Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Father Michel-Marie

There is a rather edfifying story of a priest in Marseilles on Chiesa

 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."

9 comments:

Sixupman said...

Inspiring!

Supertradmum said...

Very cool post, Father. And, I do think vocations come early. What a great story.

wretchedwithhope said...

God Bless the cassock wearing shepherd - if there were more so, I suspect more people/default goats would suspect they were lost sheep in need of said shepherd.

Terry Nelson said...

What a wonderful priest! I am edified.

Long-Skirts said...

wretchedwithhope said...

"God Bless the cassock wearing shepherd"

THE
BLACK
SAILS

The power of the cassock
Is to lure
Like fishermen
To nets secure.

The power of the cassock
Ebony shine
A hull of hues
On deck Divine.

The power of the cassock
Anchors the man
Dead to the world
In his sea-span.

The power of the cassock
Weighted strength
Before the mast
It's linen length.

The power of the cassock
Sails your soul
To greater depths
From shallow shoal.

The power of the cassock
Captains' pure.
The fishermen
Our land-locked cure.


wretchedwithhope said...

athiests rant about 'memes'; here's a bid for supernatural memes - cassocks - shepherds - 'real food'; "The fishermen: Our land-locked cure."

JARay said...

Truly inspiring!

Victoria said...

The only off key note in the story is the priest saying that he gives prostitutes Holy Communion - with the implication that he knows that they are not in the state of grace, possibly because they don't intend to give up their profession. Either we have to be in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion or we don't; a priest can't decide that he will dispense with this requirement. What will be the next requirement he will dispense with? By nibbling at the periphery eventually the heart is reached.

johnf said...

Thank you for this Father. So inspiring. There are two points that struck me in the Chiesa post

First that every evening this priest is in the confessional box between 5 and 11 o'clock. How can he do this and also meet his other responsibilities as a priest? Surely he will run out of energy.

Second he points out that he has the misgiving that we have excessively bureaucratized the admission to baptism. He points out that baptism of his Jewish mother, which in terms of the request of my grandfather was merely a formal act: and yet, even from this baptism there came a priest.

How true. When I look back at my own childhood I wonder whether I or any of my family would ever have been baptised as Catholics