to post regular updates from France Here and on Facebook)
For the past 23 years The Remnant
has been organizing the U.S. chapter on the Pilgrimage
to Chartres, France. In a couple of days, we’ll be
heading back to France to walk the old pilgrimage road
and, please God, rendezvous one more time with 10,000
Catholics from all over the world. I used to dread the
70-mile, 3-day walk; now I long for it, because it is
the only thing that seems to make sense anymore. I’m
weary of pointless elections. I’m tired of
constitutional amendments that mean nothing. I’m sick to
death of politicians whose only purpose seems to be to
fool good people into believing there’s something other
than Christ the King that can save us now.
France, the eldest daughter of the
Church, legalized homosexual “marriage” since last I
visited her shores. God help us, what can one say about
that! Gee, that’s too bad? Well, we’ll get ‘em next
time? No, it’s over. The moment has come. The
abomination of desolation is here. Humanly speaking
there is no hope except in the name of the Lord. Prayer,
penance, pilgrimage, family, God—these are the only
realities that matter anymore. Everything else is sheer
The readers of The Remnant will be
remembered in prayer and in a special way when once
again 65 American traditional Catholics will join their
French brothers under the banner of Our Lady of
Guadalupe. Please pray for us as we will pray for you,
for America and for poor raped and besieged Catholic
What follows is something I wrote a
few years ago after returning home from Chartres. It’s
not very long, and it answers the question many readers
put to us: Why does The Remnant return to Chartres
every year, now for nearly a quarter century?
The Pilgrimage to Chartres begins
on the day before Pentecost when thousands of
traditional Catholics from countries all around the
world join their French brothers and sisters at sunrise
beneath the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Three days later it concludes in the city of Chartres,
as over ten thousand blistered and dust-covered
traditionalists complete the grueling march and finally
kiss the stones of Notre Dame de Chartres. Much of what
happens in between defies description.
It is a living, breathing act of
Faith, augmented by Catholic militancy and old-world
simplicity. There are no “big shots” on the road to
Chartres; no minutes recorded, no self-serving
monologues, no elections, no meetings, no Q&A sessions,
no blah, blah, blah. It is for God that the pilgrims
march-- and for His mother.
The road to Chartres exists in the
real world, where the pilgrim remembers what it
is like to feel completely alive, both in body and soul.
Three days without the din of the modern world,
technology and all the sex and sewage that expertly
insulates modern men from any serious contemplation of
the four last things.
Why do Catholics from all over the
world make the arduous journey back to France every
spring? Because their hearts are heavy, their families
are divided, their countries are dying, their Faith is
under relentless siege, and the Pilgrimage provides
healing for wounded souls and hope for lost sheep.
Yes, Europe is in the process of
banishing the old Faith from her shores. She’s
legalizing every manner of vice, killing her babies,
euthanizing her elderly, sounding the death knell over
the Christian family and the sacrament of matrimony. And
in the midst of all that, along comes a jubilant band of
Catholic pilgrims, thousands strong, six abreast,
stretching for miles across France, announcing to the
whole world that the old Faith will never die.
For three days along that wooded
path to Chartres, the past lives large in the present as
even secular France can’t ignore this strange and
wonderful pilgrim parade, flanked as it is by countless
priests in muddied cassocks and purple stoles—the all
but forgotten keepers of Europe’s broken altars.
Throngs of scouts lovingly bear
statues of Our Lady on their shoulders; banners of the
saints are raised high for all to see; pilgrims sing
forgotten hymns, renew broken vows, and worship at
old-world Latin Masses. The Pilgrimage to Chartres is
fire in the darkness that covers modern Europe.
I remember some years back when the
French scouts had organized a passion play of sorts in
the bivouac in the evening. I’d missed most of it but
eventually limped out of my tent to see what was going
The sun had long since set, but a
bonfire crackled in the center of the field where
hundreds of tents had been pitched for the night. Its
flames licked the darkness ten feet in the air,
transforming the faces of countless pilgrims in a
flickering, reddish glow. Some were in costume; all were
in the old-world garb of the Christian pilgrim. Their
boots were caked with dried mud; white bandages
identified the walking wounded who’d been to the
hospital tent. They wore traditional scout scarves
around their necks; their flags and banners, emblazoned
with images of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady, snapped in
the breeze and darkness overhead.
“Je vous salue, Marie” (“Hail
Mary…”) the rugged company sang in stirring harmony,
over and over again there in the firelight. A couple of
monks in the traditional habit of the Benedictines led
the pilgrim chorus. Suspended high on a wooden cross a
young scout played the part of the Crucified in a
sublimely Catholic pageant. The medieval character of it
all sent chills up my spine. What I saw was a raw
manifestation of faith and tradition that was Catholic
to the core.
Standing silent witness to it, I
thanked God for yet another reminder of exactly what
we’ve lost and what we are fighting to restore. This is
what the Revolution has labored 500 years to obliterate
from the face of the earth. It’s not just the Mass—it’s
the Faith, whole and entire, which includes the music,
traditions, and hallowed customs of the most
transcendent cultural heritage the world has ever known.
I hope an American pilgrim can be
forgiven at such a moment for experiencing an ardent
desire to make all this his own. Why has he been so
deprived? Why did he never know any of this as a child?
How could MTV, Hollywood and McDonalds replace this!
He joins his voice to theirs, hoping against hope that
in so doing his lost innocence might be restored and a
keenly-felt cultural emptiness which is all he’s ever
known, might be replenished with something real: Je
vous salue, Marie. Je vous salue!
Then the pilgrim voices grew
silent, as that band of thousands stood in absolute
silence, waiting for something else to happen—some final
act to this Catholic pageant. But what?
Suddenly, silently they turned as
one towards the opposite side of the field and knelt
The drama has ended, the time for
sleep draws near, but one epilogue is yet to be played
out. Nearby, there is a small chapel tent that is lit
from within by a single candle—yes, a sanctuary lamp.
God Himself has been waiting in the
Absolute silence reigns as a priest
emerges from that makeshift Holy of Holies. Without a
word, he raises the Blessed Sacrament and traces the
Sign of the Cross over a sea of kneeling pilgrims.
I steal a glance around me just
then; all eyes are locked on the monstrance in humble
worship. A mass Sign of the Cross is made in the
windblown silence. I’m struck by one thought: I can see
no face that appears to be over twenty years old. This
is a children’s crusade, only without the folly. The
future belongs to them. The Revolution has failed.
It was no use trying to hide the
tears that burned in my eyes at that happy realization.
This was one of the most sublime manifestations of
Christian Faith I’d ever seen. I don’t remember being
more proud to be Catholic than just then, kneeling in
wet grass and shivering in the night on the Plain de Beauce, somewhere in central France.
Why do we go back? Because our
souls and every fiber of our beings long to go back—not
just to go back… but to go back! On the road to
Chartres the idea is not so farfetched. On the road to
Chartres it is precisely through a commitment to go back
that the pilgrim makes his progress. There is no other