Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mel Gibson needs our prayers

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Of course we all admit to being sinners, and draw comfort from Our Lady's prayers.

But does your average Catholic sinner spare a prayer for those people whom in gossipy conversation we simply write off as hopelessly beyond the Pale? Perhaps we need to develop the reflex of praying earnestly for every soul we publicly denegrate, as well as remembering to repent of our general lack of charity, good manners and discernment.

One man who has been battered by life recently is Mel Gibson, and it's no consolation for him to hear that it's all his own fault. About a year ago, when his wife of many years (and mother of his children) filed for divorce, he begged the Bishops of the Eastern Catholic Church in the US to pray for him, flying in for their conference especially to enlist their intercessory help. Since that time, a great many difficult and embarassing things have happened to Mel, and I own up to being uncharitable about him in my conversations with friends. Sorry, Mel.

A few years ago I met the man, when he was making 'The Passion of the Christ' and found him to be a humble and deeply religious person. There was, I would say, something of the wounded animal about him, something of the boy still trying to grow up, trying to prove something. I suppose most men are like this (I know I am, for a start), but Mel wore it on his sleeve, I think. He was also rather tired the day we met (see the photo!), so that might account for some of it.

He came across as loveable, passionate, unpredictable, creative .... like so many great artists. I asked some of the people working with him what they thought about his religious convictions. They agreed that these were something of a mystery, but that they were deep, and that 'Mel has a big Catholic heart'.

Mel now needs our prayers more than ever. So I invite my friends to remember him especially in the time approaching Christmas, a time when families feel the pain of separation even more keenly.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Philippe de Villiers and the Vendee

The Vendee was yesterday shaken by the news that Philippe de Villiers, who has been President of the Department's Conseil Général for 22 years, has resigned.

It all follows a vote of no confidence last week, precipitated by the disillusionment of Senator Bruno Retailleau, a spiritual son of de Villiers, and Vice-President of the Vendee, who has resigned from the party (de Viliers' Mouvement pour la France). Shades of Julius Caesar and Brutus ... I know how de Villiers feels, because I have been stabbed in the back a few times in my life. Unlike Caesar, I have somehow managed to get up and keep going. And I suspect that de Villiers will do the same.

Perhaps at 61, he feels that if he is going to make his mark in another kind of public life, he needs to make a start now. He has also just got over a rare form of eye cancer; and there are other problems the family.

The national papers are speculating that perhaps he will join the government. My gut feeling is that he will move into a more spiritual/cultural role as the Father of the Vendee, immune from the nastiness of political life.

He is one of the few great men alive today in France, and he has been good to us at Chavagnes. Here is what he has said about us in print too.

We will be praying for him and for the Vendee he loves so much.