were sent to the most notorious camps in Germany. Girard-Clot was
the first to perish. Two of the students died of starvation and maltreatment
only months before the liberation. Only one of them, Siguier, was
found alive, in Mauthausen, by the advancing American troops in 1945.
From the day of their capture, all of us kept these friends in our prayers,
remembering them during the chapel service every morning.
STUDENTS AND TEACHERS AT THE
All these extracurricular
activities did not keep us from studying our appointed courses and to write
the required term papers. Greek and Hebrew had to be mastered, and
Latin had to be polished. Most of the teachers were of the older
generation, which had witnessed the separation of the church and state
in 1905 and who remembered only too well the anti-religious campaigns prior
to World War I. They were wonderful, serious, and dedicated men,
but without the slightest understanding of our generation. Under
Pétain, in fact, religion was flourishing; the youth movement received
subsidies and even special food rations for camping. The answers
to the rationalist attacks upon Christianity, which they wanted to drill
into our minds, had not the slightest meaning for us. We had never
met any of these anti-religious doctrinaires, and did not see the necessity
to put up a defense. Bruston (Hebrew), Perrier (Apologetics), and
Barnaud (Church History), were the three professors in whose classes we
most often wrote letters to friends and family, reviewing their subject
matter in our rooms later.
Of the new generation was
Pastor Jean Cadier, who taught us practical theology. He had been
a revival preacher in the Drôme region before the war, and was now
the pastor of the main church of Montpellier, to which all the local intelligentsia,
including the professors of the seminary, belonged.
One of his favorite stories
came from his own experience as a revival preacher. Counting heavily
on Divine inspiration, he told us, he never prepared his sermons.
Upon arriving in the church barely five minutes before the beginning of
the service, he usually donned his robes, opened the Bible, put his finger
on a verse, mounted into the pulpit, and preached a magnificent and moving
sermon on that text. One day, however, he proceeded as usual and
opened his Bible. But the first text he found was not at all what
he could preach on, and so he turned to a second one, which was just as
bad as the first. Yet time was running out and he had to begin the
service. He had to get into the pulpit. Hemming and hawing,
he improvised without fervor, not knowing where he was or where he was
going. The sermon was definitely the worst ever of his career.
Descending from the pulpit, however, he heard a tiny little voice, which
he recognized as the voice of the Holy Spirit, saying to him, "Jean, you
should have prepared your sermon!" - which advice he had followed, he told
us, ever since.
Jean Cadier did not always
heed the rules of diplomacy. He was inclined to overstate his position.
He angered his congregation in September 1944 when he