Above, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin; right, Russian political philosopher Alexander Dugin, 60, thought to be an influence on Putin’s strategic thinking, including his decision to invade Ukraine, which Dugin favored (though some deny Dugin has much influence over Putin, and the truth is not publicly known), and Dugin’s daughter, Darya Dugina, also a classical scholar, who was burned to death Saturday night near Moscow when a car she was driving exploded, evidently due to a bomb placed under the vehicle by unknown agents, killing her instantly. (link)

    The bomb was evidently intended to kill her father, who was driving in the car behind her, and saw her car explode. They changed plans and switched cars at the last minute, so she was in the car that exploded, and he survived… It is now reported that Dugin himself has suffered a heart attack and is in intensive care in a Russian hospital… (link)

    So another human life has been added to the toll of all who have died in Ukraine, where the number now must be in the tens of thousands, and yet, there are no signs of any chance for talks to begin to end the shooting and craft even an imperfect peace…

    There is only one problem, only one problem in the world. One alone. To restore to men a spiritual meaning…” —The French Catholic writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-July 31, 1944, age 44, of an airplane crash in the Sahara desert), well-known for his immortal story The Little Prince and author also of the extraordinary meditation Wind, Sand, and Stars, one of the most beautifully-written works of literature in the past century, which recounts his airplane crash on December 30, 1935, and his near-death experience in the Egyptian desert; an extraordinary work. But the quote above is from a very little-known letter he wrote on July 30, 1944, the day before his death, toward the end of the Second World War, to an unknown French general, called “General X” [General Chambe?]. This letter summarizes the essential things of this world for the souls of men, and is worth reading in the midst of the sorrows of this horrific time of confusion and war

    Letter #103, 2022, Monday, August 22: The Little Prince

    I wish to write only these few words, which I received today from a friend, a reader, a Catholic brother: “There is only one problem, only one problem in the world. One alone. To restore to men a spiritual meaning…”

    They are the words of the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-July 31, 1944), the author of The Little Prince, a story about love and selfishness and loss, written in a private letter on the night before he died in an airplane crash in 1944, when he was 44.

    Of course, by “a spiritual meaning,” I mean the Logos, that is, the Word of God, the Anointed One, Christ Jesus, who gave and still gives light to the life of men, shining forth in our darkness, as we carry on in this pilgrimage, often troubled, but never without hope, because we have come to know Him, and He is faithful and true.


    A terrible war

     Due to the decisions of men, we are now facing a potentially tragic winter, unless saner heads prevail — a winter marked by shortages of fuel, with cold houses for families in Europe and in many other places, and therefore with accompanying sickness, and by the daily possibility of explosions and death in various places, using various missiles and bombs, causing tragic injuries and deaths from Ukraine, to Russia, to Europe, to the ends of the earth. We are on the edge of global war, for the third time in 108 years.

    May it be that some way may be found to end this madness before it becomes unleashed throughout the world, causing hell on earth.

    The world needs to step back from this abyss, not step forward into it, despite what many strategists and leaders urge with passionate conviction.

    May God intervene, where human efforts increasingly seem to be insufficient to find a safe way forward.


    A lament for Darya

    Just a few words about the death of a young Russian girl, Darya Dugina, 30, killed by a car bomb Saturday night as she drove her father’s car home from a gathering outside of Moscow.

    Evidently, the bomb was intended to kill her father, Alexander Dugin, 60, a Russian political philosopher, analyst and strategist who is rumored to be a close advisor to the Kremlin, though some deny that (see below, bottom, for more on Dugin).

    The father was supposed to drive the car that exploded — and he was evidently to be killed by the bomb — but, at the last minute, the two changed plans: Darya got into her father’s car to drive it, and her father drove in another car behind her.

    Ten minutes passed, and Darya’s car exploded, right in front of her father.

    The father stopped his car, got out, and, putting his hands to his head, lamented the sudden death of his daughter, consumed by flames right in front of him.

    Here is a report on the explosion (link):

    “Russia’s English-language state Russia Today News is confirming the death of Darya Dugina, the daughter of veteran Russian political commentator and Putin ally Alexander Dugin, in what appears to have been a targeted hit — possibly an attempt on her father Alexander’s life. RT however is still calling the reports ‘preliminary’ until government authorities confirm the identity of the deceased.

    “The incident took place on a highway some 20 kilometers west of Moscow around 21:35 local time, with witnesses saying that the blast rocked the vehicle right in the middle of the road, scattering debris all around,” according to new details in RT. ‘The crippled car, fully engulfed in flames, then crashed into a fence, according to photos and videos from the scene.’

    “Emergency services said one person was inside the car and was instantly killed by the blast and crash – a female whose body was reportedly recovered burned beyond recognition.

    “RT writes further: ‘Authorities have yet to confirm the identity of the victim, but multiple Russian Telegram channels and media sources reported that the victim was 30-year-old Darya Dugina (Platonova). Her father, Alexander Dugin, was spotted at the scene soon after the incident, visibly shocked, according to several videos circulating on social media.”


    I never met Darya, but I did meet Alexander, twice, on my trips over the years to Russia.

    I met with him once in offices on the edge of Moscow, and a second time in the Hotel Metropol, just a few steps from Red Square and the Kremlin.

    On both occasions, he sketched for me his dark vision of a world — our world — without a spiritual meaning, a world of individual pleasure and consumption and materialism, which he said was not capable of satisfying the longings of the human soul.

    I said to him, “Then what is your understanding of Jesus Christ, and of the sacraments of the Church, and her teachings, handed down from the Apostles?” — provoking him knowingly, because I had heard that he was a fascist, a gnostic, a defender of a type of “post-Christian neo-paganism,” and I wanted to hear from his own lips if that were true.

    “I am a believer,” Dugin said to me. “But my mind is not like your mind, nor is my soul like your soul.”

    “Tell me what you think my mind and my soul are like,” I replied to him.

    “Well,” he said, “perhaps I should not say ‘your mind,’ or ‘your soul,’ but I will say the typical Western mind, the typical Western soul, of those who have grown up in this modern, consumeristic, materialistic Western culture of yours, you Americans. Such a culture produces minds focused on temporal things, on individual pleasures, individual fulfillment. We in the East are different. We do not have in this way individual minds, individual souls, focused on individual pleasures. We have a common mind, a common soul, focused on the good of our entire people.”


    Now, as I sit and write, and remember those conversations in Moscow, I lament the death of Darya.

    I lament her death as I lament every death that has occurred in Ukraine.

    I think this war never should have started, and I think it should be ended now, today.

    And my heart goes out to a father who has seen his daughter die in front of his eyes, knowing that the bomb that killed her was meant for him, that the flames that burnt her body beyond all recognition were meant for him.

    I pray for Darya, that her eternal soul may rest in peace, and for Alexander, that his soul also may find, in the end, its eternal rest, in Christ.

    I pray also for an end to this war.

    Now I will try to gather the strength to continue the task we have been carrying forward for some years now — seeking to “build bridges” between divided Christians, Catholics and Orthodox, West and East, Americans and Russians and all of the former Soviet peoples, so that the presuppositions may be established, if possible, for a just peace, after so much terrible, unbearable sorrow. —RM    

    “Man is dying of thirst”

    The last letter of the great French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, written on the night before his death in 1944…

    Dr. Peter Kwasniewski posted the following on his Facebook page this past Saturday, August 20, 2022.

    “Most of my readers will be familiar with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on account of his immortal story The Little Prince,” Kwasniewski wrote.I came to appreciate him more after reading Wind, Sand, and Stars, one of the most beautifully written works of literature I’ve ever read. Then I discovered the poignant letter he wrote to General X [René Michel Jules Chambe?] on July 30, 1944, the day before his death.

    “Here are some excerpts. How penetrating, how prescient he was, and how applicable are his thoughts to the shift within the post-World War II Catholic Church!”

    * * * * *

    “Ah, General, there is only one problem”

    “I hate my time [this period of history] with all my might. Man is dying of thirst.

    “Ah, General, there is only one problem, only one problem in the world. One alone. To restore to men a spiritual meaning, spiritual preoccupations.

    “To shower down on them something like a Gregorian chant.

    “If I had faith, it is quite certain that, after this time of a ‘necessary and thankless job,’ I would put up with nothing but Solesmes.

    “We can’t live on fridges, politics, balance sheets, and crosswords, you see! We can no longer live without poetry, color, and love.

    “Just by listening to a 15th-century village song, one can measure how far downhill we’ve gone.

    “There is nothing left but the voice of the propaganda machine (forgive me).

    “Two billion men hear only the machine, understand only the machine, become machines….

    “Men have tried Cartesian values: outside of the natural sciences, they have not been very successful.

    “There is only one problem, only one: to rediscover that even higher than the life of the intelligence, that of the spirit, the only one which satisfies man.

    “This goes beyond the problem of a religious life, which is only one form of it (although perhaps the life of the spirit leads to it necessarily).

    “And the life of the spirit begins where a being is understood above the materials that compose it….

    “The ties of love that bind today’s man to beings as well as to things are so loose, so sparse, that man no longer feels absence as he did in the past….

    “In this age of divorce, one divorces with the same ease from things.

    “Fridges are interchangeable. And so is the house, if it’s just an assemblage. And the woman. And the religion. And the party. One cannot even be unfaithful; to what would one be unfaithful? Far from where and unfaithful to what? A human desert….

    “They cut off our arms and legs, then they let us walk free.

    “But I hate this age when men become, under a universal totalitarianism, soft, polite, and quiet cattle.

    “We are made to believe that this is moral progress!

    “What I hate about Marxism is the totalitarianism it leads to.

    “Man is defined as producer and consumer, the essential problem being that of distribution.

    “What I hate in Nazism is the totalitarianism it claims by its very essence….

    “But where is the United States going and where are we going in this age of universal functionalism? The machine man, the termite man…

    “The man castrated of all his creative power, and who doesn’t even know anymore, from the bottom of his village, how to create a dance or a song.

    “The man who is fed a ready-made culture, a standardized culture as one feeds hay to the oxen.

    “This is the man of today.

    “And to think that, not three hundred years ago, one could write ‘The Princesse de Cleves’ or lock oneself up in a convent for life because of a lost love, so much was love burning.

    “Today, of course, people commit suicide over it, but their suffering is of the order of an intolerable toothache. It has nothing to do with love.

    “Of course, it [winning the war] is a first step.

    “I cannot bear the idea of pouring generations of French children into the belly of the German Moloch. The very substance [of our people] is threatened.

    “But when it is saved, the fundamental problem of our time will arise, which is that of the meaning of man, and to which no answer is proposed.

    “And I have the impression of walking towards the darkest times of the world.

    “I don’t mind being killed in war. Of what I have loved, what will remain?

    “As much as the beings, I speak about the customs, the irreplaceable intonations, a certain spiritual light.

    “Of lunch in the Provençal farmhouse under the olive trees, but also of Handel.

    “I don’t care so much about the things that will remain; what is worthwhile is a certain arrangement of things.

    “Civilization is an invisible good because it is not about the things, but about the invisible links that bind them to each other, in just this way and not otherwise.

    “We will have perfect musical instruments, distributed in large numbers, but where will the musicians be?”

    Wind, Sand and Stars | chronicle by Saint-Exupéry | Britannica

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Wikipedia

    —Bro. Paul H.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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