, all scored with notes and pencil marks, went everywhere with him.

Indeed I never knew any man who lived his life in the Gospel to the same extent that Père Gratry did,—by which I mean that he was perpetually studying the history, the doctrine, the words, the thoughts, the very Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ; not but that he was deeply versed in all Holy Scripture, the Old as well as the New Testament, but the Gospels were never out of his thoughts. But a few; years ago, he undertook to learn by heart all our Lord’s discourses recorded by S. John: verba Verbi. One may reverently say that all his thoughts were framed upon his Saviour’s thoughts. On every question His Sacred Words rose up and framed His servant’s mind and language. And this, to the best of my belief, was the secret of the wonderful influence our dear Father exercised over the souls of men.

But during these his last days, it was not so much the Divine Truth of the Gospel as its boundless love which was reflected in the beautiful soul of him we watched so fondly. As he drew nearer to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, as the advance of his malady rendered speech more difficult, and involved more prolonged silence, so the stream of love seemed to well more deeply from his heart. His letters were more than ever stamped with a supernatural love of God and of souls. His very gestures expressed the gentleness and sweetness with which his soul was more and more filled. Like the great Apostle of Love, he seemed able at last to say little else than, “Children, love one another,” “Filioli, diligite alterutrum.

There was never a single word of displeasure or bitterness concerning those who had given him pain. Quite at the end of December an insulting letter had been sent him, to which the Père Gratry wrote an answer, in which he said, “I offer you a brotherly hand—take it If you do so, as I hope you will, if you feel the love of Jesus Christ as I feel it, I will tell you the result. Some day you will realise my present and my past, and you will gladly acknowledge that from first to last, amid many weaknesses and many faults, I have served and worshipped Truth only.”

The very day on which I arrived at Montreux, a circumstance occurred which revealed to me how entirely a boundless spirit of charity was absorbing all else within our father, and becoming the final characteristic of his life. It may be remembered by some, that twice in the course of his career in behalf of Christian philosophy and theology, Père Gratry had been obliged to contend publicly. against M. Vacherot; or, to speak more accurately, against the principles put forth in his works, for I can truly say that nothing ever interfered with the esteem with which Père Gratry spoke of the honourable character of an adversary against whom he strove solely on subjects of philosophy and exegesis.

A few days before going to Montreux, I met M. Vacherot at the annual meeting of former pupils of the Ecole Normale, and he had inquired affectionately after our sick friend. I took an early opportunity of mentioning this to Père Gratry, and repeated the cordial words which the former Director of the Ecole Normale had used concerning him. “Cher enfant,” he answered, “when you go back to Paris, take him a kiss of peace from me. I would fain have given it myself if I had been able. I meant to write to him some time back to tell him how touched I was by the noble, loyal position he took up in the Assembly.” Soon after he added, “Oh charity, the science of drawing men together! How incessantly I have thought of that science during the last three months! And I think that I have found it!” As he said this he joined his hands and raised his eyes to Heaven. This expressive action was constantly recurring during those last days. He repeated it now, when, after mentioning several persons who were praying specially for him, I added that one of our brother Oratorians had said mass with special intention for him during the last six weeks. “Oh, that is very good indeed!” he exclaimed, and a most saint-like expression passed over his face.

I made a point, too, of telling him at once of the affectionately paternal messages sent to him through me by the Archbishop of Paris, who had also given me his blessing for Père Gratry. Our Father was much touched and gratified by this expression of sympathy.

From the time of his arrival in Switzerland, he had been most kindly greeted by the clergy, and as long as he had strength to say mass, Monseigneur Marilley, Bishop of Lausanne and Geneva, had allowed him to celebrate it in a private oratory joining his apartment. But when I joined him he had been deprived of this comfort for some time, not having strength to stand for so long as half an hour. Still the dear Father bore everything, privation, suffering, weakness, pain (and of this there was very much while the tumour was forming, especially during the night, when he often seemed about to be suffocated), with the same unchanging calmness. There was no complaint, no bemoaning, no murmur. Knowing, as we did, how exceptionally sensitive and impressionable his natural temperament was, so that he generally suffered more from ordinary trifles than other men, we could not but marvel to see the unalterable patience with which he bore this severe suffering. It was one of the most striking graces which God vouchsafed him during the five months of his painful trial;—another among the precious examples left to us by our dearly loved Father.

It was touching to see how like himself he was throughout in every little matter. We all remember his exquisite musical taste:— About a fortnight before his death, a wandering musician stopped under his windows, and played a well-known melody—I forget at this moment by what composer. “That’s not right,” Père Gratry said, “he is playing it much too slow.” Then he turned to my brother and said playfully, “Here,’give him this demi-franc, and tell him that a great musician is listening, and beg him either to stop, or to play quicker!” The Savoyard obeyed at once, and as the time was altered, Père Gratry observed, “There now, that is it! that will do now!”

On Wednesday, January 31st, just a week before his death, he had a long conversation with my brother Charles, which was noted down almost immediately. He was then expecting his brother-in-law, Dr. Lustreman, and hoping that the tumour might be opened, and so a prospect of recovery might arise. “If you knew,” he said in his own peculiarly striking way,—“if you knew what it is to feel that you are constantly going down; down steadily! That is what I have felt for the last six months. At first, I was up in the attics, then I came down to the first floor, then down lower, and now I am in a cellar—in a vault—in a dungeon. Yes, in a dungeon, a cellar, a vault—in the grave!”

“In the first stage of my illness,” he went on to say, “when I began to foresee that I should probably die, I said to God, ‘I leave it all to Thee—my soul is in Thy Hand, I will be careful for nothing.’ But now as the danger becomes more imminent,10 as I see death drawing more and more near, I cling more to life, I feel a strong attraction to life!

You see for some time past I have had so many great ideas, such practical ideas—so many hopes!”

“General hopes?” my brother asked, “or hopes concerning yourself?”

“Hopes for the human race,” he answered. “Yes, for some time past I have grown immensely strong in my convictions and my hopes! If I had but strength to write it all! But after all that is no sign of recovery,” he added, after a moment’s thought.

He paused again, and then went on— “Above all things, let there be no hasty burial. I beg you, mon cker enfant, as well as my brother-in-law, to see to that. Hasty burials are dreadful things!” And then after these parenthetical words, which shewed so clearly what he awaited, he added, “And the Christian virtues! So many things come into my mind! For instance, how intensely important purity is! I picture to myself a type of the true priest—from thirty to fifty—the salt of the earth”—(here my brother lost his words, as the dear sufferer articulated with great difficulty). “I have had more ideas about things since I was sixty than before.”

All this time his countenance was perfectly calm. Soon after he asked for me, and I took my brother’s place beside him. The day before he had had read to him the newspaper details concerning a patriotic attempt to set France free by a national subscription. He alluded to it now, and asked if I thought it would succeed? Then after a few moments’ silence, he put the question, “Would not this be the moment to cut boldly?” Fearing that his mind had reverted to his own malady, and knowing that it was impossible to perform any successful operation on the tumour, I hesitated before answering, not wishing to deceive him with any false hopes.

“What is it you would propose to cut, mon Père?” I asked. “Why, into one’s capital of course,” he replied quickly, “so as to help on this subscription. It must succeed.” He was forgetting all his own sufferings in the thought of his country and her woes.

Since my return to Paris, I have received a copy of the following letter written that same day, January 31st, by Père Gratry to one who had entreated his prayers on behalf of the undertaking. It was written in pencil, and was the last he ever wrote. “Mon enfant, a thousand blessings to you. I am full of enthusiasm for the national subscription. This is a great thing, so great that it may restore us in our own estimation, and in that of the whole world. When that day comes, we may congratulate one another.”

Thursday, February 1st, Père Gratry rose at five o’clock, got paper and pencil, and wrote a few lines. He was full of a question of sacred history all that day, and having summoned Charles and me, he made us find the Bible history of Jeroboam, who dividing the people of God into two parties, became king of Israel, and set up idols—two calves of gold at Dan and at Bethel, in order to prevent the people from going up to Jerusalem, lest, through religious unity, they should find the way to political unity.11 He listened most attentively while I read the passage to him from the Latin Bible, and when it was finished he begged us to think it over, and tell him the result of our cogitations on the morrow.

The next day, in spite of a very restless night, during: which for the first time he was at times slightly delirious, he returned to this subject, and had die chapter read to him again. When it ended he said, “Now write.” I took pencil and paper, while Charles listened as closely as possible in order to catch all he said. Père Gratry dictated what follows, without any hesitation.

“All men are brothers—real brothers, because they are all kings and gods. Truth the first.

“Truth the second. They quickly become for the most part Cains—sons of the devil; as Satan —enemies of God and man, without liberty, incapable of liberty. But they once more find a loyal liberty and divinity by the adoption of Jesus Christ.

“How is this done?

“By one means only. A man dies for his people; a king dies for his nation; and the highest of all the mysteries of eternal life is that a God can die for God.”

He then pointed to two verses from the Gospel of S. John, which he made me write after the above sentences.

“Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down my Life, that I might take it again.

“No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.” (x. 17, 18.)

That day was the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. We would fain have given the Holy Communion to our dear patient; indeed I did propose it to him, but he feared that he could not swallow the Blessed Sacrament, and was obliged to forego that greatest of comforts.

His weakness increased visibly, as did consequently the all but impossibility of swallowing even a few spoonfuls of liquid. The end was .rapidly drawing near. All that day he was very restless, getting up, going back to bed, getting up again, sometimes wanting to be undressed, and from time to time reiterating the words I have so often noticed as a symptom of approaching death— “I want to go.” (“Je veux m’en aller.”)

Fearing that this restlessness would increase in the night, morphine was injected into the tumour, and he slept heavily through that night. But the next morning, Saturday 3rd, constant to his industrious habits, Père Gratry got up at six o’clock, got his portfolio, and tried to write. He could however barely trace some few well-nigh illegible words, and his sister, following out the thought he had no strength to express, wrote the final words.

He summoned Charles and me, and almost directly he had seen and embraced us, he said, “Let us go to work quickly.”

“Yes, mon bon Père” I answered, “we will work in order that the Kingdom of our Lord may come, and men may become better.” A bright smile lit up his face, and we wondered whether this absorbing interest in his work was a mere feverish utterance, or whether he was really about to take up the thread of yesterday’s thoughts. He asked to have the sentences he had dictated read to him. At the end he said to me, “Add, ‘and God dies for that which He loves.’”12

Ce au neutre,” he added, observing that when I read the phrase aloud, I had said “ceux”.

He fell asleep again, and when he awoke it was with an earnest exclamation, “La France! La France!”

“Mon Père,” I answered, “France will not be lost. She has too many faithful children.” He made a sign that the hope satisfied him.

On Sunday 4th we tried to persuade him to take a spoonful of bouillon. He answered distinctly “Jamais,” and raised his hands towards Heaven. In fact, from that time he took no food of any kind. That same afternoon Dr. Lustreman and his nephew arrived from Paris; he greeted them affectionately, but he did not express any wish for the operation which he had seemed so much to desire a few days before.

When I came to him on Monday morning, the 5th, he was unable to speak, and, seeing that the end could not be far distant, I offered to pray, to make an act of contrition for him, to give him absolution and plenary indulgence, offering him a crucifix which I had had in the Ardennes, and which had already been the consolation of many a dying man. He signed his consent to all I said, and kissed the cross reverently. His eyes were closed. After a while I saw by the movement of his hands that he was seeking to find whether any one was near him. “Mon Père,” I said, “you know that your children are beside you.” He understood me, for he stroked my face tenderly with his right hand. I went on. “Mon cher Père, it was you who led me to God’s service; next to Him, I owe my vocation to you. Do you remember how, twenty-five years ago, you used so often to say the Saviour’s words to me, ‘Amice, ascende superius‘?” He squeezed my hand, in token that he heard and understood. Then I knelt down and said, “Dearest Father, bless me, and Charles too;” and he laid his hand upon my head.

That precious blessing I mentally shared with all his spiritual children and friends to whom the privilege I enjoyed was denied. To myself, it was as a sacred end to the mission so long fulfilled towards me by that beloved Father. His burning words had first taught me to look beyond the narrow horizon of earthly life, and led my soul to seek its final self-surrender to God in the priesthood. That hand which but now gave me its last blessing, was the stay of my youth, and, in return, my priestly hand had been just laid upon him, to convey a last pardon in the Name of the Living God, and to pour out upon his parting soul all the boundless gifts of mercy. Nor could I but recall at that solemn moment how, seven years before, Henri Perreyve and I had, in like manner, blessed each the other, and promised that we would go on stedfastly working together for God and for His Church.

From mid-day on Monday till Wednesday he was in his death agony, but seemingly without pain; his breathing became more and more laboured, but his face was perfectly calm. Dr. Lustreman and my brother remained with him through Monday night. His nephew and I shared the watch of Tuesday night. It was the last. There was nothing to be done but to moisten his parched lips from time to time; for some time past it had become impossible for him to swallow even a single drop of any liquid. Life was fast ebbing, the end was well nigh come. His loud measured breathing, the only

sound that broke the stillness of that night, made one think of the great timepiece in some vast cathedral, solemnly recording the seconds as they pass by, bidding the soul bethink itself that eternity draws nigh.

Death was indeed close at hand. Death, which our Father has so aptly described as the main event of life, opening a new light to the soul, the one act which, if not miserably perverted, brings us to God, and realises those marvellous words, ‘leaving self to plunge into the Infinity of God.’”13

One has watched the sun on a lovely summer’s evening going down slowly over the sea, until it seemed to be lost in the ocean, its fire extinguished. But we knew it was not really so. The sun was only lost to our sight; it went on its own bright path, giving light and warmth to other lands. How many times, while watching that slow, peaceful deathbed, this simile occurred to my mind! That soul, “all light and peace,” as M. Leopold de Gaillard well described it, seemed to be setting to us, but it was going to become far brighter, and to see more clearly in the world of Light. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan. xii. 3.) How many souls he has “turned to righteousness?” Surely now they shall be his crown for ever!

Towards half-past ten on the morning of the 7th we were all assembled in his room. I had just been reading with intense emotion the words of 2 Maccabees iii. 21; xv. 14: “Erat magni sacerdotis in agone constituti expectatio. Hie est fratrum amator, et populi Israel Hic est qui mtiltum orat pro populo et universa sancta civitate.” Père Gratry’s sister was close to him. His breathing became shorter and more troubled. All at once his face became deadly pale;—then for the last time I gave him absolution in the Name of the Lord Jesus Whom he loved so well, and in the name of the Church he had served so faithfully. It was a quarter past eleven when, struggling with my tears, I pronounced the solemn Subvenite and the De profundis.

Our beloved Father was then where he had ever longed to be, at his Saviour’s Feet. He had entered upon Eternal Life.

Four years ago, on Easter Day 1868, preaching in the Chapel of les Dames de la Retraite, Père Gratry spoke of death, and how we ought to die.

“To die, and to go to the Father,” he said (commenting on the Saviour’s words in S. John xvi. 7), “is not to pass into a state of inertia, of passive contemplation. We are fellow-workers with God: Dei adjutores sumus. God’s elect, His saints, pray; consequently they act, they work, and they work and act in order to draw us after them to God.”

“We should make ready for death every night,” he went on to say, “by an act of love. We should copy the little child who, before it goes to its peaceful baby rest, under God’s care and its good Angel’s wing, kisses everybody all round—not only father, mother, brothers, sisters, but the chance strangers near. So we, before we fall asleep, let us embrace all mankind with an act of love. Then our night will be blessed to us.”

Dearest Father, how entirely you fulfilled your words! You did indeed enfold all mankind with the vastness and warmth of your love. Truly your sleep will be blessed!

Let one of the eldest of your more especial children say with your own words in the name of all the others:

“Go hence, beloved one; die for our sake and for thine own, so doing to obey God, to fulfil His eternal law of life, to break the chains of unreality, to return to the Bosom of God. Go hence, beloved one; we shall soon follow thee. A little while and we must miss thy gracious presence, but thy heart will live in ours, and we shall still feel its response within as we did before, only more perfectly. Let us be united in death as we have been in life. May thy soul draw us in an invisible fashion towards our eternal rest. May a golden link bind us to thy happy soul, and draw us on towards death , may a link bind thee to us yet in this life, maintaining a mysterious union between the living and the dead till the day of wakening.

“Sleep, O beloved one, even as the seed sleeps within a faded last year’s plant, to blossom again in the sunshine of coming spring.”14

To these words of hope and promise I must add, as a benediction which I have no right to withhold, the following lines, found among the papers containing Père Gratry’s last wishes— words which may well be called his spiritual will:—

“I leave to every human being whom I have ever greeted or blessed, or to whom I have ever spoken any word of esteem, affection, or love, the assurance that I love and bless him twice and thrice as much as I said. I entreat all such to pray for me, that I may attain to the Kingdom of Love, whither I will draw him too, through the Infinite Goodness of our Father.

“I would extend this to all my unknown and future friends, as far indeed as God will permit it to reach, omnibus hominibus (S. Paul). I greet them all in God: I bless them from the depth of my heart. I entreat them to pray for me, and I hope that I shall be near them and with them still more after my death than during my life.

“May we meet again before our Father’s Face!”15


1Section des Lettres.

2“A faithful friend is a strong defence, and the medicine of life: and they that fear the Lord shall find him.” —ECCLUS. vi. 14,16.

3His first work, published in 1848, was written after the terrible tragedy of the Journées de Juin, and Monseigneur Affre’s death. It was called “Catéchisme         Social,’” and was endorsed by three Bishops, members of the Assemblée Constituante. It has lately been reprinted under the title “Les Sources de la régénération sociale.”

4The Director at that time was M. Dubois (de la Loire Inférieure), and M. Vacherot was the “Sous-directeur des études littéraires.”

5How often he used to quote the words of Joubert, “There is nought truly beautiful save God, and next to God nought so beautiful as the soul, and next to the soul comes thought, and next to thought language. So then, the closer the resemblance between our soul and God, between our thoughts and our soul, between our words and         thoughts, the more beautiful will each in its respective place become,”—Pensées de Joubert, ii p. 38.

To me this is a most exact definition, I might say a photographic representation, of Père         Gratry’s habitual mode of expression.

6“Henri Perreyve,” p. 106.

7I took very careful notes of those which were delivered between Advent         Sunday 1853 and Pentecost 1854, and fully purpose publishing these         most useful sermons.

8Bossuet’s striking words rise to one’s mind in connexion with that little band of friends,” L’amitié est un commerce pour s’aider a mieux jouir         de Dieu.”

9Malebranche, “Medit. Chrét.” 9.

10Some few days before this, our dear Father had asked for Extreme Unction, which he had received in his arm-chair.

111 Kings xii.

12“Et Dieu peut mourir pour ce qu’il aime.”

13“Conn, de l’âme,” t. ii. Epilogue.

14From some MS. Meditations of Père Gratry’s, written long since.

15« Je laisse a tout être humain que j’ai jamais salué ou béni et a qui j’ai jamais adressé quelques paroles d’estime, d’affection ou d’amour, l’assurance que je l’aime et bénis deux ou trois fois plus que je ne l’avais dit. Je lui demande de prier pour moi, pour que j’arrive au royaume de l’amour, ou je l’attirerai aussi par l’infinie bonté de notre Père.

« J’étends ceci à tous mes amis inconnus et a venir, et aussi loin que Dieu me permet de l’étendre: omnibus hominibus (S. Paul.)

« Je les salue tous devant Dieu, je les bénis du fond du coeur. je leur demande de prier pour         moi, et j’espère que je serai près d’eux, et avec eux, après ma mort plus que pendant ma vie !

« Et à revoir, aupres du Père! »