• August 11, 2009

Near the cross, stood Mary

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.

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