My policy for the present time

Nowadays, man, truly independent man, wants to mould events to suit him; his situation is never the one he wants; he wants to change it. Just as he questions all certainties, he claims to question his own situation. Why? Because he no longer believes in God, who loves him personally. He no longer wants to believe that the Almighty watches over him in all details and generalities of his time on earth. The modern adult no longer believes that:

“God, in the black night,
sees the black ant,
on the black stone.”

Because the man of the world wants to change places, destiny, idols, and change them constantly; the friend of God should stay and stand fast in the place where God put him. Between the friends of God and the world, there is antithesis and rupture. What one chooses, the other repels. If not, there would no longer be two sides, but only one: the world.

God, therefore, asks for that, now more than ever; holding fast where, right from his very first call, he attracted us. And there, taking what He Himself prepared for us and making the most of it, through sincerity and simplicity, but also intelligence and determination.

God holds the key to all of the circumstances that surround us. Furthermore, God is with us – with His grace, our docility, and our trust – we should take excellent advantage of these circumstances. Of this we should take great care, drawing the most benefit from what we find on our path, without wanting to change it. We must let ourselves be guided by God.

Fr. M. Jérôme, Sept-Fons, 27 September 1973

Brother Jacques, lay brother

Small, sickly, always ill: from a physical perspective he was a loser. He was small, but sincere and generous, one of those small guys whom God likes and who is far from mediocre. Weak in all things, mediocre in nothing, great in the essentials.

He fulfilled his obligations as a monk with great diligence, and, above all, his obligation to come closer to God through a life of prayer. His praying was continual, intense. It was easy to observe, as he behaved so simply as a monk, without any human respect. During his comings and goings, he always held onto his rosary, full of holy medals. He would often walk with his rosary in one hand and his glasses case in the other, revealing papers on which were written exclamatory prayers; he would recite them, with gravity, while taking short steps. I had noticed his many daily visits to the church and to the various images of the Holy Virgin.

To maintain this practically non-stop prayer, Brother Jacques showed caution and delicacy. To avoid falling asleep, he would often change places during the same visit to the church; I never saw him doze off. Likewise, during the days spent in the vestry, mending stockings or folding handkerchiefs, he would place a small card in front of him on which he had written his favorite invocations: always seeking to satisfy the duty of finding God. These small means, used with constancy, require great energy.

I also remember a period when he was serving for me at holy mass. After communion, when he presented the cruets, I would hear him whisper, very intensely: “… with all the power of my heart, with all the power of my heart.”

He thus lived in prayer. The continuity of his prayer seemed to a large degree voluntary. He did not expect to be helped to any great measure, but consciously and conscientiously set about it as a duty. However, this effort made him neither strict nor anxious. On the contrary, he was a happy and cheerful man.

I have been at the deathbeds of many monks, including Dom Chautard and Father Laurent Barnier. Despite my admiration for them, I never had the urge to ask for a bit of their spirit. But I went to Brother Jacques’ tomb to pray to obtain some of his. As he had nothing remarkable on the physical level, it was possible to see through him what prayer alone, in its sincerity and simplicity can make of a man: it raises him well above his natural abilities. Even during Brother Jacques’ lifetime, I did not hesitate to say to one or two other monks – who perfectly understood me – that if I had one ambition, it was to walk behind Brother Jacques, following him on the path of which, without knowing it, he was the master.

Father Jérôme, Sept-Fons, November 1953.