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The Rapture. Natural Family Planning. Divorce, Remarriage and Annulment. Amid such complexity, the Lord of Montaigne had to take a side. Twelve years before that, on June 12, , he had declared his Catholic faith in the Parlement of Paris before an image of the Passion of the Christ. He was thus perceived among the parliamentarians of Bordeaux as one of those intransigent Catholics who reproached the president for his indulgence toward adherents of the Reformation. In , his admission to the Order of Saint-Michel p. During his two terms as mayor of Bordeaux — and beyond, Montaigne faithfully served Matignon, lieutenant-general of the king, not only by foiling the attempts of the Catholic Leaguers to take control of the city, but also, while on his estate, by informing the marshal of the activities and projects of Navarre or of the troop movements known to him.

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This Huguenot gang leader saw that he was dealing with two Catholics, Montaigne and Thorigny the son of Matignon. If Montaigne is not a theologian, his knowledge of theological controversies is far from p. They urged me to help the Church by my eloquence. It is not until that the Essays , having been meanwhile exploited by the libertines and censured by the Jansenists, will be placed on the Index of Forbidden Books, where they will remain until its abolishment in Several phrases in the Essays constitute veritable declarations of faith and of religious affiliation.

This declaration is often interpreted as such in our time. A bit later, he answers them sternly:. How fantastic seemed to me the imagination of those who in recent years had the habit of reproaching each and every man in whom there gleamed some light of intelligence and who professed the Catholic religion, with dissimulation! They may take my word for it: if anything were to have tempted my youth, ambition for the risk and difficulties that attended this recent enterprise would have played a good part in it.

It seems that in his youth Montaigne was attracted by the Reformation one of his early reading notes in a work of Giraldi mentions Melanchthon , but, as this hypothetical sentence suggests, he did not succumb to the temptation. And yet, in this century of extreme instability, theology itself is also unstable, even within the internal debates at the Council of Trent.

It seems to them that they [the Catholics] are being very moderate and understanding when they yield to their opponents some of the articles in dispute. But, besides the fact that they do not see what an advantage it is to a man charging you for you to begin to give ground and withdraw, and how much that encourages him to pursue his point, those articles which they select as the most trivial are sometimes very important. If the Catholic Leaguers are in his eyes guilty of having subsequently surpassed them in violence, 23 do the Protestants not still bear the primary responsibility for the hostilities?

Without good works to embody it, the sola fides gives only one view of the spirit, indeed a mere display. I could hardly be made to believe that the sight of our crucifixes and the pictures of that piteous agony, the ornaments and ceremonious movements in our churches, the voices attuned to the piety of our thoughts, and that stirring of the senses, do not warm the souls of the people with religious emotion very beneficial in effect. The translation of the Bible into the vernacular is one of the centerpieces of the Protestant faith. Comical folk, those who think they have made it fit for the people!

Vulgarization runs the risk of profanation. So it is, for example, with the Psalms, which young apprentices everywhere hum like fashionable songs:. It is not without good reason, it seems to me, that the Church forbids the promiscuous, reckless, and indiscreet use of the holy and divine songs which the Holy Spirit dictated to David….

Nor assuredly is it right to see the holy book of the sacred mysteries of our belief bandied about a hall or a kitchen. Formerly they were mysteries; at present they are sports and pastimes. The separation of the profane and the sacred is one of the points on which Montaigne most insists. It seems that for him the existence of a clergy is the condition sine qua non of the possibility of a secular speech concerned only with profane matters.

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The Protestants tend to blur this distinction by encouraging free inquiry, even among women and children. It is not for us to decide what portion of obedience we owe it. Let them submit or resign—religion has no need of their wisdom! On subjects as sensitive as sin, repentance, prayer, and the resurrection of the body, he dares to give a personal opinion as well.

The crimes perpetrated by Christians of all confessions lead him even to doubt their faith, and indeed his own, and to call into question the specific character of Christianity. Christians have a particular knowledge of the extent to which curiosity is a natural and original evil in man. The urge to increase in wisdom and knowledge was the first downfall of the human race; it was the way by which man hurled himself into eternal damnation.

Pride is his ruin and his corruption. Even our teachers often rank sins badly, in my opinion. As for the sins into which one ceaselessly relapses, and those bound up with the profession one practices, what good is it to confess them regularly and frequently, as the Catholics do, if one does not have the intention or the power to break free of them? But, someone will answer, we speak only our self-accusations. Then we speak everything: for our very virtue is faulty and fit for repentance. It is not my deeds that I write down; it is myself, it is my essence.

No longer concerned with anything but authenticity, he paves the way for Rousseau. What is problematic is p. And he does it improperly in our human language, in order to stoop and descend to us, who are on the ground, prostrate.

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For the well-read, it evokes Ovid, but it is also the word used by Matthew and Mark in Greek to designate the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor and by Paul for that other transfiguration to which the Christian—following his lead—is called on the Last Day. Such also is the theological meaning that the context invites us to retain, starting from an opposition between Stoic pride that wishes to elevate man above humanity—without ever reaching that point—and Christian humility that allows itself to be lifted by the hand of God alone but at the cost of a radical transformation of its being.

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This short explicit thus ties in with certain statements from earlier in the chapter, where it is said, starting from a quotation from Paul, that we cannot even conceive with our imagination the nature and mode of such a transformation:. It will be something else that will receive these rewards.

Faith may well make the believer hope for a glorious body after the promised resurrection; but if this properly unimaginable body no longer has anything to do with his actual one—individual, sensitive, desiring—how can he feel concerned by such an abstract perspective? It has insinuated itself to some extent … into these barbarous ones as by a common and supernatural inspiration. Such an interpretation is encouraged by the arrangement of this sentence in those editions where, as a addition to the text, it is set apart like a maxim, whereas the edition simply places it within the continuity of the text without making it into a separate paragraph.

Others, in greater number, make themselves believe it, being unable to penetrate what it means to believe.

Does he apply it to all Christians? There exist for that matter people whose lifestyle suggests that they have received the gift of foi vive living faith , exceptional people whose renunciation of corporal pleasures is explained by an intense desire to participate, even in this life, in the fruitio Dei.