• August 11, 2009

Heart’s Home, A Mystery Of Visitation?

This Homily of Rev. Thierry de Roucy was held during a Sending Forth Mass in Ourscamp (France) on August 29, 1992.

Dear brothers and sis­ters,

During my last stay in Brazil, I was pleased to meet the director of the propaedeu­tics sem­i­nary of Salvador, who was so good as to tell me: “Vis­iting your place is like immersing into the Gospel. I feel in Heart’s Home as if I were between two pas­sages of the Gospel.” He did not give any fur­ther expla­na­tion. Was he thinking about the pas­sage of the Beatitudes, the pas­sage of the agony of Jesus, or of His res­ur­rec­tion? … Maybe all at the same time.

Recently, one of our young mis­sion­aries, coming back from his Heart’s Home, told me: “All over the year, I had the feeling to live the Gospel. I was a dis­ciple fol­lowing his Master. Along with Him, I walked across streets and vil­lages. Along with Him, I wel­comed the chil­dren. With Him, I vis­ited the sick and the crip­pled. Along with Him, maybe, I healed some broken hearts. Sometimes, he lec­tured me. But, every day, He also gave me the strength to go fur­ther. I really felt Him close to me. He actu­ally lives in our slum!”

Many things can be said about Heart’s Home, without exhausting the sub­ject. But such tes­ti­monies invite us to focus on the main point: a year spent in Heart’s Home is a year lived according to the Gospel. This year doesn’t end after 365 days: it is an invi­ta­tion to go fur­ther in the foot­steps of Jesus. This is a dan­gerous year, because it is an immer­sion in the logic of the Beatitudes, which is the oppo­site of our world’s logic.

The Gospel is often said to be the book of encoun­ters. The same could be said about Heart’s Home. Heart’s Home is an oppor­tu­nity for encoun­ters. Not encoun­ters with fig­ures and soci­o­log­ical data, not encoun­ters with cases and ter­rible sit­u­a­tions, but encoun­ters with people, encoun­ters with hearts. That’s why our own heart, which longs so much for the love of others, for com­mu­nion with others, feel so deeply con­tented.

FIRST OF ALL, AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD, WITH THE FATHER, WITH JESUS, WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT which leads and inspires us. Everybody agrees that a year in Heart’s Home is over all a spir­i­tual year, a long retreat which gives birth to the new person that we are called to become. This encounter hap­pens every day in the Eucharist, in the silence of ado­ra­tion, in the songs of the Office. It goes on and grows in the narrow streets of the favela, on the faces of the chil­dren that fling their arms around our necks, in the painful con­fi­dence of this mother aban­doned by her hus­band.

It is a prayer that knows no bounds, no bar­riers. It uni­fies all daily events and teaches us to live with Jesus in all cir­cum­stances, to meet him every­where. It is a prayer that fills us with joy, it is a prayer that lam­i­nates us. It is a prayer that enlarges our heart. It is a cry of agony and a song of res­ur­rec­tion.

When we decide to live according to the Gospel, we have to live according to the whole Gospel. When we begin a prayer life, we know that all the prayers of Jesus will one day be ours. The only means to be faithful to our com­mit­ment in Heart’s Home until the end is to be faithful to our daily prayer. When we get away from prayer, we get away from the Gospel and, con­se­quently, from Heart’s Home.

HEART’S HOME IS ALSO AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF COMPASSION. And the word “en­counter” with God or with Mary is not strong enough to describe this real com­mu­nion, this iden­ti­fi­ca­tion that we want to live with those who send us on this mis­sion. God is pre­sent, Mary is pre­sent, we are pre­sent. God loves, Mary loves, we love. God com­forts, Mary com­forts, we com­fort. This is like con­ju­gating the same verbs, using dif­ferent sub­jects that tend to act in the same way.

Saying: “we are along with the Mother, we act with Her” is not enough. The call is greater. We should say: “We live in Her, we act in Her, we com­fort in Her”. We want our pres­ence to be the same as the Virgin Mary’s pres­ence in the Gospel. No fuss is made around her arrival or her pres­ence. Sometimes, she even stays silently on the doorstep. One thing only is said about her, which reveals her humility, her dis­cre­tion: “she is pre­sent”. And her pres­ence is so sub­stan­tial that these words are enough to prove that every­thing is pos­sible, and to restore hope.

IT IS ALSO AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE OTHER, with the one who is so close to us, whom God chose for us. With him or her, we try to build a friend­ship that is not firstly based on feel­ings, on a sim­i­larity of lan­guage or cul­ture, but on the fact that he or she is a taber­nacle which con­tains God, a pres­ence of God. Moreover, this person is a gift from God to our Heart’s Home, so that we help, respect and love him/her and also receive his/her help, respect and love. And this won­derful mys­tery enables our com­mu­nity life to become nearly a sacra­mental life.

And I want to look with the same faith, true charity and hope at the mis­sion­aries who share my daily life and who cer­tify the quality of my life in Heart’s Home. We can not delude our­selves on this point. That’s why I implore you not to let your daily rela­tion­ships, your encoun­ters with every mis­sionary become a matter of rou­tine. How great is this mys­tery of faith! Go fur­ther! Give more of your­selves! Beg every day for a new gaze on the others! Give your lives for the others because there is no greater love!

In the end, and you’ll notice that this is only the last point, HEART’S HOME IS AN ENCOUNTER WITH EACH CHILD, each person of our area. It’s no use repeating again that these people have already been judged, hurt, raped, destroyed, beaten. I remember this story that hap­pened during my last stay in Argentina. Some young people, around twenty years old, knocked at our door. Brother Pierre-Marie knew them already, as he had vis­ited them when they were in jail. They dis­cussed for a while. Later on, Brother Pierre-Marie met them in the down­town of Parana. He asked them “How do you earn your living?” And, with a ges­ture, he asked, without naivety, if they were used to rob­bing. They answered no. So he went on: “What don’t you look for a job?” And they replied: “With our faces, it’s impos­sible to find any job. According to every­body, we are not worth more than ani­mals. We are to be destroyed. Ah, if there were more people like you!”

“We are to be destroyed; we are to live in the street, we are to work on this rub­bish dump.” Our friends’ whole lives con­firm such thoughts. We want to show them some­thing else, but a simple “I love you” or “God loves you” is far from being enough to wipe out all these feel­ings of rejec­tion. We will have to take great care of them, to be faithful, very faithful, and to renounce our­selves. The first sign of our love for the chil­dren are our kisses; and the ulti­mate proof of it will be our sharing their crosses. If we totally live Heart’s Home voca­tion, we will have to go through this.

Such words can frighten us. But every true love leads into trial: the love of par­ents for their chil­dren, of a hus­band for his wife, or of a priest for those who were entrusted to him. Because this is the way Jesus showed us his love: he shared the cross of every man. So don’t delude your­selves. You’ll soon meet the nicest smiles of your life. I think for instance of Dany’s smile, in Bucaramanga. But you’ll also soon dis­cover what such smiles hide!

Dear Emmanuel and Sophie, dear Laurent. You are here, this morning, along with your fam­i­lies and your friends. I find it beau­tiful that they are pre­sent today, praying for you and calling to the coming of the Holy Spirit in you, and I thank them. I espe­cially thank your par­ents who enable you to give a little bit of the love you received to the unloved over the next year. They can be proud of you! You will realize how their pres­ence today and their daily prayer mys­te­ri­ously help you. As a proof, I quote this sen­tence written by one of the former mis­sion­aries: “I always feel the pres­ence of my spon­sors along with me. I had never thought that their pres­ence would be such a source of grace!” So please, dear spon­sors, be faithful, and you will see how your com­mit­ment will enlarge and open your hearts.

I have to con­clude. So I sum it up in one word: HEART’S HOME IS A MYSTERY OF VISITATION. Each encounter is like the encounter of Mary with Elizabeth. Jesus thrills in her womb, and Mary rejoices: “He fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty”. I would be delighted if you could live this whole coming year so deeply! You will never have been so joyful! You will never have desired so much to sing and praise how great God is!

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