the Carmel

PIAT Stéphane-Joseph Père

Also known as: Maurice Piat, Father Stéphane Piat

Maurice Piat was born in Roubaix in 1899, two years after Thérèse's death. Roubaix, the “proletarian city” then had as deputy the famous socialist Jules Guesde; Catholic employers play an important role there, it is Maurice's family environment. A brilliant student, he did brief history studies at the Catholic Faculties of Lille (1918). He also participates in parish patronage and in the conferences of Saint-Vincent de Paul. In May 1921, after two years of military service, he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was immediately interested in the personality of Saint Francis, whom he saw through the social tradition of the Third Order Franciscans. He takes, as his religious name, Stéphane, in memory of his mother, who died in 1918.

Ordained a priest in 1925, the following year he was appointed curate of the Franciscan convent in Roubaix, which served the Saint-François church: there he became involved in social Catholicism, supported the local CFTC, then became one of the first chaplains of the JOC of northern France. His first works (1931-1940) are devoted precisely to highlighting the figures of Jocists who died early. His activity in the service of the CFTC lasted until 1960, when a deconfessionalization began (CFDT) which he refused. Also he will accompany, until his death, the CFTC maintained.

He became acquainted with the thought of Thérèse in 1927 through the Carmel of Roubaix; he wrote in 1939, The Gospel of Spiritual Infancy which he has corrected by Thérèse's sisters; the work was published in 1941. At the same time, he brought Thérèse closer to Francis of Assisi (Two souls of the Gospel: Francis of Assisi, Thérèse of Lisieux ,1940, new edition, 1943). In July 1942, Canon Viollet, director of dynamics Christian Marriage Association, which developed in the aftermath of the first war, wrote to the Carmel to suggest that a theologian highlight the existing link between religious vocation and family vocation, based on the example of the Martin Family. The Carmel suggests contacting Father Piat. These two priests had met in 1938 at the Marian Congress in Boulogne: Viollet had spoken there of "Mary and the duty of spouses", while Piat, speaking of the "cult of Our Lady in the home", had mentioned the Martin family. . Piat comes to Lisieux to gather information from Thérèse's sisters. His work appeared in 1945, under the title: History of a family [M. and Mme Louis Martin]: a school of holiness, the home where Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus flourished. He soon became the quasi-official biographer of Thérèse's family, her father and mother (1953 and 1954) as well as her cousin Marie (1953); later, he will also evoke Thérèse's sisters, devoting three books to Céline, Léonie and Marie (1963-1967). Her History of a family will contribute to promoting the idea of ​​a lawsuit against Thérèse's parents, even though he was not in favor of it at first. When it was opened in 1956, Piat deposited there and justified the reasons for beatifying Mr. Martin. In 1958, he prefaced Madame Martin's family letters.

His 1945 work on Thérèse's family will be a milestone in terms of information security. He took on board the desire to give Christian families models to imitate. The work also adopts the ideas and vocabulary of Vichy's familialist policy. Father Piat adds a personal touch, by the importance he attaches to the “priestly soul” of Thérèse's mother. Here is how he himself presents the purpose of his work:

“René Bazin spoke of these mothers who have a “priestly soul” and who pass it on to their son in life. From Mr. and martin we can say that they had "a religious soul (to be understood as a soul that transmits the religious vocation) ". Their home illustrates in a concrete way the influence of the family atmosphere on the blossoming of the great vocation. This thesis, dear to the Abbé Viollet [...] is at the origin of the present work: it is worth stopping there to examine its scope in the light of a particularly striking example. Not that divine election must be subjected to the fatal game of heredity and education. Grace plays with our calculations […]. It is nonetheless true that, as a general rule, the prestigious seal which marks the fisher of men or the bride of Christ (the priest or nun) is the crowning achievement of a collective ascent. There is little domain where the mysterious law of solidarity which presides over the evolution of order, both supernatural and natural, is more apparent.

(1945, p. 273)
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