In a bad walking moment, I hurt my left foot and had to plaster it for some weeks. Those days I spent in a long and hard conversation with a book that brought me to important decisions in life at my 27 years.
François Leclerc du Tremblay was presented to me by Aldous Huxley. His biography as a study of Religion and Politics was dissecated by Huxley in an explanation of how the nickname of Grey Eminence emerged and fitted so intricately to the persona of Father Joseph. Coming from the French low aristocracy, he soon as a boy decided to be a humble mystic evangelist of in Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, servant of God... and servant of Royal French Family as representants of God on Earth.He was too skilled. He was too brilliant. And he was too humble.
His mystic calling made of him a blessed mind and wholeheartedly he did what he did for the love of Royal French Family as chosen by God - to protect Europe from the unfaithful Turkishes, to reunite Europe in an unique and whole Catholic faith. No one should be a strenght to defy the wide plan of an wholly Catholic Europe - nor Maria de Medicis nor all the Habsburgs, even being Catholic aristocracy. French Royal family was the God's hands to catholicize all Europe. Father Joseph was the man behind Cardinal Richelieu in the France of XVII Century and the mind behind crucial decisions to prolong the Thirty Years War, establishing alliances with Protestant princes and kingdoms to bring France to shine in the mission of the great Catholic Continent.
And he was ingenous. Which was the very point of loss in mystic enforcement to political decisions when he sincerely being a servant of God ended bringing death to hundreds of peoples in a profoundly divided Germany?
In his last days he had two strokes. He couldn't leave his monk's cell. He confessed his sins. He cried.
Of course it's not Catholic literature. It's hard and heavy content in History, Politics and Religion, a knock-out reading at every paragraph. Aldous Huxley, by the way, gave in the book very painful nips on what he considered deviations of purity of faith in the Catholic Church. But I use to suspect that Huxley's ideals of faith were his own and Father Joseph had not the weak mind to become a cruel mentor of a war so easily and unadvisedly. That was the crucial point of the reading for me; in a much less brilliant perspective, the wrong he did in his privileged mind could be mine and in my lack of knowledge I wouldn't even notice it!
I was broken-hearted and my legs soon would have to step new paths. Fall and failure were familiar to me and I was in the weak side of the rope of success, watching my efforts to keep a reasonable life drifting away. That calling of the story of Grey Eminence - his potence, his spiritual ambition and the process of decayement of significance into a small roll of worldly mundane political procedures and the capitulation of the politician back to a silent spiritual contemplation touched me so deeply!
That was the way I discovered the Catholic faith. I thought that the Church was not open to great fallers, but when Father Joseph cried, I cried with him. He had Mary's arms to accept him back as a prodigal son. I didin't, for not being even baptized yet. My legs were weak, but I was about to walk to Mary's arms with her Son a few months later.
(Father Joseph François du Tremblay. Art by George Stuart at http://www.galleryhistoricalfigures.com/figuredetail.php?abvrname=FrJFTremblay)