This Homily of Rev. Thierry de Roucy was held for the Sending Forth Mass of missionaries in Ourscamp, (France) on September 15, 1991.
Dear Missionaries, Beloved brothers and sisters,
Your Sending Forth Mass providentially takes place on the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows, called Our Lady of Compassion in the Oriental Church. This very feast, even if the Sunday liturgy pushed it to the background, sheds a perfect light on your mission. Moreover, it gives so much meaning to our mission that I proclaim it today patronal feast of the Heart’s Home Organization.
I ask you to join Mary along the “via Crucis” and at the foot of her Son’s cross. It doesn’t matter that you can’t join her physically; the important thing is to go and dwell in her heart. The mission of a missionary is nothing but to stand here, beside all the slums and destitution of the world, and to share the sufferings of the people, to console them, to offer them the most beautiful loving smile. To quote this wonderful sentence of Pope Paul VI, the mission is “to be in the center of the Church, just like a manometer, an instrument that gauges the pressure, the wounds of the Christ’s body, let’s say of the suffering humanity”. Thus “We are convinced that our compassion consoles the humanity that goes through this long passion” (March 27th 1964.) Mary is standing here. Her passivity and, at the same time, the incredible intensity of her presence astonish us. She is sometimes portrayed as kneeling at the foot of the cross, breaking down and crying. The apostle John, true witness of this ineffable mystery, tells us that she is standing. We can’t imagine anything else. She is tending towards the heart of her Son, so as to be a chalice collecting His whole blood. She is tending towards His eyes, so as to penetrate His soul. She is tending towards His mouth, so as to listen to the depth of His cry, hearing the ultimate silence of the Word. She is united with Him, sharing His suffering, and, better, sharing love with Him. She therefore achieves the perfection of compassion.
She doesn’t do anything. She doesn’t shout, she doesn’t beat the guards up so that they free Him. She follows the plan of the Father entirely, comforting her Son with the very simple love of her heart. Nothing else could have consoled him in such a perfect way. She fully hopes. She doesn’t do anything. But nothing helps her Son more than the fullness of her presence. She doesn’t say anything. But nothing expresses her love more perfectly than this gaze totally outstretched towards Him, which infinitely consoles Him. Mary remains silent, and this silence of the cross is the truest and strongest declaration of love ever. Mary remains silent and this union is the strongest union ever. Her silence is a perfect offering of herself and full renunciation. The wounded innocent Christ gives Himself up to the Church. The Church, through Mary, gives itself up to its Spouse, renouncing totally its own will: “fiat voluntas tua!” Hence, this union, quietly, even without any gesture, is the most fruitful of all unions ever.
Dear missionaries, you are about to leave. Whether you go to India, Colombia or Romania, you will arrive at the same destination: Golgotha. We tried to teach you the languages of the children whose lives you will share, but primarily we do not expect words from you. Instead, we expect from you an eloquent presence, a comforting gaze, a full renunciation of yourselves. To quote Genadios Mourany, Lebanese martyr, we expect from you that “all your apostolate work may be summed up in this way: to live out of love”. You will see that, provided that you love -love intensely, love at all times, love considerately- very few acts or words will be necessary to comfort those living in dreadful, inhuman or brutish conditions. Remember this shout of Dona Gertrude -our friend from the rubbish dump of Lixo, El Salvador- “It is not because we rummage in rubbish that we are dogs or pigs. We are humans, and God does not cast us away. Don’t we have a heart?” You will do nothing else but remind this truth to those who, unlike Dona Gertrude, have forgotten it. I implore you to seize any opportunity to look with love. I implore you to “exaggerate love”, to quote Paul VI again. I implore you to come close to the cross of our friends, juxta crucem, so close to it that those hanged on it feel that you are hanged with them, that you totally share their destinies. And, in fact, this is true, as we are of the same flesh and blood: the blood of God our savior. This is true, as all of us are brothers and sisters, in an incredible way. No one is closer to any human than any other human, as no one is closer to any human than God. No one is closer to any suffering person than another suffering person, as no one is closer to any suffering person than God, who was made flesh to share all the sufferings of humanity.
In the end, going to Golgotha along with Mary is like living a permanent Mass. The Eucharist will be the center of your houses, your lives, your hearts. I quote this wonderful passage from a letter written by Isabelle, a missionary, that enlightens us about the role of adoration in every Heart’s Home: “ A time of adoration is very important if we want to rely on God. Which is all the more true as we live in a contemplative community. The more I “contemplate,” the more I meet Him “in the appearance of children”; the more I contemplate, the more I look for Him within the faces of those I meet, the more He reveals himself in the heart of destitution. The more I contemplate, the more I find the people I encounter beautiful, infinitely loved, infinitely sought after, infinitely lovable. The more I contemplate, the more I feel infinitely loved, and only those who know they are infinitely loved can freely give evidence and manifest this infinite love to all. The more I contemplate, the more I become an instrument of mercy, compassion and consolation. The people here don’t need the presence of a Missionary, but of God. So, if I can let myself be filled with His presence in contemplating Him, I’ll be able to serve the children, my arms will become His arms, and my gaze on them will become His gaze... And all this is not a matter of having my head in the clouds. It takes place in extremely concrete situations, in very little things.”
These times of adoration that you’ll spend everyday with Mary will prepare you for the sacrifice of the Mass, when you will offer up to God all the destitution of humanity and all your own destitution, letting Him transfigure your lives and the lives of your friends. Then with the eyes of faith your slums will not be slums anymore, but already a part of the Kingdom, as the love you’ll experience there is the same as in heaven. Eventually, you may not long so much for living in beautiful palaces where indifference and coldness prevail. Rather, you will know how an image which reaches the depths of your heart can transfigure your vision of the universe!
Dear Missionaries, these slums will become the Kingdom, because they are places where you’ll discover and adore the presence of Jesus; where you’ll implore Mary to be present, just as this missionary remarkably did: “On our way back from the hospital where we have visited Geraldo together, I invited Suely to attend Mass with me. She accepts joyfully, although she feels tired. During the Mass, she is really moved, and cries twice. On her way out of the church, she collapses into a chair, feeling dizzy and having terrible stomach cramps. The diagnosis is clear: “Fame” (hunger.) Antonieta, the doctor of the parish, intends to inject her with a painkiller and take her back home. But Suely shouts with pain and moans “Oh, meu Deus! Oh, Mahia!” Since Geraldo is in hospital, she has not eaten anything, and, before, she used to have only bread and coffee! So I take her in my arms, and she snuggles her head up on my shoulder. We are the same age, but she seems to be 15 years older than me. I’ll remember her shout forever: “Oh, Mahia! Oh, Mahia!” Hearing this, I remember the letter to the missionaries about the rosary: “You decided to go where, sometimes, nothing is bearable but the presence of a mother...” “Oh, Mahia!” It’s no more time for endless speeches about hunger or long prayers, but for shouting. I feel as if I were holding a little child in my arms. In my hands, I feel this woman contorted by pain. My face is wet with her tears, and her shout makes my heart quiver. Along with Suely, I call upon Mary, and I shout: “Oh, Mahia... Oh, Mahia... Oh, Mahia...” And, near the cross, stood the Mother. It’s doubtless. With the Mother of every man, stand beside every man to tell him he is infinitely loved.