All Soul’s Day

Around the second of November, I would like to avoid naming here the living, or rather to be concerned with them only insofar as they themselves are concerned with men who had already departed from life. A melancholy memory is not a simple dream, and nothing deep down is more useful to those who remain than the strong tenor of those who have left.

But perhaps it would be suitable, while on this subject, to make a distinction. There is the universal cult of the dead, of all the dead, of those who had existed, provided that they had belonged to the human race; and there is, closely related, the particular cult, more reserved, prouder, and, in my sense, more beneficial. That renders to the elite among the dead, those whom the positivists call, a little verbosely, “the great types of humanity”, and the Catholics, more tersely, the “saints”. The first of these cults presents a great drawback; in teaching us to venerate all of defunct humanity, it trains us logically to venerate, en bloc, all of living humanity, that is to say, to make us accept and even venerate the worse faults that it commits even though we recognize them as much in ourselves as in our neighbours. The second cult shows the opposite benefit; by obliging us to hold the dead as our models, it forces us to select from among these scattered people, hence, indirectly, to make a critique of our own characters: by applying our minds to consider those great dead men, it opens us up to the way of personal exaltation and perfection.

The consequence is that human solidarity, to use that term, must belong much less to the crowd of our predecessors, than to the persons of the past who have realized, in a great way, the fine natural traits of man. Those who pass up the opportunity to serve their great memory, pass up an undoubted opportunity to help themselves, to correct themselves, and to improve themselves.

~ Charles Maurras

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