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That is how I propose to solve the problem of imitation. But there are other problems. The men of my generation, formed by official Kantism, insurgents since their adolescence against disciplines and institutions, fervent individualists, learned only through the practice of art and of life what folly it had been to reinvent for one’s self alone all technique and to substitute one’s own genius for the experience of centuries. We have been autodidacts by principle (a bad principle), and by necessity. 

This state of mind is happily now out of date. There has been a return to tradition, to craft. You know it yourselves. The Revue des Jeunes aims to introduce some order into the intellectual life in hopes of being able later to introduce it into the society as a whole. It seems to me that the great means it advocates, the philosophy of St. Thomas, ought also to operate in those artistic circles where a process of reflection is taking place. I don't have the competence to take up the scholastic question here. The little that I know seems to me to be highly relevant in this age of pride and indiscipline. If I have understood it right, St. Thomas’ definitions apply as much to the useful and mechanical arts as to the liberal arts; they do not differentiate between artist and artisan, which poses the question of craft very well. But when he says that the Beautiful is the Resplendentia formae super partes proportionatas materiae, the shining forth of the idea over the proportioned parts of matter - most of all when he pronounces that art is the right reason (or method) required to make the work, Recta ratio factibilium - it seems to me that he shows us the role of reason, even while applying it strictly to the material part and to the technique of art. None of the paradoxes advanced by the ignorant and the lazy can stand before such reasoning. There is not the smallest encouragement there for those who pretend to know everything having learned nothing, and St. Thomas’ artist has nothing in common with a superman or a demigod. 

That is very judicious. Moreover, a movement is beginning to appear among young people in favour of the applied arts. Perhaps we should have fewer painters of pictures and better decorators, glassmakers, enamelers, goldsmiths, etc.. Young painters are becoming interested in printmaking, tempera and fresco. They do not feel that it is beneath themselves to engage with others in work that is aimed to fulfil collective needs - as for example the design and execution of furniture. But neither are they mere workers reproducing a given model without discernment. They are artisans creating new forms. 

That is an atmosphere favourable to the creation of a school. Abbé Marraud saw in a school of religious arts the remedy to the present crisis. I see it too. A school organised after the manner of the Schola Cantorum, (27) gathering different disciplines (painting, sculpture, decoration, glassmaking, etc.) around a doctrine which would be at once traditional and living. It would have the originality of realising the collaboration of master and pupil. Instead of being an academy, it would be a workshop, a gathering of workshops which would accept commissions and produce, not for vague exhibitions but for a precise destination, everything that serves to adorn worship, so that the pupil becomes what he was in the workshops of Tuscany and Umbria before the Renaissance: an apprentice, then a journeyman assisting the master. Instead of paying the professor, he would be paid by him. Thus the normal conditions which in former times produced good artisans and admirable masterpieces would be re-established. If there is any possibility of restoring and renewing the Tradition, it must be through practice, experience and discipline. Such a school should be a center of Catholic life. Informed by dogma and by the Liturgy, fully conscious of the greatness of their mission, pupils and masters would together serve the renaissance we envision.

(27) The 'Schola Cantorum' de Paris, founded in 1894 by Charles Bordes, Alexandre Guilmant and Vincent d'Indy specialising in late Baroque and early Classical works, Gregorian chant, and Renaissance polyphony. 

I have tried to share my optimism with you, to show you the paths I believe can be effective. Even if you do not accept all my views, I hope they will provide at least a basis for some useful reflection. 

Do we want a living art worthy of the present renewal of Catholic thought? We know what the necessary conditions, modalities and methods are. If we need a school to realise the triple formation - Christian, intellectual and technical - of our youth, such a school shall be made. 

Do we want falsehood in all its forms to be expelled from the Church - sentimental lies, archeological lies, lying antique pastiches and counterfeit materials, lying religious objects and academic art? Then it is up to us to break with old prejudices and routines. 

Do we want a favourable milieu, a sense of fellowship that will surround the artist with confidence, that refrains from systematically denigrating modern art? Do we want the value of art as an apologetical means to be brought back to its place of honor? Ah! if only the clergy would help us, seeing in art the means of fashioning anew, as Abbé Marraud said, "communion among men." 

If the war found us unprepared, and the peace even less so, let us at least take pride in knowing that we did not suffer defeat because our souls were inferior, nor did we gain a victory we did not deserve. Now the seriousness of souls renewed in Christ through the sacrifices they made willingly and the sorrows they accepted must be expressed in a style that is appropriate and by an art worthy of such responsibility. One does not put new wine in old bottles. Let us not, under the pretext of preserving the past, copy the buildings of another age - precious models and justly admired, certainly, but dead! To repeat in architecture, painting, sculpture what was done in earlier generations, to pick up styles that have had their day as if they were our own, would be more than an error, it would be a moral failure. It would be an admission of impotence unworthy of the victorious French. Do not let anyone believe that the vein of French creativity is exhausted. Fake Gothic or a junk-shop full of religious objects are not suitable means for raising our altars anew and building a fitting memorial to the Great War 

We have never had a more beautiful or a more tragic occasion for manifesting the vitality of Catholicism and of French genius. The benefit we have received from our victory is the duty laid on us to rebuild our churches and to adorn them, not in the old fashion, but with our own means, our modern sensibility, not with our erudition, but with our piety and our hearts. 

We do not want our grandchildren when, later on, they marvel at the glory of our heroes, to have to blush at the quality of our taste. And if one of them, before the monuments of our time, should ask the question I have just just said we should not ask: In what style is this? let us be able to answer with pride: It is the style of Victory!

The 'Golden Virgin' of the church in Albert, Somme, as it was restored after the war. Through most of the war it was leaning at a precarious angle and acquired a symbolic value for many of the soldiers fighting in the area (including Henry Williamson. One of the novels in his series Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight is called 'The Golden Virgin.')

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