The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
FRENCH CANADIAN PHILANTHROPY

PHILANTHROPY among French Canadians rests almost exclusively upon a religious basis. Charity, in its most practical sense, lies at the very root of their religious conceptions, viewing the world as a potential fraternity which must be made a real brotherhood by the church. This spirit is reflected in the words of Abbé Casgrain's father to his offsprings: "My children, you must respect the poor and help them; they are the brothers of Jesus Christ."1 It is this thought more than any other which has generated a colossal impulse of service to the poor and the afflicted, first, in their parishes and, second, in the whole land. Taken all and all, there is but little misery in the rural districts. The people share what they have with their needy neighbours, and the parish priest is foremost in this good work. His Quête de l'Enfant Jésus brings considerable help to the destitute. The singing of la guignolée by bands of young men on Christmas eve, making appeals from door to door on behalf of charity, bring more or less to indigents. We must remember the charivaris, relatively rare, on the occasion of marriages between people of a great disparity of ages, tormented night after night by noisy youths, but liberated when they give an important sum for those in want. The tendency, however, is to let the clergyman look after the helpless in his parish.

____________________
1
Casgrain, Vol. II, p. 242.

-406-

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