Sylvain Maréchal 1790
Source: Catechisme du Curé Meslier, mis a jour par Sylvain Maréchal. Paris, 1790;
Translated: for Marxists.org by Mitch Abidor.
Sylvain Maréchal wrote the following text, which he claimed was from the pen of the father of modern atheism, the priest Jean Meslier (1664-1729/1733?). The ideas in it are derived from Meslier’s posthumously published “Memoire.”
About all his prejudices, man is ready to blush
His long infancy, he is ready to leave behind.
He tires of his yoke, he moves, he murmurs,
He dares to call on Nature’s rights...
Finally, the people think...
Nil credo auguribus, qui aures verbis devitant
Alienas, suas ut auro locupletant domos
Soothsayers, chase from me all these charlatans
Who sell words devoid of meaning at a great price
This book is not an attack. Neither slanders, nor calumnies, nor personal attacks will be found here. For a long time the friends of order and truth have been whispering what we dare to write and publish here.
Error and falsehood had their moment of usefulness and served as a brake on an enslaved and ignorant people. But from the moment when a nation becomes enlightened and free it both should and can only be governed by its own laws. When a temple is built its scaffolding becomes useless and harmful: it is taken down. Having reached the age of reason we reject the playthings of childhood. All we now need are public virtues and private morality.
n.b.: There are certain prejudices that must be attacked, and which can only be destroyed with the arm of ridicule.
HERE LIES JEAN MESLIER
CURATE OF ETREPIGNI, A VILLAGE IN THE CHAMPAGNE
DIED IN 1733
AT THE AGE OF 55
UPON HIS DEATH HE RETRACTED
THAT WHICH HE PREACHED DURING HIS LIFE
HAD NO NEED TO BELIEVE IN GOD
TO BE AN HONEST MAN
Question: What is God?
Answer: God is whatever the priests want.
Q: Why is it said that he is a spirit?
A: To frighten those who are entirely made up of matter.
Q: Why eternal?
A; In order to make the church’s power last longer.
Q: Why independent?
A: Because the priests have never wanted to depend on anyone.
Q: Why infinite?
A: Because the church wants to have no limits.
Q: Why omnipresent?
A: Because the priests have need of him everywhere.
Q: Why omnipotent?
A: He is omnipotent as long as we believe him to be so.
Q; What does it mean that he has created everything?
A: It doesn’t mean anything.
Q: Why did God create us and put us on earth?
A: So we could fear him and serve him in the person of his priests.
Q: Are there several Gods?
A: Yes and no. There is only one God, but this unique God makes three.
Q: Why are these three divine personages equal in all things?
A: So that the priests can have three strings to their bows.
Q: What should be concluded from the mysteries of the Holy Trinity?
A: That it is a renewed dream of the Greeks. See Plato, etc.
Q: What does “a God made man” mean?
A: It means that a man wanted to pass for God
Q: Is he in fact God and man, both together?
A: There is no answer to such a foolish question.
Q: Tell us your Credo.
A: I believe only in virtue. If a God exists I don’t believe he had a son and that this son was hung and that he will one day come to judge the living and the dead. I don’t believe in the Holy Spirit of the Church, either, and even less in its infallibility. I would very much like to persuade myself that there is a resurrection of the flesh, and I would quite like there to be eternal life.
Q: Explain those first words: “I believe only in virtue.”
A: Because virtue seems to me to be the only divinity worthy of the heart of man.
Q: Why do you say: “If a God exists?”
A: That is to say, I don’t dare affirm the existence of a God since I see evil and evil-doers on earth, and I'd rather deny the existence of a God than make of him a tyrant.
Q: What do you mean by the words: “I don’t believe he had a son?"
A: Because God the Father and God the Son seem to me to be indecent and ridiculous.
Q: Why don’t you believe in the Holy Spirit?
A: Because I don’t understand a thing of this pious nonsense.
Q: Why do you add: “And even less in the infallibility of the Church?"
A: Because he who deceives can be deceived.
Q: What do you mean by “the resurrection of the flesh?”
A: I mean absurdity. The resurrection of the body is nothing but a trap laid out for those who have no wit.
Q: Why do you appear to desire more than hope for a life to come?
A: Because a good and omnipotent father should have put his children in the best of all possible worlds.
Q; What are the sacraments in general?
A: They are superstitious practices instituted by the deceitful in order to lead the foolish.
Q: Why does the church make use of so many ceremonies in the administration of the sacraments?
A: Because it knows the human heart. Because it isn’t ignorant of the people’s need for spectacles. Because your sprits are led when your senses are struck.
Q: What is baptism?
A: It is a little bath given to children who have just been born and who are already guilty, it is said, of a terrible sin committed thousands of years ago by our first ancestors.
Q: Does baptism wipe away all sins?
A: Yes! A man who would prudently wait for the moment of his death to have himself baptized could conduct himself ad libitum during his life. Baptism would wash him of his worst filth. This is quite convenient.
Q: Can baptism be supplemented?
A: Yes, by having someone else slaughter or by carrying out slaughter oneself in order to defend the interests of the peaceful religion. This is what is called baptism by blood. The expedition of St. Bartholomew’s Day was a baptism by blood. The Inquisition is a baptism by fire.
Q:: What is confirmation?
A: It’s a kind of spiritual accolade given to you by the church, and by which you become its faithful knight in all circumstances.
Q: What are the effects of the sacrament of confirmation?
A: In the first place, it makes us perfect Christians, i.e., stubborn and intolerant, tough fathers, gruff husbands, and citizens without a country.
Next, it doesn’t give us wit. Rather it gives us Holy Spirit, which doesn’t, as was the case in the time of the Apostles, carry out any more miracles by descending upon us in tongues of fire, but inhabits us incognito.
In the third place, it renders us insensible, not to the threats of tyrants, for there are none any longer who persecute Christians, but to the contempt of those philosophers who have found Christians to be persecutors in their turn.
Q: What is Holy Oil?
A: It is made up of oil and balm, emblems of the gentleness and good examples we have the right to demand of the prelates who confer this sacrament.
Q: Why is a slap given?
A: It’s another emblem of the affronts and ill treatment that must be devoured in the service of these same prelates, who are not all Fenelons.
Q: Is this sacrament absolutely necessary in order to be saved?
A: The priests themselves admit that this is not the case.
Q: On what occasion must we principally receive it?
A: When we want to have our faith shaken. We have never had such need of this sacrament as today, and it has never been so neglected.
Q: What disposition does this sacrament demand?
A: A large provision of faith, blind devotion, and a head of bronze.
Q; What is the Eucharist?
A; It’s a round of the priest’s goblets.
Q: What is the word for the supposed changing of bread and wine?
A: This switch is called transubstantiation, a big word that impresses the dim witted.
Q: How does this metamorphosis occur?
A: This metamorphosis occurs by virtue of two or three lines of bad Latin gravely pronounced by a priest who is doubtless laughing up his sleeve all the while.
Q: Isn’t there only the body in the form of the bread and the blood in the form of the wine?
A: God is there in his entirety under both forms, and in his entirety in each part of these same forms, in such a way that (in order to make this more easily understood via an example) if he breaks wind while the priest is saying mass the least zephyr disperses as many gods as crumbs of that divine dough. It flows from this that while barking or chasing down flies the little dog of a communicant shares in the communion with its mistress and the almoner of its mistress.
Q: And what are the effects of the sacrament?
A: In order to answer you again with a real event I will quote the bon mot of an unworthy Capuchin. He was almoner of one of the Queens of Spain, and a courtier having treated him in a cavalier fashion our Capuchin said to him with a feigned impudence: Know well that every day I have your Queen at my feet and your God in my hands.
Q: And what must be our disposition when we receive the God bread?
A: There are two kinds. One has to do with the soul, the other with the body.
The first are: A foolish faith and the confession of your sins to a confessor.
As for the second: one must not have eaten bread. One must, for fear of shaking one’s faith, close your eyes and swallow your God without chewing. Jacques Clement, of blessed memory, still had his God on his lips when, armed with a dagger, imitating Judith, he bravely massacred his king.
Q: What crime is committed by those who take communion while in a state of mortal sin?
A: They commit a sacrilege a thousand times more horrible than if they'd killed the good Henri or their father.
Q; What is the sacrifice of the mass?
A: It’s the daily bread of the priests.
Q: Why was it instituted?
A: In order to ceaselessly remind us that the Jews made a fanatic suffer who they should have sent out to the fields with the sheep of which he so often said he was the pastor, or with the herd of pigs that that maniac frightened and drowned.
Q: What must be one’s state when assisting in this sacrifice?
A: One must participate in the holy mass while thinking to oneself that it is not impossible to one day see the man who is leading the service in his bedroom before his chamber pot, for they have managed to have him render divine that which in a short while he must digest.
Q: What is penitence?
A: Of all of the sacraments that the church has imagined, this one is its masterpiece. It can be defined as: The art of forcing the foolish to talk.
Q: How many parts does it have?
A: Three: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. It’s mainly on the last two that the church depends.
Q: What is contrition?
A: It’s a feigned hatred for the sins we have committed, with the tacit promise of falling into it again the moment after.
Q: What is confession?
A: It’s a shameful tribute that the church raises on the timorous conscience of the credulous in order to have them do exactly what it wants, once it has learned their secrets.
Q: Must one declare all one’s sins?
A: Well, what if we skipped one...?
Q: Is the confession of venal sins absolutely necessary?
A: It’s not exactly de rigueur, but it is nevertheless very useful...to priests. In this way they can study the spirit of a household and can then act in keeping with it.
Q: What is satisfaction?
A: It’s a reparation owed to God, i.e., to his priests for the injustices committed against one’s neighbors.
Q: What is absolution?
A: It’s an oral quittance that saves you from eternal punishment in the next life, but which doesn’t absolve you (make note of this last article) of a temporal satisfaction in this life. It is here that your spiritual director lies in wait for you.
Q: What are the works of penitence?
A: It is to obey immediately and blindly all that is prescribed by the confessor. If the case were to arise, it is to act, for example, like the docile Cadiere with the fortunate Girard...See the causes celebres, etc, etc, etc.
Q: What is an indulgence?
A: It’s the church’s source of variable revenue. It’s a sacred gag that one buys in order to prevent remorse from making one mad with its importuning cries.
N.B. One must be careful not to confuse papal indulgences with philosopher’s indulgences.
Q: By what power does the church grant indulgences?
A: By the powers transmitted to it through abuse and ignorance.
Q: What must be done to earn indulgences?
A: The conditions prescribed by the church must be fulfilled, i.e., fill its trunks, kiss the priests’ sandals, and sometimes do even worse, etc, etc, etc.
Q: What is this ceremony?
A: It’s a skillful method invented by the priests to take over the last moments of a sick person and to profit by the weakness of his spirit in order to obtain from him all that the priest envied.
Q: What are the effects of this?
A: To frighten the moribund, to make him even sicker, and to have him insert into his will clauses that don’t always please widows and orphans.
Priests also say that this sacrament returns health to the body. But since a sick man, reduced to last rites, hardly ever returns, the church has shrewdly added: if health is necessary for the salvation of the sick man. In this way, the church makes itself responsible for nothing.
Q: What are orders?
A: It’s the worst of all sacraments. It is that which gives us spiritual tyrants, more fearful than the others. It’s that which assures the most deceitful of men the right to do with impunity whatever they want in heaven’s name.
Q: Where does this power come from?
A: From the barbarianism of time, from prejudices, from false policies, from ambition, etc, etc.
Q: How has this power come down to us?
A: Alas, I don’t know. It’s perhaps because at all times there have been fools and deceivers on earth. We have been threatened that this despotism, all the more odious because it is sacred, will last until the end of time, per omnia saecula saeculorum. This is not the appropriate time to say: Amen.
Q: With what disposition must one receive this sacrament?
A: There are four principal dispositions for admission to ordination. They are: Impudence, Dissimulation, Ignorance, and a Heart of Stone.
Q: What is marriage?
A: This is a question that always makes me smile when I hear it proposed to a fifteen year-old girl by a clerk of twenty.
Q: What is the sacrament of marriage?
A: It’s a strange right that priests have always arrogated to themselves and that they maintain over pleasures that are forbidden them. Which proves that priests have to have their hands in everything. Let’s be happy that they content themselves with blessing the nuptial bed without demanding a tithe!
Q: In order to be saved is it enough to be baptized and have faith?
A: No. One must keep God’s commandments, and especially those of the church
Q: What are God’s commandments?
A: With the exception of the first three, that Moses was careful enough to put at the head of the Decalogue because they have to do with priests, the seven following ones are nothing but the simplest laws, the elements of morality engraved in the hearts of all men, and that the most ancient and most skillful of the three imposters had no need to go and get on a high mountain, nor to have them written on tablets of bronze by his God’s finger.
Q: Can you recite these commandments in French verse?
A: You are quite generous in calling this verses; they are nothing but bad prose poorly rhymed.
Q: What does it mean to believe in God?
A: It means submitting in a servile fashion to all that the church claims to have received from God through revelation.
Q: How did God reveal himself?
A: Through writings, a more than suspect monument as well as through an uncertain tradition, and through infallibles priest, though they are nothing but men.
Q: How does one sin against the faith?
A: In four ways:
1. By using one’s reason
2. By daring to doubt
3. By remaining neutral or indifferent
4. By being tolerant.
Q: What does it mean to have hope in God?
A: It means feeding oneself on chimeras.
Q: How does one sin against hope in God?
A: By not believing (perhaps not without reason) in providence, author at one and the same time of good and evil, and who makes the rain and the sunshine.
Q: What does it mean to love God?
A: It means doing the impossible, for who has ever been able to love that which he knows not, which he has never seen, and which he fears?
Q: How does one sin against the love of God?
A: By closing your heart to a tyrant who allows causes seconds to act, who can at any moment obliterate me, as happened with the earthquake in Lisbon, etc, etc, etc.
Q: Are we obliged to love our neighbor?
A: Theologically speaking, we are only obliged to do so as long as the interests of priests don’t suffer, for they are the first friends, the first parents, the first of the poor, etc.
Q: What does it mean to adore God?
A: It means groveling at the feet of his agents.
Q: Can we pray to saints?
A: Why not? Don’t we obtain everything of a bishop when we have won away his mistress, or that of his Grand Vicar?
Q: How should we invoke the saints?
A: By filling their altars, served by priests, with rich offerings.
Q: Don’t we insult J.C. by praying to the saints?
A: Not at all. They agree amongst themselves.
Q: Can we honor the relics of saints?
A: This is very much permitted to you. We are especially invited to cover them in riches.
Q: Do we sin when we honor images?
A: Not any more than did the poor gentiles sinned who were treated as idolaters; while we will only be saved for the same reason we damn them.
Q: What is Sunday?
A: It’s the day that the All-Powerful, who could have created a thousand worlds with one breath, rested after having much difficulty in finishing our miserable little planet. Even though it is said that there were three of them working at this difficult task.
Q: Why does the church sanctify Sunday?
A: To make some money.
Q: What must be done in order to sanctify Sunday?
A: You have to be lazy, blurt out bad Latin that you don’t understand, put something in the priest’s plate, and sleep during his preaching or his sermon.
Q: What do they do, those who sin against the sanctification of Sunday?
A: All those who have too much of an ear to love plainchant and too much judgment to be content with the platitudes of a nasal Capuchin, or else those who feel they've wasted a day if they haven’t consecrated it to some useful work.
Q: What do God’s other commandments oblige us to do?
A: I would be insulting to the children of man if I suspected them of needing to learn that which nature inspires in them at birth.
Q: Does the church have the power to make commandments?
A: At the very least there are spirits foolish enough to think so.
Q: How many commandments of the church are there?
A: A half-dozen
Q: What are the holidays instituted by the church?
A: There are two kinds. There are those having to do with the mysteries, these are the greatest and the most absurd. The others have as object the honoring of the Virgin and the saints. These are the most lucrative and the most numerous.
Q: What is a saint?
A: It’s a man who has ceased to be one, for his own torment and that of others.
Q: What does the second commandment oblige us to do?
A: To assist at all offices, both of day and night, i.e., to assiduously court the priests.
Q: And the third?
A: To confession. Cleanliness consists in purifying the body every day. The soul only needs this at least once a year.
Q: With what punishment does the church threaten those who don’t fulfill the fourth?
A: Entry into the temple is forbidden them during their lives, and the sepulcher after their deaths.
Q: What do the fifth and sixth commandments oblige you to do?
A: To eat more, but less often, or later and to prefer a pike to your ordinary potage.
Q: Why were fasting and abstinence instituted?
A: Among other conjectures, this one is possible: During the church’s early days a bishop had ponds as his sole source of revenue. Consequently, he ordered the eating of fish throughout his diocese.
Q: What is original sin?
A: An injustice worthy of Tiberius.
Q: What is a capital sin?
A: Since examples are within the reach of more people than definitions, I answer that philosophy is a capital sin, that it gives birth to three mortal sins for which the church still refuses absolution, to wit: incredulity, skepticism, and tolerance.
Q: What is the opposite of philosophy?
A: Theology, which is also divided into three branches, to wit: the love of prejudice, faith based on a word, fanaticism.
Q: Where did the church get the idea for seven moral capital sins?
A: In its own bosom. In fact, there is nothing more prideful than a capuchin, nothing more avaricious than a prelate, nothing more given to lust than a Carmelite, nothing more envious than a young priest, nothing more gluttonous than a nun, nothing more choleric than a pope, nothing more lazy than a canon.
Q: What becomes of man after his death.
A: Whatever he becomes he is happy, since he is out of the hands of the priesthood.
Q: What is the recompense God promises the just?
A: It’s getting to know if he resembles those who represent him on earth.
Q: Do all the Just see God after their deaths?
A: No, only those fortunate enough to have seen their confessor before dying.
Q: What does it mean to be one of the Just?
A: It’s a good Christian for whom care was taken to pay for the presence of his priest at his funeral procession, who didn’t forget to place under the chandelier the going price for a porte-dieu, and who gave a tip to the bell ringers who burst the ear drums of his neighbors and the apostolic crooks who laid him beneath the earth.
Q: Why do we pray for the dead?
A: To get the money of the living.
Q: What is purgatory?
A: It’s the brazier that boils the kettle of the pastor whose listeners furnish the wood.
Q: What is the punishment of the evil?
A: Their bodies suffer fire, their souls as well. Yes, their souls: the catechism assembled by order of Monsignor..... says this, and I am nothing here but the copyist.
Q: Why do we make the sign of the cross?
A: This sign is the rallying point, the war cry of Christians. At the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre it served to distinguish the charitable Catholics piously murdering their protestant fellow-citizens.
Q: What is the Sunday prayer?
A: It’s a prayer that certainly doesn’t have a philosopher as its author, and even less a man of taste.
Q: Say your Our Father
A: I'm going to read it to you, for my recalcitrant memory has never been able to retain all of it.
Q: Why do you say “Our father?”
A: To tell you the truth, I have no idea, since God doesn’t treat us like his children.
Q: Why do you say: “Who art in heaven?”
A: I say it this way because it is written this way, for I have for a long time seen in these few words a terrific inconsistency, and even a manifest contradiction. Isn’t God everywhere?
Q: Explain to us “May thy kingdom come.”
A: In fact, it’s about time that the Master arrives, since we're beginning to tire of his valets.
Q: And these words: “Thy will be done.”
A: Seem ridiculous to me. The Catholics are the very first people who have taken it into their heads to tell their absolute master that they want to obey him.
Q: "Give us this day our daily bread.”
A: If I were a father I would scold my children if they were to make up a prayer so injurious to my obligations and my heart.
Q: Why do you say: “forgive us our transgressions?”
A: I say this in order to obey you, for a man can no more anger a God than please him. In any event, in order to be just and clement does God need us to remind him of his fairness and his goodness?
Q: Explain “as we pardon those who have offended us.”
A: I always tremble when I hear this passage come out of the mouth of a priest. Alas, what would become of us if God didn’t forgive any better than his ministers?
Q: And “lead us not into temptation?”
A: I find it repugnant to pronounce this article for I believe it to be a veritable blasphemy. What? A God who tempts man? Is God one with the devil? One would tend to believe it.
Q: But “deliver us from evil...”
A: What evil?
Q: What is the angelic salutation?
A: It’s a little Hebraic madrigal that the angel Gabriel composed on behalf of his master the Holy Spirit for the Virgin Mary, the wife of Joseph the carpenter. If I were a mother I would hesitate to have it learned, and especially to explain its meaning to my daughters.
End of the categorical responses to the principal demands of the Paris cathechism.
Q: Give us an idea of the truths of religion.
A: These truths aren’t good to be told.
Q: Into how many parts can we reduce all the truths of religion?
A: There aren’t enough to make a very thick volume.
Q: Are we certain that there is a God?
A: Not as much as of Euclidean geometry or the mathematics of Bareme.
Q: By what reasons can we convince ourselves that there is a God?
A: It wouldn’t be those that we can draw from physical and moral evil.
Q: Why do the scriptures speak of the arms, the legs, the hands, the feet of God?
A: Because if the monkeys made for themselves an image of God he would be as hairy as a monkey. The King of England, John the Landless, prayed by the teeth of God.
Q: Is it not also said in these same Holy Scriptures that God became angry?
A: Yes, to be sure, and in more than one place. Which proves that when we want to speak of that which we know nothing about we expose ourselves to many contradictions and inconsistencies.
Q: Is there only one God?
A: That question is hardly philosophical and doesn’t deserve a response. The church says that there is only one but at the same time it found in him enough material to make three if it is necessary. It made of this a polyp.
Q: Isn’t it unreasonable to believe that which we don’t understand?
A: Who is saying the contrary?
Q: Are we certain that God revealed the mystery of the Holy Trinity?
A: As much as we can be of an absurdity.
Q: How does God make Himself known outside of Himself?
A: That’s an enigma to which priests brag they have the key. They are bolder than philosophers.
Q: What are God’s works?
A: If the priests are involved in this, and if we know the worker by his works, it must be admitted that that God hasn’t always done good work.
Q: Was it the father, the son or the Holy Ghost who made the world.
A: Three were hardly enough to get this done.
Q: Why did God create the heavens and the earth?
A: God doesn’t have to render any accounts.
Q: How did he make the heavens and the earth?
A: The “how” is no easier to explain than the “why.” We'll never finish if you ask the “hows” and “whys” of religion.
Q: Did God create the heavens and the earth a long time ago?
A: Some chronologists put him to work early others later. Some, in order not to make mistakes in such difficult calculations, make the world eternal and thus cut the knot.
Q: How much time did God employ in making the world?
A: Barely a whole week.
Q: What are angels?
A: They are mixed beings, amphibian animals, half -god, half man. They are commission agents of the old Eternal Father. One could take them for bad copies of the demigods of profane mythology.
Q: Are angels naked or dressed?
A: Joan of Arc’s answer at her interrogation at Rouen: Do you think that God doesn’t have what he needs to dress them?
Q: What does eternal life consist in?
A: When we get there we'll know.
Q: What are demons?
A: As Come Ruggeri said, demons are nothing but each man’s enemies, and who doesn’t have some?
Q: Are all demons in hell?
A: Alas, no. There are on earth male and female demons, domestic demons, political demons, ecclesiastical demons, and the latter are the worst of all.
Q: What is hell?
A: When we get there we'll know.
Q: What is the most perfect creature?
A: Man never fails to cry out: it’s me!
Q: How did God form man?
A: Another “how?” But “how” can we ask this question?
Q: What is the soul?
A: When the mechanism of the body is fully explained to me I'll be able to tell you what the soul is.
Q: What are the tree of life and the science of good and evil that Genesis speaks of?
A: It’s perhaps the emblem of a thing whose proper name would make a virgin blush.
Q: How did the devil seduce Eve?
A: The same way men have had their way since then with all the women who've been attacked.
Q: What is the Flood?
A: It wasn’t the most beautiful of miracles of the Father of all mercies.
Q: Who was Noah?
A: Noah was the father of drunks, just as Adam was of cuckolds. One allowed himself to be mocked by his children, and the other allowed himself to have horns put on by his wife. Both of them models, worthy of those who offer and of those to whom they are offered.
Q: What does Noah’s Arc mean in a figurative sense?
A: Noah’s Arc represents the church
Q: What is the Tower of Babel (still figuratively)
A: The Tower of Babel is yet again the symbol of the church where we speak without being understood and where ambition is limitless.
Q: Who was Abraham?
A: The father of believers. His family diminishes daily and will soon be extinguished.
Q: What is the sacrifice of Isaac?
A: An atrocity. A mother has said on this subject that God would never have asked for such a sacrifice from a mother. A Jewess, or a believer would nevertheless have been capable.
Q: What did Joseph do with the wife of Potiphar?
Q: Who was Moses?
A: The most skillful and the least fortunate of the three imposters.
Q: What is the meaning of the Paschal lamb?
A: Childish silliness. Some people have seen in it the conduct of priests who, dressed in the fleece of the lambs who cared has been confided to them, slaughter them in order to feed the flock of which they shamelessly call themselves the pastors, and of which they are nothing but the butchers.
Q: What is the meaning of the crossing of the Red Sea?
A: A miracle for the foolish, foolishness for sensible beings.
Q: What is the meaning of the Mass?
Q: What did Moses do on Mt. Sinai?
A: He made up a thousand drugs that would today find no purchasers.
Q: How did David live?
A: The same way that all libertine and tyrannical kings have lived since then.
Q: How did Solomon live?
A: See the Song of Songs.
Q: What were the Prophets?
A: Either rascals or fools.
Q: What was Job?
A: The image of many people.
Q: What are prophecies?
A: Sunt verba & voces, praeterea que nihil, like ancient French music.
Q: What was Jesus Christ?
A: The putative son of a member of the carpenter’s guild.
Q: What was the Virgin?
A: The putative wife of a carpenter.
Q: Was she always a virgin?
A: As much as one can be when one has had a child.
Q: And St. Joseph, what was he?
A: That which so many spouses still are who don’t think they resemble him very much.
Q: Why did Jesus Christ want to be born in a stable?
A: The stable where he was born was a figure of his church: the ox, the ass, the pastors and the mulatto kings represent those who were one day to enter the church’s sphere.
Q: What do we know about the childhood of JC?
A: Nothing, and to judge by what he did from his adolescence until his early death we don’t lose much in not knowing.
Q: What kind of life did JC lead?
A: A life that would earn him nothing today but a loge at lunatic asylum or a bed in a madhouse.
Q: What did JC do?
A: Something we shouldn’t take it into our heads to do ourselves. It cost him entirely too much.
Q: What do you mean by the words “JC was transfigured?”
A: I mean a trick that wouldn’t take anyone in today.
Q: What is the Passion of JC?
A: The torture of a fanatic who was more to be pitied than blamed, and who deserved pity more than hatred.
Q: What did JC do on the cross?
A: He rendered up his spirit, and this wasn’t the most painful moment of his torture.
Q: What were the miracles that occurred upon the death of JC?
A: The greatest of these miracles is that we still talk about this today.
Q: Why did God want to die in so ignominious a fashion?
A: We don’t owe him as much gratitude as that. The kind of death he suffered was perhaps not his choice.
Q: What benefits did JC procure for us through his death?
A: If only they were only the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the Holy Inquisition.
Q: What do you mean when you say the JC is dead?
A: I mean a quite ordinary historical event.
Q: Was Jesus Christ resuscitated?
A: This is not a historical event. This question belongs to modern mythology that, parenthetically, is worth no more than the older version.
Q: After the Resurrection, who did Jesus Christ show himself to?
A: The first person he allowed to touch him was a woman.
Q: Is Jesus Christ no longer on earth?
A: The greatest part of him, his intolerance and fanaticism are still here.
Q: What place does Jesus Christ occupy in heaven?
A: He is seated at the right hand of his father.
Q: Does God have a right hand?
A: Do you think he is armless? His Substitutes at least aren’t.
Q: Why do you say that Jesus Christ is seated in heaven?
A: Even a God cannot remain standing through all eternity.
Q: Why do you say that God is our bread?
A: Because we eat it at an inn, served by priests who reasonably ransom their invitees. There hardly exists a lighter or more expensive meal.
Q: What are the things about Jesus Christ that we should imitate?
A: I'd rather tell you those things we should forbid ourselves.
Q: How did the Holy Spirit descend upon the Apostles?
A: In tongues of fire. This is why, when their successors speak, they set everything ablaze.
Q: What is a martyr?
A: A man who has lost his head, or who never had one.
Q: What is the church?
A: It’s a flock of sheep led by wolves disguised as pastors.
Q: What is the spirit that animates the body of the Church?
A: It is up to ecclesiastical history to instruct us in this matter. Let us stop, for example, at the torture of Jan Hus.
Q: What is a Christian?
A: St. Justin Martyr will answer you for me: Omnes qui ratione vixere, sunt Chrisitani, etiamsi Athei.
Q: Will the Church last until the end of the world?
A: We are threatened with this, but we will appeal to the Tribunal of Reason.
Q: What do you mean by the Roman Church?
A: That which does the most harm and the least good, because it is the strongest.
Q: Why is the Bishop of Rome called the Pope?
A: It’s a Greek word that means father. The Popes have forgotten the etymology of their name, or rather never knew it.
Q: Who are the enemies of religion?
A: All the friends of Reason.
Q: What are the advantages of religion?
A: Only priests can answer this question.
Q: Should Christians study the Holy Scriptures?
A: I pity their faith if they pay too much attention to this.
Q: Do all the Church’s usages come from the Apostles?
A: One must be fair: for their honor, not all of them do.
Q: What is a Council?
A: In order to give a correct idea it would be appropriate to apply to a Council the words of Piron on the Academie Francaise: there are forty of them there, and they have the wit of four.
Q: Is faith the same for all who believe?
A: Some have a lively faith, others a dead or dying one. And then there are those, and they are the majority, who have neither the one nor the other.
Q: What is a vow?
A: Ordinarily, it’s a promise that we don’t keep.
Q: What is chastity?
A: Ask a Carmelite monk.
Q; What does it mean to tell a lie?
A: It’s doing like a Prophet.
Q: Is it sometimes permitted to lie?
A: A priest would tell you yes. An honest man would tell you no.
Q: What is flattery?
A: No one could better define this than the King’s Confessor.
Q: Is Jesus Christ a great name?
A: I know holier ones.
Q: Why did Jesus Christ enter Jerusalem on an ass?
A: The stubborn and ignorant ass was the symbol of the future church.
Q: Why are the bells not sounded from Thursday to Holy Saturday?
A: In order to not awaken the sleeping cat.
Q: Why are the offices of the Holy Week called Tenebres [shadows]?
A: It is true that we could give this name to the offices the church celebrates all year long.
Q: Why do we extinguish the lamps during the evening office of Holy Week?
A: In order to allegorically show that the Church extinguishes in us the flame of truth.
Q: Why do we make noise during these same offices?
A: All of these ceremonies are the symbol of the conduct of the Holy Roman Apostolic Church and others.
Q: Why do we strip altars bare?
A: In order to exhort us to cover them with gifts.
Q: Why do we sing the Alleluia?
A: We sing for singing’s sake.
Q: At what age can we take communion?
A: A little bit before we have obtained reason.
Q: What is the spirit of the church in the imposing of ashes?
A: To make us remember that we are under the rod of priests from birth until death.
Q: What is grace?
A: I would be less embarrassed if you were to ask me: What are the Graces?
Q: Who does God give his grace to?
A: To those who have paid for them in advance.
Q: What is the feast of the Holy Sacrament?
A: It’s the church’s Carnival, it’s the time of holy masquerades.
Q: How do we know that there is a Purgatory?
A: From those who have an interest in there being one.
Q: What is the Jubilee?
A: It’s a monitum of the Church for awakening the devotion and especially the generosity of the faithful towards it.
Q: What must be done not to lose the effect of indulgences?
A: They must be paid for to the penny.
Q: What do you mean by reserved cases?
A: I mean a particular kind of priestly despotism.
Q: What is excommunication?
A: It’s a big word that doesn’t mean much.
Q: What is a letter of proscription?
Q: What is simony?
A: It’s a vice native to the Church’s
Q: What is the yoke of the gospel?
A: It might have been light in the early days, but it has since become so heavy as to be unbearable.
Q: Why does the Church say its public prayers in a language unknown to the people.
A: In order to impose on them. The people tend to revere all they don’t understand.
Q: Why does the Church use incense?
A: In order to make drunk those with weak brains and whose sane reason could cause them harm.
Q: Why and since when is it no longer permitted to offer animal sacrifices to God, as was once the case?
A: Since and because men are immolated. It is true that in this century the Church has somewhat relaxed its ancient and respectable discipline. Once it immolated men in their lives, their honor and in their goods. It would be too obvious today to immolate them in their lives. Immolating them in their honor isn’t doable. All that is left is to immolate them in the their goods, and men think that they are paying a hefty price.
Q: Do we have to go the Offering, to the Parish Mass?
A: Without a doubt, if there is no money there are no Swiss Guards; no Offering, no mass.
Q: What is a miracle?
A: That which has been never seen and will never be seen.
Q: What is a Mystery?
A: It is the argument of theologians when they have no other.
Q: What is prophecy?
A: It’s an authority for those who don’t have a good memory.
Q: What is the Bible?
A: It’s a book whose first edition would be prevented in the interest of good morals if happily it were still to be done
Q: What are the Gospels?
A: It’s another Divine Book that the Chinese wouldn’t have preferred to the juste milieu of Confucius and the Romans to Cicero’s offices or Epictetus’ Enchyridion.
Q: What is a priest?
A: Alas, after God it is the being that has or had the most absolute and obscure power. There would be a philosophical and moral treatise to be written about it that would be quite spicy if it was well digested. It would have as its title: On Valets and Priests.
Q: What is a Pope?
A: It’s a vicar who knows a good deal more than his priest.
Q: What is the clergy?
A: It’s a body without a head but with long arms and that never cuts its nails.
Q: What is Holy Rome?
A: It’s a city where we see many statues and few men, and where we meet more masks than faces.
Q: In order to finish canonically, in keeping with the pious axiom, deus est alpha et omega, tell us again what God is?
A: It is not I who will respond, I will leave that to the great Tertullian: Deus est ens ignotum & creditum. According to that definition, from a Church Father on the capital and fundamental point of religion, we can know what to think of the rest.
For the morning and for the evening of every day of the year, from birth until death
You who I have never seen, and who I only know by name; you whose existence is presumed from the harmony of this universe and denied by the disorder of this same universe. You of whom it is said I am the child, don’t hide my father from me. In order to have me embrace virtue, explain to me how is it that in your empire it is so often unhappy? In order to turn me from vice, explain to me why you allow it to go unpunished? Answer me otherwise than through the mouths of your foolish or deceitful priests. I owe you life; did I ask it of you? You gave me reason to guide my way, and even stronger passions so that I would lose it. You gave me the gift of freedom, and you knew I would abuse it. Author of good, are you also the author of evil? Omnipotent and perfect being, shall you remain indifferent to the fate of your weak and imperfect works? Too far above them through your grandeur, your goodness should bring you closer to them. Pure spirit, how can you act on matter? Alas, in a world of which I am a part I encounter nothing but enigmas, and you, you are the first and the most difficult to solve...Until the day you deign to give me the word, what have I to fear from preferring virtue to you?
What deceiver, in giving us the law, was the first
To attach to our eyes the blindfold of faith,
Degraded virtue through a shameful salary,
Made of beneficent man a vile mercenary,
And, showing him in heaven his remunerator,
Dared to propose a prize outside of his heart...
(Fragment of a moral poem on God)