There is a peace upon him, a joy that is astonishing. But who are you?, you would like to ask him immediately.
In front of a frugal meal, the highlights of an entire life. Two splendid parents. The mother, baptized but only formally Catholic, allows her son to go to church. The faith is imparted to him "by an elderly priest, a Salesian in a black cassock, a man of generous and boundless faith.” The desire, at the age of eight, to be a priest. At thirteen he loses his mother: "The pain devastated me. And yet I never doubted God.” Adolescence, music, and that beautiful voice. The piano bars of Paris, which may seem little suited to discerning a religious vocation. And yet, while the decision slowly ripens, the spiritual fathers of Michel-Marie tell him to keep to the nightlife of Paris: because there as well a sign is needed. Finally the vocation pays off. In 1999, at the age of 40, his childhood wish comes true: a priest, and in a cassock, like that elderly Salesian. Why the cassock? "For me" – he smiles – "It is a work uniform. It is intended to be a sign for those who meet me, and above all for those who do not believe. In this way I am recognizable as a priest, always. In this way on the streets I take advantage of every opportunity to make friends. Father, someone asks me, where is the post office? Come on, I'll go with you, I reply, and meanwhile we talk, and I discover that the children of that man are not baptized. Bring them to me, I say in the end; and I often baptize them later. I seek in every way to show with my face a good humanity. Just the other day" – he laughs – "in a cafe an old man asked me which horses he should bet on. I gave him the horses. I asked the Blessed Mother for forgiveness: but you know, I said to her, it is to befriend this man. As a priest who was one of my teachers used to tell those who asked him how to convert the Marxists: 'One has to become their friend,' he would reply." Then, in church, the Mass is stark and beautiful. The affable priest of Canabière is a rigorous priest. Why take so much care with the liturgy? "I want everything to be splendid around the Eucharist. I want that at the elevation, the people should understand that He is here, truly. It is not theater, it is not superfluous pomp: it is inhabiting the Mystery. The heart too needs to feel."