Richard to the Rescue
Richard Chonak, Vultus Christi‘s genial webmaster and a dear friend, was kind enough to put his gifts at our service by translating into English the homily that I delivered in French last Sunday for the Jubilee of Mother Jeanne-Françoise at Saint-James in the Channel region of France. Thank you, dear Richard, for the quality of your work and for the gentle charity of your heart.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Homily on the Occasion of the Jubilee of
Mother Jeanne-Françoise de l’Assomption
for the 60th Anniversary of her Monastic Profession
in the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified
My very dear Mother [Jeanne-Françoise], sixty years ago
you gave yourself to Jesus crucified,
saying to Him: Suscipe me, Domine;
that is: “Receive me, Lord,
take me with you on the Cross;
unite me to your sacrifice to the Father;
make of me a single offering
delivered unto the fire of the Holy Spirit
upon the altar of your Heart.”
And the Lord answered you:
“I receive you as my spouse:
all that is mine shall henceforth be yours;
I am taking you with me into all my mysteries.
With you I will share my great Passion;
With you I will share my deep wounds;
With you I will share my shedding of blood,
my death suffered in all bitterness,
my descent into Hell,
my awaking on the morning of the Resurrection,
my Face all illumined by the face of the Father,
my ascension to His right hand in glory,
and my hidden, humble, silent life in the Sacrament of my love.
All this is yours because you are mine,
and nothing will ever separate you from my love.”
Sixty years ago as well you spoke to the Father, saying:
Fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum.
And forty years ago, you explained to me
one day at the Priory of St. Paul
that you insisted that the word Verbum in your motto
be written with the capital letter.
By this you wished to signify that,
as a spouse of Jesus crucified,
you wished to be conformed to Him,
made like unto the Word,
to receive in yourself the ineradicable imprint of his holy Face,
that is, of his Face fully turned to the Father,
of his sorrowful Face,
and of his glorious Face.
Surely the mystery of the Face of Christ,
the mystery of his holy Face,
dwells at the heart of the vocation of every spouse of Jesus crucified.
And this countenance is revealed to us today
in the First Reading, drawn from the Song of the Servant,
or, if you will, from the Passion of Jesus Christ according to the prophet Isaiah.
“And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity.”
Fiat mihi, you say, secundum Verbum tuum.
–May it be done unto me as was done to the Word.
And Isaiah continues, saying:
“He laid down his life in expiation for sin.”
And there too, as a spouse of Jesus crucified,
you are obliged to respond:
“May it be done unto me as was done
in thy Word, to thy Word, and for thy Word.”
Expiation is nothing other than reparation,
and what is reparation if not Love that repairs,
Love that repairs the wounds of sin;
Love that makes pure what was soiled;
Love that gives beauty to what evil has deformed;
Love that gives the fullness of life to souls
that the world, and the flesh, and the Enemy are dragging toward death.
Your conformation to Jesus crucified has opened you, Mother,
to the mystery of a great supernatural fruitfulness.
So often you have prayed:
“Lord, I surrender myself to the power of your fruitful love.”
Every mother receives life within herself to bring it into the world,
and then, having brought life into the world,
she dispenses her life day after day, hour after hour,
with every beat of her heart,
because the work of a mother goes on until death, and beyond death.
Your heaven, Mother, will not at all be rest,
because you will have work to do on the earth:
in your family, in your Congregation, and in me.
You must not be shocked, dear Sisters,
that the Lord repeated to his spouse
the words that he had said first in relation to his mother beside the Cross:
“Woman, behold your son”; and then, “Behold your mother.”
Jesus has called you to spousal union and to motherhood.
He himself did not come to be served, but to serve.
You, as spouse and as mother, have not come to be served, but to serve.
He gave his life in ransom for the multitude,
and you could do no differently,
for the life given to the mother is given to be shared,
to be dispensed, to be handed on by love.
Mother, we have known each other for forty years.
When I saw you for the first time,
you were 49 years old, and I was 21.
Today you have sixty years of consecrated life, spousal life,
and I have just 60 years of life in all.
I allow myself to see in this a sign of the providence of God.
It is as though your life and mine
— your life as spouse and mother,
and my life as a priest —
were braided together by a virginal hand
and by the will of an immaculate Heart, that of Mary, Mediatrix of all graces.
So it is together, not just you and I, mother and son, Host and priest,
but we, united with all those around us,
with Nanou, with Zizon, with Thérèse, and Florence,
united with your sisters in community,
united with all who are not here,
and united with all who have gone before us in death,
that we offer the Holy Sacrifice today.
We dare to present ourselves before the altar
in thanksgiving and in joy,
for “the high priest we have
is not incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us,
but has been put to the test
in exactly the same way as ourselves, apart from sin.
Let us, then, have no fear
in approaching the throne of grace to receive mercy
and to find grace when we are in need of help.”