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Chanticleer, by P. Sanders. Adapted from "The Story of Chanticleer" by Edmund Rostand

Once upon a time in France lived a rooster. He was a modest rooster, gold in color, with a fine comb on his head. Known through­out the region as “Chanticleer,” he was the king and protector of his farmyard.

Every morning, Chanticleer mounted the rooftop and her­alded the morning with his clear crow.

He lived to see the sun rise. Quite naturally, he thought the sun would not rise if he were not there to call it. He had doubts at times but never failed to get up ahead of the sun and crow.

drawing of the rooster, Chanticleer, raising the sun; The guinea hen, the Blackbird, The 2 ducks, the turkey, the 3 hens, the pheasant, the 4 owls, and Patou the old watchdog  Chanticleer never told anyone about raising the sun. Patou, the old watchdog, was the only one who guessed his secret. Patou’s favorite occupation was bask­ing in the sun and watching it light up the farmyard. Because of their mutual admiration for the light, the old dog and the rooster were best friends.

One day, a frightened pheasant collapsed into the chicken coop in a heap of exhaustion. “Oh!” she cried, “please hide me from the hunters who are seeking to hunt me!” Chanticleer gal­lantly hid her in Patou’s doghouse until the hunters passed.

Chanticleer was much taken with the beautiful pheasant. She certainly was much more interest­ing than the hens that only cared about pecking at grain.

However, there were some, within the farmyard and outside, that did not like Chanticleer. The owls especially disliked him, for they disliked the light and dreaded the sun that Chanticleer raised. The cat, the ducks, the turkey and the blackbird all envied him for one reason or another.

And so one starless night, while Chanticleer, Patou, and the golden pheasant slept, a secret meeting was held. Deep in a nearby thicket, the discontented farmyard animals met, and after singly giving their reasons for hating Chanticleer, it was decided that he must die. In the darkness, they hatched a plan.

In the farm over the hill lived a man who raised exotic cocks. Among these, there was an ugly, featherless rooster who was known as the champion of the fighting ring. It was arranged that he would challenge Chanticleer to a fight. “Of course,” the animals sneered, “we know who will win.”

But, the blackbird objected, “The cock won’t come!”

“Oh, yes he will!” responded the cat. “If the pheasant comes, he will come, and she will never miss such a chance to show off her beauty.”

And so, everything was set.

As time approached for the guests to arrive, the black­bird waited at the gate, watching the horizon. Finally, a line of fancy cocks was seen approaching in the dis­tance.

The blackbird began announcing the strange cocks:

“The Cock of Braekel!”

“The Wyandotte Cock!”

“The Cock of India!”

And one after the other, they strutted into the garden with all their airs of great importance.

Finally, Chanticleer appeared.

“But how should I introduce you?” asked the bewildered blackbird.

“Simply as the ‘Cock,’” replied Chanticleer.

“The Cock!” announced the blackbird.

At this, everyone fell silent.

“So, you are the Cock,” the fighting rooster said, push­ing his way through the crowd. “I am the great champion of the fighting ring that has defeated many and all.”

“And I am the Cock, the one who protects many and all,” replied Chanticleer.

“Pfuff!!” the gamecock jeered. “I live to kill and trample on those that don’t deserve to live!”

“And I . . .,” hesitated Chanticleer for a moment. Then, in an act of faith, he continued in his clear loud voice, “I live to raise the sun so that its rays may fill the world with its glorious light!”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha!” the gamecock laughed, with every­one joining in. “You think you make the sun rise? That’s too much!”

While all the animals laughed, the gamecock suddenly lunged and struck Chanticleer. A roar went up from the crowd. Chanticleer looked around and saw all the animals gathered with eager faces, their necks stretched out and their eyes gleaming in anticipation. They were hideous.

It was a terrible moment for poor Chanticleer. Sadly he bowed his head. He understood. For the first time, he knew all of them for what they were. He felt entirely alone and deserted.

Savagely, the gamecock struck again, throwing Chanticleer to the ground. A terrible struggle for life and death began but Chanticleer’s disappoint­ment and sadness sapped his spirit. The gamecock attacked harder, quickly drawing blood.

Drawing of the gamecocks arriving, with the old dog watching themChanticleer defended himself as best as he could while all around the animals screamed, “Kill him! Kill him!”

At a certain moment, Chanticleer looked up, and saw the rays of the setting sun glistening on the trumpet-like shape of the cock of France atop the cathedral spire. At this sight, his whole being rejoiced, and with renewed strength he flung himself at the gamecock.

At the tremendous impact, the gamecock was hurled into the air and fell upon his own spurs. He fell back, shook, cackled and died.

Chanticleer turned away from the fake applause and walked off. Only the pheasant followed him.

“Come with me to the woods, dear Chanticleer,” she said, “there you can forget the farmyard and we can live happily together.” Chanticleer nodded and followed the beau­tiful pheasant.

But, as time went on, Chanticleer began to feel restless. The pheasant began to worry. Was not her love enough? Could Chanticleer love the sun and his duty at the farmyard more than he loved her? She had to prove to him that the sun could rise by itself. But how?

One early morning, when the stars could still be seen in their lofty dome, Chanticleer felt especially sad. At the pheasant’s insinuations, his old doubt had returned. Was it really he who raised the sun?

Realizing his state of mind, the pheasant approached him and covered him with her wing. “Dear Chanticleer, you must not be so sad. You have me!” While speaking in these sweet tones, she watched the rising sun.

For Chanticleer, everything was still dark under her warm mantle of feathers.

Slowly the sun rose higher.

Suddenly the pheasant withdrew her wing. “See?” she cried cruelly. “The sun has risen without you!”

At that, Chanticleer started violently. “Oh, no! No! Wait! Not without me!” he cried, rushing toward the light. But the horizon grew ever more golden, and he staggered backward.

She watched him closely. “You see, Chanticleer, loving one another is more than raising a sun that can’t feel or think!”

Chanticleer the rooster on the peak of the roof. There was a moment of ­silence. Then, raising himself, he turned to her with a distant look. “No,” he said, “love is only true love in the light of a greater Light. The sun may rise without me but it will never rise with­out being heralded by my voice. I see now. I am the servant of the light. I am the one who calls the others to see the light. I am the herald of the light and so I have become a symbol of this great valley, this great France, which has placed me at the top of her cathedrals! May I remain as simple and lofty as that cock! Goodbye, Pheasant.”

With this, he turned and made his way back to his farmyard.

To this day, following his example, every barnyard cock announces the glorious rays of the rising sun.

 


* Edmund Rostand, The Story of Chanticleer (n.p., n.d.), adapted by P. Sanders.

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 18, 2019

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics, than many compli...

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November 18

 

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

During the French Revolution, the Sisters of the Visitation...

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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always."

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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