Author Topic: Let Louis XVI Rest in Peace A Funeral Mass in Manhattan  (Read 779 times)

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Offline stevusmagnus

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Let Louis XVI Rest in Peace A Funeral Mass in Manhattan
« on: December 20, 2010, 03:35:49 PM »
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  • Neat article from 1989 about a Requiem Mass in New York for the victims of the French Revolution....

    Let Louis XVI Rest in Peace; A Funeral Mass in Manhattan
    Published: July 17, 1989
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     They came not to praise the French Revolution but to bury it. In the place of tricolor bunting, there were the black vestments of an old-fashioned Roman Catholic funeral Mass. Instead of fireworks, there were the flickering candles of a Manhattan church. Instead of the ''Marseillaise,'' there was the rise and fall of Gregorian chant.

    ''Let us pray to God that there will never be another French Revolution,'' declared the Rev. Karl A. Claver to about 125 worshipers gathered Saturday afternoon at a Mass for the repose of the souls of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and other victims of the Revolution.

    ''I am a counterrevolutionary of the highest order,'' Richard Munkelt said with a smile after the service. Mr. Munkelt, a 33-year-old former philosophy teacher, converted to Catholicism six years ago and plans to study for the priesthood.

    Nearby, on the sidewalk outside St. Ann's Church on 12th Street, Juan Arribalzaga was passing out fliers for the Constantian Society, a monarchist group with headquarters in Pittsburgh. Protest Against Modernity

    For many like Mr. Munkelt and Mr Arribalzaga, Saturday's event mixed religious traditionalism with a dash of monarchism and a strong protest against modern culture in general. For others the Mass was strictly a moment of sorrowful prayer over the bloodshed of two centuries past.

    In his sermon, Father Claver, who resides at St. Catherine of Genoa parish in Brooklyn, dwelled on the Revolution's ''fundamental and violent hostility towards the Catholic Church.'' He recalled the closing of churches, the killing of Paris's Archbishop, the guillotining of nuns, and the persecution of priests for refusing to swear loyalty to the revolutionary Government.

    Then, after a somewhat abstract discourse on the dangers of liberty unchecked by the church's guidance, the soft-spoken priest launched his frontal attack.

    The French Revolution caused a ''diabolic insurrection against God,'' he said. It produced ''many innovations that are dangerous to the individual, the family and society, such as civil marriage, secularized education and the separation of church and state.''

    But Father Claver did not refer explicitly to King Louis XVI or Marie Antoinette. Wants Royalty Revived

    ''I was a little bit disappointed by that,'' said Mr. Arribalzaga, a 43-year-old administrator for the Bank of New York. A Spanish Basque by birth, Mr. Arribalzaga is an advocate of constitutional monarchy, and would like to see royalty revived in Italy, Greece, Portugal and Brazil.

    The commemoration for victims of the Revolution grew out of a traditional Latin Mass celebrated, with church permission, at St. Ann's Church every Saturday afternoon.

    ''Out of all the voices extolling the virtues of the French Revolution,'' said one of the organizers, Joseph F. Patalano, ''there should be that Catholic voice saying, yes, there may have been valuable things accomplished, but let's look at the atrocities.''

    Mr. Patalano, 22, a technical writer for Shearson Lehman Hutton, declined the label of monarchist. ''Let's just say I'm on the right of most things,'' he said.

    John Zmirak, a graduate student at Louisiana State University who also helped organize the service, linked the cause of the Latin Mass directly with the victims of the Revolution. ''We're here trying to preserve a tradition that many people in the church are trying to suppress,'' he said.

    Saturday's ceremony, he added, represented ''a truth that the culture is trying to suppress - that modern secular ideology was born in bloodshed rather than in a bloodless plebiscite.'' Reconciliation Is Seen

    A far less fierce view was taken by Chantal Kondratiev, a Frenchwoman descended from nobility who ''were against the Revolution, on both sides of the family,'' she said. Mrs. Kondratiev, a retired interpreter, spoke enthusiastically about the new spirit of reconciliation healing the historical animosities in France between supporters and opponents of the Revolution.

    ''Leftist people are the ones taking note of the atrocities of the Revolution,'' she said, referring to a recent issue of a French Socialist weekly, Le Nouvel Observateur.

    Mrs. Kondratiev said she felt less inclined to pray for the victims of the Revolution than for those who had persecuted them. She imagined the victims in heaven interceding for their executioners. The Revolution produced good things like the Declaration of the Rights of Man, she said, and even Robespierre had his good points.

    ''There's no way I can accuse,'' Mrs. Kondratiev said. ''Going to church should be a peaceful matter. Christ shed his blood for all of us.''


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