We cannot talk of a retreat, let alone the one we participated in Canada, in order to join our friend Léandre. It is no longer reasonable for him to come to Europe, therefore, we went to him … Love is madness. When one has the chance (as such is the case) to have such a witness, one must take advantage of it. Our Christmas gift will be to share with our readers a little of the joy that fills our hearts after living a few days with Léandre in his “Belle Province”.
A message of love for our time was transmitted by Léandre from the Lord. It is God who chooses his witnesses. We do not proclaim ourselves a witness, we humbly accept that we are only a “little messenger”. True humility is the guarantee of authenticity.
By putting himself at our disposal in all simplicity, by hiding nothing of his weaknesses, Léandre has proved once more that he seeks nothing for himself, but offers himself in the service of the message received. He is neither owner nor user, but servant. He is not afraid to use the most modern means of the media for this purpose! He testifies of the Gospel as much by what he is as by what he says, where the Lord has put him, without taking himself for a master, but keeping in his heart the joy of a child before the wonders that God accomplishes in the hearts of others … Without ever criticizing or hurting, he radiates love, constantly valuing others, for he discerns in their souls the action of the Spirit. “Happy are the pure hearts, for they will see God”, announces Jesus … As John the Baptist, Léandre can say: “The bride belongs to the bridegroom… The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less…”(Jn 3,27-30).
The first evening of our “pilgrimage to Canada” trip, arriving at Horeb Saint-Jacques, at midnight French time (but at 7 pm here), we take part in Sunday Mass, celebrated by Father Pierre and sing the Christmas Gloria. The next morning, Léandre welcomes us by telling us that Jesus’s arms are loaded with gifts that He wants to distribute to us. And he compares himself, Léandre, not to Santa Claus, but to a garden hose: he is not the source, but he is charged by the Lord to spread the shower of His grace. He even admits to being the sprinkler sprinkled!
When it rains, we can open umbrellas; when the Lord sends us His grace, we can deploy “grace-umbrellas”, says Léandre. But we must leave them in the cloakroom, and open our hearts, without waiting and without demands. God will fill them to the extent of their opening.
In 2013, Jesus still chooses his friends, in the diversity of the states of life, as He chose his Apostles. He chooses us for love and not because of our merits or our virtues; He does not choose us because we are kind, but to make us kind.
His disciples, Jesus looked upon them and loved them; we too, He looks at us and He loves us. He sees what is beautiful in each of us. As He invited His Apostles, He invites us to follow Him. They had – and we have – the freedom to say “no”. They took time to be with Jesus, He transformed them. It is the same for us; we need to take time to be with Him and let Him act in us.
But “is it not a loss of liberty?” Some will ask. Does the bird lose its freedom when it flies? And the fish when he’s swimming? True freedom is to live what we were created for. Our true freedom as children of God is to love.
So, Jesus invites us to give our “yes” to the action of his grace in us and to gather the conditions that will allow Him to act, conditions that He presents to us in His Gospel. We must decide, there is no place for the lukewarm. Many people agree to give a place to God in their lives, but not the first … If we want to say yes to God, we must have the courage to say no to what is contrary to His will … Léandre is a storyteller, he speaks to us in pictures: It is as if Jesus invites us to get into his boat: often, we put one foot in it, but we keep the other foot on the shore: it is very uncomfortable! We must therefore decide for God; then, He will fill us with grace, He will lead us to the open sea.
Why, even today, does Jesus choose friends? To spread the civilization of Love and prepare its great return in its glory. At this moment, we see the immense apostasy of a world that wants to be built without God; but there are already, without noise, new shoots which begin to bloom. To say: “Our Father, Thy will be done, Thy kingdom come,” to give our life to God, makes us already enter into jubilation and go beyond or relativize our anxieties. The Lord chooses His friends to help others move from a civilization without God to the civilization of Love. And in the world of darkness where we live, there is no need to be great lights to enlighten; besides, it is not what we do that is important, but the love with which we do it. It is He who allows the light of Jesus and His Spirit to shine through us and by us. There is no greater honor than to be the humble bearer of His light…
We must be cleansed, because we are in a world of darkness and we are sinners ourselves. The most effective and least costly way to realize this purification in us is the sacrament of Forgiveness. We are created by God and for God; if we cut ourselves off from God, our soul is troubled and our relationships with others are skewed, resulting in families breaking up, wars, etc. We are therefore invited to become beings of peace, because we are forgiven. Suffering, welcomed, can then be transformed into grace and blessing. This goes well beyond acceptance: the reception prepares the offering; then there are faces that, despite suffering, are radiant with the love of God.
A rule of life: Welcome all, offer everything, without waiting. When one gives everything to God, one enters into the communion of saints, one has an extraordinary hope, because the love of those who are in heaven is spread on earth.
Some sentences gleaned from the teachings:
– The only way to chase evil is to put love in it.
– Give the Lord the first place, the whole place.
– To decide for Him, to let oneself be controlled, to lead by His love.
– To become love, it is impossible by ourselves, but a simple “yes” to Him who can do everything in us.
– We are not a mistake of Creation; we are unfinished beings. We must accept ourselves as we are and give our “yes” to perfect, in free collaboration with God, our creation.
+ Say “yes” to the Father for what others are: they are not errors of creation either! Learn to offer them to the Father, as they are.
+ Say “yes” to the Father for the situation in which I find myself today.
+ Say “yes” to the Father for my helplessness, in front of what I cannot control. The more I accept my helplessness, the more I am witness to the omnipotence of God.
+ Say “yes” to being stripped of baggage and ties.
– Trust the Lord, it avoids a lot of tension and fatigue.
– In order not to be exhausted in wanting to do the works of the Lord by ourselves, do not forget to be connected to Him.
– Maintaining negative thoughts towards someone bypasses love.
– To love our children, to be true witnesses, to give them to the Lord, to ask Him continually for discernment.
Learn to listen to Him …
The retreat lasted four mornings. In the afternoon, we went to visit a sanctuary or a famous place in Quebec, near Montreal. On the fifth day, we went to Sherbrooke, sharing the day with the Marie-Jeunesse community, introduced by Léandre. He then received us in his “sugar shack” where we found Elizabeth, his wife, resplendent like him, of the love of God. Sometimes a beautiful smile filled with charity and self-forgetfulness is enough to sow joy and show all the light that shines in a soul. Is not this the most beautiful testimony, the most beautiful conference without words? We then followed the St. Lawrence River, under the beautiful autumn sun, to visit other wonders of Quebec, but it is another light that now inhabited our hearts, and our amazed gaze was as much inward as outward. The relations themselves were imprinted, peaceful and warm at the same time. Thank you Léandre for having been the catalyst for the divine action for us, thank you for opening us to the heart of the Gospel: “Because Love loves you and you let yourself be loved, you become love”. Must we not continue to explore the great and only commandment: “Love one another, as I have loved you?”
During these few days, each one opened his eyes, his ears and his heart to welcome the Lord through beauty, brothers, teaching, prayer, forgiveness, communion of saints. Everyone strove to say “YES” to the Lord, and the sharing of the last day made us taste this diversity, by listening to how, for each one, a fact, a meeting, a teaching, a celebration had touched the heart of our brothers. This bouquet to the glory of God, this song of praise and thanksgiving, we wanted, somewhat, to share it with you …
YES, AMEN, COME LORD JESUS